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Kim Bardes, right, and her husband Bruce just before she started her first round of chemotherapy July 28. Both she and her husband have recently been diagnosed with two different types of cancer. Photo from Bruce Bardes’ Facebook

By Odeya Rosenband

Kim and Bruce Bardes, husband and wife, of Shoreham are in need of support, as one after the other have now been diagnosed with cancer. A friend of the family has started a GoFundMe campaign that has raised $24,100 of its $50,000 goal, as of July 28.

“Back in April, Bruce noticed that one of his legs was swollen,” Kim said. “But he didn’t want to go to the hospital because of COVID-19.” 

Kim Bardes, right, and her husband Bruce have recently been diagnosed with two different types of cancer. Photo from Bardes’ GoFundMe

After eventually visiting the emergency room when the swelling worsened, Bruce was told he had a blood clot in one of his legs but was quickly discharged due to coronavirus guidelines. On May 6, after gardening in the backyard — one of his favorite activities, according to his wife — Bruce suffered a heart attack and stroke in the family home. When he was found unresponsive, his son ran to the neighbor’s house who was trained in CPR. Doctors suspected Bruce had cancer, and a week later, May 21, Bruce was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic lung cancer. 

Nearly two months after Bruce’s diagnosis, the family received more devastating news. Kim was diagnosed with aggressive inflammatory breast cancer. 

“It was seven weeks of me just getting my mindset around the fact that this was happening, trying to be his supporter and his support system, taking care of all of his medical needs — doing what any wife would do — when I had noticed one day that my left breast felt different in one area.” 

With a “funky family history,” Kim had gotten routine mammograms since she was 30 years old. When she visited her doctor June 30, she received a diagnosis for a type of breast cancer she had never even heard of. 

Bruce began his chemotherapy treatments in May, and Kim started hers July 28.

“I know our condition is going to get even worse because now I’m not just going to be tired from running my husband around and taking care of home, now, I got to add myself to this scenario somehow. And I don’t know how I’m going to feel from the treatments,” she said.

With a crackling voice, Kim describes their “love story turned tragedy,” as she calls it. They met at 15 years old, as sophomores at Half Hollow Hills East in Dix Hills. The basketball player and cheerleader were locker neighbors and a year later — thanks to Bruce’s persistence — they were a couple. They started dating when they were 16 years old, 34 years ago. High school sweethearts, Bruce and Kim got married in 1995 and had their first son, Austin, in 1996 and their second, Tanner, in 1999. 

“We met 35 years ago and never had a fight,” Bruce jokingly adds from the next room. “If we can’t joke, then we cry. And we’ve already done too much crying.” 

“Anybody would describe my husband as the kindest person they have ever met,” Kim said. According to their GoFundMe, Bruce coached youth basketball and baseball teams in Long Island for many years. Although he has been on disability leave since 2013 due to back injuries, he continues to be remembered as a beloved coach and has a “huge baseball family that has been giving them a lot of support,” Kim added. Kim, whose eBay business was already struggling due to the pandemic, had to halt her sales in order to care full time for her husband. 

“I don’t have a job where I can take sick leave,” Kim expressed. Now, the family has no source of income. 

“We were so excited for this year — we were turning 50, celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary, and were looking forward to the second half of our lives,” she said. “Our kids are now grown up and we were getting back to being us again … we even talked about moving to Florida.” 

Kim added, “I feel blessed that we have never been hit this hard, but I didn’t expect that when we would be hit, it would be this hard.”

Overall, Bruce has been feeling better following his chemotherapy treatments. 

“He hasn’t lost a stitch of hair, which I’m definitely going to be jealous of,” Kim joked. The hardest part is going through their doctors’ visits alone, due to coronavirus guidelines. 

“COVID is making it 10 times harder because we can’t have any normalcy even if we try to,” she said. “It’s a weird feeling to ask for help because that’s not who I am, ever. But I’ve had to put my pride aside a little bit …. I can’t do it all.”

Kim, whose extended family describes her as the “matriarch,” had adopted the role of hosting Thanksgivings and annual Fourth of July celebrations. Now, without the time or energy, she’s struggling to adapt to her new normal that doesn’t include her regular hobbies like cooking and hosting. 

“This isn’t the life we had, not even close to it,” Kim said. “It seems like somebody else’s life.” 

Kim and Bruce’s family, friends and Shoreham community have been great supporters — in addition to the GoFundMe — offering their services, giving gift cards to local restaurants and writing letters. 

“Our younger son is now a shadow and doesn’t leave us alone,” Kim said. 

Their older son moved back home from Brooklyn in order to help. Kim’s mom and dad, who are 75 and 78, respectively, live in an apartment attached to the Bardes’ house and have also been significant supporters. Kim is one of three children who have all had cancer. Her sister is a nurse and has been instrumental in assisting the family, especially with their medical needs. Kim’s brother passed away at 33 years old from lymphoma. 

“You do the best you can for people and try to do the right thing and it doesn’t matter who you are but sometimes life just attacks you. It feels like we are under attack … and I don’t know why,” she said.

A statement on their GoFundMe reads: “As you may know, medical expenses and life expenses add up quickly and the family needs to make financial decisions based on the best prognosis and not the cost of care … If you are able to support the family during this time please donate. But if not, that’s okay, please join them in prayer.” 

