Chris Daleo prides himself on his ability to balance athletics with academics, and now he has some hardware to show for his hard work.
“I was definitely appreciative to the National Football Foundation for their continued recognition of scholar-athletes, because striking that delicate balance of academics and athletics is a challenging task, and it’s often that the athletic achievements receive recognition,” said the 6’-1”, 200-pound Westhampton Beach center and defensive end. “It’s rewarding and a cool experience being named with successful people in the NFF like Len Goneva and James Metzger. My school and community has also thrown a lot of support at me since being rewarded. It’s a feel-good thing.”
Daleo earned the James C. Metzger Award, presented to the top scholar-athlete for the Suffolk County chapter of the National Football Foundation at a brunch held at the Hyatt Regency in Hauppauge January 5. Metzger is a former All-American lacrosse player at Hofstra University who went on to become founder, chairman, and CEO of The Whitmore Group, Ltd., a leading Long Island insurance brokerage and financial services firm.
The Westhampton senior scored a 1360 on the SAT and a 34 on the ACT. This season, he was a captain on a younger-than-usual Hurricanes team that ended its season at the Suffolk County Division III semifinals. In his two years on varsity, he amassed an 18-3 record.
“It was a strenuous task,” Daleo said. “Especially with our team playing in Division III, we had Comsewogue, Half Hollow Hills West, and East Islip all in a row. That was the toughest stretch, the heat of our schedule when the school year was ramping up. Football was my main mental focus, and stressor, and that made the academic tasks harder.”
Head coach Bryan Schaumloffel said he believes it is the first time Westhampton had the Carl A. Hansen Award winner (Jaden AlfanoStJohn) and the top scholar football player in the same season. His team was also presented with a New York State Public High School Athletic Association scholar athlete team award for academic excellence while actively participating at the varsity level.
“It’s a great example of the type of student-athletes we have at Westhampton Beach,” the coach said. “I’m not sure a school has ever had the Hansen Award and top scholar in the same year.”
“Coach Schaumloffel has always been supportive of me, and especially my coach Jesse O’Neill. He’s a great guy,” Daleo said.
The senior is class president; the founder of a youth ministry leadership group at his school, which has grown from three to 30 students; the school’s historian for the National Honor Society; a volunteer with Adopt-A-Family; and a tutor for young students.
“I love being involved in a small community,” he said. “It’s a family-like feel.”
Daleo is looking to study business, international affairs, and/or political science in college.