Oceanside High School rolled out the red carpet for a total of 10 inductees into its Sports Hall of Fame last week, including seven individuals, a baseball and soccer team and an entire family.
The school’s Hall of Fame resembles a mini-museum of Sailors’ sports history. Inside glass display cases are plaques honoring past hall members, and sports equipment commemorating past championship seasons, while photos of the winning teams hang above. Every two years, a ceremony is held to induct new members into sports history, known in Oceanside as the Circle of Pride.
This year’s ceremony was held at the Oceanside Knights of Columbus Hall on Nov. 13, and a common theme in the acceptance speeches was how thankful the inductees were to get their start at Oceanside High School.
Frank Januszewski, a longtime coach in the school district, established the Hall of Fame in 1962, and the Circle of Pride began in 2003 to honor former athletes and coaches who not only had successful high school sporting careers but also carried that success beyond graduation.
This year’s honors went to the baseball team of 1968 to 1970.
Also inducted were the boys’ Long Island champion soccer teams of 1968, 1969 and 1970. The soccer teams’ members benefited from playing together from a young age, and were able to improve their skills and develop teamwork. Coach Artie Wright led the school’s varsity soccer program from 1953 to 1980, with his teams dominating Long Island soccer in the 1960s and 1970s resulting in the three consecutive titles. Coach Wright was known as a great motivator, enabling his players to achieve their fullest potential.
The 1969 soccer team finished 17-0-1, with a 0-0 draw against Berner High School in mid-season, representing the only game that kept the Sailors from attaining a perfect record. Unfortunately, teammate Rudy Lamonica died after an illness the following year. Although more than 50 years has passed since that tragedy, the team’s members still spoke of the love and the bond they had formed with Lamonica in high school.
Also inducted into the hall this year was the Caracciolo family. Peter and Rose Caracciolo moved to Oceanside in 1949 and became parents of four boys, Peter, Matthew, Michael and Thomas.
The father graduated from Oceanside High School in 1968, and his wife the following year.
Their sons graduated between 1994 and 2002, excelling in track and field, football and lacrosse, and have worked for various professional sports teams.
Their father also coached them in youth baseball, football and lacrosse, and served as a scoutmaster as all four boys earned Eagle Scout status. Rose Caracciolo was involved in Oceanside High School’s Drill Team and the Student Service Squad, and was recruited by Coach Januszewski to help revamp the Hall of Fame.
Another of this year’s inductees was Caitlyn Collins Siniscalchi, a three-sport athlete in soccer, basketball and lacrosse, and 2007 Female Athlete of the Year. She managed to complete her acceptance speech right before the power went out in the hall.
Only six days before the ceremony, Siniscalchi gave birth to her third child. Her remarkable grit, timing and strength is partly what inspired Coach Kevin Sheehan to nickname her “dirty” as a sophomore lacrosse player. Siniscalchi said the name refers to her ability to get the ball back and make seemingly impossible moves on the lacrosse field.
Siniscalchi has coached girls’ varsity basketball, girls’ JV lacrosse, girls’ varsity lacrosse, boys’ soccer, boys’ basketball and girls’ basketball, maintaining a winning record with multiple undefeated seasons. She works as a Spanish teacher at South Side Middle School in Rockville Centre.
“When you play sports with people you end up making lifelong friends because of all the sacrifices you go through, and being able to communicate on and off the field is another great aspect of team sport,” Siniscalchi said.
She added that she’s teaching her students they should always show up and give their best effort.
Other inductees were Christopher Paggi, who earned Nassau County All-League, All-Division, and All-County awards during high school, as well as multiple individual honors in college and beyond. He remains an active member of the Long Island soccer community.
Inductee Gary Statham, a standout in soccer, also competed for three years in varsity gymnastics and in track and field for Oceanside High School, and his relay team won the New York State Track and Field Championship in 1969.
A. Hugh Jack Sr., another inductee, was captain of the high school’s varsity basketball, baseball and football teams. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps and was a tail gunner on a B-17 bomber but was shot down over Belgium and became a prisoner in a Nazi POW camp for 16 months. A devout Catholic, he is remembered for his activism and care for his family and neighbors.
Inductee Jim Volpe, a soccer player at Oceanside High School who graduated in 1968, also coached soccer for decades in Oceanside. He has raised more than $300,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the North Shore Long Island Jewish Monter Cancer Center in honor of his wife, Marianne, who died of acute lymphocytic leukemia.
“It was a great night, more than I ever could have anticipated,” Volpe explained in a press release. “Players who I played with in high school, players who I coached on my first boys travel team and players who I coached on my first girls travel team were all there. I took it to heart to receive an award and was with the people I grew up with.”
Other Oceanside inductees included Lynn Miller, a highly accomplished tennis player and acclaimed tennis coach, who was previously inducted into the U.S. Tennis Association New England Hall of Fame; and Mike Delibero, an athlete who excelled in football, wrestling and track and field, and was only prevented from playing basketball because it took place in the same season as wrestling.