The GoFundMe is available at:  https://www.gofundme.com/f/nqp2qt-help-bruce039s-fight-against-cancer.

Mount Sinai sophomore Joseph Spallina powers his way out of the back field against the Wildcats in the D-IV county finals at Stony Brook Nov. 24, 2019. Bill Landon photo

With school districts still to receive new guidance from the state on what education will look like in September, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association has come out early to say the fall sports sports season will start late, and they are cancelling all championships for the 2020 season.

“As the state considers reopening, it is unrealistic to believe athletic seasons can start on Aug. 24 as originally scheduled,” said Paul Harrica, NYSPHSAA president in a release. “The priority will continue to be on the educational process and a return to learning in the safest way possible.”

The start of sports will be delayed until Sept. 21. The cancelling of the championships means seasons will go on as normal and not finish with the regional and state championship. The NYSPHSAA normally hosts 32 championship events across the state each year.

Fall sports normally include boys and girls cross country, football, field hockey, boys and girls volleyball, girls tennis and boys and girls soccer.

Though acknowledging that the COVID-19 pandemic could cause further interruption to fall sports, NYSPHSAA came out with a condensed season plan that includes:

Season I (Winter Sports) Dates: Jan. 4 through March 13; 10 Weeks 

Note: tentative dates sports: basketball (girls and boys), bowling (girls and boys), gymnastics, ice hockey (girls and boys), indoor track and field (girls and boys), skiing (girls and boys), swimming (boys), wrestling and competitive cheer.  

Because of high risk nature of wrestling and competitive cheer, sports may have to be moved to Season II or season III. 

Season II (Fall Sports) Dates: March 1 through May 8; 10 Weeks 

Note: tentative dates sports: football, cross country (girls and boys), field hockey, soccer (girls and boys), swimming (girls), volleyball (girls and boys) and unified bowling. 

Note: Weather will have an impact upon outdoor sports in some parts of the state in March and potentially early April. Girls Tennis moved to Season III. 

Season III (Spring Sports) Dates: April 5 through Jun. 12; 10 Weeks 

Note: tentative dates sports: baseball, softball, golf (girls and boys), lacrosse (girls and boys), tennis (girls and boys), outdoor track and field (girls and boys) and unified basketball.

 

Bethpage Ballpark in Central Islip. Photo from LI Ducks website

The Long Island Ducks will not take the field this season, as New York State wouldn’t allow the baseball team to allow fans to attend an abbreviated season.

While Major League Baseball teams, at least for now, can make a shortened season work without fans because of television and advertising revenue, the Ducks couldn’t make a fan-free season work.

“I’m disappointed the Ducks won’t be on the field,” County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said on his daily conference call with reporters. Bellone had hoped that the state would support capacity limits, especially in an outdoor environment which would lower the risk from the transmission of COVID-19.

Bellone said the state’s decision with the Ducks shouldn’t have any impact on youth sports, in which parents are hoping to watch their children return to fields after their sons and daughters spent months away from the competition, the teammates, and the opportunity to enjoy summer games and competition.

Viral Numbers

The number of residents who tested positive for the coronavirus was 46, bringing the total to 41,386. A total of 3,312 people were tested, which means 1.4% of the tests had a positive result, which is among the higher levels of positive tests in recent weeks.

While the percentage is higher than it’s been recently, Bellone said he doesn’t put too much stock in any one day’s results.

Hospitalizations declined by six, with 66 residents now hospitalized with COVID-19. That is the first time since March that the number of people battling against the virus in the hospital was below 70.

The number of people in the Intensive Care Unit with symptoms from the virus increased by one to 24.

Hospital capacity remained below pre-set caution levels. Overall hospital occupancy was at 67%, while ICU bed occupancy was at 59%.

Nine people were discharged from hospitals in the last 24 hours.

After a day without any fatalities from complications related to COVID-19, two people died in the last day. The death toll from the coronavirus stands at 1,981.

The county distributed 5,000 pieces of personal protective equipment in the last 24 hours.

Ward Melville third baseman Brady Doran rips one deep. Baseball could be coming back this summer. Photo by Bill Landon

Beginning July 6, certain youth sports will be allowed to restart in regions of the state that are in Phase 3 of reopening. Long Island entered Phase 3 June 24. 

Baseball, softball, gymnastics, field hockey, cross country, soccer, noncontact lacrosse, doubles tennis, rafting, paintball, water polo and swimming will be allowed to begin games and competitions. 

Locally, a number of sports leagues have plans to resume play next month. Town of Brookhaven baseball is tentatively set to begin its summer season on July 13. 

“We are excited to announce that we are planning on beginning our summer season the week of July 13. The plan would include an abbreviated season, ending approximately Aug. 23 (including playoffs),” a statement on the town’s website reads. “We are extremely thrilled and fortunate to have the opportunity of having a summer season for the kids. Please understand that there will have to be some accommodations and sacrifices made by teams in order to get a legitimate summer season played.”

In addition, the 2020 Varsity Wood Bat Tournament in Brookhaven will run through July 8-12 at Moriches Complex. High school baseball teams from the North Shore will be participating in the competition including the Newfield Wolverines and Centereach Cougars (Middle Country), Northport Tigers, Ward Melville Patriots, Kings Park Kingsmen, Port Jefferson Royals, Miller Place Panthers and the Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats.  

