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Brockport student builds gaga pit for community center

by Kari Ashworth - News Editor
Tue, Sep 17th 2019 09:00 pm
The new gaga pit of the Sweden/Clarkson Community Center was built by Brockport student Coby Albone.
The new gaga pit of the Sweden/Clarkson Community Center was built by Brockport student Coby Albone.

The Sweden/Clarkson Community Center has a new addition to its grounds thanks to Coby Albone, a student at The College at Brockport. In lieu of his honor’s college thesis paper, Albone constructed a gaga pit for the center. 

“[A gaga pit is] pretty much just a hip-high octagon that is made of wood and some brackets,” Albone explained. “But you get a foam ball and it stays on the ground and you kind of just bat it at each other… if you get hit like waist below, you’re out, so it’s kind of like a form of dodge ball, but not really.”

Albone is a physical and health education major with a concentration in adapted physical education. He said he chose this project rather than a traditional paper because he wanted to give back to the community. 

“It’s not like a literacy heavy major,” Albone said. “I want to give back to the community, and I want kids in the community, or adults even, to be able to have another option to stay physically active, and I just didn’t feel a paper could do that.”

Albone did have to do some writing for this project. He spent the first portion of the project writing grant proposals in order to fund it. Jimmy Z’s Plates and Shakes, Stockham Lumber Co. in Holley, NY and the Sweden Community Foundation funded the gaga pit. 

Assistant Professor Douglas Collier served as Albone’s mentor on the project, looking over Albone’s grant proposals and helping pick the location for the gaga pit. 

“I have some friends slash colleagues that do a lot of good volunteer work in the community,” Collier said. “And so one gentleman’s name is Jack Milnor, and he was instrumental in, you know, looking and talking to people in government and, you know, making sure that they knew what we were up to and they would support it.”

The gaga pit ultimately found its home at the center after Albone and Collier explored some different options.

“So Coby came to us as a student looking to do his degree,” Wisnowski said. “He was looking to do something different, he was looking to do something that would be a benefit for the community.”

Albone, along with his father and a carpenter, spent a weekend constructing the pit after obtaining the funding and deciding on the location for it.

“We hired a guy; I had funding to be able to hire a guy,” Albone said. “He helped me build it. We went out on a Saturday and built it.”

The director of the community center, Jill Wisnowski, said the children really enjoy the gaga pit.

“It’s been used everyday since [completion],” Wisnowski said. 

The gaga pit gives the community another option of physical activity and allows for the children to play outside rather than be stuck in the gymnasium all day.

“It’s a group activity and all the kids really seem to enjoy it,” Wisnowski said. “I don’t really understand it, I’m not going to lie, but the kids — my grandson is ten and he loves the gaga pits — they just love them… it definitely has benefited the youth of our community.”

Albone finished the construction in July and visited the community center again the first week of the semester. 

“When we first built it, it was on grass and now it’s just all dirt because of how much people have played on it,” Albone said. 

As a thank you to Albone, the community center put a press release and a photo of Albone in front of the gaga pit in the local papers. 

“So the picture and the write up of what he was doing and everything was in the local paper,” Wisnowski said. “And actually he ended up thanking us more than we thanked him. He ended up sending us thank you notes and everything.”

A plaque has also been made to commemorate Albone’s contribution to the community center and will be put up soon. 

Albone has done a similar project before this. His Eagle Scout project centered around keeping the lakes in Orleans County clean for the fish and wildlife.

“I did my Eagle [Scout] project on, I [placed] fishing line and recycling tubes all around Orleans County,” Albone said. “So it’s kind of like the same idea where you have to get permission from different branches of government, whether it’s local or county-wide, and then you have to do the grant writing for building them and getting them funded.”

After graduation, Albone hopes to stay in the area and utilize his degree as a physical education teacher. Albone will present his thesis project on Scholar’s Day in the spring. 

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