If you remember, last spring was not a good one sports-wise in East Hampton, not one team except for boys tennis making the playoffs, and certainly on the first day of this year’s season, which was Monday, the weather with its bitter wind did not augur well.
Still, numbers-wise, the news, said East Hampton’s athletic director, Joe Vas, was good, there being about the same number of athletes, which is to say around 1,000, as there have been in the past three or four years, and the coaching staff was strong.
Three Montaukers will oversee the varsity and junior varsity baseball teams. R.J. Etzel, a 1997 graduate who played on one of Jim Nicoletti’s county-championship teams, has returned from Miami to take over as the varsity’s head coach; Mike Ritsi takes over as his assistant from Will Collins, who’s now at the Montauk School, and Hayden Ward, who coached jayvee boys volleyball and the middle school boys basketball team, is to coach the junior varsity.
A brief encounter over the weekend with Kevin Brophy, who has been a volunteer pitching coach for the past few years, produced a thumbs-up when he was asked, “How are the pitchers?”
The baseball team finished in a last-place tie with Amityville in league play last spring, each at 2-18. Amityville won’t be on the schedule this year — nor will John Glenn — because of a more geographically oriented alignment. Bayport-Blue Point and Westhampton Beach are taking their places.
Ed Bahns, the former varsity baseball coach, was effectively prevented from continuing because driver’s education classes are now given in the after-school hours. He will help Etzel and Ritsi out, however, as a volunteer when he can, Vas said.
Lou Reale, who said at the end of last season — following the first time in his 30-year softball coaching career that a team of his had failed to make the playoffs — that he wasn’t sure he’d return, has. He’ll be assisted by his former lights-out pitcher, Jessie Stavola. Robyn Mott will coach the jayvee.
Neither softball nor boys lacrosse had jayvees last year, though Vas thinks they will this year.
The girls lacrosse coach, Matt Maloney, who has taught for the past couple of years at the East Quogue Elementary School, is gone, said Vas, owing to the commute. He and Rich King, Maloney’s former assistant, have been replaced by Ryan Mahoney, a former Shoreham-Wading River and college player who’s now a teacher in the district, and Kasey Krol, likewise a teacher here, who coached Longwood’s girls lacrosse team for two years, said the A.D.
The girls team just missed the playoffs last year, after having begun the season with high hopes. Plenty of talent remains — Maggie Pizzo, who’s to play at Yale, the Seekamp sisters, and the Budd twins come immediately to mind.
Howard Wood will continue as the junior varsity girls lacrosse coach, assisted by Anthony Roza, who has been with the middle school team the past three years.
Mike Vitulli returns as the boys coach. He’ll be assisted by John Yager, who has been involved in the middle school program, and Steve Redlus is to coach the jayvee.
Chris Reich having moved to New Hampshire, his former teammate and fellow coach, Luis Morales, is taking over boys track, assisted by Bill Herzog, the varsity’s former longtime coach, whose first retirement announcement followed the 2009 season. The boys went 2-4 last spring, the team’s best record in three years.
Shani Cuesta continues as the girls coach, and Jenn Reich continues as her assistant. (The girls were winless last year, but nevertheless were competitive.)
Likewise, Michelle Kennedy (varsity) and Claude Beudert (jayvee) continue as the boys tennis coaches. The team went 8-4 (9-5) last year, splitting with the Ross School, the four-time defending league champion, but losing three times to Westhampton Beach.
All the teams were to have begun practice Monday — with the track and lacrosse teams outside and softball, baseball, and boys tennis inside.
“The weather will be a real challenge,” Vas said, “though it’s that way across the Island. . . . I can see some grass out there. . . .”
East Hampton students will be able to avail themselves of two strength and conditioning coaches this spring — Erik Fredrickson and Lisa Farbar. Frederickson will be at the school three afternoons a week, and Farbar two.
Vas said also that, thanks to a $15,000 donation from the Kendall Madison Foundation, four machines, more efficient than the ones they’re replacing, are to be delivered to the high school’s Kendall Madison fitness center on March 17, and that “before the spring season begins, we’ll have a new [$17,500] scoreboard at the turf field, which has been donated by the Rotary Club.”