June 30, 2012
Boettger bids fond farewell
Dryden High AD retiring
For the past 10 years, Ralph Boettger has overseen the daily operation of all sports programs at Dryden Central School.
All of that comes to an end as Boettger officially retires as the school’s athletic director as of this coming Monday.
“I’m going to miss the people,” Boettger said of the change in his life. “That’s why I came back here in the first place. They are just a good bunch of people, they aren’t the same people that I coached around. The office staff, the coaches, the parents... it’s going to be different. The relationships far outweighs all the stress that the A.D.’s position brings.
“When I came to Dryden, I didn’t know one kid,” he added. “I’ll miss the kids. I’ll truly miss that kid that gets it or really matures, the opportunity to say nice pass, nice catch last night, great game last night or being able to tell the kid or coach that it will be okay after a rough game.”
Boettger, who grew up in Levittown and went to Division High School on Long Island, was a productive football quarterback at SUNY Cortland in the early 1970s. He once threw for career-best 320 yards in a 48-41 loss to Central Connecticut State in the fall of 1976.
He went on to be the football coach and athletic director at Avon Central School between his college days and his return to the Finger Lakes area. After scholastic coaching stints in football at Ithaca, Dryden and Candor, Boettger became the Purple Lions’ athletic director on March 6 in 2002. After spending a decade on the job, he knew that the time was right to step down.
“The work load is always getting harder,” Boettger said. “My work ethic says I need to be at every event from start to finish. I need to be involved in helping to set up the field. That’s just me. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad, but it burned me out. I could never have done this job for 20 years, with my work ethic and the time away from home. My memory of leaving Dryden every day was turning in to the driveway at home and having my son open his window, it didn’t matter what time it was, and asking how the game went. It’s my fondest memory, but it also brings out the fact that I was missing a lot of things.
“When I was home, my mind was always on something at school,” he continued. “Coaching was planning, watching games films, that took time from the family. I am looking forward to not having to worry is the field ready, are the officials on time, what is the weather like and is it going to change. Days off for an AD are never days off. You’re always on call and that is even worse now with technology. The texts, the tweets, the emails. I won’t miss that.”
There are some serious issues on the horizon for athletic departments to be concerned with and one of the biggest is concussions.
“That’s going to take on a life of its own,” Boettger said. “Dryden was one of the first schools in the IAC to come up with a policy. Steve Meyer, one of the trainers at SUNY Cortland, brought down a policy from Baldwinsville. We took that and tailored it to us.
“ It is going to get tougher on ADs,” he continued. “Right now I take care of all concussions, I keep track of all the paperwork. I’m not sure if that will become a nurse’s job ornot, but it’s going to get more cumbersome. It’ s not just the athlete as a concussion, how will it affect in him in class (the bright lights, the lack of concentration). Concussions can happen in any sport.”
Another continuing issue is the annual school budgets and the state of the economy, can sports programs still be funded by the school.
“The new AD coming in will have some things to deal with,” Boettger said. “First, keep things the way they are is going to be crucial. I don’t think you can increase things right now or for a couple of years. You really have to be an advocate to the school board. It will take some serious communication time.
“Second, at some point get golf, boys’ lacrosse and girls’ lacrosse fully funded by the district,” he added. “ It will take patience. You try to do some things, but you can’t do everything. Equipment has been coming through donations and fundraising. I hope the district can bring help more in the future, because the support for those programs as far as kids is there and you don’t want to deny them. Each group has such great passion. I hope they will eventually become fully funded.”
Lacrosse was a more interesting case because it really isn’t an IAC sport. There are a few IAC schools that have it, so there is more travel to the Binghamton area, Oneonta and Elmira.
“It was really Sandy Sherwood (superintendent) and the board that got together to get that done,” Boettger said of the funding for transportation. “I truly believe the board had so much respect for the job that other people (mostly parents) had done that it was time for them to help out. That is a big transportation issue. The program is progressing. Most of the money there is still from fundraising. If you have questions about how to fund raise, just ask the lacrosse people. They are the masters.”
The transition from being a football coach to just the athletic director led to an interesting moment the first Purple Lion game that he wasn’t involved in as a coach.
“I got the AD job in March and it was a whirlwind being the end of the winter season and start of spring season, but it was really the end of the year,” Boettger recalled. “I had the summer to take a little vacation and regroup, but then it was time to get ready for my first fall. It did not hit me until that first football game. Eric Hartz was the head coach and we’re playing Lansing in the opener. It’s getting dark, but I don’t realize that it is getting dark. I’m so concerned that everything is going ok. I thought I would go up to the press box and see if the coaches needed anything. They don’t see me and the first thing I hear “Is Ralph going to turn on the lights?” Oh my God! I forgot the lights! I go down real quick at turn on the lights and then I relaxed.
“My first screw-up, but we go on and win the first game. It was then that I realized I missed football. I didn’t miss the summer or the preseason stuff, but I missed coaching.
As for the retirement bucket list, Boettger has some ideas.
“In no order of importance,” he began. “One is more trips to the Levittown. There’s a memorial garden there for one of the baseball coaches and I help out with that as much as possible. Two, help my son (Scott) open a gym. It’s something he has always wanted to do and I want to help him with that project. Three, I plan on coaching again. Four, plan on being home every chance I can get. More family time. Five, Jets Training Camp when they are here. Six, I need to take care of my health. Working out more I’ll be able to do something every day.”
Boettger says his dream job is still out there as well.
“My dream job, if not coaching is I would love to be the guy who takes care of the athletic facilities, especially the football field,” he said. “Make the facility look first class so when people come there they get what they need. Coaches come to the field and the benches are ready, the ice is there, the water is there. It would be like a director of football operations.. If there is a district that would allow me to do that, paid or not, Maybe mow, make the lines a little thicker. that would be my dream job.”
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