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Leading the way for the Wildcats’ golf team was senior co-captain Gavin Melandro, a six-year varsity veteran and four-year All-League player, who lived up to his No. 1 position on the team winning his match by shooting a 43 against Longwood at Spring Lake Golf Club, Middle Island, Oct. 8. Kevin Beagan, a senior and co-captain of the team, shined from the No. 6 position defeating his opponent by three strokes. Andrew Vignola, who according to coach Rich Muller is the most consistent player, shot a 48 and is vying for a spot on the final six-man roster for postseason tournament play. Freshman Timmy Manzello, the No. 1 player for the JV squad, made his varsity debut in exhibition play. Muller said he deserved to be brought up, adding that Manzello shot a respectable 56. 

Longwood beat Shoreham-Wading River 7-2.

The Wildcats are back on the links Oct. 11 at Great Rock Golf Club in Wading River where they’ll take on Mount Sinai at 4 p.m. to conclude their regular season.

“I hope to have as many individuals qualify for the county tournament by playing well at leagues and having the team qualify would be special,” Muller said. “I have high expectations for my top three: Gavin Melandro, Tristan Costello, who didn’t play today, and Andrew Vignola to make the county’s. Depending on conditions, and what player shows up, we should do well.”

Photos clockwise from top left: Melandro sinks a putt on the ninth green; senior co-captain Matt Baylous with his tee shot on the 10th hole; senior co-captain Will Cutinella with his approach shot to the ninth hole; Liam Daly, a senior co-captain, chips onto the green; and Manzello chips onto the ninth green. 

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Junior wide receiver Tyler Schwarz breaks to the outside in downing Bayport-Blue Point in the Wildcats opener Sept 6. Photo by Bill Landon

Shoreham-Wading River School District announced it is putting its top coach back on the field.

Varsity football coach Aden Smith, far right, was removed from the team by district officials just before a game against Bayport-Bluepoint Sept. 6. Photo from SWR

In an email release, Superintendent Gerard Poole said they would be reinstating Aden Smith as the head coach of the varsity football team starting back next Monday.

“The district has decided to reinstate the varsity football team’s head coach, effective September 23,” Poole said in a statement. “We are proud of our team which is off to a great start this year.  We thank the assistant coaches who stepped up to lead the team until now, and we look forward to a continued great season.”

Smith was removed from his position after an alleged incident during a pre-season multi-team scrimmage at Islip high school. Players had got involved in what was described as a “scuffle,” and coach Smith had allegedly become involved. At a school board meeting Sept. 13 nearly the entire football team showed up in their jerseys to support the coach, saying his only intent was to defend his players.

“That day of the scuffle, he did nothing but stand up for his players,” team captain and quarterback Xavier Arline said during the board meeting. “If a scuffle is going to happen, we rely on our coach — we expect our coach to come to the rescue. If we can’t count on him, who can we count on?”

Smith, a teacher at the Longwood School District, did not immediately respond to email requests for comment.

While Smith was removed, the two assistant coaches took up the task of running the team, leading them to two convincing wins against Bayport-Blue Point and Port Jefferson.

With the reinstatement date set for Sept. 23, Smith will miss the third game of the season against Southampton set to take place Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. 

Smith will then retake the field Sept. 27 at home in a game against Elwood/John Glenn. Game time is set for 6 p.m.

 

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By Bill Landon

Shoreham-Wading River’s girls basketball team had their work cut out for them in an out-bracket playoff game against Sayville Feb. 11. The Wildcats had faced Sayville twice during the regular season and lost by 19 and 22 points, respectively. However, this was a different Wildcat team with a swarming defense that held Sayville at bay, leading by five at the half and then by three to open the 4th quarter. Sayville was able to tie the game with 4 minutes left as both teams struggled to find the rim. Tied at 41 all with six seconds left, the officials called a foul on the Wildcats, sending Sayville to the line shooting two. Sayville made the first but missed the second as the Wildcats rebounded the ball with less than four seconds remaining. SWR managed to get a shot off, but it missed its mark as time expired in a heartbreaking 42-41 loss.

Co-captain and senior Michele Corona led the way for the Wildcats with 22 points, fellow co-captain Abby Korzekwinski, a junior, netted 8 while eighth-grader GraceAnn Leonard banked six. The loss concludes the Wildcats season with a 9-10 record in League V with a 9-12 record overall. 

Shoreham-Wading River High School seniors were met with applause and cheers as they accepted their diplomas during the class of 2018 commencement ceremony June 23.

