It is interesting how certain events in our lives end up shaping us in ways we can hardly imagine while they are happening. These are some key events in my life and some key lessons they provided:
Philanthropic Endeavors, Sponsorships, Awards and Honors
Half Hollow Hill East – 1977
Named to the United States Lacrosse Coaches Association High School All-American Team. One of twelve Half Hollow Hill East student-athletes to be named as an All-American.
Hofstra University – 1980
Named to the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association All-American Team.
Awards, Achievements and Records
1977 selected as the recipient of the Suffolk County Ray Enners Award winner. The Lt. Ray Enners Award is given to one lacrosse player in Suffolk County by the Suffolk County Boys Lacrosse Coaches Association. The winner must be an All-County player and an athlete who best exemplifies courage, teamwork, skill and leadership.
1977 The only high school athlete to be selected and participate in both the Suffolk County North – South ALL-Star Football Game and the North – South ALL-Star Lacrosse Game. Started at running back on the North Football Team and also started at Attack for the North Lacrosse Team.
1977 Featured in America’s Names and Faces for high school football and lacrosse career accomplishments, Who’s Who in High School Football for Half Hollow Hills rushing and scoring records, Newsday’s Long Island All-Star Lacrosse Teams, and a leading vote getter for the NY Daily News Top Athlete Award.
Half Hollow Hills East Varsity Football
1975 Suffolk County League One Scoring and Rushing Champion.
In three years 1974, 1975 and 1976 set both scoring and rushing records. Scored 170 points and rushed for 2155 yards.
Received the Half Hollow Hill Coaches Award for varsity football career accomplishments.
1975 Suffolk County League One Football Championship Team
Half Hollow Hills East Varsity Basketball
1974-1975 Season (Playoffs)
Naval Academy Prep School
1978 Leading Scorer
1980 Leading Scorer
1980 Established a Sophomore record of 4.9 points-per-game that still stands today. This ranked as the second highest points-per-game average in Hofstra Lacrosse history at the time and currently ranks as fourth best on the all time Hofstra list.
1980 one of only 3 players to tally 8 or more points at least 3 times in a single season.
1980 scored 29 points in the team’s last four victories.
1976 Half Hollow Hills Coaches Award [see more]
Presented to James Metzger for varsity football career accomplishments. Jim started 25 consecutive games at running back over a 3 year varsity football career (’74, ‘75, ‘76) and graduated as the school’s all-time leading rusher and scorer (27 touchdowns, 2,155 rushing yards) and was also the team’s all-time leader with 170 points.
1976 Who’s Who Football High School All American
Half Hollow Hills High School Dix Hills Honorees
William E. Brown, Coach
Assistants – Louis DiBlassi, Ronald Segal, Chris Bliley.
Nassau County Coach of the Year for 1963, 1967 and 1968. Sufolk County League AAA I Coach of the Year, 1975
James C. Metzger
Ht. 6’, Wt. 190, Senior, Running Back. Top 10 Suffolk County Scorer in 1975 and 1976, Team Scoring Leader in 1974, 1975 and 1976, Half Hollow Hills Outstanding Football Player Award in 1974, 1975 and 1976. Lettered 3 times. 27 touchdowns, 2,000 yards. National Bank of North American Outstanding Player in 1975 and 1976
1977 American Names and Faces Feature
Metzger, James Conrad
Mellville, NY: P:Mr. & Mrs. Metzger: HS:Half Hollow Hills, Sr: Wt 188, Ht 6ft: ATH: Lacrosse, Attack, Team MVP, All League 1st Team 1976-77, All Conf 1st Team 1977, All Cnty 1st Team 1977, All American 1st Team 1977, Ray Enner’s Award (Outstanding Player in Cnty) 1977, School Scoring Record (102) Pts, School Assist Record (82), School Record (Assists 1 Game) (7), Only Player in School’s History to Cnty, Lt Raymond Enner’s Award, Team Scoring Leader 1976-77, Most Points (156), Record for Career Assists (105), League One Scoring Leader 1977, Cnty Scoring Leader 1977, Scored in Every Game 1977, Started on North Team in Suffolk’s North-South All Star Game, 12-4 Team Record Cnty Play Offs Suffolk Leading Scorer 1977: CO: Lou DiBlassi: ACT: Football RB, Outstanding Player Award, Letter 1974-76, Team Scoring Leader 1974-76, National Bank Of North America Outstanding Game Award 1975-76
1977 Ray Enners Award Winner [see more]
James C. Metzger - 1977 Ray Enners Award Winner’s Profile
At Half Hollow Hills East High School, James Metzger led his team in points and assists in both his junior and senior seasons. He was recognized as an All-American and won the Ray Enners Award in 1977 as Suffolk County’s best lacrosse player.
