11/18/13 7:55am

JIM COLLIGAN PHOTO | Two members of the New York State Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue program examining a dead leatherback sea turtle at Miss Annie’s Creek in Mashomack.

A dead leatherback sea turtle washed up on a beach at Miss Annie’s Creek in the Mashomack Preserve some time over the weekend.

Spotted by paddle boarder Richard Ruscica and hikers along the Green Trail on Saturday afternoon, Preserve Director Mike Laspia was contacted.

Mr. Laspia secured the turtle by rope to prevent it from washing back into the creek and contacted the New York State Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue program in Riverhead. An animal autopsy is scheduled for today to pinpoint the cause of death.

Leatherbacks are the largest turtles in the world, measuring up to seven feet and weighing up to 1,500 pounds. They can be found in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. Although they feed in cool waters, they breed and lay eggs in the tropics.

Their primary diet consists of jellyfish, but almost a third of all leatherbacks have evidence of plastic bags in their stomachs and intestines.

12/31/12 3:09pm

DANIEL DE MATO  PHOTO | NOTHING BUT NET Shelter Island’s Riley Willumsen scores against East Rockaway late in the second half at home Friday, December 28. East Rockaway defeated Shelter Island in a tough match, 54 to 46.

The boys’ varsity basketball team hosted “The Rocks” from East Rockaway this Friday, December 28, losing a hotly contested game 54-46.

The game was close throughout and was ultimately decided at the foul line, with the visitors converting on 12 of 18 attempts and the Indians shooting a dismal one of 11.

For the past five years, East Rockaway has dominated Shelter Island, often beating them by 20-30 points.  But the Indians have continued to improve and actually battled the Rocks from start to finish. That poor free throw shooting and several untimely turnovers proved to be the difference.

It became apparent that the Rocks were focusing much of their defensive effort on junior Matt BeltCappellino, so the coaches urged other players to step up and assume more offensive responsibility. It was junior Nathan Mundy who took that challenge and executed some very good shot fakes and drives to the basket during the second half. Nathan scored 10 of his game high 14 points during the 3rd and 4th quarters. Matt totaled 13 points and senior Hunter Starzee contributed 11 additional points.

Once again, Hunter was a battler under the backboards and had a team high 10 rebounds. Senior Myles Clarke also grabbed seven rebounds and junior Riley Willumsen had a team high six assists.

But it was East Rockaway’s senior guard David McClure who led all scorers with 25 points. He is the Rock’s leading scorer, shooting from the perimeter, as well as driving to the basket for some easy lay-ups. His three point shot late in the fourth quarter gave the Rock’s a six-point lead. He also converted five of six free throws in the closing 90 seconds to help secure the win for the visitors.

Although the players suffered another non-league loss, they were somewhat satisfied with their overall effort. The goal is always about improving, developing more consistency and, most of all, gaining confidence. If they continue to do those three things, then winning will take care of itself.

As most of you know, the Town of East Rockaway took a huge hit when Hurricane Sandy visited its shores. The storm surge caused major flooding in many parts of the town. East Rockaway’s varsity coach, Joe Lores said that 5 of his 11 varsity players had major damage to their homes and are now living with friends or families in the area. Their Middle/High School also sustained significant damage. Several feet of salt water spread throughout the first floor causing the gymnasium floor to be completely ruined. As a result, the boys JV and varsity teams conducted all of their practices at Malverne from 8:30-10:30 p.m. and the girls teams did the same at Lynbrook High School. The boys have since moved to a very small gymnasium in a private school in order to have practice earlier in the day.

Repairs will take almost one year to complete but the Rocks are a proud community. Once again, we see first hand how resilient New Yorkers can be and just how lucky we were on “Our Rock”, namely Shelter Island, to have escaped major damage from Sandy.

03/11/12 2:00pm

It should be the goal of every student athlete, as well as people in general, to want to improve and reach for that “next level” of success.

What that next level may be varies from person to person but, for the Shelter Island boys basketball program, it means becoming a .500 or better team. It also means making the playoffs for the first time in a long time.

Our middle school and high school basketball players need to reevaluate their aspirations and goals. As most of us realize, simply talking about it doesn’t work. We have got to want it and develop a plan that is designed to get us there. Keep in mind that most successful athletic teams have a plan in place and have enjoyed the taste of success. We only have to look at our school’s girls volleyball program and take notes on what has worked for them so well during the last three to four years.

