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Athletics

The referendum will appear on ballot as a single, all-or-nothing proposition

Port Jefferson high school could look very different in the coming years if a $30M bond proposal is approved by the community. File photo by Elana Glowatz

In Port Jefferson, 2017 will seemingly have a dramatic, down-to-the-wire election day just like it did in 2016, though this year it will be held in December instead of November.

The Port Jefferson School District Board of Education voted unanimously in support of a resolution to establish Dec. 5 as the date for the much-discussed and intensely debated $30 million bond referendum that has seemingly created a two-party system within the community: the Pro-Bond Party and the Anti-Bond Party.

Despite objections from some residents at prior board of education and Port Jefferson Village Board meetings, the date for the vote was set for the first Tuesday in December. The resolution to set the date was removed from the eight other items listed in the board consensus agenda under the category of finance after a motion by board Vice President Mark Doyle, so that the resolution to set the date could be voted on as individual item.

“At this moment in time both my husband and I are strongly inclined to vote ‘no’ on this bond, even though it’s great for the kids and the buildings.”

— Renee Tidwell

Those opposed to that date cited the potential absence of a large number of “snowbirds” or Port Jeff homeowners who tend to spend winters in warmer climates, on the date of the vote. The thinking being those residents are likely the same people who no longer have children attending the district, and therefore would be less likely to support the massive spending plan.

“We’ll discuss the best way of getting the word out and try to make the availability [of absentee ballots] a little bit easier than people might otherwise imagine, although it is relatively easy,” Superintendent Paul Casciano said during the Oct. 10 board meeting, when the date was finalized.

Casciano previously stated during one of the district’s several building walk-throughs, which were scheduled to allow residents the opportunity to tour the facilities slated for upgrades as part of the bond, that the December date was more preferable than attaching the proposition as part of the budget vote in June because the board felt it was important to allow the bond to stand on its own and not be lost as an afterthought to the budget.

Others who have voiced opposition to the bond have expressed concerns with voting on the more than 20 items as an all-or-nothing proposition and urged the board to split it into at least two propositions: one for education and safety upgrades and one for upgrades relating to athletics. The board elected to keep all 23 items and $29,900,000 worth of upgrades and improvements to district facilities intact as a single proposition.

Proposal highlights

•$7.6M to construct a three-story addition at PJHS

•$2.3M to construct new music room and instrumental practice room at PJHS

•$2.2M to build addition to PJHS cafeteria and renovate kitchen space

•$1.2M to replace windows at PJHS

•$2.5M to construct two additional classrooms at elementary school

•$1.7M for locker room renovations at PJHS

•$1.6M for installation of stadium lighting at Scraggy Hill fields

•$1.4M for a new synthetic turf football field at PJHS

•$3.7M to convert tech ed building to new central administration headquarters

•$1.6M to install drainage walls at north side of middle school building

“At this moment in time both my husband and I are strongly inclined to vote ‘no’ on this bond, even though it’s great for the kids and the buildings,” district resident Renee Tidwell said during the public comment portion of the meeting. “We want to vote ‘no,’ and we’re very troubled by that.”

Tidwell pointed to the inclusion of a synthetic turf football field and stadium lights at the athletic fields on Scraggy Hill Road included with health, safety and educational components in one proposition as a reason to vote against it.

“Split the bond into two bonds; one which addresses the urgent and critical capital improvements and infrastructure upgrades, and the other bond which could address less critical initiatives,” Tidwell said, prior to the vote, which eliminated that possibility.

Deputy Superintendent Sean Leister suggested it’s possible the district might have legal ways out of the bond agreement should an extenuating circumstance arise, such as a settlement in the district’s lawsuit against the Long Island Power Authority, which could cause the district to lose substantial property tax revenue, prior to borrowing the money. Leister said previously that projects and borrowing would be unlikely to begin prior to 2019.

Based on discussions during several public meetings and conversations taking place on Port Jefferson-related Facebook pages, the community seems to be split down the middle roughly two months away from the vote. Results of a survey that was available on the district’s website are expected in the coming weeks, and Leister has also promised an imminently available property tax calculator so that residents can see about how much the proposal would cost individual households if passed. This tax hike would be unrelated to potential raises as a result of the LIPA lawsuit and/or if next year’s budget were to ask for an increase. Casciano has also promised more walk-throughs, including a virtual tour for those unable to attend in person.

The Port Jefferson girls' basketball team experiences the thrill of winning the school's first-ever Class C Long Island championship title. File photo by Bill Landon

By Desirée Keegan

A special class of seniors is leaving behind an unprecedented run of success at Port Jefferson High School.

Jackie Brown, Courtney Lewis, Jillian Colucci, Brian Mark and Corinne Scannell are just some of the athletes that have helped put the school back on the map in a variety of sports over their respective high school careers.

