Damian Fantauzzi

Damian Fantauzzi

Friday, 09 September 2016 10:57

Running? You Need a Quality Shoe!

Take your running, treadmill workouts, and track runs to the next level with running shoes cut for your foot, whether wide, regular, or slim. Shop from the top brands in active shoes and footwear for women and men. There is more to this technology that has become the norm for people wanting to work out. Running has an effect on the whole body, so it’s important to get a quality shoe. In today’s world of jogging, fashion has also found its place in the runner world. Shoe colors and logos leave us with plenty to choose from. It used to be that white and black were the only choices of active footwear. For example, I’m semi-embarrassed to say, that I have 8 to 10 pair of crossover, or running shoes. I just love the way they feel. It’s not just for exercise, I wear whichever shoes I’d like to put on daily because they’re so comfortable. Summer is my favorite time due to the fact the shoes don’t have to be subject to ice and snow. Here’s something to consider, a good shoe is going to help you physically, whether walking or running. Everyone is different, some people have high arches, or no arches, but we all pronate when we walk, or run. Those with flat feet, low arches, or overly flexible arches tend to over-pronate. Pronation is the inward movement of the foot as it rolls to distribute the force of impact of the ground as you walk and run. Believe it or not, it’s a natural movement of the foot. The foot normally flattens when it hits the ground and rolls to the inside. If your foot flattens too much, rolls too much or not enough, problems can develop from toes to spine. Overpronation • Definition: Excessive inward roll of the foot after landing. The foot continues to roll when it should be pushing off. This twists the foot, shin and knee and can cause pain in all those areas. • Diagnosis: You will see excessive wear on the inner side of your running shoes. Your shoes will tilt inward if you place them on a flat surface. Knock knees or flat feet contribute to over-pronation. More: Are You an Overpronator? • Remedies: Wear shoes with straight or semi-curved lasts. Motion-control or stability shoes with firm, multi-density midsoles and external control features that limit pronation are best. Over-the-counter orthotics or arch supports can help, too. Overpronation causes extra stress and tightness to the muscles, so do a little extra stretching. • Top Picks for Motion Control Shoes Supination (Under-pronation) • Definition: Insufficient inward roll of the foot after landing. This places extra stress on the foot and can result in iliotibial band syndrome of the knee, Achilles tendinitis and plantar fasciitis. • Diagnosis: Your shoes will show excessive wear on the entire outside edge, with the side of the shoe becoming overstretched. Your shoes will tilt outward when placed on a flat surface. High arches and tight Achilles tendons contribute to supination. Remedies: Wear shoes with curved lasts to allow pronation. Lightweight trainers allow more foot motion. Check for flexibility on the inner side of the shoe. Supinators should do extra stretching for the calves, hamstrings, quads and iliotibial band. I found this info through Google in an informative article by Wendy Bumgardner, who has written many articles relating to walking and running, Wendy is also a marathon coach. I have had my share of foot related problems, I’m flat footed and one has to be aware of the consequences that come with the condition. There’s a major concern for those who might be over weight, as difficulties can occur from the lack of the proper support for your feet, relating not only to the feet but the negative affects to the hips, knees and back. If you are one who would like to get yourself in better shape, start with walking, a good running shoe really can make the difference even when walking. There are other solutions in addition to a good shoe, and that’s getting prescribed orthotics for yourself, or a pair of quality arch support, something to research. Obviously arch supports are more affordable, but some people with extensive foot problems might need an expert to line them up correctly with orthopedic inserts. It’s a necessity to your physical health - wear good shoes, especially if you intend to start a personal running program. In the short of it all, to run/jog, or walk for physical activity, it’s imperative to purchase a top running shoe. You can hurt so many area of your physical well being with cheap shoes. As a coach, I’m convinced that it’s worth the financial investment.

