Hall of Fame Class of 2014
Philip Schuyler High School Class of 1972
There has never been a better basketball player to come out of Albany’s public schools than Luther “Ticky” Burden.
Burden grew up in Albany’s South End. As the story goes, he earned the name “Ticky” in fourth grade. A coach gave it to him because of the “tick-swish” sound the chain-link basketball net at Burden’s neighborhood playground made every time he banked a shot.
In 1968, Burden joined the powerful Philip Schuyler Falcon basketball team as a freshman. In his four years at Schuyler, he was a scoring machine – all in an era before the 3-point shot. In his first season, he was the team’s second leading scorer with more than 15 points per game. That year, the team shared a co-championship title in the Class A-B Sectionals.
As a sophomore, he averaged 23 points per game and was the leading scorer on the team. That season, 1969-70, he set the school’s single-game record by scoring 43 points in one game (a record he broke the next year).
Things just kept getting better.
Junior year he averaged 29 points per game. In one memorable game against Mont Pleasant, he went 23 for 25 and scored 50 points. Schuyler went on to be undefeated that year with a 26-0 record. As a senior, he average 23 points per game. The Falcons finished the ’71-’72 season at 25-1, clinching the Class A-B Sectional Championship for two years straight.
Awards and honors piled up during Burden’s years as a Schuyler Falcon. First team All-City. First team All-Capital District. All-State MVP. All-American MVP.
Burden was recruited by the University of Utah, where he went on to be tied for the second-highest single season scoring average in the school’s history. He was a first team All-American in 1975 and played on the United States team that traveled to the FIBA World Championships in San Juan, Puerto Rico. There, he average 20.2 points per game, a record he held until 2012.
As a junior, he was the third leading scorer in the country at 29 points per game. He was first team All-Conference, first team All-American and came in third for national player of the year.
He turned pro after his junior season. He was drafted by the Virginia Squires of the American Basketball Association and the New York Knicks. He chose Virginia but left after one season. He went on to play for the Knicks for the next two seasons, ending his pro career in 1978.
For almost three decades, Burden has lived in Winston-Salem, N.C., teaching basketball to and coaching children at the Gateway YWCA there. He suffered from ATTR amyloidosis, a disease that causes the body's immune system to produce abnormal forms of antibodies. He died Oct. 29, 2015.
Albany High School Class of 1988
Tanya Hansen was a three-sport athlete at Albany High. She excelled in volleyball and track, but found a true love in basketball and spent all her free time in the gym trying to improve her game.
She became the first member of the Albany High girls’ basketball program to reach 1,000 points during her career, an accomplishment that has been matched only three times since. As a junior and senior, she was named to the Times Union, Troy Record, and Schenectady Gazette all-area basketball teams and was a member of the 1988 New York All-State Team. As a senior, she was named to the Parade All-American Team and finished her high school career with 1,096 points and 925 rebounds.
Ms. Hanson went on to star at Division I Rutgers University from 1988-92, earning All-American status, and she remains among the university’s career leaders in many categories. She is the seventh-leading scorer in Rutgers history with 1,682 points. She averaged 14.5 points and 7.7 rebounds over her collegiate career, leading the Lady Knights to four consecutive berths in the NCAA Tournament. She is sixth in career rebounds with 894 and fourth in blocked shots with 245. Other categories in which she is among the Rutgers career leaders:
- Shots made – sixth with 682
- Shots attempted – ninth with 1,254
- Shooting percentage – eighth with 54.4 percent
- Free throws made – ninth with 318
As a senior at Rutgers, she was selected for the Kodak District II All-American Team and named the New Jersey Basketball Coaches and Sportswriters Association Player of the Year.
Ms. Hansen went on to play professionally in Spain following her outstanding collegiate career. She was inducted into the Rutgers Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002 and Capital District Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.
She coached with several programs over the years, including assisting Leslie Bogucki when the Lady Falcons won their first New York State Class A Championship. She remains active in the sport as an assistant varsity girls’ coach at Colonie High School. She also serves the community as a member of the Albany Police Department.
Albany High School Class of 2002
Competitive and curious - two words that are likely used to describe Laura Hotaling. Her swimming career began in an unorthodox manner when she learned that the reason her childhood friend could use the diving board was because she took swim lessons at the YMCA.
