David Caplin Scholarship Award recipients Michael Drake and Alexandra McKenzie with Huntington Class of 1974 members

McKenzie & Drake Capture Caplin Memorial Scholarships

David Caplin Scholarship Award recipients Michael Drake and Alexandra McKenzie with Huntington Class of 1974 members

June 19, 2018

David Caplin was a really good guy during his lifetime. The Huntington High School Class of 1974 member claimed success in business and later grabbed an opportunity to coach cross country and track and field. He passed away after a 13 year battle with cancer, but never forgot his alma mater.

A nine-time letter winner at Robert L. Simpson Junior High School and Huntington High School, Mr. Caplin was a National Honor Society member and Regents scholarship recipient as a senior. He went on to graduate from SUNY Binghamton.

Mr. Caplin passed away at home surrounded by his family and friends in September 2014. A group of his Huntington classmates presented two memorial scholarships in his honor at the 50th annual Blue Devil senior athletic awards banquet in Louis D. Giani Gymnasium.

Huntington track and field stars Alexandra McKenzie and Michael Drake are the recipients of the third David Caplin Memorial Scholarships for Leadership and Mentorship in Sports. Class of 1974 members Eline Maxwell, Tim Seymour and Robert Cushman were on hand for the presentation of the $500 awards, which was made before a crowd about 200.

Ms. McKenzie is headed to Ithaca College in the fall. Mr. Drake plans to attend SUNY College at Cortland.

“It was such an honor winning the scholarship,” Ms. McKenzie said. “Running has been a huge part of my life and something that I will continue to do in my future. David Caplin was an amazing runner and athlete. I am so thankful for receiving this scholarship.”

Mr. Drake was equally ecstatic to have been nominated for the award by his track coach, Ron Wilson and to have actually captured it. “Winning the scholarship was a great surprise,” he said. “I was very glad Coach Wilson thought I had made a significant impact on the rest of our team.”

Mr. Caplin once described himself as an “intellectual athlete.” He loved to run, but when advancing illness prevented him from doing so, the Huntington alum found solace in coaching cross country and track in Hudson, Ohio, passing along his wisdom and experience to receptive teenagers.

Scholarship organizers established the following criteria for the award:

• While recipients do not need to be at the top of their class, they should have a grade point average of 3.0 or above and be grounded and thoughtful, on and off the playing field.
• The scholarship committee prefers to honor students who have excelled in cross country and track and field running events.
• Dedication to the sport of running as evidenced by multiple years of activity.
• Recipients should be kind and compassionate in their nature, especially toward teammates of lesser talents and generous with their time.
• Recipients should exhibit leadership by always working for the advancement of the team rather than individual glory.
• A sense that persistence always means personal satisfaction. Mr. Caplin’s favorite encouraging phrase with his team was “never, ever give up.”

Last year’s Caplin scholarship recipients were Alexis Pastorelli and Shane McGuire. Ms. Pastorelli recently completed her freshman year at the College at Charleston. Mr. McGuire enjoyed an excellent first year at the University at Buffalo. The 2016 recipients were Latoya Shand (Binghamton University) and Kyle O’Brien (SUNY Maritime).

Those behind the Caplin scholarship thought it might cease to exist, but a call that went out to Class of 1974 members for contributions resulted in the collection of twice as much as the $1,000 that was sought. So the scholarship’s funding is already in place for the 2019 awards.

Mr. Caplin was the owner of DJC Associates, a consulting firm. He enjoyed discussing history and current events, movies, traveling and playing golf. He is survived by his wife of 34 years, Marcy, children Sarahbeth and Greg and brother, Noah Caplin.

One of Mr. Caplin’s last messages to his classmates went like this: “So my friends, does life get difficult? Sure. Is it always fair Heck no! In the end, I think what matters most is what we do with all of that and the lasting impact we leave on those close to us. May you all find peace and contentment in life. I think that’s about the best we can do.”

Huntington senior Alexandra McKenzie.
Huntington senior Alexandra McKenzie.
Huntington senior Michael Drake.
Huntington senior Michael Drake.
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