NHP Athletes Make Newsday’s Top 100

By Arjit Nair and Dylan Sanichara


The Long Island Top 100 is a significant accomplishment for high school athletes. This list presents the players who show above-average skills and talent in their designated sport. The Top 100 athletes have more than just talent; they possess the right mindset, have a strong work ethic, and are team players. Newsday made decisions based on athletes’ performance, contribution to their teams, overall improvement, hard work, dedication, and successful seasons.


For the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 seasons, New Hyde Park Memorial had multiple athletes make the list for football, baseball, softball, and soccer. If players make the Long Island Top 100, they receive a certificate for their outstanding achievements. Making it onto this list is something in which the NHP athletics department takes great pride. Four NHP seniors earned the title: Luke Orbon, Paige Jones, Nicolette Caneda, and Christian Castro.


Senior Paige Jones had many productive seasons as a four-year varsity player on the NHP softball team and playing on club teams. According to Newsday, “she slapped, bunted and blasted her way to a .624 batting average, a .694 on base percentage and stole 26 bases.”


Sources from Anna Detke and Paige Jones

Senior Paige Jones, who has been on the varsity softball team for four years, poses with her softball and glove; Jones receives her Top 100 award with Coach Rizzuti and principal Dr. Faccio.


Paige Jones:

Q: What does it mean to you to make the Long Island Top 100?

Paige Jones: “To me it means that all my years of hard work and effort paid off in many different ways. Being able to play the sport I love and get congratulated on my talent, not just by colleges, but by many other people local and far away amazes me. I never figured my name and talent would travel so far.”


Q: Was this a goal for you?

PJ: “Yes, it was a goal for me. While I have played this sport my whole life I strive to be the best I can be at anything I do. I believe that this is my competitive side coming out and because this sport means so much to me I try my best to get any award possible, beat any record and be at the top.”


Q: Did you expect it?

PJ: “I kind of expected it but I did forget because, as much as I want to be the best at what I do, I also just enjoy having fun and playing the sport. When the award came out everyone was congratulating me but I didn’t know what I had just gotten. When I am in the moment playing, the awards and mentions and everything is not what is on my mind; it is having fun, playing and trying to make everyone around me better.”


Q: How did you work towards an accomplishment like this?

PJ: “I practice with the school every day. I hit, field, and throw on my own and I practice with my outside teams a lot. My coach, Walter Gravagna, has had a huge impact on my mind set and how I play. While he may make me run so much, hit so much, field like crazy and give me the most impossible balls to field, he is my number one fan because he sees what I can do and he is just making me better. He pushed me out of my comfort zone to become even better than I was a year ago and even just a practice ago.”


Another impressive athlete who made the Newsday Top 100 was Nicolette Caneda. Last season, she scored 10 goals and seven assists.


Source by Anna Detke

Senior Nicolette Caneda stops for a picture with her soccer ball.


Nicolette Caneda:

Q: What does it mean to you to make the Long Island Top 100?

Nicolette Caneda: “Making the top 100 was a great honor and accomplishment for me. I work hard and push myself to be the best player I can be. Earning this title was exactly what I needed to reward myself, prove to myself that hard work pays off and it is all worth it.”


Q: Was this a goal for you?

NC: “For my first time receiving this title in 2019, I didn't set this as a specific goal. I wanted to perform at my best to help my team first and foremost and then hoped that I would be rewarded for my hard work, which I was. This year, it definitely was a goal to receive it again. I had a great season in 2019 then with COVID-19 and all our setbacks it was more of a battle against myself to prove that I'm still on the right track.”


Q: Did you expect it?

NC: “I didn't expect it, I don't think any award should be expected, just strived for.”


Q: How did you work towards an accomplishment like this?

NC: “An accomplishment like this is not something I think you can necessarily plan and compete for. My best advice to any athlete trying to receive an award like this is to play every game like it is your last and always play like someone is watching because there is. That mindset helps me just play with a little more fire and urgency which is what I think separates me from others and helped me receive this award.”


Continuing the NHP athletics’ reputation, Luke Orbon showed why he deserves to have made the list every time he stepped on the field. During the 2019 football season, he was a reputable threat to opposing teams’ defenses: he passed the ball up 875 yards, ran 850 yards, and made 12 touchdowns. Orbon also made the Top 100 list for baseball by having a .521 batting average as a sophomore, hitting five home runs and stealing 25 bases.


Source by Anna Detke

Senior Luke Orbon was an essential player to NHP's football team this year, leading them to many victories.


Luke Orbon:

Q: What does it mean to you to make the Long Island Top 100?

Luke Orbon: It is an honor to be recognized as a top baseball player on the island.”


Q: Was this a goal for you?

LO: “No, it was not a goal for me.”


Q: Did you expect it?

LO: “Yes, I was expecting it.”


Q: How did you work towards an accomplishment like this?

LO: “Countless hours of work and dedication to the game and doing everything I can to better myself.”


Christian Castro made a lasting impression on the soccer field in the 2019-2020 season and played a significant role in helping the NHP varsity boys’ soccer team accomplish ten wins last year.


Source by Anna Detke

Senior Christian Castro smiles with the game ball before one of his final soccer games.


Christian Castro:

Q: What does it mean to you to make the Long Island Top 100?

Christian Castro: “I am proud of myself and happy for this achievement.”


Q: Was this a goal for you?

CC: “Yes and I thank God it was achieved.”


Q: Did you expect it?

CC: “Yes because I know who I am and when I want something I fight for it.”


Q: How did you work towards an accomplishment like this?

CC: “I worked hard in practice, in games I always give 100% of myself and I always liked to be competitive, I never like to lose.”


Jones, Caneda, Orbon, and Castro have earned their spot on Newsday’s Long Island Top 100 list and some will continue their hard work throughout college. Orbon has committed to St. John's University for Division I baseball, Jones has committed to Rhode Island College for Division III softball, and Caneda has committed to Manhattan College for Division I soccer, where they will add on to their accomplishments at the collegiate level.