Tuesday, July 16, 2024

A good sport: Bertrando takes over as Athletic Director

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OBSERVER Photo by Braden Carmen
Nick Bertrando succeeds Greg Lauer as the new Athletic Director at Fredonia Central Schools.

When Greg Lauer announced he would be leaving Fredonia High School, two major voids were opened. The District was not only losing its Assistant High School Principal, but also the head of its Athletic Department.

One of those voids was recently filled with someone who Superintendent Dr. Brad Zilliox said “bleeds orange and black.”

Nick Bertrando has been named as Lauer’s successor as Fredonia Athletic Director for the 2024-2025 school year.

“I am very humbled and honored to continue this very proud Fredonia athletic tradition, continue what we’ve done, and also move it forward as we continue to progress,” Bertrando said to the Board of Education upon his approval. “Thank you all for your confidence, and I’m looking forward to serve.”

Zilliox commended Bertrando’s commitment to the District’s athletic programs over the 17 years he has spent at Fredonia. A Westfield Academy graduate, Bertrando coached tackle football and junior varsity boys basketball early in his time at Fredonia. He currently coaches girls flag football and varsity boys basketball at Fredonia.

Bertrando took over the varsity boys basketball team in the fall of 2018. In doing so, he replaced Lauer, who stepped down after assuming the role of Athletic Director and Assistant Principal. Bertrando was the junior varsity coach the entire time Lauer was the varsity coach, and maintained a strong working relationship with Lauer throughout their time together.

Building upon Lauer’s foundation, Bertrando took Fredonia basketball to heights it had not seen in decades. Bertrando has won two Section VI basketball titles, along with the 2021-2022 Coaches Sportsmanship Award for the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association. Bertrando has coached three 1,000-point scorers — Nick Whitfield, Tyler Putney, and Ethan Fry. Whitfield was the 2020 OBSERVER Player of the Year, while Putney received the same award in 2021. Bertrando’s team was one referee’s inadvertent whistle away from a trip to the State Final Four in 2023.

This fall, Bertrando is also transitioning to a new role as a Physical Education Teacher, replacing Alex Conti, who retired after nearly three decades at Fredonia. Bertrando proved he is capable in that role already through a course he designed with Physical Education Teacher and Coach Joanne Lotter, titled Personal Fitness and Nutrition. The course focused on “creating lifelong healthy habits improving physical fitness, nutrition, and overall well-being.” The New York State School Boards Association awarded Bertrando and Lotter the Champions of Change Award for New York State.

Board President Steve Johnston said he was “so excited” for Bertrando to begin as Athletic Director. Board member Sheila Hahn later reiterated her support for Bertrando.

At a previous meeting, Hahn said, “Coach Bertrando has changed the life of my son.”

Hahn’s son, Mike, is a senior who played a major role on the varsity basketball team the past two years.

“Mr. Bertrando has taught him character, discipline, giving all of your effort – more than 100% – respect for other people, if you’re on time, you’re late,” Hahn said. “… As my son graduates, it’s my one opportunity to say we love Coach Bertrando.”

Mike Hahn graduated one day prior to Bertrando’s official appointment as Athletic Director.

The District has not yet named a replacement for Lauer as Assistant Principal of Fredonia High School. Lauer’s resignation at Fredonia was approved in late June. He left Fredonia to take on a new role as Middle School Principal at the Southwestern Central School District.

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