The town recreation field is now named after a coach who patrolled its sidelines for many years.
Family, players and students gathered on Friday, Nov. 28 to dedicate the town field as the Clinton Taft Memorial Field.
“The object of his care and affection was this community, especially the young,” said Father Michael Flannery, who conducted the dedication. “Through that care, he invested himself in the future. I expect that for many generations, there is only one coach for Whitehall.”
Jerry Taft, the son of the late Whitehall coach who served as a family liaison to the groups seeking to find ways to honor Clint, said that he was surprised when he found out that the town had passed a resolution to name the field.
“I was so surprised when I received a call that said that the town had carried this action,” said Taft. “Ever since I can remember I would be over at this field and watched my dad coach, then I started playing. I was there for a lot of his great games.”
Several of his players and students also remembered Taft at the dedication ceremony.
“He demanded a lot and he got a lot in return,” said Paul D’Amico. “He was respected by all those he taught and coached and his influence impacted a great number of sports figures and citizens, and it can be evidenced in his children.”
“I never did play for him, but he was my teacher,” said Kenneth Bartholomew, who approached the board about the possibility of naming the field after Taft. “He taught me to keep trying and I learned from that.”
“I rode in from the country, and I never played sports,” said town supervisor Vernon Scribner. “I would come in on the first bus and go down to his office and we would often start up a conversation. He loved people that worked hard. The coach was respected for more than just sports. He would lend an ear to listen to everyone.”
The marble memorial was created by Gawet Marble out of Rutland, and was placed on a brick and slate base which was constructed by Gene Terry, who was one of the spokesmen for Taft to be recognized by the Whitehall Central School District, and his grandson, recent Whitehall graduate Tim Simmes.
“They did a great job with this,” said Taft. “Gene told me that the town and village crews were very cooperative in helping him get this done, and Ellis Concrete donated the forms to pour the base and even helped out in the process. The piece of slate was donated by Pedro Slate and made a great base for the marble.”
Taft also said that there were many contributors to the memorial that he wished to thank, as well as the town for naming the field for his father.
Taft was also selected as the first member of the Whitehall Central School Athletic Hall of Fame in January of 2008, with an induction ceremony in March.