After the processional and National Anthem, sung by senior Jack Flatley with ASL interpretation by Victoria Ann Holden, high school Principal Frank Pugliese addressed the crowd. Opening remarks were presented by salutatorian Calvin Schmalzle and senior Alexandra Melt followed him by singing “Go the Distance” from Disney’s Hercules, before valedictorian Christian Wesselborg bid the class farewell.

Testing qualifies student for USA Mathematical Olympiad

Shoreham-Wading River senior Keyi Chen scored a 94.5 out of 150 points. Photo from Keyi Chen

If Shoreham-Wading River High School senior Keyi Chen wasn’t in class, he could have screamed in triumph.

Chen had taken the American Mathematical 12 math exam — one of the most prestigious and extensive national high school math exams — back in March. One text from his father told him he would move onto the next phase of the exam circuit, the American Invitational Mathematics Examination.

“When my dad texted me that I made it, I just screamed in my seat, inaudibly though,” Chen said. “Finally, in senior year, I was able to make it to the AIME.”

Shoreham-Wading River senior Keyi Chen. Photo from Shoreham-Wading River school district

Mathematical Association of America-produced AMC 12 is a nationally recognized, 25-question exam that covers all high school level math excluding calculus. Chen scored a 94.5 out of 150 points, which was within the top 5 percent of students who took the test. He has been taking other AMC tests for several years, but in March he was able to take the AIME. The tests lead all the way to the International Mathematical Olympiad.

“It was really exciting,” Chen’s father Hucheng Chen said. “We knew he had the capacity and capability, but we were still excited to learn that he had qualified.”

Keyi Chen’s math teachers were also proud of their student’s multiple math accomplishments.

“In addition to being very bright, Keyi works diligently to increase his understanding and awareness of mathematical content,” Shoreham-Wading River High School math teacher Ellen Fraser said via email. “He often comes outside of class to ask questions on material that is beyond the curriculum. He has also been practicing with released questions from past exams to prepare for the AMC.”

Chen was taught math starting at 2 years old, according to his father, who said his son was interested from a young age.

“Ever since I was little I always enjoyed numbers,” Chen said. “Starting in kindergarten I was able to do the basic math functions — addition, subtraction, multiplication and division — which you learn in second grade.”

“Ever since I was little I always enjoyed numbers.”

— Keyi Chen

His affinity for math grew, and in middle school, he was introduced to multiple math competitions. His parents helped organize his participation in these competitions.

“We tried to present as many opportunities to him as we could with math competitions in middle school,” Chen’s father said. “We had to organize them on our behalf because usually the school doesn’t do that.”

The senior said he enjoys the way that math, when distilled, starts to connect with the forces that hold the world together.

“I’ve enjoyed how you can boil down numbers — math and physics all intertwine with each other,” Chen said.

He hasn’t yet confirmed his scores with his teacher to see if he qualifies for the olympiad yet, but Chen plans to attend Johns Hopkins University and major in physics after graduation. He plans to get a doctorate
and become a college-level professor in physics and mathematics.

“I’m really interested in being a professor,” Chen said. “I like the idea of being able to apply this critical thinking and mathematical problem-solving and hopefully spread it to other young people who have the same sort of mentality.”

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Xavier Arline makes his way to the cage in a postseason game against Cold Spring Harbor last season. File photo by Desirée Keegan

By Jim Ferchland

Shoreham-Wading River can always count on the Xavier Arline’s attack.

The sophomore, fueled by a recent loss 10-5 loss at home to Mount Sinai, scored four goals and added four assists in a 13-8 win at Bayport-Blue Point April 6.

“My team goal, at the end of the day, is to just help the team win as much as possible,” said the University of North Carolina commit. “The team played as a unit today. I think everyone played their role — the producers produced.”

Zach Colucci moves the ball around the outside of the circle in a playoff game last year. File photo by Desirée Keegan

Arline and senior Zach Colucci alone were too much for the Phantoms to handle. Colucci capitalized on four of his own opportunities and assisted on another. Senior Kyle Boden tallied a hat trick and an assist and classmate Tim Cairo had a score and two helpers.

“Senior leadership stepped up big time,” assistant coach Brian Baker said. “We had some highs and lows but the boys responded well. We actually played lacrosse together as a team.”

The Wildcats jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in just over seven minutes of action. Arline scored once in that span and added two more unassisted goals to give Shoreham-Wading River a 5-1 lead heading into the second quarter.