Paying for the privilege to participate in high school sports is still a relatively new thing for me. ‘Participation fees’ is actually a better description since no one is really able to guarantee playing time. I never had to pay to participate in high school sports back in the late 50s and early 60s, while growing up in New York. Other than a few dollars to buy football cleats, socks, basketball shoes etc., New York State is where property taxes and other levy’s funded all academics and extra curricular activities. Up until the 1980’s most states were also this way with regard to funding athletics. Then of course funding challenges in public education, Title IX equity mandates, recessions and expenses of growing athletic programs began to chip away at available funding and the practice of charging pay-to-play fees became more and more common to keep public school athletic programs afloat. New York State does not permit pay-to-play, even though some local school districts experimented with the idea. Here are some pros and cons. Pros: there is no advantage here, so there are no pros. So, what’s wrong with the concept? Increasing the cost of playing sports by implementing pay-to-play, without a doubt, keeps some low-income students from participating, at a time in their lives when they should be trying new things, and at a time in our country when kids are less active than ever. Officials are finding it hard to resist using fees beyond athletics, risking the creation of an a la carte-style education where only students with means can take full advantage of what is offered through public schools. Not to mention that the concept might have the potential to widen the gap between students based on their financial resources. Both must be avoided. The last 40 years of public education have been defined by the demand for more: more classes, more clubs, more services and more sports, especially with the addition of Title IX. For much of that time, those demands have been accompanied by more money. Since the 2008 economic crash, however, pressure on state budgets and property taxpayers has produced sharp cuts in the money sent to schools. In New York State, as a result of underfunding, students are being shortchanged as schools have inadequate supplies, overcrowded classrooms, insufficient numbers of guidance counselors and social workers, understaffed and under resourced libraries, underfunded arts and sports programs, lack of sufficient tutoring and other supports for struggling students and reduced curriculum offerings and after school options. These classroom cuts have the greatest negative impact on students in high needs schools with large concentrations of students in poverty, students with disabilities and English language learners. So school districts across the state are looking for other means to fund certain “extracurricular” programs, like the sports programs, in order to sustain some quality in academics. Andrew Cuomo’s two percent tax cap had short-changed many school districts across New York State, as a result Governor Andrew Cuomo has failed to live up to his constitutional obligations to New York State’s school children. Governor Cuomo has consistently failed in his obligation to provide the resources necessary for all New York State students to receive the “sound basic education” that is guaranteed by New York State’s constitution. Cuomo is delinquent in the amount of $5.9 billion that is owed to the New York State schools as a result of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE). Governor Cuomo’s delinquency perpetuates inequality with the funding gap between wealthy and poor districts being at $8,733 per pupil. So, the athletic programs have become part of this tendency of negligence, for most of New York’s public schools. This information comes from The Public Policy and Education Fund, in an article about the Governor’s failure to keep public schools on track. As a matter of fact Governor Cuomo has butted heads with the NYSUT (teachers’ union) since the day he was voted in as New York State’s leader. The above scenario, of gubernatorial cuts and delinquency funding strategies, has become an issue for at least 35 states across the country. There has been discussion, as well as the implementation of pay-to-play in many states because of the concern of budgetary slashing. Many ideas have evolved to remedy and solve ways for the funding of sports programs. So far, there hasn’t been an ideal model that actually works. In general, it has been, for the majority of the states, to fund public education through property taxation. To use a sports related analogy, school districts, teachers’ salaries, the extracurricular programs, especially athletics have become a political football. I see it in a very different way. I feel, for example, Governor Andrew Cuomo, like some other governors across the states, have this thing about teacher’s unions, let me use the prehistoric label called “union busters.” The concept has been reincarnated from the early 1900s - it might be the underlying force behind cuts to education, and one result being cuts in athletics. But, the subject of the pay-to-play scenario has unfortunately become a bad idea, turning into programs for elitists, for those who can afford to pay to participate. So, not all students would have the opportunity to become involved with athletics, because of the costs. Some states have districts that are charging up to $1,200 for the school year athletics, some states have school districts charging $250 to $600 dollars per sport. So the student who comes from a single parent family and whose mom (usually) who makes barley a sustainable income for her family, might not be able to pay for her child, or children to play school related sports. As a coach, I can see so many related problems. If a child is paying $1,200 to participate on the football team, the coach is pressured to use that kid more than he has planned maybe because the kid just might not be strong enough to physically compete. The biggest problem with pay-to-play might even come from the parents: “I just paid all of this money and my kid isn’t getting the time “I” think he deserves!” Pay-to-play is a dangerous concept, and I see no winners in this game, it changes the scholastic environment from a chance for all versus only a game for the privileged. Quite frankly, it’s the “haves overshadowing the have-nots.” Thoroughly a true opposite of what public education represents.

