Written by Christy Hinko Friday, 05 October 2012 00:00
The scholarship in Jim Amen’s name is given each year on the school’s awards night to a deserving Division Avenue High School athlete who has demonstrated excellence not only on the field, but off the field as well.
“I work closely with Beth Thompson of the DAHS Guidance Department to come up with worthy candidates/winners,” Boettger said. “As is the case with the upkeep of the garden, continuous involvement/donations are what keeps Coach Amen’s memory alive.”
Boettger said that Mauro Chiti, the present athletic director at DAHS, and also an alum, planted a peach tree last year that actually grows peaches. He said, “Coach Amen seemed to be chewing on something all the time...and it wasn’t ‘til I was an eighth grader that I realized it was a peach pit—he loved his peaches—so anyone who had him for sports, PE class, etc. always remembers him chewing on a peach pit.” The plaque with a raised peach pit are a tribute to Amen.
“As an athletic director [at Dryden High School in upstate New York], part of my philosophy is to promote the great things my coaches do, whether it be community service or winning records, etc.,” Boettger, a class of 1973 DAHS alum, said. “I have a soft spot in my heart for those coaches who not only win but also who take time to really connect with their kids. Jim Amen did both, won in baseball and was totally committed to the athletes in Levittown.”
Boettger said he made some calls to some members of his graduating class. He paired with another DAHS alum, Gary Gardiner to put the plan into action. Once ground was broken former classmates Debby Stecher McKosky, Tom Leyden, John Habel and Kathy Shade Lynch planted flowers and erected a temporary plaque.
“He [Amen] had the total package as far as how to treat kids, how to coach, how to build a program, etc. You won’t find too many people from back in the day that had anything negative to say about Coach Amen,” Boettger remembered.
Boettger told the Tribune that caretaking of the garden and memorial is needed; community help is always welcome.
Boettger says he has relied on the financial support of Division alumni, staff, students, and community members. While they have always been generous, Boettger says it’s still not enough to sustain the scholarship funding for much longer.
Dedication bricks are still for sale, at $75 each, which line the walkway of the garden. Money generated through the brick inscriptions benefits the scholarship fund.
Checks can be made out to: Jim Amen Fund, c/o Ralph Boettger, 24 Pheasant Walk, Ithaca, NY 14850. Donations go toward the construction of the Memorial Garden plus the development of a scholarship in honor of Jim Amen. For additional information call (607) 342-2373.