Ray Deren was a competitor at heart and he loved to see young people giving everything they have in the athletic arena. He took delight in watching Huntington’s athletes competing for league, county and state championships. One gets the sense that Emma Greenhill and Tyler Gerbavsits would have been two of his favorites.
Mr. Deren’s name is deeply etched into Blue Devil athletic history. The innovative sports administrator’s creativity and foresight helped ignite the explosion 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 19 years ago, Mr. Deren’s influence is still keenly felt in Huntington’s classrooms and gyms and on its fields.
At this year’s 50th Blue Devil senior athletic awards banquet, which Mr. Deren created in 1969 to recognize and honor graduating seniors, Ms. Greenhill and Mr. Gerbavsits were both presented with a $500 scholarships and handsome plaques 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, Carol and nieces, Angela and Toni.
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 athletics.
Ms. Greenhill is headed to James Madison University, where she was recruited to play on the NCAA Division I national championship lacrosse team. She enjoyed a magnificent career with the Blue Devils, excelling in all aspects of the game. As a senior, she tallied 37 goals and 20 assists and garnered All-County honors. She even played soccer as a season after a layoff of several season and helped lead the team to a playoff berth.
Ms. Gerbavsits was recruited to play golf at St. John’s University. He made two trips to the New York State championships and is regarded as one of the top high school players in the northeast. The teenager is a regular on the junior PGA circuit and is well known throughout the region by golfers and golf pros at all the top clubs.
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 unbending in his belief that athletics encompasses 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
- 2018 Emma Greenhill and Tyler Gerbavsits
- 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