When Pat Summitt became head coach of the University of Tennessee’s Lady Vols in 1974, at the age of 22 – barely older than some of her players – the NCAA did not even formally recognize women’s basketball. Summitt had to drive the team van to road games herself. In her 38 years at Tennessee, Summitt won eight national titles and 1,098 games – the most by any Division 1 basketball coach, male or female. Her teams made an unprecedented 31 consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament. The passing of Pat Summitt came five years after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She was 64. Summitt battled the disease with “fierce determination just as she did with every opponent she ever faced,” her son, Tyler Summitt, said. “Even though it’s incredibly difficult to come to terms that she is no longer with us, we can all find peace in knowing she no longer carries the heavy burden of this disease,” Tyler Summitt said. The news of her disease broke in 2011, Summitt sitting alongside her son, Tyler, talking about taking on the biggest fight of her life. Summitt was larger than life, an unprecedented icon in the sport of college basketball – she accomplished just about everything she set out to do. If just for a moment, she seemed capable of conquering a new opponent, even one that doesn’t play fair. I took an interest in Summitt basketball in 1999, when I took over the girls’ basketball program at Saratoga Springs High School. During that time people compared her to Bobby Knight, and called her the Bobby Knight of women’s basketball. I researched her background and knowledge, and did not see her as a female Coach Knight. She was her own person and despite her critics, labels and comparisons, she had a vast knowledge of the game. The old cliché that’s used over and over for woman who have worn a path into the so called “man’s world,” is that Pat Summitt broke the “glass ceiling.” When she got into coaching, it was an era that became a new beginning for women in sports, “Title IX” came into effect in 1972, when the ladies got equal consideration with and for having “legitimate” teams in sports at both the scholastic and college levels. As noted earlier, Summitt became the women’s head basketball coach at Tennessee in 1974, so her career fell into a perfect time for women’s basketball. It was fate. Little is known about her estranged husband, R.B. Summitt, they divorced in 2008, after 27 years of marriage. Pat Summitt filed for divorce in August 2007, a week before their 27th wedding anniversary. The couple had been separated since March of that year and they finalized their divorce on April 28, 2008, according to USA Today. At the time of the divorce, their son Tyler was 17 years old and custody wasn’t an issue. He was already living with his mother. R.B. Summitt was also a graduate of Tennessee and began his career at Sevier County Bank in 1978. Prior to that, he worked for Tennessee Department of Financial Institutions for four years straight out of college, according to his LinkedIn profile. During his time at Sevier County Bank, he served multiple positions including president, and remained on the board of directors after his retirement. Their only child, son Tyler, born on September 21, 1990, grew up in the gym and on the road with his mother, and later became a student assistant coach for her at UT. He got his first official assistant coaching job for the women’s team at Marquette University before taking the head-coaching job at Louisiana Tech. Patricia Summitt’s loyalty to the University of Tennessee is likened to Jim Boeheim’s Syracuse connection. A rare marriage in these times. In the modern era of college basketball, coaches come and go, but there are few like Summitt and Boeheim. Mike Krzyzewski has been at Duke for 36 years, but he did not play for Duke (West Point) like Summitt did at UT and Boeheim at Syracuse. There is another consideration about Pat Summitt, with women’s teams; there are a fair amount of male coaches in the profession. Summitt very successfully butted heads with her male counterparts, something I think is noteworthy. Her fame will always be an important part of her legacy, and women’s basketball, but more than anything her accomplishments are inspiring, her career will always be a signature for young women who want to coach. My mentioning of her private life is an important asterisk for what all coaches deal with, it’s more than just the game and, or the team, it’s part of the life of a mentor. A balance that can sometimes get lopsided and learning to keep it balanced might be one of the biggest challenges for any coach. The fans and those who desire to become coaches sometimes don’t see the whole picture. People like Pat Summitt, who played and coached, are wired to take things as they come and then deal with it the best they know how. Sometimes a coach’s family and personal life could become collateral damage and those like the late Patricia Summitt did, through athletics, understood that sometimes you can’t win but you must move on and prepare for the next game. That surely was part of the life of an American icon- the winningest college basketball coach in the history of the game. Patricia “Head” Summitt has paved a legacy that will live forever!

The two past weeks has been a run for spring sectional championships for local high school teams. A first time team Sectional Championship for Saratoga boys' Tennis, the Blue Streaks boys' Track and Field won the AA sectional title and a class B sectional runner up performance for Saratoga Catholic boys' baseball team.  


