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Reed Ginsberg flourishes by helping others

Reed Ginsberg, of Jericho High School, is an

Reed Ginsberg, of Jericho High School, is an extraordinary graduating student, pictured in Jericho, May 22, 2014. Reed plays drums, mentors students and teaches sports to those with autism and Down syndrome. Photo Credit: Bruce Gilbert

Nothing has come easily for Reed Ginsberg. He just makes it look that way.

Ginsberg, 18, is lauded by teachers and coaches at Jericho High School for his ability to combine his talent for math and technology with his interest in sports and music.

His honors include the prestigious Alice Griswold Award at the 2013 Long Island Math Fair and most-valuable player last year in the state high school soccer championships.

His accomplishments obscure the wounds he has endured since birth from a series of illnesses and accidents.

As a toddler, Ginsberg, of Jericho, sustained severe head wounds when he fell off a couch. He's had at least four concussions and surgery to repair lacerated gums.

When he was 5, Ginsberg was mauled by a neighbor's dog. Surgery left him with a 3½-inch scar on his scalp and another scar on his face.

"Every day when I look in the mirror, I'm reminded of it," Ginsberg said. "It makes me very, very resilient."

He said his college essay was about connecting with others through his passion and resiliency. Surviving so much misfortune makes other challenges seem easy -- whether it's speaking to a room full of math teachers, or playing goalkeeper and making saves to preserve a 0-0 tie in the state soccer title game.

"You gotta have a short memory," he said. "When I was at a young age, I learned not to be scared of things."

Jericho soccer coach Dani Braga said Ginsberg is an "all-around incredible kid" who recovered from an early-season slump to star for the Jayhawks.

"It's very rare that you come along a kid like Reed in a lifetime," Braga said. "Everything he does just seems to go to gold."

Outside of Jericho's halls, Ginsberg taught drumming to children who couldn't afford music lessons and to at-risk youth; then he started helping them with their homework. Through the Long Island Blues hockey club, he has taught the sport to children and adults with Down syndrome.

Ginsberg will attend the University of Pennsylvania, where he will enroll in the Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology. He said he's looking forward to "a lot of new stuff, but I also think I'll do a lot of things I did in high school," such as music, sports and tutoring.

Ginsberg's award-winning math paper combined sports and scholastics: Watching hockey highlights on his computer, he studied the best angles for goaltenders trying to prevent opponents from scoring shootout goals.

Ginsberg, a New York Rangers fan, concluded that goalies are most successful when they stay close to the goal, rather than skating out to face the shooter. He called it "the application of the first derivative."

"I used a lot of calculus," Ginsberg said. "As a goalie, you want to cover as much of the goal as possible."

WHAT MAKES YOU EXTRAORDINARY

Mastering my time management while maintaining my academics, and then tying everything together outside the classroom."

CORRECTION: In an earlier version, Newsday incorrectly reported that Reed Ginsberg was born with Harlequin syndrome. In an award-winning math paper, Ginsberg used calculus and the application of the first derivative, not trigonometry and geometry.

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