Lynbrook Kicks Off Intramural Sports Season

In response to the postponement of Nassau County sports by Section VIII of the New York State Public High School Athletics Association (NYSPHSAA), the Lynbrook Athletic Department has made the decision to offer a fall intramural sports season. Low-risk sports, including tennis, soccer skills, cross-country, and strength and conditioning will be available to students in grades 6 through 12. 

In contrast to traditional daily practices, each high school team will hold practice three days a week, and middle school teams will hold practice twice a week. There will be no tryout process, as is typically mandated to play most sports, and all students are welcome to join. The Department said that it hopes to run the season for eight weeks, or until it becomes too cold to play. 

“All of us in the Athletics Department did not agree with Section VIII’s decision to cancel sports,” said Lynbrook Athletic Director Joseph Martillotti. “We’re just excited to be able to get kids outside and active, both of which our intramural season will achieve.” 

This is Martillotti’s first year in Lynbrook. He taught physical education in Lawrence for 20 years and directed its athletics department for three years. He explained that Lynbrook is currently one of six Nassau school districts out of the 50 total districts in the county providing intramural sports. 

“People are hesitant to let their students play, but from a social-emotional standpoint, and physically as well, we need to provide something for our Lynbrook athletes,” he said.

Practices will be conducted similarly to physical education classes and according to state jurisdiction. Students must remain at a six-foot distance while not wearing masks, and a 12-foot distance for highly aerobic exercises, like sprints. Each athlete will get his/her temperature checked and fill out a ZippSlip form before each practice, in addition to the daily school screening. There will be no shared equipment, and locker rooms will not be available.

More than 210 students are registered to play in the season, which commenced on Tuesday, Sept. 29. As the title “intramural” implies, there will be no interscholastic games. Martillotti explained that this season’s chief purpose is to provide an outlet for athletes with “skill-oriented” and modified games.

“I love the idea of having an intramural season,” commented Junior Olivia Vuotto, who plays center midfield on the LHS girls’ varsity soccer team. “I was so upset knowing that I wouldn’t be able to play when the season was postponed, but now I’m so happy that I have the opportunity to.” 

Girls’ Varsity Tennis Coach Shari Bowes said she is excited for the intramural season and to begin her 14th year as coach: “It will give our athletes structure after their regularly scheduled school day, and it will get them up and moving. I look at it like an added bonus; they will get an opportunity to bond with their teammates and form relationships. They also can brush up on their tennis skills in order to be ready for the 2021 season!”

Joshua Berlin, boys’ varsity soccer coach of 20 years, said he has mixed feelings about Section VIII’s decision to postpone sports until 2021.

“Coaching soccer is a joy of mine, and I have desperately missed the enjoyment, fun, excitement, and energy of being on the field with the players and coaches,” Berlin shared. “With that said, the health and safety of all is paramount, and as much as I would love to be on the pitch, I also can understand the abundance of caution by postponement.”  

Berlin further explained that many of his athletes must now deal with the loss of comradery with their teammates. They are also disheartened to miss a second consecutive sports season, considering the spring 2020 season was cancelled amidst the peak of the Coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m very upset about missing last spring’s and this fall’s sports seasons,” said junior Tyler Ippolito, wide receiver of the varsity football team. “You only have four years in high school to play sports, and you want to get the most out of it. The Governor saying we couldn’t have a season was very heartbreaking, but hopefully, we can still go out and get together with the team.”

Bowes, Berlin, Vuotto, and Ippolito remain hopeful that their teams will take advantage of the intramural season and that athletics will resume in January as planned. The official fall, winter, and spring sports seasons are scheduled to begin in 2021, on a condensed schedule to accommodate the shortened time span.

“I hope that everyone comes out with more intensity and is ready to play when the real season begins,” encouraged Ippolito. “We’re going to start strong and win, like we always do!”