Social distancing will be enforced at all sporting events, and the state mandates the events limit spectators to two individuals per athlete.

The level of risk for each sport has been determined by the New York State Department of Health’s interim guidance for sports and recreation during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“These guidelines apply to nonprofessional and noncollegiate sports and recreation activities (e.g. youth sports), inclusive of indoor and outdoor sports and recreation, as well as organized and nonorganized sports and recreation,” the document stated.

Sports that are deemed “high risk” will not be allowed to resume games July 6. Those include football, wrestling, ice hockey, rugby, basketball, contact lacrosse, volleyball, also competitive cheer and dance.

“Participants in higher risk sports and recreation activities may only partake in individual or distanced group training and organized no/low-contact group training,” according to the state’s guidelines.

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Stock photo

Even as Suffolk County prepares for the second phase of the economic reopening to begin next Wednesday, which could include outdoor dining, officials are discussing the possibility of bringing graduations and minor league baseball back.

The Long Island Ducks, a minor league team, have come up with a safety plan with protocols in place that the county plans to submit to New York State.

“The plan is incredibly thorough and has all sorts of different protocols in place to keep people safe,” County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said on his daily conference call with reporters.

If the county is able to reach the fourth phase of reopening in the middle of July, the Ducks could conceivably return to the diamond in front of a crowd of 25 percent of the normal capacity, which would enable attendees to be socially distanced in the park.

At safe distances, people could remove face coverings, the way they do when they go to beaches or are in the water. When walking around or going to the restroom, guests would need to wear face masks or coverings to protect themselves and their fellow baseball fans.

“We’re looking forward to getting this to the state,” Bellone said. “This is something that can happen.”

Additionally, while the Empire State has only permitted virtual and drive-through graduations, officials have left open the possibility of that they would review the possibility of a limited-seating graduation in July.

“I do believe we will be in a position to do this safely,” Bellone said.

The county has also worked with the Suffolk County Superintendents Association to develop a plan to create a safe, life graduation.

“I’m hopeful that will be able to happen later this summer,” Bellone said.

Viral Numbers

The viral figures continue to move in a favorable direction. Over the last day, an additional two people died from complications related to COVID-19, bringing the total to 1,918. This follows a day when one person died, so the pace of deaths, which have cast a pall over a county that was at the epicenter of the pandemic, has dramatically slowed.

Each death extinguishes a life and creates an irretrievable loss for each family, which is why the county and executive like Bellone are hoping that number soon falls to zero.

The number of people infected with the virus was 86. The total number of people who have contracted the virus is now 40,239, which is more than Singapore and Colombia, but is 2,700 less than Sweden, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

The infections don’t include antibody testing. A total of 15,080 people have tested positive for antibodies.

Bellone urged residents to provide information if contact tracers reach out to them. When people limit the possible transmission of the deadly virus, as they did during the economically painful and costly New York Pause, they will save lives.

“We are still in this,” Bellone reminded residents. “We need everybody to continue to follow the health guidance and do the right thing here, so we can recovery as a community and get our small businesses back open.”

Hospitalizations, meanwhile, continue to drop. Through the 24 hour period ending on Wednesday, the number of people with COVID-19 in hospitals declined another 12, to 213.

The number of residents in the Intensive Care Unit fell by two to 54.

An additional 24 people left the hospital over the last day.

Small businesses that are struggling to meet the new supply demands for face coverings and sanitizer can submit a request starting on Monday through the suffolkcountyny.gov web site. Interested businesses should go to the Department of Labor section and submit a request. The first 1,000 people will received two reusable face cloths and a gallon jug of New York State Clean.

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The Strovink family, including, from left to right, youngest son Kyle, dad Eric and oldest son Brennan. Photo by Christine Strovink

By Rich Acritelli

“As a major league scout for over 38 years and the last 18 for the New York Mets, the Strovink family is without a doubt the finest players and people that I ever scouted.”

Eric Strovink playing baseball with his two children at a young age. Photo by Christine Strovink

So said longtime baseball scout Larry Izzo, who watched some of the best talent to emerge from Long Island to play in the major leagues. Izzo wrote the earliest scouting reports on Houston Astros Hall of Famer Craig Biggio from Kings Park, career hitter and Smithtown native Frank Catalanotto and over the last couple of years Ward Melville talent and pitcher Stephen Matz of the New York Mets. Izzo repeated several times how wonderful his relationship was with the Strovink family from Rocky Point over the last several decades. Armed with the ability to hit the ball over many different fences and a trademark smile, Eric Strovink and his two boys, Brennan and Kyle, always present a natural passion and respect for this game.

As a kid growing up in the 1980’s, it was likely that when you read the local papers and Newsday about the prominent players in Suffolk County, Eric’s name was a constant presense. During his first season playing the game, he only made contact once and it seemed as if baseball might not be the sport for Eric, but through the guidance of his father who coached his earlier teams and a strong determination, Eric began hitting the ball consistently and became a feared player on the local fields and teams of Wading River. His talent was noted when Eric as a fifth grader hit a homerun 325 feet in a game.

