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Warrior, Warriors honored at Petty Open

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CANTON - Exceptional quarterbacks are often referred to as “warriors” for their ability to absorb punishment, provide stellar leadership and make split-second decisions which can make the difference between victory and defeat.

On Thursday, at the Don Petty Re-Open Golf Tournament at the St. Lawrence University Golf and Country Club one of best gridiron warriors in the history of Northern Conference in Mitch Gallagher of Malone, was honored as the recipient of the 2012 Don Petty Award. The award is presented each year to recognize Section 10’s Outstanding Football Player and honor the memory of the late Don Petty who officiated football, basketball and baseball for decades. Each the recipient of the award is invited to participate in the golf tournament with his family and be honored.

Since its founding, the tournament also has also served as the celebration of a successful school year by Section 10 coaches, officials, teachers, administrators, school board members and supporters from all over the section.

Gallagher will attend St. Lawrence University in the fall and SLU Coach Mark Raymond was on hand for the ceremony.

“When I came to St. Lawrence one of my goals was bring to the best player in the North Country here every year,” said Raymond who guided the Saints to an NCAA Tournament berth in 2011.

“This year we made it happen and I am delighted to have a player of Mitch’s character and ability in our program. I can’t wait to see him in the scarlet and brown on Aug. 15.”

The tournament was founded shortly after Don Petty’s death to raise for funds for his wife, the late Joyce Petty. At Mrs. Petty’s request the tournament has continued as a fund-raiser to finance a scholarship for one player in every school in the NAC to the Brian Leonard Summer Football Camp. This summer’s camp will be held this year from July 7-10 at SUNY Potsdam and Mike Betrus of St. Lawrence Central, Joey Dalton of OFA, Troy Gates of Gouverneur, Max Warden of Potsdam and Matt Thibault of Massena will attend on the Don Petty Scholarships.

At Thursday’s tournament the organizers were also deeply honored to host four heroic Wounded Warriors stationed at Fort Drum through the Salute Military Golf Association which provides rehabilitative golf experiences and family-inclusive golf opportunities for post-911 wounded war veterans in an effort to improve the quality of life for these American heroes.

Sgt Vincent Togno of New Jersey, Sgt. Jordan Lewis of California, Sgt. David Ortiz of the Bronx and Sgt. Rob Elie of Maine formed a foursome in the captain-crew tournament and were greeted by a series of standing ovations when introduced by Tournament Co-Director Gerry Smilgin.

“We are just delighted to have these heroes play here as a group. They have served us so well and today we will serve them,” said Smilgin.

“They have a huge welcome to attend this tournament every year and bring anyone they want. I hope they bring a whole battalion.”

“I have been to different events through the SMGA and this tournament was the most fun I’ve had,” said Sgt Ellie.

“The SMGA will have a tournament at the Ives Hill Country Club in Watertown on July 27 and I invite anyone here to come and play and have a great time.”

SERVICE AWARDS

Each year two Don Petty Distinguished Service Awards to Section 10 are presented at the tournament. The 2013 awards were presented to a pair of Hall of Famers in Massena’s Victor Perry and Ogdensburg’s Bill Merna.

Perry’s epic career as a football official will note its 50th season this fall. He has served as president of the state association of football officials and has served as the interpreter and assigner for Section 10 for 40 years.

Merna enjoyed a 37-year coaching career at Ogdensburg Free Academy where he won a host of league and sectional titles, became Section 10’s winningest basketball coach and led Blue Devil teams to a series of NYS Class B Final Four appearances. He continues to serve the athletes of the of area in his second stint as the Section 10 Boys Basketball Chairman.

SECTIONAL TOURNEY MILESTONE

The Section 10 Basketball Tournament will note its 40th anniversary in the 2013-14 edition. Speaking for Section 10 Athletic Coordinator Carl Normandin Sandy Cook of Massena, the Voice of the Section 10 Tournament, announced that plans for a ceremony to note the milestone are now underway.

The Section 10 Boys-Girls Basketball Tournament Committee hopes to honor as many sectional championship teams and their coaches, all-star players and special award winners as possible.

The ceremony is being planned to happen between the overall Section 10 Girls and Boys Championship games.

“Lets get the word out folks to anyone who should be at the ceremony. More information will be available later and a website is going to be set up. We hold the best tournament in the state and we want to honor as many people as possible,” said Cook. “We are planning to hold the girls championship game at noon followed by the ceremony and then hold the boys game at 4 p.m.”

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