Tears were flowing at the 2017 Fetterman Award ceremony on Friday at The Otesaga Resort Hotel, and at times they were contageous.
Harold “Buddy” Lippitt, this year’s award-winner, is well-known in the area. He is a lifelong resident of Otsego County, and a Cooperstown Central School graduate, teacher and coach. However, it is unlikely many people have ever seen him cry as much as he did Friday while receiving the 2017 Fetterman Award.
“He’s the toughest guy I know, and if he can’t (stop himself from crying), then I know I can’t,” said Reid Nagelschmidt, one of Lippitt’s best friends.
Lippitt was having enough trouble keeping stone-faced as friends, former teammates and co-workers spoke of his many accomplishments. But then his daughter Emmy spoke about him, and the tears really started flowing, for him and many others.
“I am so proud of him for all he does,” said Emmy, who is a fifthgrader at CCS.
Lippitt graduated from CCS in 1995, and was inducted into its athletic Hall of Fame in 2011. In addition to teaching at his alma-mater, he coaches modified wrestling at the school and youth football and softball in the community. He runs the Red Bursey Summer Playground Camp at CCS in the summer, the CCS Nature Center and is in charge of the open-gymnasium program at the school. He has also coached baseball, basketball, swimming and volleyball.
“Everybody in this room knows how popular he is, how talented he is, how innovative he is,” said Jane Forbes Clark, who presented the award.
“He is gentle with the timid and firm with the unruly,” said Connie Herzig, CCS physical education teacher, who shares an office and gym with Lippitt.
“I love kids, teaching and sports,” Lippitt said. “I really never have a bad day. I love coming to work.”
Lippitt said teaching and coaching are his callings in life, and he is blessed to have had so many good role models to help him succeed. He teared up again thanking Emmy and her siblings, older sister, Marley, and younger brother, Tommy. Several speakers also said Lippitt’s wife, Nicole, should share in the award. Lippitt also thanked former CCS elementary school principal Teresa Gorman and current principal Ann Meccariello and new Superintendent William Crankshaw for supporting him and his programs at the school.
The award is named for former Clark Gym associate director Patrick Fetterman. The Fetterman Award is presented each year by CSC and the Clark Foundation to honor someone who is “dedicated to serving local youth, especially in the area of athletics.” The traits the award is said to embody are “outstanding sportsmanship, inspired leadership and caring service.”
Lippitt was a regular at the ACC gym on Main Street, he said, and he remembered Fetterman as a caring man he liked to watch coach.
“Little did I know my career path would lead me to a gym of my own,” he said.
Last year’s Fetterman winner, Mike Perrino, said Lippitt has become like the man he once studied.
“Each one of the kids in the community looks up to Buddy,” he said. “It is like he is their Uncle Buddy.”