At well-attended holiday dinners at the Beachhouse restaurant on Friday and Monday, the Montauk Rugby Club, the Old Montauk Athletic Club, East Hampton’s Ocean Rescue Squad, and Spokespeople, an organization that advocates on behalf of cyclists here, recognized a number of athletes for their contributions in the past year.
The Old Montauk Athletic Club’s awardees were Sharon McCobb, an ever-improving runner, cyclist, and swimmer who for several years now has helped oversee the triathletic training of 20 or so youngsters in the multidiscipline sport, and Diane Weinberger and Amanda Moszkowski, the very popular Hamptons Marathon and Half-Marathon directors.
McCobb was the club’s athlete of the year. Weinberger and Moszkowski, who raised $60,000 for the event’s various beneficiaries this fall, received the club’s community service award.
The East Hampton Volunteer Ocean Rescue Squad’s member of the year was Steven McMahon. Others cited for their efforts were James Arnold, who oversees the Swim Across America event, which raised more than $120,000 this year; John Ryan Sr., the guru of East Hampton lifeguarding and subject of a film documentary, some of which was shown at the dinner; Robin Streck; Rob Lambert; T.J. Calabrese; Bob Pucci; Scott Bradley, and Eddie Reid.
Rich Kalbacher, who spoke for the rescue squad, also thanked East Hampton’s supervisor, Bill Wilkinson, and East Hampton Village’s mayor, Paul Rickenbach, for their support, and hailed Kevin Harrington for having raised $50,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project through a recently completed 4,000-mile Montauk-to-San Diego bicycle ride, and Elias Van Sickle, an East Hampton High School student who, with Julian Verglas, raided more than $3,000 for the rescue squad through a 20-mile Montauk-to-Block Island kiteboard crossing in at-times 12-foot waves. Lambert and John Ryan Jr., ocean rescue squad members, went along with the kiteboarders on Jet Skis.
Sinead FitzGibbon, speaking for Spokespeople, cited McCobb for having shown that female athletes can, through focused training, become stronger as they age, and Theresa Roden, who two years ago founded the I-Tri program for Springs School girls — numbering about two dozen now — who had not theretofore thought of themselves as athletes.
“She’s a rock star — she really is,” FitzGibbon said of Roden, whose I-Tri motto is “Transformation Through Triathlon.”
She has changed the lives of these young women forever. . . . It goes beyond boosting their self-esteem. Their bodies and minds have been transformed [through triathlon training and through the program’s camaraderie] and as a result their futures will be transformed — educationally, physically, socially, and financially.”
About 16 of the I-Tri girls attended the OMAC dinner Monday night, all wearing red dresses. “That’s America,” FitzGibbon, a native of Northern Ireland, said as she looked over at the animated teens, who were at the two tables next to hers — “beautiful and strong.”
Gordon Trotter was cited twice at Friday’s Montauk Rugby Club dinner, also held at the Beachhouse — as the club’s player of the year (he led the Met Union’s Division II sides in scoring) and as clubman of the year, attesting to all the organizational and promotional work the New Zealand-born fly half has done.
Connor Miller, one of a number of younger players who gave the club, which went undefeated in Met Union play, a big boost this fall, was named as the club’s rookie of the year.
“Jarrel Walker [a first-year wing forward] was a close second for rookie of the year — he improved so much over the course of the year,” Montauk’s coach, Rich Brierley, said during a conversation Tuesday morning. “And I can think of a couple of other guys who could have been player of the year, Ricardo Salmeron, who really stepped up, and John Glennon, our hooker. But Gordon was certainly deserving when it came to both awards.”
This fall marked the first undefeated Met Union season for Montauk since 2006, a year the side went to the Final Four. Montauk is to play in the Eastern section of the national Sweet 16 tournament in Manassas, Va., over the May 12-13 weekend.
Given Middlesex and the Village Lions’ first-round losses last year, “we’ll have a pretty low seeding, but the good news is that Mike Bunce [who, because of a controversial red-carding following a scuffle, did not play in the recent Northeast regional final, a game Montauk lost 53-0 to Middlesex, a Boston area side] will be with us. If they went by the book he would have been banned from three games, but U.S.A. Rugby’s disciplinary committee, in reviewing our appeal, said that by missing the regional final he’d served his time.”
Brierley emphasized in his remarks “the commitment” the side’s younger players, Walker, Mark Sciosica, Zach Brenneman, Brian Anderson, Miller, Bunce, Matt Brierley, and Erik Brierley — the latter four second-generation competitors — had brought to the club.
“Because they’ve excelled in other sports, they all know what’s involved — they understand the importance of showing up for practices and in working hard. Their spirit was infectious.”
Brierley did not forget the often-unheralded forwards that evening, mentioning Ryan Borowsky and James Lock, each of whom had moved from other positions up to the front row, in particular. “The front row [which also included Glennon, at hooker],” said Brierley, “is our offensive line, our engine room. We go as they go.”