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North Castle Daily News

BHHS 2015 HOF Inductees
BHHS HOF: Honors the Past, Inspires the Future

August 13, 2015
The accomplishments of what Byram Hills athletes brought to the high school over its 50 years of athletic history was celebrated this past spring. One hundred and fifty people attended the first induction class of the Byram Hills Sports Hall of Fame (HOF). The banquet dinner was held on May 28 at the Brynwood Golf & Country Club.

The event coincided with the end of the 35-year career of Byram Hills Athletic Director Mike Gulino, who arrived at Byram Hills in September 1981 as a middle school health teacher. He also coached football and track before he became Athletic Director. In a recent email to the HOF Committee he said, “Thanks for helping me make one of my hopes and dreams come true while I was at Byram Hills.” They started kicking around the Hall of Fame idea years ago as a great way to honor athletes of the past. Most importantly, Gulino’s success was the athletic program he built, which is highly regarded for the integrity and character of its athletes, coaches and facility. Gulino leaves behind a strong athletic program at Byram Hills.

Gulino said he was excited to see the Sports Hall of Fame come to fruition before he retired. “A lot of these kids I was able to see in high school. He also knew a lot of the names from the past that he refers to as the “Athletic Royalty of Byram Hills.” The Byram Hills athlete and team history was researched dating back to 1969. Gulino said he would like to see coaches and other participants who supported the teams included in future HOF classes, a tradition that will be carried on for many years. Gulino recommended Matt Allen hold the position of the Hall of Fame Committee Chairman.

Matt Allen has been at Byram Hills for 16 years. He coached varsity skiing, modified lacrosse, freshman basketball, JV boys soccer, girls soccer, and JV baseball. He is currently the Byram Hills soccer coach as well as history teacher. He admitted he knows absolutely nothing about any of those sports with the exception of soccer. But coaches provide students with insight, he said. He is thrilled to have the players of the 2007 State Championship Byram Hills Soccer team   inducted as the first HOF team. He also noted that it was impressive to have players from the 2015 team in attendance to celebrate the legacy of the 2007 team.  

“Not content with being adequate, all the Hall of Fame members here tonight have emerged as amazing parents, incredible scholars, well-respected business men and women in their communities. They have each become Hall of Famers in the game of life,” added Allen.

Nearly every sport was represented in the first class of Hall of Famers. There are five women, four men and a team that represented the best Bobcat athletes. “We hope this is an inspiration for all the present and future kids who will wear the Bobcat uniform,” said Gulino.

The event was a great tribute to the Byram Hills Athletic Department. Barbara Leibowitz-Bettigole, Class of 1974, was the pioneer of female athletics as a field hockey, basketball and track star. She said, “I was always in the right place at the right time when sports came around. I rode this wave of women feeling empowered by sports. We developed a real love of sports which is often hard when your eye is on the prize. We did it because we loved it, and loved working together.” Furthermore, she said, “Digging into the history revealed how much I and all the inductees loved and enjoyed it.”

The members of the Boys 2007 New York State Champion Soccer Team were honored with custom medallions engraved with their name and the accomplishment of the team championship. The entire team was inducted into the HOF with their  families, friends and fans at their side. “One of the best times in all of our lives,” said Stephen Paresi. “It’s a fantastic feeling to be re-living those moments. Feels like we are back up on the parade float being saluted by our community once again. Raising the awarded plaque on the podium and parading in front of a thousand people in Armonk were the highlights of the season.” Eight years ago, the team received a hero's welcome from the North Castle community as the Armonk Fire Department escorted the bus from I-684 back to the high school.

Paresi remembered that he was interviewed after the final championship game which was part of the end-of-year video “The Road to Glory.” “I can barely make out the words because there were tears draining down my face,” he said. And watching it again brings tears to his eyes. “The entire team hasn’t been together since those glorious days of an incredible feeling of complete unity and the great times we had during that season.”  

Class of 1997, Pamela Crikelair Garrity played field hockey, lacrosse, and skiing. She said the entire HOF experience has been a huge trip down memory lane in a positive way because she had forgotten about that whole part of her life. The HOF honor was her most recent recognition of a long athletic career. After she left Dartmouth, she became a member of the LPGA tour. While in high school, Garrity was only two of the Bobcat athletes from 1969 to 2000 who was awarded All County six times. She also was garnished with a four-time All State in skiing.

From the Class of 1981, Nancy Fay-Peter remembered track & field coach Mr. Moy.  “We all feared and loved him at the same time. He was a wonderful friend and coach. He tried to play the hard guy, but he was a softie with a heart of gold.” At Byram, Fay-Peter is known as the best female track & field athlete as she set multiple meet records in the high jump. She went to UVM for track and still runs with her daughter. Today, Nancy’s favorite running distance is the 10K.

Class of 1982, Marty Durkin felt honored as the torch was being passed down. Football, basketball, and lacrosse were his sports. He now coaches basketball and baseball in the area. “There’s a lot of great athletes from Byram Hills,” he said. “It’s special that they figured out that I was one of them.” Durkin was book-ended by some great Byram Hills football players. The “1977 Gold Team” with Kevin O’Callahan was four years ahead of Durkin. “I wanted to be Kevin O’Callaghan and it’s cool that I’m going into the Hall of Fame with him. It’s also great to see Matt Mueller go in as well, because I was a mentor for him.”

Rich Caputo coached and taught physical education to many of the Hall of Famers. He said, “The best thing is that these kids are still together. They are good friends and support each other. It’s amazing that they are all here in one spot.”

