Jun 15 2019

Long Island Lacrosse Is Getting Better All The Time

Every high school student looks forward to the end of spring. Not the final exams part of it but the final few days that lead to summer vacation.

Lacrosse players look forward to the championship games, athletic and academic award celebrations, and the opportunity to take on the next challenge—summer practice to prepare for next season, or the leap into a college program.

At the Section VIII Nassau County high school boys’ lacrosse championships at Hofstra University, I presented my annual Leadership Award to six young men who are definitive leaders on and off the field. Vincent Sombrotto, Nassau lacrosse star and my Hofstra teammate from the 1970s, joined me in the presentations to the following scholar-athletes:

· Cold Spring Harbor High School senior midfielder Danny Striano.

· Garden City High School senior midfielder Joe Scattareggia.

· Locust Valley High School senior goalie Colton Teilelbaum.

· Manhasset High School senior attackman Louis Perfetto.

· Massapequa High School senior faceoff specialist Angelo Petrakis.

· Syosset High School senior midfielder Christian Lyons.

· Wantagh High School senior attacker Thomas Rohan.

Each award recipient reflects the tenacity, honesty, commitment and positive attitude required in Nassau lacrosse. Each player also possesses the ability to inspire teammates and others in the classroom and their communities. These young men are on their way to bigger and better successes in lacrosse, in school and in life.

Immediately following the Nassau games, Vincent and I voted on and presented my inaugural MVP awards for the Suffolk-Nassau Championships. The recipients:

· Manhasset High School senior midfielder and faceoff specialist Marc Psyllos.

· Mattituck/Southold High School senior midfielder Max Kruszeski.

· Massapequa High School senior midfielder Thomas Greenblatt.

· Shoreham-Wading River High School junior midfielder Gavin Gregorek.

A few days after the presentations to these outstanding scholar-athletes, I had the honor to speak with the lacrosse team, their parents and coaches at my alma mater, Half Hollow Hills High School East. I was honored to meet senior Sal Pascarella and present to him my annual Hills East Outstanding Player Award. He was team captain this season, a fabulous team leader and now he is headed to St. Joseph’s University.

Following the excitement of presenting all these awards, there still was more great news for Long Island. I was pleased to learn that, with my support, the New York State High School Boys’ Lacrosse Championships will be coming to Hofstra University’s Shuart Stadium for the 2020, 2021 and 2022 seasons.

Go Long Island Lacrosse! It is getting better all the time.

Jun 02 2019

Country Over Sports — Marines Before College Lacrosse

Catrina Babnick is a Carmel (Putnam County) High School girls’ lacrosse goalie who has opted, temporarily, to forego college for a different opportunity.

Cat could have pursued a successful collegiate sports career. She set a school record with 25 saves in one game. Then, she set a school all-time girls’ lacrosse record when she recorded her 489th save. But, while the other local girls committed to play college lacrosse this fall or next year, Cat decided to follow a path that led her to the United States Marines. She was sworn in on February 8. Following graduation, she will attend boot camp on Paris Island in South Carolina.

It’s a rare choice among promising high school athletes, but Cat firmly and succinctly stated her preference — “I want to serve my country.”

A high score on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Batter test allowed Cat to choose her Marine Corps career path. She considered joining the military police to follow her father’s footsteps. He is a retired New York City police detective. Her recruiter, though, reviewed her score and encouraged her to pursue a better opportunity.

Initially, Cat considered becoming a pilot, but this would require many more years of service than the four of active duty and four additional years of reserve service. So, she decided on diesel mechanics that will allow for maintenance assignments with planes and tanks. Cat will enroll in Marine-funded college classes, hoping to complete two years during her enlistment. She plans to secure her degree post-service and become a history teacher.

Cat has played lacrosse since fifth grade, becoming a full-time goalie as a high school freshman. She loves the game and will miss it. Playing college lacrosse after her service is possible, but not a guarantee.

For the moment, Cat has promised to commit herself 100 percent to the Marines. She summed up the challenge with just a few words — “It’s like the ultimate team.”

Feb 02 2019

Football Player Of Year Is A Lacrosse Kid

As the football season neared its conclusion, a pep talk was delivered to Bryce Ford and his teammates. For the seniors, this was their last chance to create something special, something memorable.

Midway through the fourth quarter of the Section 1 Class A championship game, Bryce was presented with his moment for John Jay-Cross River High School. The team led Rye High School by only a touchdown. Bryce then sprawled for an interception near midfield. He later learned that this play separated his throwing shoulder. That was critical, because he also was the team’s quarterback.

When an official checked on him, Bryce said he was just enjoying the turf as he caught his breath. He finished the game and logged more than 60 touches in the 21-14 win. He secured the first Section 1 championship for the school with an interception at the goal line on the game’s next-to-last play.

