Winter 2017-2018 Sports Captains Full Interviews

Leon Zhao, Sports Editor


  1. What makes the winter season unique for you as an athlete?
  2. What are your goals for the team this season?
  3. What are your personal goals for this season? And how do they relate to your goals for the team?
  4. What challenges do you anticipate this season?
  5. How are you planning to overcome these challenges?

Boys Fencing: Ben Rogak (Junior)

  1. Actually, the winter season really isn’t unique for me. Since fencing is an indoor sport, it doesn’t matter when or where it is. As long as there’s a strip, you can fence.
  2. As a team, I hope we continue our streak and continue to go undefeated while improving our overall skill and connection with each other. Over the years, I feel like the team has grown apart and I want the unity and team spirit to grow stronger.
  3. My personal goal is to go undefeated in my personal bouts. Last year I went 28-3 so it would be great to have a perfect record. Of course, I would also like to be a county champion again. These goals will be nearly impossible to accomplish without the support of the team. In bringing the team closer together, I feel I’ll be capable of achieving this.
  4. To be honest, I don’t anticipate many challenges. We’re losing five of our last year’s starters, which can be concerning, but I’ve seen a lot of kids who weren’t starters last year training hard throughout the off season. I have confidence that we’ll, as a team, continue to dominate the strip.
  5. Our main strategy is Couch Jeff’s method of starting fencers. In order to win a meet you need to reach 14 wins, but no matter what, the team always needs to finish all 27 bouts. Once we hit 14 wins, Coach Jeff will put in the subs so they can feel the pressure and intensity of being on the varsity strip. All of our new starters have had experience on the starting strip or, through training, have fenced in similarly intense situations. Our strategy will be the same as it’s always been and I hope we’ll be successful again this season.  

Girl’s Fencing: Sandie O’Brien (Junior)

  1. I think the winter fencing season is unique for me because everybody is so close. Competing against other schools is a lot of fun, and, with our team, fencing has become more of a team sport than an individual sport.
  2. My goal for the team as a whole is for us to go undefeated and to win each meet by as many points as possible.
  3. My individual goal is to fence my best and hopefully go undefeated myself this year. The better I do, the more it’ll help the team.
  4. The most challenging thing this season is not having many returning starters – a lot of people graduated.
  5. I plan on helping to overcome this challenges by fencing my best and helping the junior varsity fencers get better so they can become starters as well.

Girls Basketball: Shannon Brazier (Senior)

  1. I think the winter season is unique because it shows how truly dedicated we all are to the team. Everyone is 100% committed if they decide to participate in a winter sport – the season falls during a lot of very long breaks and, rather than being able to go away, we’re all in gym, practicing everyday. Still, I think we all somehow manage to enjoy our breaks and have as much fun as we would if we were away. I think that’s really special.
  2. Our goals for the season are to go as far as possible. The last two years we’ve been league champs and were predicted to go pretty much all the way but both years we fell short of our goals in playoffs. This year we’re determined to do better than that and just show ourselves and others what we can really do.
  3. My personal goals are just to develop more and contribute as best as I can, both on and off the court. This relates to the team goal because if everyone gives their best effort, we can easily prove how much we are capable of doing.
  4. I think the greatest challenge is going to be adapting. We lost a lot of players from last year. This year we have a new coach and a lot of new players. The biggest issue will be getting used to a different style of play.
  5. The coach has been great at pushing us and a lot of new players are stepping up. As long as we work together, I don’t think this issue will matter the further we get into the season.

Boys Winter Track: Danny Ryan (Senior)

  1. The winter season is unique to me because we have the opportunity to run on indoor tracks such as the Armory and Ocean Breeze.
  2. My goals for the team are to qualify for states in the 4x800m and then hopefully get All-American at Nationals in March.
  3. My individual goals are to qualify for States in the 1k or mile and to have the opportunity to run at the Millrose games. Achieving my goals will ultimately help the team because they will only make the relay team better and improve our success as a team.
  4. We will have some competition in the 4x800m, being that Northport is the defending national champion, but now the second place team can qualify with the state standard. As an individual it’s just a matter of staying healthy and making every race count.
  5. To overcome these goals we just need to have consistent training and work well as a team. For me I just need to make sure I do well in the workouts and do injury prevention and cross training.

Girls Winter Track: Sam Sturgess (Senior)

  1. It’s cool because we don’t train on the same place that we race.  We always race on an indoor track and we train on an outdoor track so it’s cool to get a different feel for both.
  2. My goals this season are to be All-American and All-State again.
  3. I want to improve my time little by little each season so that we can get better on the relay.
  4. Getting over cross country because we had a rough season, we want to live and learn and move past it.
  5. I think we need to forget about the bad and learn from our mistakes.

