Game-changers: Top 10 Nassau school districts for athletes, Niche analysis


As part of its 2024 school district rankings, Niche analyzed and rated which Nassau County districts are most attractive to student-athletes.

Not only did Massapequa place No. 1 in the county, the district also is rated fourth in the state and No. 45 among Best School Districts for Athletes in the country, according to Niche’s analysis. Recent success for Massapequa athletics included a girls soccer county championship and the football team’s Long Island championship this fall.

The 6,500-student school system was the lone Nassau district to achieve an A+ in sports in the online platform’s 10th annual rankings report. Still, plenty of other districts in the county achieved high marks for the sports programs they make available to students. In fact, 23 Nassau districts graded out at A- or better for the quality of their athletic programs.

The top 10

Below is a list of the top 10 school districts for athletes in Nassau, as it appeared in the rankings Niche released for 2024. You can click here to see Niche’s entire rankings report.

No. 1 Massapequa

Notable alumni: There’s Hollywood’s Baldwin brothers from Massapequa, and then there’s pro football’s Baldinger boys from Massapequa. Brothers Brian, Gary and Rich Baldinger all played in the NFL. Brian was an offensive lineman for 11 seasons, including five years with Dallas, four with Indianapolis and two in Philadelphia. Gary played defensive line for six seasons, including two Super Bowl teams, in 1990 and 1991, with Buffalo. Rich, an offensive lineman, spent most of his 12-year career with Kansas City.

No. 2 Sewanhaka

Notable alumni: Arguably one of the best all-time Olympians, discus thrower Al Oerter captured gold medals at four different Olympics, from 1956 to 1968. Quarterback Vinny Testeverde played 21 seasons in the NFL, including six seasons with the Jets. He nearly led New York to the Super Bowl in 1998; the Jets lost 23-10 to Denver in the AFC championship game that year.

No. 3 Long Beach

Notable alumni: 1958 Long Beach High School graduate Larry Brown is the only head basketball coach to win both an NCAA national championship (Kansas in 1988) and an NBA championship (Detroit in 2004). As a head coach, he led eight different NBA teams to the playoffs. As a player, he won an ABA championship in 1969 with the Oakland Oaks. Retired NFL running back Pete Johnson played his senior year of high school with Long Beach, after moving from Georgia. Johnson starred at Ohio State and gained more than 5,600 yards rushing in eight NFL seasons.

No. 4 Garden City

Notable alumni: Running back Don McCauley played 11 seasons (1971-1981) in the NFL with the Baltimore Colts, rushing for 2,627 yards. The North Carolina football legend is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. Punter Dave Jennings played 14 seasons in the NFL, including 11 for the Giants and three with the Jets. He is part of the Giants’ “Ring of Honor.”

No. 5 East Meadow

Notable alumni: Pitcher Frank Viola played 15 MLB seasons, including a three-season stint with the Mets from 1989-1991. He pitched the bulk of his career with Minnesota earning a Cy Young Award and winning a World Series with the Twins. Linebacker Brandon Moore played seven seasons in NFL, mostly with San Fransisco.

No. 6 Baldwin

Notable alumna: Kaia Harrison was a part of an incredible Bruins basketball team that won five Nassau AA championships, three Long Island titles and two New York state crowns. Harrison is now a graduate student at Wake Forrest and a starter in her final season with the Demon Deacons.

No. 7 Wantagh

Notable alumnus: Al Iaquinta, a wrestler in high school and a professional MMA fighter, has a 14-7 won-loss record as a pro. He was 14-0 as an amateur.

No. 8 Manhasset

Notable alumnus: NFL Hall of Fame player Jim Brown earned 13 varsity letters playing football, lacrosse, basketball, baseball and track at Manhasset in the early 1950s. The Cleveland Browns superstar played nine seasons in the NFL before retiring to focus on his acting career. He was the league MVP three times and won an NFL championship in 1964.

No. 9 Oceanside

Notable alumni: Basketball swingman Art Heyman played three seasons in the NBA and three more in the ABA during the 1960s. After starring at Duke, Heyman in 1963 was picked by the Knicks as the first player selected in the NBA draft. Pitcher Dennis Leonard won 20 games three different seasons with Kansas City and won 144 overall during 12 Major League seasons.

No. 10 Levittown

Notable alumni: An inductee in the the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame, Thomas Cafaro is considered one of the greatest lacrosse players ever at Levittown’s MacArthur High School and at Army, where he won a national championship. He won the Lt. Ray Enners Award as the nation’s most outstanding player in 1971 and the Jack Turnbull Award as the country’s top attackman that same year. An All-Long Island baseball and football player — as well as All-County in hockey — Frank Russo was drafted three consecutive years (1980-1982) by different MLB teams. He played professionally in the Cincinnatti Reds organization.

Top photo: Massapequa girls varsity soccer players and coaches (Facebook/Massapequa Public Schools)

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