The Post-Journal

Asquith Looks Back On 34 Memorable Years At Cassadaga Valley

Asking Art Asquith to pick his most memorable moment as a physical education teacher and coach is a little like asking Nolan Ryan to select his best pitching performance.

There are just too many.

"I can't keep track of my glasses," the 62-year-old Asquith joked earlier this week. "I've had a lot of exciting things happen from night to night."

But after 34 years in the Cassadaga Valley Central School District, Asquith decided to retire, effective at the end of the 1990-91 school year. With his departure goes a wealth of love and concern for the youngsters he was charged to teach and coach.

Asquith began his teaching career at Cassadaga Valley in 1957 and over the next three-plus decades earned his mark as a teacher at Stockton, Sinclairville, Cassadaga and Gerry elementary schools - "I see them at their best," he said - and as a coach for just about every sport offered at the junior high and/or high school.

"I've had a little shot at most of all of it," Asquith said. "It's been a lot of fun." Like for example:

  • Being an assistant coach for the undefeated Cassadaga Valley football team in 1966;
  • Watching his Cougars beat Jamestown High School in basketball at the JHS gym in 1959;
  • Seeing Kihm Carlson pitch a no-hitter in a Section 6 baseball playoff game in the 1970s;
  • Or watching the junior varsity girls' basketball teams he has coached win 64 out of 70 games in the past four years.

"I've always felt like I was very fortunate working with young men and women who, a lot of times, don't have a lot of material things, but who appreciate the small things like our athletic department," Asquith said.

That's what makes CVCS's proposed austerity budget (which eliminates sports for the 1991-92 school year) so difficult to swallow.

"I feel bad for the young athletes," he said. "We have a lot of boys and girls we keep in school because of their success in athletics."

Asquith added that athletics enable a youngster to develop a positive self-concept. "You see him 25 years later and he's become a fine man and father with a fine job. He's cleaned up well.

"The kids are the losers," Asquith continued. "I can understand the frustration with people who are having trouble with their taxes... (Sports) is not as important to them, but I feel very bad for the young athletes, who, if we don't have the sports, are going to lose out."

The school system was going to be at a loss, anyway, even if sports were included in the budget, according to athletic director Dan Massey.

"Art's just a super guy," Massey said. "I've never run across anyone who doesn't like Art. He's energetic, he's enthusiastic, and he's good for all the kids up here. We're going to lose a tremendous educator and friend."

Massey noted that Asquith has been particularly instrumental in getting girls to become interested in sports. As an example, Massey said, between 60 and 70 girls came out for the junior high basketball team, thanks to Art Asquith's inspiration.

"I read an article in the paper about a favorite teacher," Massey said. "This one girl wrote about her favorite teacher and it was all about Art. He just gets a lot out of the kids and the kids love him. They'll run through brick walls for him."

They may still get the chance, should the school be able to field teams, beginning in the fall. Massey said that while Asquith had to resign his post as junior varsity girls' basketball coach and varsity golf coach upon his retirement, he "would be considered like any other applicant" for the job should he so desire.

"Art's a very low-key kind of guy who is very patient," Massey said. "He coaches and teaches in a manner that kids want to perform for him."

Until such a time comes along again, Asquith, who lives with his wife, Judy, in Cassadaga, is content to play golf - "the toughest game I ever got involved in" - and do some painting.

"The retirement probably won't hit me until September when the kids go back to school," Asquith said.

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