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ULTIMATE ATHLETE LI EDITION WINTER VOL. II 2011

ICE HOCKEY


Edito Letter From The Editor

Ultimate Athlete Magazine

Letter from the Editor

As we calm down from the madness of March, Ultimate Athlete Magazine is here to wrap up the winter season that was. In this jam packed issue of UA Magazine, we feature the state federation champions of the Lu-Hi boys basketball team, led by Villanova bound Achraf Yacoubou. UA would also like to congratulate the Lu-Hi girls basketball team for a successful season as well. Speaking about great girls basketball teams, we included coverage on the always respectable lady cougars of St. Johns the Baptist basketball program. Don’t worry hockey fans, it’s not all about the B-Ball around here. We didn’t forget to feature the action on the ice surrounding the Portledge and the Connetquot/Sayville ice hockey teams. Also, here at UA we have added a little twist to our usual list of sports, by highlighting a local boxing school, where some up and coming athletes from Islip, Bellport, and more use this unique outlet to stay competitive in their school sports. As always don’t forget to view our videos on Long Island’s hottest teams, brought to you by our crew at UA Insider, who always strive to go behind the scenes and beyond the scoreboard of high school sports. Enjoy this wrap up of the winter season, and check back with us soon, as things are certainly heating up around here. Ultimate Athlete Magazine and UA Insider’s feature coverage for the new season is “springing up” as you read this! We will be revisiting with last year’s champs in lacrosse, baseball and softball to how theses team will prepare for the upcoming season. Well that’s all from me, enjoy the latest issue of Ultimate Athlete Magazine! Sincerely, Luis Cova

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ultimateathletemagazine.com Ultimate Athlete Magazine (ISSN 1931-5295) is published 12 times a year by Ultimate Athlete, Inc., 40 Woodbine Avenue, Northport, New York 11768. All contents copyright 2009 by Ultimate Athlete, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction or use in whole or part of the content without the prior written consent of Ultimate Athlete, Inc. is strictly prohibited. All logos and trademarks are the properties of their respective owners. Although the writers and the publisher have exhaustively researched all sources to ensure the accuracy and the completeness of the information contained in this publication, we assume no responsibility for errors, inaccuracies, omissions, or any inconsistency herein. The opinions expressed in all materials are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of Ultimate Athlete, Inc or Long Island’s Ultimate Athlete Magazine.

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WINTER 2011 Volume II

Conten

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nts Featur CO N

T EN

TS

Features

14 Hauppauge Wrestling

20 Portledge Ice Hockey

26 Deer Park

Girls Basketball

34 LI Boxing Gym 38 Connetquot-Sayville Ice Hockey

46 West Babylon Boys Basketball

50 Division

Girls Basketball

56 Sports Psychology Pep Talks

59 Pro Corner Long Term Effect

62 UA Training Tools of the Trade

68 Walt Whitman Wrestling

72 Harborfields Boys Basketball

76 Empire Challenge Sports Expo

78 St John the Baptist Girls Basketball

80 Long Island Lutheran Boys Basketball

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SHUTTER

SPEED

>>>

Sophomore Andrew Gonzalez scores a tough goal, and helps the T-Birds defeat Smithtown 6-0.

Photo by Morgan Harrison


>>> Photo by Bruce Feeley

West Babylon offense goes head-to-head against Walt Whitman.

SPEED

SHUTTER


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At Hauppauge High School, the wrestling program has a long history that is rooted deeply in the community and family. The team has and continues to be a part of the lives of countless wrestlers and their families for decades. Most importantly, it has been a positive influence for its members, giving them support through tradition and instilling a clear understanding of family values. With the team’s all star coaching and noticeable community involvement, this group of wrestlers has what it 14takes to make a difference on the wrestling mat.

Head coach Chris Messina knows plenty about the history of the team. Messina himself was a member of the team in 1969 and finished second in the county in 1971. After graduating college in 1976, Messina returned to Hauppauge High School as a junior varsity coach and by 1981 he began his journey as head coach of the Eagles wrestling squad. He is one of the main reasons the team abides by simple old-fashioned values that have made this long lasting group the strong and successful program it is today.


“The program has always had a good history,” Messina said. “But in the later years like in the mid-80s, we started developing our youth program to a greater extent, and as the kids came through, we started realizing that we had something really special.” Messina also praised the current team, adding that he gives all the boys the same speech about the community’s values and beliefs. “Your faith comes first, your family comes second,” said the coach. “After these things comes your school work. Wrestling’s at the bottom of the list, but it’s wrestling that will help you achieve all the other goals and this is how you become a good person, this is how you become happy in life because that’s the ultimate picture.” These words have been the foundation for the team from the beginning, giving many families in the community a sense of pride and wisdom concerning life and the sport of wrestling.

Family members have been an important part of this wrestling team as well. Brothers have wrestled side by side on this team. At one point in time, the Ress family had five boys involved in Hauppauge wrestling, including Ryckie and Gavin, who have combined for more than 150 career wins. Coach Messina also had a family member on the team, his own son, Michael, who finished as a twotime state champion. The Clackett family, once with four wrestlers, still has a name in the current squad. In addition to Charles Clackett, the youth head coach and statistician, he has his daughter Emily enrolled in the youth wrestling program. She is in the record books as well now, for winning the first tournament as a female for Hauppauge last year in February, and well on her way to place in the county tournament this year. Team captain Adam Lepkowsky reminisced about his days on the youth league, which he joined when he was in third grade. The youth program is opened to a wide variety of ages and is part of the reason why the team has such strong family ties.

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“It’s a good program,” Lepkowsky said. “When we were little, all the dads came down, and it was just a good program, one of the best on the island so I stuck with it.” Lepkowsky plans on wrestling for Binghamton next year but will come back to help and support the team. Family plays a big role in the teams accomplishments, and Clackett recognizes this when he says, “It’s really because of the families that have come back and have helped us out and continued to show support.” One example of such support was the Alumni Night that was recently held on Jan. 11, 2011 to celebrate the program’s 55th anniversary. The special night honored alumni and others that have been influential towards the success of the team, and people came from as far as Florida to be a part of the event. Important community supporters Ken and Patricia Lesser were also remembered during the celebration. In 2009, Mr. Lesser was tragically struck down by a drunk driver. He was honored for his many years of outstanding service to the wrestling team and towards many families in the community. The couples continuous generosity and dedication toward the team throughout the years was noted. Members said that Ken Lesser had a, “heart of gold.”

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“He would always ask, ‘Is there anything I can do for you?’ He did everything for us,” Clacket said about Lesser. “He ran our youth club, would drive the kids everywhere – if a kid needed a pair of sneakers he’d go out and buy it. His wife is one of our board members, so both of them are really tied into the community in many ways.” “He was at my side for a number of years,” continued Clackett. “We didn’t just lose a community member, we lost a person that did so much for our district, so much for my program, so much for our kids because he represented what we were trying to teach them.” Athletes like Chase Menendez and many others are among those that have benefited from the representation of Ken Lesser, his wife, and the many other supporters of the Hauppauge wrestling program.

