Skip to main content

Support for Bridgie Track Star

Thu, 05/04/2023 - 09:29
Leslie Samuel, a Bridgehampton High School senior, signed a letter of intent to attend the University of Hartford, where she will sprint and long-jump while working toward a nursing degree.
Jack Graves

With about 40 well-wishers including family members, schoolmates, and school administrators looking on in Bridgehampton’s gymnasium last week, Leslie Samuel, a Bridgehampton senior who has had an outstanding track career under East Hampton High’s aegis, signed a letter of intent to attend the University of Hartford.

She said she had chosen Hartford, a Division III school, from among a number of options for three reasons chiefly: It is not too far from home, but far enough, the track coach there had offered her a spot on the team upon matriculation, and she liked the curriculum leading toward the nursing degree she’s aiming for.

The holder at the moment of four East Hampton track records, in the long jump, the 4-by-400 relay, and in the indoor and outdoor sprint medley relay, Samuel, “who, when she wants something goes after it,” according to one of her coaches, Nick DeLuca, is apparently the first female Bridgehampton track competitor to be sent off to college with such fanfare since Sandy McFarland, a member of Bridgehampton and East Hampton’s Halls of Fame, won a full athletic scholarship to Syracuse University in 1992.

While Division III schools don’t offer athletic scholarships, 40 percent of Samuel’s college costs — the University of Hartford’s total $59,000 a year, her mother, Julianne Moseley, said — are being underwritten by the Atlantic Golf Club, where her father, Calvin Samuel, has caddied for about 25 years. He also works as a private chef here and in Jupiter, Fla. The university, too, her mother said, is contributing a significant sum toward her daughter’s education, and it is hoped that Bridgehampton organizations offering scholarship money to graduating seniors will look kindly on her applications.

Samuel said her older sister, Bankesha, 23, a New York University graduate and a nurse now at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in the city, received similar help from the Atlantic Golf Club, adding that she was “really grateful” for the golf club’s support.

“She’s a great kid, a leader, and a great representative of our school,” Mike DeRosa, Bridgehampton’s athletic director, who spoke at the April 26 signing, said of the honoree. “We’re very excited for her.”

East Hampton’s girls track coach, Yani Cuesta, recited at the ceremony a long list of Samuel’s accomplishments, among them an all-county award in the long jump and invitations to compete in the emerging elite long jump and sprint medley relay (along with Meredith Spolarich, Sam Ruano, and Ryleigh O’Donnell) events at the Nike outdoor nationals at the University of Oregon in mid-June.

Later in the week, Cuesta said of Samuel, “She’s been dedicated to improving her performances since I began coaching her when she came out for spring track in her sophomore year. Leslie has grown tremendously since she started, and it shows in her dedication, outlook, and spirit. . . . I’ve had the pleasure of watching her grow into a very mature athlete and young woman. Her laughter is contagious. She truly will be missed. We’ll be keeping tabs on her progress.”

“We’re thrilled for her. She’s a wonderful, talented all-around student-athlete,” said Mary Kelly, the district’s superintendent, who attended the signing along with Bridgehampton’s principal, Mike Miller, and assistant principal, Mike Cox. “She does Bridgehampton proud.”

The school, Kelly said, had changed its graduation date from June 17 to 18 so that Samuel, who is to be at the Nike outdoor nationals that week, will be able to participate with her nine senior classmates. “It wouldn’t be the same without her,” Kelly said, adding that the support Samuel had received from the Bridgehampton community was “well deserved.”

“We’re so grateful for the community’s help — it’s nice to know it’s backing her . . .  it will take a huge burden off us,” Samuel’s mother said by phone on Monday evening. She, her husband, John Pomianowski, and her son, Tevin Campbell, flanked Samuel at the signing table. 

Told about Coach DeLuca’s comment, to wit, that her daughter could do anything she put her mind to, Moseley said, “Yes, she’s very driven — one of her goals has been to get on that record board at East Hampton, and now she has, four times over, which is awesome.”

And the season isn’t over yet. 

Your support for The East Hampton Star helps us deliver the news, arts, and community information you need. Whether you are an online subscriber, get the paper in the mail, delivered to your door in Manhattan, or are just passing through, every reader counts. We value you for being part of The Star family.

Your subscription to The Star does more than get you great arts, news, sports, and outdoors stories. It makes everything we do possible.