Each Father’s Day, Newsday invites Long Island high school student-athletes to honor their fathers with personal letters. The letters tell stories of love, respect, gratitude and appreciation for dedication to a student’s daily needs.
Happy Father’s Day!
To: Anthony Filippi
From: Luke Filippi, Port Jefferson baseball, football
Father’s Day is always a great way to show our appreciation for the father figures in our lives, but I can honestly say that I feel a tremendous amount of appreciation for the role that my father has played in my life each day.
Ever since I can remember, my father has been by my side, coaching all of the teams I played on, whether it be football, basketball or baseball. From the earliest t-ball games, where I begged to hit just a few more balls, which he always agreed to, to the countless hours he committed to hitting ground balls and throwing batting practice to me and my teammates before and after our traditional practice, he has been there. It’s hard to think of a time that he wasn’t there for me, and I know that that wasn’t always easy because that meant that he got up earlier to go to work and rushed out the door so that he could make it to a practice or game on time. I realize the sacrifices that he made to help me fulfill my goals and dreams and I’m not sure I can ever show him just how much I appreciate all that he has done. He’s always said that the best way to repay him would be to continue to work hard to achieve my goals and to do the same things for my kids one day.
In addition to being a coach on the field, my father has always made a point to teach me and my teammates life lessons along the way, and this is probably even more important than the X’s and Os of the game. His guidance has been invaluable and has helped to shape the person I have become today.
On this Father’s Day I hope that my father and all of the father figures out there feel appreciated and loved. Although we may not always say it or even show it, the sacrifices you make each day are appreciated more than you know. Happy Father’s Day!
To: Edmund Small
From: Myles Small, Holy Trinity track and field
This day was made for fathers just like you. I would like to take this opportunity to truly thank you for raising me to be the man and athlete I am today. Everywhere I go I can count on you to be the biggest and loudest supporter there, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. You’ve coached me in football, basketball, and now you do everything you can to make sure I get the things I need to be successful in track. If that isn’t love, then I don’t know what is. Thank you for the times you left work early to see me play and the long drives to Staten Island to watch me run. Thank you for being there for me during all the great moments of my success and especially the hard ones. A great lesson I’ve learned from you throughout the years is to never give up even when the odds are against me. Thank you for being there for me and with me every step of the way. I couldn’t ask for a better Dad. I love you.
Your Loving Son, Myles
To: Patrick Petersen
From: Joy Petersen, East Islip track and field
(Note: Patrick Petersen established the American record in the marathon -- 2 hours, 10:04 minutes, set at 1989 London Marathon, a mark that stood for nine years. He died of pancreatic cancer in 2015.)
When I was 9 years old, I raced indoor in my first relay. I remember being so nervous that I would drop the baton because that night was the first time I attempted doing handoffs. However, you were the first person there to support me. You even joked with me, making me laugh by doing things like picking out “targets” to beat during my race.
The teasing helped, but apparently not enough, because I wound up dropping my baton anyway. Even though my worst fears became a reality, you instantly broke the ice. I remember standing there frozen with the baton on the ground not knowing what to do, but after waiting for what felt like ages, you yelled “well pick it up already!” What could have been an absolute mess of a night instantly became a night that you made a funny experience; one that we were able to look back at and crack up to afterwards.
I wish you were there to see everything that followed.
And sure, I know you’re always there with me every step of the way, but it would have been really cool for you to be physically there for times like when we broke the school record in the 4x800 for the first time, or the first time we had won the division/county championship, or when I finally got under the 5:00 barrier in the 1,500, a goal that I wanted to achieve the moment I joined the high school team.
Nonetheless, it’s the reality. One that has been difficult to endure, but one that I have grown to accept. I hope you’ll enjoy this letter for now, but when I see you again, I’ll tell you all about it.
To: Laurence Reid
From: Samiya Reid, Floral Park soccer
Thank you for being not only my father but my best friend. You do so much for Sydney and I and we couldn’t be more grateful to have you in our lives. From driving me to my many practices, traveling across the country to all my games or just watching TV shows with me late at night, I have so many happy memories that I will cherish forever. I have accomplished so much in my life so far because of how much you have pushed me to be the best I could be. You have always taught me to go after my dreams and to dream big because the sky is the limit. Without you, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
You are such a great person. To everyone else you are Mr. Reid the cool teacher or Coach Reid. You always make sure to look after your students and players. I am lucky because to me you are the best dad. You have made so many sacrifices for me, but the one that I am most thankful for is for you putting your coaching career on hold so that you could be there for me when I needed you the most. You knew how difficult it would be for me to make my dream of playing in college come true, but you were there for me every step of the way through all the ups and downs. Through it all you were always so positive. I love that before every practice and game you always tell me “Work hard, have fun and I love you”. I don’t always say it as much as I should but thank you for being the best girl dad. Sydney and I love you so much.
To: Jeremy Herr
From: Christian Herr, Eastport-South Manor volleyball
If there was one person who was there for me every step of the way, it would be you, dad. There wasn’t a single moment of my volleyball career that you didn’t make every effort possible to be a part of. From being willing to film every high school game to spending countless hours making a highlight video to recap my senior year of volleyball, you have invested so much in me and the sport I love. Thank you for all of the time and effort you put into me because without a doubt I would not be where I am today without it. We got to share the moment of ESM winning a state championship. That will be something I remember for the rest of my life. Thank you for helping to shape me into the person I have become, and I wish you a Happy Father’s Day, Dad!