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25 Years Ago in Bonac Sports for November 9, 2023

Wed, 11/08/2023 - 17:55
From the 1997 East Hampton High School Yearbook, Brandon Hayes celebrated a football victory and his crowning as homecoming king.
East Hampton Library, Digital Long Island Collection

November 5, 1998

A scoreboard at the East Hampton High School football field will be dedicated at Saturday’s football game to the memory of Brandon Hayes, a very popular member of the class of 1997 who died on July 9 of that year as the result of an automobile accident.

“This was his arena,” Chris Tracey, East Hampton’s athletic director, said, noting that Brandon had been a star of the Bonac football team and of the league-champion winter and spring track teams. A scholarship fund was established in his name following his death.


November 19, 1998

A graduate of Southampton High School in 1977, Lester Ware has a windowsill full of medals and cups won at wrestling’s highest levels. Besides being an Olympic alternate in 1984, he was a member of the 1978 junior world team — the last to go to Iran — the winner of two national Greco-Roman championships and one national freestyle championship, and was a two-time all-American at the State University at Binghamton.

. . . There was no KID Wrestling in Southampton when he was growing up. Asked how he got interested in the sport, Ware said, “I saw a bumper sticker when I was in junior high at Jim Wightman’s concession at Cooper Beach. It said, ‘Kids who wrestle with their problems usually come out on top.’ ”

He paused. “That bumper sticker changed my life.”

Mike Kaufman of East Hampton, who taught in the Southampton school system and was the junior high wrestling coach, had asked him, Ware said with a smile, “100 days in a row” to come out for wrestling, and, finally, he did. “You need a coach to say, ‘Come on,’ “ he said. “People don’t realize what a big step it is to get a kid to walk in the first time. . . . Wrestling was my whole life for a long time.”

As for the sport, he said, “It teaches you to accept responsibility for your life.”

Ware is 39 years old now, and is no longer competing. A severe injury sustained by a fellow wrestling coach in a recent open competition has served to confirm him in the wisdom of that decision, made when he was 26 and at the top of his form.

“The higher the level, the more likely you are to get hurt. It was more important for me,” he said with a laugh, “to be able to walk. Then, too, I had already had four knee surgeries, 10 dislocated shoulders, and a broken hip.”

As for the appeal of wrestling, Ware said, “It’s natural — kids like to butt heads. Deer like to crack antlers. Rams like to lock horns. It’s fun, it’s natural to push and pull and see who’s tougher. Everybody wants to know.”

“So, yeah, wrestling is special. Henry VIII wrestled. Abe Lincoln wrestled. Wrestling’s depicted in the hieroglyphs inside the pyramids. It’s been around a while, for 6,000 years. It’s here to stay.”

Encouraged, perhaps, by Greenport’s new skateboard park and news that liability insurance is finally available to towns for such facilities, the East Hampton Town Board on Tuesday put $50,000 in the proposed 1999 capital budget for skateboard areas in Amagansett and Montauk.

“It’s always been something the kids have asked for in the town,” Councilman Len Bernard said. It was he who suggested the money for the facilities be added to the budget.

Councilman Pete Hammerle, who championed the idea several years ago, backed him up. “I want this to be something the kids will think is really cool,” Hammerle said.

East Hampton Indoor Tennis, a club in Wainscott whose managing partner is Scott Rubenstein, has been named by the United States Tennis Association and by the United States Professional Tennis Association as the metropolitan region’s “club of the year.”

The club has provided court time for East Hampton School District boys and girls tennis teams, has provided professional instruction to children in East Hampton and Bridgehampton, and has provided scholarships to the club’s Paul Annacone Tennis Academy and to its Tennis-Plus camp.

In accepting the award, Rubenstein emphasized that he came “from a community where many people do these kinds of volunteer things — I’m not special in that respect. It’s important to give back, and I’m fortunate to be able to have something to give back.”

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