Dave Eggleton talks sports

By TED WADDELL
Posted 12/16/20

LAKE HUNTINGTON, NY — You’ve most likely heard by now that there’s a new Dave at the helm of Sullivan West athletics.

On July 1, the district’s long-standing athletic …

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Dave Eggleton talks sports

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LAKE HUNTINGTON, NY — You’ve most likely heard by now that there’s a new Dave at the helm of Sullivan West athletics.

On July 1, the district’s long-standing athletic director, Dave Franskevicz, retired and passed the torch to Dave Eggleton.

At 23 years old, Franskevicz was hired in 1986 to be the athletic director of the former Jeffersonville-Youngsville Central School District (JYCSD). After the controversial three-way merger, he became Sullivan West’s first athletic director, serving in that position until pulling the plug before the start of the 2020-21 school year.

Sullivan West’s former director of athletics played football, basketball and ran track at Hancock High School, the “Home of the Wildcats.”

At JYCSD, he coached football, basketball and track and, after a while, focused solely on the gridiron.

The two Daves share a common bond that reaches beyond their dedication to local scholar-athletes: both were multi-sport athletes in high school, graduated from SUNY Cortland, where they studied physical education and, later, received certificates of advanced study in administration from SUNY New Paltz.

“Dave and I worked together as colleagues, and he was [a] supportive mentor,” said Eggleton of his predecessor. “Dave helped to make the transition here at Sullivan West smooth after his retirement. Dave will be missed by our students and the athletic department.”

Before getting tagged by a local sports scribbler as the “new Dave in town,” Eggleton attended Roscoe Central School, where he competed in football, hoops and rounding the bases before graduating in 2003.

While with the Blue Devils, he was coached by the legendary Fred Ahart (1947-2020), who was a tour de force on the local and regional sports scene for more than 50 years until his untimely passing earlier this year.

“Fred and I spent a lot of time together, and then during my athletic career after high school,” said Eggleton.

At Roscoe, Ahart was “a mentor to all, a genuine leader and a great person,” recalled Eggleton. “Coach Ahart would always take time to communicate with student-athletes and their families from all over the state. He had a tremendous impact on all those around him.”

Eggleton served as co-athletic director at Livingston Manor, “Home of the Wildcats” for three years, often coaching against teams fielded by Ahart, before coming to Sullivan West in 2014 as a middle/high school phys-ed and health teacher. After taking over as athletic director, he still teaches phys-ed at the high school.

What’s his philosophy as athletic director?

“We’re looking to see students have fun and be physically active. Based upon my experiences in the past with athletes and the enjoyment it brought to me, I’m always super excited to be around student-athletes,” he replied.

What does Eggleton think students gain from participating in sports?

“A huge wealth of knowledge, social skills, and mental and emotional development.”

On October 14, the district rolled out a four-phase “Return to Voluntary Athletics” workout program for students looking to participate in jayvee and varsity level sports in grades nine through 12.

“Sullivan West did a fantastic job creating a model voluntary workout program for our student-athletes,” said Eggleton. He noted that the program was created by the athletic department and administration under current COVID-19 guidelines established by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, NYS Department of Health, Gov. Cuomo, the New York State Public High School Athletic Administration and the Section IX COVID-19 Task Force.

In a press release dated September 10, Gregory P. Ransom, executive director of Section IX Athletics, stated the decision was based upon “the safety of our students, and the fact that so many of our Section IX school districts are conducting classes via remote learning.”

As of September, Section IX announced that the start of athletics at several schools, including Sullivan West, had been moved to November 30, the first season being winter sports; fall sports are scheduled to follow in March 2021 with spring sports slated for May.

“Technically, the only sports that can start on November 30 are alpine skiing and indoor track,” said Eggleton, noting that practices in these two sports officially count for the record books.

He added that programs for basketball and cheerleading just got pushed back until January 4, 2021. But, as with all things pandemic-related, that’s subject to change at a moment’s notice.

“We just don’t want them to sit there, stagnant... We’re trying to stay as positive as we can,” he said. Although everyone would love to have a solid date to look forward to when student-athletes can once again engage in contests, he noted, “that’s out of our hands at the moment.”

Eggleton’s goals for sports at Sullivan West as it copes with the pandemic?

“Get back to the proper progression. We want to build success in all our sports and get back to some type of normal schedule,” he said, noting that in the future, he envisions adding jayvee football and boys’ soccer to the sports program.

“We would love to build these jayvee programs so we can have our younger students properly progress before getting to the varsity level.”

A few words from the superintendent’s desk

Stephen Walker, superintendent of schools at the “Home of the Bulldogs,” said the district was “very fortunate to facilitate a smooth transition” between the outgoing and incoming athletic directors.

“They have worked together for years and were able to collaborate successfully to ensure the that the athletics program continues to develop under David Eggleton’s leadership. Both are full of ‘Bulldog Pride’ and have a deep passion for our student-athletes and our programs,” he said.

As a result of the pandemic, Sullivan West has strived to meet the challenge of providing sports with a new approach, allowing students to “participate in multiple sports in the same season... We are investigating whether adding other intramural or club experiences, such as archery, will add to the number of students participating,” said Walker.

And then there’s the sword of Damocles, a moral parable penned by the Roman philosopher Cicero who, in his book “Tusculan Disputations,” told the fanciful story about a tyrannical ruler and a court sycophant who found out the hard way that good things are not always what they seem.

In a more modern iteration of the ca.45 BC legendary tale of caution, we have COVID-19—don’t look back, something may be gaining on you... Sullivan West, as well as school districts across the country, are adjusting, and sports programs are struggling with the new normal.

“COVID-19 has had a profound impact on high school athletics. We know how important sports are to so many of our student-athletes, their parents and our coaches,” said Walker. “No matter when we are able to next see our student-athletes on the field, the track or the court, the Bulldogs will be ready!”

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