Jackie Brown. File photo by Bill Landon

“These seniors would be starting players at larger schools and on larger teams,” Port Jefferson athletic director Danielle Turner said. “They’re just great athletic talents in their sports regardless of the size of a school. They’d play anywhere.”

Brown, who played field hockey, softball and basketball at Port Jeff, is committed to play field hockey at Adelphi University. She was All-Conference as a freshman, All-County as a sophomore, and All-State and All-Tournament as well as a captain her junior and senior seasons. She helped lead the Royals to the county finals in 2016, and graduated as Long Island’s all-time leading scorer in field hockey. She was also a four-time New York State Public High School Athletic Association scholar athlete in all three sports.

“Most of us seniors are two-sport or three-sport athletes, which makes us so diverse,” Brown said. “We all use skills from one sport to be successful in another. I, for instance, use my field hockey vision to better see the basketball court. We’re also passionate, and give 100 percent and work hard.”

Lewis reached the 2,000 career point plateau last basketball season, and led the team to Suffolk County and Long Island titles, as well as the program’s first regional win and state finals appearance. She became the 22nd player in Suffolk County girls’ basketball history to reach the career milestone. She will be playing for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute this winter.

Courtney Lewis. File photo by Bill Landon

Colucci was a standout soccer player, and also competed on the basketball team. She led Long Island in goals scored her junior year and propelled the soccer team to the state finals the last three years. The Royals brought home back-to-back Class C state championships in 2015 and 2016. She also holds the record at Port Jefferson for career goals (105) and assists (62). She will be taking her talents to Marist College this fall.

“There is nothing better than finding success in doing something you love,” Colucci said. “The best part is that it was all so unexpected. It felt really special to bring attention to the school, and the community supported us every step of the way.”

She said while she was always humbled by the attention, at times she felt embarrassed, because to her, it was about the team.

“We all experienced success because we’re all talented athletes with the same drive and passion,” she said. “Since Port Jeff is so small, we’re not just teammates, we’re friends.”

Her brothers, parents, aunts and uncles were all Royals, and Colucci said she’s proud to be able to carry on their legacy.

Mark, another three-sport standout — in football, lacrosse and basketball — helped each of his teams reach new heights. Despite the lacrosse program being just three years old, it’s made the playoffs every year, and the football team achieved its best record in the last six years during his senior season.

Jillian Colucci. File photo by Desirée Keegan

“While the program still isn’t on the same level as some of the other top schools, I’m confident that the program is heading in the right direction,” he said, reinforcing the fact that the bond and community support played a big part in the rise. “Our group of seniors — both boys and girls — has always been really ambitious in the goals we’ve set for ourselves athletically.”

Turner saw it, too.

“He was constantly putting himself out there, he was always in the wight room and going above and beyond to do something to improve his game,” she said.

Mark said he hopes he and the other seniors made an impact on the younger generations of athletes.

“I know that a lot of us took pride in representing our school well and providing a good example for the younger kids in our community,” he said. “We know that we were once those kids and remember how we idolized the varsity players so seeing younger kids in the stands watching us always gave us a little extra motivation.”

Brian Mark. File photo by Bill Landon

Scannell, who is headed to Wake Forest University in North Carolina, has not committed to playing a sport. She was a defender for the state championship-winning soccer team and helped the basketball squad to the state finals. Her family was also instrumental in paving the way for the first varsity lacrosse team. After several failed attempts to launch a program at Port Jeff, the team competed for the first time this year, narrowly missing the playoffs by one win.

“My dad was a big proponent — it started in my backyard,” she said of her dad who coached youth lacrosse. “The fact that we can pave the way, it’s nice we can give others the opportunity to play. They can color in the lines we drew this season.”

Turner lauded the athletes not only for their skills, but also because “they’re just great kids.”

“They have such good values and I think those values they hold are what make them great athletes,” Turner said. “They come from great families, they’re committed, they put the team first, they’re always willing to sacrifice, they’re dedicated, and that’s in all facets of their life.”

One instance in particular Turner recalled was when the girls’ basketball team was upstate competing for the state championship. She said, although Scannell didn’t want everyone to know about it, if the team had lost in the semifinals, the 2017 class president was going to travel home to compete in a half marathon to raise funds for children with cancer on the day of the finals. She was frequently caught with Brown, the vice president, hosting bake sales or raising money for a charity or school event.

Corinne Scannell. File photo by Andrew Wakefield

The athletic director said Colucci was always in her office asking how she could earn more community service hours. Colucci won the Butch Dellecave award for her dedication to athletics and academics, coupled with completing 160 hours of community service. Mark won the Golden Eleven Award, which is presented to the top 11 academic scholars in Suffolk County, and the LaBue Award, which is presented to the top scholar-athlete is Suffolk County football.

