By Lauren DiGregorio and Janmak Saji
Amid weekly COVID-19 tests, masks during practices and games, social-distancing guidelines, and frequent disinfection of equipment, New Hyde Park Memorial’s athletes were still able to compete under the restrictions of the pandemic. For many, the end of the winter season was certainly momentous.
The girls’ varsity basketball team had a tough season due to the pandemic shortening their practice time. They had to fit in eight games on a short schedule, and as a team, they finished with two wins and six losses.
Sources by Ari Boldur
Clockwise from the top left, the girls' varsity basketball team huddles before the start of a game; senior Paige Jones plays offense against MacArthur; up against three opponents, senior Deep Kaur prepares to shoot the ball; in between plays, junior Riley Griffin gets ready to execute her next move.
“This season was very unexpected. Initially, we didn’t even think we’d be able to have games. We were only practicing for a bit and then games got cleared, so we had to fit eight games in a very short period of time. The season was tough because we didn’t have the time we usually do to improve and learn plays. We also had to play with masks, which made it difficult to breathe. Although all of these unfortunate things occurred, we were grateful for our season. We had a great team with amazing girls and we made the best of a difficult situation,” said senior basketball player Darla Petricca.
The district varsity riflery team faced challenges in the beginning of their season, but they finished it off successfully with nine wins, one loss, and one tie. In addition to a victorious season, the team placed second in the county championship.
Sources from Samantha Chang
During a competition, junior Samantha Chang readies her rifle; the varsity riflery team poses for a selfie in their team hoodies. FRONT: juniors Samantha Chang, Eily Montenegro, and Daniella Canning. BACK: sophomore Andrew Canese, Coach Babolcsay, senior Noorpreet Kaur, and senior Valerie Hoffer.
“There was definitely an adjustment period due to social distancing and protective procedures, but I think that we overcame it pretty quickly as a small team. I’m really glad that we were able to have a season and give our seniors their last year to compete with Coach ‘Babs,’ who did an awesome job leading us through his first season,” said junior riflery member Samantha Chang.
The district varsity gymnastics team flipped through its season with two wins and six losses. In addition, four of their athletes participated in a state qualifiers meet, where the best gymnasts of the county get to compete at the end of each season. The team was proud to announce that based on her high score, H. Frank Carey junior Alyssa Nittoli made the Section 8 team for vault and will compete in the Long Island Championship in April, representing Nassau County. Considering the setbacks from COVID-19, the district gymnasts were able to end their season satisfied.
Source by Saanvi Mirchandani
Before the senior meet, HFC senior Kristen Greenwood, Floral Park Memorial junior Meaghan Kilcarr, FPM senior Emily McKie, HFC junior Sydney Farrell, HFC senior Kristen Whalen, and HFC senior Mia Clark smile for the camera in New Hyde Park Memorial's gym.
“It was a very different season, since we had to follow all the rules and some meets got cancelled because of closings, or they were even virtual. It was also pretty short, but I'm glad we got to even have a season at all, and in the end we got used to it. It’s exciting that they’re having a Long Island Championship Competition in place of states, too,” said Nittoli.
“I think that the season was really fun and I’m really thankful we were still still able to have it this year. I am a bit sad that it was cut short but I really loved my team and my coaches. I made so many new friends that I’m going to be with throughout high school. We have some really good gymnasts on our team and we will all get better and excel for next season,” said NHP freshman gymnast Olivia Battista.
NHP’s varsity track team handled the new protocols well, but the weather was their biggest hurdle. Frequent heavy snow storms forced the team to practice indoors, and many of their meets were cancelled because they had to wait until the snow melted to resume running on the track. Since each athlete must wear a mask, running outside was preferred by the majority of runners, but the team pushed through and had a generally enjoyable season.
Source by Saanvi Mirchandani
Track athletes, like sophomores Joseph Hoffer, Nikson Alex, and Jake Chew, have to run with adequate space between them for a virtual meet.
“This season was full of unexpected surprises! Although the weather for the past few weeks has prevented us from having some of our meets, I believe that our team has made it the best we could’ve. I was always excited to go to practice and spend as much time as I could with the coaches and with the other runners. Each practice and meet ended with a smile on all of our faces and that’s all that mattered! This season has truly been an unforgettable experience,” said senior track athlete Parneet Sekhon.