Bayport-Blue Point cut the deficit to 6-4 with an assist and goal from senior midfielder Tim Sacca, but it would be the closest the Phantoms would come. The Wildcats retaliated with two goals to increase their deficit back to four, with Arline scoring his fourth after grabbing a ground ball to stop the Phantoms’ scoring streak.

Shoreham-Wading River scored three times in the third, with Cairo assisting on two, to Bayport-Blue Point’s one.

Arline assisted the Wildcats’ final two goals from Colucci and Boden to give his team a 13-6 edge, its largest lead of the game. Bayport-Blue responded with two unassisted goals by junior midfielder James Ringer and senior attacker Sal Locascio, but it was too little too late.

Shoreham-Wading River’s took on Eastport-South Manor at home April 11, but results were not available by press time. The Wildcats are back at it taking on West Babylon on the road April 13 at 4:30 p.m.

In just its first year, debate team members qualify for state competition

Shoreham-Wading River High School’s new debate team sees three members qualify to compete in the state championship at Hofstra University this April. Photo from Shoreham-Wading River school district

There’s no arguing that Shoreham-Wading River High School’s new, student-formed debate team is already a huge success. Just ask juniors Andrew Honold and Mahdi Rashidzada.

The two students, along with freshman Jalal Sawas, won the majority of their debates during a qualifying competition at Jericho High School Feb. 10 to advance to the New York State Forensic League championship tournament at Hofstra University in April.

“It was just kind of like throwing myself into cold water. It was really tense, but I could feel myself adapting better, and overall, it was really fun.”

— Andrew Honold

Among the roughly 20 teams represented within the league, Shoreham-Wading River will be one of only three school districts from Suffolk County.

“Going in, I was terrified — I didn’t know what to expect,” said Honold, who ended up in first place in the junior varsity division by winning all four of his debate sat Jericho, each on the topic of plea bargaining. “That was actually my first debate, too. It was just kind of like throwing myself into cold water. It was really tense, but I could feel myself adapting better, and overall, it was really fun.”

Rashidzada, who won three of four debates, said the club has been a great asset to him and his eight teammates.

“It gives us kids an outlet to really understand the world around us,” said Rashidzada, whose prior experience in debate outside of the district has helped steer the team. “It allows us to express ourselves and our views, to research and to improve our speaking skills. It’s just been a great experience and I’m really excited to be going to states this year with my friends.”

It was about a year ago, in March 2017, that two then-sophomores — club co-captains Declan Beran and Emma Kirkpatrick — proposed the idea of a debate team to the board of education. It was quickly and unanimously approved for the 2017-18 school year based on their presentation, where they outlined a plan for their first “pilot” year: They would assemble the team, hold weekly meetings with adviser and English teacher Brenna Gilroy, compete in practice debates and prepare for competition with other schools “by their senior year.” All but the last portion of their plan has been consistent, having gotten a head start on the competing part.

“I’m very happy and grateful that we were given the opportunity to work hard and achieve the goal of creating this team.”

— Declan Beran

“I’m very happy and grateful that we were given the opportunity to work hard and achieve the goal of creating this team,” said Beran, a lacrosse player and vice president of his class, who added he’s wanted to form a debate club since his freshman year. “Just seeing members of our team compete is really
special. It’s our first year and we’re going to states — it’s exciting. We encourage every grade level of our high school to get involved.”

Beran said the club typically meets two days a week and members review different points for each side of a topic, practice counterarguments, and in the week leading up to a debate, face off against each other. Based on that practice run, other students will evaluate their presentation and suggest ways to improve it. The students said they learn analytical and public-speaking skills, hone their speech-writing abilities and have a chance to regularly practice teamwork and collaboration.

In December, the team’s topic was on whether developing countries should provide developmental assistance to other developing countries. The teams get one to two months to fully research topics before debating. For the state competition, the students will research and discuss universal basic income, typically described as a new kind of welfare regime in which all citizens of a country receive a regular, livable and unconditional sum of money, from the government.

“That was something I knew absolutely nothing about,” Honold said. “And I’m still learning, but it’s a really interesting topic. It’s great to know about and debate, because it’s something that’s probably going to affect us in the future.”

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Junior's 22 points leads Mustangs to sixth straight win

Mount Sinai head coach Jeff Koutsantanou meets Gabby Sartori at halfcourt after she scored her 1,000th career point a the start of thes second quarter. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Gabby Sartori shines no matter the stage.

