BY TIM TAYLOR
Tioga County Sports Report
SPENCER — When Spencer-Van Etten hired Rebecca Saggiomo as its new athletic director it brought in a youthful individual who has experienced the small school athletic atmosphere, but also has some background in a large school setting as well. She will look to incorporate the best of both worlds at S-VE.
A native of Athens, Pennsylvania, Saggiomo graduated from Elmira Notre Dame in 2012. As a Crusader first baseman on the softball team, she was recognized as one of the top players in the area and also played on an undefeated state championship team as a junior. She took her diamond skills to Niagara University and later became the varsity softball coach at Elmira High School, where she also taught 10th-grade English and started the student athlete club at Elmira, of which she was the advisor.
Saggiomo began working toward her admin degree last summer and learned about the S-VE AD position near the end of the recent high school softball season.
“I wasn’t even really searching for administrative jobs right away,” she said. “I was actually searching for English positions and I had actually interviewed at Spencer-Van Etten for an English position and me and Missy Jewell, the building principal here, got talking and she brought up admin and I told her I was working on my cert and it just so happened that it was like the perfect position I would be looking for, so she prompted me to apply and interview for this position.”
Even though she hasn’t experienced a school day at S-VE, she can tell the differences between this school and Elmira.
“It’s totally different,” she said. “I haven’t witnessed a lot of student interaction yet, so I don’t really know the feel of a normal school day, but just being here, it’s a rural community as compared to Elmira being a city feel. The buildings are a lot smaller so it’s easier to get familiar with the different facilities. I would say a lot of the staff here wear a lot more hats, they do a lot more things within their scope of practice, whereas Elmira has a person for each and every single different thing. So, a lot less staff, a lot smaller buildings and it’s really just a big community feel here. I really like that. Everyone gets along, works together, helps each other out, and I really love that about Spencer-Van Etten. It reminds me a lot of Notre Dame.”
Of course, with something new comes challenges.
“I feel like I reach personal challenges every single day, because it’s so new to me," Saggiomo said. "This is my first time being an administrator and I am super grateful for the administrators at Elmira. I can call or text or message them at any time. Tom Morrell, the AD at Elmira, I have texted him many times already. Even his secretary, Joyce (Folckemer), she’s helped me out a lot, so I have a lot of support that I can lean on, just ask for advice when I reach those challenges and they’re willing to help me with whatever I need.”
The merger of S-VE and Candor sports teams could present a challenge, although Saggiomo says she hasn’t dealt with any in that regard. Like her counterpart at Candor, Saggiomo feels the merger between the two districts has been positive.
"I haven’t really seen any challenges yet,” she said. “I’m part of the steering committee where we talk about all the merging and things going on, and it’s really just a positive atmosphere. We’re really there for what works best for kids with safety and opportunities, and I’ve never witnessed a negative conversation about the merger. Maybe there are, or have been in the past, but from now moving froward, it’s just a positive thing between me and the AD at Candor, Pete Ahart. We’ve been working very closely together and it’s just been very positive interaction about giving kids opportunities.”
During the previous school year, the two districts were merged in football, boys and girls soccer, boys and girls cross country, field hockey, wrestling and boys golf while remaining separate in volleyball, boys and girls basketball, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field. S-VE did not have boys and girls bowling, and Candor did not have girls golf, and did not have participants in those sports to create a merger.
Saggiomo pointed out that the merger has helped both school districts offer opportunities for athletes to participate in some sports vs. the possibility of teams folding.
“I think it’s definitely opportunities for them to compete in sports,” she said. “We were folding teams whereas if we’re merged we can at least have a football team or have the wrestling team, so I think having a team is better than not having a team.”
The success of the athletic programs at both schools reaches further than the merger, Saggiomo feels.
“I also think a lot of it has to do with our youth organizations, because those are the kids coming up through, so really having strong youth organizations is huge, and I think they’re really working on building those too, which is really great,” she said. “The kids love it too. They have friends, not just from Spencer-Van Etten, but now they’re friends with Candor. Our principals say all the time, we have just as many Candor kids at our school dances as we do Spencer-Van Etten now, so it’s just a great community feel and to be able to have those relationships with kids at both schools is awesome too.”
Fall practices begin Aug. 19 and the first regular season event will be held Aug. 30.
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