Manhasset Press (MP): What teams do you expect to be contenders this fall?
James Amen (JA): It’s difficult to predict title contenders or conference champions. The only expectations I have is that we compete, compete successfully, try to the best we can and work hard. If you work hard and do the right things you usually have success, but success is measured in many different ways, not necessarily a title. We expect to be competitive in the league structure that we participate in.
MP: Have there been any upgrades to any of the facilities since last year?
JA: We have a storage closet, which really needed new shelving. Over the summer, I removed all of our supplies and equipment myself. We then tore apart the existing wood shelving and we’re in the process of finishing up the installation of the new floor and we’re waiting for the shelving to be installed.
MP: Any other upgrades that you’re looking at for the future?
JA: When meeting with the superintendent, we have talked about eventually replacing our exterior turf fields because they wear out over time. When I first came in 2013, they had just finished replaced the stadium field, second generation of artificial turf. I’m that the northwest field is going to have to be replaced eventually, the softball turf field as well. Over time they wear out, eight to 10 years. There is a long-range plan, at certain times those fields are going to be replaced.
MP: Have you seen an increase or decrease in participation for any sports?
JA: No, we normally have full participation. The enrollment in football is a little down throughout the country and the state of New York because of the concussion awareness and the stigma that the NFL has left us with the CTE and concussions. Enrollment of our boys middle school team is lower than it used to be, but we still have about 25 to 30 kids on each one of the seventh and eighth grade teams, we still have two teams.
MP: Do you expect that the enrollment for football to keep on going down?
JA: I don’t know. It’s hard to predict the future. On a nationwide scale—except for big-time football areas like Texas and Florida—I can’t speak for every state in the country, but I know on Long Island the numbers in certain areas have been reduced. Great Neck has a very low football enrollment, I think last year Great Neck North and South combined. It depends on your school and what some schools are known for, I’m sure they don’t have any problems with football participation in Lawrence, Freeport and Farmingdale, those are big football communities. We certainly don’t have low enrollment with lacrosse in Manhasset because lacrosse is very popular here.
MP: Do you expect more schools to combine with each other or completely cut out football?
JA: When you cut it out, it’s kind of drastic. Let’s say you had a son at a school that was interested in playing football, the enrollment was down, they decided to cancel football and your son would have been out of luck. The next best thing would be for two schools to merge, but you need to understand that when schools merge, they combine their enrollment so let’s say a Class C school combines with another Class C school, their enrollment will be larger and they might become a Class B school.
MP: Is there any athlete that expect to have a breakout season this year?
JA: One of our female golfers, Lauren Chen, she made it to the county and state tournament last year. I think she will have a great year. Aiden Mulholland, football and lacrosse player, had a great last year, certainly he will have another great year. Hard to single out individual players, but those are two I can think of.