The Mount Sinai junior and three-sport standout scored her 1,000th career point Dec. 12 in a 45-21 nonleague win over Shoreham-Wading River. She finished with a game-high 22 points, eight rebounds and six steals, and basketball isn’t even her primary sport of choice. Sartori started her athletic career playing soccer but has committed to play lacrosse at Brown University.

Brooke Cergol passes the ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“When it’s soccer season, I focus on soccer, when it’s basketball, basketball, and when it’s lacrosse season, it’s crunch time,” Sartori said, laughing. “But I treat them all the same. It keeps me more versatile.”

The junior’s dedication to each sport is the key to her success, according to one of her biggest fans.

“She’s often the last one to leave, staying after practice to take extra shots; always doing
the extra,” her father Jim Sartori said. “This has been going on since she was a varsity player in seventh grade. She understands nothing worth achieving is easy.”

Sartori needed five points to reach the career milestone heading into the contest against the Wildcats. She started the first quarter slowly, scoring on the back end of two free-throws at the 4:27 mark, and adding a field goal a minute later for a 5-2 Mustangs lead. She was fouled on her next drive to the basket with less than a minute left in the quarter and again scored on her second shot to pull within one point of 1,000 and put Mount Sinai up 11-2 heading into the second quarter.

Throughout the first eight minutes of the contest, she said achieving the feat was all she could think about.

“I tried not to pay attention to it, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it,” she said, adding that she looked up at her parents in the stands once during that span.

Sartori cashed in a layup to open the scoring just seconds into the next stanza, and looked up at her parents once more and smiled.

Olivia Williams battles under the board. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“It hit me once coach called timeout and I got the ball,” she said of being handed over a special Spalding to recognize the achievement. “It shows my hard work. I make sure I’m the first one shooting and the last one at practice, until they’re annoyed I’m still there.”

Her father smiled back at who he calls a “fantastic kid and special athlete.”

“It’s a proud moment,” he said of seeing his daughter’s success. “It’s plenty of hours of practice and training to get to the point that she’s at. It didn’t come easy, clearly, but by way of hard work. I told her to do whatever it takes to help the team win and stay humble.”

Although Sartori stood out with her aggressiveness on both sides of the ball, she was quick to credit her teammates for making her look good.

“The chemistry on this team is very, very good this year,” she said. “We all love each other, and it’s great to see that, especially on the court. I’m glad I can always lean on them — they have my back, and I have theirs.
Without a doubt, any one of us are always willing to give up the ball without flinching.”

Mount Sinai head coach Jeff Koutsantanou had plenty to say postgame about his star player, though he didn’t focus just on her ability to score points.

“She did a great job getting to the basket, she did a nice job incorporating everybody and defensively she had six steals and eight rebounds, so she had a great all-around game,” he said of Sartori. “She was a little under pressure because she was worried about the 1,000 points, but she really settled in.”

Holly McNair races toward the net. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The guard led a balanced attack the rest of the way, scoring six more points in the second and six in the third to help Mount Sinai to a 39-14 lead before sitting most of the fourth quarter.

Juniors Holly McNair and Margaret Kopceinski finished with eight points each, and classmate Brooke Cergol added four. All three played strong defense, stealing some passes and forcing the Wildcats to make sloppy ones that led to more turnovers.

Losing key starters Victoria Johnson and Veronica Venezia wasn’t easy for Mount Sinai, which won its first county crown last season, but Koutsantanou said the girls are filling in the holes nicely. The Mustangs have a perfect 6-0 record so far to show for it.

“I thought Holly McNair did a nice job on the boards, she played great defense, was strong rebounding,” he said. “But I thought on the whole the girls did exceptionally well and played great as a team, especially on
defense. I really loved Margaret and Holly’s effort, I thought Brooke was outstanding with her passes and her choices. As a group they all played well together, and I think that’s a compliment to them — how they look out for each other, help each other on defense. They really do a great job together.”

Mount Sinai opens league play today, Dec. 14, at Amityville at 4 p.m. Sartori said the milestone is only the start of what she hopes she and her team can achieve this season.

“We want to prove we can do it again,” she said of winning the county title. “We have to repeat history.”

Melinda Murray, on left, and Karen Acompora, on right, who are the founders of Copiague-based Heart Screen New York, gave Shoreham-Wading River Girl Scout Jordan McClintock, at center, a $400,000 grant to help with her Gold Award project. Photo by Kevin Redding

A Shoreham-Wading River senior showed a lot of heart this past weekend by making sure her fellow students and community members got theirs checked out.

