ITHACA, NY -- Knowing that I am a “community newspaper” kind of guy, Stephanie Valletta — the coordinator of student wellness and athletics the for the Ithaca City School District — recently reached out to me and conveyed that the ICSD was really proud that several of their own alumni have returned to their home school district as coaches. I told her that I liked the idea of writing a column about that, and I asked her how many coaches were ICSD grads. A half-dozen, I guessed? I was very surprised to learn the number was over 20. Here is a run-down (always nice to throw in a good sports reference):
Clarence Welch III is the head man for the football program, and also coaches indoor and outdoor track and field. John Nicholas is a member of the football coaching staff, as is Khiry Brown, a Little Red alum who just wrapped up a fine gridiron career at Ithaca College. Jonathan Billing is on the soccer coaching staff, as are Teo Levitan-Armstrong and Kaitlyn Hoffay (who also coaches lacrosse). Twenty years of my sportswriting archives will also show that Jodi Maddren is a longtime soccer coach for the district, and Sydney Trumble has returned to coach volleyball and basketball.
Tim Little and Lindsey Bryant will lead the girls basketball program, Shane Taylor is coaching tennis and basketball, Dan Miller coaches golf and basketball, and Lester McNair runs the show for the boys varsity basketball program.
Tim Wood is on the basketball staff, Gordon Begent coaches both basketball and softball, and Eric Parker pulls double-duty with wrestling and outdoor track and field.
Jane Bryant keeps a hand in the girls basketball program, Dave Buchner helps out with soccer and Carson Case is on the lacrosse staff.
It was also pointed out that ICSD has a mother/son coaching duo, as Khiry Brown is coaching football and his mom, Unique LeFlore, is the cheer coach.
They also have parent/child duos as Tim Little is the varsity girls basketball coach, and his daughters — Nia and Madelyn — are on the team. John Nicholas coaches football as an assistant, and his son — Dom — plays football and lacrosse. Al Plue is an assistant softball coach and his daughter, senior Jenna Plue, is on the softball team.
Coaching newcomer Sydney Trumble (2017 grad and SUNY Oneonta basketball player) is the daughter of longtime coach and administrator Jason Trumble.
I asked Stephanie if she shared my amazement that coach Jane Bryant is still at it and she said, “Jane does everything for us. She's a mentor and observer and she is still working very hard to get us through what is still a crazy time. She knows how important it is to have kids playing sports now, and she does whatever she can to make that happen.”
One more close connection: Girls basketball coach Tim Little is married to Samantha Little, ICSD's director of athletics and wellness.
Expressing her gratitude that so many former Little Red athletes are now in coaching positions, Stephanie said, “There is a lot of pride involved in stepping back onto the field, or the court, where you once played as a high school athlete. We just love the fact that these coaches are keeping it all in the family, so to speak. The roots run deep.”
A few columns back, I did a story about the Ithaca Dragon Boat Club, and how hard the paddlers were training for the prestigious Independence Dragon Boat Regatta in Philadelphia. I was pleased to learn that the team won gold in the B major division at the prestigious event — one of the biggest on the east coast. Not only was the event prestigious, it was also very popular, as 55 total crews showed up. The breakdown was: 27 women's crews, 21 mixed crews and seven open crews. Congrats to our local Dragon Boaters.