Sportsman Of The Year 2001

Sportsman of the Year 2001


Our Sportsmen of the Year represented everything good about sports and
about ourselves, so although we mourn, we give thanks even more for the
impact they had on our lives.

By JAY PRICE (Edited Version)

He's the young firefighter, already covered with dust and debris, headed back into hell; and the balding bond trader, ushering others to safety. The runner, the football player, the Little League coach. In our mind's eye, he's forever handsome and strong; tall and graceful, short and stocky; quiet and thoughtful and impulsive and outrageous. A loving son, devoted father; everybody's favorite uncle. And we miss him. Oh, man, how we miss him now.

If the Advance Sportsman of the Year for 2001 looks a lot like a fireman, it's not coincidence. Some of the same things that drew him to sports -- the brotherhood, the camaraderie; the chance to be part of something bigger than himself -- were what made him want to be fireman in the first place. They're part of what made him walk into the Twin Towers that terrible morning when the world was getting ready to come down on top of him, and every fiber of his being must've been screaming for him to run away.

In a year when there was really only one story in this neighborhood, and sports felt the blow as much as anybody, the Advance Sportsman of the Year is a composite. He's the best part of all those men and women who scored the goals, set the picks, picked up their teammates or volunteered to make the games go; a representation, in their spirit and their sacrifice, of all 249 Staten Islanders lost in the attack on the World Trade Center.

It's their lives we'll be celebrating, their memory we'll be cherishing, when they call the roll at the Advance All-Star Dinner the night of Jan. 24 at the Excelsior Grand in New Dorp. When the towers went down, they didn't discriminate.

Chuck Margiotta, played at Farrell and Brown, and decided an Ivy League education was just one more road to becoming a fireman. Somebody will have to play Superman to the girls at Notre Dame Academy and the firefighters at Brooklyn's Ladder 110, where even the chiefs went to Paul Mitchell for advice.

They didn't all have to be there. The firemen wouldn't have it any other way. Chuck Margiotta was on his way home. They all got there in time to die.

He was some piece of work, our Sportsman of the Year. The last time anybody saw him, he was headed up West Street toward the Twin Towers, when everybody else was running the other way; or staying behind, to make certain everybody else was OK. That's just what we would've expected him to do.

Maybe he had time, like Chuck Margiotta, to call home from the back of a speeding truck. "It's bad, ma," Margiotta told his mother. "I love you."

Then he was gone, into the maelstrom and into history, before we even had a chance to say goodbye. Leaving the rest of us feeling guilty that we're here and he's not; wondering how we're going to get through another day without him, and how we got so lucky to have him in our lives as long as we did.