The third induction ceremony for the Shelter Island School Athletic Hall of Fame took place Saturday, May 16 in the school auditorium, which was once the gymnasium in which many of the inductees earned their claims to fame.
Nine individuals and one team were honored. Their photos and bios can be viewed in the display case alongside the other 18 individuals, eight teams and two coaches who were inducted in June and November of 2013.
Hall of Famer Bob DeStefano honored 1937 graduate Sid “Iron Man” Beckwith. Mr. Beckwith was celebrated for his high school career in basketball, baseball and golf. But he didn’t leave his love of sports behind at graduation. At 96, he continues to be an avid golfer with a history of 17 holes-in-one and the remarkable feat of having shot his age or better more than 1,000 times.
Mr. DeStefano also introduced William “Dynamite” Dickerson, Class of 1941. Another well-rounded athlete, Mr. Dickerson played four years of varsity basketball and baseball and two years of soccer. He was a stolen base specialist in baseball and hit .375 in his senior year.
Described as the number-one man on the school’s golf team, he has continued that success throughout his life with seven holes-in-one and as a seven-time Gardiner’s Bay Country Club champion and seven-time senior club champion.
Class of 1959 Salutatorian Jean Dickerson was introduced by fellow classmate Bill Clark who noted that women weren’t allowed to participate in competitive sports until Title 9 was passed in 1972. But Ms. Dickerson didn’t let that stop her, playing intramural basketball and volleyball as well as participating in bowling, cheerleading and golf. She played with skill, power and tenacity, Mr. Clark said, and was picked for teams ahead of most of the boys in the class.
Robert Duffy, Class of 1963, played varsity basketball for four years and was selected as an All-League Player his senior year. He also played two years of varsity baseball and two years of varsity softball, where his walk-off home run took the team to the playoffs.They went on to become the B-3 League Champions. Mr. Duffy also ran one year on the cross country team.
He was nominated by his brother John, who recently passed away after an extended illness. Friend and teammate Cliff Clark introduced Mr. Duffy as a “team leader with contagious enthusiasm who always gave 100 percent.”
Mr. Duffy’s love of sports continued through college and beyond. At Southampton College, he participated in cross country, basketball and tennis. He was also the captain of the soccer and wrestling teams and was selected as Most Outstanding Athlete in 1968-1969.
Mr. DeStefano returned to the podium to honor 1980 graduate, Jay Card Jr.
Mr. Card, All-League in basketball, baseball and soccer, was voted Outstanding Male Athlete in his junior and senior years.
Mr. DeStefano spoke of the love and passion for sports that has been passed down in the Card family, from Shelter Island School principal and coach, Julius Card, to Jay Card Sr., to Jay Card, Jr., and now on to his son Jay Card III.
“I can think of no greater legacy to leave behind,” said Mr. DeStefano. “Jay took up golf in his senior year, and he is the first and only ‘natural’ player I’ve ever met.”
Mr. Card and his son, Jake, are currently the best father/son team on all of Long Island.
Mr. Card took his turn at the podium, bringing tears to many in the audience, as he paid tribute to the coaches and mentors who had a hand in making him the athlete and person he is today.
Leslie Czeladko, a 1983 graduate, wearing his royal blue high school soccer jersey, was introduced by former math and science teacher Ray Williamson. Mr. Czeladko, chosen All-County and All-New York in soccer in 1982, was also a member of the soccer team when they competed in the New York State Class D Finals.
Mr. Williamson described Mr. Czeladko as not only a gentleman but also a “gentle” man. “He is very strong, a rock, made of steel, with strength of character to match … a class act,” Mr. Williamson added.
Cliff Clark took the podium again to honor Toby Green, a five-year varsity cross country runner, who was named All-League in 1983, 1984 and 1985, as well as an All-County runner in 1984 and 1985. He also ran varsity track.
“Toby was a pioneer for distance runners among Island boys and a dominant force in Suffolk County running,” Mr. Clark said.