His father was not originally tied to the game, but he went to work at an early age, was an ROTC army officer after he graduated from college and was a noted photographer and film maker that worked on projects for Brookhaven National Laboratory and Grumman. But his father loved the game and believed in the importance of analyzing baseball statistics. It was this aspect of the game which allowed Eric to identify his own strengths and weaknesses and for him to closely watch the opposing pitchers. He also learned about the unique way of harnessing “visualization” from his dad, who taught his son how to properly concentrate about future playing situations.  Eric always credited the devotion of his father for helping prepare him for the most stressful games.

Always smiling, this 50-year-old physical education teacher from Mount Sinai School District vividly recalled his earliest moments of success on the diamond as if it just happened. After his varsity game was over, it was observed by his coach, mentor and friend Sal Mignano during an at-bat junior varsity game in Easthampton the explosive potential that Eric held. He was amazed at the past ability of the then-13-year-old to hit a homerun that completely surprised the older members of the varsity team. Mignano marveled at the strength of his former player and the extensive knowledge and motivation that Eric held in his early years. 

As a junior, Eric’s batting average was .465, where he drove in 45 runs and batted in and hit another nine homeruns. During his senior year, his average climbed to .516, and while pitchers attempted to throw around him, he was continually on base. He was a three-time all league, two-time all-county, featured as a Daily News all-star and was an all-state player. Along the way, he guided his team to many winning seasons in league, county, and capped it by achieving a New York State Championship title in 1987. Eric recalled the benefits of the visualization that his father taught to him and the lessons his good friend Keith Osik taught him about where they saw themselves in pressure game time situations. Izzo recalled Eric’s father and believed that “he was one of the kindest and sincerest parents that was extremely supportive, and he could always be seen taking pictures at the games with a high-powered camera.”

Eric Strovink was a renaissance man of sorts, playing Tybolt in Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” Photo from Strovink family

Always with a genuine manner, Eric laughed that he was not even the best player within his own household. For a time, Osik lived with his family and he is considered a brother to Erik and an uncle to the Strovink kids. Osik was a phenomenal athlete and a dominant pitcher that was recognized as the best baseball player in Suffolk County through the Yastrzemski Award winner, while Eric was the runner up. These players were a dynamic hitting duo that saw Osik constantly reach base and Strovink drive him home numerous times during a game. Osik played at Louisiana State University and was later a professional ball player for several years with the Pittsburg Pirates, Milwaukee Brewers, and Baltimore Orioles. Both Osik and Eric’s hitting skills tormented the best pitchers in state.

Eric also demonstrated his athletic presence as a feared Suffolk County Wrestling Champion at 215 pounds. Although he did not wrestle until the sixth grade, Eric held his own against all-state and national wrestlers like that of Adam Mariano from Comsewogue High School. And when he was not playing sports, Eric was a devoted thespian within his school’s drama program. He performed in an arousing performance as Tybolt in Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” 

Eric was motivated to further his baseball career in college where he garnered interest from the powerhouses of Clemson, Georgia Southern, Nebraska and North Carolina State. When a scout from Louisiana State University watched Osik during a high school game, Erik showed his own skills by hitting three homeruns. In 1988, this powerful tandem left the to play baseball within the deep south in Louisiana.

At college, Eric was amazed about the vast amount of instruction that was given to each player through every part of this game. Always a student of this game, Eric always absorbed the intricacies of baseball information from this college and when he was an instructor for Mignano’s clinics and camps. For years as a coach, he constantly presented tidbits of wisdom to his players. 

“You can learn more baseball tips in one practice from Eric, compared to what others learn in a season,” Said Rocky Point’s athletic director Charlie Delargy.    

At LSU, he became good friends with pitchers Ben McDonald who played seven years for the Baltimore Orioles, and Russ Springer, a pitcher for 18 years who played for 13 different teams that included the New York Yankees.  

As Eric enjoyed attending LSU, he had to leave school and play closer to home. It was a hard time for him, as his mother was diagnosed with cancer and he wanted to be near his family.  While he was dealing with this sickness, he played for a junior college in New Jersey and eventually made it to C.W. Post in Brookville. This was a bittersweet moment for him, as he dealt with the sickness of his beloved mother, Eric once again excelled in front of local fans by hitting 17 homeruns and driving in 50 runs to help his team win their conference.

This was a painful time for Eric, while he played well, his mother passed away after a battle with cancer. While he dealt with this heavy loss, it was Izzo that wrote the scouting report on Eric that allowed him to be signed by the Texas Rangers to a free agent contract. Leaving CW Post and Wading River, Eric was sent to Port Charlotte, Florida. He earned $850 a month, lived with several different teammates and was a “starving” rookie within this league. Eric was on the field with ball players that were just drafted and were rehabbing from injuries. His time with this organization came to an end after the following spring training, after it was explained to Eric that while he was a solid player, he might not have the chance to reach the major leagues.  With baseball behind him, he returned home to finish his college education, to coach wrestling at Shoreham-Wading River and to work for his father. By May 29, 1994, he married his high school sweetheart Christine and they looked to start a family of their own.

