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LI sectional sports directors organize tribute for accomplished senior athletes

Long Island high school athletes, coaches and others

Long Island high school athletes, coaches and others share their thoughts as they deal with the cancellation of the spring sports season due to the coronavirus pandemic.  Credit: Newsday / Chris Ware

Let there be light.

Sectional directors Tom Combs of Suffolk’s Section XI and Pat Pizzarelli of Nassau’s Section VIII have organized a tribute to recognize all of Long Island’s high school seniors.

They have asked that stadium lights be turned on all across Long Island at 8:20 p.m. on May 1. In addition, school scoreboards will read 2020 in military time, to signify the year of the graduating class.

“This was something that Pat and I thought will be a little something to recognize all the students who’ve lost so much this spring,” said Combs, the executive director of Suffolk’s governing body for school sports. “We’re doing this together, Nassau and Suffolk, on a united front, so the students know that we care and we’re thinking about them.”

Pizzarelli, the executive director for Section VIII, Nassau’s governing body, was excited about the combined effort.

“We’re asking all of our schools to turn on the stadium lights and if they don’t have a stadium with lights, they can turn on the security lights around the high school building,” Pizzarelli said. “And we’d like community folks to flicker their lights for a few minutes in support of all our seniors. I think that would be wild.”

Said Combs: “This class has gotten the short end of the straw. They’re missing out on everything that comes with being a senior, including sports, school plays, concerts, proms, senior days and ultimately graduations.”

The tribute scheduled for May 1 has drawn positive feedback but not without hesitation.

“We have some superintendents that are concerned about security and gatherings,” Combs said. “Please stay home. We don’t want anyone showing up at the fields. We’ll have people videotaping. Those videos will be put online.”

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