In high school, Metzger was a stud in all walks of athletics, also playing football and basketball, but he achieved the most on the lacrosse field. He set school records for points in a season and assists in a game, season and career. He was the only high school athlete selected to both the North-South All-Star football and lacrosse games as a senior. Metzger started every game in his 3 year varsity football career and led his team in scoring in ‘74, ‘75, ‘76 and rushing in ‘75 and ‘76. He scored 27 touchdowns, 170 points and rushed for over 2,000 yards. He was recruited to play football by Syracuse, Colgate and Cornell and recruited to play lacrosse by Virginia, Army, Navy, Cornell and Hofstra.
Metzger attended the Naval Academy Prep School after Hills East and led the lacrosse team in goals, assists and points. He was a starting running back for the Naval Academy football team, but suffered a severe shoulder injury which effectively ended his football career. Focusing solely on lacrosse, Metzger decided to come back to Long Island to attend Hofstra University in 1979 and 1980, where he again led the team in assists each of those seasons.
According to Hofstra’s record book, Metzger scored 49 points in 10 games in 1980 - his sophomore season. His scoring average ranks 4th all time for single season points per game and a sophomore record that still stands today. His single season assist average of 2.8 ranks 8th all time. He scored 29 points in the team’s last four victories and was selected as a Div 1 All-American.
Although Metzger put together some big numbers in high school and college he considered his athletic career a failure. He walked away from the Hofstra Lacrosse program after his sophomore season, and thereby did not fulfill his last 2 years of eligibility. The Ray Enners award winner was a gifted natural athlete whose off the field issues significantly impacted both his high school and college careers.
“The award has special meaning because I was not able to fulfill my potential in football and basketball in high school because I struggled to maintain my playing weight. I lost 25 pounds over the winter prior to my senior year in lacrosse.
For the first time in my high school athletic career I was physically fit.” It paid off handsomely for Metzger. He made All-League, All-County, All-American, won the Enners Award and was Suffolk County’s leading scorer with a 6.0 pts. per game scoring average.
“The Ray Enners Award meant the world to me. Ray Enners was a Half Hollow Hills alum and both Coach Lou DiBlasi and Coach Bill Martens adored Ray as a player and a person. Although Martens coached at Ward Melville during my junior and senior years he was the former head coach of Half Hollow Hills varsity lacrosse team and Ray Enners’ coach.”
Lou DiBlasi, Metzger’s coach at Half Hollow Hills, said “Jim was the most talented player I had in 11 seasons at Hills - a great offensive player. I coached a number of HS All-Americans and Jim was the best of the best. He had a great attitude and did anything I asked of him. He is that way now. People don’t change.” Although DiBlasi said that Metzger almost won the Enners award unanimously, Metzger suggested that if he had a vote he would have chosen former Ward-Melville All-American defenseman Tom Rotanz.
“I won the award because my coach promoted me and I was a member of a competitive team. The other two all-county attackmen with whom I played, Jerome Merkerson and Charles Molinelli, had a lot to do with my winning the award. I’m still proud of our team’s 10-2 League 1 record (both losses to Ward Melville).”
Vinny Sombrotto, a four time U.S. Team player and National Lacrosse Hall of Famer, and Metzger played together for Hofstra University in 1980. Sombrotto remembers, “Jim had as much skill as anyone I ever played with. He could have been successful at any level if he stayed with the game. He had great vision, great stick skills and he could play with either hand”. Sombrotto continued, “Jim was really a football player first and was built like it. His ability to shift direction and get away from people was one of his greatest assets.”
