Wednesday, December 03, 2008

You gotta love Riverhead

What a game! What a team! What a season! What a town!
Saturday’s Long Island championship game was classic 2008 Riverhead Blue Waves football. A romp, effectively wrapped up in the first half. It seemed like every Waves possession ended in a Waves touchdown. Give the ball to Miguel, put six points up on the board. Two Maysonet TDs separated by — what — 11 seconds?
But, in classic Blue Waves style, Maysonet was only the beginning. There was Gilliam. There was Moore. There was Velys. And LaGue. And Fitzgerald. And Meyer. And the rest of the undefeated championship team.
Let’s not forget Coach Shay, who’s come a long, long way from being “reassigned” in 2007 for covering up the lens of a security camera in the gymnasium.
But this isn’t about football, exactly.
This is more about what Saturday meant to Riverhead and about my adopted home town.
Saturday, Riverhead kicked butt.
In a big way.
There was the 42-6 score posted on the board at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium at Stony Brook University.
But the story of Riverhead’s triumph was told in the stands and in the parking lot almost as much as it was told on the field.
Riverhead turned out to support the home team. The Riverhead crowd filled up most of two levels of the stadium seating. (In contrast, the turnout for our rivals on the gridiron, not counting Elmont’s excellent marching band, fit into one section of the one-level bleachers across the field.) But — and this is the really cool part — the Riverhead crowd wasn’t there just because it was the L.I. championship game. No, no. Riverhead’s “road” crowd — the people who turn out to watch “away” games — is as big or bigger than any other team’s “road” crowd in the league. There are the parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles of team members. And then there are the people like Tony James, star of a Waves team of more than 30 years ago, in the stands every week, ringing a bell, shaking a tambourine and shouting out words of advice and encouragement to current team members on the field. And the teachers, administrators and staff. And the people who come just because … it’s Riverhead, their team, their town.
Riverhead, the much-maligned, often dumped-on putative seat of Suffolk County government. Riverhead, the little town that couldn’t.
Oh, yes, we can. Yes, we can. And we do.
Whether it’s Blue Waves football or any one of a host of other teams, clubs and groups in our school district (for example, our award-winning Latinists, our nationally recognized, exemplary Council for Unity, our award-winning choirs, to name a just a few), Riverhead’s young people shine. They excel. They do us proud. Every day.
They are children of honest, hardworking people who live in a community that still has a soul, a sense of place, an identity — increasingly precious commodities in the modern world.
The magic this weekend — the players on the field and the people in the stands ­­— reminded me all over again why Riverhead is such a great place to live and raise a family.
Thank you, Blue Waves. And congratulations.
Ms. Civiletti invites you to join a discussion of this topic at Her e-mail address is