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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Melanson, Schenectady boys’ swim coach, marks 100th victory


In the closing days of January, ⁣Brian ⁣Melanson⁣ joined the elite ranks‍ of Schenectady ⁤High School coaches ⁤who⁢ have achieved 100 victories, a milestone he reached with his boys’ swimming and diving team.

When questioned about this ⁢significant achievement, Melanson began ‌listing names⁤ such as Mike Celentano, Chris Lotano, Ryan Quinn, Sam‍ Boese, and Calvin Cleworth.⁤ Despite being the only coach the Patriots have had in their 23-year history, Melanson modestly⁢ downplayed ‌his own role in this accomplishment.

“This is the program’s ⁢100th win,” ‍Melanson ⁤stated, referring to the 88-65 victory over Albany. “Every​ single team member has contributed to ⁤this achievement. I’ve just been fortunate​ enough​ to witness​ all of them.”

Reaching 100⁤ dual meet wins was a ​journey, especially ⁢since‍ the pace of victories slowed ‌down after Schenectady joined the Suburban ‍Council with ‌its highly competitive teams ⁤in ​2015. Prior to this, as a ⁢member ⁤of the Aqua League, Schenectady had eight‍ winning seasons in 11 years, including a school-record 11 victories ⁢in the⁤ 2005-06 season.

“At our banquet last year, I ⁢told ‌the team we needed four more wins to reach 100,”​ Melanson recalled. “Considering our ‌recent seasons had yielded three, one, zero, three, and two wins,‌ I wasn’t sure if we could do ⁣it. But the boys did an amazing job. The excitement was‌ palpable when we ​secured⁤ that ⁢fourth win.”

Not only did Schenectady secure a fourth win, but they ‌also added ⁤a fifth, ending the season with ⁤a 5-7 record, their ⁤best as a Suburban Council ⁣member. Another highlight​ was the Section 2 championship meet Division ⁢1 preliminaries,⁤ where the Patriots ‍achieved⁢ 31 personal bests in 31 swims.

“The most rewarding part⁣ for me is seeing ⁣the kids succeed,” Melanson shared. “Whether it’s qualifying for the ⁤state championships or learning how ​to swim,‍ every achievement is⁢ significant. It’s ​truly ‌wonderful to witness their growth and progression.”

Since the program’s inception ​in 2001, Schenectady swimmers and divers⁣ have been setting and achieving personal goals. Along the way, the team has also celebrated significant milestones, such as winning six Aqua⁤ League championships and finishing fourth at the 2008 ⁤Section ​2 meet.

That‍ 100th⁤ win was another significant achievement for‌ the Patriots, and for Melanson, who joined⁤ the ​ranks⁣ of Mark Sausville⁣ (boys’ basketball), Jerry Rosen (baseball), and Mary Ozarowski ‌(girls’ volleyball) in Schenectady’s 100-win club.

“The credit goes to the athletes,” Melanson, a Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake graduate and Zoller Elementary ⁣School phys ed teacher, said. “I ​merely ⁢guide the ship. I strive to bring out the best in the kids, but ultimately, they are the ones who have to​ perform.”

Melanson’s first team, comprised of 12 underclassmen, didn’t win any of its nine ‍meets. However, they improved and got faster, and ⁤in the 2002-03 season, they achieved a 5-7 record, ⁢with⁢ Celentano emerging as the team’s first star.

The Patriots achieved their first winning season in ⁢2004-05 with an 8-5 record. This‌ was followed by more winning seasons, coinciding with the Patriots’ championship⁣ run that began⁤ with four consecutive Aqua ⁢League titles from 2005-06​ through 2008-09.

“When ​we were in the Aqua League, I always scheduled matches with the top ⁢one or two Suburban Council teams,” Melanson explained. “I could have ⁣padded our schedule, but I wanted ⁣my team ‌to see what successful programs looked like. I believe ⁢it helped ‍us.”

The 2006-07 championship season was particularly memorable as Lotano, David Woods, and Ezra Masse-Mahar became the‌ program’s first state⁢ meet qualifiers. Masse-Mahar secured a second ‍place in the diving competition at the Section 2 meet, which was the program’s highest finish ‌at the time. Peter Runfola won the⁣ prestigious Section 2 Kenneth A. Smith Scholar-Athlete⁤ award that season, and⁢ Woods was‌ chosen as​ the Section 2 Good Sportsmanship Award winner‍ at the ‍state championships.

The ‌2011-12 season saw ‌Boese​ become‍ Schenectady’s‍ first Section⁤ 2 champ‍ by winning ⁣the 50⁢ free. Cleworth earned eight top-three⁢ sectional patches over the next four years and ‍was named Schenectady’s MVP each time. The program’s most decorated athlete led Aqua League title-winning⁣ teams in 2013-14 and 2014-15, and ​left for Division⁤ I‍ Maine with Patriot records⁤ in six of ​eight individual events.

“We’ve been incredibly lucky with the caliber of athletes that have come through our⁣ program,” said Melanson, ‌who has had‌ assistant coach​ Kris Crandall by his side since the 2007-08 season. “We’ve been ​fortunate to have guys who‌ were ‌committed, competitive, ‌and ‍believed in their abilities.”

Prior to taking the helm of the Schenectady program, Melanson coached the Saratoga Springs boys’‌ swimming and diving team for three seasons, leading the​ Blue Streaks to their first two winning seasons.

Melanson also⁣ had a successful six-year​ stint as head ⁢coach of the Schenectady girls’ lacrosse team. His ⁢Patriots set a team record ‌for wins in‍ 2009 when they‍ achieved a‌ 12-3 record and ‌finished second‍ in the Capital District Women’s Lacrosse League.

Jack Sullivan
Jack Sullivan
Jack Sullivan, an informed and passionate sports reporter, is a former college athlete with a degree in Sports Communication from Ithaca College. Go Bombers!
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