Niskayuna forum explores school sports issues
NISKAYUNA Niskayuna sports and the issues affecting both athletes and parents were the topic of a forum Monday night facilitated by area clergy.
Parents and officials brought up concerns and issues ranging from following the athlete code of conduct to participation in sports to parental involvement.
The event was the first of three such community forums planned for the coming months, with one in January likely to cover bullying and one in March to talk about the hectic lives of today’s students.
“We see how important it is for our entire community,” the Rev. Robert Longobucco, whose St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish hosted Monday night’s event, said at the start of the forum, “and so when there was an opportunity to have people share their voices about what’s important, we thought we’d be glad to all pitch in and be a part of it.”
The event included an overview of current Niskayuna school sports, as well as support programs such as the booster club.
Budget issues were not addressed, with Rabbi Matthew Cutler of Congregation Gates of Heaven noting that was a discussion that belonged in the school board realm.
Attending the event were several coaches and school officials, including Superintendent Susan Kay Salvaggio.
Salvaggio, officials said, has worked with the local religious leaders in engaging the community, as well as in collaboration and communication with the community. In all, about 60 people attended.
Along with Longobucco and Cutler, the Rev. Scott DeBlock of Niskayuna Reformed Church also participated.
The highlight of the event was a group session in which participants broke off into three groups, each facilitated by one religious leader.
The group headed by DeBlock discussed the code of conduct for both athletes and parents, as well as participation and what happens when an athlete is cut from a team.
One issue was how people can come forward with violations or other concerns about the code.
Salvaggio, who sat in on part of DeBlock’s group discussion, noted that the school can’t act if it doesn’t receive the information.
“That is an opportunity for better communication between the community and the school,” Salvaggio said.
The group also brought up what happens to student-athletes who are cut from teams and how to keep them involved in athletics.
Assistant Niskayuna lacrosse coach Chris DeLano said that, especially with seventh- and eighth-graders, students cut from the regular team can sometimes play on a travel club team.
“That kind of gives them the support they need so they don’t just give up,” DeLano said.
The ideas and issues brought up at the forum are to go to school officials and board members.
The next forum in the series, on bullying, is set for Jan. 6 at Congregation Gates of Heaven. The third forum, on the hectic lives of students, is to be March 10 at Niskayuna Reformed Church.