February 21, 2023
Since graduating from Jamestown High School 30 years ago, Kirsten Green has gone places — and then some — in the world of collegiate athletics.
Her resume includes serving as a student manager for Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski and, later, as director of basketball operations at Seton Hall, Michigan and Harvard under Coach Tommy Amaker. Currently, she is the assistant director of athletics/special projects at the Ivy League school.
But as Green was inducted into the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame on Monday night at the Lakewood Rod & Gun Club — one of 11 to be so honored — she told a gathering of more than 350 that she was glad to be “home.”
Said Green: “The writer Thomas Friedman wrote in his book, ‘Thank You for Being Late,’ (that) ‘It is so much easier to venture far, not just in distance, but also in terms of your willingness to experiment and take risks … when you know that you are tethered to a place called home … a real community. It is my anchor and my sail.'”
The rest of the CSHOF Class of 2023 — Robert Barlette, Sheldon Battle, David Hinson, Frank Jagoda II, Bruce Johnson, Scott Kindberg, Fred Larson, Marty Nichols, Jay Sirianni and Amy (King) Swanson — could relate to Friedman’s take.
To a person last night, they shared their appreciation for where they grew up and the people who supported them along the way. It was clear they felt right at home.
- BARLETTE: The fastest sprinter in county history and an outstanding football player which led to scholarships at the University at Buffalo and at Syracuse University and, ultimately, a three-year contract with Birmingham of the World Football League, the lifelong Dunkirk resident offered this quote from Hall-of-Fame running back Walter Payton:
“Life is short, it is oh so sweet. There are a lot of people that we meet as we walk through these hallowed halls, but the things that mean the most are the friends that you meet and take along the way.”
- BATTLE: A three-time state champion and Chautauqua County record holder in the shot and discus, and a first-team all-state football player during his years at Jamestown High School, Battle went on to become a six-time All-American at the University of Kansas and, in 2005, he was ranked No. 4 in the United States and No. 10 in the world in the shot. An alternate on the U.S. World Track & Field team, Battle competed at the 2006 Olympic Trials.
“I would like to thank the community and the people who have impacted my life in such profound ways,” he said. “Without this community and people willing to sacrifice their time and energy, countless individuals such as myself wouldn’t aspire to reach for the sky.”
- HINSON: The state Class A Co-Player of the Year in football and the state 400-meter intermediate hurdle champion during his senior year (1994-95) at Jamestown High School, Hinson played football at the University at Buffalo for four years and began his NFL scouting career in 2002, capped by being part of the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victories in 2019 and again earlier this month.
One of the many influences in his life was his neighbor, Richie Nance.
“I remember in eighth grade I begged him to come to my game,” Hinson recalled. “He was in high school at the time and, to my surprise, he showed up. I scored four touchdowns that game and he smiled with pride. The next day he told everyone that I was going to be the next great player at JHS. He always challenged me, and I strived to be as fast and strong as him. He taught me how strong the mind is and would always say, ‘Mind over matter. You can do anything you truly believe in your mind.'”
- JAGODA II: The all-time winningest baseball coach in Dunkirk High School history — passing his former coach and CSHOF inductee, Al Stuhlmiller — Jagoda paid tribute to, among others, his former players.
“To my greatest teams, to my teams that we would call ‘rebuilding,’ the goal was always the same — to improve throughout a season, have integrity for your school, your community and respect for your family and friends,” said Jagoda, who has won 366 games in 28 years to go along with nine league titles, five Section VI championships and two Far West Regional crowns. “Winning will come and people will support you, if you can show them that.”
- JOHNSON: Since he started the Frewsburg Central School swimming program in 1977, Johnson has guided the boys and girls teams to a combined record of 948-231-2. And while he admitted they have been “very successful,” he noted that it was “mainly because of the wonderful young men and women who have sacrificed their time and effort to become better athletes and people.
“For the record, I never won a race, never broke a record or even got to stand on an awards platform. It is all the swimmers and divers that did all that. I only hope that I was able to guide them along their journey and push them to become better people and citizens.”
- KINDBERG: A 14-time New York State Associated Press Association writing award recipient, the regional sports editor at The Post-Journal, The OBSERVER and the Times Observer has also authored 10 books and is the co-editor of a book on the history of baseball in Jamestown.
“My view the last 40 years has been breathtaking indeed, thanks to those who have been so generous in sharing their stories with me,” Kindberg said. “As I accept this incredible honor, along with my fellow inductees, just know it’s truly been a privilege to call Jamestown home for 62 years and now I can call the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame ‘home,’ too.”
- LARSON: Recognized as one of Chautauqua County’s finest cross country and track & field coaches, Larson’s accomplishments are staggering. During his 30-year career at Fredonia Central School, his cross country teams posted a 568-30 record and claimed 13 Section VI championships. During one stretch, the ‘Billies went 250 consecutive dual mets without a loss, which was a New York State record. In track & field, working alongside his brother, Jack, he led his teams to 16 league titles, seven sectional championships and a 139-28 record.
“Thank you again to the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame for celebrating those that have devoted their time and energy to our local athletes and, to my fellow inductees, I wish you continued success,” said former Fredonia athletic director Tammy Rea, who represented Larson. “The lessons learned here are lessons you will use throughout your life.”
- NICHOLS: An All-American wrestler at Ithaca College, Nichols has now coached at his alma mater for more than 25 years during which he has mentored 10 national champions and 80 All-Americans. Those accomplishments have earned him multiple Coach-of-the-Year honors.
“As a successful coach, I’m often asked how I did it, how did I get here,” the 1986 Cassadaga Valley Central School graduate said. “In my life, as well as my career, I have had so many incredible opportunities. I often wonder myself. Was it luck? Hard work? My network of people? Probably a combination of all three.”
Jay joins his dad and Mike in the CSHOF while Nick, the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, is certainly headed in that direction.
“My parents, Fran and Amy, have been tremendous role models for Mike, Nick and I,” Jay said. “We all went into the field of education and coaching because of your influence. You taught us the importance of faith, family and integrity. We hope we’ve made you proud.”
The head football coach at Southwestern Central School, his alma mater, Jay compiled a 101-26 record from 2003-2014 that included state championships in 2008 and 2009. As the Trojans’ boys track & field coach since 2016, he has compiled a 42-3 record and claimed Section VI championships in 2021 and 2022.
- SWANSON: A multi-sport athlete at Clymer Central School, Swanson took her talents to Daemen College where she had a record-setting basketball career that earned her All-American honors. She now joins her husband, Nolan, and father-in-law, Mel Swanson, as CSHOF inductees.
“The competitiveness within our family and now our children is evident in everything we do,” Swanson said. “No matter the event, give 100 percent effort, but do it with class. That was what I was taught. Give your best effort, follow the rules, take pride in what you were able to accomplish, and accept losses when they come. And losses do come because there are times when one’s opponent is more talented, but that’s OK if you give it your best.”
NOTES: High School football players Sean O’Brien of Jamestown, Ethan Fry of Fredonia and Bryce Hinsdale of Clymer/Sherman/Panama were honored for being selected First-Team All-State in their respective classifications last fall by the New York State Sportswriters Association. … Banquet chairman Chip Johnson and CSHOF president Randy Anderson presented the inductees their plaques and rings. … Johnson gave the welcome, and Anderson and Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendell and Assemblymen Andrew Goodell provided remarks. … Cameron Hurst sang the national anthem and the Rev. Adam Rohler of First Covenant Church in Jamestown provided the invocation and benediction.