Vowing never to be left in the shallow end again, an ecstatic Laura found herself in the guppy group learning the “front crawl” just a few weeks later.
In 1997, as an eighth grader at Philip Livingston Magnet Academy, Laura was allowed to join the varsity swim team, where she would represent Albany High School for the next five years. The following year, as a freshman, Laura won the 50 freestyle for Section II and qualified for New York State Swimming Championships. At States she came in second by one-hundredth of a second.
Over the next two years she emerged as the Section II champion in the 50-yard freestyle, though the state title remained elusive. As a senior in 2001, following wins at Section II championships in the 50- and 100-yard freestyles and an MVP award, Hotaling touched the wall first in the 50-yard freestyle, earning her the first state title of her career. During that same meet she finished second in the 100-yard freestyle and was named New York State Most Valuable Swimmer. Her times for that year qualified her to participate in United States Swimming Olympic Trials. She was also named 2000-2001 and 2001-2002 Girls Public High School All-American for posting the eighteenth and eleventh fastest times in the country in the 50-yard freestyle for those years.
When not representing Albany High School, Hotaling swam for the Albany Starfish and Albany Bluefins, where she qualified and participated in several U.S. Swimming National Championships both in the 50 freestyle and as a member of various relay teams.
In 2001 she placed 23th in the country in the 50-meter freestyle at National Championships in Austin, TX. She was recruited to swim for over 40 NCAA Division I swim teams and eventually chose to represent the University of Pennsylvania for her collegiate swimming career. While at Penn, Hotaling swam Division I for all four years, held school records in the 50-yard freestyle and several relays and represented the Penn at Ivy League Championships. As a senior she was a captain of the team. She graduated in 2006 with a bachelor’s in economics from the Wharton School.
Following graduation from Penn, Hotaling found herself in Manhattan pursuing a career in finance. After a short stint at a management consulting firm, Hotaling made her way to the “buy side” conducting equity research for a long/short hedge fund. In 2010 she joined the Private Equity group at LGT Capital Partners, a Switzerland-based fund manager.
After six years in New York City, Hotaling decided it was time to return to her roots. Today, Hotaling is the Assistant Manager of Private Equity for the 400,000+ member New York State Teachers’ Retirement System in Albany. She manages a global private equity portfolio comprised of 180 investments and over $8 billion in current market value.
She is often traveling, both for work and for pleasure. Though swimming is no longer front and center, Hotaling’s competitive spirit and general curiosity still remain at her core. In recent years she has traveled to five continents, summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, jumped out of a perfectly good airplane, learned to snowboard and competed in three half marathons.
Albany High School Class of 1970
Raymond Leigh is a Falcon for life.
As an Albany High School student, Leigh played football and ran track, lettering in both sports. He also was one of the first students to participate in the academically talented program. He spent his summers during that time working as a lifeguard at the Lincoln Park pool.
After graduating from Albany High in 1970, he attended the University at Albany and spent a year at EOC. He began his career at Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. in 1973, working at various positions in the company until he retired as an electrician in 2002.
Leigh began volunteering for Albany High athletics in 1996, when he son was a freshman on the football team. The next season returned as a full-time volunteer, where he filmed the games and became a mentor to students and other coaches alike. Although his sons went through and graduated from Albany High, Leigh continued volunteering. In fact, for the next 17 years, he was a fixture at Falcon football practices and games. His way with students and other coaches earned him respect on and off the field and in 2005, then-basketball coach Doug O’Brey reached out to Leigh and asked for his help with the team. He continued to work with the basketball team, as well.
Said Jon McClement, one of three people who nominated Leigh to the Hall of Fame:
“Ray’s commitment to the student-athletes of Albany High School has been second to none. He has committed time and treasure to the support of the athletic programs. He has assisted student-athletes in their time of need, whether by making sure they had enough to eat or seeing that had clothes on their backs. Ray’s willingness to support the coaching staff in and out of season has been especially noteworthy. He is a sounding board, a counselor and a supportive voice at a hostile gym or field. He remains a dedicated friend and mentor to all in the athletic department. Without Ray, our school community is less. His actions speak volumes about what he means to our student-athletes, coaches and staff. Ray is the personification of ‘Falcon Pride.’”
Leigh continued his work as a volunteer coach despite health problems that finally sidelined him within the past year. In January 2014, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. Still, his concern was for the young people he coached.