These athletes set the bar high for all future Bobcat athletes. From the class of 1978, Kevin O’Callaghan had a presence about him like he was still that high school athletic star. “What’s so exciting about tonight is that I have a lot of my family here.” And another 35 former players were there to support him as he got the word out. He was an athlete on the football, basketball, baseball, and boxing teams. “The reason I’m here is clearly because of the teams I played on,” he said. “There are some guys that were here who aren’t in the HOF. I played with them and they were actually much better than I was. I just happen to play on some great teams and got some of the accolades.”

Class of 1995 swimming and diving champion Michelle Suozzi Verzello was a solo diver who made her own team. She said this brings back many memories. “It’s nice to see old teachers, and all the athletes who are a great motivation for every student that follows them.” To all Bobcat athletes, she said, “Work hard, because it takes hard work and commitment. Don’t give up and say no to drugs.”

Class of 1989, football and lacrosse star Matthew Muller said how nice it was to see so many of the people he knew. Not only did he grow up with them and compete with them, after they graduated, they helped one another to further their careers. “The people that did this before me inspired me to go on and do what I did. The HOF is great for the community. There’s a great camaraderie now between the community and the school system to instill the past traditions of people’s successes and what they are trying to achieve today. Looking back,” he said, “we would see the other teams’ successes; what other teams did or tried to do, and then we would try to accomplish what they did.” His inspiration was Greg Rogers who he is sure will be in the future HOF.

Class of 1992, Abigail Gutstein was a three-sport athlete who played field hockey, basketball and lacrosse. In every sport she played she received All County Honors. She received an Honorable All American in lacrosse where she captured 242 career goals, scoring 102 goals in her senior year. She scored 1,133 points and averaged 19 rebounds per game in her high school basketball career. She graduated as the leading scorer in those two sports for Byram Hills. At Princeton she continued to play field hockey and lacrosse. Princeton won the 1994 NCAA Division 1 Lacrosse Championship. This was Princeton’s first national championship and Gutstein was among the Champion tournament’s outstanding players.

The youngest individual inductee to the HOF was from the class of 2002, hurdler and soccer player Greg Simonds. He said this event brought up a lot of interesting feelings about where he is now, versus where he was then. “Certainly when I was at school, the names of the people coming before me were in my ear. But it wasn’t until this whole thing came together did I consider myself in the same conversation as them. It’s been a wonderful experience. I’m excited about being in the inaugural class.” He said he noticed that more Byram Hills student athletes have continued their athletics to the next level at both big name schools and prestigious academic schools.

Ira Schulman, former president of Byram Hills Board of Education, is an avid Bobcat sports fan.  For more than 16 years has served on the school board, seven years as president. He said Gulino always understood the distinction of student athletes, not athlete students. “Athletics is an important part of the school experience.” The district has given the athletes first-class athletic facilities, coaching and physical therapy staff.

These Hall of Famers are bound to affect the successes of today’s Bobcat teams. The awards will remain in the high school atrium as a never-ending legacy and as a symbol for future athletes to aspire to.

Thank you to Scott Ogren of Ogren Physical Therapy. With his sponsorship, All About Armonk’s HOF athletic profiles were used as references for Matt Allen who introduced the first BHHS Sports HOF class of inductees.

As a former U.S. Freestyle Ski Team member, Ogren’s competitive career ended after tearing his ACL. He knows how important maintaining optimal physical fitness and conditioning is for minimizing the risk of injury. Being a licensed physical therapist and certified strength and conditioning specialist for 19+ years, Ogren has worked with all types of athletes. He has developed individualized strength and conditioning programs for all his clients. His approach incorporates functional exercises to mimic how we move during our daily activities as well as during sports. He stresses the importance of building a strong core and postural muscles to protect the spine and enhance sports performance. We can all benefit from performing consistent physical activity including cardiovascular activities as well as strength training to promote a better quality of life. As we age, it becomes paramount to maintain functional strength and mobility, especially if an injury has limited a person’s ability to stay active.

BHHS Sports Hall of Fame: Kevin O’Callaghan, Basketball & Football

May 19, 2015
Nine individual athletes and one team will be inducted into the first Byram Hills High School Sports Hall of Fame (HOF) on May 28 at 5:30 p.m. at Brynwood Golf and Country Club, 568 Bedford Road, Armonk.

Last, but not least, Kevin O’Callaghan, 1978 graduate, was a quarterback on one of the great Bobcat football teams and point guard on one of the great BHHS basketball teams.

Back in the 1970s, the three big sports were traditional football, basketball, and baseball. Kevin O’Callaghan was the star quarterback on a Sectional Championship football team. He was captain of the football team as well as captain of the basketball team. He was the star point guard on the Sectional Championship Bobcat basketball team, and the sterling second baseman on the baseball team.

The Mary Hopkin’s song goes, “Those were the days, my friend…” and one might add those were the glory days of Kevin O’Callaghan and his several similarly talented teammates.

The 1977 football team went 7-1-1 and received votes in the NYS polls, but without the existing regional and state level competitions, the football team could not go beyond their Sectional trophy. The team was known as a team of many stars, not just one. The 1977-78 season of the 20-6 Bobcat basketball team did have a chance to go all the way to the States, but lost by a point to the eventual winner. They were also a team of highly skilled players. There was not one star, but on championship football teams and on winning basketball teams, one cannot ignore the remarkable quarterback and the wonderful point guard, respectively.

One of O’Callaghan’s teammates, Chris Knudsen, noted that as freshmen, there were many talented athletes in the class, which boded well for the future. O’Callaghan was elevated from the frosh team to junior varsity for some weeks and then came back down. After that he was noticeably better and was recognized as one of the best on the football team.