“They put everybody else before themselves, they’re all going to great schools, and they’re mature, great kids,” Turner said. “And most of all, they grew with the kids in their class. They learned from each other and acted as role models to each other. Those values and bonds became stronger, and there’s nothing I would change about them. I feel I got so lucky to step in when I did [as athletic director] even just to know these kids.”

Scannell said she agreed the bond the girls created playing together for so long was crucial to achieving every milestone.

“Playing together at such a young age, especially with soccer, we knew how someone was going to touch the ball, who was going to send a long ball, when someone would pass, and it’s not just knowing the soccer or basketball style, but knowing each other’s personality and how their thinking goes,” she said. “It takes a history to understand. Our relationships made it so strong, but we all also wanted it. As long as you love what you’re doing that’s the most important thing.”

Cougars celebrate a three run standup double to tie the game at four

Athletic success was contagious on the North Shore this spring.

We boasted 13 boys lacrosse, 11 baseball, eight boys tennis, 13 girls lacrosse and 11 softball squads in the playoffs this season. Local teams like Comsewogue boys lacrosse, Ward Melville baseball, Ward Melville boys tennis, Smithtown East girls lacrosse and Walt Whitman softball reached the semifinals. Seven of those 56 postseason qualifiers went on to be crowned Suffolk County champions, including the Commack baseball team, which grabbed the program’s first title in 20 years, and Mount Sinai’s softball team, which won its third straight county final.

Ward Melville boys lacrosse and the girls lacrosse teams from Mount Sinai and Middle Country all nabbed Long Island championship titles, and all three won their state semifinal games. The Patriots and Mustangs won state titles. And after the Middle Country Mad Dogs won the program’s first county, Long Island and state semifinal games, the girls narrowly lost in overtime, after the nation’s No. 1 lacrosse recruit and New York’s new all-time leading scorer Jamie Ortega netted the equalizer with just 1:37 left in regulation.

Districts like Mount Sinai, Shoreham-Wading River and Ward Melville have been dominating team and individual sports, creating powerhouse programs. Besides posting playoff teams in nearly every sport, Shoreham-Wading River junior Katherine Lee won a myriad of titles across the track and field season. She became a part of history when she and three other teammates swept the top three spots in the 3,000-meter state qualifier run, and placed second in the state with a new personal best.

Port Jefferson sophomore Shane DeVincenzo placed sixth overall and fifth in the Federation at the state golf tournament. Northport track and field’s 4×800 relay team placed first in the state and Federation finals, and Huntington’s Lawrence Leake placed third in the state track and field finals in the 400 high hurdles. His teammate Kyree Johnson won a state title in the 400 dash and third in the long jump, and led the Blue Devils to win the Federation team title, toppling every public, private and parochial high school in New York.

A load of other talented track and field standouts across our schools placed in the county finals and state qualifier meets. We’ve seen more and more talent across every team and individual sport with each season, and our schools continue to sneak into national rankings, perhaps creating budding dynasties for years to come.

With the end of another successful season, we want to recognize all the hard work and dedication put in by our student-athletes, many of whom excel to a similar level inside the classroom, and their coaches who help lead the way. Every student needs some guidance, and it’s clear guidance from coaches this season helped bring these athletes great success.

To overcome any kind of competition, students spend years learning their chosen sport or sports, practicing skills and developing their physical fitness. It takes a lot of patience and positive thinking to not give up at one loss or the next, and trust that the years of sacrifice will pay off. We’re proud to have covered those wrapping up their high school careers who have represented our six paper’s various coverage areas with class and pride, and we look forward to seeing what the returners can do next year. Congratulations, and keep up the good work.

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Photo from Three Village School District

Three Village Central School District is now accepting applications for the Ward Melville High School 2016-2017 Athletic Hall of Fame.

To be considered for admission to the Athletic Hall of Fame, candidates must meet the detailed criteria outlined on the nomination form located on the district’s website at www.threevillagecsd.org.

The requirements include having graduated from Ward Melville High School at least five years ago and amassed an impressive list of accolades during his or her athletic career, both in high school and beyond. Candidates are expected to be well-rounded citizens, having worked to make a difference in their community, state or nation, and served as role models for others.

Nominations should be submitted to the district’s athletic office by Dec. 1. All nominations will be kept on file for continued review for a period of up to five years.

Paul Lasinski, center, smiles with Harborfields High School Athletic Director John Valente, left, and Principal Rory Manning. Photo from Hansen Lee

Paul Lasinski of Greenlawn has been an athletic trainer and health teacher at Harborfields for nearly 20 years, and in less than two weeks he will walk the halls and fields of the high school for the last time as he prepares to retire.