Boys Basketball: Rick Carbone (Senior)

  1. The winter season is unique to me as an athlete because it takes a lot out of each individual everyday. Since we get out of practice typically around 6 or 8 at night, it is always pitch black outside — unlike when we play and practice during the other times of year. This just mentally affects the athletes because you feel as if your night is already over once you finish practice even though it’s still early; it makes it tough to keep a motivated mindset for getting schoolwork done after practices and games everyday.
  2. The goals for the team this year is to win League 1 — which we came within one game of last year — and to make an appearance to Stony Brook; hopefully, we can make a Long Island Championship appearance as well, as we definitely have the experience to do so this year.
  3. My personal goals are to get better after each practice and game that we have this year on an individual level, but also to build more and more chemistry with each guy on the court with us — I think that is the most important. This relates to my goals for the team because if we all can gel together and work with  one another rather than all being individually motivated, we will certainly be able to achieve out goals for the season.
  4. Challenges I anticipate are playing those tough away games that are crucial to winning League 1, as well as keeping focused in the back half of the season — it’s easy to let your focus lessen as the season progresses.
  5. I think that the team will easily overcome these challenges because we motivate each other to get better and we are all very hungry to get what we want this year — being our last year playing basketball for the school, this season holds extra sentiment for the seniors and I know that we won’t let the younger guys lose focus.

Cheerleading: Kaitlin Wilson (Senior)

  1. Even though we cheer for football and basketball, our actual season starts in the winter. Not many people may know too much about competitive cheerleading but our school team gets really into it. Each year we’re becoming more and more well-known not just on the island but across the country. I think that’s what makes us unique.. yeah everybody sees us at football and basketball games but they don’t really know what we really do.
  2. Our team goal this season is to first get a bid to nationals then fingers are crossed for top three. We were .2 points away from 3rd place at nationals last year so we’re ready to step it up and work extra hard.
  3. My personal goal for the season is not just to succeed on the mat but to make the best memories with the girls on my team. High school is short and it’s over in a blink of an eye and if we want top three in the nation, we need to work together to make it happen.
  4. The competition is a lot tougher this season. The rules have changed and there are always changes happening. But despite the challenges I know as a team we will rise above them.
  5. There are always challenges in every sport whether it’s injuries or losses or bad calls but the biggest challenge is overcoming those other challenges. The cheer team has had many MANY challenges in previous years but we wouldn’t have conquered them if we didn’t have each other. Being a family is definitely the most important part in succeeding. Last year our coach went into labor a week before nationals and we had to compete without her. We realized that our coach guided us to where we were but we worked together to make it happen.

Boys Swimming: David He (Senior)

  1. The winter season is unique  for me because it’s the varsity swim and dive season. A lot of the guys on the team and I have been swimming or diving for more than 10+ years on club teams, but the atmosphere of dual meets and the varsity team are completely different. I think varsity season is incredible because every time you compete, it’s for something greater than any one individual.
  2. We’d like to go undefeated this year in dual meets and hopefully win leagues, counties, and states as a team
  3. I really hope to just swim well for my team to score as many points as I can at leagues, counties, and states. I also want to be consistent at dual meets to help us go undefeated. At the larger meets like state championships, it’s all about swimming as fast as I can to score points for WM. But a state title and being a NISCA All-America this year are some personal goals I’ve set.
  4. We’ve got to stay motivated and focused this year. Half-Hollow Hills are a incredibly deep and strong team but if we work hard and follow our plans, we definitely are capable of beating them. A few other schools are also going to be very tough at the state level so we have to take it one meet at a time and stay healthy.
  5. The captains and seniors have a job to set good examples for the underclassmen. No matter how fast you are at swimming, everyone is a part of the team and contributes to the team’s success at leagues, counties, states. Creating a positive team  culture is extremely important.

Wrestling: Raf Lievano (Senior)

  1. The winter season is unique because it’s a rough season to say the least and it kinda adds to the effect of being a wrestler in that it’s a very tough
    sport to compete in.
  2. For the team this season it’s just simply to improve from last year, our team has a lot of potential and it’s up to the guys to grind it out and really make a name for themselves.
  3. My personal goal is to be a state champion, it’s the highest achievement in high school wrestling and i’ve been working towards it since Ii was in 5th grade, this helps the team to relate to each other because as the captain i would like my teammates to be inspired and strive to have the same goal as me.
  4. Cutting weight should be a pretty big challenge haha. I’ve been doing it since freshmen year so I’m pretty good at it by now but it’s still always going to be the main obstacle.
  5. I’m planning on dieting well and really focusing on my nutrition this year because that’s the one thing that most high school athletes haven’t really tapped into and it should give me quite an advantage.