In O’Callaghan’s junior year, he started every game at defensive back and started three games at quarterback on a football team that had been rebuilding for a few years. This made his senior season surge and the ’77 Bobcat team even more impressive. In basketball, the team was already on the upswing as they had their first-ever .500-plus season in 1975-1976. Then, in his junior year, the team went 18-2, led by All-County Bobcat Ron Knox and a younger point guard, Kevin O’Callaghan. They won the League and advanced to the Semifinals at the Westchester County Center. Later that year, in the spring, O’Callaghan took up boxing, which significantly aided in his footwork and hand speed for other sports.

His senior year began with much success for both him and the football team. The team won most of its games and claimed the Sectionals Class A-2 Bowl. O’Callaghan started every game at defensive back or quarterback, a physical challenge and a tribute to his value to the team. He was Most Valuable Back in the Bowl game with 15-24 passing for 186 yards and two touchdowns, as well as rushing for 86 yards, plus an interception while on defense. All-League honors were bolstered by the League MVP award and All-County recognition.

Next up, the basketball season was highly successful, too. The team won its way through the Sectionals and went to the States. O’Callaghan was team MVP, All-League, Con Ed Award winner, All-County, Patent Trader All Stars’ 1st team and All-Daily News.

A sports cliche states that the top positions in football and basketball often get too much credit and too much blame. Kevin O’Callaghan’s BHHS fellow teammates declare that he was their star, among the other stars; he was one of the leaders on the field of many skilled athletes and therefore, deserves the credit.

Please note that RSVPs to the HOF induction ceremony and dinner, which will honor the first class of Byram Hills athletes, will be taken until May 21. Any questions, call Byram Hills Athletic Director Mike Gulino at (914) 273-9200 x 4981.

Once again, many thanks to Scott Ogren of Ogren Physical Therapy who sponsored the Byram Hills High School HOF profiles on allaboutarmonk.com. These stories of athletic accomplishments, many yet to be told, have initiated past memories and sparked old friendships and admirations.

Congratulations to all the inductees.

Staff Writer

BHHS Sports Hall of Fame: Nancy Fay-Peter, Track & Field

May 15, 2015
Nancy Fay-Peter, 1981 graduate, was a daunting track & field performer who was a constant high jump star at the States.

Ms. Fay-Peter is regarded by the present track Coach Greg Govan as the best-ever BHHS female track & field athlete. Her awards affirm his exuberance, as she had four straight stellar seasons when she kept setting records, many of which still stand decades later near the top of Westchester, Sectional, and Loucks Games. Nancy Fay’s accomplishments have largely stood the test of time, and the many excellent competitors since her time.

As a junior in her spring season at the Section 1 Open Meet, Fay-Peter cleared 5’ 06” in the high jump to win and to set a new meet record. In that outdoor season she made All-County, All-Sectional, and All State, which matched her winter season achievements of All-County, All-Section, and All-State.

When her senior year rolled around, one might have speculated she could be hard-pressed to match her remarkable junior feats. Yet, in 1981, she equaled her prior 5’ 06” high jump, but this time indoors at the Section 1 Open meet to set that record. At the winter Section 1 and Westchester County Track & Field meet she went higher, clearing 5’ 07”. Thirty-four seasons later, only four girls have surpassed Fay’s outstanding jump. Subsequently at the widely regarded Loucks Games, a regional meet of much prestige, she high jumped 5’ 08” to set a new Westchester, Section 1, and Loucks Games record. Since that time over 30 years ago, only two girls from Westchester have jumped higher than Fay-Peter, while at the Loucks Games only four have cleared barely higher heights, with two doing so by 1/4 inch, one by 1/2 inch, and one by 1 inch.

For the winter track & field session when she was a senior, she was All-County, All-Sectional, and All-State. At the States she finished first, and being the State ChampionBobcat  implies she would be All-Regional. In the spring season, her consistent wins and records made her All-County and All-Sectional. She went to the States but unfortunately, her meet results are not known, but her success may likely have been an All-State for an impressive fourth time.

She won the Con Ed Award in her senior year. Even though she was famous for her high jumping, she also took first in the 100m hurdles at the Class B Championships in the spring of her senior year. In addition, she played soccer in the autumn of her frosh, soph, and junior years, along with basketball in her frosh and soph years.

When asked to place Nancy Fay-Peter in the big picture of decades of Bobcat track & field, Coach Govan emphatically stated, “Nancy Fay was way more superior than any other girl. She is the equal to Greg Simonds, who is definitely the best of the boys by a good margin.”

Thank you, Ogren Physical Therapy for sponsoring the BHHS Sports Hall of Fame profiles.

Staff Writer

BHHS Sports Hall of Fame: Marty Durkin, Basketball, Football & Lacrosse

May 12, 2015
Marty Durkin, 1982 graduate, is a three-sport standout and team leader.

Among other career milestones, Durkin was the first Bobcat basketball player to surmount 1,000 career points, with the added challenge of doing so without the benefit of the three-point shot that was not yet a rule. Additionally, he was All-State once and All-County twice across his three favorite sports--basketball, football and lacrosse.

As a sophomore, Durkin already was showing athletic promise as a quarterback on the varsity football team and a starter for the varsity basketball team. He continued to play quarterback for three consecutive seasons.  

However, as a junior, his athletic exploits began to shine and attract wider attention. On the football team, which was still rebuilding from the marvelous 1977 season as Sectional Champions with a 7-1-1 record, Durkin was able to captain the team to a winning record from his QB position along with two All-County players, Bobby Minicus and Michael Doetsch. In basketball, the team was still a Westchester County powerhouse following the 1978 BHHS States semi-finalist record of 20-6. Durkin garnered All-County Honorable Mention that season on a 16-6 team that went to the 2nd round of the Sectionals.

Durkin hit his powerful stride as a senior. On a football team that had a subpar year, he nevertheless was awarded All-County as the Bobcats’ senior QB and captain.

