CANTON — The Don Petty Re-Open Golf Tournament celebrated its 13th edition on Thursday at the St. Lawrence University Golf and Country Club.
But there were no inferences to bad luck which is often associated with the number 13.
In fact, the tournament’s organizing committee was delighted to honor one of the North Country’s fortunate sons in Gouverneur junior Tristan Pataky. Shortly before the start of football practice last season Pataky was diagnosed with Leukemia.
So instead of lining up against opposing linemen and linebackers last fall he began a courageous battle against the disease. After the diagnosis, the first person he had his mother call was Gouverneur Coach Sean Devlin who immediately began mobilizing a widespread support network.
“The fact that first person Tristan contacted was me meant a lot. He apologized that he couldn’t play football for the season,” said Devlin.
“We got people together and started fund-raising right away.”
Bolstered by family, friends, teammates and coaches, the Gouverneur School District and the community as a whole Pataky went through the prescribed rounds of chemotherapy in Syracuse.
“I am feeling good and ready to go. I want to get in the endzone and help my team win,” said Pataky after receiving the first annual Don Petty Memorial Tristan Pataky Sportsmanship Award on Thursday.
The award was added to the tournament presentation which honored Potsdam’s Will Coleman as the 2014 Don Petty Memorial Award as the Outstanding Football Player in Section 10.
Massena’s Sandy Cook, St. Lawrence Central’s Joe Jubinville and Chateaugay’s Pat Calnon received Don Petty Memorial Service Awards honoring their long-standing efforts to develop the improvement and appreciation of sports in Section 10.
It was also announced that tournament that Harrisville’s Rick Bearor, a member of the organizing committee, has been elected to the New York State Soccer Coaches Hall of Fame. He will be inducted in at the Final Four of this fall’s New York State Public High School Athletic Association Tournament.
Also honored at the tournament were four Wounded Warriors currently serving at Fort Drum: Sgt. Mike Mazingo, Don Rosplock, Scott Thompsi and Shane Gibson.
Wounded Warriors who were extremely impressed with the quality of courage shown by Tristan Pataky in his fight against cancer.
“When we heard about Tristan we wanted to bring him something,” said Sgt. Mazingo who has earned five purple hearts.
“Tristan has shown true courage in his fight and I want to present him with a challenge coin which is extremely difficult to earn. He has earned it.”
Pataky also received an NFL gameball provided by Gouverneur native and free agent Brian Leonard which was signed by several NFL players. Leonard has played with Tampa Bay, Cincinnati, and St. Louis.
Potsdam’s Will Coleman also received a gameball from Leonard in receiving the 2014 Don Petty Memorial Award and the Brian Leonard Award.
“Will Coleman is the last of the Coleman brothers to play for Potsdam. He came back from a broken leg to have a great year,” said Potsdam Coach Jim Kirka.
“He is a coach on the field like no other player I have had.”
Each year the tournament also funds a scholarship for the Brian Leonard Summer Football Camp for players from every football school in Section 10. Receiving scholarships to the 2014 Brian Leonard Camp which will open on Monday at Potsdam’s Sandstoner Park are: Rico Dobbs of Canton, Troy Gates of Gouverneur, Joey Dalton of OFA, Ryan Fullerton of Potsdam, Mason McGrath of Massena, Caleb Gaumes of St. Lawrence Central and Tyler teReille of Tupper Lake.
Massena’s Sandy Cook was the only recipient of the Don Petty Memorial Service Award who was able to attend the presentation.
The longtime WMSA Radio Personality is well known in Massena as the Voice of the Massena Red Raiders and for his heartfelt involvement in countless community service projects.
Across the North Country he is known as the Voice of the Section 10 Basketball.
Cook also served the athletes of Section 10 as a varsity basketball coach at Massena as a modified coach and announcer at Salmon River.
“I really want to thank my longtime boss Vic Perry who hired me at WMSA and for not firing me when I almost blew up the transmitter in my third day on the job,” said Cook.
“It is an absolute honor for me to work the Section 10 Basketball Tournament. We run the best sectional tournament in New York State. And the best thing about it is that it is all for the kids.”
Joe Jubinville, who now resides in Florida, spent his entire career as an educator at St. Lawrence Central where he enjoyed great success coaching girls softball, boys basketball and boys hockey and also served as Director of Athletics and High School Principal.
He also served as Section 10 Chairman in Boys Basketball and Girls Softball.
As an administrator at Chateaugay Pat Calnon served any number of executive committees, served as President of Section 10 and later became the President of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association.
The tournament was also graced by the presence of another former NYSPHSAA President in 99-years young Pete Betrus of Harrisville. Betrus was the recipient of the first Don Petty Memorial Service Award in 2008.