It was about 18 years ago when Lasinski, or “Ski” as he’s known at school, took the position of athletic trainer. Ever since then, he has been a mainstay of the HF athletic program.

“I try to treat the student-athletes like I would want my child to be treated,” Lasinski said in an interview. “The kids here at Harborfields are really great. If you treat the students well and they know that you’re there for them, they know you’re giving your all for them, then a bond will come.”

Lasinski said he will be moving to South Carolina soon, and his replacement has already started training. Rachel Jersky, currently the athletic trainer at Bayport-Blue Point High School, will take over from him.

Lasinski’s history
• Hofstra athletic trainer in 1976, when men’s hoops first went to NCAA tournament
• Two sons graduated from HHS
• Was athletic trainer at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy
• Has been at Harborfields since ’97

“Not having Paul roam the sidelines in his infamous trainer’s cart, or watch him tapes hundreds of ankles throughout the year, will be difficult to get used to,” said John Valente, Harborfields director of health, physical education, athletics, medical and nurse services. “[He] has left his mark on so many that he can never be replaced for who he is and what he has represented to the Harborfields Central School District.”

Lasinski said his favorite moments over the course of his HF career have been the times when he worked closely with the students. He said he was not looking forward to saying goodbye.

“The last week is going to be so difficult for me,” he said. “Being around the kids … and watching them play was such a highlight for me.”

He said one of his favorite memories was when the boys’ basketball team won the New York State championship in 2012. Lasinski was on the bus coming home with the team from Glens Falls when he said members of fire departments in the town reached out to him because they wanted to orchestrate a welcome home ceremony for the boys. He let the head coach know, and they decided to keep it a secret from the boys to surprise them.

“When we pulled around the corner … and the boys saw the sirens and the American flags, it was mayhem. That was a special moment,” he said.

Valente said it’s no secret the athletic director shares a bond with many student athletes.

“Behind this talented professional is a man revered by students, staff, parents and the entire community,” he said in an email. “Paul … gives of himself freely. He has been known to travel to athletes’ homes to check on an injury or provide care. It has always been inspiring and touching to witness the interaction that Paul has with the student athletes. They genuinely love Ski.”

Lucas Woodhouse, point guard of the 2012 team and now a key member of the Stony Brook University basketball roster, said Lasinski was an important piece of the group.

“[He] played a huge part in our team’s success over the years,” Woodhouse said. “He was great to be around, so much that people would go to just hang with him and talk about anything. It was great to have him be a major part of the team every year.”

The Greenlawn resident said he has enjoyed his time as a health teacher and said the most important part of teaching high schoolers is maintaining an open conversation, whether the topic is drugs, nutrition or sexual activity.

“You have to talk about it [with the students],” he said. “You really have to tell them what’s going on and make them aware of the choices they could make and how they affect them.”

Lasinski drives his golf cart around the grounds at Harborfields. Photo from Hansen Lee
Lasinski drives his golf cart around the grounds at Harborfields. Photo from Hansen Lee

As an athletic trainer, Lasinski would be looking over nearly 300 student athletes each day during the busier sports seasons.

“Thank God they don’t all get injured at once,” Lasinski joked.

He said a Saturday in the fall could have him working up to 12 hours, between soccer games in the morning and then football games in the later afternoon.

“You need to have a good wife,” he said of his wife Bonnie, who was a support system when he would work extra hours at the school. “She spent a lot of Saturdays without me, but she knows it’s what I love. This is what I do best. This keeps me young.”

And his efforts did not go unnoticed across the district. Valente said Lasinski has gone above and beyond his work responsibilities throughout his years of service.

“Paul works many hours and never looks at his watch,” he said. “It is not uncommon for him to be treating students as early as 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning, and then work over 10 hours throughout the day being at all of the contests.”

Turf fields, locker room upgrades and more discussed for schools

A man stands next to termite damage on the high school gym floor. Photo from Regina Pisicani

Northport athletes may see some improvements in fields and facilities throughout the district in the upcoming years.

The Northport-East Northport school district’s Athletic Facilities Citizens Advisory Committee gave a presentation to the board last Thursday, Dec. 10, highlighting the problems student-athletes face with the current conditions of locker rooms, fields and more, and gave a five-year comprehensive plan for upgrades.

Members of the committee toured all the schools in the district, and spoke with representatives from synthetic turf companies, members of buildings and grounds departments from multiple school districts and coaches to get input.

The recommendations were divided and spread out over a five-year span to offset the estimated cost of about $17 million. Trustee Regina Pisicani, who spearheaded the creation of this group, said deciding which projects came first was the most difficult part.

