Byram Hills Return-to-School 2020-2021
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When Byram Hills High School entered athletic competition in the late 1960s and early 1970s, its teams were inevitably at a disadvantage to other high schools in Westchester County that had established programs and veteran coaches.
In Barbara “Liebo,” Liebowitz’s early years, the BHHS girls basketball team began its career as a good team going 7-2 and 6-2 during her first two seasons. In her junior year, Liebo and the team ascended to 10-5 and were finally able to participate in a post-season. The team was coached by the beloved math teacher Ed Moy, who recently passed away who was originally chosen to present this award. During her final season, the team went into the Sectionals undefeated at 15-0 and Barbara was awarded with the Con Edison Award, the first athlete named as one for Byram Hills. Though Liebo was injured during the playoffs, it was the first great season for the Byram basketball program since its inception.
Before her primary winter sport of basketball started up again, Liebo decided to pick up a new sport for her—field hockey. Previously, in the first two formal BHHS field hockey seasons, the Bobcats had won merely two games, both in an abbreviated season. Yet, when Liebo stepped onto the field, the team won 14 out of its next 19 games and marched into the sectionals for the first time.
In 1971 and 1972, Liebo led the track teams to two sectional championships, contributing 50% of the team's total points for the season. Barbara was the consummate student athlete as well, earning a Bachelor of Arts at Yale University. In school, she was a part of the yearbook staff, the Student Council, the Outdoor Club and the Foreign Exchange Club, the latter of which landed her in Norway for a summer.
Barbara currently lives with her husband Robert Bettigole and has raised two young men, Alex and Charlie. She lives in Lakeville, Connecticut and works as a fourth grade teacher.
At first glance at the resume of Kevin O’Callaghan, one can’t help but notice that it’s nearly six pages long. Of course, it’s a thorough and well-crafted document that highlights an amazing four-year career at Byram Hills and beyond. The accolades listed are incredible and they are too numerable to count; however, the themes that are consistent through every page are success, loyalty and the desire to achieve.
At Byram Hills, Kevin’s primary sports were football and basketball. A well-rounded athlete, he also played baseball for a year and dabbled in boxing as Charlie Caserta’s “The Cage.” Still, the majority of Kevin’s success on the athletic fields came in his primary sports. In 1977, Kevin captained the football program to a Class A-2 Bowl Championship, finishing with a 7-1-1 record after only winning two games during his junior year. In that Bowl Championship game, Kevin was named the most valuable back, an honor earned while playing quarterback for the team. He finished the game with 272 yards from scrimmage and a defensive interception as well. That season, he was All-League, All-County, Team MVP, “Big 44” award winner, All-State third team and was named as a Prep Team All-American. During that winter season, Kevin tri-captained the basketball team to the Section A Championship and the NYS State semifinals for the first time in school history. During his senior season, he was named All-League, All-Section, All-County and All-State while playing point guard for the Bobcats. He also was named to the Patent Trader’s All Star team and captured the prestigious Con Edison Award.
This is not Kevin O’Callaghans first induction ceremony into a Hall of Fame, as in 2010 he was inducted into the Westchester County Business Hall of Fame. Kevin is currently the President/Owner of Universal Builders Supply Inc., with offices located across the globe. His business holds several revolutionary patents in hoisting, scaffolding and enclosure safety systems that have been utilized in projects involving the Statue of Liberty, Madison Square Garden, AOL Time Warner Headquarters, CitiField and the World Trade Center.
Kevin currently resides in Rye, NY with his wife Meg O’Callaghan and his three children Kelly, Patrick and Jack.
Regarded by Coach Gregory Govan as the best female track and field to grace the halls of Byram Hills is certainly a remarkable feat. A varsity runner for all four seasons at Byram Hills, many of Nancy Fay-Peter’s records stand the test of time and continue to honor her as one of the best in New York State.
In 1980, her junior season, Fay-Peter cleared 5’06” at the Section 1 Open Meet, setting a new meet record which she equalled during her senior year. During the winter meet that season, she cleared 5’07’ which is a mark that only four girls in New York State have managed to clear to this day. She followed up those two jumps with a 5’08” at the highly-esteemed Loucks games. This is a mark that has only been accomplished twice in the past 34 years. In each meet, Fay-Peter continued to improve and set records that have stood the test of time.
