When a student-athlete from Suffolk County is nominated for the Butch Dellecave Award, there's a tremendous amount of meaning behind it. Not only is it for the athlete who excels on the field, but it's also for one who gets it done in the classroom, while representing the community with class, character, dedication and respect.
Bay Shore's Courtney Syrett and Ward Melville's Jack Bruckner were the two winners this year, but all 114 nominees were deserving of being in attendance Sunday for the 13th annual ceremonies at West Lake Inn in Patchogue. Guy Dellecave, the executive director of the Butch Dellecave Foundation and the oldest son of the late Gaetano "Butch" Dellecave, for whom the award is named, wouldn't have it any other way.
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"It's the best of the best. They're all winners. Having them here is a culmination of all they worked for," Dellecave said. "A couple of years ago, a kid thanked me after winning and told me that this is a fitting topper to their high school career. I know they realize that."
Syrett is a member of the Athletes Helping Athletes program and an integral part of Awareness Weekends, Cultural Exchanges and many other community activities. Bruckner has helped families and children in need by volunteering for the annual Contractor's for Kids Run and Clean Up for a Cause.
"It means a lot," said Syrett, a three-sport standout for the Marauders in field hockey, basketball and softball who plans to play softball at the University of Mississippi. She currently sports a 94.4 GPA and recently made the high honors roll. "I feel I'm a well-rounded person on and off the field," she said. "Support-wise, just being able to connect with the younger kids will help me be more well-rounded, not only now but later in life. The fact that sports are a part of my life and learning the life lessons that high school sports teaches that you can apply to all aspects is the foundation for who I am and will be."
Bruckner, who plans to play lacrosse at Duke University, helped lead the Patriots to the Long Island Class A championship this season. When he isn't making noise on the field, Bruckner is taking AP English literature and AP government and politics, while earning a 92 average.
"At first, I didn't know what it was," said Bruckner of the Dellecave honor. "When I came here, I read about how wonderful a man he was and the great people who have previously won this award. I think it means even more to me now knowing how impressive everyone's resume was. It's tough to pick a winner. I put a lot of time in helping the community and giving back as much as I can. I owe it to the people around me at Ward Melville."
The Butch Dellecave Award was presented by The Economic Opportunity Council of Suffolk, Inc. and the Butch Dellecave Foundation, Inc., which provided a $1,000 scholarship to each recipient.
The other finalists from the girls' side were Bridgit Ryan (Harborfields), Nicolette Tortorici (Deer Park) and Margaret Bill (St. Anthony's). Boys finalists were Evan Honce (Bellport), Tyler Grimaldi (Half Hollow Hills West) and Kavione Green (Amityville).