BY ARIANA NAYAK
Senior athletes William Kennedy, a baseball player, and Melissa Neglio, a swimmer, recently received the GMC Sportsmanship award. This award honors one female and one male athlete in each school in the Greater Middlesex County conference.
“The sportsmanship award celebrates the importance of simply being a good sport and being a kind athlete both in and out of the game,” Neglio explained. Despite its name, the GMC Sportsmanship award does not just pertain to sports; it considers the character of athletes outside of the game.
Neglio considers swimming as not just a sport, but a way of life. “It is important not to get too caught up in the competitiveness and remember to always be a good teammate,” the swimmer emphasized. She believes in the power of being one, united team even in a sport that seems more individualistic.
Neglio tries her best to uplift the team. “I try to boost everyone up after their races, whether it was a good or bad swim because I feel that team camaraderie is the most important thing,” she relayed.
According to her teammates, the overwhelming effort does not go unnoticed. Gianna Porcelli noted, “Swimming alongside her is such a fun experience because she cheers on everyone throughout a meet and really helps you to push more.”
Similarly, Kennedy’s sense of companionship also allowed him to achieve this great accomplishment. To Kennedy, respect is key. “You must be able to respect the game, respect your teammates, and especially respect the opponent,” he emphasized.
Kennedy, the starting first baseman and a member of the pitching rotation, has played varsity baseball for three years, allowing him to experience new opportunities. “You are always leading by example and should act as a positive role model,” he said.
This year, he joined the Unified basketball team, which is a program fostering friendship, teamwork, and ultimately, a higher level of respect between students of varying abilities. “The joy it brought to the athletes faces is irreplaceable. We lost to a very talented team, but our players played their best and enjoyed every minute of it,” Kennedy explained.
Both Neglio and Kennedy credited their win to their positive attitude. Neglio explained, “I think what allowed me to qualify for this award is my love for swimming and how I always make sure I am being not only a positive influence for the team, but also represent my school, my team and coaches to the best of my ability.”
Additionally, the two athletes agreed that their coaches essentially shaped them into who they are today. “I would like to thank Coach Donaghue and Coach Chelbowski for nominating me. I definitely could not be the person and athlete I am today without their leadership along with other coaches and teammates on the baseball team,” said Kennedy.
Neglio’s coach, Robert Weiss, stressed the positive energy she brings wherever she goes. “She led all our team cheers, radiating with a contagious energy and enthusiasm. She sets the standard for sportsmanship, conscientiousness, and perseverance,” he said.
Kennedy’s coach, Matthew Donaghue, expressed why he nominated the baseball player. “He is someone in our school that everyone looks at and sees “a leader” who is always doing the right thing,” he remarked.
Melissa Neglio and William Kennedy have exemplified what it means to be a good sport by demonstrating kindness and class both in competition and life.
Posted on 5/19/22
Photos provided by Robert Weiss and Tim O’Neill