“All of them are really great guys. They’re fun, caring and they teach you a lot about responsibility,” Menendez said. “And it’s not just about wrestling. They love to help us out, do what they can for us, and they’re just great guys to be around.” While Menendez hopes to go to college upon graduation, he also vows to find time to revisit the school on his breaks and help out the younger teammates. With a foundation beginning with integrity and loyalty, this wrestling team has what it takes to build character in the lives of young men. By placing emphasis on family and community service, the team, along with its key wrestlers, is headed for a prosperous future.


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For the boys on the Portledge High School hockey team, being a part of the squad is not just a preference, but a privilege. Portledge, a private school located on a lavish 63-acre estate in Locust Valley, N.Y., has been the home to countless college-caliber hockey players, and even several NHL stars, including Eric Nystrom, a left winger for the Calgary Flames, and Doug Murray, a hard-hitting defenseman on the San Jose Sharks.

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Despite once having some of the most elite players on Long Island playing at Portledge, the hockey team lost some of its zeal in the new millennium as some of the team’s standouts moved on to play in college and most of the incoming recruits were not as strong as the players they were replacing. But in a recent burst of young talent, the reinvented Portledge team has made hockey a local attraction again, and for head coach and Portledge alum Michael Coope, he is just glad that the hockey buzz is finally back on Long Island. “There’s something about the presence of guys in the hockey locker room and the excitement and the enthusiasm that goes along with that,” Coope said. “I think myself and Jon Sandos, the assistant coach, who’s also an alum, that was our first and foremost goal: to bring that energy back. And then that’s translated to everything – into the success we’ve had on the ice and to the camaraderie we’ve had in the locker room, and then into the widespread community about Long Island and hockey.” Since most schools don’t offer high school hockey programs, the Portledge hockey team does a lot of traveling to schools in upstate New York, New Jersey and some New England preparatory schools. Still, Coach Coope said that he thinks hockey is growing in popularity on Long Island and has the potential to be a place for the top hockey players in the region.

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“I think not having high school hockey, per se on Long Island, it doesn’t get the same recognition than a lot of the other major sports do at the high school level because a lot of the hockey is played outside with other outside organizations,” Coope said. “But if you look at college rosters, you see an increased number of kids are from Long Island, and grew up playing on Long Island. I’d say the quality of Long Island hockey has certainly improved and is producing very good players and I think we’re just part of that story.” Some of those adept, homegrown players that Coope is referring to can be found on his team’s current roster. Senior captains, defensemen Thomas Parisi and Pat Condon and center Ori Benyamini, were part of the freshman-filled squad four years ago that helped rebuild the struggling team, and now they serve as leaders to the younger players on the current team. “We’ve got a really young squad this year and we’re just trying to battle out there because it’s a new team, pretty much a lot of new guys coming in,” said Benyamini. “We kind of had low expectations for the year, but we stepped up and we’ve actually had a really solid year so far. Our key component is speed. We’re a fast team, we’re not very big; not going to out-hit many teams, not many, at least. We’re fast, we’re small, but we’ve got a lot of skill.” “It’s a good feeling coming from here,” Goldstein said about his experience since transferring to the school.

“Everyone’s really nice, everyone’s really good, and I think that’s going to help me in the future. And Portledge is a really good community. Everyone’s great toward each other, everyone’s best friends, so I definitely think it’s been a good part of my life and I’m definitely happy.” Freshman center Brandon Fusaro, who is part of the underclassmen group that includes an eighth grader, also mentioned the positive feeling about the Portledge community and how it’s great to see the alumni come back to the school that helped them develop their skills on and off the rink. “My teacher, actually our assistant coach, Jon Sandos, he’s my history teacher. So just to be in class and know that my hockey coach is my history teacher is just great,” Fusaro said. “I’m really proud to represent Portledge. Great school, great community – wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.” Along with a strong senior core to lead the young team, senior forward Michael Goldstein credits the community as part of the reason for the team’s success. Goldstein originally attended Syosset High School before being recruited to Portledge when one of the team’s players, Kurt Krotz, was injured. Since then, he has found a comfortable place on the team and in a community that embraced him with open arms.


Coach Coope, who’s in his 12th year as a coach with Portledge and in his sixth year as head coach, has seen his team go through years of success and years of failure, but he never gave up hope that the hockey fervor would resurface in the area again. Now he has a team that is competing at the level of some of the top prep schools in the nation and has the potential to be a platform for some of Long Island’s top hockey players to showcase their talents. The combination of a close-knit community, a solid roster and a love for hockey has made the Portledge hockey team a sight to see, and Coope couldn’t be happier to see his team at the top of its game once again. “We have good players; that’s the bottom line,” Coope said. “We’ve been able to attract a lot of the best players within the region; you look at the seniors and you kind of go down the roster, all the way down to our freshmen and even our eighth grader. They represent some of the best players in their age group on Long Island and so we’ve been able to attract those players. And when you put them on the ice and let them play together, you see some pretty special things.”


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You’ve heard of “The Catch” (John Taylor), “The Drive” (John Elway) and “The Flip” (Derek Jeter). Well, now there’s “The Shot”. With 5:49 to go in the 4th quarter and holding a precarious 4-point lead, there was a scramble for a loose ball. The Deer Park girls basketball team was awarded possession under their opponent’s basket. The only problem – just one second remained on the 30-second clock. The play was for Nicole Alvarez to in-bound to Felicia Lasorsa, their best long-range shooter. The 5’9” senior forward caught the ball behind the 3-point line and heaved it all in one motion. It kissed off the backboard and went in! The partisan crowd at Farmingdale State College went wild.

“The play was set up for her,” assured head coach Mike Gennaro. Then senior point guard Andrea Desvignes picked up a loose ball, dribbled down court and let go a floater also from beyond the arc. It was a high shot that seemed to stop in mid-air before descending. That too went “swish” expanding their lead to 39-29. A victory over defending New York State ‘AA’ Champion Sachem East (17-4) in the Suffolk County Championship game was now a reality. It would be their first basketball title in an eternity -- 33 years. Final score: 46-34. Next up: Baldwin for the overall Long Island championship. That winner travels to Troy for the ‘Final Four’. “Maybe the stars are aligned in our favor,” coach Mike Gennaro bemused. “We’ve caught a lot of breaks and had a lot of improbable comebacks.” After going 7-11 in 2009, an undefeated league season seemed hardly fathomable. “We had a lot of injuries last year – starting center Kelsey Dillon broke her hand in the third game. We had no one to replace her and couldn’t run our press, but I felt good things

were going to happen. We went undefeated in the summer (15-0) and came in first place (10-3) in the fall. I booked a tough non-league schedule against Whitman, William Floyd, Riverhead and Center Moriches to get ready. Still, they said we didn’t have a chance, that we were playing in a ‘weak’ division and that we were a ‘paper tiger.’ The key was the maturation of the kids and staying healthy. There was no bickering – they all knew their roles. There is great team chemistry. Their total mind set was to win the County championship.” The bounces seemed to go their way. Against Comsewogue, the Lady Falcons (20-2) were down by seven with a minute to go; then went on an 11-1 run. They won by four. “Their best player fouled out,” the 14-year coach recollected. “We benefited from a dubious technical foul against her for throwing an elbow which got her ejected.” Down by six with a minute to go against Wyandanch, they tied the game to send it to overtime. They were down by six in OT but came back to win. His girls were on a mission.