Mr. Green has set six Shelter Island High School running records, three of which still stand. He was the first Island runner to break 17 minutes on the notoriously difficult Sunken Meadow 5K course.
Currently head coach of both the boys and girls cross country teams, Mr. Green truly walks the walk, or rather, runs the run. As Mr. Green slowly climbed the stairs to the stage, Mr. Clark informed the audience that Mr. Green had just returned home from running a half-marathon in New York City earlier that day.
He accepted his award, thanked his parents and coaches and said, “Shelter Island is a little school, but it doesn’t mean that we have to be little.”
Mr. Clark then called up the 1985 cross country team for induction. It was a combined Southold/Greenport/Shelter Island team, with five of the nine members from the Island. However, only two were available that evening, so Toby Green and Eddie Kotula accepted the award on the team’s behalf.
With a 38-8 season record in 1985, the team dethroned Stony Brook and took the county championship. Kevin Dickens and Toby Green finished first and second and Eddie Kotula came in fifth with a personal-best race time.
Ken Lewis, sadly admitting to having to wear “readers” for the first time in public, called up his life-long friend Matthew Mobius, Class of 1989. Mr. Lewis spoke of their first meeting at two years old, which turned into a wrestling match, and how they have been playing with and competing against each other ever since.
Mr. Mobius was an accomplished athlete, playing four years of varsity baseball and basketball, three years of varsity soccer and one year of varsity golf. In 1988 and 1989 he was captain of the basketball team, was voted All-League and All-Conference and was chosen for the Suffolk County All-Star Team. He was the varsity baseball captain and voted All-Conference in 1988 and 1989, as well; he was chosen as All-League for soccer in 1988.
According to Mr. Lewis, “If I were putting together a team, Matt would be my first pick. He is one of the best athletes that I have ever competed with and a true gentleman on and off the court. “
Mr. Mobius thanked his parents for the values they instilled in him, such as playing hard, playing fair and attention to academics. Then he directed the same advice to his three young boys sitting in the front row. He thanked Chris Lewis and her late husband, Ken Sr., for treating him like a son, and young Ken for “making me a better athlete.”
The last inductee of the evening was the 1995 Class Valedictorian, Shelli Clark. Unfortunately, her Pierson basketball coach, Gary Hull, was unable to attend the event, but her very proud father and track and cross country coach Cliff Clark was delighted to stand in for Coach Hull.
Ms. Clark played varsity volleyball for two years. She was named All-League in cross country in three straight years beginning in 1992 and was an All-New York State qualifier in 1993 and 1994. And she was the number three runner on the undefeated Suffolk County Class C Championship team.
She ran the third fastest time in the 1,500 meter track and field event. On the varsity basketball team, she was twice named All-League, was a starter on the League VIII Championship team and played in the New York State Tournament.
Coach Hull sent a note on Ms. Clark’s behalf saying, “She was a consummate team player, she made others better and gave willingly to that end.” He also thanked Shelter Island for sharing her with him and was grateful for the time that she took out of her Christmas college break to come back and scrimmage with his young team.
Coach Clark told of the time that she ran the last mile of the County Championships with a pulled groin muscle, cinching the win for the team. Ms. Clark went on to play two years of NCAA Division II basketball at Harding University, making it to the tournament level both years, before retiring to concentrate on her academics and law degree. She currently works for the FBI in Washington D.C.
Ms. Clark thanked her parents and coaches and spoke of how lucky she was to have grown up in a place where she was able to “try everything I wanted to try and never had to worry about being cut from a team.”
She then spoke directly to fellow inductee, Jean Dickerson, saying, “Thank you and the women like you of your generation for paving the way for Title 9 and women’s sports for us.”
It was a night of humility, humor, good memories and heartfelt gratitude. There were standing ovations for everyone, along with tears. Many names of mentors and coaches came up repeatedly; such as Julius Card, Ken Lewis Sr., George Lewis, Garth Griffin, Chris Tracey, Cliff Clark, Mike Norklund and Henry Uihlein.