Celebrating the 10-year anniversary, the 2023 Team of Distinction is the 2013 Hamburg Girls Softball Team. Winning the first ever Class A state championship in school history was not something that happened overnight, but two years in the making. Coming off their first ever trip to the state final four in 2012 that ended in a heartbreaking 2-1 semi-final loss to Jamesville-DeWitt the Bulldogs returned to the state final four with unfinished business. The sting of the disappointing loss sat with the returning players for 8 months.
When school resumed after Christmas break in January 2013, there was a renewed excitement, and an eagerness to avenge their only loss the previous season. No longer were they the hunters, they were the hunted and everyone was gunning to beat them. The team had to move up and play in Class AA for the regular season because of the school’s enrollment. They would have to play against perennial powerhouses such as Orchard Park, Lancaster, and defending Class AA state champion Clarence. The girls welcomed the challenge and believed that it was only going to make them better, more mentally tough, and ready for any obstacle that stood in their way of winning a state championship.
The season started out of the gate slowly and after the first six games the team was looking at a 3-3 record. For a team that did not lose a game the previous year, doubt was starting to creep in. After the back-to-back losses to Clarence, it was gut check time and the players and the coaches sat for a long time in the outfield and came to the conclusion that it was put up or shut up and that we were not going to squander the talent we had on this team. From that day on, the Bulldogs went on to win every game except one non-league contest against Section V – Mercy (Defeated by Hamburg later in the season in the Far West Regional game).
Hamburg had some tough competition to reach the state finals again. The team defeated West Seneca East 6 -1 in eight innings to win the Class A-1 Section crown and then moved on to play Starpoint for the overall Class A Sectional Championship. This was a hard-fought game with two very evenly matched teams. Hamburg struggled out of the gate as Starpoint gave Hamburg a dose of their own medicine by playing small-ball and bunting their way on base. After some player position adjustments, the team settled down and eventually went on to win 4-2.
The Far West Regional game was a rematch from an earlier non-league contest against Our Lady of Mercy (Section V). One inning. Five hits. Four runs. That’s what earned the Bulldogs the victory. Mercy took the lead in the first inning, but Hamburg scored four times in the third inning and blanked the Monarchs the rest of the way for a 4-1 victory in the Class A state softball tournament quarterfinals at SUNY Brockport. Pitcher Bridget Hogan limited Mercy to six hits and the girls strung together some key hits in a decisive third inning. Hogan started it with a single followed by Kailee Ramaeker’s reaching on an infield error. Rachel Watson and Sarah Mertowski each ripped run-scoring singles before Leah Jones drove home a pair of runs with a push bunt base hit that slid perfectly between the 1st and 2nd baseman.
From Lisa Palma-Lerche:
“As we made our way to Queensbury for championship weekend the coaches learned some valuable lessons from the previous year….try to eliminate ALL distractions….including cell phones. I remember walking the hotel hallways with 19 cell phones and chargers in my hand and plugging them into all the outlets in my hotel room. Players from other teams were in disbelief as I walked by and heard them say “I hope our coach doesn’t do that!” We woke up Saturday morning refreshed and ready to complete the mission we started on March 1st. Unfortunately, the start of the game was delayed by two hours because the fields were still wet from Friday’s heavy rains. When the fields dried and the girls took the field the Hamburg Bulldogs won the New York State softball Class A championship in a way no one could have imagined.
We beat Sayville, 5-3, in the finals, but it was the 1-0 win in eight innings over Tappan Zee in the semifinals that left many in the crowd at Adirondack Sports Complex in disbelief.
With two outs in the eighth, Maddy Tucker reached on a single to the outfield and Allison Salerno doubled to left. That set the stage for Hogan – With runners on second and third and two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Tappan Zee was trying to intentionally walk Bridget Hogan to load the bases and set up a force out at any base. Instead, Tappan Zee’s pitcher let a pitch get a little too close to the strike zone and Hogan reached out and smoked the ball to right-center allowing Tucker to trot home.
You could tell the fielders weren’t exactly ready for a ball to get hit. It looked like she had never intentionally walked a batter. Bridget took it outside — it was great, it was clutch, and it was crazy.
Hamburg’s win over Sayville in the final also had its share of drama. Down 2-1 in the 5th inning, Eighth-grader Heather Haberman hit a two-run-homer over the fence to give Hamburg a 3-2 lead. The Bulldogs scored two more runs in the sixth inning to take the lead, 5-3. Sarah Mertowski reached on an error and after two outs, Tucker singled. Salerno then delivered with the game-winning RBI, and Hogan, who pitched a four-hitter with six strikeouts, then drove in the fifth run.