Thrown together by an unusual set of circumstances, five starters were promoted to the varsity, four as 9th graders and one as an 8th when the JV folded due to academic ineligibility. They took their lumps that first year, going 3-15. Gennaro formed an AAU team called the “Deer Park Pride” and won hardly any games, but they got better and better. They stayed together as a unit, summer, fall and winter for four years except for the summer of their junior year when they were sent them to different AAU clubs in order to hear a new voice and learn from different coaches.

thumped senior guard Jasmine Gonzalez who started playing CYO at six year old. Desvignes was voted league MVP averaging 15 points, 8 rebounds and 3½ steals. She was also selected All-County for the third time.

She has very good anticipation skills as she seems to know where a pass is going to go. Jasmine is great from the outside, an excellent free throw shooter and a tremendous passer who never gets rattled.”

“She’s a special player. She’s relentless on the boards, is speedy with long arms, very explosive and has great finishing skills around the net. She’s the ‘whole package.’” Senior guard Shayna Robinson averaged 11 and was praised as a “slasher, a driver and very quick.” She learned the game at a young age.

Nicole Alvarez made varsity in the 8th grade and was selected ‘team captain’ in the 9th. She hopes to attend Adelphi University next year and go into physical education.

At virtually every practice, Gennaro talked about how the school hadn’t won a title in a generation. “There it is,” he told them, pointing to the banner on the gym wall that said ‘Suffolk County Champs -- 1978.’ “It’s now up to you now to build your own legacy.”

“I started playing at six against other boys,” she laughed. “I took a lot of basketball training courses to help my ball handling, speed and agility. I also learned new moves.”

Defense was their strength – in no game did they allow as many as 40 points. The team was experienced and well-balanced opponents couldn’t key on any one player. They knew each other’s moves. “We challenge each other in practice,”

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Lasorsa averaged 11 and started playing CYO in the 3rd grade. Dillon, a 5’11” junior center averaged 10 points and 10 boards. Gonzalez is the first player off the bench, as a torn ACL injury from last year has limited her minutes and stamina. “Kelsey’s a good post defender and makes our press go,” Gennaro advised. “She jumps well and is also a volleyball player.

“Nicole’s played more minutes than anyone in school history. She’s our best defender, our ‘lockdown’ girl, a tremendous athlete and a mean kickball player.” “I really wanted to play when I made varsity,” Alvarez said. “We struggled a lot that first year but were very determined. We have a strong work ethic and play our hearts out.” Seeded #4, the club opened the playoffs by routing #13 Connetquot, 53-26. “We were up by 14 at the half and our defense was very strong,” the coach recollected. “We shut them out in the 3rd quarter.” Robinson scored 17 points and Dillon had 9 rebounds.


Next was #3-seed Whitman whom Deer Park had defeated by 10 in non-league, led by Robinson’s 28 points. That win gave the girls confidence and proved they belonged. “We knew we had to contain Alli Leftridge, who is one of the top 3 players in Suffolk and averaging 19.9,” Gennaro said. “Last game she had 31 points. We also needed to shut down their two guards who were averaging 15 and 12.” Alvarez was superb holding Leftridge to 12 points, her season low. Deer Park emerged victorious, 45-38. “Nicole did an unbelievable job,” her coach lauded. “She played her physical, denied her the ball and didn’t give any ground. She kept her body on her and off the boards. This was huge. We were up by seven in the 3rd quarter but had players were in foul trouble, so we ended up tied after three. Then I put the starters back in and our press came alive. Andrea and Felicia hit huge threes and Jasmine came off the bench and hit key free throws.” Now came Copiague headed by their star, Chelsea Williams. Williams had scored 26 points the game before in an upset of the #1 seed, Northport.

The maroon-and-white started slowly allowing some easy lay-ups. Sachem led 10-5 after one period. A pair of threes from Lasorsa (who also blocked two shots) and eight points by Desvignes sparked a comeback “Kelsey is the most mild-man- and put Deer Park ahead at halftime, nered, soft spoken girl,” her coach as- 21-19. serted. “That riled us up.” She respondTwo buckets by Lasorsa ed with 18 points and 14 rebounds, nine of them offensive. Three others had 12. broke a 27-27 tie and put the Falcons Eight successful 3-point shots were a ahead after three, 31-27. Then came season high. Deer Park won, 58-49. “The Shot”. The Deer Park crowd was raucous, chanting, The Falcons now faced Sachem East led by sophomore Megan Doherty, younger sister of All-American Kristen Doherty, now at Boston College. The day before, the Flaming Arrows had nipped North Babylon by a single point. In the 3rd quarter, Dillon was shoved to the ground by Williams going for a loose ball. “She may be bigger than me, but no one’s going to push me around,” Dillon said.


“We’re going to win this game” and “Where’s your mascot?” Desvignes’ 21 points led. Sachem East supporters began filing out with two minutes to go, much to the delight of the Deer Park fans. “Four years of work paid off,” Gennaro asserted. “At the beginning, we weren’t making shots. We were breaking down defensively so we made changes. Communication was hard because of the noise in the gym, but we knew what to expect. Nicole Gomez was unbelievable off the bench and Andrea’s play was the turning point.” “We executed better in the 2nd half,” Desvignes affirmed. “We got open shots, boxed out and scored on transition. We couldn’t let the seniors leave without getting this.” “We played for the team and weren’t selfish,” added Alvarez. “We’re enjoying the journey.” “Once we had the lead, we knew we would pull away,” hero Lasorsa affirmed. “We were prepared. We knew their plays and that was a big advantage.” “It meant a lot to accomplish this,” assured Robinson. “We knew we would go far as the team is like a family. We felt them out in the beginning; then got our motivation going. We are on the top of the world!” But the squad wouldn’t have won without Desvignes. “The smallest girl had the biggest heart,” Robinson beamed. No one disagreed.


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Without question, boxing is one of the toughest sports to train for. It pushes you to your absolute maximum both physically and mentally, and there are seemingly countless obstacles on the way to becoming competent in the ring. In fact, even trying to find the right gym can be a daunting task in itself. Fortunately for aspiring boxers on Long Island, there is Long Island Boxing Gym to steer them significantly in the right direction.

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Having opened in July 2008, Long Island Boxing Gym, run by Eddie Haeffer, has established a nice track record over its two-and-a-half-year run, assisting in the development of individuals of all ages. Whether it be honing an ability to box, teaching self-defense, or simply working on fitness, in the words of Haeffer, “it is truly a melting pot.” “There’s no better athletic training than boxing,” added Haeffer, who is one of the head trainers. “Boxing really is a complete sport.” One thing Long Island Boxing Gym can boast about is its first-class training staff. Haeffer, for example, is a former amateur boxer who has competed in the Golden Gloves Tournament five times. He’s even sparred with multiple former World Champions. In addition, their staff consists of former Golden Glove Champions and trainers who have worked with nationallyranked fighters. Aside from providing all the usual necessities and equipment, Long Island Boxing Gym prides itself on a battle-tested regimen that is sure to get anyone prepared. According to their website, “it will not just teach you how to box; it will increase your fitness level, offer you the highest degree of self-confidence, and provide you the tools you need to defend yourself.” “Boxing is harder than twoa-days in football,” said Alex Vargas, a sophomore at Bellport High School who is one of the many people who attend the gym regularly. “But it helps my confidence and the hard work pays off. It gets me in shape and helps prepare me for other sports.”