In the winter and spring seasons of 1981, she brought home All-Section, All County and All-State awards. At states during her senior year, she finished first in the high jump taking home an individual state title and making the All-Regional team. Though she was famed mostly for jumping, Nancy showed her versatility by placing first in the 100m hurdles at the Class B Championships to close out her career. In recognition of her accomplishments, she was also awarded the Con Edison Award.
Early in her Bobcat career, Nancy was also a 3 season varsity soccer player and 2 season basketball player displaying her athletic versatility. Today, she is a real estate sales developer for Houlihan-Lawrence currently residing in Connecticut with her husband Jonathan Peter. She has three children Alex, Charlotte and Grace, all of whom are all fine athletes in their own right competing against mom on the paddle-tennis court.
From 1979 to 1982, one would likely see a young Marty Durkin listening to “FanFare for the Common Man,” by Emerson, Lake and Palmer, getting ready to take to the field of battle for the Bobcats. Ever the consummate professional, #17 competed in 10 sports seasons, was named “Class Jock,” as a senior and even won “Class Flirt,” a title that he is most proud of. In those ten seasons, Marty emerged as an All-County football player, an All-County lacrosse player and an All-State basketball player who crossed the 1,000 point threshold for the Bobcats becoming the first player in Byram history to achieve the milestone. Though he may have listened to the song during pre-game, Marty was definitely not just a common man on the field of athletics.
For Durkin, everything started remarkably early in his career where as a sophomore, Durkin already was showing athletic promise to come as he was starting QB on the varsity football team. The first of three consecutive seasons as the varsity QB. As well, the young Durkin started on varsity Basketball as a sophomore.
However, it was as a junior his athletic exploits began to shine and attract wider attention. On the football field, Durkin captained the team to a winning record from his QB position. In his senior season he was awarded All-County as the Bobcats senior QB and captain where Byram Hills broke Irvington’s 2 year sixteen game victory streak.
In basketball, Durkin finished a marvelous BHHS career with a record 1,006 points and a record 429 assists. He earned All-County and the senior captain was honored with All-State/ Small Schools. Over the next twenty years, only two other Bobcat basketball players surpassed 1,000 career points and both had the advantage of the three-point shot.
In his final senior sport season, Durkin played on the imposing 21-0 Lacrosse team where he hadn’t played a full season of lacrosse before. The Byram Hills team competed in the second of two County Leagues title that season. On that undefeated team, he fetched another All-County honor. Individually, Durkin notched 44 goals and tallied 44 assists and was made captain despite playing only one game during his junior season.
Durkin currently resides in New Rochelle, New York raising two two children Marty Jr. and Julia with his wife Joan. Marty is still active in the AAU community as the “Shot Doctor,”working with several current Byram players as their coach, mentor and teacher.
On November 28th, 1988, Matthew Muller was honored by the Downtown Athletic Club with the Junior Heisman award. This award is given to the top player of the year for New York State. It was a celebration of one of the finest seasons a rusher ever had in state history. Matthew ran for 223 yards in a game which remains a Byram record today. Ultimately, he finished the season with 1,972 yards which ranked third in the State by the time he graduated.
In the three years that Matthew played Varsity football, the team record was 27-3. Assistant coach Bob Croke recently remarked, “it was tough because we had to teach him to run around people, rather than run through them...he was the toughest player I ever coached.” During his senior season, Matthew captained his team to a perfect 10-0 record thus earning a top ranking in the state. Throughout that season, the team only yielded 13 points, with Muller starring on both offense and defense as a free safety. It was the first undefeated BHHS football team, a season in which he surpassed 1,000 yards by the fifth game of the season. This marked his second consecutive season rushing for over the century mark. During his junior year, Matthew played running back and defensive end for a team that finished the season 9-1 and historically halted Rye’s 23-game winning streak. That season, the team’s stingy defense yielded a total of only 27 points.
Matthew also starred on the 1987 champion Byram Hills lacrosse team that competed at States for small schools. During his sophomore season. Matthew led Westchester County in scoring and captured All-Section as a midfielder. Due to injury, Matthew only played 8 games during his junior year and was unable to compete due to a torn ACL in his Senior year.
