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Hills East Hosts Ray Enners Day Celebration

Honors Enners, an American hero, and James Metzger, the school's first Enners Award winner.

Lacrosse fans and athletes gathered at Half Hollow Hills East Saturday for the annual Ray Enners Day celebration, where Hills alum James Metzger was honored.

Metzger, who was Hills’ first Enners Award winner in 1977 as Suffolk County’s top lacrosse player, spoke to the crowd about his journey and the meaning of Enners in his life after accepting a plaque from Hills board trustee Eric Geringswald.

“He gave his life for our country,” said Metzger of Enners, a Hills alum who died bravely on Sept. 18, 1968 while saving another solider, who ironically hails from Long Island, during the Vietnam War. “He’s an American hero and one of my heroes.”

Each year the Hills East and West boys lacrosse teams scrimmage one another to honor Enners, who at 22-years old made the ultimate sacrifice.

Nicknamed "The Machine" by teammates, Enners captained the football, basketball and lacrosse teams at Hills. He was an All-County, All-Long Island and Honorable Mention All-America selection his senior year. Enners was a five-year varsity player and played in the first five Suffolk County championship games before going to West Point and having an equally impressive collegiate career.

Bill Martens, his former football and lacrosse coach, who was a legend at Hills from 1959-1973, was on-hand Saturday to remember his fallen athlete. For years he would speak about Enners when giving out the lacrosse award, but still has difficulty talking about a person who meant so much to him, the community and the country.

“When I got the call telling me he had been killed, it was like my son was killed,” Martens recalled.

Metzger remembers the day nearly 35 years ago when his coach Lou DiBlasi told him he won the Enners Award and was named a high school All-American in the same day.

“I still remember the day as if it were yesterday,” he said. “I still remember where I was standing and where my coach was standing. It was one of the most special days of my life and as special as that was 35 years ago, it’s just as special today.”

At Hills East, Metzger set school records for points in a season and assists in a game, season and career and was the only high school athlete selected to both the North-South All-Star football and lacrosse games as a senior.

On the football field, he started every game in his three-year varsity career and led his team in scoring. Metzger attended the Naval Academy Prep School and led the lacrosse team in goals, assists and points. Focusing solely on lacrosse, Metzger decided to come back to Long Island to attend Hofstra University in 1979 and 1980, where he again led the team in assists each of those seasons.

Today, Metzger is the chairman and CEO of The Whitmore Group, a leading insurance brokerage firm on Long Island, and is a generous philanthropist to many organizations and institutions in the area. He also finds time to root for his nephews Rob Pannell, who plays at Cornell, and James Pannell, a Virginia recruit at Smithtown West.

“It’s nice to see him honored, but more importantly it’s nice to see him turn out to be the kind of man that he is,” DiBlasi said. “He’s a tremendous person. He was a great kid and a great athlete, but he’s even better as a human being. I’m proud of that.”