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Mike Damiani, a junior at West Islip High School, is another frequent visitor, and not just because his dad Anthony, a longtime former boxer himself, is one of the lead trainers. “It helps with focus, endurance, and strength.”

And it’s not just a guy’s gym. One example is Angelica Miceli, a sophomore at Sachem East High School, who wanted to learn how to defend herself. Now, not only can she do that with ease, but she’s also gained self-confidence that has enabled her to become more involved at school. Furthermore, she’s become noticeably stronger. “I can run 20 times faster now in soccer,” Miceli said. “Plus my kicks are better and more accurate.”   Perhaps most important of all, as Chris Hahn put it, “It’s a lot of fun.” Hahn, a sophomore at Half Hollow Hills West High School, goes to Long Island Boxing Gym three times a week and has noticed several upgrades in his athletic skillset.   “My footwork has gotten a lot quicker,” he said. “I feel like I can cut a lot faster.”         Even if one doesn’t desire to become a boxer, going through the training and motions can do wonders for anyone - literally of all ages. That’s just one reason why Long Island Boxing Gym has emerged as a reliable training ground.

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Bruce Kollmar never played ice hockey growing up, yet always loved the sport. He is a lifelong Rangers fan and season ticket holder. “I was a ‘pond hog’ at Bethpage State Park,” he chuckled. “When I got older, I played in adult leagues, midnight leagues and deck hockey. Then I went into coaching. I took courses, read a lot of books and went to many clinics including a ‘Youth Hockey Coaching Symposium’ headed by former Rangers Nick Fotiu and Brian Leetch which was great. I started out as a ‘Level 1’ coach and am now at ‘Level 4.’”


Kollmar began in 1996 by assisting a summer program called ‘Strong Long Island.’ He coached at St. John the Baptist in West Islip; then was asked to take over the freshman squad in the Connetquot-Sayville Ice Hockey Association. He did that for three years, moved up to the j.v. for a year, then was hired to coach the varsity which competes in the Suffolk County High School Hockey League. This year, his “T-birds” posted a 15-5 regular season record – good for 2nd place behind Long Beach, who ended up 18-2. In the playoffs, they won twice before losing in the finals. The league is composed of both “pure” teams (where all the players go to one school) and “combined” teams, where, if not enough players try out, two schools are allowed to merge. Also, an individual can try out independently whereupon his name goes into a “pool”. If a squad needs a player, they can select one from the pool. Other Suffolk schools were Northport/Huntington, East Islip, Kings Park/ Commack, Sachem (East and West), Smithtown/Hauppauge, Centereach, St. Anthony’s, St. John the Baptist and West Islip. The league also incorporated six schools from Hudson Valley. Each Suffolk school played home-and-home against one of them -- the T-birds played Arlington. There were also two All-Star games, one in Hauppauge one in Newburgh.

“We’re a club team not sanctioned by a school,” he advised. “Hockey is too expensive for a district to fund. Just getting ice time costs $600 for an hour-anda-half! We’re ‘pay-to-play’ – each player has to pay between $1,500 and $1,700 to participate.” Their 20-man roster consists of 9 players from Sayville, 10 from Connetquot and one from Lindenhurst. Six are seniors, nine are juniors and five are sophomores. The league also fields freshmen and j.v.’s. Six players moved up from last year’s j.v. to varsity. A large commitment is needed as tryouts are held in June and practices run throughout the summer. The regular season lasted from September 22nd to midFebruary. “Going in, I thought we had a strong team though I was concerned about our youth on defense,” Kollmar accentuated. “I was not concerned about the offense as we had 11 players plus one goalie returning from a year ago.” The club played in a pre-season tournament on August 28th and 29th sponsored by The Rinx in Hauppauge. They defeated Smithtown and St. Anthony’s but lost to Sachem, 6-4 in pool play. In the playoffs, they edged Sachem and Smithtown. Long Beach, a transfer from the Nassau Division was by far, their toughest competition. “They were a powerful team,” Kollmar conceded. “They had ten players who play junior hockey, while we had seven. We lost at home, 8-6, on November 14th and 10-4, on December 20th. That game was televised on MSG Varsity. We had a lot more chances than them, but they scored on every opportunity.” After a loss to the Mariners dropped their record to 5-3, Kollmar made some changes moving players around. After that, his squad went 10-2. Their top player was senior co-captain Frank Dichiara, a 3-year starter from Connetquot. He is also an honor student.


“Frank started the season as a forward, then was switched to defense after the 8th game,” Kollmar said. “He led the league with 35 goals, had 20 assists in 18 games and tied for most points with 55. He tallied 7 hat tricks, including five goals vs. St John the Baptist and three vs. Sachem and Kings Park. He is an incredibly good playmaker, is strong on skates, sees the ice well and moves the puck to the other players. Though a defenseman, he gets involved in rushing the puck as the 4th or 5th attacker. He also played a leadership role as he added lots of energy to the bench and locker room. He also plays for the Long Island Royals junior team out of Kings Park.” Dichiara’s linemate for most of the season was 5’10” senior forward Tyler Young (Sayville), a 4-year player. He tied Dichiara for the most points in the league notching 31 goals and 24 assists, including five hat tricks. “Tyler passes the puck well and is a gifted skater and stick handler,” his coach praised. “He’s not as vocal as Dichiara, but instead leads by example. He doesn’t say a lot but when he does, everyone listens. He was very instrumental in our 15 wins.” Second-year player Nick Russo (Sayville) was described as a “good young forward who is developing a touch for scoring by working hard both ends of the ice.” A 6’ junior, he tallied 16 goals and 17 assists in 17 games while playing on the same line as Tyler Young. An assistant captain, he plays junior hockey for Suffolk PAL.

Sophomore Brian Fenster (Connetquot) in his first varsity season played center and right wing. He registered 10 goals and 8 assists. “Although he’s 5’6” and light, he can hang out with the big boys,” Kollnar laughed. “He was moved up because he can skate with bigger players. He has great passing ability and can get in and out of the corners quickly where he uses his feet to dig the puck out like a soccer player.”


“My dad took me down to the pond at age 2 and I began skating in the 5th grade,” the youngster remembered. “I was fascinated with speed, skills and contact. My friends played roller hockey so I would always find a way to play. Sometimes I was in the rink at 5 AM. I went to a lot of camps where I improved my skating and shooting. A friend of my dad’s knew Brian Trottier so I went to his camp in Toronto where I helped out younger kids.” Fenster also plays soccer (striker and midfield) and baseball.

Gino Leocadi, a sophomore from Connetquot is also a baseball player. “I knew he had defensive skills along with the ability to get to the puck carrier and block shots,” his coach stated. “He uses his good stick skills to tie up opposing players.”

