Four Are Named to the Hall of Fame

To be inducted at homecoming on Sept. 22
“He was a winner,” Mike Burns said of Justin Winter, at right, who excelled in track and football when he was a student at East Hampton High. Jack Graves

East Hampton High School’s Hall of Fame committee has named three athletes, Zach Brenneman (2007), Justin Winter (1982), and Michael Sarlo (1988), as well as the school’s longtime trainer, Randi Cherill, as an honorary member, to its class of 2018. They are to be inducted at homecoming on Sept. 22. 

Brenneman, a men’s lacrosse all-American midfielder when in high school and in college, led Notre Dame to the 2010 National Collegiate Athletic Association final with Duke, scoring a half-dozen goals in those Final Four games, if memory serves. He finished his college career with 100 points, and went on to play the sport professionally on the East and West Coasts.

“Zach definitely was one of the guys who put East Hampton’s lacrosse program on the map,” said his former coach, Ralph Naglieri, who recommended him. “He had an unbelievable career. At a P.A.L. game, when he was a sixth grader, I saw this big, lean lefty receive a pass at speed and, in one motion, finish it into the opposite corner of the cage. ‘Who the heck is that?’ I wondered. It was like a one-touch goal in soccer. Then I heard his father was the Little League commissioner. But, as you say, Tim never pushed him to play baseball, fortunately for me.”

“I brought him up from the jayvee as an eighth grader,” Naglieri continued. “We reached number 10 in the state in his junior year. I remember after a playoff game that year getting calls about him from the University of Virginia and Johns Hopkins, asking for directions. He led Notre Dame in scoring in his junior year, and captained the team in his senior year, leading it to a number-one ranking and to its first N.C.A.A. final in its history.”

“One of the things that made him so good was that he could shoot well on the run, often from 15 yards out. It’s the difference between a point guard dribbling in the lane and shooting rather than setting up for a 3-pointer. Zach could dodge and score. He could find the twine.”

According to Mike Burns, who recommended him, “Justin Winter was one of the finest student-athletes in the history of East Hampton High School — his accomplishments in track and football were of the highest level, league, county, or state.”

“He performed with intensity, yet tempered it with humility and the highest degree of sportsmanship. He and Ed Budd brought the football program back after the year of austerity in 1979, when they were freshmen. I still get chills thinking of his 45-yard kickoff return at Westhampton, which sealed the league football title for us in 1981.”

“He was a county finalist in the 100, 200, and 400-meter races all three years. He placed second in the county 400 and ninth at the state meet. Moreover, he anchored the 400-meter and 1,600-meter relay teams, which were undefeated and set school records in his career here. He captained the track team for all three years and was its M.V.P. every year. In short, he was a winner.”

“I guess they needed a role player,” East Hampton Town’s police chief, Michael Sarlo, has been telling his friends after learning he’d been selected. 

A three-sport athlete — as were Brenneman and Winter — Sarlo said during a conversation the other day that he cherishes the friendships he made playing youth and high school sports here, bonds that remain to this day, and the character-building lessons imparted by his coaches — by Jim Nicoletti, his baseball coach, in particular.

“I paid tribute to Coach [Nicoletti] when I was installed as the town’s police chief five years ago. He was my physical education teacher in elementary school. When I was 11, he let me be the team’s batboy — he’d take me over from John Marshall to the field every day, and I’d help at the practices — it was a small team — tossing balls in the dirt for the catcher and first baseman to field. . . .” 

“He taught me just about everything I needed to know about life . . . about being prepared, about the value of practicing in order to meet the demands of challenging situations, about understanding your role, the way you could best contribute to the team, lessons that I’ve valued throughout the years and have helped make me who I am today.”

As the football team’s tight end he often blocked on running plays, despite a badly broken thumb, he contributed in his senior year to the basketball team’s success as a passer and defender, and, still rehabbing the thumb, set a school r.b.i. record in baseball, “until Ross Gload came along.”

“I’m very, very humbled by being a part of this [Hall of Fame] group,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s what the East Hampton community — the coaches, the older guys we looked up to, the friends I played football and basketball and baseball with — has done for me, not what I did for the program.”

Randi Cherill, who oversees Manual and Sports Physical Therapy in Amagansett when she’s not at the high school, has tended to East Hampton High’s athletes for 16 years. In an interview on these pages a while ago she said, “I love the kids. They keep things light, funny. Twenty minutes after school, whether they’re injured or not, they take over my office. Which is fun. . . . Basically, I’m always here, but I love it.”

Injuries she’s treated have included broken and dislocated bones, muscle pulls, ankle sprains, and the like, head and neck injuries being “the scariest,” though undoubtedly her tensest moment as a trainer, she said, occurred when Fred Heckman, who’d been refereeing a jayvee boys basketball game on Dec. 5, 2008, collapsed and went into cardiac arrest.

While she administered CPR, the district’s athletic director, Joe Vas, and John Krupp, a phys ed teacher here at the time, applied a defibrillator, with colleagues of Krupp’s, Rich King and Jason Menu, and Judy Bennett, an emergency medical technician, also helping out. Their quick responses resulted in saving Heckman’s life.

Vas has called Cherill “the best of the best . . . even though she’s an Eagles fan.”

Randi Cherill is in her 16th year as East Hampton High School’s trainer, and Michael Sarlo, a fellow Hall of Fame nominee, is in his fifth year as the town’s police chief. Jack Graves Photos