Schools and Libraries
November 13, 2012
After a five-game winning streak at the beginning of the season had virtually assured the Long Beach High School varsity football team a berth in the Nassau County playoffs, Hurricane Sandy swept through the barrier island, ruining their uniforms, equipment and playing field, and scattering at least half of the team to temporary housing all over the state. At first it seemed like the storm, which had damaged many of their homes and possessions, would also dash their playoff chances, but the team rallied together and through an extraordinary effort, they were able to overcome these seemingly insurmountable obstacles to face the Carey Seahawks in Franklin Square on Saturday, Nov. 10 in the Nassau County quarterfinals.
On the day after the storm hit, Long Beach administrators, coaches and 20 players met to do whatever they needed to do to get the team ready to play. After quarterback Adam Salvadori and running back J.P. Forkin helped Coach Scott Martin reach out to their absent teammates and found that many could make it back for the game, the coach made the call to go ahead. Director of Athletics Arnold Epstein was able to arrange for the team to practice at Hofstra. An anonymous donor came through with new uniforms and equipment. Students and staff at Sewanhaka's H. Frank Carey High School also rallied to support the Marines' efforts.
"I called Arnie Epstein on Monday to find out how the staff, the students and the community were doing," said Matt McLees, the Sewanhaka district's athletic director. "As soon as Arnie gave me the go-ahead that they were ready to play, our goal was to do everything possible to make this a special day for Long Beach."
Carey High School established a Long Beach High School Scholarship Fund, collecting donations at the gate, contributing the gross proceeds from the concession stand and selling raffle tickets to raise funds. MSG Varsity also stepped up to the plate, donating the proceeds from the sale of "Unity Game" T-shirts to the fund. The Carey varsity cheerleaders made nearly 500 blue ribbons (the Marines school color), which they distributed to the fans. They also gave game sweatshirts and scarfs to the Marines cheerleaders. D'Anna Pizzeria of Elmont delivered 20 free pizzas to the team after the game. Carey High School staff also worked to overcome their own obstacles to make their field ready to play. The nor'easter that followed Hurricane Sandy on Wednesday left a blanket of snow on the already wet field, so maintenance crews had to put in hours of work to make the field ready for the game.
Long Beach fans came from far and wide, filling the stands to cheer their valiant team on, but in the end, a playoff victory was not in the cards for this determined team, as the Seahawks racked up a 35-13 victory. But the Marines achieved a much bigger triumph that day, giving hope to a battered community and serving as a shining example of the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.
Three other Long Beach High School varsity teams also managed to come together to participate in playoff games. The Boys and Girls Volleyball teams won their first round playoff games. The girls swimming team finished Swimming finished fourth in the County.