In a stretch of time majorly different compared to previous years, the district varsity bowling team still thrived against their competition. Both the boys’ and girls’ teams ranked third in Nassau County, and HFC junior Brandon Hughes placed first in the county with an average score of 225.4.
Source from Rebecca Hartz
The girls’ varsity bowling team comes together for a picture after having a very successful season. FRONT: NHP junior Briana Dunn, HFC senior Isabella LiMandri, and Sewanhaka seventh grader Morgan Winchell. BACK: HFC senior Rebecca Hartz, Sewanhaka eighth grader Jayla Phillips, FPM junior Jamie Lauria, NHP junior Michelle Peteroy, HFC junior Morgan O'Connor, and HFC junior Sofia Legovich.
“I thought bowling was still great, even though it was a bit different. It was a little upsetting that we weren’t able to mingle with the other team as we normally had in the past or bowl on separate lanes than the team we were versing, but it was still a lot of fun,” said junior bowler Briana Dunn.
The boys’ varsity basketball team had a relatively even season, finishing off with three wins and five losses. Although COVID-19 made the year very restrictive, the team played hard and even managed to host their traditional senior game.
Sources by Saanvi Mirchandani
Clockwise from the top left, junior Arshdeep Singh warms up before the third quarter; senior Luke Notine attempts to make it past his opponents; with eyes on his competition, senior Benjamin Mammen plays defense against Valley Stream Central; the NHP varsity basketball team discusses plays during a timeout.
“For a season that was so unexpected, it was exciting. Even though it was completely different from last year where we got a lot more time to learn plays and practice, this year was still fun,” said senior basketball player Benjamin Mammen.
“It was a tough season due to COVID-19 and didn’t get the outcome we wanted. But, we still learned a lot and will come stronger and better next season!” said junior basketball player Arshdeep Singh.
“It’s really nostalgic and bittersweet...”
The varsity cheerleaders also enjoyed keeping up spirits during games despite restrictions that come from wearing a mask. They cheered on the varsity boys’ basketball team on the sidelines and at halftime, bringing a sense of normalcy to the sports scene.
“Considering that it’s the last NHP basketball game I’ll ever cheer at, it’s really nostalgic and bittersweet,” said senior varsity cheerleader Hailey Mikowski.
“Since we’ve been cheering for such a long time together, I feel sad that this winter season is over. At the same time, I’m happy because we love the team and we love what we’re doing,” said senior varsity cheerleader Sophia Kalosinis.
Sources by Saanvi Mirchandani
At halftime, junior Michaela Cooney stands atop a pyramid while cheering on the NHP basketball team; The varsity cheerleaders pose for a picture with their pompoms after performing. FRONT: junior AnnaMarie Bartoszek, junior Vanessa DiNardo, and junior Maggie Kiley. BACK: senior Sophia Kalosinis, junior Gianna Cassata, junior Emily Mirabile, junior Michaela Cooney, junior Isabella Vecchio, junior Arista Kakaounakis, and senior Hailey Mikowski.
The district wrestling team was also able to compete this season, ending with zero wins and seven losses. Wrestlers had to wear masks during their workouts but that did not prevent them from doing what they love.
Source from Armando Sanchez
The district wrestling team poses for a team picture the day before a match. FRONT: NHP sophomore Ahmed Salehin, HFC junior Tyler Lanci, and NHP sophomore Stanley Young. MIDDLE: NHP junior Jake Flint, HFC junior David Ras, HFC senior Gregory Tile, and HFC junior Jack Landrem. BACK: NHP sophomore Armando Sanchez, NHP sophomore Jake Rodgers, HFC junior James Mckiernan, HFC senior Devin O'Shea, NHP sophomore Edgar Ferreiras, HFC sophomore Michael Sullivan, and NHP sophomore Williams Mejia.
"I think we did a great job against various teams. This year we had a great team of wrestlers that were always ready to put in the work and learn," said sophomore Armando Sanchez.
Despite unusual and difficult challenges, the Gladiators worked diligently and persevered in the short amount of time that was allocated to them. Although the winter season has come to a close, it is safe to say that NHP athletes were grateful for the memories.