Jordan McClintock, a 17-year-old Girl Scout, saw the culmination of a two-year Gold Award project Saturday, Oct. 14, as Albert G. Prodell Middle School’s gymnasium became a mini medical center fully staffed with cardiologists, physicians and nurse practitioners from hospitals across the state, bringing with them life-saving equipment. The medical professionals provided more than 400 registrants — between the ages 12 and 25 — with free, all-day heart screenings in an effort to raise awareness about sudden cardiac arrest, the leading cause of death in young athletes.

A volunteer shows a girl how to use an AED machine. Photo by Kevin Redding

With help from a $400,000 grant by Copiague-based Heart Screen New York, McClintock’s event allowed students from Shoreham-Wading River and beyond to get thorough cardiovascular screenings, which included an electrocardiogram test, a blood pressure reading and final consultation with medical professionals. Pediatric cardiologists were available in case further testing was needed and students were given hands-only CPR and automatic external defibrillator training after their exams.

As heart screenings are not generally covered by health insurance, the event also made it possible for parents to evaluate a crucial component of their children’s health without spending up to $1,000 per exam.

“This is amazing,” said Maureen MacDowell, whose son, a cross country runner at the school, was screened Saturday. “It’s a huge deal that the girl who organized this did so. It’s definitely worth having.”

Marlene Baumeister, the mother of a football player, said other school districts should use the event as a model for their own heart screenings.

Tony Zajac, a Shoreham-Wading River parent and coach, called the program excellent.

“It’s very educational for these kids and more in-depth than I thought,” Zajac said. “It gives them feedback on their own heart health while teaching them how to potentially save somebody else’s life.”

Sudden cardiac arrests claim the lives of more than 2,000 people under 25 in the country every year, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, and yet they are not included in most routine physical exams or pre-participation sports physicals. One out of 100 students that attend a heart screening will discover an underlying heart condition.

“If I can save one life with early detection, my work for the past two years will have been all worth it.”

—Jordan McClintock

“If I can save one life with early detection, my work for the past two years will have been all worth it,” said McClintock, an aspiring pediatrician. “I’m really hoping it initiates some conversations among my peers and their families.”

The Girl Scout developed her project as a freshman after she got her own heart screening done at St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn, which was offered in partnership with Heart Screen New York, based on her family’s history of cardiac problems.

It was through the procedure, which she referred to as “painless” and “relieving,” that McClintock began her years-long correspondence with Karen Acompora, the co-founder of Heart Screen New York.

Acompora lost her 14-year-old son to a sudden cardiac arrest during a high school lacrosse game in 2000 after a ball struck his chest between heartbeats. She and Melinda Murray, a Queens-based mother whose son collapsed on a basketball court and died from an undetected heart condition, formed Heart Screen New York together as a way to detect heart trouble in local youths and prevent as many deaths as possible.

Heart Screen New York hosts only two screenings per year due to the expenses and resources needed for each one.

“I thought it was an amazing program and would be great if I could bring it to Shoreham,” McClintock said. “Out here we’ve never really had anything like this that’s free and promotes cardiovascular health in student-athletes and the community in general. I was very inspired by Karen’s story.”

McClintock’s perseverance paid off, literally, early last year when Heart Screen New York representatives informed her Shoreham-Wading River would be the site of their October 2017 screening.

A young boy is shown how to perform CPR. Photo by Kevin Redding

“I think the screening is certainly opening a lot of eyes in the Shoreham community and Jordan’s done such a nice job of advertising and promoting the event,” Acompora said. A founder of another group called the Louis J. Acompora Memorial Foundation, in memory of her son, the Northport mother hopes heart screenings will eventually become a mandatory part of physicals. In fact, she and Murray have been pushing legislation for years to make electrocardiograms part of student-athlete’s preparticipation screening process.

“There’s a lack of knowledge on the part of individuals who feel it’s too costly to do heart screenings, but how do you put a price tag on life?” said Murray, whose 17-year-old son Dominic died in 2009, exactly three years after his father died from a massive heart attack. “We’re really proud of Jordan. It’s having a great impact at the school and is really spreading the awareness of the importance of heart screenings.”

Among the volunteers at the event was Shoreham senior and baseball player Jack Crowley, who, two years ago, at 15 years old, was declared medically dead after a line drive hit him in the chest. Crowley’s heart stopped and he was unable to breathe. He was brought back to life from the shock of an automatic external defibrillator — which Heart Screen New York had pushed to make available in as many locations as possible.

“They’re the reason I’m here,” Crowley said. “Get a heart screening. It’s so much better than learning the hard way that you have an issue.”

