Fred & Becky Ahart : Legends of Section IX
ROSCOE, NY — One day at a time, one practice at a time, one game at a time, one season at a time.
One decade passes into another, and pretty soon you have almost 50 years coaching legions of Blue Devils teams at a rural high school tucked away in a quiet corner of Roscoe.
Not that anyone is counting the years, but the fall of 2018 will mark Fred Ahart’s golden anniversary as athletic director and coach of various teams at Roscoe Central School.
Fred and Becky Ahart grew up in Candor, graduated from the local high school—“The Home of the Indians”—in 1965 and one year later year got married.
In 1969, they moved to “The Home of the Blue Devils’,” and as some folks are fond of saying, the rest is history.
Sports history that is, in capital letters.
Return with us now to ’69, a rather momentous year, as the Age of Aquarius gave birth to the music and arts fair known as Woodstock, Neil Armstrong was the first human to step forth onto the moon, the Stonewall riots heralded the voices on a new movement for equality, and the Vietnam War was in full battle cry at Hamburger Hill.
At Candor Central School, Fred Ahart played all sports, including football, basketball, baseball and track.
Becky Ahart participated in high school athletic associations in the days before the enactment of Title IX, a federal civil rights law passed in 1972 as part of the education amendments that opened up opportunities for women in multiple areas of endeavor including sports.
“It opened up sports to girls; before that it was ‘play days’… now it’s the real deal,” recalled Becky of the effect Title IX had on expanding the horizons for girls in the world of sports.
At Candor, she played basketball, soccer, field hockey and softball.
Before coming to Roscoe, Fred Ahart earned a bachelor’s degree from Ithaca College, and later was awarded a master’s diploma.
From his very first day at Roscoe, he has been their athletic director (AD) and boys’ varsity basketball coach, and for 39 years has served as helmsman of the varsity football program, following a 10-year tenure as assistant coach.
In 2007, Fred retired from teaching physical education, but after 49 years as AD and coach he is gearing up for his 50th season in those positions.
Not to be outdone, Becky Ahart has coached varsity girls’ hoops at Roscoe for 33 seasons and in addition coaches the cheerleading squad.
Along the way, she spent time as assistant cross-country coach and a one-year stint as coach of the softball team.
Fred and Becky share the rare honor of having been inducted into the New York Basketball Hall of Fame; Fred in 2009 and Becky a few years later in 2015.
Over the decades, Fred has amassed quite a list of awards for his dedication to sports administration and on the fields of play as a coach: the prestigious Dr. William Moran Service Award by Section IX, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) Athletic Director of the Year Award for Section IX (1993 and 2018), numerous football and basketball coach-of-the-year awards presented by local media, the Basketball Coaches Association of New York’s Athletic Glen McGinnis Service Award in 2017.
As of 2014, Fred’s name will live on forever, as the school’s gym was named in his honor as the Coach Fred Ahart Gymnasium.
He currently holds several Section IX administrative positions: a member of the athletic council since 1980; basketball committee since 1975; NYSPHSAA sectional representative since 1996; and, starting in 1986, a member of the eligibility committee.
Fred served as Section IX president from 1994 to 1996, and has held the position of chairman of the eligibility committee since 2003.
On August 16, 1969 the Aharts were married, and in the years since raised five children (Maryanne, Ralph, Michelle, Catherine and Kelly).
They have 15 grandchildren plus one great-grandchild.
Asked about the importance of family, both Aharts said they are always very supportive of each other’s efforts to get the best out of the student athletes under their watchful tutelage, and Becky noted that she coached all their daughters and a couple of granddaughters in the game of hoops, while Fred added that his son and several grandsons have donned Blue Devils’ football jerseys.
Why has Becky Ahart devoted so much of her life to high school sports?
“I really enjoy the kids… the commitment from the coaches,” she replied.
“It gives the kids something to do in the afternoon, I enjoy their accomplishments, and it gives them the chance to meet kids from other schools and make friends. It’s a very good social outlet… it’s good to be physically active and doing something productive.”
In addition to being inducted into the state’s Basketball Hall of Fame, Becky serves on the Section IX basketball committee, and has received several coach of the year awards.
When asked about memorable student athletes at Roscoe, Becky’s response echoed that of Fred, relying “All of our athletes are special.”
Faced with shrinking numbers of kids who enroll in sports, several schools in the area have in recent years started merging sports programs in order to field competitive teams and keep high school sports alive.
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