Resembling his father, Brennen Strovink was also a dynamic figure within the Rocky Point High School baseball and wrestling teams. Always armed with a big smile and a can-do attitude, this 2014 graduate of Rocky Point was a three-year starter on the varsity team. Brennan immediately made his mark as a sophomore who attained a .370 average and led the county with six homeruns. As a senior, Brennen was a finalist for the Yastrzemski Award, and he was named most valuable player for his league. Many teachers and coaches enjoyed having Brennen in their classes, club’s and teams. 

These warm thoughts were echoed by his former baseball coach Andrew Aschettino, who said he was a “larger than life personality and incredible role model. My kids simply look up to him and I can’t think of someone better in that role.”

Like his father, he was an aggressive wrestler who enjoyed the competitiveness of this sport.  During his junior year, he took first place as a heavy weight in his league and was the runner-up as a sophomore.  He wrestled extremely well through the difficult Eastern States Tournament where he placed sixth in the contest. While he established himself as one of the premier heavy weights, Brennan was unable to reach his goal of possibly being a county champion because of a necessary back surgery.

Brennan Strovink rounds a base during his time on the Rocky Point Varsity baseball team. Photo from Strovink family

As an all-state baseball player, Brennan received a scholarship from Division I Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. He was excited to hit against some of the best college pitchers in the nation, but after a year, Brennan suffered another back injury that led to a second surgery. Brennan had to stop playing baseball and for a brief time he came home and attended Suffolk Community College. At this moment, his grandfather believed that his lefthanded hitting grandson had the chance to change his luck by hitting righty. In an amazing accomplishment, Brennen resurrected his college career by learning how to hit from the right side of the plate.

With his best friend Joseph Zabbara who was a college baseball player who was recovering from a serious arm injury, both young men had the opportunity to suit up for Hudson Valley Community College. With a positive mindset that enabled him to become a switch hitter, that old feeling of consistently making contact returned to Brennan as he attained an over .300 batting average. In a short period of time, his confidence returned, and he again faced pitching from the left side. When this happened, Brennan in his first eleven hitting lefty, he was on base with eight hits. Once this rejuvenation occurred, both Brennan and Joseph hit the road again as they enrolled into Limestone College in Gaffney, South Carolina.  

During his first at-bat for this school, he hit a homerun and was a fixture in the lineup as a first baseman and a designated hitter. Although he was in a different atmosphere, Brennan was nagged by reoccurring back injuries that made him make the permanent decision to stop playing.  Always with a positive demeanor, Brennan was pleased with his time at Limestone where he was able to become a first base coach and attain a degree in physical education.  

Finally, Kyle is the youngest Strovink to continue the family tradition of playing this game hard and doing it with a smile. Like his dad and brother, Kyle was a dominant varsity player during the extent of his high school years. As a capable catcher, Izzo stated Kyle has a “major league arm” to quickly prevent base runners from stealing bases.  

With grit and determination, he handled the pitchers and challenges of this strenuous position.  Like the two elder Strovink’s, he was a fierce competitor that opposing pitchers struggled to get out. As a sophomore, Kyle hit .392 with two homeruns. As a junior, his average climbed to .429 with four homeruns and eight doubles, and while he batted .349 as a senior, he was playing with a broken hand. Kyle was Rocky Point’s first All-American and one of his proudest moments was playing in front of a thousand local fans in the semi-finals set against Shoreham-Wading River.

During the winter months, Kyle, like his brother and father, was a tough wrestler. Unlike the other males in his household, Kyle wrestled only for one full year and still he placed second in his league at 195 pounds. Though he had limited experience, Kyle pinned two all-county wrestlers during his senior year.  Longtime assistant wrestling coach and a state champion Billy Coggins was always pleased with the progress. 

Kyle Strovink during his time on the Rocky Point Varsity baseball team. Photo from Strovink family

“Kyle was a rare athlete that you could plug into any sport and he would find a way to succeed.  He was an important factor that helped our team secure a county championship,” Coggins said. 

Always with a big smile, Kyle was the President of the Rocky Point Varsity Club where he made two speeches for the 9/11 and Veterans Day programs. This genuine young man shook the hands of the rescue workers, veterans and alumni and thanked them for their service to our nation.

Like his brother, Kyle had the plans to play at Lamar University, but he decided to play at a junior college in Douglas, Arizona near the Mexican border. Kyle played in excessive, dry heat of 110 degrees — vastly different from the conditions at Rocky Point. At Cochise College, Kyle was 2,500 miles from home, and he wanted to transfer to play at the east coast school of the University of South Carolina at Lancaster. Right away, he enjoyed his head coach that still calls Kyle during special moments and holidays. After playing extremely well, Kyle was offered a scholarship to play ball at Limestone, where he was reunited with his older brother Brennan.  Again, Kyle demonstrated his ability to hit with a commanding .308 average and he eventually became the clean-up hitter for this team through a shortened season due to the COVID-19 virus.

At Limestone, Kyle continued to demonstrate his catching prowess in throwing out opposing runners through his impressive arm strength. During a pro-day scouting program, it was estimated that Kyle had an extremely quick release from home plate to second base that was only 1.8 seconds. Izzo was not surprised about this catcher’s abilities and he believes that Kyle is a “special player.” While Kyle has lost part of his season, he is pleased to be spending time with his family. Looking at the Strovink’s, it is easy to see why people are always drawn to their good will. Every year Kristine Strovink organizes a team community service trip to a soup kitchen, she helps run the Live Like Susie fundraiser baseball game against Mount Sinai and serves the team an annual breakfast. While this family is led by these likable big men, Eric credits the devoted role that his wife and daughter Katie play in running their household.  

