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 in the classroom but displays great leadership. These are the 2016 finalists, listed in alphabetical order. The winner will be announced during the week online and a profile of the recipient will appear next Sunday in Newsday.
Julianna Baratta, Carle Place, Senior
Julianna Baratta thrives by helping others. The accomplished athlete spends much of her free time giving back to the Carle Place community through volunteer work, changing lives as a McAngel Kid through the Ronald McDonald House. She has helped raise money for sick children through the organization since 2005.
Baratta, who competes in varsity cheerleading, basketball and softball, also volunteered with Shoes For All from 2013 to 2015, where she assisted in sorting, donating and distributing shoes to those less fortunate.
"Julianna is one of the most amazing people in Carle Place because she's the type of kid who will do anything you ask her to do," said district athletic director Christine Ceruti. "She does it well enough and doesn't need the attention."
Making the world a better place is a passion of hers, evidenced by her involvement in her high school's diversity club. The members of the club strive to promote diversity in the school and the world through multicultural affairs and other events.
Baratta even seeks to help people in athletics. She was a senior captain in the fall and winter competitive cheerleading seasons, earning the "Most Spirited Award" and MVP for her contributions to the betterment of her teammates.
"She will do whatever she can to make everyone around her better," Ceruti said. "She's just one of those people."
She was a forward for the girls basketball team in 2015 and consistent hitter for the softball team during her senior season.
A member of the Math, Spanish and National Honor Societies, Baratta finished high school with an overall GPA of 99.189, according to her resume. She tutored through the National Honor Society and assisted in activities like bringing toys to daycare children during Christmas.
She will attend Penn State in the fall.
-- Kenny DeJohn
Lames El Gammal, Baldwin, Senior
Lames El Gammal is a force in the paint in the Baldwin community.
The 6-2 center on the girls basketball team was a five-year player for the Bruins, averaging 8.7 points and 8.5 rebounds during her senior season. She earned Newsday All-Long Island Second Team recognition as a sophomore.
And while El Gammal was busy helping the Bruins win Nassau Class AA in 2016, she was equally as busy volunteering. Her love of basketball is rivaled by her love of helping the community.
El Gammal, who will attend Brown University in the fall, gives back to the local basketball scene by frequently working at clinics with younger athletes. She mentors them through the iExcel program, an organization that focuses on improving young athletes' character, leadership and sportsmanship. She serves as an alumni team leader.
She is a key member of several of Baldwin High School's community service groups, including athletes helping athletes. Members of this prestigious club must meet rigorous academic and character criteria, and only 25 student-athletes are selected from the school.
El Gammal and the other members teach fifth-graders three times a year about character and how to be a good person, among other service-based activities. As a member of the leader's council, El Gammal meets frequently with Baldwin administrators to act as the voice of the student body. This student leadership position is also very selective. She also contributes to the AIDS peer educators club at Baldwin.
"She's deserving because there's not a better example at Baldwin of a person, in terms of a student and an athlete, who represents what Marcus was about," said Baldwin athletic director Ed Ramirez. "She looks to excel in every area she's involved in."
El Gammal has proven to be an asset to the Baldwin community.
-- Kenny DeJohn
Nicole Farese, Sayville, Senior
Nicole Farese has reached countless lives through volunteer efforts that even got the attention of President Barack Obama.
Farese, who plays three sports and carries a 96 grade-point-average, volunteered more than 400 hours of community service as the co-founder of Operation Sports Equipment, a nonprofit that collects, refurbishes and distributes sports equipment to underprivileged organizations in nearby areas and other countries, and donated 20,000 pieces of equipment, according to her resume.
She received a letter from Obama as part of the 2016 Prudential Spirit of Community Achievement program after receiving a congressional gold medal in 2015.
Farese, who overcame an ACL injury to return to the softball, soccer and track teams, splits her time between a diverse range of extracurricular activities, including National Honor Society, key club, leadership club, serving as class vice president in student government, and playing both the French horn and piano since she was a fifth-grader.
She won Suffolk County's 2016 Dellecave scholar-athlete-service award and will attend Gettysburg University, where she said she will major in communications and play softball.
Farese, a shortstop, was called up during playoffs for her varsity debut in 2014 and batted .450 in 2015. She hit second in the order this season and had a .468 average with 23 runs. Farese was named soccer captain this year and won the school's soccer scholarship,.
She has participated in research at the Brookhaven National Lab every summer since ninth grade and competed in the American Mathematics Competition as a sophomore and junior. "She's such a fantastic kid," said Sayville girls soccer coach Dan Cameron. "She's good to everybody and has a really good perspective on life. She showed everybody how hard you had to work to make things happen. She led by example and motivated everybody from the first day I met her. She's just fantastic."