“I found that soccer helps you in terms of endurance and baseball helps you with your hand-eye coordination,” he added.

The first game of the playoffs saw the Birds shut out Northport/Huntington, 4-0. DiChiara had two goals, Andrew Gonzalez, a 10th grader had one, as did junior Ryan Albinski (unassisted). They then whitewashed Smithtown, 6-0. Two goals were scored by Dichiara. Young, Daniel Monahan, Gonzalez and Fenster had one apiece.

The squad alternated two goalies, senior Chris Watts (Connetquot) and junior Brett Fickin (Sayville). Both are good at getting in front of the puck. Each posted a number of shutouts, including one apiece in postseason play.

In the best-of-three final round, the club lost to Long Beach, 7-3 after leading 3-1 at the end of the 1st period. A series of penalties, 8 in all, did them in as they were continually playing short-handed. In the re-match, the T-birds lost, 4-2. Young scored both goals.


The team will be in a tournament at The Rinx on March 4th-5th-6th. Other invitees are Smithtown, Kings Park, Cornwall, F. D. Roosevelt (Hyde Park) and Orange County. “The season was a huge success in terms of growth and development,” Kollmar concluded. “We made the finals for the first time in many years. Three years before, we were bounced out in the first round. Despite losing six players, I feel we will return a strong team next season.”


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The Outback Steakhouse Empire Challenge promises to be loaded with all kinds of new surprises in 2011. The annual all-star football game, which was created in 1996 to help raise money for the Boomer Esiason Foundation and its fight against Cystic Fibrosis, has always been a dynamic event. Everything from a huge tailgate party presented by Outback Steakhouse, “Jets FanFest,” an interactive theme park that included inflatable rides, and capped off with a world-class football game featuring the best high school football players from Long Island against the best from New York City, the Outback Steakhouse Empire Challenge has always been an action-packed event. This year, the highly anticipated event will be transformed into an all day spectacular on June 21, at James M. Shuart Stadium on the campus of Hofstra University.

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The game and its surrounding events will keep the same traditions but will feature an exciting new twist. For the third time in the game’s 16 year history, Ultimate Athlete Magazine will be presenting a multidimensional Sports Expo dedicated to showcasing all of the newest and hottest sports equipment and apparel in the sports world, as well as the ever-popular action sports arena. The UA Sports Expo, which will be free for all ticket holders, will include sports fashion shows, a live music stage, and a wide range of other activities sure to keep the whole family entertained. Fusing together all of the successes of the Outback Steakhouse Empire Challenge with the many exciting new aspects of the UA Sports Expo will surely make this two-day event a point of destination for all families and football fans alike.


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Clichés become clichés because they are firmly rooted in the truth; most of these well-worn maxims inevitably get that way due to the fact that they are inescapably correct. The world of sports is cluttered with such truisms, many of them repeated over and over, getting re-hashed to the point of becoming, well, clichéd. However, every so often, a team or player will emerge and rise above the din to help refresh an old adage, breathing new life into a time tested, worn out concept. The 2010 / 2011 West Babylon High School Boys Varsity Basketball team just so happens to be one of those special teams.

“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog”. Go ahead and cringe, but the West Babylon Eagles are the quintessence of this wise old saying. Led by 5’10” senior point guard Matt Sullivan, Head Coach Tim Lynch’s diminutive squad scrapped their way to the Suffolk County Class AA Finals this past season with an under-sized stature but with over-sized hearts. “We’ve got a small team, but it is what it is. We’ve been playing like this all year,” stated Coach Lynch. “We’re used to playing this way. We just go out and play basketball,” 47 he dryly added.


Six-foot four-inch senior power forward Marshall Fairley is the closest thing that the Eagles have to a true center. Marshall has the strength and jumping ability to routinely pull in double digits in rebounds and his teammates help him out on the glass with solid, oldfashioned boxing out and hustle. What they lack in size, they make up for in quickness and intensity. “Fairley is a big part of our team; we have a small team and he really works at boxing guys out,” said teammate Chris Doyle. “He’s our big man!” “I like my role,” added Fairley. “If I rebound, my teammates will find a way to score!” Occasionally the aggressive big man gets into foul trouble but the Eagles generally don’t miss a beat, as they just shift their game into 5th gear. “It may hurt us on the boards when Marshall gets into foul trouble, but it helps us out in other ways,” said Coach Lynch. “We’re a lot quicker than many of the teams that we play.” Quite often you will see West Babylon playing with a very unique, yet effective five guard offense. With the slick ball handler “Sully” getting the ball up court, Lynch will run the floor with 6’0” Taylor Frisch, 5’11” Matt McArdle, 5’10” Jeff Mercado, and versatile swingman Chris Doyle. This group is quick, determined, unselfish, and man, can they shoot! The success that they achieved this season is a testament to all of their hard work and fine skills, as they slashed and cut their way to the Suffolk County League IV title with an 11-1 league record. In route to the Suffolk County Class AA Finals vs. Half Hollow Hills West HS, West Babylon boasted a robust 70.1 points per game average (3rd overall in Class AA) on the strength of an eye opening 140 “3’s” made this season. With three of the top four 3-point shooters in League IV (Sullivan, McArdle, and Doyle), the Eagles kept the pressure on their opponents with their run and gun, yet patient style of play. “Our team has always been undersized,” explained Chris Doyle. “We compensate by being notorious shooters; we move the ball and try to hit the open shots. We try to force the other team to play our game!” he concluded.

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Teamwork and familiarity with one another is another fine trait of Coach Lynch’s hard working team. “We’re all seniors, and we’ve been playing together since the 4th grade,” noted Matt Sullivan. “They all grew up together,” added Mr. Lynch. “They really play together as a team” he proudly added. Hard work, team unity, unselfish play, and sound fundamentals are some other commonly used clichés that are used to describe the elements of a successful basketball team. A team can achieve greatness when the stars align and all of these essentials come together. Unfortunately for the 2010 / 2011 West Babylon HS Eagles, their dreams of the ultimate success were denied as they fell to League IV rivals, Half Hollow Hills West HS, 64-26 on March 4th, 2011 in the Suffolk County Class AA Championship at Stony Brook University. Success however, cannot always be judged by the hardware in a team’s trophy case. Having established themselves as one of Long Island’s top basketball teams (Ranked # 9 on long island basketball.com’s Sweet 16), this veteran squad accomplished more than what can be simply seen in a box score. They once again have proven “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight…” well, you get the idea.