Retired social studies teacher Brooke Bonomi loved to joke with the boys and talk sports with them on a regular basis. As the teacher that created the Live Like Susie Kindness Award Night, Bonomi enjoyedStrovink’s participation to help honor the character of Rocky Point High School students through the outstanding memory of Susie Facini.  Bonomi glowingly stated that the “spirit of happiness runs deep in each Strovink. Their good cheer always inspires others to become better people.” Similar feelings towards this North Shore family has also been described the by the decades of respect that Izzo holds within these local ball players. This long-time major scout sums up the make-up of this family whom he considers to be the absolute best, saying “the way you play the game, is the way you’ll live life.”

Rich Acritelli is a social studies teacher at Rocky Point High School and an adjunct professor of American history at Suffolk County Community College.

Junior attack Xavier Arline drives to the cage for the Wildcats in the Suffolk Class C county final against Mount Sinai last year. With spring season cancelled, there will be no chance for a rematch. File photo by Bill Landon

High School seniors are normally under a lot of pressure come their last year of classes. It’s a time where students have to be thinking about where they want to go after graduation, what they want to do, all mixed in with a sense of finality to their grade school careers. For students involved in sports, it means the last season and the last chance they will have to take their team to county championships or maybe even states. 

Ward Melville second baseman Matt Maurer makes the scoop in a League I matchup against Central Islip last year. The team was hoping for even better this year, before the spring season was cancelled. File photo by Bill Landon

Then on April 22, Section XI made the announcement cancelling the spring sports season.

“After much discussion and consideration, the Athletic Council of Suffolk County has voted unanimously to cancel the spring sports season for 2020 at all levels,” Tom Combs, the Section XI executive director wrote in a statement. “The decision was not an easy one to make, however in what the world is experiencing at this time, it is the most prudent decision to make.”

With the cancellation of the spring sports season due to the ongoing pandemic, those same students now see any hopes of making it to playoffs dashed. Some teams, like the Ward Melville baseball team, might have been looking at their best season yet after making it to Suffolk County championships last year.

“Though we lost in the Suffolk County championship, the juniors were a big reason why they got there in the first place,” said Ward Melville baseball coach Lou Petrucci. “When we heard the news I talked to all the captains, and we talked to the seniors and juniors. They’re upset, but the spin we have to put on it is every time you play a baseball team you have to play it like it’s your last.”

Scott Reh, the Mount Sinai director of athletics, echoed the sentiment that the decision is going to most impact seniors, who he said the decision was “totally out of their control.” Though he and other athletic directors understood why it was done.

“At the end of the day, it’s very important because people are losing their lives, their jobs and the list goes on and on, “ Reh said. 

Mount Sinai girls lacrosse head coach Al Bertolone said his team has been “training every day since school closed,” and that he hosts video meetings with the team and individual groups daily. 

Though the news was hard, Bertolone said they had already participated in a car parade that ran past Mather and St Charles hospitals, which included the entire varsity team, parents, a fire truck, local police and some alumni as well.

“As far as we are concerned the games might have been canceled but our team is still going strong,” he said.

They are planning another car parade for Senior Day, May 14. 

Charles Delargey, the director of PE, health and athletics at the Rocky Point school district, said the girls lacrosse team hosted a senior parade for their 10 seniors last Saturday, and the boys lacrosse has plans to do something similar this weekend. 

Mount Sinai sophomore, then freshman Mackenzie Celauro slides home in game last year. File photo by Bill Landon

At 8:20 (20:20 military time) on Friday, May 1, districts will be turning on the lights and score board of their school football fields. The event is supposed to celebrate the sports teams in their 2020 season, with several schools planning live streams including comments from coaches.

In addition to several videos that coaches and students have put together, homes throughout the Shoreham-Wading River Central School District are displaying ‘Home of a Wildcat Senior 2020’ lawn signs to share in the school spirit. The district is also promoting the NYSPHSAA Mental Health Awareness Week from May 4-8 with social media messages. Plans are also in progress to honor all athletes at the annual athletic awards event which will be held virtually in the coming weeks. 

“Our coaches are in contact with our athletes to help to maintain optimistic attitudes and keep physically active during this time,” said SWR Director of Physical Education, Health, Athletics and Nurses Mark Passamonte.

School sports directors have been doing their best to keep spirits high. Adam Sherrard, the Port Jefferson School District athletic director, shared a video to his Twitter showcasing baseball players practicing, intercutting the video so it seemed the players were tossing the ball to each other.

Port Jeff is planning to host its regular sports ceremonies, including pictures of seniors in their uniforms in May and the signing ceremonies in June, but this time having to bring up each player individually for photos.

Indeed, practicing at home has become the new norm. Players have taken videos and pictures of themselves in their workouts and practices and posted such things to their coaches and teammates in phone messages and online.

Still, many students mourn the loss of their lost season — for some their last. As the bearer of bad news, coaches have done their best to offer consolation and hope for the future.

