December 6, 2015 7:09 pm admin
Story by Linda Mittiga/Photos by Timothy Butler
In a gesture symbolizing respect and compassion, Sayville athletes demonstrate a special kind of kindness.
“Too often we hear in the news about student athletes behaving badly, so it is quite a breath of fresh air to witness something truly heartwarming here at Sayville High School,” remarked Sayville Speech Teacher Angela O’Hoppe. “It is a feel-good story that leaves me smiling every time I think about when I leave the building each day.”
Since the beginning of the school year, a student with special needs has been participating in an afterschool physical activity. Along with his aide, he has been walking the track surrounding the football field before going home. “Jacob, for the entire football season, has interacted with members of the football team before, during, and after his walk around the track.” Ms. O’Hoppe continued. “Each day, Jacob instructs the boys to ‘line up!’ Immediately the squad stands shoulder-to-shoulder, with their hands on their hearts, and sings the National Anthem with Jacob. When the song is over they burst into applause and Jacob turns beet red with delight. This ritual that takes place every Monday through Thursday at our school is a shining example of our mission.”
And Ms. O’Hoppe should know. As an adviser for the Sayville Flashes Leadership Club, it has been her goal to encourage students at the high school to be confident and kind by extending compassion to others when no one is looking. “I told the boys they make me very proud to work and live here.”
(“No man stands so tall as when he stoops to help a child.” Abraham Lincoln)
Although technically not part of the team, Jacob Feldman was an invited guest at the Suffolk County Championship Pre-Game Breakfast with the Sayville Golden Flashes on Sunday, November 22, 2015. The breakfast, hosted by the Sayville Booster Club and held at the Sayville Fire Department, has been a long-standing tradition. This year, however, Football Booster Club parent Michelle Galante thought Jacob’s presence would be a welcomed addition, especially because Jacob and the Football team had formed a bond of friendship during the daily football practices with a sing-a-long of the National Anthem. It was this companionship, born from such a kind, spontaneous gesture “when no one was looking” that not only demonstrated the fine character of the team players, but touched so many people when the word about their uplifting routine spread.
During the breakfast, Jacob was presented with a white Sayville Football sweatshirt by team Captains Liam Bailey, Nicholas Casazza, and Jack Coan. After, Jacob signaled his “teammates” to line up for the sing-a-long of The Star Spangled Banner, with Booster Club’s family members joining in song.
Following the breakfast, the team headed over to Stony Brook University for the Suffolk County Championships, and Jacob with his family joined them.
“After winning the title of SUFFOLK COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP,” Mrs. Galante explained, “our boys recognized Jacob, proudly wearing his Sayville Football Sweatshirt, in the stands. They immediately removed their helmets, faced toward Jacob and broke out in unison to sing once again The Star Spangled Banner. These boys,” Mrs. Galante added, “are amazing young men, and we are so proud of them both on and off the field.”
Jacob’s mother Alice expressed how impressed she was “by these boys, both on and off the field. Immediately after they won, they sang the National Anthem with Jacob,” adding the quote: “No man stands so tall as when he stoops to help a child.”
After the LONG ISLAND CHAMPIONSHIP game on Sunday, November 29 at Stony Brook, where the Golden Flashes set new records and won the Class III title with a score of 59-15 against Plainedge, the Champs proudly joined one last time in song with Jacob, proving they are winners where it counts the most—in their hearts.