Recognizing Winter Athletes


With many athletes in attendance, 10 sports teams were recognized at the high school’s winter athletic awards ceremony during a recent Board of Education meeting. As their families watched with pride, Athletic Director Dominick Fontana called them to the podium to receive their certificates.

Successfully balancing commitments to athletics and academics, seven of the teams – varsity boys basketball, varsity girls basketball, varsity boys swimming/diving, varsity girls track, varsity boys track, varsity cheerleading and varsity kickline – were honored as Scholar/Athlete teams by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, a recognition that requires teams to have at least five players and earn a cumulative team GPA of 90 percent or higher.

The varsity boys basketball team won the League IV championship and made it to the Suffolk County Class AA playoff finals. Both head coach John McCaffrey and JV coach Ron Langella were named League IV Coach of the Year. Individual students earning accolades included Karon Blackwell (All-League, All-Conference, All-Tournament Team), Aaren Edmead (All-League, All-Conference, All-County, League IV Player of the Year, All-Tournament Team, Long Island Player of the Year and first-team All-Long Island, along with 1,000 career points), Kahwahn Nipper (All-League) and Tyler Pierre (Academic All-County, Scholar/Athlete).

The varsity girls basketball team, coached by Mike Gennaro, qualified for the Class AA playoffs, led by Sabrina Grunseich (All-League, Scholar/Athlete), Victoria Major (All-Rookie Team) and Kristy Vitucci (All-League, All-County, Scholar/Athlete).

Led by League IV Coach of the Year Mike McLaughlin, the varsity wrestlers – nine of whom were named All-League – won 19 dual meets this season en route to being voted Most Improved Team by the Suffolk County Wrestling Coaches Association. Additional accolades went to Thomas Cox (All-County, state qualifier), David Hamil (All-County, All-State), Zach Lugo (All-County, All-State) and Valter Piccini (All-County). Lugo set new school records for career wins and pins. The JV wrestling team, coached by Greg Schollmeyer, earned their league’s coveted Sportsmanship Award.  

In varsity boys swimming/diving, coached by Craig Mangio, Deer Park was paced by John Pawelko (All-League, Scholar/Athlete) and Brandon Peskett (All-League, All-County). Both swimmers were state qualifiers and set school records.

All-Leaguer Natalie Tianga was one of numerous Scholar/Athlete members of the varsity girls track squad, coached by Jim Petti. The varsity boys track team, coached by Tom Brouillard, likewise boasted many Scholar/Athlete students. Three also earned All-League status: Vincent Cotrone, Nick Fenton and Andrew Schaefer.

Coach Kyle McCourt led the varsity bowlers to the Suffolk playoffs. Jennifer Depre earned the league’s Sportsmanship Award, while state qualifier Adam Zimmerman was named All-League and All-County.

Deer Park’s varsity cheerleading squad, coached by Lia Demyen, included 11 Scholar/Athletes, while the varsity kickline had 13. The kickline team, coached by Ariel Miano and choreographed by Samantha McIllwaine, finished first in the kick category and second in the pom category at the Long Island Kickline Association championships. They also won first place in pom and second place in kick at the nationals.