Senior volleyball player Lindsay Deegan said of the screening: “This is something I never would’ve thought of doing this before, so it’s cool to know what’s going on.”

McClintock is expected to receive her Gold Award during a ceremony in Spring 2018.

“Girl Scouts pledge to help people at all times, and Jordan’s stellar work truly exemplifies that promise,” said Yvonne Grant, President and CEO for Girl Scouts of Suffolk County. “Jordan’s Gold Award project is an inspiring and extraordinary way to bring awareness.”

Smithtown East lax player scores three goals, SWR's Chris Gray adds two

Smithtown East's Connor DeSimone hoists up his Under Armour All-America MVP trophy. He scored three goals and added two asssits in North's win. Photo from Connor DeSimone

By Desirée Keegan

In a game that was likely to feature a potent offense — with 44 of the country’s best rising college men’s lacrosse freshmen on the field — it was Smithtown East’s own Connor DeSimone that led the way.

He tallied a hat trick and two assists, and was among 11 scorers that were part of an aggressive North attack that beat South, 18-16, in the Under Armour All-America senior boys all-star game at Towson University July 1. The victory snapped the South’s six-game win streak.

Smithtown East’s Connor DeSimone looks for an open lane. Photo from Connor DeSimone

“My teammates were just looking for me the entire time,” DeSimone said. “They definitely did most of the work, and I give them a lot of credit.”

North went on a 9-1 run in the first half to go into halftime up by six, and the Johns Hopkins University commit helped pace that burst. After  North withstood a man-down situation four minutes into the second quarter, DeSimone picked up a turnover deep in his own offensive end and pushed it into the goal to tie the score at 6-6.

Soon after, DeSimone gave North its lead off an assist from attackman Tehoka Nanticoke, who will play next season at the University at Albany. Then, DeSimone widened the advantage to two when he fed midfielder Matt Licciardi, a Cornell University commit, for a score.

“I was just in the right place at the right time,” DeSimone said. “Competing against the best in the country was something special. Being there was such a great experience.”

Navy commit Nate Buller later powered through the zone with a defender guarding close to his shoulder for an overhead score, but South, which opened the second-quarter scoring in less than a minute, didn’t register another point for the remainder of the half.

Shoreham-Wading River’s Chris Gray races into South’s zone with the ball. Photo from Chris Gray

Instead, DeSimone completed his hat trick and four of  North’s 10 first-half scorers added points.

Shoreham-Wading River’s Chris Gray and teammate Jackson Reid followed DeSimone with one apiece in the span of about a minute.

After Gray found the back of the net, the entire North team congregated in South’s defensive territory, even the bench players, and played duck-duck-goose with the Boston University-bound attackman. It was one of the multiple elaborate celebrations North rolled out during the win.

“It was on the fly,” Gray said of the celebration. “My teammates did a great job all game passing me the ball and every time I shot the ball I tried to use the best angle I had, wether it was a regular shot or a backhand shot. The celebrations play a big part in the UA game because its all about having fun.”

The attackman said he also liked practicing and competing with, and against the top talents in the nation.

“Practice was awesome because everyone was so talented drills were very fast paced and the ball rarely hit the floor, which was very cool to see,” Gray said. “During the game I felt our team did really well sharing the ball and hustling. Everyone was giving it 110 percent and looking for the open man, which made the game so much fun.”

DeSimone made the underclassmen rosters as a sophomore and a junior. The midfielder capped off his high school career being selected as a senior and bringing home the MVP trophy tied for a game-high five points.

Shoreham-Wading River’s Chris Gray plays duck-duck-gooose with his teammates following a goal. Photo from Chris Gray

“It was a life-changing, incredible experience,” he said. “It’s a little taste of what college lacrosse will be like and I just loved being out there. There’s no better way to end my high school career.”

The stands were packed with people from all over the country, including every underclassmen group competing during the weekend. Seeing the younger fans there brought back memories for DeSimone, who was in the stands in 2011 when his older brother was on the team.

“Growing up you look at the kids in the senior game, and say, ‘I wanna be that guy,’” DeSimone said. “We’re the best players from our class, from our schools, so seeing a bunch of kids there and knowing I was once in the same shoes, it’s inspiring.”

He said being so passionate about the sport, earning the selection, competing and contributing during the winning game was a humbling experience.

“This event is the best event I’ve ever been at, and knowing I got selected to play with the best players in the country, it means the hard work has finally paid off,” DeSimone said. “Hopefully it’s just the start.”