Written by Hyram Landers Friday, 17 May 2013 00:00
Simply because something has happened or reoccurred several times in the past does not make it a tradition, something to be expected maybe, or something habitual perhaps. Tradition is different. It evokes a feeling of long-standing preplanned positive experiences built in layers upon one another.
So it is, apparently, with the Highlander Wrestling program. Year after year, young men and women graduate from the high school program only to return again as alumni freely lending their expertise, assistance and support . . . giving back to those who have not yet entered the fraternity of Highlander Wrestling Graduates.
This was never truer than it was during one of the numerous presentations made at the 37th Annual Herricks Wrestling Team Awards Dinner when several members of the Highlander Wrestling Fraternity were recognized for some very special contributions that they have made over the years.
Louis (1992) and Rino DiMaria (1988), Dr. Raymond Omid (1993), Craig Yellin (1994), Romano Savocchi (1991), and Neil Breitkopf (1978) have been inducted as the charter members of Highlander Wrestling Distinguished Alumni award recipients.
“So many of our alumni have made such special contributions to our program over the years without any fanfare, it is a privilege for us to begin to acknowledge them in this more visible fashion,” Head Coach Cliff Forziat said.
Each of these men received a special personal award, and an engraved perpetual plaque is being added to the Community Center’s Wrestling Hallway of Fame in their honor. In case you have not been down that way, there you will discover pictures of championship teams and individual Herricks wrestlers who were Conference (Division in the old days) Champions or higher. Championship trophies and plaques abound, and there are perpetual plaques listing Most Valuable, Most Improved, Coaches Recognition, and Highland Wrestler award recipients. Other plaques identify Herricks Wrestling Career Wins and Pins leaders.
Nestled in among these, local newspaper articles, and action photos (and a bowling pin, there’s got to be a story behind that) you will find scholarship plaques commemorating those student wrestlers who received grants from Omid through his advanced holistic medicine practice, Yellin through his Craig Yellin Enterprises (medical billing and merchant services), and the DiMaria brothers, Rino and Louis, through their Joanne’s Gourmet Pizza & Pasta restaurant. Savocchi wanted no publicity, but he made substantial contribution to the Highlander Wrestling Scholarship Fund.
“Romano deserves this recognition,” Forziat noted. “We want him to know how much we respect his high regard for our program.” Herricks wrestlers have been fortunate recipients of between $3,500.00 and $4,500 of financial aid each year. As Omid says, “We are a cut above.”
Breitkopf has tirelessly worked to build database of all of the old lads and lasses. Forziat’s records helped a bit going back to 1976, but those first 18 years of the program require persistent detective work. Breitkopf’s efforts have directly led to six formal (more or less) wrestling alumni reunions.
It is truly special to observe the droves of Herricks Wrestling Alumni who come back to “The Room” (the wrestling room) and to the various home and away contests to cheer for and to support the current teams made up of wrestlers who were not even born yet when these alumni competed (often in the same uniforms, tradition runs deep, indeed).
The walls in “The Room” above the protective padding (nobody wants the walls to be damaged) have been adorned with the names of the individual Conference/Division Champions, All-County, and All-State Highlander wrestlers.
Every year more than once, Forziat will gesture toward these names and remind his team that there are thousands of worthy young men and women, Herricks wrestlers, whose names are not on the walls, yet who were terrific competitors and people, who are successful in all walks of life, and whose spirit and strength (often unseen) can be tapped.
“It’s nice to be a champion on the mat,” Forziat acknowledged. “We’ve had quite a few, but for each wrestler whose name is on the wall there were teammate sparring partners whose efforts got him there. It is more important to be a champion off the mat in everything else that you do. We are blessed to have an outstanding base of graduated wrestlers, team managers, and even their parents and families who continue to support our program.”
Last Updated (Monday, 29 November 1999 19:00) Wednesday, 12 March 2014 00:00
The Sewanhaka Central High School District’s ad hoc committee is still reviewing options for a second bond referendum, to be put up for a vote either in May during budget and school board elections or a special election in the fall. The district proposed a $99.5 million bond for various repairs to its five high schools in December, which failed by 293 votes.
Five options are before the ad hoc committee. The first is a vote on the original bond for a second time, with elimination of electronic signs and some capital work. The second and third options would decrease the bond issue, to $84,606,691 in one case or $87,029,591 in another. The fourth option would total $89,577,091. The fifth option is split into two: $73,567,876 in infrastructure repairs, improvements; and a separate $16,009,215 in athletic renovations and upgrades. The School Board will review the options in preparation for a special meeting on Tuesday, March 18.
Last Updated (Monday, 29 November 1999 19:00) Saturday, 08 March 2014 00:00
It’s a family affair for the Winters of Port Washington when they make pilgrimages to Bobb Howard’s General Store in New Hyde Park. “There’s something in that store for everyone,” says Tracy Winters, who has been a customer of this retro candy and toy store for eight years. Tracy goes for the Astro Pops, husband Michael gets Marshmallow Twists and Tracy’s mother, Phyllis Heller of Bellmore, can’t resist the Goldenberg Peanut Chews. Jake, Tracy’s older son, isn’t a candy lover so he gravitates to the old-time toys and nostalgia posters.
Jamie Waller of Queens says it made him feel like a kid again when he saw the wall of candy with treats from the 1990s and 1950s sitting next to each other. “Anything you can possibly want is there,” he says. For Jamie, a big treat is Circus Peanuts, peanut-shaped marshmallows. “My dad used to love them when he was a kid,” he says.
Thursday, 06 March 2014 00:00
New Hyde Park Michael Castelli recently participated in the 32nd Black Belt Graduation at Charles Water Karate & Fitness, located at 122 Hillside Ave. in Williston Park. He graduated to first-degree black belt.
“Our studio teaches students how to defend themselves responsibly while instilling self-confidence, self-discipline and respect for others,” says Grandmaster Charles Water, owner and director of the school.
Students tested in October, successfully passed their exam recently and received their black belt certificates. “Who says that the youth of America are not committed? A healthy life style at the karate studio, mentally and physically is alive, well and working,” said Water.
Thursday, 06 March 2014 00:00
After missing the playoffs two straight years, the Sewanhaka Indians Boys lacrosse team will face tougher odds if it hopes to advance to postseason play in 2014.
The Indians, who start their season March 24 at Oyster Bay, will be playing out of Section 8, Nassau Conference II (Class B) this year; a bump up from their usual spot in Nassau Conference III (Class C). Typically, the schools are divided by enrollment.
“There are no gimmies in this league,” said nine-year coach Peter Burgess. “We were the last team to make this league in terms of population. They kind of drew the line below us. So we’re the smallest school in the league.”
Burgess said another obstacle for the Indians will be facing teams that they have no experience playing before.