In recent years, Metzger has given back tremendously to the university. According to Seth Tierney, head coach for Hofstra University Men’s Lacrosse Team, “Jim means the world to Hofstra’s Lacrosse team. I first met him when I was the new coach here and one of the first things he asked me was “how can I help?” He has reconnected with the team in a unique way. The team is very thankful for his involvement.”
Metzger donated the funds to build both the men’s and women’s locker rooms. He named the men’s locker room after his former coach Harry Royle and former teammate the National Hall-of-Famer Vinnie Somrotto. Metzger also donated funds to build the Hallways Tradition Project which celebrates the history of the men’s and women’s lacrosse and football programs. He chose to name the project itself after his former high school football and lacrosse coach Lou DiBlasi and former Hofstra great Mike D’Amato. He also honored former teammate Gary Arnold, former coach and Hofstra legend Kevin Huff, and the Unterstein family - Chris, Kevin and Mike. “What is so powerful about Jim’s way of supporting Hofstra Athletics is that he always involves others in his efforts.” said Jack Hayes, Hofstra University Director of Athletics.
Hofstra recently named the lacrosse offices after Metzger and Huff.
Today Metzger is the chairman and CEO of the Whitmore Group Ltd., a leading insurance brokerage on Long Island with over 70 employees. Metzger founded the company in 1989. He serves on the boards of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island, the Funeral Service Foundation, the Hofstra Pride Club and the Catholic Cemetery Guild. Jim’s nephew Rob Pannell is now an All-American attackman for Cornell.
That this former gifted athlete has had his greatest successes off the field is okay with him - although sometimes, he say’s “I laugh to myself about it.”
James C. Metzger Hofstra University Women’s Lacrosse Locker Room
Hofstra University Director of Athletics Jack Hayes today announced that the women’s lacrosse locker room will be named in honor of James C. Metzger ‘83 in recognition of his support to the women’s lacrosse program.
“We are very thankful to Jim for his gift to support the women’s lacrosse program,” commented Director of Athletics Jack Hayes. “The recent enhancements to James M. Shuart Stadium, Margiotta Hall and the Stadium Building have provided our student-athletes with one of the best lacrosse facilities in the nation.”
“I am pleased to support the efforts of the women’s lacrosse program and its student-athletes,” stated Metzger. “The continued growth of women’s athletics at Hofstra will be an important part of the University’s future branding and identity and I am excited to be a part of it.”
The new locker room, which is equipped with pro-style oak lockers, is also furnished with two 50-inch flat screen televisions, two computer work stations, an enlarged lounge and an upgraded sound system.
James C. Metzger Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse Offices
Hofstra University Director of Athletics Jack Hayes announced today that James C. Metzger ‘83 has made a leadership gift to support the men’s and women’s lacrosse programs and the football program. Metzger’s pledge will fund enhancements for a new Margiotta Hall Traditions Project that will proudly display the history of the three programs throughout the second floor.
Prior to men’s lacrosse hosting the University of North Carolina on April 18, a reception at David S. Mack Hall (University Club) was held to honor and thank Metzger for his generous contributions to Hofstra Athletics. At the reception, Hayes publicly announced Metzger’s pledge for the first time and introduced plans that are in place to enhance Margiotta Hall through the Traditions Project.
In the spirit of the project, Metzger has chosen to name several areas of Margiotta Hall after former student-athletes. The Traditions Project itself will be named after Mike D’Amato ‘68 and Lou DiBlasi ‘61. D’Amato, a football and lacrosse all-conference selection, is one of only four Hofstra alumni to earn a super bowl ring (New York Jets, 1969). DiBlasi, a four-year letterman in football and lacrosse, was a member of the 1956 Tiny 20 football squad as well as the 1959 undefeated football team.
The lacrosse offices will be named after Metzger and Kevin Huff ‘78. Huff, a football and men’s lacrosse standout, was a two-time All-American in lacrosse and ranks 10th all-time in rushing. Metzger was a two-year letterman on the men’s lacrosse team, earning honorable mention All-America honors in his sophomore campaign while scoring 4.9 points per game, which ranks fourth all-time in Hofstra history. He is one of only three players to tally eight or more points three times in one season when he recorded eight points versus Penn State, Towson and North Carolina State in 1980.
