A Tip of the Cap to All You Unsung Heroes

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By Ray Gallagher
Examiner Sports Editor
Try as I may, I don’t always get it right. Doling out credit where credit is due is often hard to do when there is so much good stuff going on and the All-Americans are swiping the headlines. It’s the unsung heroes that we often miss out on; the goalies, the defensemen, the linemen, the stoppers and sweepers… those who do the dirty work, but get none of the credit.
Student athletes that work as hard as everyone else but do the yeoman’s work are usually the coach’s favorite kids, kids like former Yorktown lax goalie Austin Graham, who did nothing but his job every time he took the field while the Cornhuskers were winning their seventh NYS title last May. Like goalies often are, Graham was in the shadow of three All-Americans at Yorktown, but the Huskers don’t produce that state championship with marginal to average production from their netminder. Like most unsung heroes, he stepped it up.
Graham is just one kid who didn’t get the credit he was do; just like the libero on most great volleyball teams – like the Yorktowns, Haldanes and Hen Huds — don’t get the ink, just like the grunts on the Yorktown offensive line didn’t as the Huskers marched to their first Section 1 championship game since 1998 last Saturday, only to lose 35-14 to Rye.
Graham was the poster child, though. He slipped through the cracks, like most of your unsung heroes do. So to every mom, dad and grandparent who thinks I may have slighted junior by not giving credit where credit was due; I’m sorry. You try and try to motivate kids, sometimes by calling them out, but the intent is sometimes misconstrued or lost in the shuffle when they’re not recognized accordingly.
These unsung heroes are everywhere this fall. Lakeland field hockey goalie Alex Halpin, though an All-Section selection for a second time, oftentimes go unnoticed because the defense in front of her – including under-appreciated Julia Kim, Sarah Bard and sweeper Ellie Dineen Carey, who will head back to the NYS Final 4 for a sixth-straight year as the reigning five-time NYS champs to face Vestal Saturday in the NYS semis at 1:30 p.m. at Maine Endwell; Melissa Tringali, the libero on the NYS Final 4 Haldane volleyball team in pursuit of its third NYS title in four years; the Hayley Bonners, the Michelle Wieneckes, the Mary Murphy’s and the Lexi Priscos on the swanky Somers defense and midfield that hasn’t allowed a goal in five playoff games and now finds itself in the NYS Final Four for the second time since 2011, heading on to face Jamesville-Dewitt in the Class A state semis at Tompkins Community College this Saturday at 2:30pm.
Others, like Sara Jacoby a senior middie at Haldane and her counterpart, Hannah Monteleone, who have ruled the midfield for the NYS Class C soccer finalists, have guided Haldane (14-4), moves on to the semifinals, where it will play at Cortland High School at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 15; and every kid who runs cross country, which doesn’t get the fanfare other sports do… like Carmel’s Benito Muniz and Sawyer Maherand, Brewster’s Kevin Hazelwood and Haldane’s Nick Farrell, who all ran and placed top 20 in the NYSPHSAA race.
Hey, unsung hero; WE SALUTE YOU! And the rest of you, who do the dirty work but rarely get the nod from the hype-afflicted media. But you know who you are: Well done!

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