Renee McGowan, softball player at Bayport-Blue Point, and her father,...

Renee McGowan, softball player at Bayport-Blue Point, and her father, Jason McGowan, East Islip softball coach. Credit: Peter Frutkoff

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: Jason McGowan

From: Renee McGowan, Bayport-Blue Point softball, volleyball

Dear Dad,

I wouldn’t be the person and player I am today if it wasn’t for you. Sports-wise, I grew up by your side, watching you coach and only ever saw repeated success. All I wanted was to be those girls out there that overpowered everyone else, loved the game and looked up to you because you gave them this fire that no other team had.

I continued to look up to you and how you affected everyone around you and followed your footsteps. I learned to play hard at all times, stay confident and focus on one play at a time. Although these lessons apply to volleyball and softball, they’ve helped me in everyday life. These are skills that have stuck with me since I was young and have formed me into the person I am today. Work hard and don’t give up. Thank you for being the best dad ever! Happy Father’s Day!

Love, Renee

To: Michael Choma

From: Peyton Choma, Mount Sinai girls lacrosse

Peyton Choma and her father, Michael.

Peyton Choma and her father, Michael. Credit: Dawn McCormick

Dear Dad,

There are no words to describe how much you mean to me. From when I was little to now you have always been the person I look up to the most.  Even though we have our disagreements we are always on the same page, we just get each other. Whenever I have to make a decision, the first thing I think is “ What would dad do?” I trust your opinion more than anyone and I always know that no matter what the circumstance is you will always do the right thing.

You've always told me that the most important thing in a person is character,  “what you do when nobody’s watching.” This important trait…character, has made me into the person I am today, a mini you :) .  

Being 16 is the hardest thing in the world. Worrying about boys, friends and what outfit I'm gonna wear the next day is so stressful. Thank god I have you by my side to vent to and get a reality check in return. You have the knack of knowing when to coddle me and when to push me when I need it. My sports injuries are the best example. You knew when I needed a shoulder to cry on, but you also knew when I needed to stop crying and move forward.  

The phrase that I use everyday is "What are we gonna do?”  Those five words I will carry with me throughout my future. I hope one day I can be just as good a parent as you are.  Happy Father's Day, Dad, the only day of the year that I'll let you win an argument ;). Love you.

Love, Pey

To: Hughroy Daley

From: Logan Daley, Holy Trinity girls track and field

Logan Daley of Holy Trinity and her father Hugh on Thursday in...

Logan Daley of Holy Trinity and her father Hugh on Thursday in Hempstead. Credit: Dawn McCormick

Dear Dad,

Each year we celebrate Father's Day for amazing fathers like you. Ever since I was a little girl, I have always thought of you as my hero and someone I look up to. From a young age, you have been my track coach and the person that has kept me going in the sport. You made me realize that sometimes it's not about who’s the fastest, but who has the most heart. Your patience and humility are what I most love about you.  Those traits have rubbed off on me.

You’re always my biggest cheerleader and are there to critique me when needed. There was never a time where I needed new spikes or sweats and you weren't by my side. You are always there when I cross the finish line, in first or last. Thank you for all the long hours you put in at track meets, and for being there, not only for me, but the little kids that look up to you as well. You are a role model and I know you do your best to make sure everyone is successful.

Having one year left with you as my coach saddens me, but I know you will be there watching me succeed wherever I am. In addition to being my coach, you have impacted my life outside the track by helping me with school projects when I needed it and teaching me how to drive. You have done so much for me and Morgan and I will forever be grateful. To the people out in the world, you are Coach Hugh and Mr. Daley. But, to me, you are Dad. You have made so many sacrifices for me and I am so blessed I have such an amazing dad like you. Happy Father's Day.

Love, Logan

To: LaDuke Harris Sr. 
From LaDuke Harris Jr, Floyd football and track and field 

LaDuke Harris of Brentwood with his father, LaDuke Sr., on...

LaDuke Harris of Brentwood with his father, LaDuke Sr., on Friday in Brentwood. Credit: Dawn McCormick

Dear Dad,

You are the man who made me who I am today.

You've come with me every step of the way. I can never tell you how much you really mean to me, but, deep down, I know you know. You not only gave me your name but also your ambition and courageousness. I thank you for that.

