Legendary Fort Plain baseball coach wins national Coach of the Year honor

Legendary Fort Plain baseball coach Craig Phillips was named a 2017 National Coach of the Year by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Coaches Association last week.

Philips is the only baseball coach and one of just 23 high school coaches from across the country to be selected for the honor that the NFHS has awarded since 1982.

“To be honored with this award from our small school in upstate New York, I am just extremely honored. I hope I have made a difference, but most of all I am so proud that we have such great kids and such a great school and community that support the program and me,” said Phillips. “To be honored in this way is a great, great honor.”

“Coach Phillips’ selection as National Coach of the Year is a tremendous honor. It is also well-deserved,” Fort Plain Superintendent of Schools David Ziskin said. “Craig’s love of the game and his players has defined his career. He has made a unique and indelible imprint on the athletes he has coached, Fort Plain and on high school athletics in New York State.”

“I have known Craig for a very long time and seen him in action for a very long time and this kind of award recognizes not only the success of his teams, but also overcoming adversity,” Fort Plain Athletics Director Charlie Karker said. “This award recognizes the time, effort, and care that he has given to Fort Plain – not just the school or the team – all of Fort Plain.”

Phillips enters his 45th season this spring with more than 750 career wins – the most wins in the history of New York State high school baseball – and that success hasn’t waned over the last few years either.

Over the past two seasons, the Fort Plain baseball team was a combined 37-6, won the 2016 Class D New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) championship and reached the Section II final last year.

Phillips called the 2016 state title “improbable” at the time. The then-No. 3 seeded Hilltoppers beat top-seeded Fort Ann in eight innings, 2-1, in the Section II title game. Fort Plain then went on to beat Genesee Valley, 11-0, in the state semifinal and West Canada Valley in the state championship game, 11-6.

Always the coach, Philips said of his upcoming 2017 team, “We don’t have any seniors this year, but I expect us to still be pretty good.”

Overall, the Hilltoppers have won 24 league championships, 10 Section II titles and a pair of state championships during Philips’ tenure. The first sectional title was in 1981 and the first state crown came in 2007 in Class C. Including the 2016 run, Fort Plain has played in five NYSPHSAA state tournaments.

Even though Phillips tends to deflect his own accomplishments, he was named the NYSPHSAA Coach of the Year in both 2007 and 2016. He has served on the Section II baseball committee for 35 consecutive years and was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2011. He was inducted into the Capital Region Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012.

“There is something so intriguing about the game of baseball. Every year, there is always a restart of the season. It is always fresh and new. Since we are a small district, we always have new players that are question marks, but they have to play. We are lucky enough that they respond to myself and my other coaches,” Philips said. “I have to thank all of my assistant coaches from over the years. I started out alone, but without them, in this day and age, there is no way we would be as successful without them. I also want to thank the community for supporting our program and the school for giving us, and maintaining, such a gorgeous facility that we get to use.”

Phillips has had dozens of league, section, and state all-stars on his rosters over the years including 2016 New York State Sportswriters Association Class D Player of the Year, and 2017 First-Team All-State selection, Drew Fureno. Former players have also followed in the coach’s footsteps into the dugout. Former Hilltopper Jabin Weaver was named the head baseball coach at Hudson Valley Community College this past fall.

“I have coached so many great kids from great families, but I have never coached a grandson yet,” Philips joked as he rattled off name after name he has put on roster cards over the years. “We have a saying here in Fort Plain, ‘tradition never graduates.’ I know I am a tough guy to play for, but the way that the players, school, and community have rallied around baseball they have made that saying remain true for many years and it will remain true for many more.”

Regents and testing week schedule for Jr./Sr. High School

It is that time of year where the tests are coming up. Here is the schedule for the week of Jan. 22-26.

Monday, January 22

8 a.m.


  • ELA Regents
  • English 10R (McCall)
  • English 10H (McCall)
  • SUNY English (McCall)

Room 103

Spanish II (Jarabek)

12 p.m. (noon)


  • Living Environment Regents
  • English 9 (Clute, Yurkewecz)
  • English 9H (McCall)
  • Living Environment (Jarabek, Smith)

Room 110

Foundations/Tech/Wood (Heroth)

Tuesday, January 23

8 a.m.


  • U.S. History and Government Regents
  • Geometry Regents
  • Freshman Seminar (Stokna)
  • Geometry (DiBiase)
  • Participation in Government (Sacco)
  • U.S. History (Ryan)

Room 103

Spanish I (Pombrio)

Room 101

A.P. U.S. History (Gray, Niles)

12 p.m. (noon)

  • Gym
  • Algebra I Regents
  • Algebra – Year 2 (Waner)
  • Earth Science (Elliot)
  • Forensics (Bogus, Smith)
  • SUNY Psychology (Ryan)

Room 103

Spanish III (Jarabek)

Wednesday, January 24

8 a.m.


  • Global History & Geography Regents
  • Physics Regents
  • Algebra (Summerfield)
  • Global 10 (Ryan)
  • Math 8 (Summerfield)
  • Physics (DiBiase)

Room 303

Earth Science I (Elliott)

12 p.m. (Noon)

  • Algebra II Regents
  • Calculator Math (Capece)
  • Global 9 (Niles)
  • Trigonometry (Waner)

Room 110

Foundations/Tech/Wood (Heroth)

Thursday, January 25

8 a.m.

Room 201

  • Earth Science Regents
  • Chemistry Regents

Room 110

Foundations/Tech/Wood (Heroth)

Jan. 5 a Superintendent’s Conference Day, Students do NOT report, Athletics events canceled

UPDATE 10:15 a.m., Jan. 5, 2018: All Fort Plain athletic events and practices for Jan. 5 AND Jan. 6, 2018 are CANCELED.

