Thursday night’s Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame Induction ceremony will be a family affair for former East Islip High School wrestling coach Guy Leggio. The Bay Shore man, who morphed the East Islip wrestling program into a powerhouse, will join his father, Jumper, in the highly populated, and extremely diverse, hall of fame.
Jumper, a wrestler who became a giant in the world of youth wrestling, was inducted in 1999.
“My life was coaching, and me and my dad did a lot of the same things together,” Guy said. “It means a lot to me to be part of the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame because I understand how hard it is to get into.”
Guy spent 21 seasons as East Islip’s head coach, compiling a 270-115-5 record and was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2014.
The 2019 Hall of Fame class is headlined by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who graduated from Half Hollow Hills High School in Dix Hills, and sportscaster Bob Costas, a Commack native who spent decades as the top voice for sports on NBC and received the Ford C. Frick Award from the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2018 for major contributions to the game.
North Babylon’s Bria Hartley, who stared at UConn and now plays for the Liberty in the WNBA, will also be inducted.
“I was just a kid that loved to play basketball and never would have imagined all these accomplishments,” Hartley said in a statement provided by the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame.
Leggio, Bettman, Costas, Hartley and five other individuals will be inducted at a ceremony at Watermill Caterers in Smithtown.
Other inductees include: martial arts expert and Middle Island resident Jerry Figgiani, former Stony Brook University head football coach Sam Kornhauser, former Sachem High School volleyball coach Bill Kropp, Islip’s Aaron Feis, and Dix Hills native Scott J. Beigel.
Beigel and Feis both were teachers and coaches who gave their lives protecting students during the Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School shooting in Parkland, Florida last year.
The Hall of Fame will also honor two athletic teams Thursday night — the New York Cuban Giants, who were the first all-African American professional baseball club in history and were formed in 1885 at the Argyle Hotel in Babylon, and the Ward Melville High School boys lacrosse team, a historic dynasty that has won ten state titles.
The Cuban Giants will be receiving a Historic Recognition Award, while Ward Melville will be receiving a Special Recognition Award.
The inductions mean different things to each inductee. For some, like Costas and Bettman, it represents a throwback to youthful days after their careers have taken them to grand heights. For others, like Leggio, it represents the recognition of the only community they’ve ever known.
Leggio, almost literally, built the East Islip wrestling program into what it is today. In 2000, Leggio, who is a bricklayer by trade, and a group of volunteers built a wrestling room at East Islip High School — planting the physical foundation of what he worked for so many years to build on the mat. On Thursday, the county says ‘thank you.’
“It still is the best wrestling room in Suffolk County,” Leggio said.