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The Lady Dragons have made their way up the ranks by winning countless games and achieving their set goals. Despite a tragic situation and other challenging obstacles, these honor roll and AP students rely on their strength, closeness and awesome team chemistry to make it through. With the guidance of a friendly coach and mentor and the persistence of key star players, this Levittown/Division team plans on going the distance. The team’s success led them to capture the Class A Long Island Championship crown last year and compete in the New York State Championship. They were accomplished enough to make it that far, a feat not many teams can achieve. While last season was close to perfect, the team plans on strengthening their play in the current 2011 season. With numerous wins and a 17-1 record, so far the ball is in their court. The plans of a successful season rely on the team’s strong defense and drive to win. The Lady Dragons are known to devour their opposing team by any means. They are accustomed to winning, as their recent stats have proven. The secret to their success lies in the team’s undeniable chemistry. “Everyone on the floor contributes,” said Taylor Mailing, the team’s senior point guard. Coming into the season, the team faced the obstacle of losing two key graduating seniors, but that didn’t hold them back. They have pulled together and filled in where needed. These obstacles have failed to keep their determined spirits away and they haven’t yet stopped the team from doing what they do best, winning. 51


Senior guard Christina Rea has been on the team since the tenth grade and explained the closeness of the team. “Most of the team has been playing since the sixth grade.” The time spent together accounts for the team’s closeness. Christina’s excellent performance has helped the team reach its goals in the past. Currently Rea’s defensive strategy and extraordinary rebounding adds to the team’s prosperous wins. She was the team’s lead scorer in the decisive game against Lynbrook with five field goals and three steals at the end of the game. The ability to win games comes from the team’s dedicated players and a coach that according to outside guard Julie Ballantyne, “brings a lot to this team.” Steve Kissane or “Coachy” as the team has referred to him for many years is a positive motivating force that continues to drive these girls to excellence. Not only do these young ladies excel on the court, they remain honor students in their classrooms. Achieving honors these girls remain models to the rest of the school. In February of 2011 Kristen Stuart was named an AP scholar by the collegeboard. Stuart averages 9.5 points a game and maintains good averages in blocking and rebounding. Her exceptional playing and academic dedication has landed her scholarships to both Binghamton and Fordham Universities. Teammate Taylor Mailing has been on the team since her sophomore year. Mailing is a senior on the team and covers the point guard position. She explains how the team is not just successful on the court but how they also make it a point to give back.

This season, the team, sponsored by parents, faculty and staff “raised 700.00 for hospice care,” says Mailing. Mailing has been known to be the team’s top defensive player and ended the crucial game against Valley Stream with a total of 14 points. Senior and shooting guard Breanne Connolly is finishing her basketball career on a positive note as she does not plan to play in college. Transferring back to Levittown from Holy Trinity, Connolly says she, “missed playing with friends and is happy to be back with the girls.” Throughout her time on the team, Connolly has grown to be a leader. The team depends on her ability to create 3-point opportunities and follow through with the shot. Connolly has not disappointed as her three-point average is extraordinary. Her clear advice to teammates and younger players is to “play each game like it’s your last.” With an unexpected and untimely death of the team’s close friend Brian McNamara this past fall, the entire school was left feeling somber. His absence also left the team questioning whether they could make it through. With such a horrible loss so fresh in the season, the Lady Dragons needed to find ways to get motivated, and the idea of dedicating the season to Brian was a truly inspirational and necessary driving force towards the team’s success. Though he no longer physically graced the halls of Division High School, the spirit of beloved Brian McNamara lives on in the lives of those he touched daily.


To commemorate McNamara, the lady dragons begin each game by chanting “Brian,” and the team wears green laces, Brian’s favorite color, in their left shoe, in contrast to their blue and white team colors. Members of the student body have been wearing green bracelets to show the respect as well.

Though he no longer physically graced the halls of Division High School, the spirit of beloved Brian McNamara lives on in the lives of those he touched daily. To commemorate McNamara, the lady dragons begin each game by chanting “Brian,” and the team wears green laces, Brian’s favorite color, in their left shoe, in contrast to their blue and white team colors. Members of the student body have been wearing green bracelets to show the respect as well.

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The dictionary will define a pep talk as “a speech of exhortation meant to instill enthusiasm or bolster morale”. This rather dry definition doesn’t come close to explaining the importance, complexity or value of a good pre game pep talk. Every coach must face the challenge of presenting a clear motivational message that will focus, inspire and instill courage in their players who are about to enter battle. The most riveting pep talks in film are invariably about the game of football. Hands down the most inspiring is Al Pacino’s “inch by inch’ speech given in the Oliver Stone football film, Any Given Sunday. Pacino is speaking to a team which has been divided by petty rivalries all season. He talks about healing and how crucial it is to fight for every inch. “Either we heal now as a team or we will die as individuals… I’ll tell you this it’s the guy who is willing to die whose gonna win that inch,” says Pacino. He ends the speech with the question, “What are you going to do?”

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Another stand out moment in pre-game pep talks was Billy Bob Thornton’s “Perfect” speech in the film Friday Night Lights. This film is about big time high school football in Texas. In a state championship game the team is losing at half time and he gives a three minute speech for the ages. He says among other things, “to me being perfect is not about that scoreboard out there… it’s about you and your relationship to yourself, your teammates and your community.Being perfect is about being able to look your teammate in the eye and tell the truth about your effort. It’s about saying I did everything I could do for you and I could do nothing more. That’s being perfect. If you can do that you will live in this moment with a clear eye and with love in your heart.” And it is not only in film that coaches give inspirational talks. Bill Parcells is famous for giving his ‘boxing speech’ where he tells the story of the champion fighter who kept trying. It is not just in football that players need some last minute guidance and inspiration. In fact, in every sport the athlete seeks and needs some secret and personal message that will give strength, direction and focus. Figure skaters turn to their coaches before going onto the ice to perform.

So do gymnasts and golfers and hockey players and tennis players. This is so because in every sport the athlete must face real danger and the possibility of injury. They must also face fierce competition and the possibility of loss and of shame. This is why it is so crucial to provide them with a message that they can hold onto and organize around as the game begins.


And this is why the coach must be able to provide the team with a special and meaningful message. Virtually every athlete I work with as a sport psychologist expects and is given a pre-game and pre-shot routine which will contain both a strategy and a way to manage fear. And, we drill this mantra into their head either with hypnosis or with self talk so that it is the only thing they will think during the game. Every sport is different. Football players need something that is very different from a swimmer or a golfer but they all need something. Follow this template which may be a good guide as you develop your pep talk for your players. Create an image which relates to the strategy you hope they will adhere to during the game. For each sport there will be a differing strategy. Swimmers use ‘easy speed’ as a mantra during the race, golfers use ‘target awareness’ during the swing. Each sport requires a different strategy. The pep talk needs to also instill a sense of which emotion you want them to hold to. Football players may need aggression, tennis players and batters may need anger control and distance runners need determination and pain control techniques. The art of great coaching is to know the team and to give them an image that guides and supports them during competition. If done well the player will use this image to keep them focused and keep them calm. You will know it is working if they refer to it from time to time and if they perform better during the game. The coach’s job is multifaceted and knowing how to give a useful pep talk is good to know. It is one of the subtle elements in managing team chemistry. I hope this article is some help in your efforts to pep your team up and to keep them focused.


