When John “Jack” LaBombard came to Queensbury in 1966, he fell in love.
“I absolutely fell in love with Queensbury,” LaBombard said. “Not just the school and the district, but even looking around at the mountains, it felt like home.”
LaBombard was a physical education teacher at Queensbury Union Free School District from 1966 to 1997 and coached baseball, football, golf and wrestling. LaBombard led Queensbury’s varsity wrestling program for 31 years and is considered one of the most successful wrestling coaches in New York State history.
LaBombard was inducted into the Queensbury UFSD’s new Athletics Hall of Fame during a ceremony Saturday, Oct. 14 at the Courtyard by Marriott in Lake George.
“I showed up every day, and I worked hard, and I was very intense, and I loved the kids, I loved the school, I loved everything about it,” LaBombard said. “Teaching and education in general is a giving profession. A little bit of you gives every day when you go to school. And coaching is a giving profession.”
The new Athletics Hall of Fame recognizes and honors athletes, coaches, teams, administrators, staff and community members who have made significant contributions to Queensbury’s athletics program.
After nearly 75 years of athletic excellence, the inaugural class includes two teams of distinction and 41 individual honorees. The first half of the group was inducted Saturday. The second half will be inducted in fall of 2024.
Tim Jones, the school’s sports information specialist, served as the evening’s master of ceremonies. Jones spent countless hours researching, and collecting information and stories about the rich history of Queensbury athletics.
“It is truly humbling to be in the presence of this tremendous group of inductees and a pleasure to honor your gifts and achievements,” Jones told the crowd. “Thank you all for authoring such amazing stories, which embody the Spartan spirit. To those we’ve lost, the memories of your contributions to Queensbury’s history of athletics and our community will be cherished forever.”
Rich Keys, Queensbury’s director of health, physical education and athletics, recalled being interviewed by Lloyd Mott, who was posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“I always knew that if I could work to develop the passion for coaching and teaching that both Terry Martin and Jack LaBombard had, have the poise of Bill Smith, Al Hammel’s ability to connect with children, Fran Cabana’s energy and enthusiasm — that of a superhero, which many of those elementary students still think that he is — and the class and professionalism of Lloyd Mott, things would work out just fine.
“Now, it’s been 30 years, and I haven’t achieved any of those things,” Keys laughed, “but I certainly am appreciative for what those people have done to influence me so I could further my career and have an opportunity to do things like this.”
Robert “Bob” Glendening traveled to Queensbury from his home in Scotland to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
A standout three-sport athlete at Queensbury, Glendening was a Major League Baseball eighth-round draft pick and signed with the Chicago Cubs following his junior year at St. Lawrence University. Following his professional baseball career, Glendening served as a U.S. Marine Corps pilot for 14 years.
“When I see so many men that I work with now that didn’t have the background that I had — two parents who love each other, a support group like this, a dream of a childhood through high school,” Glendening said. “I’m just so grateful for all the people in this room that poured so much in me.”
Many athletes and coaches honored Saturday night paid homage to fellow inductee John Dennett, a physical education teacher, coach and administrator who completely transformed the district’s athletic department from1968 to 1982.
Jennifer Dennett Johnston held her father’s hand as she called her father a role model for his family, young athletes and the greater Queensbury community.
“He has taught us that success is not about the destination, but the journey, and that true victory is not just about winning on the field, but about winning in life,” Johnston said. “As a father, he has instilled in all of us the values of commitment, respect and integrity. He has been our pillar of strength, our source of wisdom and our greatest fan. He has shown us that greatness is not just about what you accomplish, but the impact you have on others, the lives you touch and the legacy you leave behind.”
Superintendent of Schools Kyle Gannon reminisced about time he spent with many of the coaches honored Saturday night. He recalled the distinct voice of the late-Dr. John “Jack” V. Irion, who was Queensbury’s superintendent for 21 years from 1973 until 1994.
Gannon coached football, and after the team lost to Scotia, Dr. Irion looked at Gannon and said, “Good game, Coach.”
“That one statement of encouragement makes me think of all the individuals being honored here tonight,” Gannon said. “‘Good game.’ Such a small but poignant way to cap off years of work, hours of practice, daily sacrifices, everything that makes these athletes, coaches and contributors extraordinary.”
Click here to see more photos from the 2023 Queensbury Athletics Hall of Fame ceremony.
2023 Queensbury Athletics Hall of Fame inductees
- 1977 Varsity Girls Cross Country (team of distinction)
- Beverly Carpenter ’57 (coach)
- Charles “Chuck” Connolly (coach)
- Jeffrey Cook ’74 (athlete honored posthumously)
- Dr. Amy Phelps Davis ’81 (athlete)
- John Dennett (athletic director/coach)
- Robert “Bob” Glendening ’80 (athlete)
- Quentin Howe ’85 (athlete honored posthumously)
- Dr. John “Jack” Irion (contributor honored posthumously)
- John Irion ’77 (coach)
- John “Jack” LaBombard (coach)
- Joseph Lehet ’71 (coach)
- John “Jay” Marra ’70 (coach)
- Terry Martin (coach)
- Christine Bergeron Merrill ’79 (athlete)
- Lloyd Mott (athletic director/coach honored posthumously)
- Laura VanDenburg Paniccia ’78 (athlete)
- Mark Sheehan ’79 (athlete)
- Craig Short ’77 (athlete honored posthumously)
- Timothy Smith ’63 (athlete)
- William “Bill” Smith, Jr. (coach)
- Elsie Stec (contributor)
- Andrew Varney ’80 (athlete)
- Heidi Mann Vittengl ’82 (athlete)
2024 Queensbury Hall of Fame inductees
- 1997 Varsity Girls Cross Country (team of distinction)
- William “Bill” Anderson, Jr. ’89 (contributor/athlete to be honored posthumously)
- Julie Clark ’89 (athlete)
- Gary Crossman ’92 (athlete)
- Kevin Crossman ’94 (athlete)
- Heather Fiore DiBiase ’93 (athlete)
- Jeffrey Dybas ’87 (athlete)
- Joshua Etu ’99 (athlete)
- Matthew Goetz ’87 (athlete)
- Brendan Harris ’98 (athlete)
- Caitlin Hickin ’00 (athlete)
- Dr. Christine Nicholson ’89 (athlete)
- Scott Paltrowitz ’00 (athlete)
- Suzanne LaMere Seifert ’88 (athlete)
- Daniel Stine ’98 (athlete)
- Eric Stoddard ’00 (athlete)
- Kevin Sullivan (coach)
- Adam Terry ’00 (athlete)
- Robert “Bob” Underwood (coach)