The Shoreham-Wading River Central School District will name its new multipurpose athletic field in memory of football player Thomas Cutinella. Cutinella died after an on-field collision during a game on Oct. 1, 2014.
"It's a wonderful tribute to a great person," said Mark Passamonte, the athletic director for Shoreham-Wading River schools. "The dedication shows just how much he meant to our community. It's an honor that will forever be in his name."
Shoreham-Wading River's football team opened the season Friday night at Bishop McGann-Mercy High School in Riverhead.
The new field is under construction, and might not be completed before December, but Thomas' parents, Kelli and Frank Cutinella, have their fingers crossed in hopes that it will be done in time for the Wildcats to play a game there this season.
"Kelli and I are very grateful to the district that they are dedicating the new field to our son," Frank Cutinella said.
Thomas would have been a senior this season.
"We're hoping that the seniors who played alongside our son his entire life will be able to walk out onto that field and play a game with his name on it," Frank Cutinella said.
The dedication was approved at a school board meeting on May 12, football coach Matt Millheiser said, but no official announcement was made. "Tom was an all-around wonderful kid," Millheiser said. "He excelled on the field and in the classroom and was basically a great role model for our younger players."
Shoreham-Wading River assistant football coach Hans Wiederkehr said it is everyone's hope that the field is completed in time to play a postseason game.
"It would be fitting to play a game for him on his field," Wiederkehr said. "We're all hoping it comes to fruition."
Passamonte added that the field would be used for six sports: football, boys and girls soccer, field hockey and boys and girls lacrosse.
Lineman Ethan Wiederkehr, one of Cutinella's closest friends and the son of the assistant coach, made it clear how he felt about the field being named in Cutinella's honor.
"Every time I touch the ground and get ready for a play, I'll be thinking about him," he said. "I think about him all the time and realize how fortunate I am every time I walk out on the field. I'll take nothing for granted anymore. To be able to play on his field would be an extremely emotional and uplifting experience. I hope they get it finished for us."