Meet the finalists for Newsday’s Marcus A. Henry Award.
This award, in memory of former Newsday sports reporter Marcus Henry, is presented annually to a Long Island high school student who excels in the classroom and in athletics, and also displays great leadership. The winner will be announced this week at newsday.com/highschool and a profile of the recipient will be published in Newsday.
Malcolm Bell, Baldwin, Senior
Malcolm Bell has excelled as an athlete during his career at Baldwin. He was honorable mention All-County as a soccer goalie and as a defenseman in lacrosse. He also was the kicker for the football team.
Last year, he claimed a title after competing against students from 15 schools across Long Island in a test of strength and knowledge of physical education concepts at Adelphi University.
But what the decorated senior is most proud of is the impact he has made on his school and in his community."
There's so much diversity in Baldwin, people have so many differences. It's what I love most about it," Bell said. "Whether you are a freshman or a senior, everyone has an opportunity to do something for someone."
Bell helps with Sunday school at his church and volunteers in the summer as a Vacation Bible School counselor. He is a member of the National Honor Society, Athletes Helping Athletes and HIV/AIDS Peer Educators, a group that informs other students about the dangers of the disease.
"You won't find a teacher with a negative thing to say about him," said Ed Ramirez, Baldwin's athletic director. "He's the most well-rounded young man I have ever come across. He genuinely cares about his classmates."
Bell has accepted a lacrosse scholarship from the University of Hartford, but his focus remains on his community. He plans to rejuvenate the youth lacrosse program in Baldwin and make the sport more inclusive for special needs children.
"With everything I do, I want everyone to know that they can do it too," Bell said. "I just want to instill confidence in the people I'm around."
-- NICK FESSENDEN
Mackenzie Cole, Connetquot, Senior
Mackenzie Cole has set a standard of excellence that goes beyond her stellar accomplishments on the volleyball court.
The Connetquot standout started in every match for the last six seasons to help the Thunderbirds win two state championships, while also setting the state record for career digs. This past season, the four-time All-Long Island athlete was named Long Island player of the year and the Gatorade state player of the year in girls volleyball.
"Trying to keep up with Mackenzie's work ethic makes our whole team better," teammate Nicole Migliozzi said.
Cole has brought that same commitment to her community and the classroom. She raised over $6,000 for a family in her community with a child that was suffering from brain cancer, and collected 50 prom dresses to be provided and donated to special-needs students.
She has also helped with the school's annual Dig Pink Volleyball Fundraiser to raise breast cancer awareness, and volunteers to coach at various different youth levels.
Cole has also challenged herself academically with honors, Advanced Placement and college dual-enrollment courses and still had an unweighted average of 93.0 after her junior year. She will play libero for Duke in the fall.
"It is quite rare to find an athlete of her caliber with her dedication and work ethic," Connetquot coach Justin Hertz said. "Mackenzie is the most recognized and honored girls volleyball player in Long Island history."
With Cole, her team won four county titles, three Long Island championships and state Class AA titles in 2015 and 2017.
"Mackenzie Cole is the complete package," Migliozzi said. "Anyone on the team would run through a wall for Mackenzie because we know she would do the same for us in a heartbeat."
-- SAL CACCIATORE
Anna Gagliano, Seaford, Senior
Even though the cheerleading season ends in early March Anna Gagliano never stops. The four-year Seaford captain and Newsday's Nassau cheerleader of the year led her team to the state tournament the last two years.
Gagliano used her cheerleading talent to establish a pep squad that involved and cheers athletes in Seaford's creative development program, which consists of special-needs students. Now in its second year the squad performs in February and March, during the stretch run of the varsity cheer season.
"They needed more social activities and cheerleading would have been too much of an undertaking for them so the pep squad fit their needs," Gagliano said.
As the treasurer of the student council she played a key role in organizing events that helped the community. "This year we did two blood drives, a food drive and a toy drive," Gagliano said. "The toy drive was especially important because it benefited people outside of our community as well."
"She's a role model for her teammates and a model Seaford citizen," Seaford athletic director Mike Spreckels said. "She volunteers her time and she helps out any way she can. She's a true captain and leader."
Gagliano was a five-year varsity cheerleader and was a captain as a freshman.
"The most endearing thing is that she just is who she is without apologies," cheerleading coach Lisa Ferrari said. "It's just so hard to even describe. She has so much pride and so much spirit and she's the heart and driving force of the team."
She also took three AP classes this year.
"She's fearless, she's selfless and so driven and motivated and not just for her own personal gain," Ferrari said. "It's really unmatched the stuff she does."