A good starting point is to simply raise expectations. Individual players, as well as the team as a whole, must share the same vision if they are to be successful. This does not mean that the season is not successful unless a team wins it all. It is about developing realistic expectations and learning how to work together toward a common goal.

Some of the best types of motivational tools come from within. It’s about not stagnating or settling for mediocrity. It’s not about doing something because it is imposed; it’s about self-motivation and a desire to succeed as a team. This vision, these goals need to be shared with parents, coaches, teammates and others. Teaching and learning about goal setting, work ethic, sacrifice and working for the common good are all critical aspects of success. Student athletes need to be empowered and part of the process if they want to cultivate those self-motivational tools.

Most high school sports seasons are two to three months in duration. This represents approximately 25 percent of the calendar year. Basketball is a sport that requires individuals and teams to invest some time outside the season developing both individual and team skills. There is no high school sports program on Long Island that doesn’t recognize this essential fact.

In addition to practicing specific basketball skills, all of our players need to develop athletically. Simply put, they need to become quicker, stronger, more agile and they need to increase muscular endurance. These things can be accomplished in a fitness center, gymnasium, basement, backyard or field.

Athletes need to be taught proper weight training, with no chemicals added. They would benefit from keeping a log that reflects daily or weekly routines. Surely, they can play other sports, get jobs and have a life. We all can benefit from proper time management skills. The biggest thing for athletes to know is, “It’s not about the quantity of time that is put into something; it’s the quality of that time.”

Utilizing a heavy jump rope, running wind sprints, doing pushups, performing line drills and dozens of other activities can be used to become a better athlete. Try to vary routines, avoid working out during the hottest part of the day, drink plenty of water, work out with a partner, set personal goals, document successes in a log book and build in some fun.

Much of what was just mentioned will be taken into next year’s practice routines. If right-handed, a player should be sure to practice more time using the left hand. Work on specific basketball skills that will enhance the athlete as a player.

Lastly, attending basketball camp is great way for players or whole teams to learn new skills and to meet new people. There may even be some scholarship money available for some players to attend a camp. Several adults have approached the basketball coaches with this offer.

A separate meeting will be held sometime in April to discuss this opportunity for both middle and high school basketball players.

The basketball coaches are in the process of looking into summer and fall basketball leagues on eastern Long Island and entering a team if there is sufficient player interest. We know that many of our league opponents have taken advantage of this opportunity and they have realized the fruits of their hard work.

We can no longer hide behind our low enrollment on Shelter Island as an excuse. We need to be willing to work harder, elevate our skill level and challenge ourselves to become a more competitive team. We, as coaches, appreciate the support of parents, community coaches, graduates and the student athletes themselves.

Let’s take that next step and get to that next level together.

02/29/12 7:06pm

JIM COLLIGAN PHOTOS | The Shelter Island boys varsity basketball team: (front row, from left) Riley Willumsen, Hunter Starzee, Alex Graffagnino, Matthew BeltCappellino, Chandler Olinkiewicz and Wyatt Brigham; (back row, from left) Coach Mike Mundy, Myles Clark, Nathan Mundy, Jimmy Read, Matthew Dunning, Drew Garrison, Assistant Coach Jay Card, volunteer Coach Jim Colligan.

The Indians boys varsity basketball squad took another step forward this year in its quest to become more competitive in a league that has some very talented teams.

The team finished with a 4-13 overall record. Although the Indians struggled at times, they did beat Smithtown Christian twice as well as a tough Greenport team on our home court. In addition, the Indians battled Pierson twice, losing by only four points on the road (45-41) and another hard fought game at home.

The Indians struggled on offense at times, scoring 736 points during their 17-game schedule for an average of 43.3 points per game. They gave up 962 points (56.6 per game). The Indians held their opponents to just 40 points per game during their four victories. The team shot 32.4 percent from inside the arc, 28.6 percent from behind the arc and 60.3 percent from the foul line.

Tri-Captain Jimmy Read earned All-League honors.

The individual team scoring leaders included Jimmy Read, who shot just under 40 percent in the 2-point area; Alex Graffagnino, who shot just over 36 percent from the 3-point area; and Nathan Mundy, who connected on 42 of 59 free throws (71 percent).

