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June 11, 2010

 

Giroux departs after 33 seasons

CoachBob Ellis/staff photographer
Longtime Groton High varsity baseball coach Gary Giroux chats with Matt Hinama at a game in May. Giroux retired at the end of the season after 33 years.

By TOM VARTANIAN
Staff Writer

For 33 seasons he has been a fixture on the bench for the Groton Central baseball program, but that all came to an end when the Indians lost to Elmira Heights Edison 11-5 in Section 4 Class C quarterfinal round back on May 28.
That was the final game for Gary Giroux, who is retiring from coaching and teaching physical education at the Tompkins County school and the end of the school year. It has been a nice career that began at the school even before he was officially hired in the fall of 1977.
Giroux was a graduate of Peru Central School, but became familiar with the Finger Lakes area as a football and baseball player during his collegiate days at Ithaca College. He was a student-teacher at Groton during his senior year at IC, but his first three years after earning his degree were spent at Wayland Central in Western New York.
“I taught driver education there for three years, but I really wanted to coach football,” Giroux said. “They didn’t have football, so I was looking elsewhere when I got the call from Dave Remick. The people in Groton knew me and I liked it here when I was a student teacher and in college.”
Even though football wasn’t on the original agenda, Giroux remembered his time as a student teacher and came back to the area.
“I began teaching driver education in Groton and became the baseball coach in the Spring of 1978,” Giroux recalled. “I taught driver education for five years before becoming a physical education teacher, which I did at all different levels from kindergarten to high school for the past 28 years.
“I was an assistant football coach for five years,” he added. “I coached JV basketball eight years and coached junior high basketball for 10 years, but it was baseball in the spring for 33 years.”
Despite a 7-9 record this season, Giroux compiled a respectable record of 357 wins and 279 losses as baseball coach. The Indians won the Interscholastic Athletic Conference Small School Division title in 1992, the 1994 IAC division and overall crown, the 1998 division title, plus the division and overall titles again in 2000 and 2001. Groton was the IAC runner-up in 1977 and 1978. In Section 4 Tournament action, Groton won the Class D crown in 1991 and the Class C crown in 2000. That 2000 team went all the way to the State Final Four before losing to Saratoga Catholic at Alliance Bank Stadium in Syracuse. The Indians were sectional runners-up in 1993, 1994 and 1995.
Through all the years, Giroux and his wife, Paula, have watched two sons graduate from Groton and college while Caden is currently an eighth-grader at Cortland. Cory is now a teacher in the Groton School District and has been the junior varsity baseball coach for a couple of years. Cal has also returned to the area with a college degree and works for Intertek.
“It’s been wonderful to coach two of my sons and see them become successful,” Giroux said. “I now look forward to watching Caden in his high school career and I am helping Tim Whelan coach the team he is playing on right now.
“Of course,” he continued. “none of this would be possible without all the support of my wife all these years. She has shown a lot of patience with all I’ve done.”
What does Gary Giroux believe his leaves as a mark from his coaching career?
“I think Groton has a stronger baseball program,” he replied. “There have been a lean years, but I think the program has a good tradition. I am proud of that.”
What will he miss when the school year begins in the fall and the 2011 baseball season rolls around?
“I’ve always enjoyed coaching and looked forward to every season,” Giroux replied. “I have had a lot of great athletes over the years and I even had the chance to coach some of the kids of my former players. I consider that an honor.
“The community has been great to me,” he continued. “The people in Groton have been very supportive and I really appreciate the opportunity I have been given. I really love it here and will miss it.”

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