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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Sports > General

In praise of coaches/life-changing mentors

The Fred Ahart Coaching Tree Part II

Jason Semo attests to Ahart's influence

Jan 14, 2021

By Richard Ross - reporter/photographer

Coach Ahart at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse for the NYS football championship game featuring Jason Semo's son Aidan at quarterback. Cornwall won back-to-back state titles. Coach is flanked by Jason's wife Bryndis and his long-time friend and protégé Jason Semo.

ROSCOE- “The value in life exists in not how long we live, but in how much we contribute to others in society.” So averred Buddha in a statement of timeless truth.
By that standard, the value of the life of Fred Ahart was priceless. Among his many attributes, the desire to help others, while being humble and self-effacing about his own deeds, stands out most prominently. It would literally take volumes to annotate the story of his life and its resonant impact on so many others. While that is not possible here, in the ongoing narrative of this coaching tree series comprised of tributes by people that Fred inspired to coach young men and women, we will include some more “Fred facts,” to further delineate some of his accomplishments.

In the prior issue we listed many of the hallmarks of his legendary career. It was an impressive list. From here on out we'll delve more deeply into his bio, a word short for biography. Indeed were one to write Fred Ahart's biography, it would be a fascinating and lengthy volume. Consider this rather a thumbnail sketch which in and of itself is beyond impressive.
Here's the first segment:

Fred Ahart bio: Part I
Coach” Fred Ahart began his career at Roscoe Central School in 1969 after earning his B.S. Degree in Physical Education from Ithaca College where he also earned his Masters Degree in1973.
Fred was the Athletic Director at Roscoe Central School for 50 years from 1969-2020. He served as the Varsity Boys Basketball Coach at Roscoe for all 50 years. He was the Head Football Coach for 40 years from 1979 to 2020 after serving as an assistant Coach for 10 years from 1969 to 1978 for a total of 50 years coaching football at Roscoe Central School.
He retired from his Physical Education Teaching Position in 2007 but continued in the Athletic Director and coaching positions right to the end of his life. In 2014 the Roscoe Central School Gymnasium was named The “Coach” Fred Ahart Gymnasium in his honor.
In 2009 he was named as an “Outstanding Friend to Education” by the Sullivan County School Boards Association. He was also presented with the 2018 “Amazing Person Award for Coaching” by the New York State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance in a ceremony at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona NY. In 2019 Fred was presented the Golden Apple Award for 50 Years of Service in Education by the Mid-Hudson School Study Council.

Jason Semo: Athletic Director of Physical Education, Health and Athletics at Horace Greeley High School
Jason Semo had an enormous impact on Sullivan County athletics as a coach and Athletic Director during his tenure at Tri-Valley and Liberty. He went on to serve as Athletic Director at South Colonie and Newburgh Free Academy furthering his impressive legacy in Section IX, before taking over the Athletic Director job at Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua where he is now employed.

Remembering Coach
By Jason Semo
Fred meant so much to me and my family. He was more than just a mentor and a friend, he was like a member of our family. This Thanksgiving was the first one in three years that we as a family weren't getting ready to head up to Syracuse for the State Championship Football Game. When I woke up this Thanksgiving my first thought was of Fred.
In my son Aidan's first trip up to the Carrier Dome, we were happily surprised when Fred walked in to support him and his fellow Section 9 teammates from Cornwall. His being there was bigger than the game itself. It signified to me yet again who he was. I hope to always hold onto the memories shared with him on that day, as well as so many others. He was sick that day but it didn't stop him from making the three- hour ride up to the Dome. It was nothing short of incredible or I guess just simply, Fred. That is who he was and what he was about.
I had a unique opportunity to know him on many levels. As an athlete I competed against his teams. As a coach, I coached with and against him.
All in all, each situation put me in a unique frame of mind when I was around him. It made me feel that I wanted to be the best I could possibly be to earn his respect. What impressed me most about Fred was the incredible respect that he had for sports and what they stood for.
Even more was his unwavering love and commitment to the student athletes, not just his own but ALL athletes, even the ones on the opposing sidelines. Fred was always able to find a way to maintain perspective whether in a win or a defeat. He was there for all of the right reasons.
Fred was the ultimate competitor. He was deadly serious when it came to winning. He was going to make sure his kids were prepared, and they in turn always played hard for him. There was never a question about that. I think that is why he was admired by so many. He wasn't just successful; he was successful while always doing things the right way!
Another important thing that I always admired about Fred was his ability to make his family a part of his work. It is hard for me or anyone that really knew him to not also know Becky and his kids, and now also his grandkids. They shared Fred with us and I know he and Becky were grateful for the lessons they learned by being a part of his career for so long.
Again, it was always bigger than just a game for him ...
I am forever grateful for the immeasurable support and guidance that Fred offered me as a Coach, AD, husband, and father. He was by my side during some of my happiest times and during some of my lowest. Through it all, I knew I could always count on him and I consider myself blessed to have had such an incredible person a part of my life.

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