-- GENE MORRIS
Mason Gatewood, St. Anthony's, Senior
Whether on the track, in the classroom, or within the community, Mason Gatewood strives for excellence. And, if his athletic prowess is any guide, he usually gets what he strives for.
Gatewood, who was born in Georgia and has lived in five states, began his high school career in Kentucky. He only needed a short time to make his mark on Long Island. He morphed from a middle distance runner as a junior to one of the best long distance runners in the country as a senior.
Gatewood, who will study at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania this fall, broke out during his senior cross country season, winning the state federation championship. He was one of only 40 boys in the nation to qualify for the Foot Locker Nationals in San Diego.
Gatewood's excellence continued into track season. He qualified for the prestigious Millrose Games in the mile and won an indoor state championship with the 4x800 relay.
But Gatewood may have saved his most dramatic track performance for last. He ran a 1 minute, 51.06 second-anchor leg to complete St. Anthony's last-to-first place comeback in the state outdoor 4x800 relay championship. It capped one of the more successful recent senior years for a track athlete.
An AP scholar with a 94.5 percent weighted average, Gatewood will graduate on the St. Anthony's Principal List. He is a member of the National Honor Society, English Honor Society, and the St. Anthony's Leadership team.
Gatewood also takes pride in volunteering. He volunteers at the Three Village Kid Lemonade Stand, which raises money for Stony Brook Hospital, the Sunset Walk in Breezy Point, which raises money for breast cancer patients, and for Inclusive Sports and Fitness, a charity that involves children with disabilities in sports and other activities.
-- JORDAN LAUTERBACH
Alexandrea Harriott, Central Islip, Senior
There are times when it appears Alexandrea Harriott cares more about her teammates' achievements than her own.
"Although Alex is equally skilled in the areas of athletics, academics and leadership, what amazes me most about her is her ability to be unselfish and humble," Central Islip athletic director Lawrence Philips said. "She is always the first one to let me know about everyone else's accomplishments. She gushes about her teammates who break school records."
Harriott was an All-County defender for the Central Islip girls soccer team and a versatile runner for the track team. She was captain of both squads. "She's a very important member of the team," Musketeer track coach Erin Murphy said. "She demands a lot of herself. Her work ethic is outstanding."
So is her leadership, on and off the field. "Alex is unique because her dedication and achievement athletically, academically and leadership-wise is unparalleled," Philips said.
Harriott, the class valedictorian with a 101.75 weighted average who plans to major in applied mathematics at Harvard, recently won the girls' Butch Dellecave Award that recognizes a Suffolk student-athlete who excels in athletics, academics and the community. Her brother, Livingstone, won the 2016 Dellecave and Marcus A. Henry awards.
"She understands what a great community Central Islip is and takes advantage of all the opportunities it offers," Philips said.
That includes being president of the Sweet Adeline's chorus, student conductor of the concert choir, youth leader at Central Islip First United Methodist Church and volunteer at the Lustgarten Foundation and other charitable organizations.
"I have known Alex for six years and I am blessed to have watched her turn into one of the most well-rounded students I have ever come across," Philips said. "Alex is truly special."
-- BOB HERZOG
Zach Hobbes, Ward Melville, Senior
Ward Melville lacrosse coach Jay Negus called Zach Hobbes "an old soul."
Negus meant that as a high compliment to his young midfielder's depth of character. "His maturity level and his kind-heartedness for others set him apart from his peers," Negus said. "Zach is a true and exceptional leader because he leads by example and because he makes the others around him strive to do their best."
Hobbes was a captain and standout linebacker for the Patriots' football team as well as being a captain and key player of the lacrosse team that earlier this month won its second straight state championship. He recently was honored with the boys' Butch Dellecave Award given annually to a Suffolk student-athlete who demonstrates excellence in athletics, academics and the community.
A first-team Newsday All-Long Island lacrosse player for 2018 who scored 33 goals, played tough defense and excelled on ground balls, Hobbes will attend Harvard. "He had the ability to play Division I football had he not already committed to Harvard for lacrosse," football coach Chris Boltrek said. "During my time with Zach, I witnessed one of the most determined, yet humble players I have ever coached."
Besides his academic record, Hobbes volunteers at veterans' homes and often plays board games with the residents. He works closely with the Blue Star Mothers of America, collecting donations for service members abroad. Hobbes also organized a "Jeans for Troop Day" in an elementary school to further show his support for the armed forces.
"Zach is a tenacious competitor and truly dominant force," Negus said. "Whether it be football or lacrosse, Zach brings his teams to the next level and makes his teammates better."
-- BOB HERZOG