Metzger-D’Innocenzo Endowed Summer Internship at Hofstra University
Hofstra alumnus James C. Metzger ‘83 has funded a summer internship within the Center for Civic Engagement in honor of his favorite faculty member, History Professor Michael D’Innocenzo.
The $25,000 gift will endow the Metzger-D’Innocenzo Endowed Summer Internship for the Center for Civic Engagement at Hofstra University. Based on the recommendation of the Dean of College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the internship will be given to a deserving student based on academic achievement and/or financial need who is majoring in History and serving as an intern in the Center for Civic Engagement (CCE).
“He was the most passionate, charismatic professor that I ever had. I really enjoyed his classes immensely and I thought he brought history alive and was very good at making it relevant,” said Mr. Metzger, who is the founder, chairman and CEO of the Whitmore Group, a Garden City-based insurance and financial services firm. “I’m just very fond of him and I was very impressed with the CCE and what he’s doing there and its mission. It’s a real thrill for me to be able support this and to work with him in the future with the CCE.”
“James C. Metzger/E. David Woycik, Jr. Endowment Fund” named by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island announces the naming of the “James C. Metzger / E. David Woycik, Jr. Endowment Fund” in honor of James Metzger of The Whitmore Group (Garden City, NY) and E. David Woycik, Jr. of Sanders Sanders Block Woycik Viener & Grossman, P.C. (Garden City, NY).
“The naming of the fund is in recognition of James Metzger and David Woycik’s outstanding contribution to the Endowment Fund as well as their tireless dedication to our agency’s mission,” said Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island’s CEO William Tymann.
The Endowment Fund was created to provide a secure financial base for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island (BBBSLI). The combined gift from James Metzger and David Woycik will assist in the financial resilience of the agency after the economic downturn that damaged many not-for-profits across Long Island. The gift from Mr. Metzger and Mr. Woycik was the largest donation in the history of the fund.
2010 Big Brothers Big Sisters Presidential Honoree
Excerpted from Big Brothers Big Sisters Journal
An alumnus of Hofstra University ‘83 and Half Hollow Hills High School ‘77, Jim was an outstanding athlete who set records for both schools. He was a Suffolk County All-Star running back known for starting every game in his 3-year varsity football career. When he graduated in 1977, he was the school’s all-time leading scorer and rusher. As a sophomore, Jim played for the 1974-1975 HHH varsity basketball team when they were in the playoffs. As a lacrosse player, Jim was a high school All-American and a Suffolk County scoring champion. He won the Ray Enners Award as the outstanding lacrosse player in Suffolk County in 1977. In his senior year, Jim was the only athlete to be selected to play in both the North-South All-Star Football game and the North-South All-Star Lacrosse game. After high school, Jim attended the Naval Academy Preparatory School where he was the lacrosse teams leading scorer and Most Valuable Player. Jim played for the Hofstra University lacrosse team in 1979-80. He was named to the 1980 USILA Division 1 All-American team in his sophomore season. His scoring average of 4.9 points per game still stands as the Sophomore Record and ranks as fourth best in the history of the Hofstra lacrosse program.
2011 Joseph M. Margiotta Pride Club Distinguished Service Award
The Joseph M. Margiotta Pride Club Distinguished Service Award is presented to an individual or individuals in recognition of his or her extraordinary dedication, generosity and service to the Hofstra Pride Club and Hofstra athletics.
James C. Metzger, Hofstra Class of 1983, is the recipient of the 2011 Joseph M. Margiotta Pride Club Distinguished Service Award. An active supporter of the athletics program and a member of the Hofstra Pride Club, Metzger has served on the board of directors for many years.
Metzger was a member of the lacrosse team for two years and in 1980 he was an All-American after tallying 21 goals and 28 assists. Now Chairman and CEO of the Whitmore Group, a Garden City-based insurance brokerage firm that is the largest provider of property and casualty insurance products to the funeral industry nationwide, he also serves on the boards of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island, the Funeral Service Foundation and the Catholic Cemetery Guild.
A valued contributor to Hofstra Athletics as well as the University, Metzger donated funds for the Traditions Project in Margiotta Hall, as well as the Royle-Sombrotto Locker Room and the women’s lacrosse locker room that is named in his honor. He has also endowed a summer internship within the Center for Civic Engagement.
