MAHOPAC, N.Y. – In upcoming weeks, Mahopac News will spotlight Mahopac High School senior student-athletes, getting their thoughts on the possibility of missing their spring seasons, their hopes and disappointments, and how they’re handling the situation.
They all know it’s not looking good. That the odds of salvaging any part of a spring school—and sports—season are slim at best.
Still, they hold on to hope.
But that hope took another blow last week, when New York State ordered all schools to remain closed until at least April 15. Section 1 officials said they will reassess the possibility of a shortened spring sports season at that time.
Mahopac News spoke with senior student-athletes from the varsity baseball team last week, who said they are missing practices, games, school and—most of all—each other.
The Indians seniors includes two pairs of twins—outfielder/pitcher Matt Luongo and infielder Chris Luongo, and infielders Nolan Tomassio and Mike Tomassio—first baseman Joe Bartholdi, outfielder Christian Campo, outfielder/pitcher James Meyer, outfielder Brendan McCrosson, and pitcher Dominic Caminitti.
“All of them have been playing since an early age, and they’ve been working so hard toward this senior season,” said Indians Manager Myckie Lugbauer. “It’s very upsetting; there’s no closure, no finality. They wanted to do something special their senior year, and now there’s a chance there could be nothing. You can sense the frustration. You’ve got to hurt for them.”
Caminitti and his teammates voiced some of that frustration.
“It’s terrible that we won’t be able to finish out our school and sports careers on a high note,” Caminitti said. “We’ve been working hard on the field and in the classroom for 12 years, and not being able to finish it the right way is a nightmare. I would definitely miss being with my friends in school because after this year, most of us are going our separate ways and doing our own things. I just want to spend as much time with them as I can while we’re together.”
Nolan Tomassio added, “Just like every other spring student-athlete, I’m heartbroken that my baseball career would be over just like that. The most disappointing part would be not playing with my teammates, who have become brothers to me. Most of us have been friends and have played together since we were little kids. It’s devastating to think we may never play together again.”
Meyer is hopeful, and said he’s learning to appreciate things in a new way.
“I’m not sure what to think,” he said about losing the season. “It’s something my teammates and I are trying not to think much about. I’m hopeful we play. But I’d miss every single aspect of losing this season. From practice, games, bus rides, just hanging out before practice. Every little thing that maybe we took for granted. Baseball, to me, has been my life the past 10 years, and that’s all I know come spring and summer. The memories have been unforgettable. So, to lose this season, my last season… I’d miss the memories we never got to have.”
Bartholdi put it more bluntly. “The thought of missing all spring school activities and sports is terrifying,” he said. “All the spring teams have been working hard all year to prepare for the season, and it might have all been for nothing. The seniors on this team might not get to have a senior night after their four years of hard work.”
Just about every senior agreed they’re earning a new appreciation for the little, and the not so little, things.
“Don’t take anything for granted,” McCrosson said. “I’ve played in this program for five years, and never could’ve seen this coming. So, all young athletes—enjoy the time you have, because it can be taken away at any time.”
Meyer agreed. “One-hundred percent, the biggest thing I have gotten out of this is do not take anything for granted,” he said. “Watching my senior year disappear just reminded me of how good we had it. The first thing I’ll tell anyone is school and being in a classroom is a blessing, and I wish I never thought otherwise. And for all the young athletes, definitely play every game like it’s your last. Because you never know. And now I’m sitting here looking back and thinking—did I play my last game ever?”
Chris Luongo said even he surprised himself at the things he missed.
“What I’ve learned from this crisis is that you should never take anything for granted, because you never know when that thing could be gone,” he said. “I’d do anything to get back on the baseball field right now. And even though I never thought I’d say this, I miss school, too. I think we all took these things for granted, because as of now, they were randomly taken away from us.”
Mike Tomassio took it a step further. “The big lesson I’ve learned is to never take my health for granted, and appreciate more time with your loved ones,” he said. “That each and every day is a gift. Also, I have a greater appreciation for health care providers and law enforcement who put their lives on the line each day to keep us safe and healthy.”
Matt Luongo, like all of his teammates, said winning a title would have been the dream scenario for his senior campaign.
“In my ‘dream’ season, our team would win the league and the section championship,” Luongo said. “And I’d have a great time playing the sport I love with my best friends and brothers one last time.”
Campo went on in more detail: “It would start on opening day, we’d take the field, and we’re all stoked to be out there,” he said. “We continue to win, and the season looks promising. We go on a little bit of a hot streak, and it looks like there is no stopping us. Teams should be afraid to play us. We continue into the playoffs and get that first-round bye. We go on to win the section championship and continue to the state championship. Then we look back on all the amazing memories we made our senior year. That’s my dream season.”
Caminitti (SUNY Adirondack) and McCrosson (Onondaga) hope to play college ball next spring, and Matt and Chris Luongo, and Nolan Tomassio, are hoping to play club ball in college.
The others may or may not play again.
“This was supposed to be my last season playing baseball, and words can’t describe the pain of missing this opportunity,” Mike Tomassio said. “We’ve been patiently waiting for this moment in our lives ever since we picked up a baseball.”
Meyer said, “This was my final season of sports, and if our season is canceled, I would be heartbroken. This would stick with me forever—the ‘what if” factor. I’m not sure whether I will continue in college with club or not yet.”
Campo added, “This would have been my last year, and the idea of missing out on it is devastating.”
Chris Luongo hopes to play club baseball in college, but his senior year at Mahopac could his last year playing the sport competitively.
“Possibly missing out on that would really be upsetting,” Chris Luongo said. “I’ve fallen in love with the sport of baseball ever since I began to play tee ball, and my teammates are people I’ve been playing with since those days. They’re my family that I have bonded so close to over the years. I am really hoping all of that doesn’t just disappear on us.”
Perhaps Nolan Tomassio summed up his teammate’s hopes best when he said: “If you asked me a couple months ago what my senior dream season would look like, I would go on and on about it. This season would be absolutely unforgettable. The dream season would be where my teammates and I are dogpiling at Pace University after winning a Section 1 title, and then partying on our bus ride home.
“But as of now, my senior dream season would be just to have a senior season,” Tomassio added. “This is my last year playing baseball, and I wouldn’t miss this season for the world.”