The 1924 Huntington relay team that won the quarter mile Penn Relays crown.
The 1924 Huntington relay team that won the quarter mile Penn Relays crown.

The Tradition Continues for Huntington’s Athletes

March 19, 2024

As the spring season enters its second week at Huntington High School, more than 370 athletes are filling the rosters of 17 varsity and JV teams. Still more will sign onto varsity Unified basketball when its makes its debut in a few weeks. These teenagers are joining a 114 year old tradition where hard work has always been the culture

Games and sports have always played a role in the life of the Huntington community. Huntington Academy opened in 1794 followed by the Union School in 1858 and finally Huntington High School in 1897.

Consistent with the widespread practices of the era, physical education and athletics programs were not included in the school’s instructional program. Sports were community based with what were essentially town teams in baseball, basketball and football.

In 1910, students met with Superintendent/Principal Robert K. Toaz and secured his permission to form what came to be known as the Athletic Association. The group was governed by the students themselves, who raised monies for equipment and supplies, uniforms, travel and coaching.

Memberships in the Athletic Association were sold along with tickets to games. Dances and other social activities were held. Athletic Association members received discounted admission to games and free tickets to periodic dances. Mr. Toaz retained veto authority over the Athletic Association’s actions.

Each team had a manager who was responsible for scheduling games with a small group of Suffolk and Nassau high schools. Games were also played against alumni and town teams. There was no governing body at the time such as NYSPHSAA or Section XI.

When the United States mobilized for World War I and implemented a draft of young men in 1917/18, officials were startled to learn how out of shape most the draftees were. It took twice as long to condition them as planned, delaying their entry into battle. Physical fitness became a matter of national defense.

Physical education programs were initially established for boys to exercise. Classes consisted of extensive calisthenics, running, climbing ropes, obstacle courses, etc. As the years passed, girls were included in physical education programs.

In 1926/27 the high school building was enlarged, including a new gymnasium below the new auditorium. The district hired Cortland State Teachers College graduate William Class in 1929 and he went about developing a physical education and athletics program, including extensive intramurals for boys and girls. The program grew over the years to include a variety of sports.

Huntington boasted one of the most powerful high school sports programs on Long Island throughout the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. With the passage of Title IX in 1972, discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded education programs was banned. This led to the massive growth of a full-fledged girls’ athletic program. Soon after, widespread junior high school sports were developed.

Huntington UFSD currently offers students an athletic program that includes 34 varsity level teams; 15 JV teams and 24 middle school teams for a total of 73 Blue Devil athletic teams.

Huntington High School's 1957 boys' cross country team.
The Huntington football team in 1897.