Jeff Weiss never felt like coaching was a job.
For over 30 years, Weiss spent hours in the gym at Lawrence Woodmere Academy, leading the boys basketball team on playoff pushes and championship runs. He built relationships that have lasted decades, relishing every opportunity to help athletes hone their skills.
Now, he adds another accolade to his resume.
Weiss is one of 48 members selected to be part of the sixth induction class of the Nassau County High School Athletics Hall of Fame. The 2020 induction ceremony will be held at the Crest Hollow Country Club on Sept. 29, 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It’s an honor and a privilege to be selected," Weiss said. "Coaching kids, spending time in the gym, being around the game of basketball...it was always a treat and a pleasure to be part of it."
Weiss, who started coaching in 1988, wrapped up his career with the Tigers this past year. He posted a 620-180 record, winning New York State Federation titles in 1999 and 2002 and was named Newsday’s All-Long Island Coach of the Year in 2006.
Weiss always maintained a no-cut policy for his teams. If an athlete wanted to play, Weiss said he’d find a way, and added he’s "never had a kid quit."
"I tried all those years not to say no, to include as many kids as we can and the kids all turned out to work hard," Weiss said.
The 2020 class boasts some of Long Island’s most successful high school coaches, including Bill Cherry (Manhasset), Larry Levane (Syosset, Westbury), Dotty Lynch (South Side), Bob McKillop (Holy Trinity, Long Island Lutheran), Edward Reinisch (Baldwin), Cheryl Scalice (South Side, Valley Stream North), Donald Scott (Manhasset), Joe Vito (Roosevelt) and Arthur Wright (Oceanside).
"You work with those kids and you see the progress they make, you see the difference you make in their life," said Scalice, who was Newsday’s 2019 All-Long Island Nassau Coach of the Year after the South Side girls volleyball team won the Long Island Class A championship. "I set out to make a difference where I can, with the sport that I love."
The athletes in the 2020 class include: Melissa Batchelor Zamroz (St. Dominic), Mark Belger (Mepham), Fred Bruntrager (New Hyde Park), Kim Conway-Haley (South Side), Matt Doherty (Holy Trinity), John Driscoll (Manhasset), Andre Hawkins (Malverne), A.J. Haugen (Bethpage), Lamont Hough (Hempstead), Jimmy Lewis (Uniondale), Jerone Pettus (Freeport, Roosevelt), Emily Pickering Harner (Berner), Marco Rivera (Elmont), Traci Sofsian-Maier (South Side) Chris Thomforde (Long Island Lutheran), and Marion Waldman DeBaise (Baldwin).
Longtime lacrosse official Raymond Buckley and gymnastics judge Maria DeCristoforo will be inducted, as will administrators Joyce Mary Badger, Joanna Commander, Todd Heimer, J. Kenneth (Dutch) Hafner and Laura Orticelle. The class also includes Bruce Arena, who coached the U.S. Olympic and World Cup men’s soccer teams, former N.C. State coach Jim Valvano and Long Island Sports Network founder Barry Landers.
Nassau County's High School Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2020
A three-sport athlete at Carey, he coached both the U.S. Olympic and World Cup men’s soccer teams. He was named MLS Coach of the Year three times.
Joyce Mary Badger
A Lynbrook grad and multi-sport star, she became an official and administrator an served as the Assistant Executive Director for Girls Athletics for more than a decade.
Melissa Batchelor Zamroz
When she graduated St. Dominic in 1989, she held the CHSAA girls basketball career scoring record with 1,854 points. A four-year starter, she broke every St. Dominic scoring, rebounding and assist record.
He won 10 county championships and eight state titles in both the 880 and mile run at Mepham and remains the only Long Island native to run a sub-four-minute mile (3:57).
At New Hyde Park, he posted a 33-9 record on the mound before spending three years in the Detroit Tigers organization. Bruntrager also played basketball and ran cross country as a senior.
He officiated 25 Nassau lacrosse championships, 3 CHSAA championships, 12 New York State championships, three NCAA Division I and three Division II title games.
The Sewanhaka grad won the state championship in the 800 meters in 1960 and followed up with a state title in the mile run the next spring.
He held Nassau County’s career records for passing yards (5,376) and touchdown passes (68).when he graduated from St. Dominic in 1975. He was the second CHSAA player to win the Thorp Award.
A football and lacrosse coach at Manhasset, Cherry led the Indians to 112 victories and two county titles on the gridiron. On the lacrosse field, he racked up two state championships, and three Long Island and Nassau titles.
She led Elmont to a Nassau and Long Island girls basketball title before working as the Director of Athletics at Elmont, the District Coordinator of Health Education at Sewanhaka, the District Director of Health, Physical Education and Athletics at Lynbrook and Harborfields.
She helped South Side capture its first state title in 1987, and as a senior at Virginia was a finalist for the Hermann Trophy given to the top female college soccer player in the country.