james metzger May 03, 2011 at 04:04 PM
Tony You too have excelled on and off the field. Thanks for the compliments and good luck the rest of SS season. Bryan Gerrato is an EXTREMELY talented high school lacrosse player, and a respectful young man. I really enjoy watching him play lacrosse-he reminds me of a young Robert Pannell! JCM
james metzger May 03, 2011 at 04:14 PM
Gary Thanks Mr. Gary Arnold. I truly appreciate your comments! Hollywood
steven devito May 03, 2011 at 07:59 PM
steve devito as a former temmate of jim at navy prep it is with great pride that i congratulate you on this award.The lives that you have touched both in business and personally is unparalleled.The philanthropic interest that you have established is just a tribute to the man you have become.To see how far you have come since prep is mind boggling.It's an honor to call you my friend,mentor and brother that i never had!! congratulations again you deserve it.
james metzger May 03, 2011 at 10:12 PM
Thanks Steven V. DeVito - YOU know you are a true hero of mine. Thanks for reaching out! Best,James
Peter J. Lee May 04, 2011 at 12:48 AM
Who knew the kid around the block in Country Village would grow up to be James C. Metzger?! We all recognized Jimmy Metzger, and his uncanny athletic skills. That resume speaks for itself. The man he has grown into is yet more impressive! It's been almost 40 years, and I still take pleasure in seeing the man he has become. Congratulations, Jim!!
james metzger May 04, 2011 at 03:31 AM
Peter You were the only person I can remember who drove an Austin Healey in the winter-with the top down in a snow storm. Thank God you owned a full length leather coat with fur collar! Thanks for reaching out,and thanks for the memories. O.J. Schmetzger
George Fox May 04, 2011 at 06:12 AM
Jim I just wanted to congratulate you again on a well deserved award . To be part of the tradition of the Ray Enners Award speaks louldy to the character of the person that you have become. The words that you offered in your acceptance speech and the recognition that you gave to your former team mates and coaches in attendance showed us what athletics are all about. Those of us who are present day Thunderbirds follow in the footsteps of all those who played on the memorial fields at Hills East. Thank you for your continued support of our T Bird lacrosse program. George Fox assistant coach Hills East Lacrosse
james metzger May 04, 2011 at 12:04 PM
George Not only do I appreciate your comments,but I also appreciate the way you, the coaches and the Hills administration embraced me on Ray Enners Day. You made me feel proud and at home at my alma mater,and helped make the day unforgettable for me. Thanks again Coach Fox! Jim
r domini May 04, 2011 at 02:17 PM
Jimmy, Congratulations !! While playing Lacrosse at the West Hollow Jr H.S. I remember hustling over to Hills East after practice or on a Saturday to catch a varsity game- what impressed everyone watching was (1) you could run like the wind.( 2) no short or long stick could cover you. (3) your high white socks never fell to your ankles and (4) those dump off passes to the greatest finisher, Jerome Merkerson. In addition & Seriously, God has blessed you with tremendous talent and many gifts. May you continue to use your talent and those special gifts to be a blessing to others. rgdomini
james metzger May 05, 2011 at 02:38 AM
Robert Thank you for your thoughtful and generous comments. You are a classy "kid" and you too looked great in your High white socks and white cleats! And you also had a great face dodge. I remember the skinny kid who grew up to be successful business man and credit to society. your father was a great man and your mother is kind,beautiful woman. I appreciate both our business relationship and our friendship. God bless you and your family. Thanks again Robert Domini! Star
Tom Rotanz May 05, 2011 at 03:03 AM
Jim was the best player in my era! Great speed and could change directions in a split second. The hardest guy I ever covered. More than a great player, Jim is one of the people you never forget and you're glad your paths crossed with him! An absolute pisser! You are the best, Tom Rotanz WM '77
james metzger May 05, 2011 at 03:26 AM
Tom I was at best the second best - because YOU were the best player period. I sincerely mean it,and you won the battles head to head. You were a champion at EVERY level- high school,junior college,college, club,summer and senior division. 5 times all american (1) highschool (2)junior college (2)college and you won championships at EVERY stop along the way. And now you are winning state high school lacrosse championships. You are great person and a true credit to the game of lacrosse. Thanks for the compliments. Jim
Janice Redmond May 05, 2011 at 03:47 PM
Jimmy, It is a pleasure to read about your successes - both from earlier years and today. You are not only brillant and talented, you are a great person who has touched so many peoples lives. Keep up the great work! Janice Redmond
Dave McCulloch May 05, 2011 at 03:56 PM
Jim, Congrats on this great honor! Although I never saw you play, I always had heard what an awesome player & athlete you were. It was great to finally meet you a couple of years ago at Gary Arnolds PAL Man of the Year dinner. But to be honest, what impresses me more than your athletic accomplishments is what a great person you are! Not many like you....thanks for all you do for Hofstra Lax! also, last but not least....thanks for giving up a date with a PB bunny to be at my HOF induction...it meant alot to see you there :) Dave McCulloch
Danny McCabe May 05, 2011 at 04:04 PM
Jim, Congratulations on being honored. It's great to see and read about you and Lou DiBlasi.....two of Hofstra's all-time best. Thanks for all you do. Dany McCabe
John Tantillo May 05, 2011 at 07:19 PM
Great to see Brand Metzger in action. A great guy, a memorable brand and a fine friend. Congrats James on a job well done. Warmest Regards from the Marketing Doctor, John Tantillo
Bob Bernstein May 06, 2011 at 12:07 AM
James; really nice to read the article. Very proud of all the things that you do for Hofstra Athletics. You have really made a difference and it is much appreciated. Bob Bernstein.
james metzger May 06, 2011 at 01:32 AM