Next up was his top sport, basketball, and Durkin did not disappoint. Although the team fell back in 1982 to a roughly .500 record, Durkin finished a marvelous BHHS career with a record 1,069 points and a record 429 assists. He proved he was a dangerous scorer and a savvy playmaker, simultaneously. He earned All-County and the senior captain was honored with All-State / Small Schools. In the next 20 years, only two other Bobcat basketball players  surpassed 1,000 career points, and both had the advantage of the three-point shot.

In the final sport of his senior year, Durkin played on the imposing 21-0 lacrosse team, and the Byram Hills team competed in the second of two Westchester County Conferences. On that undefeated team, he fetched another All-County honor for himself, and won the Sectionals Championship along with other star teammates, Nick Gagliardi and Paul Varsames. He was a power player in lacrosse, as he was in basketball, and notched 44 goals and tallied 44 assists in his capstone season.

Thank you, Ogren Physical Therapy for sponsoring the BHHS Sports Hall of Fame profiles.

Staff Writer

BHHS Sports Hall of Fame: Matt Muller, Football and Lacrosse

Updated May 11, 2015
Matt Muller, Byram Hills 1989 graduate, was a dominant running back who starred on top football teams.

Matt Muller is likely the all-time greatest BHHS running back given his many records and lofty awards, including the 1988 Heisman and NYSSWA Player of the Year for a season when he ran for nearly 2,000 yards in only 10 games.

The quote that crystallizes Muller’s sheer domination as a 6’ 1”, 205-pound runner in an era when that was still a big, bruising back, would be Athletic Director Mike Gulino’s nearly stunned, “If his offensive line did not block for him, he would run for 10 yards. If his line blocked for him, he ran for a touchdown.” Muller may still hold the most rushing yards in a game at 223 yards. His Heisman season’s 1,972 yards was most in a season, and his record of over 3,000 yards in his career as a Bobcat still holds fast.

As a sophomore, Muller was the top scoreer for the Lacrosse team that Spring, which won the Sectionals. He was awarded All-County. The team he led went all the way to the State Semi-finals.

As a junior, Muller ran for over 1,000 yards and starred on a sterling 9-1 squad in 1987. That team, fueled by Muller’s running and scoring, would eventually be ranked by NYSSWA at #14 in NYS small schools. This was the highest ranking matched by any Bobcat football team since 1983. The 1983 team, which went 9-1, was #1 in Westchester and #14 in NYS small schools, and coincidentally was led by another star Bobcat runner, Greg Rogers, who was a two-time All-County runner. Muller’s 1987 team went to the Sectionals; the results are not known, but they may been one of the four teams from 1986-1989 that won three Bowl Championships.

In his senior year, Muller surged to a whole new level of stardom and success. The 1988 team went 10-0. That was BHHS’s first undefeated football team and it achieved amazing offensive and defensive benchmarks. For instance, through the first six games, the defense had only allowed a single touchdown and no teams had gained 100 yards in a game. On the offensive side, it was racking up TD’s and yards, on the ground and in the air.

Muller’s 1,972 rushing yards were the most of any runner, large or small school. It was the third highest ever leading rushing yardage in New York State up to that time. [More games are played in a season in recent past, so comparison is unjust to former player’s records.] He also won the Con Ed Award.

Muller’s team would ascend to the highest ever ranking, at #2, in NYS Class C-D by the NYSSWA, which also honored Muller with Player of the Year. He won the Heisman in Westchester County as the top football player, defense and offense. When some of the current BHHS coaches in other sports ponder his running hard through player after player, they all agreed, “It was like watching a man play against boys. It was remarkable to watch.” No Bobcat football team has come close to that rating triumph since. No Bobcat football runner has come close to Matt Muller’s singular, spectacular senior season.

Thank you, Ogren Physical Therapy for sponsoring the BHHS Sports Hall of Fame profiles.

Staff Writer


BHHS Sport Hall of Fame: Abigail Gutstein, Lacrosse, Basketball & Field Hockey

May 6, 2015
Abigail Gutstein, 1992 graduate, was an amazing lacrosse, superb basketball, and formidable field hockey athlete. She has the atypical honor shared by very few Bobcat athletes: She was a six-time All-County athlete as well as an All-American. Thus, she achieved the All-County pedigree in three different sports, as well as multiple All-County in two sports. Some great Bobcat athletes specialized in a single sport, but Ms. Gutstein was perhaps the best all-around female BHHS athlete, given her top honor and her varied sports awards.

As a sophomore, she garnered her first All-County recognition in lacrosse, a sport that had already experienced a BHHS star from the same family, Sarah Jane Gutstein, who finished her lacrosse career with 155 goals--82 in her final and fourth varsity season. Her twin brother, Daniel, nicknamed Pancho, starred as a lacrosse goalie for BHHS and also was All-County. Indeed, one might claim that the Gutsteins are the BHHS First Family of Lacrosse

As a junior, Abigail got busy. In field hockey, she garnered her first All-County and the team went from a discouraging 2-12-2 record the prior season to a highly encouraging 12-5-2. They achieved the 2nd round of Sectionals for only the second time in BHHS field hockey history. In girls basketball, Gutstein was All-County. The team surged to 17-6 and was a Sectional Finalist. Come that spring, Gutstein had 78 goals, missing her sister’s record of 82 goals in one season. Abigail’s career goals were already at 140, thus threatening her sister’s career mark when she would be a senior. She was All-County for the 2nd time in lacrosse.

As a senior, the news was mixed for Gutstein. In field hockey she injured herself and the team suffered from her absence as well as from another top player’s injury, too.