The current gym lockers at Northport Middle School are decaying. Photo from Regina Pisicani
The current gym lockers at Northport Middle School are decaying. Photo from Regina Pisicani

“We want it all and we want it all now,” Pisicani said at the meeting. “Because the facilities have been neglected for so long, it all needs to be done now, but we know that is not possible.”

Immediate projects include several upgrades to the Northport High School football field. Replacing the football field with synthetic turf using alternative fill, installing a new track, adding stadium lighting and replacing the sound system were suggested.

Committee member and Northport teacher Rocco Colucci said many members of the Northport community use the high school track.

“The high school track team uses it, the middle school uses it, but also the community uses it for Relay For Life and the [Northport} Running Club,” Colucci said. “This track gets used almost every day.”

Constructing an outdoor concession stand and permanent restrooms, as well as replacing the asphalt by the long jump and pole vault area at the high school were also suggested, as well as replacement of the tennis courts and fencing at Northport Middle School.

The committee expects the costs for first-year projects to range from $5.6 million to $5.9 million.

For the 2017-18 school year, projects include replacing the soccer field at the high school with synthetic turf and adding protective fencing, adding a natural grass field with irrigation for the junior varsity and varsity baseball fields, and a new backstop with increased overhand suspension at the junior varsity and varsity softball fields.

During the presentation, Pisicani said the stairway leading to the wrestling room should be painted and the ceiling and lighting at the wrestling room entrance needs to be replaced or repaired, too. Committee members thought these renovations should be tackled in the second year, as well as projects for Northport Middle School, including an all-weather track, new long jump pit, improvements to the softball and baseball fields, and replacing the ceiling and lighting in the gym.

At Bellerose Elementary School, new lighting and a ventilation system are suggested for the gym. The total projected cost for year-two projects is about $7 million.

The cost for year-three projects is significantly smaller with a projected budget of approximately $1.7 million. Recommendations focus on the ceiling and bathroom area of the girls’ and boys’ locker rooms at the high school, and air conditioning in the high school’s main gymnasium. Renovations for the Northport Middle School boy’ and girls’ locker rooms include new lockers, windows and bathrooms. The committee also suggested that the East Northport Middle School multipurpose field benefits from an irrigation system.

The approximate $340,000 year-four projects include renovations of the tennis and handball courts at both the high school and William J. Brosnan School, and irrigation to the main field at Pulaski Road Elementary School.

The final year of projects has a plan to redesign the entryway to the gym area for teams and spectators at the high school, installing an all-weather track and irrigation for a natural field at Brosnan school, and an irrigation system, driveway and path to the back field at Bellerose elementary. The anticipated cost is about $2.4 million.

Pisicani urged the board to take tours themselves to help see what state the facilities are really in. Members of the board thanked Pisicani and acknowledged that this overview was needed, but no immediate decisions were made.

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Lisa Lally, above, hands out Miller Place sports T-shirts. Photo from Lally

By Clayton Collier

Before Lisa Lally retired last month, the longtime Miller Place athletic director had some parting words of advice for her successor.

“She said to remember to find time for family and make time for myself along the way,” said Ron Petrie, current Miller Place athletic director and head football coach. “It’s a very easy job to get lost in.”

Lisa Lally, above, hands out Miller Place sports T-shirts. Photo from Lally
Lisa Lally, above, hands out Miller Place sports T-shirts. Photo from Lally

The 2010 Section XI Athletic Director of the Year said it was for a similar reason that she decided to retire from the position she held for 13 years.

“You are problem solving constantly,” Lally said. “I enjoy that, but I think it requires a tremendous amount of focus and a tremendous amount of time away from other aspects of your life, and I think I was ready to focus in on other things.”

Deputy Superintendent Seth Lipshie, who has known Lally for more than 25 years, said his longtime co-worker’s efforts did not go unnoticed at Miller Place.

“In athletics, Lisa has incorporated a strong emphasis on sportsmanship while striving to be successful in competition,” he said. “The thing that drove Lisa the most was her priority she placed on what is in the best interest of the student-athlete. She derived as much pleasure in the success of her coaches and players as anyone in Miller Place.”

Nearly 150 people attended Lally’s retirement reception on October 27 at Willow Creek in Mount Sinai. Petrie said attendees included a wide variety of current and former colleagues from her more than 30 years with the district.

“It was a really nice event to celebrate not just her time here working, but also the life that she leads and the respect that she has gained over that period of time,” Petrie said.

Lally grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut, playing basketball and softball in high school, after the passage of Title IX before her freshman year, and won the 1978 female athlete of the year at Greenwich High School.

