FREWSBURG - At a recent event celebrating Frewsburg's first-ever New York State Public High School Athletic Association softball title, Tom Mott had some kind words for retiring athletic director Bob Goold.
Mott, who is currently an assistant coach on the Bears softball squad, has known Goold for quite some time, and, during Goold's first year as AD with Frewsburg, was part of the football team, along with future NFL All-Pro Shane Conlan and others, to play for the first time in school history at Ralph Wilson (then Rich) Stadium.
"(Tom) handed me the plaque and he said, 'You came in as a champion, and now you leave as a champion,'" Goold said. "Of course, I had to remind him that (his football team) was beaten by Albion 49-14 on that day (at Ralph Wilson Stadium)."
Retiring Frewsburg athletic director Bob Goold, left, holds the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class C championship plaque that the Bears softball team earned two weeks ago in Queensbury. At right is Frewsburg softball coach Jon Blanchard.
P-J photo by Scott Reagle
Minor historical discrepancies aside, Mott's overriding sentiment is certainly right on the mark. Goold is a champion - not only in the hearts of the countless high school athletes with whom he's come in contact over his 35-year coaching and teaching career, but also with the thousands of special athletes he's coached, mentored and been a friend during his work as area coordinator of the Chautauqua Lakers Special Olympics program.
- - -
Goold, to put simply, is a sports fanatic.
From playing rugby in college - he graduated from SUNY Brockport in 1978 - to coaching tennis, football, basketball, baseball, volleyball and anything in between, Goold has coached pretty much every sport imaginable.
And it was that love of sport, and the desire to share it with others, that led him on the path to working, and eventually leading, the Chautauqua Lakers, which has become one of his most lasting and important contributions to the area.
"I'd been fortunate enough to play a lot of sports in high school," Goold said, "but I saw all those kids who didn't have that chance, and I thought it would be neat to help them.
"So (when the Lakers, formed in the late 1960s) held the special olympics at College Stadium when I was a senior in high school, I went down and helped out."
A passion was born.
"It's something near and dear to my heart," he said.
In addition to countless state and national competitions, he's been to four World Special Olympic Games, including the inaugural event that was held, fortuitously enough, while he was attending Brockport, as a national coach and was for many years the area coordinator of the Chautauqua Lakers.
At the program's height in the late 1990s, there were some 1,200 participants training year round in 13 different sports.
Thanks to the program, he's traveled around the world, had lunch with Muhammad Ali - in Ireland while coaching a young woman in powerlifting- and was even named the national coach of the year in 1990.
What he'll remember most of all, though, is the way in which the program has brought together high school and Special Olympic athletes.
"That's been most special to me, bringing them all together," he said. "We have hundreds of high school kids that do volunteer work, and it's wonderful to see them interact with these special athletes.
"That's been my favorite part."
That, and seeing the Special Olympians get their well-deserved chance at athletic competition.
"Just to see them, it's great," he said of a recent event held at Strider Field that saw some 800 competitors take part. "It's their time to shine, because not all can play little league or youth soccer. The stands are full, they get a chance to compete and feel the joy of finishing an event and receiving a ribbon.
"Their smiles stay with you."
- - -
With a shiny new state championship plaque in the trophy case and a pair of Frewsburg track and field athletes coming off a state meet appearances, Goold will now hand the reins of the athletic program over to football coach Terry Gray.
Now, he's left with nothing but fond memories.
"Frewsburg is a great school," he said, "academically and athletically. I've always said, if they gave the Sears Cup (awarded to colleges with the best athletic programs) for high schools, Frewsburg would get it.
"It's been great."