Our drives to the city for track meets and the lessons you teach me on the road? I can’t replace those times for anything. I hope to take some of the lessons you have taught me and pass those lessons on to my son or daughter in the far future and tell them stories about their grandfather.

You’ve made long times feel short and short times feel long. You were always by that long jump pit every time I did a run through and you’ve given me support when I needed it. Thank you, Dad, for everything you have given me in this life and the next. God only knows how much I really care for you.  I hope I can make this Father’s Day the best one yet.

Love, LaDuke

To: Frank Diaz

From: Sophia Diaz. Massapequa softball

Sophia Diaz, Massapequa softball pitcher, with her father, Frank Diaz,...

Sophia Diaz, Massapequa softball pitcher, with her father, Frank Diaz, at Wantagh State Park on the day of her high school graduation on Friday. Credit: James Escher

Dear Dad,

You are everything a daughter could ask for. You are not only my dad but also my best friend, coach and hero. I am beyond grateful for your endless love, constant support and words of encouragement. I am so blessed and I cannot thank you enough for always being there . . . in the audience during all my dance/singing competitions, my school plays and at my softball games. Even during our busiest weeks where I know you were tired, you still made time to get in a late-night practice at any open batting cage or at any park with lights even if the gates are closed. Only you dad!

I appreciate all the little things you do and not just for me but also for Mom, Daniella and Michael.

Your faith, happy spirit, humility, and quiet but strong presence are invaluable to our family. Your smile alone brightens up any rainy day.

I have grown up listening to all your stories about work, from the funny ones to stories where the children needed you the most. Those little children are so lucky that they have a guidance counselor that looks after them as much as you do. I am so proud to call you my dad.  I look up to you and I hope someday to become half the person you are.

I love you and your big hugs!! Happy Fathers Day!

Love, Sophia

To: Dave Ettinger

From: Amanda Ettinger, Seaford, lacrosse and soccer 

Garden City coach Dave Ettinger with his daughter, Seaford lacrosse...

Garden City coach Dave Ettinger with his daughter, Seaford lacrosse player Amanda Ettinger, at Garden City High School in Garden City in May. Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

Dear Dad, 

Happy Father’s Day! Today is a day where we celebrate our fathers and all they have done for us. Although I cannot express in words how much you mean to me, I would first like to thank you for everything. Dad, you have always been the greatest role model to me. You have taught me so much even when you are not trying to. I have learned how to improve athletically and as a person because of you. I can always count on you to give me the most valuable advice about anything. As I got older I have learned you express your love and compassion through helping, which is one of the many things I admire about you.

Growing up with you as a coach has helped us grow a special relationship that I would not trade for anything. From the beginning when it was us having a lacrosse pass in the yard to going over film and the long car rides every weekend to tournaments, is times I would not want to have spent with anyone else. I am so grateful for all of the time and effort you have put in to help me get to where I am now. I am going to miss you so much next year, but I know we will still have our pre- and post-game talks over the phone. You truly are my biggest inspiration! Love you Dad, you are really the best!

Love, Amanda

To: Joel Diaz

From: Ashley Diaz, Seaford wrestling

Seaford High School female wrestler and sophomore Ashley Diaz with her...

Seaford High School female wrestler and sophomore Ashley Diaz with her father, Joel Diaz, at their Seaford home on Friday. Credit: Rick Kopstein

Dear Dad,

I want to wish you a happy Father’s Day. I am very grateful to have you as my dad. You inspire me to work hard and to be the greatest in everything I do. Whether it’s wrestling, school, the arts, cooking or even something as silly as video games, you have taught me to never quit. You have taught me to be patient, to be persistent and to be kind. You have instilled the values of respect, honesty and loyalty in both me and my brother. You are the person who taught me that I deserve respect when spoken to no matter who the individual is. Mom may still beat you when it comes to being able to find something “lost”, we both need help in that department, however, I’m grateful that you are in my life. You are a great father and you help our family so much. Thank you for always supporting me throughout my wrestling career and for making me the girl I am today. I hope you have a wonderful Father’s Day and know just how much I love you.

Love, Ashley 

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