I graduated from Half Hollow Hills High School East in Dix Hills during 1977. My only thoughts at that time probably were about playing lacrosse in college, having the grades and talent to receive a scholarship, and yes, girls. It was the simple life of a teenager on Long Island!
I returned to Half Hollow Hills a few months ago. Older, wiser and now able to share my success with today’s local teens, I was honored to present the inaugural James C. Metzger Outstanding Player Award.
The first recipient, Matt Graziano, is exceptional. Matt is a six-foot-three-inch midfielder from Melville who now will play lacrosse at SUNY Albany. At Half Hallow Hills, he competed in lacrosse, soccer and basketball.
Matt played varsity lacrosse for three years. As a junior and senior he ran first midfield. During his senior season, he was team captain and scored 39 points, including 16 assists that tied him for second highest on the team. Considered by his coach to be a “human clearing machine,” once he had the ball on a clear he often would run out of the defensive end or make the critical pass to the open player up field.
Matt is the perfect recipient for this first award. In many ways, he reminds me of myself on the lacrosse field at that age — a workhorse during games to succeed offensively when matched against excellent opposing players. Matt has the athletic ability to excel at the Division I level at Albany. To grasp the next rung, he must apply himself and push himself.
The school’s coaches, especially lacrosse Varsity Head Coach Gordon Hodgson, have been outstanding when communicating to players and parents about the benefits of playing high school athletics. They explain to them that hard work and dedication is required to be successful on and off the field.
Much of my success in business is attributable to the lessons I learned on the sports field. In recent years, I’ve been able to give back to the college where I was an All-American lacrosse player by establishing programs that support Hofstra University students and student athletes. Now, I am grateful that I can do the same at my former high school.
The opportunity at Half Hollow Hills to support my school, my sport and Long Island teen athletes was made possible by school trustee Eric Geringswald, the administration, the coaches and the parents. It is good to be back in the game, especially where it all started for me.