In basketball, the team record slid and the post-season ended earlier than the prior year. Nevertheless, she finished with a career 1,113 points scored. In the regular season she accounted for 56% of the team scoring at a 24.3 points-per-game (PPG) pace, along with a shocking 19 rebounds-per-game (RPG), average of 6 assists-per-game (APG), and 6 steals averaged-per-game (SPG). She was the first Bobcat girls basketball player to accomplish over 1,000 career points, and second, regardless of gender, in Bobcat hoops.

In addition, senior Gutstein finished off her wondrous BHHS athletic career with a lacrosse season for the ages. 102 goals for the season, setting a new BHHS (and family) record, which included a single game with 12 goals. Her career goal tally was 242, smashing that record as well. Gutstein topped off her Bobcat lacrosse stardom with an Honorable Mention All-American award.

Through 2000, there were only two Bobcat athletes to have been awarded All-County six times, and Abigail Gutstein was one of the two females to pull off such a stunning feat. When she graduated, her dominance across three sports included the surprising double of being the top career scorer for BHHS girls in not one, but two sports--basketball and lacrosse.

A modern day Babe Didrikson Zaharias, the famed all-around woman athlete in the 1930s through 1950s in basketball, track and field (with 2 gold and 1 silver medal in the Olympics) and golf (48 LPGA wins), as well as diving and bowling. In the movies, Babe was portrayed by Katharine Hepburn; at BHHS she was resurrected as Abigail Gutstein, the Bobcat athlete extraordinaire in multiple sports.

Thank you, Ogren Physical Therapy for sponsoring the BHHS Sports Hall of Fame profiles.

Staff Writer

Michelle Suozzi
Michelle Suozzi
BHHS Sports Hall of Fame: Michelle Suozzi Verzello, Diving  

April 30, 2015
Michelle Suozzi Verzello, 1995 graduate, was a marvelous diver at all levels.

Suozzi Verzello has the distinction of being a rare Bobcat All-American, as well as a multi-year All-State honoree: She is one of only two BHHS athletes who was awarded All-American twice. She also finished first at the States both times, in addition to setting, and then re-setting, the NYS diving record with both of her 1st-place finishes.

Suozzi Verzello was another rarity in that she was a 4x County Champion diver from her freshman through her senior years. She was Sectional Champ during her sophomore, junior, and senior seasons, as well as All-State as junior and senior. Additionally, she was the East Coast Champion in her senior year. Not surprisingly, she received a D-I scholarship to one of the toughest collegiate athletic Conferences, the SEC, and attended the University of South Carolina where she dove competitively at the next level. Suozzi is also one of the BHHS athletes to win the Con Ed Award.

The tremendous BHHS divers and swimmers faced daunting obstacles in addition to competing against top flight-talent. Since BHHS does not have a pool, there is no formal, full-fledged BHHS swim and dive team with just Bobcats. In Suozzi’s case, she competed with nearby Horace Greeley’s team. For practice, her parents were tasked with driving her back and forth to Columbia University in NYC, which was difficult for both athlete and family, every weekday and on weekends.

When asked about the challenge of competing with another school’s team, she replied, “I had no teammates and knew nobody. Plus, because I won every meet they weren’t exactly friendly. But I kept my focus and had the support of my chaperone, Wayne Stout (BHHS teacher) and AD at the time, Coach Holzer.”

In the first of her two All-American seasons, Suozzi Verzello went to the States as a junior and not as the favorite. To complicate things even more, the night before the big meet, her back gave out and she sustained a herniated disc. Although she was the most nervous ever at a competition, she went forward with renewed determination. She finished first, beating the favorite, and also set the new State diving record. She recalls it as her proudest moment: She beat the favorite, set a record, while barely being able to walk due to her injury. And she subsequently topped it off with her first All-American honor.

In her senior season, it was almost instant replay, as she won both the All-State and All-American awards. She won at the States that year at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and topped her own record from the prior year. She won the East Coast diving championship and planned for continued diving success in college. Her father would often repeat the Vince Lombardi quote: “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.”
However, Suozzi Verzello concedes it was tough competing without a home team, but when one considers her many stunning accomplishments as essentially a solo athlete, at a time when most high schoolers are surrounded by their classmates and teammates — Michelle Suozzi Verzello still shone the brightest, time and time again, standing at the top of the medals podium, proudly and joyously.

Thank you to Ogren Physical Therapy who sponsors the Byram Hills High School Sports Hall of Fame profiles.

Staff Writer


Byram Hills Girls Basketball Team
BHHS SPORTS HALL OF FAME: Barbara Liebowitz-Bettigole, Basketball, Track and Field and Field Hockey

April 27, 2015
Barbara Liebowitz-Bettigole, 1978 graduate, was a remarkable three-sport star in basketball, track and field and field hockey. She was a capable athlete who could play almost any sport at a high level, whether she had played for years or had just picked it up. Around the hallways and classrooms of Byram Hills High School, she was a highly regarded friend, considerate and gracious, and fondly known as “Liebo.”

The most challenging situation for the BHHS HOF Committee was comparing different decades, as the more recent decades in sports had post-season competition that went all the way to States or beyond. In more recent years, personal accomplishments and honors were as lofty as All-State and All-American levels. But for many of the proposed HOF candidates from the 1970s, the All-State and All-American levels were frequently not available to them, and even less so to young women in the pre-Title IX years.

When Byram Hills High School first competed athletically in the late 1960s and early 1970s, teams were inevitably at a disadvantage to the other established high schools in Westchester County who had veteran teams and longtime coaches. Back then, athletic games were important but not critical; the emphasis on scholar-athletes was on the scholar, not the athlete.

