Two decades of hard work and continuous success has put Fayetteville-Manlius boys soccer head coach Jeff Hammond on a pedestal few of his peers ever reach.
Under a full moon on a cold Thursday night at Swan Pond, the Hornets beat Utica Proctor, 3-0, and gave Hammond his 300th coaching victory, all of it done at F-M.
"It's hard to believe," said Hammond. "To be at one place for 20 years, it can be a tough gig, but this is a place that truly supports athletics. F-M is a wonderful place to coach."
That support was evident once the victory was sealed. Hammond was given the game ball by one of his players, T-shirts were handed out to mark the occasion, and two cakes were made, one that included an oak tree, F-M's symbol.
Fittingly, the milestone was reached at Swan Pond, the Hornets' soccer home during Hammond's entire tenure.
"It's exciting and nice to win it at home," he said. "It's special to do it here."
As always, Hammond's family was present. His wife, Kathy, kept the score, as she has done since her husband began coaching at F-M. And 4-year-old son Ben was around to join in the team pictures at game's end.
Everyone has seen quite a show since Hammond took over in 1987. Back then, the idea that anyone could succeed legendary coach Ed Schmitt seemed ridiculous.
After all, Schmitt had led the Hornets to 11 Section III and 14 league championships, establishing F-M as the premier soccer program in Central New York. Hammond, just 22 and fresh out of college, had a lot to prove.
But with a patient method of teaching and a continual flood of talent, Hammond's Hornets just kept on winning. Beginning in 1994, F-M claimed five Class A titles in six years, four of them in a row.