Written by Joe Scotchie Friday, 20 November 2009 00:00
Recently, The Roslyn News featured a book about Long Island sports by Mineola native Irving Long.
An Ode to Long Island Sports contains numerous references to the key events in Roslyn High School’s athletic story. It includes the most recent achievement, the 2008-2009 championship basketball squad, but the book also details events from the 1920s to the present.
Key dates in Roslyn’s sports history are, according to Mr. Long, 1924, 1925, 1954, 1955, 1978, and the big events of last year.
In the 1920s, the Village of Roslyn, mirroring the Roaring 20s itself, had begun a growth phase. This also was mirrored in the growth of Roslyn High School, which had a new home by 1925. The school’s athletic teams shared in the glory of the times. The boys’ basketball squad won a Long Island championship in 1924. The next year, the girls’ basketball squad won the North Shore Sectional basketball crown and finished second in the North Shore League to Sea Cliff. In 1927, the boys track squad got a measure of revenge by defeating Sea Cliff in the two schools’ annual dual track meeting, taking, in the process, a “finely engraved silver shield,” one awarded by the American Legion of Sea Cliff.
The 1920s were about more than top athletic teams on the basketball court and the track fields. The village was also home to the Roslyn Polo Field, located on Old Westbury Road, north to Round Hill Road on the west side of Locust Lane. Roy Moger, the great historian of the old Roslyn, served as a time keeper for polo games, which once were popular in the New York area.
Mr. Long then fast forwards to the 1950s. By then, Long Island was losing its rural character, becoming as the politicians enjoy pointing out, the nation’s first suburban community. However, the Roslyn High School football squad was in decline, so much so that school officials decided to drop the program altogether. Just as quickly, local residents—and the Roslyn High School student body—were uncomfortable with the decision. Or as Mr. Long quotes from the 1954 Roslyn High School yearbook:
“Although football was abandoned in Roslyn this year, the freshman showed enough drive and ambition to form a freshman football squad. With a great deal of stamina, this team had a fairly good season, winning two of five games. It is hoped that these boys will continue to take an interest in football. Perhaps someday soon, junior varsity and varsity football will once again appear at Roslyn High.”
Which, in fact, turned out to be the case, as the 1955 school year saw the return of varsity football to Roslyn High School, where it has remained since. An avid observer of all things having to do with high school sports, Mr. Long even notes the thrilling win the Bulldogs had at their first-ever night game in 2008.
Although Roslyn is not the largest high school on Long Island or even on the North Shore, it has remained competitive on the athletic field. In 1978, the Roslyn soccer squad won both the Class B county championship and the state title. Thirty years later, the basketball team won the first conference title in the school’s history, led by George Beamon, the most prolific scorer in the school’s history. Last year, the boys’ bowling squad had a 12-0 record, while also winning the county championship.
Over the years, Roslyn has produced countless star athletes in all sports, including tennis and volleyball. Even such a prolific scholar as Irving Long can’t get all of them into print, but such athletes are known to Roslyn residents and especially, to the family members of those high school stars.
Mr. Long’s book is available at such local venues as Nick’s Coffee Shop and Diner (next to the Mineola train station), Bookmarx, located at 28 Lincoln Avenue in Roslyn Heights, the Williston Town House Diner, located at 112 Hillside Avenue in Williston Park, and Vincenti’s Barber Shop, located at 225 Willis Avenue in Mineola. You can also call Irving Long at (910) 206-0312.