The Huntington Booster Club recognized four remarkable teenagers with sportsmanship awards and scholarships at Huntington High School’s 49th annual senior athletic awards banquet held in Louis D. Giani Gymnasium.
The $1,000 scholarships were established by the Booster Club to honor male and female student athletes “who through their actions in the competitive arena of high school athletics, have demonstrated one or more of the ideals of sportsmanship, including fairness, civility, honesty, dedication, unselfishness, determination, respect and responsibility,” according to the nomination booklet.
Blue Devil varsity coaches were asked to submit nominations for the award. Booster Club President Timothy Pillion said that since the Class of 2017 had so many exceptional student-athletes the organization decided to award four scholarships and increase the monetary value of each to $1,000 from the $500 that was presented in past years.
Rebecca Caballero, Daniel Collins, Connor Grosso and Jolena Smith were all honored. Mr. Pillion spoke about each of the teenagers, quoting from the nominations submitted by their respective coaches and adding his own thoughts.
Rebecca Caballero is a highly recognizable figure around the high school, well known for her smile and easygoing personality. “She has been a loyal friend and teammate, a solid student and a prized athlete,” Mr. Pillion said.
A captain and All-League volleyball player, Ms. Caballero was a mainstay on the court for the Blue Devils. In each of the past two years she has also participated on Huntington’s indoor and outdoor track and field teams, helping the team to win county titles during both seasons. A two-time Suffolk divisional pentathlon champion, which required her to master five events, including 100m hurdles, high jump, shot put, long jump and the 800m run, she works especially hard at practice.
Ms. Caballero has also kept the stats on the sideline for the varsity football team. The teenager is planning to attend the University of New Haven where she will major in criminal justice with a concentration in investigative services as also participate on the college’s track and field team.
Dan Collins is “Mr. Reliable.” Prized by teachers, coaches and teammates for his dependability, the teenager is headed to Bucknell University where he intends to participate on the track and field team.
Mr. Collins has been a durable member of Huntington’s cross country, indoor and outdoor track teams. “You won’t find anyone more dedicated to the Blue Devil running program than this senior,” Mr. Pillion said. “He hasn’t missed a single practice and he never fails to give his best effort on any given day.”
A New York State Scholar Athlete Award recipient, “he’s an A+ in the classroom and on the track,” one of his coaches said. “A mature, responsible and serious young man, he has given Huntington High School four great years and worn the blue and white colors with dignity and grace,” Mr. Pillion said.
Trying his best in academics while also engaging in extra-curricular activities that he enjoys has brought Connor Grosso success over the past four years. “He has treasured the friends he has made through the multiple music ensembles and sports teams that he has been a part of,” Mr. Pillion said. Captain of the Huntington fencing team, the teenager has captured the respect of his peers.
What was meaningful to him during high school? “Becoming the field major of the Blue Devil marching band as well as being a part of the top three bands at the state championships in three of the past four years,” he said. “Additionally, being first chair in wind ensemble for the past two years as well as being in the pit orchestra.” He will attend the University at Buffalo this fall.
Jolena Smith has led a busy high school life, participating in Young Leaders, Natural Helpers, United Amigos, Habitat for Humanity and the Principal’s Advisory Council. “She sits on the board of Tri-CYA’s Youth Council,” Mr. Pillion said. “She was the master of ceremonies at this year’s Black History Month celebration in the auditorium.”
Ms. Smith has played on the soccer, basketball and track teams and been the manager of the varsity boys’ basketball team.
The senior has excelled in field events for the Blue Devil girls’ track and field team. She plans to attend Delaware State University where she intends to major in either criminal justice or social work and compete on the track and field team.