In Liebo’s early years, the BHHS girls basketball team began its career as a good team going 7-2 and 6-2 during her first two seasons. Subsequently, the Class of ’74 and its younger teammates took over. In her junior year, Liebo and the team ascended to 10-5 and were finally able to participate in a post-season. The young girls varsity basketball team went to the Sectionals and achieved the 2nd round. However, the next year was poised for brighter prospects. In her senior year, the basketball team was filled with talent from classmates such as Barbara Hicinbothem and junior Betsy Dolan. The team was coached by the beloved math teacher Ed Moy, who recently passed away. Quickly the team flashed its ability by winning game after game. The team went into the Sectionals undefeated at 15-0, with a Con Ed Award winner, Liebo, who was the first ever Bobcat so honored.

Crowds had gotten bigger throughout the season as word spread through the building that something special was afoot. The BHHS girls basketball team went into the 2nd round Sectionals 16-0 and seemed to be headed for the Championship. But the unexpected struck when Liebo went down with an ankle injury. The Lady Bobcats lost the game.

Before her primary winter sport of basketball started up again, and in the spring of track and field, Bettigole-Liebowitz decided to pick up a new sport--field hockey. Previously, in the first two formal BHHS field hockey seasons, the Bobcats had merely won two games each in an abbreviated season. Once more, the younger female athletes took over the team and this time they also had a new player. As a junior, Liebo and her new teammates thoroughly turned around the field hockey prospects with a 6-1-0 season and went to the Sectionals for the first time. In her senior year, the team raised their record to 8-2-2 and returned to the Sectionals, led by Liebo and the top scorer Nancy Olson, who had 16 goals. Liebo has credited Olson as a remarkable offensive threat with an incredible burst of speed; Liebo would pass to her and spring Olson loose to wreak havoc on foes.

When Liebo was in her junior year she participated in multiple events of the BHHS track and field team. She had joined an excellent  team that was superb from the start. The spring team was #1 at the County Meet in 1969 and 1970, out of 16 squads. Subsequently, in 1971 and 1972, they finished 1st, winning the Sectionals, as well as being undefeated in both seasons. In another undefeated season, Liebo typically contributed about 50% or more of the overall track team points--an impressive level for a lesser team, but a stunning level for a top team. BHHS finished first at the Divisional Meet.

In 1932, Olympian Babe Didrikson Zaharias was a multi-talented athlete who played tennis, golf, basketball, softball, and bowling--and won two Olympic gold and one silver medal in track and field. In the mid-1970s, the Bobcats had their own multi-talented athlete in basketball, track and field and field hockey — her name was Liebo.

Thank you to Ogren Physical Therapy who sponsors the Byram Hills High School Sports Hall of Fame profiles.

Staff Writer

BHHS Hall of Fame: Pam Crikelair Garrity, Ski, Lacrosse & Field Hockey

April 20, 2015
Pam Crikelair Garrity, a Byram Hills 1997 graduate, will be inducted as one of the nine athletes honored in the first Byram Hills High School Sports Hall of Fame (HOF) on Thursday May 28 at Brynwood Golf & Country Club. Crikelair Garrity was a remarkably dominant skier, an excellent lacrosse player, and a star field hockey player. She was an athletic leader, being a captain across all three sports for a total of seven seasons.

Crikelair Garrity has the rare distinction shared by only a few Bobcat athletes: she was All-State four times in a single sport—skiing. Thus, she was All-State as a freshman, sophomore, junior and senior. Typically, the superb athletes tend to peak in their older years, and begin to receive awards and recognition as a junior or senior. That was not the case with Crikelair Garrity who started at the top, and stayed at the top.

As a frosh on the ski team, she never lost a League race. She went to the States as the proverbial young rookie and finished an impressive 6th place. What admittedly might have helped Pam were her older brothers were also marvelous Bobcat skiers, both being multiple All-County skiers. Her brother Terry won, and her other brother Mac finished 2nd, in the Tri-County Skimeister Award (akin to Football’s Heisman). If one was to anoint the BHHS First Family of Ski Racers, it would be the Crikelairs. During For 12 seasons of racing for the Bobcats, the Crikelair trio garnered 11 All-County citations.

Her start in ski racing was at six years old running gates at Gore Mountain, her family’s favorite mountain.

As a sophomore, the ski accolades continued as well as her unbeaten League race streak. Once again, she qualified easily to race at the States where she finished an imposing 4th place. Next season as a junior, Crikelair Garrity continued her remarkable undefeated race streak in League competition. Since ski races are often decided by fractions of a second, it would not have been unusual for even a great racer to hit a slalom pole awkwardly or catch an edge to lose precious seconds, and therefore lose the infrequent race. But she did not. She also won Tri-County Skimeister as a junior. Once again, she was off to the States where she finished a sterling 3rd. Finally, as a senior, she was again All-County and All-State, and once again did not lose a League race. That season at the States she finished 12th. To be undefeated for four years in a row in a League race is stunning dominance in a sport measured by hundredths of seconds with a little margin of error even for the great ones.

In addition, Crikelair Garrity was a topflight girls lacrosse player in her high school athletic career, achieving All-County as a junior and playing the center position as a senior. Furthermore, across her four years at BHHS she was always on varsity and always started every game and every meet. A Lou Gehrig-like consistency in all three sports at the variety level, never playing for the freshman team or at the junior varsity level; a testament to her superior skills. Indeed, her diversity was further affirmed when she left Dartmouth and was subsequently a professional athlete in a totally different sport, golf, as a member of the LPGA tour.

From the BHHS files reviewed through the athletic records from the years 1969 to 2000, there were only two Bobcat athletes to have been awarded All-County six times. Pam Crikelair Garrity was one of the two athletes to pull off such a terrific feat.

Thank you to Ogren Physical Therapy who sponsors the Byram Hills High School Sports Hall of Fame profiles.

