Our wonderful little town of Penn Yan is well known as a lacrosse hotbed. The PYA Lacrosse programs—both boys and girls—have enjoyed a tremendous amount of success over the past 25 years, including winning three New York State titles—two for the girls and one for the boys.

In fact, the 1998 Mustang girl’s lacrosse team, winners of a N.Y.S. championship, will be inducted into the Penn Yan Mustang Athletic Hall of Fame in September. There will be more about this special team later this month. Besides winning titles, the Mustang lacrosse programs have also provided many national college lacrosse programs with fine players over the years. And as these talented players mature, they bring talents and knowledge of the game to the coaching ranks. A growing number of Penn Yan Academy lacrosse alumni are entering the lacrosse coaching field, bringing the same level of success they enjoyed during their playing days, and a former PYA lacrosse star turned coach was recently given the highest honor a coach can receive.
Penn Yan native Kelly Lickert-Orr was named “The National NCAA DIII Coach of the Year” last week by the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association.

Lickert-Orr became Head Coach for the Women’s Lacrosse team at SUNY Cortland last year. In her first season at the helm of the Red Dragon program, she compiled a 22-1 record, winning the (SUNYAC) State University of New York Athletic Conference championship. She was named “Coach of the Year” in the conference and also earned the same honor in the ECAC D-III Mid-Atlantic conference. Cortland continued their successful campaign by sweeping through the NCAA D-III Tournament. They registered a huge 17-6 win over Trinity College (Conn.) in the championship game. The Red Dragons are National Champions in Division III for the year 2015 — the first ever NCAA title for the Cortland women’s lacrosse program. It was quite an inaugural year for the Penn Yan native.

Kelly started her lacrosse career in Penn Yan playing under Coach Patty Queener. She graduated from PYA in 2005, earning numerous awards. She was a member of the 2004 State Class B Championship team. After high school, she starred at Limestone College in South Carolina, graduating in 2009. Lickert-Orr set the school’s all-time scoring record with 259 career points (121 goals and 138 assists). She was a three-time All-American, and helped the Saints win three Conference Carolina titles and three trips to the NCAA D-III Final Fours. She also played on a U.S. team that played in a tournament in Australia.

After her playing career was over, her successful coaching career began. In the summer of 2012, Lickert-Orr led a U.S. Travel team to a third place finish in the annual European Championships. She also coached the Finger Lakes Flamingo Club team while she was an assistant-coach at Nazareth College in Rochester. In 2011, Kelly was named Head Women’s Lacrosse Coach at Keuka College. In her four-year tenure at the local college, she compiled a 52-11 overall record, including a 32-1 in the North Eastern Athletic Conference. She was named the NEAC Coach of the Year in 2011, 2013, and 2014, winning back-to-back conference title and an appearance in the NCAA D-III Tournament.

Kelly has packed a whole lot of good lacrosse things in the past decade, and the amazing thing is, the Penn Yan native’s coaching career is really just getting started. Although she works in Cortland, Kelly still calls Penn Yan her home. She resides in Penn Yan with her husband Jarrod. Congratulations Kelly, Women’s Lacrosse Coach of the Year! Your hometown is really proud of you!

Once again, the autumn season looms, and a sign the season of change approaches as the NFL training camps have begun. The Buffalo Bills opened their camp at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, marking the 15th year the NFL Bills have called the Rochester College their training home. They sport a new head coach (Rex Ryan) and new coaching staff; new players with a new offense; and new hopes for a fan base starving for a winner. It is August, and every team has the same record, renewed hope, and is a potential Super Bowl winner. Will the anticipation remain in December?

Speaking of the Buffalo Bills
The Bills have played professional football in Buffalo for well over half a century. Before there was the National Football League Bills, there was the American Football League Bills. Before there was Ralph Wilson Stadium, there was Rich Stadium. Before there was Rich Stadium, there was War Memorial Stadium. That old football venue was properly called the “Rock Pile.” Being the location where the movie “The Natural” with Robert Redford was filmed was the stadium’s claim to fame. As a sports venue, especially a pro sport venue, it left a lot to be desired. It was located in a dangerous neighborhood infested with crime. Buffalo’s International League baseball team in the 1960’s called War Memorial Stadium their home. It became so dangerous the Bisons only dared to play Sunday afternoon games there. The rest of their home schedule was played at a park in Niagara Falls. But the old “Rock Pile” was the Buffalo Bills first home.

Believe it or not
There was actually a time when every NFL game was not televised. The television networks would selectively pick games to televise. Buffalo, being a small TV market, was left out many times in those early years. The loyal Buffalo Bills fans had to rely on other means to follow their favorite team. You could buy a ticket and go to the game, or listen to the game on radio. If you chose the latter, you were treated to the resonate voice of Van Miller on WBEN. Miller called the Bills first game against the Boston Patriots in 1960. For the next 37 years he was the “Voice of the Bills.” His 37-year career was the longest tenure for a single team in NFL history. Van Miller was there through all of the Bills glory years and Super Bowl appearances. He coined the word “Fandemonium” to describe the frenzied Bill rooters. His total body of work earned him a spot in the Hall of Fame. Van Miller retired in 2003, ironically closing with a Bills - Patriot game.

Early this summer, Van Miller, Voice of the Bills, and true Buffalo radio icon, passed away. Bills fans hope the 2015 season will see the return of “Fandemonium.” Van Miller would have loved it!