-- Peter Cappiello
Livingstone Harriott, Central Islip, Senior
Livingstone Harriott's accomplishments in football and indoor and outdoor track at Central Islip were many -- as a wide receiver/defensive back and elite jumper and sprinter -- but they don't match what he achieved in the classroom.
According to his resume, Harriott carried a 96.69 unweighted GPA and was ranked No. 7 in his class out of 491 students. He took six AP courses, including physics, and two calculus courses. No wonder he's headed to the Ivy League, where he will study computer engineering and play Division I football at wide receiver for Brown University.
Athletically, Harriott was a three-year starter in football and captain in his senior year, when he won the James LaBue Award as Suffolk County's top scholar-athlete. In track, he was a four-year varsity performer, earning numerous honors, including winter-track All-County in the triple jump and 4x200 relay and spring-track All-County in the long jump and triple jump.
Academics, however, was his top priority when it came to college selection. He had numerous Division I football offers, but when Brown got into the picture, Central Islip athletic director Lawrence Philips related, "Before he talked to the coach about Brown football, he told him he wanted to talk about the prestigious computer engineering program and wanted to be sure he would get admitted. He always had his priorities in order."
That's true in the community, too, Philips said, where, among other activities, Harriott tutored children in math and reading at the Central Islip Public Library and participated in the Central Islip First United Methodist Church food pantry.
"In my 10 years as AD, I've never seen a complete package like him," Philips said. "It's like a five-tool player in baseball. That's how he is in life. Character, athletics, leadership, academics and community service."
-- Bob Herzog
Joe Tardif, Mattituck, Senior
Guys like Joe Tardif come along once in a lifetime.
His athletic achievements are many, including a state championship in baseball and another in soccer. His four-year, three-sport career is well-documented and loaded with personal accomplishments.
But his impact in the Cutchogue-Mattituck area was far deeper than swinging a baseball bat, draining a three-point shot or scoring a goal.
Joe and his twin brother, John, are well known in the community and at all the sporting venues, a set of twins who have lived and loved for 18 years, despite John being born with severe cerebral palsy and a limited range of movement.
"My brother is the world to me," Joe Tardif said. "He's an inspiration and the force behind my desire to be the best at anything I do. There's really never a down day because we celebrate the good in life every day in our family. We live for each moment."
Joe led the Tuckers to a state Class B title in soccer in 2014 and a state Class B championship in baseball in 2015. And all along the way everyone knows that John is Joe's biggest supporter. Joe has been there for John at every turn. His unconditional love for his brother has been an immense help to his parents.
"From as early as he could walk, Joe took care of John," said John Tardif, the twins' dad. "He made sure he was never alone. And as he grew he'd carry John to the toilet or the bath, and I never heard a complaint, never a change in demeanor. The song '[He Ain't Heavy] He's My Brother' comes to mind. I'm not sure Joe ever got a full night of sleep. John would shriek at night from the pain when his muscles got tight. John would only sleep five minutes at a time."
-- Gregg Sarra
Infinite Tucker, Huntington, Senior
Perhaps the Long Island track scene should have been renamed "Tucker's Town." Tucker won four individual state championships across two seasons, taking the 55-meter hurdles at the indoor championships and the 400 and 110 meter hurdles at the outdoor championships. He also won the 400-meter hurdle national championship at New Balance Outdoor Nationals in North Carolina last weekend, clocking a personal-best 50.70.
Tucker works with the Young Leaders Club, an organization that provides homework help at the Tri-Community and Youth Agency, a Huntington youth center; cleans and plants at local parks, and organizes a yearly fun fair for underprivileged youth. Tucker also speaks at elementary schools about the importance of academics and how they can provide lifelong skills, Huntington athletic director Georgia McCarthy said.
"I've been getting texts the last couple of days saying 'Coach, he's a great athlete, but a better person," Huntington track and field coach Ron Wilson said. "He's a really, really nice boy. At the end of every one of his races, you can see that he shakes the hands of the opponents . . . It's never personal when he's out there competing."
Tucker also anchored the best 4x400 meter relay team in the country. The group won both the indoor and outdoor state and national championships. Their outdoor nationals time, 3 minutes, 10.93 seconds, broke a 50-year-old state record.
Tucker's talents are not limited to the track, either. He placed second in the indoor state long jump championship, flying 23 feet, one and three-quarter inches.
Tucker was one of the top senior football players on Long Island, as well. He scored a rushing and receiving touchdown during the Empire Challenge Tuesday, which pits the best senior football players from Long Island against the best from New York City.
Tucker, Newsday's Track and Field Athlete of the Year, will run track and play football next season at UMass.
-- Jordan Lauterbach