Staff Writer

BHHS Hall of Fame: Greg Simonds, Track and Field
Sponsored by Ogren Physical Therapy

April 9, 2015
Nine Bobcat athletes and one team will be inducted in the first Byram Hills High School Sports Hall of Fame (HOF) at a ceremony and dinner on Thursday May 28 at Brynwood Golf & Country Club. 2002 graduate Greg Simonds was a top-flight hurdler and superb runner of Byram Hills Winter and Spring Track.

The major accomplishment by Greg Simonds is unparalleled by any other Bobcat athlete: his 5th place finish at the Nationals Championship Meet in the 400 meter hurdles. Yes, you read that correctly, not 5th at the Sectionals, nor 5th at the States, but 5th in the nation.

There is a long list of Simonds’ awards and race achievements and records. Let’s start with the major ones. He was All-American in 400M hurdles, All-State in 400M hurdles and 4x400M relay, All-Sectional as well as All-County in 400M hurdles, 4x400M relay and 400M dash as a senior in Spring Track. Simonds was NYS Champion in 400M hurdles, too. He was All-State in 4x400M relay and 600M run, as well as All-Sectional and All-County in 4x400M relay, 600M run, 800M run and 55M hurdles as a senior in Winter Track. Simonds was NYS Champion along with his relay teammates in 4x400M relay.

As a junior in the Spring Track season he was All-State, All-Section and All-County in 400M hurdles along with All-Section and All-County in 110M hurdles.  In Winter Track, he was All-Section and All-County in 55M hurdles. Not surprisingly, as a sophomore, he was All-Sectional and All-County in 400M hurdles, his top event, in the Spring season.

In the highly regarded meets that attracted the best of the best, he was the Loucks Games Champion in 2001 and 2002 at 400M hurdles, as well as top Loucks performer in 2002. At the Penn Relays he took 2nd place with a time of 52.96 seconds that was a Westchester County record at that time, and is still the 3rd fastest ever. As a matter of fact, his times are still either 2nd or 3rd fastest ever in Westchester County history to date for four different events. It seems he may have set at least 15 school records at major county, sectional or regional meets.

When Coach Gregory Govan was asked of his many terrific runners in Cross-Country and in Track & Field over the decades, he stated that Greg Simonds was his best ever male track star by “a good margin.” Hence, Greg Simonds will be inducted with little doubt and much applause in the first BHHS Sports HOF Class.

Staff Writer


Byram Hills Boys Soccer Team 2007
Byram Hills Boys Soccer Team 2007
First BHHS Sports Hall of Fame Honors 2007 Boys Soccer Team
Sponsored by Ogren Physical Therapy

March 31, 2015
Nine athletes and one team will be inducted in the first Byram Hills High School Sports Hall of Fame (HOF) at a ceremony and dinner on Thursday May 28 at Brynwood Golf & Country Club. The sole team to be inducted in the first HOF is the 2007 New York State Class A Champions, BHHS Boys Soccer team.

The major accomplishment that the 2007 Boys Soccer team possess that no other Bobcat team has is a NYS Class A Championship. Although some superb Bobcat athletes had won NYS titles, no Byram Hills team had done so up to that wonderful run by the soccer team in the autumn of 2007.

The prior season’s similarly topflight boys soccer team had gone all the way to the State finals, led by star striker and All-American Hayden Morris. The 2006 team had gone further than any other team in the program’s history and had fallen short to Rochester’s Aquinas High School 2-0, a three-time NYS Champion.

Although unlikely that an athletic team would follow a big disappointment in the Championship for the next season, the 2007 team roared to an eventual 23-1-1 record. Several individual and team achievements were bestowed on their star forward, Senior Will Ogden, who was an All-American, All-State, NYS Gatorade Player of the Year, and obtained the Sectional 1 Most Valuable Player of the Year. Ogden’s high school career included 64 goals and 39 assists.

The 2007 Bobcat defense was formidable by allowing a miserly nine goals all season and garnered an amazing 18 shutouts. Mike Szczesniak was the goalie that starred for a team that could beat a foe in different ways, including by locking down and shutting out their offense.

Finally, by winning the final 15 games in a row, this team started the lengthy 44 consecutive games without a loss. Even the sole loss staining the 2007 Soccer team’s near pristine record was a 2OT loss on a very late goal by Spackenkill High School, who ironically were to become the 2007 Class B NYS Champions. For those keeping score, the 44 consecutive soccer matches without a loss is the longest streak in NYS Class A history to date.

In the State semifinals, Byram Hills won a tight 1-0 game versus Section 11 undefeated champion, Sayville. The Bobcats advanced to meet Burnt Hills High School, the Section 2 Champion, who coincidentally had also won 1-0 to advance to the finals. Neither Byram Hills nor Burnt Hills had ever won the NYS Soccer championship.

In Oneota, on Sunday November 18, 2007, in yet another tight game, the ever resilient Bobcats hung on for a 1-0 victory on a goal by Will Ogden in the 18th minute. Burnt Hills (19-5-1) finished #2 in the State and Byram Hills ended their glory season #1, with the first state title in the history of Byram Hills.

When the team’s bus later pulled into Byram Hills High School parking lot, they were escorted by honking cars, fire trucks, and police cruisers flashing their lights amidst the applauding spectators that had spontaneously gathered to cheer and congratulate their wondrous soccer heroes. After a long ride home, the championship season finished with the ultimate trophy, the very best title—State Champions—then, now, and forever!

Byram Hills first Hall of Fame profiles are sponsored by Ogren Physical Therapy.

This first class of HOF inductees will be introduced by Byram Hills Physical Education & Health Director Michael Gulino who has announced his retirement at the end of this school year.