Janice, Thank you for the kind words. I appreciate our friendship and our business relationship. Please give my best to Bill! Jim
james metzger May 06, 2011 at 01:33 AM
Danny, Thanks very much for reaching out! Best, Jim
james metzger May 06, 2011 at 01:41 AM
Dr. Tantillo, I want you to know how much I appreciate your kind words, and I also want you to know how much I appreciate your outstanding work for Fox News. You are humble notwithstanding all your success. You are a marketing genius John. James
james metzger May 06, 2011 at 01:45 AM
Bob Thanks for reaching out to me. You are the consumate gentleman. Jim
Joe Ferraro May 06, 2011 at 02:53 AM
Jim, Great Athlete, Great Guy, Better Friend!!! Thanks for all your efforts to bring a lot of long lost friends back together again. It's nice to re-live the old Hofstra days. The stories get better every year. Congratulations! Joe Ferraro
james metzger May 06, 2011 at 11:49 AM
Joe You were the best punter with whom I ever played. I would rate your talent equal to Ray Guy! I recently saw some pictures of you on the internet and I had to admire your form and extension. I'm aware of a tryout you had with the Dallas Cowboys,but I'm not sure if you ever played in the NFL. Thanks for reaching out Joseph,and stay thirsty my friend. Hollywood
Roger C. Stehlin May 06, 2011 at 01:54 PM
James , I again want to congratulate you on your Ray Enners Award, it was and is a great honor . I also want to thank you for including me on Saturday , both at HHH Ray Enners Day ceremonies and at the Hofstra / Penn State game gathering, it was great non stop Lacrosse day for me [MSU 9 FSC 7] ;] . Coach Bill Martens was already an icon at HHH when I arrived at HHHHS in 1969 . His legend was already established and Lt. Ray Enners was a name and a story I heard about all the time on the football field . Doug Schrieber , my older neighbor , someone who I looked up to as a boy , was the best athlete at Hills and bound to win the Ray Enners Collegiate Lacrosse award at Maryland 4 yrs later . Lou Diblasi was my 1st HS coach as I wrestled at HHHHS as a 9th grader at 14 yrs old, a kid at 167lbs in 1968-69 . Lou taught me how to be tough , to never give up , to strive to be the best , and to have class when you win , and show class when you lose. I love the man . He was of course my line coach the next 3 years as I endeavored into the sport of football. Lou was like a 2nd father to me in those years , and remains one of my mentors and role models even today . [ continued ]
Roger C. Stehlin May 06, 2011 at 01:57 PM
We share a common bond as ex HHH football and Lax players [ even though my varsity lax career lasted 2 days } lol . You know that story ! [ continued ] I well remember meeting you when you were a young kid in 9th grade , later watching you play football and lacrosse at HHHHs and thinking , Jim is an amazing athlete on both fields and that is well documented and goes without saying . In that regard , and in life , I am so impressed with what you do so well . I am always honored to be in such great company with Lou , yourself and all the other lacrosse legends that gather at your events . [cont ]
Roger C. Stehlin May 06, 2011 at 01:58 PM
You have devoloped many great qualities over the years . You have a great allegience to your friends and team mates , a great respect for your opponents , admiration for your coaches , and you have a great sense of history and perspective on sports and on life . You appreciate the things that have happened in your life and you learned well from those experiences . You love and take care of your family , and take great pride in them as well . You appreciate the people who have helped shape your life . With regard to sports , you remember and revere the athletes that came before you , you appreciate your contemporaries , and as important , you admire the players who came along after your sports career had ended . Not only do you appreciate those people , but you promote them , you honor them , you raise them up , and you thank them . You offer credit , where credit is due , and you make sure those who deserve recognition get it . You are not afraid of giving praise to others , and that is the sign of a good man with a BIG Heart . You are an astute evaluator of a mans character , and as you know, sports tend to bring ones character [ good or bad ] to the forefront .
Roger C. Stehlin May 06, 2011 at 01:59 PM
[ cont . ]Ray Enners was a American hero who gave his life for his country and for what he believed in, at much to young an age . In the Ray Enners tradition , to your great credit , you have chosen a similar path in life . You give of yourself in the service of others . You have taken the opportunity to give to others with less , and you are making a difference in helping people of all persuations live a better life through your continued philanthropy . I consider you a great friend and an HHH brother ! The Ray Enners Award was well deserved then and even more so today ! Thanks for all you do Jim .. Peace ! sincerely , Roger Stehlin HHHHS 1972
Harry Royle May 06, 2011 at 07:34 PM
Great job on keeping the focus of the day on Ray.....Why do the Handsome guys always stand in the middle of the pictures? ....and Why is Coach Diblasi trying to squeeze into the middle????.....Congratulations.... Harry Royle
james metzger May 07, 2011 at 03:08 AM
Roger, Thank you for the time you invested in the comments, and thank you for all the kind words and support. We all had a special day together: coaches,former players,high school players,youth league players and a fallen military hero in the spirit of Raymond Enners. As I stated in my speech,that you were such an outstanding athlete -football/wrestling -that notwithstanding you didnt play high school lacrosse, you went on to become a North-South College All-Star and a 50 point single season scorer. Thanks again. Jim
james metzger May 07, 2011 at 11:56 AM
Coach Royle Very, very funny Mr.Royle - you made me laugh when I read your remarks. Nice to hear from you and thanks for taking the time to comment. A lot of the guys from Hofstra ask if I speak to you,but I dont think I've seen you since you were inducted into the Hall of Fame. Hope you visit us once in a while,and I hope your enjoying your golf game. Jim

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