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The lifestyle and training regimen of a wrestler is unlike any other sport. The strict training and dedication that goes into excelling on the mat involves an overhaul of almost all of the athletes’ daily activities, including a daily stress of maintaining one’s weight, rigorous strength training, and the ability to stay focused outside of practice. One example of a team that is looking to rebuild its wrestling team is Walt Whitman High School. They are looking to put Whitman back on the map by understanding and embracing the sport’s uniqueness. First, strength is important in any sport but is extremely necessary when considering what it takes to pin an opponent to the ground. Each six minute match requires stamina and agility. There are innumerable amounts of different movements and techniques that are used throughout a single wrestling match. Along the lines of grappling, the athletes have to master take downs, joint locks and pins. A player must learn to adapt a strong stance, which allows the wrestler control over his opponent and positions the player for battle. A player must then administer a proper take down without losing this control. The wrestler’s constant use of their legs and arms requires immense strength and technique plays a large part in a good take down to a stronger component. In addition to training in order to master certain moves or to strengthen certain muscles, a wrestler’s preparation for their sport doesn’t end when they leave practice or the gym. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important even while trying to maintain your weight in order to wrestle in a certain weight class. Most wrestlers want to make weight in order to compete for their team.

“It takes more than just going to practice and going

home and doing your own thing,” said Kyle O’Rourke, an 11th grade wrestler at Walt Whitman. “You always have to be working at it. You have to go home, watch what you eat. You always have to be thinking about it.” In order to make weight, this means maintaining a strict diet. This nutritious diet includes small meals, which help the loss of body fat. Losing body fat requires much dedication and time, it is usually the hardest thing to do when training and competing in this sport.

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“For breakfast I’ll have a small cup of cereal, cold cuts for lunch and an apple and water bottle. For dinner: chicken cutlet or fish. I try to keep it healthy, and not eat too much in between” said Walt Whitman wrestler Michael Milanese. While some sports last just a season and then an athlete is on to the next, wrestling season is instilled in a wrestler’s mind all year round. This disciplined sport requires more training than most other high school sports. Training has to begin well before the season begins in order for the wrestler to be at his healthiest potential. The intense workouts go far beyond running and weight lifting. A wrestler needs to prepare his body in the most impractical ways. “In the off season you have to train and during the season obviously you have to train to,” said O’Rourke. “You have to push yourself.” “Just for that six minute match you have to put in about 100 training hours,” said Coach Altebrando.

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Routine training may consist of ‘hot-tubbing’ for hours, wearing rubber suits, binge eating and starvation among others, are included in a wrestlers way of life. High school wrestling today is at times so intense that many players end up sacrificing their health and nutrition in the process of being prepared. “It’s more of a mental sport than a physical sport,” said Milanese. “Keeping your weight on balance, making weight, and dealing with the wins and losses – it’s a tough sport.” As this team aims to grow its program and the strength of their wrestling team and its members, they all plan on maintaining a healthy lifestyle from the inside and the out, with the help of coaches, teammates, administrators, and parents.


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Story By: Harvey Sandig Photos By: Morgan Harrison

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They fi nished fi rst in Suffolk County’s League V (the small school division) with a 14-1 record and won twice in the playoffs to capture the County championship. One more win and the overall Long Island Championship would be theirs. Then they would be off to Glens Falls for the Class ‘A’ Final Four, the winner of which would be crowned State Champion. All they need was one more win. “We lost at the buzzer to Westbury,” sadly lamented head coach Chris Agostino. “They were very athletic and good defensively. Had we made one free throw out of four at the end, we would have won.” A year ago, the Tornadoes’ only regular season loss was to Comsewogue. They were 20-3 overall. By coming in fi rst, they received a bye in the opening round on the playoffs, beat Amityville in the quarterfi nals, deafeated Islip by 7 in the semis and Bayport/Blue Point by 22. So far this season, they are 2-0 in league games and 4-2 overall. Agostino is extremely confi dent they’ll do well. He is one-third of a prestigious coaching family as older brother Jack has led Amityville to County, Long Island and State titles and brother Tony coaches for Newfi eld. All played under former Centereach coach Bob McNeely, whom Agostino credits for a lot of his success, especially


for his relationships with his former players. The Tornadoes were seeded #1 in the pre-season coach’s poll. The other schools they play are Sayville, Stony Brook, Kings Park, Islip, Rocky Point and Eastport/South Manor. “We return five good pieces to my puzzle,” Agostino evaluated. “They are all Greenlawn kids who have spent their whole life together. Last season, we had only three good players as our point guard was injured for most of the year.” “We start four guards and a center,” he continued. “Our center is 6’7” Nick Fessenden, the guards are 6’3” senior Matt McCloud, 6’3” senior Joseph Savaglio, a transfer from Long Island Lutheran, 6’3” junior Justin Ringen and 6’1” junior point guard Lucas Woodhouse, who made varsity

when he was in the 8th grade.” ”I started playing basketball in my driveway when I was 8,” Fessenden stated. “Three of the other starters were there too. We played ALL the time – non-stop. Lucas and Joe Savaglia always guarded each other and sometimes the competition got heated. My high point was winning the County championship last year. We lost a heartbreaker in the LI championship on a jump shot from the foul line. We want to get back there.” “Nicky is being looked at seriously by a number of Division II schools like LeMoyne and Dowling,” his coach advised. “He’s a tough kid who does all the little things well. McCloud is a big-time scorer -- he fills up the stat boxes. He’s incredible defensively, can rebound and block shots. He was selected ‘All Long Island’ last year, one of only three juniors to be so honored.” He had a double-double, scoring 22 and grabbing 11 rebounds

against Uniondale. He too is a 3-year varsity starter. Agostino lauded Ringen as “the best pure shooter in our program with a natural jump shot.” The youngster credited his dad with getting him interested in the sport. He’s been playing since age 4. Savaglia averages 10 points and 6 rebounds and described as an outstanding perimeter shooter. As it turns out, it wasn’t the youngster’s choice to be a hoopster. “When I was in the 6th grade and 5’2”, my dad decided to send me to basketball camp,” the junior advised. “I never played before. Brian Carey was one of the coaches and he knew my grandfather. He took me under his wing. He told me what to work on. I’ve loved it ever since.” His best game was

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against Holy Trinity when he scored 19 points. “I decided to take over in the 3rd quarter,” he bragged. “I was ready to shoot. My teammates kept finding me for the open shots.” According to the players and coaches, there is no doubt as to Woodhouse’s talent. “I feel he’s one of the best point guards in the tri-state area,” Agostino praised. “When I saw him play in the 8th grade, his talent was obvious. He knows exactly when someone is going to make a move to the basket. If I were to build a winning program, he’s the type of kid I wanted on my team. He’s the main piece to the puzzle.” “He’s amazing,” agreed Fessenden. “You couldn’t ask for a better point guard. He’s flashy with unbelievable vision. He sees things most guards don’t.” Agostino gets his squad ready by playing tough competition in pre-season. “We play the toughest non-league schedule in Suffolk County,” he stated. “We played Holy Trinity in the Catholic/Public School Challenge at St. Dominic plus Long Island Lutheran. We won the Uniondale tournament in early December beating South Side and Uniondale. Southside is favored in Nassau Class ‘A’ and Uniondale is one of the top squads in ‘AA’”. Fessenden led the way against South Side with 23 points and 6 rebounds. He would later be selected the MVP. “His performance was the difference in the game,” Agostino said. McCloud chipped in with 22, plus 10 boards and 5 steals while Ringen added 14 points and 10 rebounds.


