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) Saturday, 22 November 2014 00:00
Online food market OurHarvest has recently joined forces with Mineola-based Island Harvest Food Bank, Long Island’s largest hunger relief organization, to help feed hungry Long Islanders over Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season.
Last Updated (Monday, 29 November 1999 19:00) Friday, 21 November 2014 00:00
In the year it’s been open, the Space at Westbury has been host to musicians, comedians, dancers and last week, the venue opend its doors for world class boxers and their loyal fans. One of the headliners was Richie “Brazil” Neves, from New Hyde Park.
Winner Takes All Productions and Greg Cohen Promotions brought a night of boxing to the Space on Thursday, Nov. 13. While boxing events have come to Long Island before, this was the first of its kind to come to The Space.
Thursday, 20 November 2014 00:00
Despite a disappointing playoff loss against the Wantagh Warriors, Sewanhaka Indians Head Coach George Kasimatis, is pleased with his football team’s season.
“I’m proud of my team,” he said. “But you are never satisfied unless you win the whole thing.”
The Indians faced a big challenge this year, moving up into Conference II left them as the new kids on the block, unfamiliar with the teams they would be going against.
Kasimatis will have a tall task next year replacing graduating seniors, which made up most of his starting lineup. Kasimatis said most of the offensive line, such as Danny Gianotti, Adrian Gonzalez and Louis Segarra III, and the defensive line, such as Justin Alexandre, Peter LaTorre and Peter Militano are seniors, many of which have started multiple years for him.
Thursday, 13 November 2014 00:00
The fifth seeded Sewanhaka Indians traveled to Wantagh to take on the fourth seeded Wantagh Warriors on Friday, Nov. 7 for its opening playoff game.
The Indians opened the game sluggish on offense, and were held in check throughout the first quarter. The Indians defense did its best to keep the team within striking distance, but field position form shaky special teams play, put them in a difficult position.
Warriors running back Dylan Beckwith, was able to punch in a 15-yard touchdown run, to give the Warriors a one score lead after the first quarter.