Lally graduated from Southern Connecticut State College in May 1982, with a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education. That summer, Lally moved to Long Island and soon began working as a substitute teacher and the junior varsity girls’ basketball coach at Miller Place. By September 1983, Lally had earned a full-time physical education teaching position.

She also coached field hockey, softball and volleyball in her career with Miller Place, but she indisputably had the most success coaching basketball, being named coach of the year five times — three times with the JV team and twice with varsity, winning the league championship in each of her last two years as coach.

In July 2002, Lally was named an assistant principal at Miller Place High School, a position she said did not suit her well.

“I was out of my comfort area in a lot of respects,” she said. “I was being asked to oversee a lot of areas that I did not feel I had working knowledge about.”

So when the position of athletic director became available just two months later, Lally saw an opportunity to move to a field she felt more comfortable in. Still, Lally said she had her hesitations in making such a “big leap” to athletic director, or the “right leap” as she describes it looking back.

“I was afraid of the job itself, initially,” Lally said. “Like wow, this is big. But I also knew it was part of my bloodline; it was who I was; it was something I knew.”

Every job comes with its own challenges, and an athletic director certainly is no exception. Lally said the most difficult part of her job early on was having to cut costs.

“Athletics, while it’s a very vital part of our school community, it’s also one of those areas that can be cut, because it’s not mandated,” she said. “So learning how to cut lots and lots of money out of a program without annihilating an entire program; it was very, very difficult.”

Petrie, who had the opportunity to observe Lally’s work in his roles as both the football coach and the assistant athletic director, said she was balanced to all athletic programs, both large and small.

“If we couldn’t afford to go out and get a high-end piece of equipment or put off getting new jerseys for a year or so, it was understood because nobody else was getting it,” he said. “It was pretty flat across the board and she was fair with it. I never felt we were being overlooked or not prioritized.”

It was that approach that Petrie said earned Lally respect amongst her peers in the district.

“Fairness was something that was always associated with how Lisa handled things,” he said. “She made sure that all kids were considered in any decision she was making.”

Lally’s involvement in high school athletics has not just been limited to Miller Place school district. Lally served on the Section XI executive board from 2003 until this past fall, and was president from 2006 to 2008. Lipshie said Lally’s service on the Section XI board provided a great benefit to the advancement of the Miller Place athletic department.

“She has been deeply involved in athletics on both the county and the state level, serving as the section president and the section representative on the state level,” he said. “Through Lisa, Miller Place has had a voice on legislation and has provided Miller Place with the most current information that impacts our student-athletes.”

With several construction projects and new facilities being put in place at the time of her retirement, Miller Place school district had Lally and Petrie work alongside one another beginning in July. It was through this time, as well as Petrie’s tenure as the football coach, that Lally said makes her confident in Petrie as her successor.

“We’ve been together through some really high points and some real low points, and I think you learn about a person’s character during those low points,” she said. “Frankly, his stock has only gone up over these past four months. Watching him making decisions and dealing with staff and students, I think he is going to be terrific, and I think he is going to bring the program to a level I hadn’t even thought about.”

Though retired, Lally hasn’t completely separated herself from involvement in athletic administration, regularly teaching a required course on Section XI. In doing so, Lally says she can enjoy her time with family, while also still making an impact.

“I’m keeping my feet in the game, but not quite as actively as I had in the past,” she said. “I’m not looking to just wither on the vine. I can pick and choose what I’m involved with; we’ll see how this retirement thing works out.”

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Athletic director Debra Ferry leaves Port Jefferson after nine years

Deb Ferry volunteers at Miracle League with athlete Brittany Fox. Photo from Ferry

A new year will also bring a new athletic director to Port Jefferson.

After nine years, Debra Ferry is leaving the school district to tackle the athletic department at Half Hollow Hills.

Debra Ferry helped establish the lacrosse program at Port Jefferson and has led its other teams to success. File photo
Debra Ferry helped establish the lacrosse program at Port Jefferson and has led its other teams to success. File photo

“I’m excited and nervous,” Ferry said. “It’s surreal. I established a lot of close relationships and friendships here in Port Jefferson and I’m going to miss the people that I work with. The teachers and the coaches are top-notch; they’re dedicated and compassionate. I love Port Jefferson, but I’m ready to move on and expand my career.”

The Port Jefferson Board of Education accepted the resignation of Ferry at its Nov. 10 meeting, effective Jan. 3. Board President Kathleen Brennan thanked her for her service at the meeting.

Superintendent Ken Bossert also thanked her when reached by phone this week, and wished her luck in her new position.

“I think she did an excellent job being visible within the school community and being a top supporter of our student-athletes,” he said. “We wish her well in all her endeavors. I’m sure she’ll be a great success, and we hope to find someone as committed to Port Jefferson as Debra was.”

