An impromptu parade and picnic was held on Sunday to mark the incredible achievement of three Garden City High School teams winning the State Championships on Saturday. The boy's baseball team won their first state championship title in Utica, the girls lacrosse team won their fourth state title in five years and this was the fourth state title since 1986 for the boys lacrosse team.
In addition to the athletic accomplishments, Garden City teams have also achieved off the field. For the second year in a row, the boys' lacrosse team also received the state championship scholar athlete award, an award given to one team in the state for each sport, for having the highest team academic average. "To have a state championship academically and scholastically just says a tremendous amount about this town and certainly about the kids," said Garden City High School Athletic Director Nancy Kalafus. The girl's lacrosse team won the State Scholar Athlete Championship title in 1998. Although the boy's baseball team did not finish as the state champion scholar athlete team they did finish in the top ten for that award, with a 92 average for the team. The Garden City Baseball team was also given the sportsmanship award for the state tournament.
In discussing the high school sports' teams remarkable season, the first time that three teams have won the state championship in one season, Kalafus said that she believes that the tradition of excellence at Garden City, in everything, including sports and the dedicated, high-level coaching staff are contributing factors to this success. "The kids, as a result of both things, also are very highly dedicated and work very, very hard and there's a tremendous support system with the parents and the whole school and town community," she added.
When asked how she felt, as athletic director, about this achievement of the teams, Kalafus responded, "I think it is one of the most wonderful things I've ever experienced. It's amazing, it really is. To have three state champions in one day is exciting. Most athletic directors are thrilled and pleased to have one and to have three in one day is just incredible."
The baseball team won their semifinal game in Utica on Saturday morning 4-2 against Williamsville South, with sophomore Jon Burke as the winning pitcher and then on Saturday evening they defeated Rondout Valley HS in the state championship 12-0. Despite the shutout, this was one of the most difficult games and best team that the baseball team has faced all season, with the last eight runs being scored in the sixth, out of seven, innings. Matt Daley pitched most of the game with Burke coming in as relief and finishing the job.
The girls' lacrosse team won their second state championship in a row, defeating East Rochester 15-4 in the small schools tournament. This game was played at SUNY Cortland.
The Garden City Boys' Lacrosse team defeated Carthage to win the Class B championship at Hofstra. Although Carthage took an early lead, Garden City came back quickly but by the half Carthage came back to tie the game up at 9. In the end, Garden City prevailed and won the game 18-15.
The parents from the three teams quickly joined forces to plan a parade and barbecue to celebrate the champions' victorious returns. At 2 p.m., less than 24 hours after the wins, the players were hailed as a parade in their honor began behind the high school and went throughout the village. According to Kalafus they had the help of everyone in Garden City, from the police to the fire department to the village. Frank Carter Tree Service donated two flatbed trucks for the team members to ride on and the police and fire department blocked off the route for the parade, which ended up back at the high school with a picnic for the teams and their families.
"It was just incredible but this is an incredibly supportive town and that's the main reason that we do so well, as well as being able to put together things like this," said Kalafus of the celebration.
In addition to the spring teams' wins, this fall the girls' field hockey team won their third state championship since 1995 and in girls' swimming, Sara Daley won the state championship title for the 500 meter freestyle.
"It's a history, a tradition, it's unbelievable," concluded Kalafus of the sport teams' remarkable achievements. "It's just incredible, the kids and what we do at this school."