Tradition is part of sports. Whether it be a certain color scheme or pre-game ritual, the art of handing down memories is sometimes as important as the events themselves.
It isn’t often that athletes can say that a tradition was started on their watch, however. For many of the athletes involved in MacArthur High School’s track program, Wednesday night’s first annual Hall of Fame dinner is something they’ll hold onto for a long time to come.
The dinner, presented by the Mercury Club, recognized two former members of the Generals track team - '03 graduate Sean Depuy and '07 graduate Jessica Balling were greeted with kind words and appreciative handshakes as they were introduced as the inaugural inductees.
“When I ran here nine years ago, I never thought I would receive an award of this magnitude,” Depuy said. “I just did what I did...the team has changed a lot since then. We were never actually MacArthur track and field, we were Levittown track and field. We were combined with Division, which had its ups and downs.”
As a senior at MacArthur, Depuy won all-conference honors in the 55 meter hurdles and all-division honors in the 110 meter hurdles and the 400 meter hurdles. Upon graduation, he held five school records. His 110 meter hurdle and 400 meter hurdle records still stand. Following his Generals career, he ran for SUNY Delhi.
Balling, who ran under the watchful eye of current Head Coach Jaime San Filippo, also had an illustrious Generals tenure. She achieved all-division in the 400 meters, all-conference in the 600 meters and 1,000 meters, was county champion in the 1,000 meters, and qualified for states in the two separate events.
While attending MacArthur, Balling was a five-sport athlete. She was named MacArthur Female Athlete of the Year in 2007 and left school owning seven school track and field records, according to San Filippo.
“Between club teams, middle school, high school, and college, I’ve calculated that I’ve been on over 22 teams, had at least 45 coaches and trainers, and roughly 300 different teammates,” Balling said. “No other sport or team has ever made me feel as inspired as when I ran for MacArthur High School track and field.”
In 2006, Balling was part of the first MacArthur girls track and field team to win the conference.
“We must have run three victory laps around Farmingdale’s track that night,” she said. “We never wanted it to end.”
Balling ran track at Wagner College from 2007 to 2011.
The night also recognized accomplishments by current MacArthur athletes. 11 Generals were given all-county honors this season and 50 school records were broken in 2011-12.
Those are numbers fit for a hall of fame.