Gary Plimpton moved to Burnt Hills with his family in 1949 as a third grader. It was then that his involvement with Burnt Hills sports began, an involvement that lasted for fifty years until his retirement in 1999. When in high school, which is now Stevens Elementary School, Gary played football, baseball and basketball, earning many awards and seven varsity letters. When the time came to decide on a career, Gary was influenced by his respect and admiration for his coach and physical education teacher, Murray O’Neil.
Gary attended Springfield College where he earned a B.S. in physical education in 1963. After graduation he was offered a teaching and coaching position at a prestigious private school in Shaker Heights, Ohio, where he taught and coached for three years. In 1966, he received a call from another of his mentors, Burnt Hills Athletic Director Jack Rentz, who urged him to apply for a physical education position that had opened. After being offered the job, Gary moved back to Burnt Hills to begin his career in the district where he had been a student, teaching alongside Coach O’Neil, with Jack Rentz as his A.D. Over the years, he taught P.E. in every school in the district.
Gary became the varsity basketball coach his first year back to BH-BL in 1966, and had a respectable first season record of 8-8, the best record in 20 years. That team was the first to qualify for sectionals in 20 years as well. The next year, BH-BL entered the Suburban Council with a showing of 1-17. With nowhere to go but up, the program progressed steadily, and with the formation of Spartan Junior Basketball, became a consistent, well-respected program. In 1982, under the leadership of Ted DiGrande, BH-BL won its first Suburban Council championship. In the 1985-86 season, the team achieved the most wins in BH-BL history with a 21-2 record, participated in the Sectional Final Four, and received its first Class A state ranking.
At the end of the 1986-87 season, Gary made the very difficult decision to retire from coaching. Although it seemed like the right thing to do at the time, he missed coaching terribly. When the varsity girls basketball position became available, he applied and was hired.
The girls program began slowly, but steadily improved. Beginning with the 1993-94 season, the girls won three straight sectional championships, two regional championships, and advanced to the State Final Four, losing in the semi-finals both times. In the 1993-94 season, BH-BL won 20 games for the first time in school history, and broke Shenendehowa’s 112 game league winning streak. The team was ranked third in New York State, and Jenn Miklic was the driving force behind this successful stretch. She was named to the All-Area First Team two consecutive years, and was the first recipient of a full-athletic scholarship to a Division I school. That same year, Gary was named Coach of the Year, a highlight of his coaching career. In 1999, after 33 years, Gary retired from teaching and coaching.
Gary and his wife, Joan, now live in South Glens Falls and spend their winters in South Florida. Their daughter, Julie, lives in Ballston Spa with her husband, Bill, and their daughter, Emily. Pam lives in Davie, Florida, with her husband, Bruce, and their daughter, Iyanna. Jeff lives in Exeter, New Hampshire, with his wife, Jenn, and their sons, Tucker and Carter. Natalie lives in Rotterdam with her husband, Greg, and their son, Jesse.
Gary has an enduring respect and fond connection to Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake School District and community where he spent the best fifty years of his life!