This includes Biddy basketball.

Due to forecasted low temperatures, Jan. 5 will be a Superintendent’s Conference Day for the Fort Plain Central School District. STUDENTS WILL NOT ATTEND SCHOOL.

Teachers report by 10 a.m. Aides and food service staff do not report. Faculty and staff should check their email for further details.

Water has been restored to the Fort Plain school buildings, but there is a boil water order in effect for the time being.

Athletic contests have yet to be determined.

March 14 will now be a regular day of instruction (reminders will be sent).

Fitness Center in Fort Plain High School open from Jan. 2-April 30

The Fitness Center in Fort Plain High School will be open to the public from 5 a.m.-7 a.m. and 5 p.m.-8 p.m. on school days from January 2-April 30.

Students are not permitted to use the center during those times.

Memberships are available to adult district residents for $20 per month, non-district residents for $30 per month, while any senior over 65-years-old is free of charge. Payments are due on the first of each month.

Questions can be directed to the district office at (518) 993-4000 ext. #1000.

Five fall athletic teams named Scholar-Athlete teams

Five of the Fort Plain Central School District’s six fall athletic teams were named Scholar-Athlete teams by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) last week.

In order to qualify for the honor at least 75 percent of a team’s rosters needs to hold an overall grade point average of 90 or higher.

The Fort Plain teams that qualified were:

  • Boys Cross Country – 95.11
  • Girls Cross Country – 94.79
  • Girls Soccer – 90..935
  • Volleyball – 90.908
  • Golf – 90.327

A full list of honored teams can be seen on the NYSPHSAA website.

December Newsletter available

December 2017 Pennysaver Newsletter

Highlights of the Newsletter

Harry Hoag “Fun With Math” Achievers

At the first session of “Fun With Math,” the following elementary students successfully completed 100 addition facts, with 100% accuracy.

Prior to the timed math fact race, students “warmed up” with math games, activities, and contests that used addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

  • 6 minutes: Bryellah D’Arcanglis, Summer Trumbull
  • 5 minutes: Larry Sanders, Payton Skiffington, and Caitlyn Stephens
  • 4 minutes: Dawson Tracki and Lexi Palmeri

“Frightening Fantasy” Workshop

Some seventh grade students attended a creative writing workshop at Arkell Hall in October, which was intended to teach them to write fantasy in a fun way.

The students gathered among mood-setting Halloween decorations to help set the mood and get their mind thinking about spooky topics.

Students reviewed the elements of fiction writing: setting, mood, suspense, conflict, and character development.

After creating mysterious characters and placing them in frightening settings, the students developed an exciting fantasy story. They shared their stories at the end of the day.

The students who participated in this Minds-On workshop were: Jakub Battisti, Cross Young, Amelia Gallagher, Alexis Euler, Natalie Thibodeau, Savonna Tyler, Rylee Herron, Anthony Paradiso, Ethan Kilmartin, and Kristin Sanders.

4th Graders Visit Mohawk River/Erie Canal

In preparation for their upcoming mosaic project, the fourth grade class recently explored some local Mohawk River and Erie Canal revitalization projects.

The day began with a stop at the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook Pedestrian Bridge then the Riverlink Park in Amsterdam and then the Riverfront Park in Canajoharie.

Students heard information and stories about the Erie Canal’s history and about use of the Mohawk River today – both as a recreational and a commercial resource.

The visit was followed up with a video and photos of Mohawk River Lock 15 in Fort Plain.

Quinn Jones represents Fort Plain in NYS Student Cabinet

Schenectady Daily Gazette story about the Cabinet

Congratulations to Quinn Jones who represented Fort Plain at this year’s Student Cabinet assembled by New York State Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara.

The group met on Dec. 5 at Clarkson University’s Capital Region Campus ahead of the upcoming legislative session.

Students in the Cabinet represent school districts across Albany, Schenectady and Montgomery Counties.

The group discussed challenges local schools will be facing in the upcoming year with the Assemblyman.

Quinn Jones and Assemblyman

Quinn Jones and Student Cabinet

Students get “on board” the Freedom Train during field trip

A group from the Junior/Senior High School explored the Underground Railroad during a field trip to Arkell Hall in Canajoharie on Nov. 28 as they participated in a workshop led by musician, educator, and social activist Reggie Harris.

Students Cameron David, Madison Delgado, Skila Frasier, Andra Fuhs, Stephen Gray, Ryleigh Hart, Madeline Heroth, Alex Rivkowich, Mackenzie Ropeter, Jacob Sweet and Social Studies teacher Katherine Sacco discovered the period by focusing on the music and stories of fugitives, abolitionists, journalists and free citizens that collaborated along the escape routes for enslaved African Americans in the mid 1800s.

Students wrote personal narratives, speeches, and composed an Underground code song. Using the cultural and historical context of the songs, secret codes and stories, students assembled an abolitionist meeting to get everyone “on board” the Freedom Train.

Students participate in Underground Railroad workshop
Students participate in Underground Railroad workshop with Reggie Hall.

Jr./Sr. High School Students of the Month for November

Congratulations to the Junior/Senior High School Students of the Month for November!

Grade 7 – Stephen Gray (Nominated by Dr. Pombrio)

Grade 8 – Sarah Florian (Mrs. Wilder)

Freshman – Landen Van Alstine (Mrs. Jarabek)

Sophomore – Michaela Stockwell (Mr. and Mrs. Jarabek)

Junior – Bryce Thibodeau (Mr. and Mrs. Jarabek)

Senior – Eliza Cechnicki (Mrs. Jarabek)

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