The Albany Academies has unveiled its new $4 million athletic training facility.
The Academies took the wraps off the 33,000-square foot multi-sport practice arena Thursday. The James E. Poole Athletic Facility features a 150-meter indoor track and two basketball courts. Head of School Christopher Lauricella: "In the last 10 years the school has regionalized. So we pull from as far away as Schoharie County and Saratoga County. We've grown. And so now we offer 50 sports and what we heard today, of course is, that in basketball and other courts sports, we'd have to stack our practices. So some of our children weren't leaving until eight o'clock at night and getting home at nine and then starting their homework. This lets everybody get home in time for dinner and enjoy some family time and get a good practice in."
Lauricella says until the indoor track was built, athletes had to practice outdoors at the mercy of the elements. The building is named in honor of James Poole, a legendary Albany Academy track coach and teacher who graduated from the school in 1968 and continues his involvement today. Poole: "I knew once I retired it was going to be very hard to leave the place. I'm here four mornings a week before five o'clock opening the pool for the public. We have public who utilize our swimming facility, and I've been substituting quite frequently as a matter of fact, I substituted this morning, so I haven't really left the place. It's an awful close part of my life. I'm an alumnus of the school, two sons and a stepson attended the academy and I met my wife here. She's an Albany Academy alumna. So I'm pretty well invested in the school and it's a very important part of my life. So I haven't really left yet."
Lauricella: "Coach Poole was a student here and then returned after a stint in the Peace Corps to teach here. He spent his entire career here, taught English, but also coached multiple state championship track teams and swimming as well. So he's been an icon for us for over fifty years."
Lauricella adds many former student-athletes supported the fundraising call for the building because of the impact Poole had on their lives. Poole says he's taken a great deal of pride in the 115 seasons he has coached cross-country swimming and track during his time at the Academies. "We have three outdoor individual section II record holders. High hurdles, the 400 intermediate hurdle and the high-jump. Our high-jumper, a young man named Dan Olson in 2001 was the number one high-jumper in the United States for high school kids. He is the holder of the indoor and outdoor New York State high jump record."
The Albany Academies was formed in 2007 with the merger of The Albany Academy and the Albany Academy for Girls. Both institutions were founded in early 1800s. The private school has 760 students and has 27 varsity athletic teams.