It was the signature moment during a record-setting season for Bryce, who is a three-sport athlete. Though the school lost the next game to the eventual state champ, Bryce did throw his only pass of that game with his other arm. The shoulder did heal in time so he could begin his senior basketball season.

Bryce is the first-ever Player of the Year selected by Section 1’s coaches. His credentials included rewriting the John Jay school record book by shattering single-game, single-season and career marks. Bryce broke or tied school records for single-game passing yards and touchdowns, single-season completions, passing yards and touchdowns, single-game rushing attempts and touchdowns, and single-season rushing attempts, yards and touchdowns. With all this comes a new Section 1 record for total yards of offense—for passing, rushing and receiving combined.

Even after such a successful season, football takes a back seat to lacrosse. Bryce said he threw on the pads every fall and gave his best effort, but that lacrosse is his passion. He plans to stick with lacrosse. He is a middie and committed to Fairfield University.

Dec 16 2018

Meet The Bocklets – Lacrosse Powerhouse Family From Katonah

Brothers Mike, Matt and Chris spent countless hours in their Katonah backyard in Westchester County hitting baseballs, kicking soccer balls, shooting basketballs and throwing footballs. A little sister, Casey, tried to keep up with the boys.

Lacrosse was the last game introduced to Team Bocklet, and that sport has remained the game of choice for each of the siblings. All the boys won All-American honors at John Jay-Cross River High School, and then each of them played lacrosse in college. Casey played lacrosse, too. She and Chris remain the all-time leading scorers at their high school.

This past summer, all four siblings were on professional rosters. Mike was with the New York Lizards, Matt played with the Denver Outlaws, Chris was with the Dallas Rattlers – and each has played in an MLL All-Star game – and Casey was part of the Women’s Professional Lacrosse League’s inaugural season when she was drafted by the Philadelphia Fire. She also coached high school lacrosse in Texas during the last two years.

The three brothers and sis are products of a sports family. Father Barry and Mother Terry both were three-sport athletes in high school. They met while playing broomball at SUNY Cortlandt. When the kids came along, a batting cage became the first major purchase for the backyard. Eventually, it was replaced solely with lacrosse gear.

All four siblings pushed each other to excel. Along the way, they were treated for bloody noses, scraps, cuts and bruises. The competition, though, always remained friendly (and brotherly/sisterly). Each memory has been catalogued by mom and dad. Scrapbooks are filled with newspaper clippings, photos and recruiting letters.

Though often separated by their personal commitments, the siblings remain close. All four are involved in the family business, X10 Lacrosse, that offers sleepover camps in the Adirondacks and Colorado along with day camps across the country.

The Bocklets, I guess, are that fine example of a close knit lacrosse family dynasty.

Sep 15 2018

Life-Long Friends Work Hard For State Title

Declan McDermott and Brian Reda grew up one block from each other. They were restless kids forever chasing a bouncing ball and playing all kinds of sports. Since kindergarten, they always have been on the same teams. Each knows the other’s game. They seem to have that inner connection found in twins.

Declan and Brian made Pleasantville High School in Westchester County a perennial winner in boys’ lacrosse with four consecutive Section 1 titles and then a state championship. According to their coach, the boys were serious about winning since they stepped on the field as freshmen. Their drive and motivation were endless. They were focused first on a sectional title and then their single-minded determination carried their teammates and the program to a new level.

This past season, Pleasantville was 21-1. Winning the championship was a great way to end their high school days. Both boys were named U.S. Lacrosse High School All-Americans each of the last two seasons. They also are local all-stars and co-players of the year.

Brian was the leading scorer in the Lower Hudson Valley this season, finishing with 81 goals and 41 assists. He is the program’s all-time leading scorer with 278 goals and 120 assists. A left-handed attackman with a quick release, he’s headed to Fairfield University.

Declan is an energetic midfielder who had an impact on both ends of the field. Heading to Georgetown University, he finished the season with 55 goals and 47 assists, and he is the second-leading scorer in the school’s history with 177 goals and 116 assists.

During the first few years, both players looked toward older classmates for guidance on and off the field. This past season, the younger players looked up to them. The influence that this duo had on the next generation of Pleasantville lacrosse players likely will be revealed on the field during the next handful of seasons.

Jul 01 2018

Lacrosse Awards All Around Long Island

May and June are the months of final exams as students (and teachers) count the days until school is out for the summer. It is also the time for spring sports championship games, athletic and academic award celebrations and that step toward the next challenge.

The Section VIII Nassau County high school boys’ lacrosse championships again were held at Hofstra University. Following each of the three matches, I presented my Leadership Award to six young men who are definitive leaders on and off the field.