2011 HHH East-West Lacrosse Game Honoree
Lacrosse fans and athletes gathered at Half Hollow Hills East Saturday for the annual Ray Enners Day celebration, where Hills alum James Metzger was honored.
Metzger, who was Hills’ first Enners Award winner in 1977 as Suffolk County’s top lacrosse player, spoke to the crowd about his journey and the meaning of Enners in his life after accepting a plaque from Hills board trustee Eric Geringswald.
“He gave his life for our country,” said Metzger of Enners, a Hills alum who died bravely on Sept. 18, 1968 while saving another solider, who ironically hails from Long Island, during the Vietnam War. “He’s an American hero and one of my heroes.”
Each year the Hills East and West boys lacrosse teams scrimmage one another to honor Enners, who at 22-years old made the ultimate sacrifice.
Nicknamed “The Machine” by teammates, Enners captained the football, basketball and lacrosse teams at Hills. He was an All-County, All-Long Island and Honorable Mention All-America selection his senior year. Enners was a five-year varsity player and played in the first five Suffolk County championship games before going to West Point and having an equally impressive collegiate career.
Bill Martens, his former football and lacrosse coach, who was a legend at Hills from 1959-1973, was on-hand Saturday to remember his fallen athlete. For years he would speak about Enners when giving out the lacrosse award, but still has difficulty talking about a person who meant so much to him, the community and the country.
2011 Half Hollow Hills Alumni Game Honoree
High School East was the scene Saturday afternoon of the third annual Hills lacrosse alumni game.
Alums from both East and West took to the field for some good spirited fun and to lend a hand, with proceeds donated to the high school lacrosse booster programs. The teams were divided up by odd and even years of graduation.
Organizer Eric Geringswald wasn’t sure if anyone would show up when the first alumni game was held three years ago, but that certainly hasn’t been an issue with well more than 50 players this year.
“You build it, they will come,” said Geringswald, a Hills West grad.
Jim Metgzer, Hills’ first Enners Award winner in 1977 as Suffolk County’s top lacrosse player, was honored this year at halftime.
Hills East coach Bill Martens (1959-73) and other former coaches Lou DiBlasi, Doug Mayer and Stan Kowalski also came to enjoy the day.
2011 James C. Metzger Outstanding Player Award
At an academic and sports award dinner and ceremony held at Half Hollow Hills High School East in Dix Hills on June 10, Suffolk All-County lacrosse player Matt Garziano was the recipient of the inaugural James C. Metzger Outstanding Player Award.
Mr. Graziano, a six-foot-three-inch midfielder who will attend SUNY Albany this fall, is a three-sport athlete who also competed in soccer and basketball. He also performed well academically during his four years at Half Hollow Hills.
The award is named for James C. Metzger, a leading Half Hollow Hills High School East benefactor who also was an all-American student athlete at the school during the 1970s. Mr. Metzger is CEO of The Whitmore Group, a leading insurance services and estate planning company in the New York metropolitan area that is headquartered in Garden City
James C. Metzger Leadership Award Established for Nassau High School Lacrosse
May 2014 The Whitmore Group established a new award with this year’s Nassau County High School Lacrosse playoffs: The James C. Metzger Leadership Award.
This award recognizes a senior lacrosse player for his tenacity and leadership. Leadership is honesty, commitment, positive attitude, and the ability to inspire. This award is for someone who, by his consistent effort, has selflessly given of himself for the betterment of his team. The award is given to a player from each team that reaches the Nassau County Finals in Class A, B and C. The award is based on the player’s contribution throughout the season.
2014 James C. Metzger Leadership Award Recipients:
Half Hollow Hills High School
The (Almost) Undefeated Season
The stage was set: Half Hollow Hills HS vs. Walt Whitman HS. We were playing what amounted to the championship game. We had the ball and the lead with one minute to play.
West Hollow Jr. High School Goes Undefeated [see more]
Junior High School doesn’t count, or does it? Today, freshman and sophomores routinely play on varsity teams, but that was not the case in my day. Back in 1973 and 1974,
Huntington Boys Club
Huntington Boys Club was my introduction to organized football where I played for the legendary Pop Warner and HBC football coach John Daly.