The rebounding leaders included Jimmy Read (133), Nathan Mundy (74), Hunter Starzee (69), Matthew BeltCappellino (68) and Myles Clark (62). The three top players with steals included Jimmy Read (33), Matthew BeltCappellino (29) and Alex Graffagnino (23). These same three players also led the team in assists with Jimmy’s 45, Matthew’s 26 and Alex’s 22. In addition, Jimmy Read totaled 20 of the team’s 47 blocked shots and Nathan Mundy led the team by taking four “charge calls” while playing defense.

Once again, turnovers continued to plague the team throughout the season. The Indians committed 308 turnovers, which averages to about 18 per game. During their four wins, they committed just 12 turnovers per game. Cutting down on some of these self-inflicted wounds will be a major goal for next year’s team.

It is no wonder that senior Tri-Captain Jimmy Read earned All-League honors. He led the Indians in almost every offensive category, although sophomore Matthew BeltCapellino outscored Jimmy by 3 points (163 to 160) for the season. Sophomore Nathan Mundy finished third with 133 points.

Jimmy’s leadership, consistent effort and performance enabled him to become an All-League player. He was usually assigned to guard the opponents’ best offensive players and expended a great deal of energy on the defensive end of the court. Both Jimmy and Alex will graduate in June and will be truly missed next season.

Junior Hunter Starzee continued to grow as a player and had a solid year. His best performance was a near-perfect game against Smithtown Christian, scoring a season high 19 points. Hunter knows how to battle under the boards and his outside shooting has continued to improve.

Also returning next season are juniors Myles Clark, Wyatt Brigham and Chandler Olinkiewicz. Myles averaged just over 4 points and 4 rebounds per game. He is a player with excellent potential and should be a key player next season. Wyatt Brigham only played five games this season prior to being injured in the Stony Brook game. Although he missed much of the season, Wyatt came to practice every night and did what he could on the sidelines. He also scored 11 points on two occasions and shot a team-high 40 percent from the floor.

Chandler Olinkiewicz hit his stride toward the end of the season and had a huge game against Ross with 11 points and 6 rebounds. If Chandler gets quicker and increases his stamina, he too will be a force on next year’s team.

A special thanks to the three sophomores who played both at the JV and varsity levels: Riley Willumsen, Matthew Dunning and Drew Garrison. All three will be on the varsity team next season and could play key roles. The biggest concern will be the “point guard” position, as well as developing more depth on the team, which will enable the Indians to play a more aggressive style of defense and generate a better running game on offense.

02/26/12 6:00am

The boys JV basketball team traveled to Greenport on Wednesday, February 15 for its last game of the winter season.

During the pregame warm-ups, Coach Jay Card noticed that one of the Greenport players was somewhat physically limited but was an active player on the Porter’s JV squad. Coach Card took the opportunity to approach the Greenport coach to find out if he had any players on his team who had not scored a single point during the season.

The coach informed Mr. Card that he did have one player who hadn’t scored: the same young man whom Mr. Card had observed earlier on the court.

The Greenport coach told Mr. Card that this player who suffered from the effects of cerebral palsy. He had difficulty shooting the ball from anywhere beyond a 6- to 8-foot area from the basket.

Because it was the last game of the season, Coach Card wanted to provide the opportunity for the young man to score a basket.

He asked the two game officials for their assistance in enabling the Greenport player to achieve his goal. The officials had also observed the young man and agreed not to call any “walking” or “three-second” violations on him. They fully endorsed this effort and were more than happy to do their part.

Coach Card informed his players of his plan and asked them for their cooperation as well. Typical of Shelter Island student athletes, they seized the opportunity to execute their coach’s plan and demonstrate good sportsmanship. Both the JV and varsity teams earned the league’s sportsmanship award last season.

During the second half, near the end of both the third and fourth quarters, the young Greenport player experienced success on the court. After positioning himself near the basket, his teammates got him the basketball. After several unsuccessful tries, he took aim and made his first basket of the year.

His teammates and the crowd responded with a loud ovation. He beamed with joy and pride as he retreated down the court to the defensive end. Just to show everyone that this feat was not a fluke, he scored again at the end of the game.

As I sat on the bench and watched these special moments unfold, I couldn’t help but think just how special athletics can be for everyone. Let’s give credit to the Greenport school for providing this high school student with the opportunity to be on the JV basketball team. The coaches, their players, the officials and the fans from both schools witnessed the true definition of sportsmanship.

Coach Jay Card and his team can be very proud of their roles in making this young man’s dream come true.