Opening of the Poole Hall


Sanjana Kumari

Thursday, November 14th was the day of the official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the brand new James E. Poole Athletic Facility at the Albany Academies. This 33,000 square feet new facility is constructed to allow multiple teams to train at a time, with nets that are able to separate the floor into two courts as well as a running track. Teams including but not limited to volleyball, basketball, lacrosse, and the indoor track will be able to train simultaneously, and the facility is also intended to help student-athletes at the Academies maintain a schedule that lets them balance both their athletic and academic commitments.


There were a few people who spoke to the audience before the ceremony, including the head of school, Mr. Lauricella, as well as Ms. Nancy Carey Cassidy and Mr. Tom Tuttle, one of Mr. Poole’s former students. James Poole, still Coach Poole to many, also spoke at the ceremony. All of the speakers discussed the athletic life of students at the Academies and why the new athletic facility is named after Coach Poole. Many of them mentioned that a very important reason for the aforementioned decision was that Coach Poole had worked at the Academies for fifty years, dedicating a large part of his life to the community. Even now, after his retirement, Coach Poole continues to be involved at the Academies – he’s substituted for teachers in classes in recent years, and his pre-class poems are something all students look forward to. 


Many of the speakers shared personal stories of their own experiences with Coach Poole.  One of the most memorable was Mr. Tuttle sharing with the audience how Mr. Poole’s coaching had helped him achieve more confidence in his athletic ability. He said that with Coach Poole’s assistance, he “quickly realized that [he’s] actually not that bad of an athlete,” and that “with Jim [Poole’s] coaching and mentoring, ultimately, [he] made the state championships in both sports,” referring to cross country and swimming. This gave the audience a sense of just how much Mr. Poole’s coaching impacted students as well as an idea of how truly dedicated he was to the community at the Albany Academies.


Mr. Poole was one of the final speakers, delivering a lighthearted speech that brought smiles to many of the faces in the crowd. He shared the story of when he was told that the decision was made to name the facility after him: he’d been told that the headmaster, who, at the time, was Dr. Douglas North, wanted to see him. Mr. Poole described the event as Dr. North saying that “he wanted to stick [Mr. Poole’s] name on a building,” proceeding to tell the audience that he replied by trying to “convince him that there were a lot of people much more worthy than [he was].” Mr. Poole closed his speech by thanking everyone in the audience for showing up to the ceremony. 


Afterward, a few more words were said by Mr. Lauricella, Mr. Peter Campito, and Ms. Pamela MacAffer. Once the speeches were over, a select group of students and faculty ran a celebratory lap around the running track of the new facility. Then, it was time to head outside for the ribbon-cutting. Although it was cold outside on that brisk November day, the ribbon-cutting surely brought a sense of warmth to everyone who stayed behind to watch it. It was a truly momentous occasion.