The Marcus A. Henry Award, named in memory of the former Newsday sports reporter, is presented annually to a Long Island high school athlete who not only excels on the field and the classroom but displays great leadership.
JOHN DANIGGELIS, SMITHTOWN EAST, SENIOR
John Daniggelis earned Newsday first-team All-Long Island honors in two sports while finding time to serve the community and excel in the classroom. In football, he threw for 979 yards and eight touchdowns last fall, rushed for 751 yards and another 12 scores, and was voted the Suffolk Division II MVP. Daniggelis capped off his scholastic athletic career by earning MVP honors in the 20th Empire Challenge last Tuesday, rushing for 66 yards and a touchdown and throwing for 121 yards and another score in Long Island's 34-27 victory over New York City.
In the spring, Daniggelis led Smithtown East to its second straight Suffolk County Class A lacrosse championship as one of Long Island's top all-around midfielders. He scored 34 goals, while also chasing down groundballs and playing solid defense. He was voted the prestigious Ray Enners Award as Suffolk County's most outstanding player and selected as an All-American. He will play lacrosse at Yale.
Academically, Daniggelis had a 3.95 grade-point average, was a member of the National Honor Society and the honor societies for math and Spanish. He was a member of Smithtown East's Leadership Club that involved, among other activities, collecting and donating used athletic equipment for underprivileged children. He also worked with Smithtown East lacrosse coach Jason Lambert's Food Pantry and did volunteer work for the school's Booster Club, teaching football and lacrosse to youngsters.
"He's so talented, on and off the field. He took the time year after year to get to know the young guys. He takes care of everybody and is the type of player that makes everyone around him better," Lambert said. "He's one of the most unselfish players we've ever had. He's very unassuming. If you speak to him, you'd never know how dominant an athlete he is. He's a special, once-in-a-generation type of player and person. The total package."
JAZMINE FRAY, KELLENBERG, SENIOR
When the school doors open again in September, there will be many who wish Jazmine Fray was stepping through them again. Fray, who will attend Texas A&M University in the fall fall, was a key part of not only the track team, but the Kellenberg community as well.
During her senior year, Fray was a Marianist Mentor, guiding freshman who were still getting used to the culture of the Uniondale Catholic school. Three times a week, Fray would visit a freshman homeroom and answer questions, address concerns, and make sure that no one was getting lost in the overwhelming maze that high school can sometimes appear to be.
"I enjoyed spending time with each of them," Fray said of the freshman class she spent the year with. "They each have their own unique qualities. They're kind of shy at first, but when all their personalities come out and collide, it's so much fun."
It wasn't the first time Fray had lent a hand to those younger than her. During her junior year, Fray worked with the S.M.A.R.T program, a service where she helped tutor and guide students at St. Martin de Porres Elementary School in Uniondale.
"I learned that I really like kids," Fray said. "I enjoyed seeing them every day. When you walk into a building, having kids excited to see you and talk to you makes you really happy. It makes you want to do more for them and other people . . . It feels really good when you teach them something, they get it, they do really well on the test, and the first thing they do is show you their grade. That's fulfilling."
And Fray is not a bad educational role model to have, either. She had a three-year and a senior average of 84, all while running three seasons of track.
Fray sings in the choir at St. Martha's Church in Uniondale and said she wants to be an alter server and Eucharistic minister at Texas A&M.
LUKE GERMANAKOS, LYNBROOK, SENIOR
Luke Germanakos, a two-time indoor New York State 600-meter champion, certainly has no shortage of impressive track accomplishments. But, that's only a small part of what makes him a standout person.
The United States Merchant Marine Academy agrees.
On Tuesday, Germanakos will report to USMMA boot camp in Kings Point before beginning his freshman year and running track for the academy.
At Lynbrook, Germanakos, who is an Eagle Scout and All-State vocalist, participated in the Owls Buddy Club, a group that helps other high school students with various disabilities socialize in a nurturing environment.
"The idea is to make them feel comfortable interacting with other people," he said. "Hopefully, it gives them the confidence to speak to more people than they normally would if they were being excluded from social groups."
As part of their monthly meetings, the club plays board games, watches movies, and goes on field trips, including one to a bowling alley.
"They love it and can't wait for the meetings," Germanakos said, "And we love to hang out with them. So it's a lot of fun . . . It's taught me how to be accepting of people and made me realize that, at heart, we're really all the same."
While Germanakos said "many" schools, including some in the Ivy League, sought his on-the-track services, the Merchant Marine Academy was always his goal.
"I get to serve my country, which is one thing I've always wanted to do, and I get to do it while doing something I really enjoy and have a passion for: mechanical engineering," Germanakos said. "I'll get to spend my years serving as a Merchant Marine in the maritime industry. It's perfect for me and I'm super excited."
