Chautauqua Central Times

‘I Have the Best Kids a Coach Could Have’

CCS Coach Cederquist: Working Together Is the Key

(Note-This article is from the last school newspaper in the history of Chautauqua Central School (1900-1996). The following year Chautauqua merged with Mayville to form Chautauqua Lake Central School.)

It was festive. Super food, a great turnout, with a guess-timated crowd of 300 or more packing the elementary gym.

Chautauqua Central’s Sports banquet on June 5, met all superlatives and more. The 26th annual event – last for CCS – uncapped emotions. It was a nostalgic and memorable occasion for athletes, families and coaches.

The key address by veteran coach Calvin Cederquist, was strictly hole-in-one material. There were more than a few teary eyes, including those of the speaker himself!

In highlights of his talk Mr. Cederquist reminded his audience that size has never determined success. As an example he referred to one of the greatest speeches ever given: Winston Churchill’s famous seven word message that so inspired his people in World War II- “Never give up….never, never give up.”

(Prophetically enough the track coach commented he wouldn’t be “a bit surprised” if his team came up with a win at the State Athletic Track and Field Finals. A bulls-eye prediction. On the following Saturday, June 8, the Chautauqua track relay team brought back a state championship in the C-D Class 4 by 400 a first for CCS and a large victory for the smallest school represented at the meet.)

“It truly does take a community to raise a child,” the industrial arts teacher said as he applauded the efforts of others. Athletic Director David Edward, whom he called the ‘true chief of the Indians,’coaching assistant Mike Whitney for his ‘knowledge and caring,’ and Sharon Cederquist, ‘for understanding it’s not easy being married to a coach.’”

We have included a major part of Mr. Cederquist’s prepared text for our commemorative issue readers:

“Speakers are usually from out and away, but I feel like I am speaking to my family. First, I’d like to talk about the talent in this room. Sometimes we don’t realize the talent we have. It has to be tested and brought out.

Developing talent requires recognition of opportunities and taking advantage of them to work together as a team. Whether it be one athlete and a coach, or a 50-member team with several coaches, the goal is the same: To be successful.

To achieve this goal, we must be willing to work together – athlete and coach, alike. How often have you heard “that team should not have won, they had no outstanding talent.
But they did. They proved the willingness of ORDINARY people working together brings EXTRAORDINARY results.

I am a believer in the relationship between academics and sports. One enhances the other. Sports are a valuable part of education. In 1979, we were picked to win our first county track championship in nearly 50 years. We had worked hard to achieve that point. Then, three of our top athletes were removed from the team. People said we had no chance of winning.

Last summer in a conversation with one of my former athletes, he asked if I remembered that day. “How well, I do, “I said. “Well he said, “I’ve always remembered what you said-you told us we had two choices. We could give up and walk out the door, or pick up the pieces and go on. Several of the younger guys filled in the empty places and we came back and won the championship. I want you to know, coach remembering what you said that day helped me through some tough times.”

There are lessons learned in sports that can never be taught in the classroom. Which brings me to attitude. Most of you know I’m big on attitude.

One time, a man –who had stopped off on his way home to watch a local Little League baseball game- was alarmed when he learned the score was 14 to nothing. Noticing no one seemed discouraged he asked one boy why the players weren’t upset.

“Why should we be.” The boy answered, obviously puzzled. ‘we haven’t been up to bat, yet.”

Abraham Lincoln said, “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” I feel Lincoln was one of the greatest leaders of our country for all time. Perhaps the greatest. I say to my sons – “do you realize all Lincoln had accomplished by the time he was your age?”

I want you parents to know what a blessed man I have been. How many fathers get the opportunity to coach their sons as I have mine ( ‘95 CCS graduate Barry, and senior, Kevin) and to share those experiences. And, you’ve allowed me to try and out the talent of your kids. I did my best, but it was the kids who did the work. It was their attitude. I know I am the envy of coaches throughout the area.

Why shouldn’t I be? I have the best kids a coach could ever have. Our kids are known for supporting each other. We had 50 of them out for track this year and I would be pleased to call every one of them my own.

I was voted coach of the year last year- only because I had the team of the year.

I’m not sure what future holds, but I can tell you where I’ve been. There’s a line in our Alma Mater which says: “Chautauqua High, we come to you, name that’s known afar and near.”
Over the years, I have traveled to every corner of New York for state competitions with your kids. More than most coaches ever have. The name Chautauqua is known far and near. What most coaches only dream about, you have made reality for me. You have given me the greatest gift of all – memories. I will carry them with me the rest of my life.

For Eileen (girls’ track coach Eileen Sheesley) and I, it started out as a dream: to win a championship for the girls. But did we ever dare dream this little school could win both boys’ and girls’ championships in the same year? We not only answered that question – we destroyed it!

What a great ending this final chapter of Chautauqua has been, We may have the smallest school, but we have never measured it by its size, but by its heart.

And that heart will continue to beat for years to come.”

The additional financial assistance of the community is critical to the success of the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame.
We gratefully acknowledge these individuals and organizations for their generous support.