What a time to be a Mineola Mustang.
Friends, families and neighbors lined up and down Jackson Avenue Wednesday afternoon to give Mineola High School’s marching band, boys varsity soccer and girls varsity volleyball team a champions welcome after one of the most successful fall seasons in school history.
Leading the walk down Jackson was Mayor Paul Pereira, a current teacher in the district and former soccer coach himself, alongside village, town and district officials, donning the red, black and white that each team sports.
Not too far behind them was the Mineola High School Homecoming Court waving to the crowd and traveling in a Mustang float that led both teams and the band, who were playing patriotic melodies.
The crowd grew bigger and bigger as the procession neared the end at the intersection of Jackson and Marcellus Avenue, which had hundreds of attendees cheering, shaking pompoms and waving cowbells.
At the Mineola Memorial Park Amphitheater, Pereira told the crowd that even though amazing things happen every day in the district, the teams’ accomplishments needed to be honored.
“What a fall season it has been, great things happen every day in our schools and our community, great things happen on our courts, our stages and in our classrooms,” Pereira said. “But what happened this fall with these three groups of young men and women is truly special and worthy of recognition.”
Superintendent Michael Nagler commended the learners for remaining committed to their respective crafts while also maintaining an academic schedule.
“Thank you because you are what makes our schools special. We wouldn’t be here without you,” Nagler said.
The high school marching band won a second consecutive championship in the Small School Division 1. The band competed in the New York State Field Band Conference in late October in Syracuse where all 144 students in the group performed “Odyssey: Through Space and Time.”
The band also enjoyed an undefeated season on the way to securing local championships. The band was accepted into its new division in 2021 after winning a championship in 2018 and 2019 in the Small School Division 2.
Band Director Christopher Toomey said there were a few schools they were looking at upstate which “gave us a run for our money,” but the team was able to buckle down and compete.
“We spoke about how we could perform the best and the students brought their A-game to every competition, show and practice,” said Toomey, who was given a key to the village.
Several years after a group of freshmen told varsity coach Al Cavalluzzo they could win the county title, that same group was able to not only secure the Nassau County championship but also the Long Island one as well.
The boys varsity soccer team finished its regular season at 9-2-3 and entered the Nassau County Class A playoffs as the No. 3 seed. Led by leading goal-scorer forward Jose Escobar and Capts. Sebastian Knight and Aidan Breen, the Mustangs posted shutout wins throughout the postseason and capped that off with a 3-0 win over No. 5 seed Lawrence on Nov. 1.
A week after beating Lawrence, Mineola defeated Kings Park 4-3 in double overtime to secure the Long Island title, the school’s first since 2005. Unfortunately, the Mustangs lost to Byram Hills in the state semifinals after Byram scored to tie the game late in the second half and eventually one more time to win in overtime.
“Make sure you soak this in and take the time to acknowledge what you have accomplished together,” Athletic Director Christopher McGann said. “It’s very hard to get here, harder to get back here. And what you have done should never be taken lightly. So congratulations on your incredible accomplishments.”
For the volleyball team, they had the best season in school history after sharing the regular season conference title at 12-2 and entering the postseason as the No. 3 seed before beating Wantagh in a five-set thriller for their first county championship.
The Mustangs then easily handled Suffolk County Champions Sayville in three sets behind strong performances from Keira McCaffrey and Liz Kenney.
The team’s dream season ended in Glen Falls, where they lost to Burn Hills-Ballston Lake, a school 30 miles outside of Albany.
“I told these girls that this is the best volleyball team I’ve ever seen in person and I truly mean it,” McGann said. “Congratulations to this well-deserving group of young ladies.”
Cavalluzzo and volleyball Coach Hyunah Park and their respective captains were each given keys to the village and each team was given proclamations commemorating their achievements by the Town of North Hempstead.
The village also had made signs to be put throughout the village and at the high school displaying each team’s achievement.
“Anyone that comes to Mineola will know we are a village of champions,” Pereira said.