I was proud to present the awards to the following scholar-athletes:

·         Cold Spring Harbor High School senior defender Nolan Hinphy.

· Garden City High School senior midfielder Matt Granville.

· Manhasset High School senior defender James Amorosana.

· Massapequa High School senior defender Brian Lenaghan.

· Syosset High School senior defender Thomas Markou.

· Wantagh High School senior attacker Thomas Rohan.

Each award recipient reflects the tenacity, honesty, commitment and positive attitude required in Nassau lacrosse. Each player also possesses the ability to inspire teammates and others in the classroom and their communities. These young men are on their way to bigger and better successes in lacrosse, in school and in life.

Soon after these games concluded, my alma mater, Half Hollows High School East, announced that senior defender Mike Gomez was honored with the school’s annual Outstanding Player Award named in my honor for a boys’ lacrosse player. Mike played varsity lacrosse for five years. His defensive efforts set the tone for the team. He rarely made a mistake and always covered the leading players on opposing teams. During his senior season, Mike scored 11 goals and nine assists and recovered 80 ground balls. He was an Under-Armour Top 44 Senior Game Selection and a Suffolk County Honorable Mention All-American. Mike will play lacrosse at Johns Hopkins University.

Finally, at the end of June, awards were presented to the Hempstead PAL team that I have supported as a leading benefactor for a number of years. Congratulations for a fun season for these fourth, fifth and sixth grade players who recorded a 7-1 record. Until March, more than half the players never had picked up a lacrosse stick. Congratulations also go out to Coach Alan Hodish, his assistant coaches and the PAL personnel and the police department. My special congratulations salute Josh Garrett, who received the team award named in my honor for “his strong work ethic and improvement made throughout the lacrosse season.”

Another great lacrosse season has been recorded on Long Island!

Jun 16 2018

Double Trouble On Local Lacrosse Fields

A defender was all over Jamison Embury. Quickly, Jamison scooped the loose ball near the crease and threaded a pass over two other opponents to Hunter Embury for a goal that made the highlight reel. It’s a reel that is filled with numerous outstanding plays by this twin brother combination for Yorktown High School in Westchester County.

The duo and their intuitive plays are not unique to Yorktown. Across the Lower Hudson Valley, at least 18 sets of twin brothers currently play on the same school lacrosse teams. Nearly a third of the twin teammates have signed or received offers to play Division I lacrosse.

In Westchester, Rye, Iona Prep, Dobbs Ferry, Ardsley, Hendrick Hudson and other schools have twins on the teams. Farther north, twins plays for Mahopac. Across the new Tappan Zee Bridge, twins play for Nyack and Nanuet. For anyone looking for more trouble, Harrison High School features two sets of twins as does John Jay High School. Then, there could have been a triple threat at Clarkstown South in Rockland. While the brothers play lacrosse, their sister decided to run track.

We’ve often heard the stories about twins who think alike, sound alike and finish each other’s sentences. Now, imagine all the trouble all these twins have been creating for opponents on the lacrosse field!

Among the many advantages of having a twin play the same sport is that a player always is around a teammate who is willing to share the enjoyment and strategy of the game. Plus, when there isn’t anything to do, twins who play lacrosse usually agree to just go outside and have a catch.

As each of these high school twin teammates develops, several sets will continue to play together in college. Others will pursue separate game plans. Whether together or apart, these sets of twins have connections that will guide them for life on and off the field.

Jan 01 2018

Leading By Example On And Off The Field

Last year’s lacrosse season at Long Island’s Harborfields High School was a good one. The team had talent, but senior Falyn Dwyer said she wanted the team to work harder in practice to polish its skills. She personally was committed to the same goal.

The drive paid off when the team made it into the playoffs and to the Suffolk County Division II semi-finals. The ladies showcased that success could be achieved through dedication and commitment.

Falyn led by example. As a four-year varsity midfielder, she always delivered maximum effort on the field. Her coach referred to her as a fierce competitor who is self-motivated. Falyn contributed during key opportunities on both offense and defense. Opposing players often were baffled, because they could not prevent Falyn from getting the ball.

Falyn’s tenacity went beyond the lacrosse field. She also was a midfielder on the soccer team and a shooting guard and two-way player on the basketball team. Falyn played all three sports throughout her high school career, earning many accolades and several awards for her success. Her coaches agreed that Falyn was one of the most coachable high school athletes.

Record setting achievements and commitment for Falyn, however, were not solely reserved for the field or court. She achieved a 108 grade point average for her studies and ranked near the top of her class of 300 students. She also was active in a number of non-sports activities and clubs during her high school days.

Falyn received All-Conference and All-County Academic honors for both soccer and basketball, and she was named All-County for lacrosse. She now attends Fordham University. Her interests include sports but also environmental studies, teaching and law. I suspect that many more accolades and awards are in her future.

