Bellmore-Merrick athletes reflect on no sports


If 2020 had any normalcy to it, Calhoun High School pitcher Lindsay Roman would be nearing the home stretch of her sixth varsity softball season.

Instead, Roman, like all other senior student-athletes on Long Island, is coming to grips with the fact spring sports and the rest of the school year in classrooms are cancelled.

Any hopes of a shortened sports season were dashed on April 21 when health and safety concerns led athletic administrators and school superintendents in Nassau and Suffolk counties to make the news official.

“I’ve been pretty upset about it,” said Roman, who is planning to continue her playing career at SUNY New Paltz. “It was pretty important to me and I was holding out hope since the quarantine started.”

Like Roman, Kennedy senior baseball pitcher/first baseman Chris Costaro will be competing at the next level when he heads to Ithaca College. “It really is a shame they couldn’t start the season,” Costaro said. “I was looking forward to being a captain and leader. I’m going to miss bonding with my teammates, going to Applebee’s after every win and the fun bus rides to games.”

Jill Mayer, a defender for Mepham’s girls’ lacrosse team, was one of 14 seniors on the roster. She is headed to the University of Virginia and is considering playing intramurals.

“Some of us have played lacrosse together since we’re six years old and dreamed about our senior season,” she said. “We moved up into a tougher conference and were looking to prove we belonged — we never expected last year’s playoff loss to Garden City to be our last high school game.”  

Administrators in both counties felt it was important to react sooner rather than later. Last Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced school buildings in New York State would remain closed until the end of the academic year.

“For the safety for our student athletes, Section VIII has made the difficult decision to cancel spring sports for our high schools and middle schools,” Nassau County Executive Director of Athletics Pat Pizzarelli said. “Long Island is one of the areas most affected by this terrible pandemic, so both Section VIII (Nassau) and Section XI (Suffolk) have made this very difficult decision.

“It’s very sad for the seniors but we are dealing with life and death,” Pizzarelli added. “We have to safeguard our students and communities. We waited as long as we possibly could to make this heartbreaking decision.”

Nassau County’s Athletic Council, which includes superintendents, principals and school and sports officials, met the night of April 20 to make the unanimous decision. Athletic Directors met the following morning and were in agreement, too.

Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District Director Eric Caballero made the announcement on April 21 in a letter to parents. He ensured students and families that he, along with administration officials, Board of Education trustees and athletic coordinators would issue applicable letters, pins and certificates to eligible athletes. End-of-season awards will also be distributed remotely via each high school’s sports boosters organization.

“For those seniors whose careers have been cut short, hold your head high,” Caballero wrote. “As challenging as it may be at this time, think about the lasting memories you have made with coaches and teammates, and the time and effort that you have invested throughout your career.

“Reminisce about the excitement of achieving an off-season personal goal, team accolades or seeing your best friends perform well,” he continued. “For those who plan to continue sports participation collegiately, know that this will not define you. Rather, it is just the beginning of your journey.”