A gymnastics judge for 52 years, she was a founder of the New York State Girls Gymnastics Association and co-authored the New York State Girls Gymnastics Handbook.
A four-year starter at Holy Trinity, he led the Titans to three CHSAA championships and a New York State Federation title.
He led Manhasset to back-to-back county lacrosse championships in 1975 and 1976, scoring four goals in each championship game.
A three-sport star at Freeport, his single-game scoring record of 50 points stood for 28 years with the Red Devils. He also coached Freeport’s boys basketball team for 18 years and won the 1978 county championship.
He was a three-sport standout at Massapequa, excelling in football, wrestling and lacrosse.
Reginald “Reggie” Giddens
One of Oyster Bay’s most talented athletes, he competed in four sports; football, basketball, track and field, and baseball.
Laid the groundwork of South Side’s girls soccer dynasty, leading the Cyclones to their first state championship appearance in 1986.
J. Kenneth (Dutch) Hafner
He coached football, basketball and baseball at Mineola and served as the school’s athletic director as well as president of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association.
The four-year starter at Malverne sparked the Mules to two Nassau, Long Island and New York State championships.
As quarterback, he led Bethpage to a pair of Long Island Championships, was a four-year starter on the basketball team and helped the lacrosse team capture its only state title in 1996.
After playing football and baseball at North Shore, he became the Executive Director for Interscholastic Athletics in Nassau County.
A three-sport star, he held the Manhasset record for most steals when he graduated and played college lacrosse at Cornell.
A versatile athlete at Hempstead, he won the Thorpe award and led the football team to a 19-1 record over two seasons. Hough also played basketball, setting a state tournament single-game record of seven three-pointers, and was a lacrosse midfielder.
Founded and served as the announcer for the Long Island Sports Network, broadcasting regular-season, playoff and championship games.
A standout basketball player at Great Neck South, he spent 28 years as Syosset’s tennis coach, winning four straight Nassau and Long Island titles from 2009 to 2012. He also led the 1982 Westbury girls basketball team to a state title.
Boasting speed and strong stickhandling skills, the Uniondale lacrosse star helped his team rack up 45 straight victories.
Lynch officiated more than 30 county finals, 10 Long Island finals and two state finals in girls and boys volleyball. She also recorded a 302-92 record as the Oceanside softball coach.
Recorded an 86-25 record at Holy Trinity, including a boys basketball state championship, before moving to Long Island Lutheran, where he went 182-51.
Played with and against boys at Kennedy Park in Hempstead, before joining the girls basketball team and scoring a state-record 60 points in a 62-60 victory over Bethpage.
She became the county’s first female director of athletics at Holy Trinity in 1980, and also held positions at Sewanhaka and North Shore.
A star at Baldwin in the 1920s, she was part of the 1934 Polish Olympic Team as a long jumper.
Pitched for the baseball team at Oceanside, leading the team to consecutive unbeaten seasons in the late 1920s.
He rushed for over 5,800 yards at both Roosevelt and Freeport and capped his high school career by winning the Thorp Award.
Emily Pickering Harner
Led Berner High School to a girls soccer championship and was a driving force in founding the USA Women’s National Soccer Team, serving as its first captain.
Coached the Baldwin wrestling team to more than 100 victories, including an unbeaten record in 1946.
Patty Reynolds Basile
The second Long Island girls basketball player to reach the 2,000-point mark, she finished with 2,258 points as a four-year starter at Valley Stream South.
A force on the football field for Elmont, he also played basketball, baseball and lacrosse before a pro career with the Green Bay Packers.
In a 30-year career at South Side, she’s compiled a 444-134 record coaching the girls volleyball team. She also coached gymnastics and the boys volleyball team at Valley Stream North.
Founded the indoor track and cross country teams at Manhasset and posted 22 unbeaten cross country seasons. His track teams won 19 Nassau and six state titles.
A star defender for the South Side girls soccer team, she helped the Cyclones capture state titles in 1987 and 1988.
A standout at Long Island Lutheran, Thomforde helped jumpstart the school’s boys basketball program.
The three-sport star at Seaford gained national fame when he led N.C. State to a win over Houston in the 1983 NCAA basketball final.
He played football, basketball and baseball at Oceanside in the 1940s and played for the Knicks at the same time he was attending Columbia Medical School.
During his 24 years with the Roosevelt football team, the Rough Riders won 10 Nassau championships and four Long Island Championships. He posted an overall record of 182-61-2.
Marion (Miki) Waldman DeBaise
A four-sport standout at Baldwin, she went on to be an All-American field hockey player at Arcadia University and represented the USA in international field hockey competitions.
In 30-plus years at Lawrence Woodmere Academy, he won over 600 games, including a pair of Federation titles.
He founded the Oceanside boys soccer team and, in 27 years, won 315 games, 11 Nassau championships and four Long Island crowns. His unbeaten 1973 team outscored opponents 99-4.