Whether you pronounce it Harvard or Hah-vad, the accent is always on education at the prestigious Ivy League university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. And that’s where two of Long Island’s most gifted scholar-athletes will be spending the next four years.
Zach Hobbes, a football and lacrosse captain at Ward Melville, and Alexandrea Harriott, a track and soccer star at Central Islip, were named winners of the 2018 Butch Dellecave Award on Sunday. The award is given to a male and female Suffolk student-athlete who shows excellence in athletics, academics and the community. Both will continue their academic and athletic careers at Harvard.
That’s about as high as you can aim for a college destination, but both have demonstrated they have what it takes to reach lofty goals.
“Zach is a phenomenal young man with an extremely high level of character and moral fiber,” said Ward Melville boys lacrosse coach Jay Negus. “This is a kid that does the right thing because it’s the right thing, not because he’s going to get something from it. He’s a true leader and leads by example.”
So does Harriott.
“She’s a very important member of the team as well as a phenomenal leader,” Central Islip girls track coach Erin Murphy said. “People just listen to her. Her teammates are very willing to listen to what she has to say and they work for her.”
Hobbes and Harriott each received plaques as well as $1,000 scholarships from Guy and Mark Dellecave, sons of the late Butch Dellecave, for whom the award is named. Butch Dellecave was an educator in the Connetquot district for 30 years, an esteemed basketball official and one of the founders of the Suffolk Hall of Fame. The award has been presented annually since 2001 by the Butch Dellecave Foundation, the Economic Opportunity Council of Suffolk and Newsday.
This year’s other male finalists were Nicholas Duchatellier (Half Hollow Hills West), Mason Gatewood (St. Anthony’s), Jake Guercio (West Islip) and Joseph Musumeci (Central Islip). The other female finalists were Mia Abulencia (Half Hollow Hills West), Alice Chiodo (Glenn), Mackenzie Cole (Connetquot) and Lauren Maline (Commack).
Hobbes capped a memorable weekend by adding the Dellecave Award to the state Class A boys lacrosse championship he helped his team win on Saturday. Hobbes and Ward Melville rolled to an impressive 18-2 victory over West Genesee in the championship game.
“Wow, what a weekend,” said Hobbes, who scored two goals in the title game. “Winning a state championship and then being recognized for the Dellecave Award is a great way to end my high school career. When I heard what the award represents and after a man who gave so much back to his community it made it even more special for me. I am so honored to receive this award.”
The two-way midfielder is much more than a scorer. “He does everything for us,” Negus said.
Hobbes also was a finalist for the Collatta Award as the best linebacker in Suffolk County and will play for the Long Island team in Friday’s Empire Challenge at Hofstra.
Hobbes’ impressive resume goes beyond sports, obviously, as evidenced by his admission into Harvard. But he also gives back to the community, volunteering at veterans’ homes and often playing chess and checkers with the residents.
He organized the Patriots’ lacrosse team to go to Calverton Cemetery to put flags on the graves of the soldiers on Memorial Day and played a major part in two fundraisers for Blue Star Mothers of America, which sends goods overseas to U.S. troops. “I hope one day my daughters meet someone like that,” Negus said. “He’s an amazing kid.”
So is Harriott, whose brother Livingstone won the 2016 Dellecave Award. That same year, he also won the Marcus A. Henry Award, which Newsday presents annually to a Long Island high school athlete who not only excelts on the field and in the classrooom but displays great leadership. The award is in memory of the late Newsday sports reporter. Livingstone is attending Brown, also an Ivy League school.
“When my name was called, I was so surprised,” Harriott said. “I really couldn’t believe it. It was so exciting, what an extremely special honor. My brother won a really prestigious high school award and I guess I’m following right in his footsteps.”
Alexandrea is the class valedictorian at Central Islip with a 101.75 weighted average. She’ll be majoring in the weighty field of applied mathematics.
“She was very proud that she got into Harvard and wants to make sure she maintains a certain average before she takes on an extra workload,” Murphy said. “She’s super involved in a lot of things. She demands a lot of herself. Her work ethic is outstanding.”
Athletically, Harriott earned all-county and all-league honors as a defender on the Musketeers’ soccer team and as a versatile runner on the track team. She was captain of the soccer team and a co-captain of the track team. Off the field, her school activities include being student conductor of the concert choir.
In the community, she does volunteer work for, among others, the American Lung Association, Parent Teacher Student Association, the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research and the Food Pantry of Central Islip.
Two journeys to Harvard Yard got their starts in the backyards of Suffolk County.