“I feel badly about not being able to do what I love, which is to help our student-athletes to become better, on and off the field,” Leigh said. “I will always be a Falcon, and I will always be grateful to the City School District of Albany for giving me the chance to help the wonderful students become even better adults and leaders in the future.”
Albany High School basketball coach
Paul Lyons was the leader of the golden age of Albany High School basketball.
He ranks among the winningest coaches ever in Section II in New York state. During a 31-year career that began in 1971, he led Albany High to 515 wins, including nine Section II titles and two regional titles. The Falcons played in the Section II large-school championship game 16 times in his 31 seasons and won 75 percent of the games he coached, also among the highest percentages in the history of coaching in the area and the state.
Lyons supervised the City of Albany Saturday Morning Program and ran several summer leagues. He also coached in the Empire State Games.
He is a past recipient of the Albany High School Coaching Achievement Award and received the Christian Brothers Academy Service and Dedication Award as well. He is a member of the Cardinal McCloskey High School Hall of Fame and Capital District Hall of Fame and was a 2006 inductee into the New York State Basketball Hall of Fame.
Lyons died April 26, 2023. You can read more about his impactful coaching career in a May 4, 2023 Times Union article remembering his three decades of excellence.
Albany High School Class of 1968
At Albany High School, Mike Sgambelluri was senior class president and lettered in three varsity sports. After his 1968 graduation, he went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from SUNY Brockport and did his graduate work at SUNY Albany.
Sgambelluri’s teaching career began in the fall of 1972 at William S. Hackett Middle School, where he was a health and physical education instructor. His teaching career continued at Albany High School and the Sunshine School.
He began his administrative career as assistant principal of Arbor Hill Elementary School and became principal of the former School 26 (which later was torn down and rebuilt as Montessori Magnet School) in 1995.
Following his position at School 26, he was appointed assistant director of health and physical education for the City School District of Albany. He also served as assistant principal at the former Harriet Gibbons High School.
Sgambelluri worked in every level of our schools from prekindergarten through alternative high school. He also coached varsity swimming and junior varsity football.
After a 36-year career in Albany’s public schools, he took a position as an adjunct professor at The College of Saint Rose, where he works with students who aspire to become teachers.
He is a safe schools trainer for three local BOCES. He also has a private consulting company and travels throughout the state presenting professional development workshops on violence prevention, team building for faculties, academic interventions that work, and working with difficult students.
Throughout his career Mike has followed the belief that is stated in his company's name: “Working From The Inside Out.”
Albany High School Class of 1986
You might say it all started at Albany High School for Ashley Velie.
The four-time Emmy-nominated CBS Evening News producer cut her teeth in the business working at Albany High’s student newspaper, The Patroon, and AHSCOM, a television club which put out a weekly newscast during homeroom.
At Albany High she learned how to write, shoot, produce, and edit news stories as well as anchor for the now defunct weekly show. Velie also became co-editor of The Patroon newspaper in her senior year.
Velie went on to major in journalism at Syracuse University’s renowned SI Newhouse School of Communications. Her studies included a semester abroad where she interned for the CBS News London bureau – an experience that sparked her interest in foreign news coverage.
After stints as a producer and managing editor with Conus Communications in Washington, DC and as a producer with Worldwide Television News in the UK, she landed with CBS News in London. Velie worked twelve years overseas. Based in London and Tel Aviv, she covered stories throughout Europe, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq, Israel and Gaza.
She covered some of the most significant international stories of the decade, including the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen, the fall of the Taliban in Kandahar, wars in Afghanistan, Lebanon and Iraq and the Arab-Israeli Conflict.
Hezbollah, Hamas and the Taliban are no longer on her regular beat. She now works at CBS News headquarters in New York as a producer for the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley. Velie is also a contributing producer to 60 Minutes, 48 Hours and Sunday Morning.
But that doesn’t mean the stories closer to home have been any less wrenching. This summer Velie traveled to El Salvador to cover the child migration story and has produced stories, including two for 60 Minutes, on post-traumatic stress disorder in soldiers returning from years of war. She also covered the tragic school shooting in Newtown, CT – which earned her an Alfred I. DuPont Award.
Today Velie lives in Brooklyn with her 11-year-old daughter and her husband, who’s a producer for NBC News. She credits her experience at Albany High (and the former School 19 and William S. Hackett Middle School) with helping to shape who she is today.