Matt DeVincenzo, the athletic director at Comsewogue School District, helped craft a video that was released Friday, April 24, on the district’s Facebook going through all the spring sports teams and specifically mentioning the graduating players, thanking them for all their hard work.

“Everyone’s pretty devastated,” DeVincenzo said. “Everyone saw the writing on the wall, and all the kids are affected, but our hearts really go out to the senior class. Unfortunately, they were robbed of last season in high school.” 

Port Jefferson senior Aidan Kaminski, then a junior, looks for an open lane last year during the Class D county final. He will not be able to finish his final senior season. File photo by Bill Landon

The unanimous decision from the Section XI board was a tough one, DeVincenzo said, but all acknowledged the impossibility of hosting sports during the ongoing pandemic.

But beyond the spring season, many still question what will happen in the summer, fall and winter.  All agree it’s still too early to tell.

For students participating in college sports, the National College Athletic Association said students graduating in spring will be eligible for collegiate scholarships as long as they still meet the course number requirements and show a 2.3 or higher GPA in those courses. The NCAA’s evaluations will not look at separate reviews of spring or summer distance learning during COVID-19 closures.

The question whether the coronavirus will impact sports in summer and fall is still up in the air, but with coaches not even aware if students will be back in school by the end of May, that question is leaning heavy on the minds of school athletics. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said April 24 he would later be announcing whether schools would remain closed, but as of press time has not yet made the decision. 

Delargey said when the news arrived last week, students were of course disappointed. On the other end, it was also a showcase of how students can show compassion.

“On a call with the softball team where the coach broke the news, after everyone spoke, one of our youngest kids on the team said to the seniors, ‘just want to let you know what an inspiration you’ve been to me.’” he said. “For a young kid to do that that’s amazing says what sports is all about.”

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Above, Mount Sinai senior Matt Campo won the day at the state wrestling championship March 1. Several other North Shore wrestlers placed on the day. Photo by Mel Jacoby

Like many students in the time of the coronavirus, Matt Campo, a senior at Mount Sinai High School, has had to wrestle with a lot, from having to take all schoolwork home, to planning for college not knowing what events will be like in just a few short months.

Mount Sinai’s Matt Campo in eighth grade. He started his career at 99 pounds and ends it at 170. Photo by Bill Landon

But Campo, at 170 pounds who early last month won the state championship against the No. 1 seeded wrestler in New York, the road has been long but worth it.

“Just making a name for myself in Mount Sinai — people know I’m a wrestling guy,” he said.

The path toward the championship started 6 years ago, when Campo joined the varsity team in 7th grade at 99 pounds. Mount Sinai wrestling head coach Matt Armstrong said that is rather rare, but Campo had quickly proved he was made of strong stuff.

“We knew early on he was very talented, and he always worked very hard,” Armstrong said. “His drive and his focus of winning a state championship got to be greater and greater, and he put in a lot of extra time and a lot of hard work.”

Joining the team in middle school, Campo said it was different than what he had seen before, with a new focus on the team dynamic. Though it would be the team-based mentality that would lead him to be class president for every year of his high school career.

Wrestling, to Campo, is a mental game. 

“In a match, every move has offense and a counter — you have to think three steps ahead,” he said. “Most wrestlers are extremely smart, the ability to have usually an edge over my opponent, it’s like a big chess match.”

At the Feb. 28 and 29 NYSPHSAA wrestling tournament at the Times Union Center in Albany, Campo would face his most formidable opponent, Mickey Squires of Norwich, the No. 1 seed. Squires had pulled off a win against Campo last year at the Windsor Christmas tournament where Squires won 6-4.  The finals was the seventh time Campo and Squires faced off, with Squires winning four and Campo winning two of those matches.

Armstrong said in the night before the match, he and his fellow coaches were discussing Campo’s prospects. Universally, it seemed every one of them were betting on Campo’s skills.

“We all thought Matt was going to win,” the coach said. “It was his work ethic and drive, he wrestled with the best kids and beat them or lost by a point or two. We just knew how focused he was, and thought he was gonna make that happen.” 

Matt Campo in 2018. Photo by Melvyn Jacoby

The match itself was an overtime nailbiter. It started with Squires scoring one point in the first period with an escape and took the lead 1-0.
Campo responded in the second period with a takedown, scoring two points and a 2-1 lead. Squires responded with a third-period escape, scoring one point. This tied the score at 2-2 and sent the match to overtime. The crowd was in a frenzy, knowing the first one to score would win the championship. In a dramatic finish, Campo scored two points on a takedown and won the match 4-2.

“It’s more I just go out there and just the ability to act and react in a match is what gives me an edge,” the wrestling champ said.

The tournament also represented a milestone for both him and Mount Sinai High School, leaving Albany with 200 wins under his belt. He is ending his high school wrestling career with 202 wins, a school record.

Beyond the mat, Campo has also started his own business that he’s now run for several years. Called Campo Creations, he does balloon twisting for parties and other events. It started several years ago, when he was bored in his room and started watching YouTube videos about making balloon animals. Though he is still getting calls during the ongoing pandemic, he said he has not been able to get out to do the job. 

After he graduates high school, he said he has plans to attend Siena College, going into the pediatric neurology program. He said he wants to become a pediatric neurologist, specifically because of his interest in the brain and his continuing desire to work with and help children.

