Before we get too deep into the academic athletic season, I wish to take this opportunity to shine the spotlight on a number of Long Island students who excelled in lacrosse during the previous school year. The players include gifted athletes on the high school level who will play in solid collegiate programs and grade school students who face daily challenges but have come together to learn and enjoy the game.
On the higher level, I created the James C. Metzger Leadership Award for Nassau County high school lacrosse. An award was presented to a player on each of the six teams that competed in the finals of the 2014 Section VIII Nassau County high school boys’ lacrosse championship held last May at Hofstra University. Each student reflected the tenacity, honesty, commitment and positive attitude required in Nassau lacrosse. Each player also possessed the ability to inspire others on and off the field.
The recipients were:
• Syosset High School senior defender Liam Blohm always received the team assignment to defend the opponent’s top scorer. He’s now at Ohio State.
• Massapequa High School Senior Midfielder Craig Berge. He’s at Georgetown University.
• Lynbrook High School Senior Attacker Joe Grossi. He’s playing at SUNY Binghamton.
• Manhasset High School Senior Defender Austin Orlando committed to Boston University.
• Cold Spring Harbor High School Senior Midfielder Owen Love.
• Locust Valley High School Defender Senior Sam Farren, who was a member of the varsity lacrosse team since freshman year.
For our younger athletes, I have been an avid supporter of the Hempstead PAL lacrosse team for several years. The team consists of African-American and Hispanic players from the fifth and sixth grades, and many of them are from single-parent households. This past season, only four of the 23 players previously had played lacrosse, yet they enjoyed an undefeated season by winning all nine games.
Coach Alan Hodish has been coaching youth sports on Long Island for many years and Hempstead PAL lacrosse for several seasons. At the season-ending awards presentation, he told the players, and their parents and guardians, that above all “we always are looking for good students and good citizens.”
Here is the roster of the 2014 undefeated Hempstead PAL team:
Sixth Graders: Mekhi Affrainy, Tyrek Benjamin, Nasir Bishop, Josue Canales, Lassaun Corely,
Daniel Dobson, Righteous Holden, John Jackson-Tinch, Dahmire Johnson, Jamell Jones, Kalyl Richardson, Jeffrey Rodriguez, Johnathon Rogers, Jordan Satchell, Khalil Young
Fifth Graders: Destin Arms, Najze Berkeley, Jordon Evelyn , Marcus Jackson, Jaden Johnson,
Aazayah Ross, Lewis Webb, Aaron Williams
Among the many individual award winners, I was proud to present The James C. Metzger Award to Jordan Satchell for his “strong work ethic and improvement made throughout the lacrosse season.”
Whether they are the student athletes I have introduced to you, or young adults who have entered the workforce after high school or college, the contributions and successes of our young people always should be recognized and embraced. Their achievements, celebrated by those of us who have achieved success after working through the growing pains, will help them build personal character, self-esteem, teamwork and sportsmanship.