DANIELLE NICOSIA, MANHASSET, SENIOR
As a successful member of the Manhasset lacrosse and soccer teams, Danielle Nicosia is familiar with the concept of putting in hours of hard work for a larger goal.
Nicosia has logged more than 195 hours of community service as a high schooler, including 100 hours in 2014 alone to earn a Presidential Voluntary Service Award. She has volunteered at St. Francis Hospital, Sunrise Senior Living, and the Nassau Suffolk Services for Autism, as well as soup kitchens and day care centers. She also traveled to Nicaragua in 2013 to build homes in underprivileged communities.
"She's perfect. That's the easiest way I could put it," Manhasset soccer coach Chris Keen said. "When I have a daughter, I hope she's as good as this kid. She's respectful, mature, a stellar athlete, team-first, and she's a great student."
Nicosia said she was most proud of the physical activities camp she started last summer at the Nassau Suffolk Services for Autism. "If God has given you a life fortunate enough that you're healthy, you should help those who aren't as fortunate as you," she said.
She is a member of the National Honor Society, as well as the Italian, Math, and Science Honor Societies. She also has been class president since sixth grade, is president of the Key Club, and has won gold, silver, and bronze awards for her Girl Scout participation.
"She is one of the most impressive student-athletes I have ever been associated with in my 50 years of education," Manhasset athletic director Jim Amen said.
On the field, Nicosia was a four-year varsity soccer player, spending the last two as captain and an All-Conference player. She was also a three-year varsity lacrosse player, helping the Indians win the state championship in 2014, and was named All-American this season.
NICK PICCININNI, WARD MELVILLE, SENIOR
Four state titles, five Suffolk crowns, and a 169-match win streak. Nick Piccininni has left his mark all over the Long Island wrestling history books, but even in the face of nearly unparalleled success, the senior has remained humble, with a great desire to give back any chance he gets.
"The Ward Melville community has meant a lot to me," Piccininni said, "and it's just been very important to me to make an impact."
Wrestling coach Bill DeSario can remember an instance this past season when, after a wrestling practice, Piccininni stayed in the gym after everyone else had left to give a ninth-grader an impromptu one-on-one lesson. With his office door open, DeSario couldn't help but eavesdrop.
"I'm sitting there in the office and I'm just listening to him," DeSario said. "Just because of Nick's experience, he's able to show and tell this younger wrestler stuff that no one else can. And I said to myself, 'Wow, this kid is awesome.'"
But Piccininni's desire to help younger wrestlers isn't confined to his high school gym. He also volunteers at RaZor Wrestling Club in Ward Melville.
"I just want to motivate them," Piccininni said. "Show them anything is possible. I want to be a positive role model for them."
The Oklahoma State University-bound 126-pounder went 42-2 this season, with the two losses coming by way of forfeit because of an ankle injury. During each of his matches, he wore a pink sock to honor his mother, Loren, a breast cancer survivor, as part of Ward Melville's "Pins for Purpose." The program has raised thousands of dollars to help fight and raise awareness for breast cancer.
"I don't just wrestle for my mom," Piccininni said. "I wrestle for everyone who has breast cancer. Survivors. Anybody that's fighting."
JARED WARNER, BALDWIN, SENIOR
It is fitting that Jared Warner had almost as many assists as goals for Baldwin lacrosse this season.
His assisting goes well beyond the field, as Warner has been a dedicated community servant, volunteering his time to endeavors that include teaching sports to underprivileged children and helping students with special needs.
"He's willing to give back," Baldwin lacrosse coach Rich Garguilo said. :He always takes the young kids under his wing, in his own special way."
"When you play sports, you have to work together with your team," said Warner, who also played football and is going to the University of Pennsylvania after earning a 108.4 weighted grade-point average. "It's helped me in the real world."
One of the avenues in which Warner has given back is a program that involves teaching children around Long Island, including those in underprivileged areas, about sports.
"At a young age, kids are so impressionable," said Warner, who had 24 goals and 23 assists this season. "There are a lot of things that can lead them down the wrong road. I thought of that, so I wanted to give back and lead them down the right path."
Warner also volunteered at the Cobblestone Day School and the Games for the Physically Challenged at Mitchel Field, and coordinated an American Cancer Society fundraising walk at Jones Beach. He was also the president of Athletes Helping Athletes at Baldwin, and gave his time to the Key Club, working with the Salvation Army and STARS program for students with special needs.
Academically, in addition to his GPA, he was a National Honor Society member, and was a part of the Future Business Leaders of America.