Jul 02 2017

Celebrating Local Lacrosse

The end of May and early June was an exciting time for me and for local lacrosse players from grade school to high school.

The Section VIII Nassau County high school boys’ lacrosse championships were held at Hofstra University again this year. Following each of the three matches, I presented my Leadership Award to six young men who have been identified as leaders on and off the field.

Each award recipient reflects the tenacity, honesty, commitment and positive attitude required in Nassau lacrosse. Each player also possesses the ability to inspire teammates and others in the classroom and their communities.

I was proud to present the 2017 James C. Metzger Leadership Award to the following student-athletes:

· Cold Spring Harbor High School junior defender Aidan Hinphy.

· Garden City High School senior attacker Sean Couglin.

· Farmingdale High School senior attacker Kyle Tucker.

· Lynbrook High School senior goalie Ian Proefriedt

· Manhasset High School senior goalie Brendan Haggerty.

· Massaspequa High School senior attacker/midfielder Brendan Nichtern.

These young men are on their way to bigger and better successes in lacrosse, in school and in life.

Soon after these games concluded, my alma mater, Half Hollows High School East, announced that senior attacker Sean Lulley was honored with the school’s seventh annual Outstanding Player Award named in my honor for a boys’ lacrosse player. During his high school lacrosse career, Lulley netted 50 goals and gathered 41 assists as a four-year varsity starter. He served as team captain and was named most valuable player during his senior year. Lulley was named All-County during his sophomore year.

Finally, during mid-June, awards were presented to the Hempstead PAL team that I have supported as a leading benefactor for a number of years. Congratulations for a fun season go out to Coach Alan Hodish, his assistant coaches and the PAL folks, and to the 26 kids on the team. My special congratulations go to Ja’mir Andrews, who received the team award named in my honor for “his strong work ethic and improvement made throughout the lacrosse season.”

Another great lacrosse season on Long Island is in the books!

Nov 17 2016

Heart Of Gray – The Story Of Lt. Raymond Enners

During early October, a number of us gathered at the Garden City Hotel to meet Richard Enners. Richard is the younger brother of Raymond Enners, a West Point graduate who was among the fallen in Vietnam.

Richard recently published Heart of Gray, a book about selflessness and sacrifice. The story takes us on a journey that reveals how West Point and its values of “Duty, Honor, Country” influenced Ray Enners. The book places a spotlight on the rigorous training that provided Ray with the confidence and courage to face life-threatening situations.

Ray Enners played lacrosse at Half Hollow Hills High School in Dix Hills before the district and the high school were divided into east and west sections. He continued to excel at the game at the United States Military Academy. During his senior year, Ray was named an NCAA All-American. Slightly more than a year later, Ray was killed in action in Vietnam. On September 18, 1968, demonstrating selflessness and leadership, Ray rescued a wounded soldier and then led an assault on an enemy position that cost him his life.

As many of you know, I received the 1977 Lt. Ray Enners Award as a lacrosse player at Half Hollow Hills. Presented by the Suffolk County Lacrosse Coaches Association, the award is presented to an outstanding county high school player who best exemplifies courage, teamwork, skill and leadership. While I remember the moment when I learned that I would receive this award in memory of Lt. Raymond Enners, I am unable even today to completely explain the honor that I felt then and feel now for the opportunity to follow in Ray’s footsteps.

Another honor named for Ray, the Lt. Raymond Enners Award, is provided annually on the college level to the NCAA’s most outstanding player in men’s college lacrosse. My nephew, Rob Pannell, won the award twice when he played at Cornell University. Our family is blessed to have such a strong connection to an American hero.

By now, you might be wondering about the word “gray” that appears in the title of Richard’s book. At West Point, the color gray is a symbol of pride and honor that dates back to the Battle of Chippewa during 1814 when a small American army defeated the British in Canada. It was from that battle that the secretary of war approved the color gray for the cadet uniforms at West Point. Ray Enners embraced this tradition during his time at the academy and during his brief service to our country.

Richard Enners followed his brother at West Point. He knows personally about the tradition cherished by the Long Gray Line and he, more than anyone, best knows the heart and spirit of Ray Enners. Richard’s book was written to honor his brother and to inspire others to live their lives with a purpose similar to that of Ray, and to make a difference in the lives of others.

To help Richard ensure that his brother’s contributions will continue to inspire others, I am providing a copy of Heart of Gray to all the public high school lacrosse coaches in Suffolk and Nassau counties. Copies of the book also will be provided to school administrators. The book also will be sent to the coaches and administrators in the Catholic High School Lacrosse League.

My hope is that everyone who reads Heart of Gray will share with others the ideals cherished by Lt. Raymond Enners.