It took a little longer than anticipated but the Armonk community had reason to celebrate the two Byram Hills High School state championship sports teams last weekend.
District and town officials unveiled the long-awaited sign on Route 128 Saturday morning with the message “Home of the Byram Hills State Champions.” The wood sign, painted in the Bobcats’ colors, commemorate the 2007 boys’ soccer team and the 2015 baseball team.
Members of both teams joined soccer coach Matt Allen and baseball coach Scott Saunders and community members for the honor.
“Congratulations to the athletes and what you’ve accomplished here, for inspiring, and really inspiring the youth of Byram Hills,” said Director of Athletics Rob Castanga. “That’s what something like this does.”
Over the past two or three years, there was a push led by resident Jane Gertz and North Castle Councilwoman Barbara DiGiacinto and others connected with the district and the town to recognize the two teams’ accomplishments, said Board of Education President Ira Schulman.
The town and district agreed to split the cost for the sign and agreed on an appropriate design and location.
“It’s really a collaborative effort and we’re just thrilled,” Schulman said. “It’s such a wonderful thing for people to see as they come into town, the celebration of the state championship teams, and they’ll be more.”
He noted that there are two empty slots for future champions and more wood can always be added.
Allen and Saunders recognized their players, families and the community for making their championship seasons a reality. Allen said the year before the squad made states but came up short. During the off season, the players dedicated themselves to taking the next step.
In 24 games during the 2007 season, the team surrendered just nine goals.
“The mark of a great team is since that state championship, future teams that came after it, no team at Byram Hills soccer has lost more than three games since that point.” Allen said. “We stand on the shoulders of giants and that’s what this is about.”
Saunders said that as a young coach in the district at the time, he followed the example set by Allen. It paid off eight years later, when the baseball team captured its state title. He said the soccer team’s success was a turning point for Byram Hills athletics, with teams in multiple sports also competing for titles.
“What you did was pave the way for future teams, not just in soccer but in everything else,” Saunders said. “You showed us that winning a state title, it wasn’t just a fantasy but a reality. What we had to do was commit to each other, believe in each other, work hard and we can get there, and you guys paved the way for that.”
Greg Shaheen, a striker on the 2007 soccer team, said his remembrances from that season were better than anything he experienced while playing college soccer at Wesleyan.
“Having the whole community really behind you was just unbelievable,” Shaheen said. “I played in college right after high school and it still doesn’t compare to the memories I had back in high school.”
Forward Will Ogden said by playing for your school you were able to receive the support of the district, fans, families and community members.
He said he was happy the two teams will forever be remembered by the community.
“It was a long time in the making and it’s great to see it finally here and have something we can all remember the season by,” Ogden said.
North Castle Supervisor Michael Schiliro said the dedication was originally scheduled for last Memorial Day weekend, but the pandemic forced a postponement until later in the year.