With the Plainview-Old Bethpage Central School District back in session, student athletes are getting ready to put on their Hawk uniforms and return to game action. Athletic Director Joseph Braico says he is looking forward to some great things this year.
“There’s nothing new facility-wise as it just got the same facelift it gets every summer,” said Braico. “The biggest thing is we have some new coaches in new places and we’re excited about moving forward to what these teams can do.”
Among the big coaching changes is that of the varsity volleyball programs. The girls volleyball team, which were county finalists last year, will now have new coach Brianne Yannotta, who was coaching the junior varsity team last year.
“She did a wonderful job for us on the JV level,” said Braico. “I think she is going to continue the success that Coach [Craig] Berini had for us as well. I think we have a good, young and strong team to compete and get back there.”
For the boys volleyball program, Todd Donathy will be taking on the head coaching position from Russi Villalta after the team won the county championship last season. Despite the coaching change, Braico made it clear that expectations have not changed and their goal is to win county championship.
“Coach Donathy hopes he can continue the tradition that we have as one of the top volleyball programs within the county,” said Braico. “We hope to have some seniors who will step up and take some larger roles. I think he’s going to do a great job.”
Beyond the personnel changes, Braico has made it clear that their goal remains that their student athletes must be students first.
“We have three pillars that we really focus on,” said Braico. “We want all of our athletes to pursue and achieve high academic standards. We were one of nine schools in Nassau to have all of our teams each have an average of 90 or better. We also want our students to be role models in the community. We want them to play with character and class. We want people to be proud of us being a representation of this community. We want to also give back to the community. All of our teams do some type of community fundraising.”
Among the community fundraising events is Coaches Versus Cancer week, which along with the girls volleyball team’s “Think Pink” program for breast cancer awareness, raises money for the American Cancer Society.
“County championships are great but we know if we can teach our kids these three values, then we’ve done the right thing for our student athletes,” said Braico.
Still, county championships are a goal for the department and Braico is hoping he’ll get to see a few this year.
“We have some talented teams and some really talented student athletes,” said Braico. “We’re excited about where we are and where we are going in this program.”