Tags Posts tagged with "Athletes"


Long Islanders flocked to Mount Sinai’s Cedar Beach Nov. 18 to take a dip into freezing
water with purpose.

The 8th annual Polar Plunge raises money for Special Olympics New York athletes as plungers take a dip or slow crawl into the chilly waters of the Long Island Sound. Special Olympics New York has 71,889 athletes training and competing year-round in 22 Olympics-style sports. Athletes and their families or caregivers are never charged to participate.

It costs $400 to support training and competition for one athlete for one sports season. This year’s Town of Brookhaven event has raised more than $110,000. Team Extraordinary has accumulated the most to date, with funds totaling almost $11,000.

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 backs off proposal to split cross-country team

Samantha Catalano, a junior runner, speaks to the board on March 8. Photo by Alex Petroski

Smithtown Schools Superintendent James Grossane announced at a board of education meeting Tuesday that he and Athletic Director Patrick Smith, upon the request of the board, would remove the proposal from Smith’s athletic budget that would split the unified East and West cross-country team. Grossane said that the team would remain together for the 2016-17 school year, and the idea of splitting would be revisited during budget season next year.

The idea to split the team, which is one of four sports in the district that has athletes from both high schools on one team, was presented by Smith as a means for more student athletes to play a key role, which would in turn get them more opportunities to earn college scholarships.

“It’s based on the philosophy of the district,” Smith said in an interview last week. “We wanted to provide more opportunities for our kids.”

Sophomore runner Matthew Tullo, who has filled the role of spokesperson for the effort to keep the team together, addressed the board again Tuesday.

“As you can tell, it really means a lot to all of us,” Tullo said, referencing the numerous boys and girls cross-country participants, who have been well represented at board of education meetings for the last month. “It’s really amazing, and I really appreciate everyone involved deciding to keep us together. On behalf of the Smithtown cross-country team, I’d like to say thank you for listening to us for the four weeks. I know we were kind of annoying. I’d like to say thank you for keeping our team—actually, keeping our family — together. It really means a lot.”

School Board President Christopher Alcure responded to Tullo’s comments.

“The board listened across the last four or so weeks,” Alcure said. The board asked Grossane and Smith to reconsider the split following a budget workshop on March 15.

“From the board I will say this: you made us very proud,” Alcure added. “You were very articulate, very respectful. We’re very proud of what the teachers do in our district in terms of not only the educational and instructional side of things, but they teach you the ways of life and how to be respectful and how to handle yourself in front of a big crowd. We’re happy to keep it together for you guys.”

Section XI, Suffolk County’s governing body for athletics, encourages districts with more than one high school to split any combined teams that are not under budgetary, facility or participation constraints. The Smithtown cross-country team has none of those issues. However, it is only encouraged. It is not a mandate. Gymnastics, swimming and bowling are the other Smithtown sports that have a unified East and West team.

“The team is a family, yet it is also an identifying aspect of our community, and keeping it combined simply makes sense,” junior runner Samantha Catalano said at a board meeting March 8. The team started an online petition that had 1,159 signatures at the time this was written.

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.

Northport running back Rob Dosch makes his way upfield while he carries Sachem North defenders in the Tigers' 29-22 homecoming win over the Flaming Arrows on Sept. 19. Photo by Bill Landon

By Miguel Bustamante

Northport school district is enacting stricter rules for handling student-athletes with concussions.

School board members were informed of new procedures for kids returning to athletics after those injuries during their meeting on Nov. 5, using guidance from New York State regulations.

Northport running back Rob Dosch makes his way upfield while he carries Sachem North defenders in the Tigers' 29-22 homecoming win over the Flaming Arrows on Sept. 19. Photo by Bill Landon
Northport running back Rob Dosch makes his way upfield while he carries Sachem North defenders in the Tigers’ 29-22 homecoming win over the Flaming Arrows on Sept. 19. Photo by Bill Landon

Paul Klimuszko, Northport-East Northport’s director of physical education, athletics and health, and Cynthia Fitzgerald, director of student support services, made a presentation to the board outlining the new procedures to follow if a student has a concussion.

“A concussion is an injury that changes the ways the cells in our brain function,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s important to understand that a concussion is a brain injury, and can occur in any sport.”

According to Fitzgerald, there are between 70 and 90 concussions in the district every year, including at the middle and high school levels.

The two administrators laid out the “return to play” regulations, which are used across the country and require students to complete a five-stage observational test before full re-entry into school-sponsored physical activities.

The five stages include light to moderate aerobic exercises observed by the school nurse and/or an athletic trainer; a non-contact gym class participation period; and a full-contact gym class participation period. A school district physician must clear the concussed students before he or she can be fully reintegrated into school athletics.

The presentation followed a previous district discussion about student safety in school athletics. That subject has been a hot topic over the last few years, but particularly since Tom Cutinella, a high school football player from Shoreham-Wading River, died after taking a big hit in a game against John Glenn High School in Elwood last year. School districts across Long Island have been making changes to their concussion responses following Cutinella’s death, and there have been new directions from the state on the matter.

Northport-East Northport Superintendent Robert Banzer. Photo by Victoria Espinoza
Northport-East Northport Superintendent Robert Banzer. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

New York State’s Concussion Management and Awareness Act of 2011 requires local school boards to develop and promote concussion management policies. According to the act, children and adolescents are more susceptible to concussions and take longer than adults to fully recover.

“Therefore, it is imperative that any student suspected of having sustained a concussion be immediately removed from athletic activity … until evaluated and cleared to return to athletic activity by a physician,” the act said.

Northport school officials don’t take concussions lightly, Klimuszko said.

“The athletic office ensures that all coaches are educated in the nature and risk of concussions and concussion-related injuries.”