Because the school district is small, everyone knew who Ferry was and she had the opportunity to know every student-athlete out on the Royals’ field. Ferry even attended most of the games.

“The kids are sometimes surprised to see her at games, especially making the hike all the way upstate for big playoff competitions, but she was there,” said Rod Cawley, the boys’ cross country and track and field coach. “In my 32 years at Port Jefferson, she’s been our best athletic director. She’s very honest, she’s supportive and she’s fair.”

Originally a teacher, working in Manhattan for one year and in the Bronx for two before becoming a physical education teacher at Northport in 1999 — while also coaching the varsity field hockey program and working as an assistant for the girls’ lacrosse team — Ferry wasn’t sure administration was the route she wanted to take, but soon changed her mind. After looking for positions, she found an opening at Port Jefferson, where she built the foundations of an ever-growing program and learned the ins and outs of the position.

Among her numerous accolades, she was the 2008 Athletic Director of the Year for Eastern Suffolk County Hoops for Hearts and was a Port Times Record Person of the Year in 2012.

“I love athletics,” she said. “I love the kids on the field and sports and the rules and regulations. The intimacy of a small school district and knowing the kids is definitely a benefit.”

Another benefit was learning how to manage her time, juggling her duties as athletic director, attending games and being the 1st vice president for Section XI, among her other responsibilities and roles as a member of many of the section’s committees.

Athletic Director Deb Ferry snapped this photo of Port Jefferson wrestler Matteo DeVincenzo pinning an opponent.
Athletic Director Deb Ferry snapped this photo of Port Jefferson wrestler Matteo DeVincenzo pinning an opponent.

“It’s a lot of commitment and it’s about prioritizing,” Ferry said. “Being on the field is important to me, not just to show support for Port Jeff but to show support to all of the kids. I see them in the halls the next day and it’s fun to talk about the games with them. Every year is different, every team is different, but the success of the athletics here is all about the coaches and the students.”

The Royals experienced such success this fall, when the girls’ soccer team took home the school’s first state championship title in that sport. Ferry was at the game, and also attended a cross-country competition the same weekend, according to Cawley.

“Going up to states, I felt like I was part of the state championship team,” Ferry said. “The kids make you feel very welcomed and supported. It’s rewarding.”

Although it will be different in the bigger Half Hollow Hills school district, with two middle schools and two high schools, Ferry is looking forward to the new chapter.

For the coaches she leaves behind, it’s bittersweet.

“I kept busting her chops, telling her I’m not letting her go,” Cawley said, laughing. “But I want her to do the best she can do and achieve whatever she wants to achieve and be wherever she would be happy.”

Mike Maletta, a wrestling coach who has been a teacher at the school for 23 years, said he will miss Ferry, who he called a stable force for the program she helped build, including helping to establish the boys’ and girls’ lacrosse teams.

Maletta saw the effects of Ferry’s leadership firsthand, especially with his wrestlers.

“Every time I was at the state tournament with my wrestlers, you could see her walking around with a camera around her neck, taking pictures,” he said. “A lot of those pictures make it to the end-of-the-year senior awards banquet and it went above and beyond what a lot of athletic directors do. She was always there supporting our program and those pictures meant a lot.”

He also said she was a big help in staying all day to be an announcer and handle paperwork at the team’s Bob Armstrong Memorial Tournament.

The Port Jefferson girls’ soccer team admires their plaque after winning the state championship this fall. File photo by Andrew Wakefield
The Port Jefferson girls’ soccer team admires their plaque after winning the state championship this fall. File photo by Andrew Wakefield

“That right there will be a huge loss for me,” he said. “She was there making sure everything was done, because during the day, I’m all over the place and it’s nice having someone there helping out the program. There’s a comfort level with having someone you’ve known for nine years, and her leaving is really going to affect me.”

Ferry will remain Section XI’s vice president, but other roles will change, as her new school district is in a different conference. She will also remain involved with the New York State Public High School Athletic Association as the female representative for Section XI.

The outgoing athletic director said it’s been nice to feel appreciated and recognized for the job that she’s done, but feels most proud of the kids and the coaches for the working relationships everyone had and for making her feel supported.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to have developed professionally at Port Jefferson,” she said. “I hope I left a mark here. … I am part of the program, but I feel it’s more than that. That’s the benefit to working in Port Jefferson. The coaches and players make you feel like you’re part of the team.”

Harborfields Superintendent Diana Todaro. File photo by Rohma Abbas

Harborfields school district residents voted in favor of $11.7 million in districtwide capital improvements while also mowing down a $1.9 million plan to add turf fields.

The proposals were presented to the public in two separate propositions in a referendum vote held on Tuesday. 

