Saturday, January 15, 2011

Part roast, part toast for FLCC's Putt Moore

David Pullen, left, principal of Penn Yan Academy and 1990 graduate of Finger Lakes Community College, presents professor and coach Dennis “Putt” Moore, with the Alumni Association Exceptional Service Award.

More than 300 friends, colleagues and former students of Putt Moore filled the bleachers on one side of the FLCC gym Saturday to hear speakers – alternately solemn and irreverent – congratulate the professor and coach for 38 years of making a difference.
They praised him for his tenacity and dedication in helping build athletic teams and academic programs from the ground up, starting with his hire in 1972 when FLCC classes were held in Canandaigua storefronts.
Part roast, part toast, the event opened with master of ceremonies and professor emeritus Jack Coons explaining how college leaders opted to name the basketball court Putt Moore Court in his honor.
As the small group cast about for ideas, Jack said, they turned to former students to see what words of wisdom Putt may have shared with them on the court. Fifteen minutes and 27 four-letter words later, he joked, “we decided that we just could not use anything.”
Athletic  Director Bob Lowden shared a story on Putt’s recruitment secrets. Having joined Putt to watch a high school student play ball, he was surprised when Putt strode off the court at the end of the game. “Don’t you want to talk to the player?” Bob asked.
Before he knew it Putt was in the locker room, and in fact, in the shower telling the likely surprised player all the benefits of FLCC, including personal attention. “Doesn’t get more personal talking than to a kid in the shower,” Bob quipped.
David Pullen, ’90 and principal of Penn Yan Academy, said he learned the meaning of commitment as Putt took the basketball team from 4-21 in David’s first year to 17-10 the following year. He called Putt “kind, dedicated, strong willed – very strong willed.”
Though tough on the court, “Putt always made you feel like you were part of his family.”
Gil Jackson ’85, now athletic director at Marcus Whitman, credits Putt for taking an unfocused youth and turning him into, not just an athlete, but a real student, too. Gil went on  to get to multiple degrees, including a degree in educational administration. “I shudder to think where I might have ended up if not for CCFL and especially Putt Moore,” he said.
Gil said Putt “pushed me to become what I never thought I could. He told me I was never going to play in college if I didn’t learn to play guard. I worked very hard that year because I was going to prove him wrong.”
FLCC President Barbara Risser praised Putt for fostering the FLCC spirit, which she described as “a collective passion on this campus, a genuine pride in who we are and what we do.”  The FLCC spirit, she said, had its roots in the storefront days in which Putt was a key figure. “It’s my pleasure to thank Putt for giving so much of himself to FLCC over the years and to congratulate him on these richly deserved honors.”
As he took the microphone, Putt joked that his name was spelled out on the main campus long ago, shortly after it opened in 1975. The buildings and grounds supervisor called Putt to tell him that he was the subject of the college’s first graffiti.
Then on a serious note, he said, he was “truly embarrassed and overwhelmed” by the outpouring of good wishes then added that any accomplishment is about teamwork. He praised the college administration, faculty and staff for being so supportive of college programs.
“What I heard from them most was:  'How can I help you? And, what do the students need?'”
The alumni association, he added, “always came through” whenever there was a need as well.
His life goal, Putt said, was to make a difference in students’ lives.  “We have made a difference. You know how good it is to say that? Our college has made a difference.”

For more photos, see the FLCC Flickr site Click here.

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