Brendan Cody was a standout, a rugged competitor who left an indelible mark on football and lacrosse at Ward Melville High School.
Cody died Sunday after a short bout with sinus cancer. A resident of Abingdon, Md., he was 44.
Cody, considered one of the greatest athletes in the East Setauket school's history, earned Newsday's all-Long Island honors in football and all-Suffolk in lacrosse for the school's Class A state championship team in 1988. He was inducted into the Ward Melville Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003.
"Brendan Cody moved to our Three Village district from Florida in junior high and had an immediate impression on all of our coaches," said Joe Cuozzo, Ward Melville's former longtime coach and a New York State Hall of Famer. "He had phenomenal hands and was a great receiver in football. I'll never forget when our junior high coach Bruce Betcher put a lacrosse stick in Cody's hands and the rest is history."
Cody went on to lead Ward Melville to the state title and earn the most valuable player award in 1988. He played at Nassau Community College, where he led the Lions to two national championship games, including a national title win in 1990. He graduated Nassau and accepted a lacrosse scholarship at Johns Hopkins in Maryland, where he played midfield and led the Blue Jays to the NCAA Division I Final Four. He scored four goals in a semifinal playoff loss to Syracuse in the NCAA Division I championships in 1992.
"I remember joking with him that he wasn't too bad for a football player on the lacrosse field," Cuozzo said. "He was a bulldog, just a tenacious kind of player. He played so hard, even in practice. And if you took the ball away from him, he would hound you until he got it back, just a relentless competitor."
Cody had been a longtime sales representative for Innocutis, a pharmaceutical and medical device company that develops dermatologic treatments.
Friends said Cody was as polite and warm off the field as he was competitive on the field. Longtime friend Joe Tasman said that Cody never sought individual glory or personal achievement, but was all about teamwork.
"That's the type of guy he was -- just a genuinely good person," said Tasman, a Ward Melville teammate who is now the district athletic director for the Hauppauge school district. "Brendan was an athlete who left a legacy that will always be remembered. He set a standard few could match."
Cody is survived by his wife, Lauren; daughters Kaitlyn and Linsey; father Richard Cody of Vermont; and brother Shawn and his wife, Bridget, of Long Beach.
A memorial service will be at McComas Funeral Home, 1317 Cokesbury Rd., Abingdon, Md., Thursday, 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated Friday, 10 a.m., St. Margaret Catholic Church, 141 Hickory Ave., Bel Air, Md.