One phase of the ride has ended for Nassau's 2010 top scholar-athlete. But another has just begun.
Hewlett High School student Niv Sultan, 17, has signed a letter of intent to enroll and play football at Harvard University in the fall of 2011.
The 6-foot-4-inch, 245-pound All-County defensive end and wrestling star will be taking his 96 grade point average and 1,400 SAT scores with him to Cambridge, Mass. But before he goes, he still has some time to enjoy and reflect on receiving the 2010 Jay Fiedler award as Nassau's top scholar-athlete.
"I am truly honored to be considered one of Nassau's top scholar athletes," Sultan said. "Being that Nassau is very competitive both athletically and academically, knowing that I stand out from the pack is a great feeling."
On the gridiron, on the wrestling mat, in the classroom and in life — balance is the key for Sultan.
"It all comes down to prioritizing," Sultan said. "In all honesty, football took up a lot of time and became the most important thing that I was doing, even trumping schoolwork. Luckily, I was still able to manage my work and continue to do well in the classroom."
Sultan, who also played semi-pro football in Israel during his junior year, credits his parents for giving him the support and advice he needed to navigate his complex and busy life with success. He also credits Hewlett head football coach Jay Iaquinta for giving him a jump start towards the next level in his academic and athletic careers.
"(Coach Iaquinta) really did a great deal for me throughout my high school career," Sultan said. "(He) helped me jump-start the recruiting process for the next level."
Iaquinta calls Sultan "one of, if not the best football player" he's ever coached in his 35-year career. Aside from his obvious gifts as a football player — strength, speed and explosiveness — Iaquinta sees Sultan as mature and focused beyond his years.
"Niv always attempts to do the right thing," Iaquinta said. "Even when no one is watching. Niv never asked his teammates to do something that he would not do. He always led by example."
More balance, more guidance and a wealth of opportunity. This is what lies ahead for Sultan — and he's aware of the challenges and possibilities.
"Balancing schoolwork and athletics is an arduous thing to do," Sultan said. "But when you achieve positive results and are successful in both facets, you realize that the hard work really does pay off."