As I look back and reflect on this season, the first thing I think is not the wins and all the accolades that we received. It’s not the coming home to a police and fire truck escort or the parade the school and village threw. I think about all the girls on the team and the amazing relationships we all had with each other and still have today. It was such a special team, one that doesn’t come around too often. We were there for each other for the highest of highs and the lowest of lows and that is why the “Chainlink” was such an important part of our team huddle before every game. Each of us was a link. Each of us had a role on this team. Some bigger than others but we succeeded as a team because we each accepted our role and did it to the best of our ability. We Still Believe…… Hoo-Rah!”
This is the second boys’ soccer team to be inducted in the Wall of Fame as a “team of distinction,” joining the 1968 team with this high honor. “JT’s Raiders” as they called themselves in the 1975 yearbook, were led by Coach John Thomas, compiled an overall season record of 18 wins – 1 loss. Co-captains Tom Ketterer and Jim Durr, led the team to the 1st Section VI overall championship ever, by beating Kenmore West 2-1, solidifying the Bulldogs claim the rank of #1 for WNY. Despite Section VI not being able to participate in the New York State championships in 1974, sports writers still listed Hamburg as the overall NYS ranking of #4 in all of State. The team had great balance both offensively and protecting the goal, as the Bulldogs outscored their opponents by a dominating 68 goals for while allowing only 18 goals against. Remarkably, remembered Co-captain Ketterer, in no less than 9 games during the season, the purple and white scored the game’s first goal within one minute from the start of the game!
The offense was led by Bob Minkel and Billy Young while the defense was defended by goalie Jim Durr, Carl Villarini, Todd Rice, Helmuth Wolf, and Tom Ketterer. Eight members of the championship team received post season honors. Named to the ECIC All-Start Team: 1st team: Jim Durr, Billy Young, Tom Ketterer, Carl Villarini, and Bob Minkel. 2nd team: Helmuth Wolf, Todd Rice, Alex Lopez. Tom Ketterer also received All-WNY, All New York State, and regional All-American honors. Bob Minkel also received All-WNY honors. Five players from this team went on to play soccer in college
Hamburg Boys soccer continued to dominate Section VI for many more years, but none achieved the success that the 1974 did in gaining the rank of #1 at the end of year in Western New York.
Head Coach: Richard Van Valkenburgh
Co-Captains: Dave Klemenich and John Pritchard
Complied an 8-1 record during the ’76 season, ranked Top 10 in WNY and 25th in New York State. 10 Players were named Division II All-Star Team: 4-Offense, 5-Defense, 1 Special Teams. Mark Collins and Perry Dix selected as All-Western New York- Buffalo News. Perry Dix set Division II record by blocking 6 punts during the 1976 season. Outscored their opponents 156 points (17.3) to 89 points (9.8).
THE BEAUTIFUL GAME — A DREAM SEASON Those in the know describe soccer as “the beautiful game” and during the 1992 soccer season a group of beautiful young ladies played the beautiful game beautifully for a whole season. To be competitive in Section VI was always a goal, but to advance beyond that, to the NYS playoffs, was a dream. No Section VI, Class A, girls soccer team had ever taken the giant step to “The States.” This ’92 team was made up of six seniors and a bevy of underclassmen. From day one, co-captains, Heather Williams and Jolie Mandell, took the reins of leadership. The other seniors, Molly Sheehan, Chrissy Metzger, Jennifer Funke and Robin Barris bought into the process. The rest of the team also “bought in”. They had no choice, as the positive attitude passed on by the upperclassmen became contagious. As the season progressed it was easy to observe a good team chemistry and team trust being built. Practices had purpose and it showed in games. If there was an individual hero in a game it was because of a team effort. Being the runner up in Division I did not deter the Bulldogs. While Williamsville North took the Division title, they lost to Lockport while the Bulldogs were besting Orchard Park. That set up the Section VI Finals between Hamburg and Lockport. In the finals, it was the “never give up” Bulldog attitude which prevailed. The Hamburg Bulldogs were now headed for uncharted territory. Hornell High School hosted the States and it was the first time the Bulldogs played on an artificial turf field. The Bulldogs were pitted against Webster, Section V Champs. More Bulldog heroics! Being outplayed throughout the game, Hamburg kept Webster off the scoreboard. Goalie, Jennifer Funke, made some outstanding saves during regulation. Overtimes proved fruitless by both teams and it came down to penalty kicks for a berth in the Semi Finals. Forward, Lyneve Lauria, stepped into goal for the Bulldogs PK session and made a key save, while freshman, Mary Watts, tied the contest with a well-placed shot. That set up the winner by another freshman, Kate Dziedzic. She calmly placed a neat shot passed the Webster Goalie and the Bulldogs were off to the Semi’s.
