Rain, lightning forces final game inside YMCA

HORNELL — The Gus Macker has been going on the Main Streets of Hornell for the past 22 years, and somehow, there is still always something new.

This year, the YMCA and Gus Macker officials had to call a slight audible at the very end of the day due to some thunder and lightning, and for the first time in 22 years, the tournament was moved inside.

Luckily for all participants, the poor weather held off until there was just one court left to be played, which was easily moved into the spacious gymnasium, where parents, athletes and other spectators were able to finish out the last few buckets of the annual affair.

“We’ve had years where the thunder and lightning has come and we’ve had to cancel the rest of the tournament, but this was a first. Fortunately, all the division were done, except for one, and we were able to finish it by bringing everyone inside of the YMCA,” said Dan Galatio, YMCA Program Director. “Our parents and players were fine with it, and so was our staff, so it all worked out. But that was, for sure, a first. And fortunately, we have a facility that can accommodate it.”

But apart from that small hitch at the end, the YMCA considered the 2019 Gus Macker to be a huge success. On what turned into an extremely busy weekend for several local municipalities, the Macker once again drew thousands of people to the streets of Hornell all to help raise money for the YMCA.

There were vendors that packed Broadway, and more than a handful of skilled players went home with trophies or medals. And there were also the lucky few who brought home toilet bowl trophies as well.

And while the end result was more than satisfactory for locals and the YMCA, Galatio stated that there will definitely be some discussions from the committee and new things to add. For Galatio, the goal is not to reinvent the wheel in 2020, but rather to make it more reliable.

“We definitely talked about the weekend and considered it a success. But we know that we want to get the committee together and talk about some ways that we can make it better. Maybe we can figure out a few ways to get more teams in here. It’s been around for 22 years, and maybe things need to be freshened up a little bit,” said Galatio. “We don’t it to get stale, and that is going to be our next challenge for next year. Hopefully, we can get more teams, more sponsors, more volunteers, and that will allow even more of the community to get involved.”

One of the biggest successes of the weekend, however, was the Samantha Peters-Smith Dream Court. According to Galatio (and those who represent the Spectator), multiple comments were made on how nice it was that Peters-Smith legacy was remembered in such an appropriate and amazing way.

“I heard that numerous times. I think it was very touching for the family and even a little bit of a tear-jerker,” said Galatio. “I think it was an absolutely great gesture, and once again, all the credit goes to Megan (O’Brien) and Jeremy (Bittel) down at Maple City Physical Therapy. It was their idea, and we were on board from the start. I think it was really nice for the family, and I think the community appreciated it a lot as well.”