Staff Writer

Byram Hills High School Sports Hall of Fame Debut
Sponsored by Ogren Physical Therapy

March 24, 2015
Mike Gulino, Byram Hills High School Athletic Director, announced the first class of nine inductees of the new Sports Hall of Fame (HOF). These superlative athletes were nominated along with the team members of the Byram Hills 2007 Boys Soccer New York State Championship team.

• Greg Simonds, Class of 2002; primary sport--track; Top award: All-American

• Pam Crikelair Garrity, Class of 1997; primary sports--ski and lacrosse; awarded All-State four times for skiing

• Michelle Suozzi Verzello, Class of 1995; primary sport--diving; awarded All-American twice

• Abigail Gutstein, Class of 1992; primary sports--lacrosse, basketball and field hockey; Honorable Mention All-American for lacrosse

• Matt Muller, Class of 1989; primary sport--Football; awarded All-State and Heisman Award

• Marty Durkin, Class of 1982; primary sports--basketball and lacrosse; awarded All-State for basketball

• Nancy Fay-Peter, Class of 1981; primary sport--track and field; awarded All-Regional and All-State three times for high jump

• Kevin O’Callaghan, Class of 1978*; primary sports--football and basketball; awarded All-County twice and Con Ed Award

• Barbara Liebowitz-Bettigole, Class of 1974*; primary sports--basketball, track and field, and hockey; All-County twice and 1st BHHS Con Ed Award winner

Inducted as the first team of the 2015 HOF class of inductees, the 2007 Boys Soccer team won the New York State Class A Championship. Although Byram Hills has had some individual State Champions, the 2007 Boys Soccer team is the only high school team Champion at that impressive level.

The BHHS HOF will award and honor its first class of inductees at a ceremony and dinner that will be held on Thursday May 28 at the Brynwood Golf & Country Club.

District Athletic Director Michael Gulino said the Hall of Fame would provide a way to both recognize the district’s top athletes and motivate current Bobcats, giving rise to the slogan "Honoring the Past ... Inspiring the Future.”

Gulino said the idea for a hall of fame has been floating around in recent years, fueled in part by former graduates who drop by the school and often reminisce about past high school victories or athletes that were standouts on certain teams.

During the last school year, the district formed a hall of fame nomintating committee chaired by Mike Gulino and Matt Allen, Byram Hills High School teacher and soccer coach. The committee, aided by research performed by Byram Hills alumnus James Boyle, set out to identify teams and athletes worthy of becoming the first inductees. The committee also included present Byram Hills coaches, plus former coaches and athletes.

“The nine athletes to be honored are five women and four men across several different sports as well as across the four decades of the high school’s varied athletic successes,” said Boyle. The nine athletes to be honored in the Hall of Fame are sports stars with substantial honors, such as multiple All-State or All-American awards, and other remarkable accomplishments. These high school athletes were often record-setters and leaders of sectional champion teams that competed on the state level. Boyle added that, considering Byram Hills is a relatively small community, “we can savor some truly big-time athletes from our high school that excelled across the decades.”

“Our current students will be able to see the names of people who have excelled in our program, see what they accomplished,” said Gulino. Future inductees, who will be chosen by soliciting nominees from the community, are expected to not only include athletes, but also coaches and others who have made strong contributions to the athletic program. Future nominees must have graduated from high school at least 10 years ago. Eligable future teams to be nominated for the HOF must have played at least seven years ago.

“The Byram Hills community has a lot of pride in the athletic program at the schools,” said Gulino. “The Hall of Fame will link the past, present and the future of the athletic program.”

He added that the district was grateful to the Bobcat Boosters for their support and sponsorship of the Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame will be displayed in the High School atrium, which students walk through daily on their way to the locker rooms and fields.

* In the 1970s there were many sports, especially for the girls, that did not have formal All-State or All-American honors. In addition, for a portion of the 1970s, the outstanding Bobcat teams only played in post-season games up to Sectional Championships because the New York State competition had not yet been established.

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Byram Hills Debuts Hall of Fame with 2007 Soccer State Champs


Updated March 24, 2015
The Byram Hills High School Athletic Director, Mike Gulino, announced the new Byram Hills Sports Hall of Fame (HOF) with nine superlative athletes and one outstanding team. The first HOF class of inductees is the 2007 Boys Soccer team. The team won the New York State Class A Championship.

Although Byram Hills has had some individual State Champions, the 2007 Boys Soccer team is the high school’s only team Champion at that impressive level. Their record was 23-1-1.

The BHHS Sports HOF will award and honor its first class of inductees at a ceremony and dinner on Thursday May 28 at the Brynwood Golf and Country Club.

The waiting period to be considered as a candidate for the HOF is seven years after the team played and ten years after an athlete has graduated. The nine athletes to be honored are five young women and four young men across several different sports, as well as across the four decades of the high school’s varied sports successes.

The debut of Byram Hills High School Sports Hall of Fame and its initial honorees is a town event that should intrigue players, coaches, staff, students, alumni, faculty, friends and family alike.

Ogen Physical Therapy


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Byram Hills Sports Hall of Fame profiles are brought to you by Scott Ogren of Ogren Physical Therapy of Armonk, NY.

Through physical therapy, sports performance programs and personal training, Ogren compassionately connects with his clients. He is a former freestyle ski team member of the USA National Ski Team and is currently an avid golfer.

For more information, please visit www.ogrenpt.com.

All About Armonk is proud to provide detailed coverage of the debut class of the Byram Hills Sports Hall of Fame. Our coverage will give a glimpse of former Byram Hills athletes; we hope to celebrate past and present players, coaches, staff, students, alumni, faculty, friends and family alike, as we honor the great athletic program that has a deep history at Byram Hills schools.

The accomplished athletes are sports stars with substantial honors, such as multiple All-State or All-American awards, and other remarkable accomplishments. They were often record-setters and leaders of Sectional Champions or teams that went to the States.