Shenendehowa was a totally different story. National polls had them ranked #10 in the country and the school was more than twice the size of Hamburg. A “David and Goliath” ending was not in the works and a “Dream Season” came to an end. Coach John Thomas had the highest praise for the play and conduct of his payers and felt that this team was not the most talented, but it was the blend of players and the way they played that created the success. The Hamburg ladies were awarded the state playoffs “Sportsmanship Trophy” for their positive attitude. Thomas stated, “I would invite every Hamburg athlete to have an attitude that our kids have. The more they overcame odds the more they believed they could overcome anything. They are a bunch of kids playing for each other. If someone faltered, someone else would step up and it would be someone different each time. Co-Captains Williams and Mandell came together and summarized the season this way. “The team worked on pride, determination and played for the love of the game. We worked together like a unit, a family. We were “All In.” We played through physical and emotional challenges and persevered through it all to be the best team we could be.” “Truly a “Dream Season.”
Front Row: Moira Sheehan, Laurie Giumento, Christine Metzger, Heather Williams (Co-Captain), Jolie Mandell (Co-Captain), Robyn Barris, Nicole Abramo, Maggie Schreier, Jennifer Funke. Second Row: Amy Tomaszewski, Melissa Reinagel, Kristen Kummer, Chun Yu Liu, Lyneve Lauria, Jennifer Stockmeyer, Jennifer Errington, Brooke Catarella Back Row: Tara Manteghi, Sandra Gullo, Laura Sheehan, Mary Watts, Kate Dziedzic, Coach John Thomas
The Hamburg Boy’s Golf teams dominated Western New York for twelve consecutive years, coached by Hamburg Wall of Famer, Jim Henneberg. In the twelve-year stretch the Bulldogs won or shared 12 consecutive division championships, and only losing 3 matches, which is an astounding 97% winning percentage! Several team records were made and broken during the streak, including the team scoring- individual match total team scoring of +4 over par for 72 holes, and the individual match school record, set by Kris Cappuzzo, of -3 under for 12 holes. This school record along with Cappuzzo winning the NYS golf champion, helped launch his induction into the Hamburg Wall of Fame in 2012. In total, there were 50 boys who were members of these twelve teams, and many of them have gone on to careers in the golfing industry. The talent level was so deep that some of the most difficult competitions came in the playoffs for starting positions among the team! That dilemma was solved by Coach Henneberg, who scheduled two opponents on the same day and devised a split squad strategy, which allowed more players to compete without sacrificing a drop in the quality of play. Many team members remain friends and look forward to teeing it up with former teammates. Golf remains one of the “lifetime sports” which can be played for decades after graduation, combining a blend of mental and physical ability, and is one of the few sports which requires a competitor to self-enforce the rules. Our Hamburg golfers displayed this high level of integrity both on and off the course.
Hamburg Boy’s Golf Teams 1988-1999 Coach: James Henneberg
Team Members: Brian Andrea Luke MacDonald Jason Ansuini Brian McElwain Rob Black Rob McElwain Adam Boland Colin Maher Jon Boland Mike Measer Pat Bowman Derek Nicholas Kris Cappuzzo Mike Pallotta Joe Centrich Paul Peccia Tim Claret’ Jason Polisoto Mike Cohoon Jeff Rapini Chad Collins Mike Rapini Kevin Devine Jason Ruh Dave Dunn Craig Saundres Kevin Edson Andy Sheffield Brad Fischer Mark Szarowicz Mike Frydrych Mike Szarowicz Ryan Gannon Chris Thuman Jason Geiger Doug Wagner Joe Gervase Brad Weaver PJ Hoak Jacob Werner Chad Hoisek Dave Will Todd Hoisek Tim Will Jim Jordan Gene Williams Joel Kenyon Andy Zemrac Jeff Kummer Bill Zoeller