Brian Gaffney and Julie Falotico became the latest Mineola High School seniors to have their names added to the list of recipients of the Reggie Carter Award Friday night in between basketball games for the school’s annual all-day sports memorial spectacle honoring the late assistant principal.
Each year the school recognizes a member of the girls and boys teams to receive the award. Also, in 2000, it was decided by players that one captain of the boys’ team and one captain of the girls’ team would wear Carter’s number 35 to honor his memory.
Falotico, the Class of 2013 salutatorian with a 98.7 GPA, is a four-year, three-sport varsity player.
“Her contribution to our athletic community has been monumental,” girls head coach Denise Zunno said. “I can attest to her intense style of play, her dedication to her team her strong leadership skills and athleticism. And just like Reggie, she is a kind, gentle soul, volunteering her time to help those in need.”
Brian Gaffney, another four-year varsity starter, was described as a “silent floor leader” who “has motivated our team to excel each day,” said boys head coach Jim Hegmann, adding that Gaffney’s “leadership, positive attitude and willingness to compete” allowed him to be selected to the Nassau All-Conference team as a sophomore and junior. He will be attending St. John’s University to play lacrosse in fall 2013.
“If he has the same success at St. John’s as he has had at Mineola, we’ve had the opportunity to share the St. John’s spotlight with… Reggie Carter,” Hegmann said.
“It’s such a big award, it means a lot to get it,” Gaffney said. “I just want to thank coach for giving it to me and my team for playing great.”
Carter served as assistant principal at Mineola High School beginning in 1996 until his death from a heart attack in 1999. He ranks among the top all-time scorers at the University of St. John’s and was a former New York Knick, having his professional career ended due to a knee injury.
Carter then went back to graduate school at St. John’s taking administration courses.
“I was across the hall taking counseling courses,” said guidance counselor Frank Azzara, who attended St. John’s University with Carter in the 1970’s.
Carter then went on to work in Huntington while Azara went to Elmhurst, Queens. When Carter was at Mineola High School, Azzara was at the middle school
“The characteristics that Reggie had was an amazing… he was about service, he was about humility, he was not puffed up about himself, he was nobody’s fool. He had character, he had high moral standards… and he was greatly serious,” Azzara said. “We all felt that loss. We went to Riverside Baptist Church where he was eulogized. I’ll never forget being there. You had Lou Carnesecca from St. John’s, Mike Jarvis, the coach there, you had pro basketball players, you had the staff of Mineola there.”
Azzara also shared a story involving Tony Price, who played with Carter in their youth and against him in the pros:
“He was there and he told a story that I will never forget. He shared with us that Reggie had a son, 12 years old, and Tony Price had a son and down the block from where we were, from Riverside Baptist Church, was the schoolyard tat they learned their trade, they learned their skills on and they wanted their sons to learn to play basketball in that same schoolyard. So they had their sons play their friends, they all went down to the school yard and there were these eight adults playing basketball. Reggie didn’t show off, Reggie wasn’t puffed up or full of himself. But that day, he wanted the court for the kids and the adults said ‘there’s no way, we’re playing, we have a game going on, there’s no way unless you two guys play us.’ Reggie looked at Tony, Tony looked at Reggie. They played eight adults and won the court for the kids. That’s what he was about.”
All ticket sales as well as funds in a donation jar at the door will go toward the Reggie Carter scholarship fund which will be awarded to two seniors at the end of the year, though not necessarily the ones from the basketball teams.