It’s been said, at times, that the journey is more important than the destination. In the case of the Long Beach High School football team, the road to the opening round of the Nassau Conference II playoffs was about as rough as possible, both literally and figuratively.
When Superstorm Sandy rocked the community, Long Beach head coach Scott Martin didn’t have football on his mind, but rather the health and well-being of the young men on his team and their families.
“Once we saw how badly the area was hit, the coaching staff tried to account for all of the guys on the team,” Martin said. “The last thing on our minds was football. We were just thinking about the kids. We didn’t know where a lot of them were. Even when we started to get an idea where everyone was, I figured there was no way we could play. There was just too much to overcome.”
As late as Tuesday, just four days prior to Long Beach’s scheduled game at Carey High School, there appeared to be little chance that the Marines would be able to put a team on the field. Nearly all of the homes of the members of the team suffered significant damage, the team’s equipment and uniforms were destroyed, and preparing to play a postseason game seemed impossible.
Things began looking up when Martin spoke with Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton on their morning show on WFAN. Offers to assist the team came in from all over the metropolitan area. Equipment was secured, Hofstra University offered its facilities for the team to practice, but there was still the matter of getting the team together.
“The bus took off from Lido, went all the way to the West End, through Island Park, and then over to Hofstra,” Martin said. “The bus driver needed to make about 15 stops to get the guys. With the condition of the roads, the traffic lights not working, and so much wreckage, it was a tough ride for the drivers. We had to do the same thing on game day. There was so much uncertainty, and so many distractions.”
Thanks to Hofstra, the Esiason Foundation, Under Armour, Xenith, and others, the Marines were able to compete. Martin was quick to mention where other support came from.
“The Superintendent of Schools, and the Athletic Director, Arnie Epstein, were extremely supportive,” Martin said. “The kids wanted to play, and the administration did all that was necessary to make it happen. There are so many positives to come out of this. I’m very proud of the team, and the entire community.”