Matthew is currently in between residences at this point pondering a move to Denver, Colorado. His stature and unique ability to place his teammates on his shoulders still remains a powerful legacy.
In the pantheon of Byram Hills athletics, it hard not to notice the impact of the Gutstein family. Sarah Gutstein Rome (‘86), who finished her lacrosse career with 155 goals--82 in her fourth and final varsity season. Her twin brother, Daniel (‘92), nicknamed Pancho, starred as a lacrosse goalie for BHHS and also was All-County. Other incredible Byram standouts include Adam Gutstein (‘80) and Jonathan Gutstein (‘83) who left behind outstanding legacies in lacrosse, field hockey and basketball. Indeed, one might claim that the Gutsteins are the BHHS First Family of athletics.
Abigail Gutstein was a twelve season athlete who captured All-League and All-Section awards in every sport she played. Starting with field hockey, Abigail led the team into the Quarterfinals of Sectionals for just the second time in the team’s history. She went on to compete at Princeton University, helping to guide the team to two Ivy League Championships and even completed for the US Team at the Maccabiah games. In lacrosse, Abigail scored a combined 180 goals during her final two seasons at Byram Hills, graduating with 242 goals in her four year career, tops in the school’s history. Abigail earned three most valuable player awards and was named as an honorable mention All-American recipient. At Princeton, she led her team to three Ivy League Championships and was named Brine/IWLCA First team All-American during her final two seasons. In basketball, Abigail crossed the 1,000 point threshold in her final season and was named to the All County team twice. When Abigail graduated, she was the Byram Hills leader in points scored in two sports! In addition, she was a Con Edison scholar athlete award winner rounding out an incredible career at Byram Hills.
Abigail continues to compete on an extremely high athletic level, having completed 10 marathons across the country. She is currently a Supply Chain Director at Stanley Black and Decker, a company that she has been with for nearly 20 years. Abigail currently resides in Baltimore, Maryland, yet she remains close to many of her friends and teammates in Armonk.
When one enters the gymnasium at Byram Hills High School and takes a look at the Swimming and Diving record board, one cannot help to notice the name Michelle Suozzi Verzello repeated several times. Competing as an independent athlete alongside the Horace Greeley swim team, Michelle travelled to meets without any Byram teammates, bringing home numerous trophies and awards. Since Byram Hills does not have a pool on campus, Michelle travelled every day to Columbia University to train privately in order to master her craft of diving.
Michelle was a four-time county champion in diving, earning All-American awards in her junior and senior years. In addition, Michelle won the Con Edison Award and was named the Patent Trader Athlete of the Month for her achievements within the classroom and in the pool. While competing in states, she set the New York State diving record for total points. She completed her high school career with three sectional championships, two New York State Championships, three all-county awards, and an East Coast Championship. These are records that have remained at the top of Byram Hills leaderboards over the past twenty years. Her achievements have most certainly stood the test of time. She received D-1 scholarship to the University of South Carolina where she competed for four years as a nationally-ranked diver.
Michelle graduated from the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. She is currently a Vice President for JP Morgan Chase. She lives in Armonk, where she is raising two young children, Alyssa and Mikey, with her husband Michael Verzello.
Pamela Crikelair Garrity has the rare distinction shared by only a few Bobcat athletes: she was All-State four times in a single sport—skiing. Thus, she was All-State as a freshman, sophomore, junior and senior. During her four years at Byram Hills, she played twelve consecutive seasons and started in every contest for her Field Hockey, Lacrosse and ski teams. Pamela was the ultimate Renaissance athlete, achieving success in every sport in which she participated.
Skiing was Pamela’s forte as an student athlete at Byram Hills, hailing from a strong family of skiers—her brothers Terry and Mac were All-County skiers for the Bobcats as well. The Crikelair trio notched a total of 11 premier awards in the sport making them the First Family of Skiers of BHHS. As a freshman on the ski team, Pamela never lost a League race. She went to the states and finished an impressive 6th place.
As a sophomore, the ski accolades continued, so too did her unbeaten League race streak. Once again, she qualified easily to race at the states where she finished in 4th place. Next season as a junior, Crikelair Garrity continued her remarkable undefeated race streak in League competition. She also won Tri-County Skimeister as a junior. Once again, she was off to the states where she finished a sterling 3rd. Finally, as a senior, she was again All-County and All-State, and once again did not lose a single league race, finishing 12th at states. Pamela finished her racing career undefeated in league races, a stunning display of dominance in a sport measured by hundredths of seconds.
