Seniors of the Week: 5/28/21

The Athletics department celebrates the Class of 2021 through a Seniors of the Week series honoring Hackley’s graduating athletes.

Lara Schechter ’21 - Girls’ Lacrosse
It is always amazing to watch Lara on the field; she is always working so hard and giving her all to whatever she is doing. A three-year varsity player, Lara is a natural leader. She inspires her teammates through her intensity and her passion. As a lacrosse player, Lara continues to push her play. We are always confident that when Lara steps on the field, she will make something great happen. Lara is not afraid to play any position she is asked to on the field and does it without hesitation. She asks questions and consistently pushes herself to be better. Voted a co-captain this season, there is no doubt that Lara has a tremendous impact on her team. Lara has made her mark on the Lacrosse program. 

Hannah Ostfield ’21 - Girls’ Lacrosse
Hannah has had an impressive season on the field, especially in terms of her hard work, her speed, and her aggressiveness. Hannah is willing and able to play any position on the field. She works hard for draw controls in the midfield, hunts down her opponents on the redefend, and drives hard to goal. She is determined and focused, and her spirit and enthusiasm are contagious. Hannah has worked hard over the past four years to become the player she is today, and it is exciting to see that her hard work has paid off. 

Anthony Pizzalato ’21 - Boys’ Tennis  
Tony “the tiger” Pizzalato has been a doubles starter for his entire high school career and contributed important regular-season wins with a range of different doubles partners. On the court, Tony brings a well-practiced tennis game and an aggressive mentality, always looking to poach a ball during a point or return a second serve aggressively. A team favorite off the court, Tony has functioned as the unofficial mascot for the team the past four years, letting out a trademark “roar” after watching someone win a big point or hitting a winner of his own. A leader and team captain this year, Tony has the respect of his teammates and knows exactly what to do in order to get everyone fired up for the next point. The legend of ‘the tiger’ will continue well beyond Tony’s time on the Hilltop.

Ishaan Ratliff ’21 - Boys’ Tennis  
Ishaan has been a consistent top player for the JV program, winning singles and doubles matches at the top of the ladder for the team. This year, Ishann has mainly been playing doubles with other senior partners, declaring his serve “untouchable” and his forehand “huge”. Someone who loves the sport and is thrilled to just be on the court, Ishann’s presence at practice brings out the best in those who play against him. A competitor through and through, Ishann’s tenacious attitude has made our practices better and has pushed his peers to a higher level. We hope he continues to play into college and brings his large groundstrokes with him.

Louisa Thompson ’21 - Girls’ Track and Field 
Louisa discovered her passion for running late in her Hackley athletic career. Despite being her first year with the program, her contributions have been tremendously impactful. Louisa’s motivation and desire to better herself is inspiring. She logs endless miles whenever away from the team, weekends, breaks, periods of distance learning, she seems to always be on the move. At practice, Louisa is constantly challenging herself. She regularly asks to be moved up in training groups, always looks to improve upon past workouts, and often requests to run additional repeats during workouts. Her energetic and upbeat nature has resonated with her teammates. Any training group Louisa is a part of automatically becomes more focused and fun. Though Louisa’s discovery of running as a passion came at the tail end of her Hackley experience, it has quickly become an integral part of her life. 

William Rifkin ’21 - Boys’ Track and Field
Will Rifkin balances the role of coach and athlete perfectly. Besides being voted captain of the 2021 Track & Field team, Will has consistently stepped up as a leader throughout his career at Hackley. He has been welcoming and inclusive toward all US runners, but also took special care of the Middle School students as he attended practices, prepared goody bags, and cheered athletes on at meets. When the pandemic started, he was sure to keep the communication ongoing through strength Zoom workouts and creating running plans. Furthermore, Will is included among a group of fellow seniors that make up the fastest and most accomplished team of distance runners ever to compete for Hackley. Will is a member of Hackley’s only boys’ team to win the cross country NYSAIS Championship in the school’s history. Finally, the relationships Will has formed with his teammates will last a lifetime. For now, we wish Rifkin well as he begins his next chapter of running at the collegiate level.

Charlie Rudge ’21 - Boys’ Track and Field
Charlie Rudge, the Doughnut Mile Maestro. One of Charlie’s teammates described him best as “painfully optimistic”. The label fits, as he is one of the most upbeat, energetic, and fun-loving individuals to ever go through the program. Charlie joins a group of fellow seniors that make up the fastest and most accomplished team of distance runners ever to compete for Hackley. Charlie’s role within the group is essential. He never lets the team take the sport too seriously, never lets them obsess too much over places or times, and never lets the group take their friendships for granted despite their many successes. Charlie has a gift for focusing on shared experiences, developing trust and camaraderie amongst the group, and forming a brotherhood amongst teammates.

Josh Williams ’21 - Boys’ Track and Field
Josh has been a strong and consistent contributor to the outdoor track team as a sprinter and thrower. He is a driven and inspiring athlete. He approaches each practice ready to learn a new technique or drill to fuel his improvement. His strategy has worked, as he continues to increase the distances he throws and lowers his running times. His skill and spirit are an important fuel for the team’s throwing core. A great throw or a fast race from Josh goes a long way toward getting the team fired up. 

James Hirschberg ’21 - Boys Lacrosse 
It would be hard to overstate the contributions James has made to Hackley lacrosse over his four years here. A two-year captain, he made an immediate impact his first year at the school, playing a key role on the dynamic 2018 team that made a memorable run to the league and NYSAIS championship. While the most striking moment of his play that year will always be his overtime goal in the semi-final battle against Riverdale, he handled himself like a veteran throughout the season and made clear he would be a force throughout his career. He continued this promise as a sophomore and was arguably the strongest player at his position in the league that year, helping lead the team to another championship. His teammates hold him in high esteem, as demonstrated when he was elected captain as a junior. As great a player as he is on the field, he has been an even better leader during COVID’s challenges, and it is this leadership as much as his skill that will be missed next year.

Isabella Monteleone ’21 - Girls’ Lacrosse 
Bella is a four-year varsity player who is a dominant lacrosse player. Bella has made her mark on our program through her play in only two years that she competed—as a 9th and 10th grader—and in the example that she has set in every year. As a defender, Bella distinguished herself immediately, earning All-League First Team honors as a 10th grader and being a huge reason for our 2019 NYSAIS Championship. She is one of the strongest players to have come through our program, and she would have done well on the field over the second half of her high school career. This year she was overwhelmingly elected co-captain. Her teammates respect her play and her dedication, but they also know how much she cares. Bella seeks out the strongest attackers to defend—even in practice—and is a key reason why the team continues to be competitive, serious, and focused. She is an impressive athlete, but more importantly, she makes an impact on every part of the team—both on and off the field. There is no doubt that she will do great things beyond the Hilltop. We can’t wait to watch her on the field at the next level.