Proposition No. 1, the districtwide upgrades, received 1,248 yes votes and 573 no votes, while Proposition No. 2 for the turf garnered 629 yes votes and 1,177 no votes.

In an email, Harborfields Superintendent Diana Todaro thanked the community for voting.

“I also thank all residents who took the time over the course of the past several months to attend our public meetings and offer their input,” Todaro said in a statement. “We will continue to update the community on the progress of the capital improvement work that was approved.”

The first proposition involves approximately $11.7 million in upgrades to all school buildings in the district. These upgrades include infrastructure repairs, classroom reorganization and athletic facilities improvements, according to a district statement.

This bond contains work to renovate bathrooms and replace damaged doors. It will also upgrade some science labs and completely transform the wellness center into a multimedia production computer lab with a new, bigger wellness center reconfigured in other rooms.

Specifically for the high school, the auditorium and gym will be upgraded and certain athletic fields will be reconstructed with natural grass. Permanent visitor bleachers will be added to the football field and the locker rooms will be renovated and reconfigured.

At Oldfield Middle School, the science labs and family and consumer science room will be renovated as well as athletic fields and tennis courts. The locker rooms will also be reconfigured and renovated. Certain bathrooms in the school will be upgraded and an outside masonry would be appointed. The gymnasium floor will be refinished and the bleachers replaced. The lighting systems in the school’s auditorium will also be upgraded.

At Thomas J. Lahey Elementary School, upgrades will include the installation of a new gym floor, replacement of curtains and risers in the multipurpose room, renovation of student bathroom and the creation of a multi-sensory learning lab. Outdated playground equipment will be replaced and the western parking area would be renovated and drainage improved.

Also, Washington Drive Primary School’s parking area will be expanded.

The second proposition for turf fields was dependent on the approval of the first and would have included a transition to a synthetic turf field at the high school and using an alternative fill, such as Nike infill, instead of crumb rubber.

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The indoor facility is expected to play host to various Stony Brook University sports teams. Rendering from Stony Brook Athletics

It’s a perfect match.

A graduate of Stony Brook University has committed to a matching challenge grant to help raise money for the Stony Brook Foundation and Stony Brook Athletics as they work to collect $10 million to fund an indoor training center on campus.

Glenn Dubin, a 1978 grad, teamed up with his wife Eva to announce the $5 million pledge in the form of a 1:1 matching grant he said would hopefully give a boost to the fundraising campaign. Once completed, Stony Brook Athletics said it planned on breaking ground on a new state-of-the-art indoor practice facility and complex near LaValle Stadium.

“With this challenge pledge, I hope to inspire Seawolves friends, fans and family to support current and future Stony Brook student-athletes,” Glenn Dubin said in a statement. “We wanted to kick-start this campaign and rally the Stony brook community around the athletic department. Stony Brook Athletics has substantial and significant aspirations for the near future, and excellent facilities are a necessary component to realize these aspirations and achieve success.”

In a statement, Stony Brook Athletics said the new facility would include a 100-yard indoor multi-purpose synthetic turf practice field, as well as innovative lighting, film equipment, sound and video systems and a 90-foot ceiling clearance height. The building was also designed for multiple uses, with the intention of hosting all Stony Brook intercollegiate athletic teams’ practices throughout the year.

Samuel L. Stanley Jr., president of Stony Brook University, applauded the Dubins for their generosity and said their matching challenge opened the door for more donors to play their part in making the new facility a reality.

“Over the past decade, Glenn and Eva Dubin have shown incredible vision and had a tremendous impact on Stony Brook Athletics,” Stanley said. “This new challenge match gives others the opportunity to play an active role in the success of our student athletes and our athletic program.”

Stony Brook University Athletic Director Shawn Heilbron said the new building was an integral part of the college’s five-year plan through an initiative known as Together We Transform, which was launched in 2015 as an aggressive strategic plan to have Stony Brook recognized as a premier NCAA Division I athletic department.

“Our objective is to positively transform the life of each student-athlete,” he said. “And this project will benefit the more than 435 student-athletes that comprise our teams. I am extremely grateful to the Dubin family for their belief in our program and for their sincere generosity.”

The G. & E. Dubin Family Foundation previously donated $4.3 million to Stony Brook Athletics back in 2010 for the creation of an 8,000-square-foot strength and conditioning facility named the Dubin Family Athletic Performance Center, which already opened in 2012. Glenn Dubin, who played both football and lacrosse at Stony Brook University, has remained a staunch supporter of the Seawolves athletic club as a regular attendee at men’s lacrosse and football games. He also donated $1 million to Stony Brook in 2005 to create the Glenn Dubin Endowed Scholarship Fund, which offers scholarships to students from Washington Heights, particularly students from P.S. 132, where he attended elementary school.

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