In addition, Pamela was a topflight girls lacrosse player in her high school athletic career, achieving All-County as a junior and playing the center position as a senior. A two-time captain in Field Hockey, Pamela certainly exhibited diversity as an athlete.
Eventually, Pamela went to Dartmouth College and pursued a career in a yet another sport, becoming a member of the Ladies Professional Golf Association. Pamela even finished second in the Big Break III, a developmental futures program for the LPGA. Pamela currently lives in Rowayton, Connecticut with her husband Ryan Garrity and her four children Paige, Kiera, Kevin and Sadie.
In May 2002, Greg Simonds competed in the 400m hurdles at the Loucks games, bringing home an individual title for Byram Hills. He completed the race in 53.83 and not only captured the title but also finished with the top time for a high school athlete in the nation. Greg finished his senior season as an All-American in the event, earning All-Section honors in the 4x400 relay, 600m run, 800m run and the 55m hurdles. Greg finished fifth at Nationals that year and even took second at the Penn Relays with a time that still stands as the third fastest in Westchester County. Greg completed his four year varsity career--a total of twelve seasons for the Bobcats--with six All-Section and All-County selections, and a NYS championship in track. His coach, Greg Govan, recognizes him as the best track athlete to come through Byram Hills.
Off the field, the faculty of Byram Hills remembers him as an outstanding student, leader and citizen. Greg was in the concert band, volunteered for the Youth against Cancer Organization, participated in the Peer Leadership Program, and took part in Byram’s Academic Challenge team. He was an excellent student who didn’t shy away from the toughest courses.
After high school, Greg went on to compete for the Cornell Big Red where he raced to the Penn Invitational title in the 400m hurdles and won the Walker-Smith award, an honor recognizing the best hurdler in the Ivy League. Greg graduated with a Bachelor of Science from Cornell and achieved a Masters of Science from UC Davis where he studied exercise physiology.
Greg currently lives in Los Angeles, California and works as a career services advisor and instructor. He has future plans to coach track and mentor young athletes.
In November 2006, the boys soccer team lost 2-1 in the State Finals to the Aquinas Institute of Rochester. Led by a bevy of seniors including All-American Hayden Morris, the team stood on the threshold of capturing the school’s first state championship. The following Monday after the loss, juniors Stephen Paresi, William Ogden, Mike Szczesniak, Brian Myers and Will Shaheen took it upon themselves to start training for 2007. At that point, they began telling their peers, their parents and their coaches, that the upcoming season would end in a victorious return to States. That winter, the boys took their shovels to the turf and swept off the snow, never missing a day of training. Soon enough, the rest of the team realized that this dream needed to become a reality.
A year later, on November 18th, 2007, the Bobcat Soccer Team defeated Burnt Hills 1-0 on a second half goal by All-American and Gatorade Player of the Year Will Ogden, capturing the New York State Class A Championship. Captain Stephen Paresi was named the State tournament’s Most Valuable Player for his dominance in the midfield. This marked the first state championship in Byram Hills school history and the completion of a dream that started 12 months earlier. The Bobcats finished the season with a 23-1-1 record, winning its final 15 games and capturing league, sectional and regional titles along the way. The team ended the season ranked #1 in New York State, anchored by its “Defend” philosophy, one that yielded a total of only 9 goals the entire season. Led by standout goalie Mike Szczesniak and defensive stalwarts Brian Myers, Nick Curran, Willie Gevertz, Nick Poulton and Will Shaheen, the team compiled 18 shutouts and with a +72 goal differential. On offense, 19 different players scored goals during the season where Patrick Vierengel, Kevin Gallagher, Jordan Pollack and Mike D’Angelo and all tallied meaningful goals during the 7-0 playoff run to the State Title.
The 2007 Bobcats dream season was the result of 25 boys coming together to achieve a goal that ended in 25 men achieving glory. They kickstarted a 44 match win streak and set the program forward to where a championships became an expectation.
Each of the men who competed that season went on to play at four-year institutions of higher learning and today are scattered around the world achieving personal goals with the same ethic they utilized in 2007