First of all, whether you are aware of it or not, Saratoga High School has a very good tradition in boys and girls tennis and until recently, the boys have been unable to overcome the dominance of teams like Bethlehem, Shen and Niskayuna. The Suburban Council, in my opinion, is one of the top conferences in scholastic tennis for upstate NY. Congratulations to a solid performing tennis lineup, a fairly young one at that, and their Head Coach Tim O'Brien (who also teaches social studies), and the rest of coaching staff for a stellar season.  I feel that Coach Tim O'Brien will continue with future success for the Blue Streaks boys’ tennis team.


Congratulations to the SSHS Track and Field team for winning the Class AA sectional meet last week. A track and field meet, for those who don't understand how it works, is an event that is the sum total of a series of events. There are anywhere from 16 to 18 events that make up a track meet, so there's a lot going on, to say the least. It's really a great spectator sport that has many interesting individual and team aspects to it. This phenomenon takes place at a single area, a smorgasbord, or collection of a variety of athletic endeavors and challenges. My hat goes off to the athletes and Head Coach Chris Conley (who also teaches math) and his staff, for their accomplishment. 


I would also like to pass on my salutary endorsement to the Saratoga Catholic baseball team for a great season, a record of 22-2, they finished as runner up in the Class B sectional championship game.  The Saints have a reputation for an excellent high school baseball program. The tradition has an obvious mentor, and leader – Head Coach Phonsey Lambert, who incidentally just passed the 500 career games won milestone. Amazingly, the Saints, year in and year out, are at the top of the baseball leader board of the Capital District and Section 2. Congrats to the Saints and their coaches, one of Coach Lambert's assistants is Dale Long, the namesake of his dad who played MLB.


The Ballston Spa High School softball team won its first ever Class AA Sectional title by upending Suburban Council nemesis Shenendehowa, congrats to Coach Amanda Fifield and the Scotties. Also, about a week ago Greenwich High School baseball team won its first sectional title in 16 years; Burnt Hills swept the boys and girls class A track sectionals; with Mechanicville boys and Greenwich girls track teams winning their respective championships. The Shenendehowa girls' track program won the AA sectional title, by edging out Saratoga, 190.5 to 171 in total points. 


Section 2 has always been a leader in sports throughout the history of New York State interscholastic athletics. New York has eleven regions, or sections, for scholastic athletics. Some sections are known for their dominance of certain sports, like Sections 8 and 11, in the New York City area, are known for their basketball. Section 3, Syracuse area, is also known for basketball, but has a strong football, soccer and lacrosse tradition. Section 2, I feel is a little more diverse with sports like, ice hockey, basketball, cross country/track, soccer and football. There are many more noteworthy sections in the state known for excellence in certain sports.


On the other side of things, some teams that did not win sectional titles, but were very successful, like the Saratoga High School girls' track and field program, under the direction of Art and Linda Kranick, as usual, were still in the hunt and had a great season. 


As for the Saratoga Catholic track and field program, in its third year of existence, the boys won the first ever track meet against MeKeel Christian of Scotia, and followed with a second win the following week. The girls did very well, but there aren't enough team members to score a victory.  The boys and girls both established many personal and school records this season.


A note of interest: Saratoga Catholic has moved out of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) and beginning this coming fall the Saints will be competing in the Wasaren league. The transition will be a challenging endeavor for the school. The Wasaren is an excellent league, but I feel it's a good move for SCC's athletic program. 


In case you missed it: The Upstate New York Basketball Hall of Fame inducted the class of 2016 a couple of weekends ago. Local inductees were: Saratoga's Joe Britton, 1988 Section 2 Championship team. In 1992, he was named for D3 All American Honors while at Hartwick College; Superintendent of Mechanicville City School District, Michael McCarthy, Schuylerville High School's early 70s Section 2 Champs and Clarkson College standout; Robin Chudy, Saratoga's girls varsity basketball coach, who starred at Union College, and well known referee Gary Kalinkewicz, ranked as one of the areas top officials. I would like to extend my congratulations to those recipients. 



I'm not one who likes to compare eras of local sports, because it gets to be "my dog is better than your dog" and it can become personal, but in the near future I intend to talk about the "good old days" of section 2 sports. An era that I'm referring to relates to a time that drifts from the late 50s through the mid to late 70s, with an emphasis on the 1960s which is a time that I can give an account of since it's part of my history.

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