Though Armstrong said the team is going to be missing Campo, along with a bevy of other seniors who are graduating this year, he thought Campo has the ability to accomplish anything.

“He definitely has drive and focus,” the coach said. “When he sets his mind to something, he’s gonna do it.”

Photo by METRO

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

With sports on hold during the pandemic, I would like to borrow from the sports channels and share a collection of sports memories.

The singing pitcher 

My daughter was pitching against a heavily favored team. In the first inning, she walked in two runs. As the coach, I raced out to the mound to check on her. She was quietly singing a song to herself. I knew there was nothing I could say that would top whatever song was entertaining her. In the final play of the game, the batter hit a ground ball to her and she raced over to first base, where she placed the ball in the glove of her teammate, starting an unlikely victory celebration.

The basketball game where we almost covered the spread

Knowing from the standings that the basketball team I coached would struggle against a team that should have been in a different league, I told my team that if they kept the other team under 50 points and we scored 30, we would have a pizza party. At the end of the game, the other team scored 49 points. We had a chance, with one last shot, to reach 30. We didn’t make it, but the referees congratulated each player on our team for fighting till the end. If they only knew …

The stampede game 

In Cooperstown, I coached a town team of 12-year-olds against a team aptly named the Stampede. Hoping to confuse their 6-foot tall hitters, I chose our softest throwing pitchers. It worked early, as they only scored one run in the first inning. In the second inning, my son hit a home run, giving us a 2-1 lead. We lost 11-4, but our players and their parents couldn’t have been happier, as we were the first team to score more than one run in an entire game and were also the first team the Stampede didn’t mercy.

Tough as nails 

Even with a face mask on her softball helmet, the fastball that hit my daughter caused the mask to give her a bloody lip. The umpire said she could come out and return later. She refused help or attention and ran to first base. She stole second, third and home, and returned to the bench with a triumphant smile.

The tiny team that did 

My daughter was on a vastly undersized volleyball team that made it to the finals against a team that, in warm ups, pummeled balls into the ground. With my daughter anchoring the back row, the other team became frustrated that their hard hits didn’t win points. They tried hitting at different angles and further away from the defense, crushing balls just out. When my daughter served the last five points for the win, I joined a collection of elated parents as we screamed and threw our arms in the air. I briefly turned my head to hide the tears of pride welling in my eyes. 

The kid who was way ahead of his time 

When my son was in pee wee ball, he watched a lot of baseball  my fault. He played shortstop in a station-to-station game, in which each player moved up one base, regardless of where the ball went and whether someone got out. With the bases loaded, a player hit a line drive to my son at shortstop. He caught the ball, ran to third to get the runner who was jogging home and tagged the runner who approached him. After his unassisted triple play, he jogged off the field and dropped the ball near the pitcher’s mound. I had to explain to him that he didn’t play that way yet, but that he would, and hopefully will again, soon.

Stony Brook University has changed its class policy during the coronavirus outbreak. File photo

As colleges across the nation have done, Stony Brook University will go to remote instruction for the remainder of the semester, starting on March 23rd. Classes and finals will meet remotely at their regularly scheduled times.

While students will take classes remotely, they can access services on campus, including academic advising, dining services, residence halls, library services, recreation programs, athletic facilities, and hospital and clinical services. Students who live on campus may continue to stay in their residence halls and will receive the same services.

Transitioning to remote learning was something the school did to “curtail large group gatherings and reduce time spent in close proximity with one another in classrooms, lecture halls, dining facilities, and campus residences,” Interim President Michael Bernstein said in a statement. “Our actions are consistent with the guidance of public health agencies on how to limit the spread of Covid-19 and it is also similar to decisions made by peer institutions.”

The school’s business and administrative operations will also be open and athletic events will continue as scheduled until further notice.

The only remaining indoor event is Friday’s America East women’s basketball game. Tickets will remain available through Friday at noon and will be capped to ensure space for fans who would like to watch the game. Outdoor sporting events are unaffected by the changes.

Most non-classroom events and large gatherings will be canceled or postponed starting this week through at least the end of the month.

The school awaits guidance from local and regional public health agencies to determine when to reopen classrooms for face-to-face teaching.

As for the hospital, Stony Brook has developed a revised visitor policy. All visitors have to fill out a health declaration form before entering the hospital. Visitors who are sick will be asked to leave. Stony Brook is also restricting the number of ways people can enter the building. Visitation rules vary depending on the department and are as follows:

  • Adult patients can have one visitor at a time. Visitors have to be 18 and over.
  • Pediatric and NICU patients can have two visitors per patient. The visitors must also be 18 or older. Parents, guardians and support persons only.
  • Labor and Delivery/ Postpartum can have two visitors per patient. Visitors must be 18 and older and are restricted to partners or support persons.
  • Emergency Department will not permit visitors for adult emergency department patient areas. Patients requiring assistance can have one visitor. One visitor per pediatric patient is allowed in the pediatric emergency department and that visitor must be a parent or caregiver.
  • Outpatient and Ambulatory Surgery Center Locations can have one person at the time of visit. The ambulatory care center will make exceptions for pediatric patients and others requiring an aide or additional assistance.
  • Patients who cough or show other signs of illness will be asked to leave.