Kyree Johnson and Coach Ron Wilson with Deren family members.

Kyree Johnson Wins Ray Deren Memorial Scholarship

Kyree Johnson and Coach Ron Wilson with Deren family members.

June 21, 2017

Ray Deren’s name is engraved in granite in the annals of Blue Devil athletic history. The innovative sports administrator’s creativity and foresight helped spur the skyrocketing of opportunities available to Huntington’s student-athletes. His planning and commitment to the young people of the community continues to benefit today’s teenagers.

A legend in the area of sports program development, Mr. Deren played a key role in numerous initiatives that have become an essential part of the district’s cherished traditions.

Although he passed away more than 18 years ago, Mr. Deren’s influence is still widely felt in Huntington’s classrooms and gyms and on its fields.

At this year’s 49th Blue Devil senior athletic awards banquet, which Mr. Deren created in 1969 to recognize and honor graduating seniors, Class of 2017 member Kyree Johnson was presented with a $1,000 scholarship and handsome plaque in honor of the longtime district director of health, physical education and athletics.

“My dad believed that students who participated in athletics would have the most success in their careers and relationships,” said Mr. Deren’s daughter, Georgia McCarthy, who now fills the same position her father once did. She was joined for the award presentation by her mother, and son, Kenny and Ron Wilson, who is Mr. Johnson’s longtime mentor and coach.

The Deren Scholarship recognizes athletes who have consistently showed dedication to their academic and athletic programs and are determined to complete a college education while participating in athletes.

Kyree Johnson’s Sensational Run

Kyree Johnson
HHS track star Kyree Johnson

Kyree Johnson has enjoyed a sensational run through Huntington High School; literally. He’s earned varsity letters with the Blue Devil football, indoor and outdoor track and field teams. The teenager has won division, county, state and national titles during the winter and indoor seasons and repeatedly honored as one of the top five track athletes in Suffolk.

Mr. Johnson will join best friend and former teammate Infinite Tucker at Texas A&M University in the fall. He’s been recruited to by the college’s NCAA Division I champion track and field program.

“I know that only the most prestigious athletes that attend Huntington win the Ray Deren scholarship,” Mr. Johnson said. “It meant a lot to me and my teammates and my coaches because it shows that I’m willing to work hard on and off the track to be able to be the best. I know if Mr. Deren was here today, he would be very proud of me to wear the blue and white.”

The teenager plans to spend the summer training, “so I can be 100 percent ready for Texas A&M,” Mr. Johnson said.

Ray Deren’s Road to Huntington

Mr. Deren attended Flushing High School before earning an undergraduate degree at Adelphi University and a master’s degree at Hofstra University. He was a physical education teacher and coach in the Jericho School District before being elevated to the athletic director’s position. At the time, he was the youngest AD on Long Island. He eventually found his way to Huntington in the late 1960s and immediately made a positive difference.

Mr. Deren was so steadfast in his belief that athletics encompasse so much of what is good in this world that it helped define who he was as a person. Athletes held a special place in the administrator’s heart and his daughter proudly listed all the reasons why this was so.

“Our student-athletes are obligated to work well with others on a daily basis in some of the most unique situations,” Ms. McCarthy told the crowd at the senior banquet. “You all have a strong work ethic, can problem solve, be unselfish and manage your time wisely because of your experiences in Huntington. These are just a few of the skills that are second nature and will help you live happy and successful lives. This banquet is all about you, who have put so much time and energy into this strong program, rich with traditions.”

During Mr. Deren’s tenure the number of athletic teams sponsored by the district skyrocketed from 28 to 70 and the program was seen as a model by districts across New York. A true visionary, he identified the need for a full-time athletic trainer, a first for a Long Island high school, writing the job description for the position. Throughout his tenure he pushed for improvements to the district’s athletic program and sports facilities.

Mr. Deren passed away on February 28, 1999, but his memory lives on through the memorial scholarship presented annually in his honor by his family.

Ray Deren Memorial Scholarship Winners through the Years

  • 2017 Kyree Johnson
  • 2016 Infinite Tucker
  • 2015 Timothy Mattiace
  • 2014 Ben Kocis
  • 2013 Patrick Reilly
  • 2012 Trayvon Toney
  • 2011 Emma Hayes-Hurley and Peter Kingston
  • 2010 Angela Bosco
  • 2009 Brian Ruggiero and Julie Forster
  • 2008 Eddie Santos and Casey Scully
  • 2007 Zachary Howell
  • 2006 Scott Kocis and Erin Turner
  • 2005 Charlie Paar and Jillian Beck
  • 2004 Pierre Delva and Emily Sammis
  • 2003 Brandon Logigian and Kathleen Macari
  • 2002 James Creighton
  • 2001 Doug Kocis
  • 2000 Christopher Mooney
  • 1999 Jonathan Searles and Alie Madden
Ray Deren
Ray Deren was a legendary director of PE and athletics.
Ray Deren
Ray Deren was Huntington's director of athletics for two decades.
Ray Deren
The Blue Devils senior athletic awards dinner was founded 49 years ago by Ray Deren.