Niche’s 2024 school district rankings broke down which Suffolk County districts are the best for student-athletes.
West Islip was the lone Suffolk district to pull an A+ in sports in the online platform’s 10th annual rankings report. But plenty of other districts in the county achieved high marks for the sports programs they make available to students.
Below is a list of the top 10 school districts for athletes in Suffolk County, as it appeared in the rankings Niche released this fall for 2024. GreaterLongIsland has included a fall team highlight and an update on a notable alum from each district.
Fall 2023 success story: After an electrifying 7-1 regular season, the Lions football team won two playoff games before losing in the Division II county championship to North Babylon.
Notable alum: Brent Ziegler earned All-State football honors and was All-Long Island in lacrosse at West Islip. The 1980 graduate was a three-year starter in college at Syracuse. He trained with the Cincinnati Bengals and the USFL’s New Jersey Generals before an injury cut short his playing career.
Fall 2023 success story: Ward Melville High School’s girls soccer team won its second-straight state championship and finished the season undefeated.
Notable alum: Mick Foley, a 1983 graduate of Ward Melville, was a longtime professional wrestler and former WWE champion who competed for Ward Melville’s varsity wrestling team.
Fall 2023 success story: Commack boys soccer finished 10-2-4 this fall and reached the semi-finals of the county playoffs, losing to eventual state champion Brentwood.
Notable alum: Veteran WNBA player and Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame member Samantha Prahalis graduated from Commack in 2008. At Ohio State, she was the Big Ten Player of the Year in 2012. Later that year, she played for the Los Angeles Sparks and made the All-Rookie WNBA team. She is now director of player development and advanced scouting at St. John’s University.
Fall 2023 success story: Bay Shore’s boys volleyball team went 13-1 during the regular season. The team was the No. 1 seed in Suffolk’s Division I playoffs, but the Marauders fell in the semi-final round.
Notable alum: 2013 Bay Shore High School grad Greg Weissert has pitched for the New York Yankees the last two seasons. He played at Fordham Univeristy and was drafted by New York in 2016.
Fall 2023 success story: Brentwood’s boys soccer team enjoyed another magical season, going undefeated and winning the program’s second straight state championship.
Notable alum: Retired professional boxer James “Buddy” McGirt is a 1983 graduate of Bay Shore High School. Inducted into the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame and the International Boxing Hall of Fame, McGirt was a world champion in two different weight classes, holding the IBF junior welterweight title in 1988 and the WBC and lineal welterweight titles from 1991-1993.
Fall 2023 success story: The girls soccer team went 7-7-1 and reached the playoffs.
Notable alum: New York Jets tight end Jeremy Ruckert was a standout at Ohio State. As a senior at Lindenhurst in 2017, Ruckert was the New York Gatorade Football Player of the Year.
Fall 2023 success story: Sayville football finished 8-0 during the regular season, before losing to East Islip in Suffolk’s Division III title game.
Notable alum: 2017 graduate Jack Coan plays for the United Football League’s San Antonio Brahmas. He has received tryouts from a myriad of NFL teams. During college, he played three seasons with Wisconsin before transferring to Notre Dame for his final season of eligibility. He played in three bowl games, setting a record with Notre Dame in 2021 for most passing yards in the Fiesta Bowl.
Fall 2023 success story: Northport’s field hockey team won a fourth straight Long Island title and nearly a third straight state title after going 13-1 during the regular season. The Tigers fell to Buffalo-area Orchard Park in the semi-finals of the state tournament.
Notable alum: Northport High School soccer great Allie Long has played professionally for 14 seasons. Currently, with Gotham FC in the National Women’s Soccer League, Long has played on the U.S. national team in the Olympics and on the American team that captured 2019 World Cup title. She graduated from Northport in 2005 and played at Penn State before transferring to North Carolina for her junior and senior seasons.
Fall 2023 success story: Both Half Hollow Hills high school football teams enjoyed excellent regular seasons and reached the playoffs last fall. Hills East finished 7-1 and reached the semi-finals of the Suffolk Division II tournament. Hills West was 6-2 and also advanced to the semi-finals, in Division III.
Notable alum: Tobias Harris was drafted into the NBA within a year of graduating from Half Hollow Hills West in 2010. He played one year at Tennessee before embarking on his NBA career. He has played 13 seasons in the NBA, averaging 16.2 points per game. He is in his sixth season with Philadelphia. Just last week, he scored 32 points in the 76ers overtime loss to Atlanta.
Fall 2023 success story: The girls soccer team at the high school reached the Suffolk County playoffs after a 7-7-1 regular season.
Notable alum: 2008 Olympic swimmer Julia Smit graduated from Mount Sinai High School in 2006. A former world record holder in two events, she earned a silver and a bronze medal at the 2008 games. In 2007 at the Pan American games, she earned four gold medals, as well as a silver.