Against Uniondale, McCloud notched 20 points, Fessenden had 16 with 11 rebounds and 4 blocked shots. Ringen added 18 points, including three from 3-point range and Woodhouse had 10 assists and 6 steals. “The key to the win was our ability to contain them defensively,” he said. “Ringen’s good perimeter game made it easy for Nicky down low.”

“We were a little soft in the fi rst half,” Ringen said. “I was missing shots in the fi rst half but then they began falling. You have to keep shooting.” The youngster led all scorers with 23 points, 19 in the 2nd half. McCloud chipped in with 19, Savaglia had 16 and Woodhouse had 12 assists and 6 steals. The team pressured the Buccaneers and led by as many as 19 (60-41) in the 4th quarter.

Thus far in League V play, the Tornadoes are 2-0 having crushed Sayville, 74-28 and defeated Islip, 74-68. Agostino viewed the Buccaneers as its main rival. In the fi rst half, they trailed by as many as nine points at 33-24, but a 6-0 run closed the defi cit to three.

The squad is clearly highly motivated. “We want to go undefeated in the league,” Fessenden admitted. “We have to shoot well, play defense and have a team plan,” added Ringen. The squad of 15 plays 12 league games. The playoffs begin February 19th.

“Dave Towell had 15 points before the half but only two afterwards,” Fessenden said. “Our defense was dedicated to stopping him. We forced some turnovers on defense and hit some 3’s. We went on a 21-8 run in the third quarter.”

“For us to be successful, we need to take care of the basketball,” the head coach concluded. “We can’t be outworked.”

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St. John the Baptist Girls Basketball

Looking to Continue Last Decade's Success

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Bob Knight, Roy Williams, Mike Krzyzewski and Ted Oberg. While you may recognize three of the four, that entire group has something in common: a devotion to life outside basketball while still dominating in the gym. Oberg, the head coach of the St. John the Baptist Girls Basketball team in West Islip has groomed his program into a Long Island power while making sure his players succeed in the classroom and the community. “There’s an attraction with studentathletes here on Long Island,” said Oberg. “They want to come to a good academic school, a good community, and then basketball obviously is a draw.”

By: Christian Heimall Photos By: Morgan Harrison They’ve been a draw for a good reason as well. St. John’s has won six of the last eight Catholic High School Athletic Association titles including five straight from 2004-2008. In 2008 the Cougars were ranked #13 in the country at the end of the season, the highest ranking of any team in Long Island Girls Basketball history. Oberg has been at the head of that growth for over a decade preaching one simple task for his players: “Beyond Basketball”. “Coach teaches us so much. Not only on the basketball court but lessons off the basketball court,” notes senior point guard Alexis Smith. “Hard work, you know. Being consistent, performing to your best and just to be successful (either) academically or in anything we do.”


This year the Cougars finished their season with a 20-7 overall record, 10-4 in their league. They ended up second behind St. Anthony’s (25-3, 14-0) in the regular season before falling to the Friars in the Nassau-Suffolk CHSAA Title Game on March 6th at Hofstra University. It was the seventh consecutive year that St. John’s reached at least the semi-finals of the playoffs. But the success on the court is just an added piece of motivation for the girls on Long Island. “Transferring from public school I chose St. John’s the Baptist for the academics as well as the basketball,” said senior guard Kamala Thompson. “The public league is weaker and the academics are not challenging enough so that was definitely a deciding factor.” While the Cougars did not bring home a title this year, there is no doubt that the true measure of success is judged by what the players do off the court in their community and their classrooms.

This year the Cougars finished their season with a 20-7 overall record, 10-4 in their league. They ended up second behind St. Anthony’s (25-3, 14-0) in the regular season before falling to the Friars in the Nassau-Suffolk CHSAA Title Game on March 6th at Hofstra University. It was the seventh consecutive year that St. John’s reached at least the semi-finals of the playoffs. But the success on the court is just an added piece of motivation for the girls on Long Island. “Transferring from public school I chose St. John’s the Baptist for the academics as well as the basketball,” said senior guard Kamala Thompson. “The public league is weaker and the academics are not challenging enough so that was definitely a deciding factor.” While the Cougars did not bring home a title this year, there is no doubt that the true measure of success is judged by what the players do off the court in their community and their classrooms.


Long Island ler Adler ewAd Andrdrew byAn otos sby Photo ters s| |Ph Peter ssicacaPe byJeJessi tenby Writritten W

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rom the beginning of the 2010-2011 season, the Long Island Lutheran High School boys basketball team had their eye on the State A Federation Championship. They suggested that fans should make an effort to come out to their games, claiming that their talented and energetic team’s rise to the top would be exciting to watch. Now, as the season now comes to a close, they can rejoice and celebrate the validity of their statement, with a victorious 78-51 win over previously unbeaten St. Mary’s that has ultimately earned them their coveted title, the highest title in the Federation league.

As a whole, the team is loaded with athleticism and talent, including their senior star guard and Villanova-bound Achraf Yacoubou, whose season has culminated with the highest New York basketball award, co-Mr. Basketball. Along with Yacoubou, the other starting seniors on the roster are a veteran group who were focused and mature, including talented Bay Shore-transfer Jordan Allen, who has signed with Hofstra, power forward Terry Brutus, and guards Mike Florin and Shaun Lawton.


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From the beginning of the 2010-2011 season, the Long Island Lutheran High School boys basketball team had their eye on the State A Federation Championship.

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Long Island


“I think all five of our starters are potentially Division I players – very talented, hard working, athletic, and smart,” said second year head coach John Buck, also a LuHi graduate. “I think each of them brings a unique skill set to the table and they all blend very well.” The blending on the court has proven to be a natural transition for this talented team, almost like an instinctive course of action. “To be honest, he [Coach Buck] doesn’t really have to call many plays,” said Yacoubou. “Sometimes we just know and it comes from experience and being on the floor since freshman, sophomores and juniors. A lot of times he’ll just let us call the play and sometimes he’ll call a time out to tweak a few things but other than that he doesn’t really have to do much ‘cause we’re all seniors and we know.” Giving the athletes the ability to take matters into their own hands has clearly proven to be a successful tactic this season, a strategy by Coach Buck to give the athletes confidence to take over and truly make it their team. “I can’t play, I can’t score any points,” said Buck. “So I just want them to really feel ownership of what they do on the floor and I think they’re doing a really great job with that so far.” Other tactics employed by Buck include making sure that the athletes are not only on

top of their game, but their academics and daily life situations as well.

“I really want them to stay on top of everything and do the best they can, whatever they’re trying to do,” said Buck. “Most of the time we’ll go into his room to talk to him and he’ll just talk about the keys to being a good person in life most of the time,” said Yacoubou. “He doesn’t even talk about basketball. He’s a good guy and he always stresses the fact about getting your classwork done and all those things about being a good person.”

But, when it comes down to it, what has really brought the spotlight to this team is their success on the court all season long, and the ultimate triumph of capturing the State “A” Federation Title that this team was after since day one of the 2010-2011 basketball season.


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Long Island Winter Vol. II 2011