By Andrew Wroblewski
Basketball, soccer, lacrosse, golf – the Dunne family of Northport is no stranger to competition. For over thirty years, the Dunnes – made up of parents John and Eileen; sons Greg (class of 1995), Rich (’95) and Tim (’97); and daughter Kelly (’06) – have suited up for Northport High School and other local organizations. Countless championships were won, awards were given and teams were coached by the Dunnes, but when Northport-East Northport School District officials revealed earlier this year that an athletic hall of fame would be established, Tim wasn’t sure if his family would make the cut – or at least not the first cut.
“When I heard that families would also be inducted, in the back of my mind, I thought that my family might be potentially honored someday,” Tim, youngest of the three Dunne brothers, said. “But to be inducted as the first family [one family per annual class is inducted], as a part of the inaugural class, really is something special, especially with the great history behind Northport athletics.”
That history is something that the Dunne family is a part of. All of the family’s six members found success in a Northport uniform, whether as players or coaches, but for Tim – an All-League basketball player in 1997 – the moment he holds most special came after he could never play basketball again.
On June 20, 1997, Tim was injured while diving into a pool and broke his C-4 vertebra – an injury that has left him a quadriplegic since he was 18 years old. Just two months later in August 1997, however, Tim was back on the court at Northport High School – not to play, but to witness just how strong his community was.
“At the time, I was still in the hospital undergoing rehabilitation, but [school officials] organized a fundraiser for me between the alumni of Northport and St. Dominic High School [at the time the top high school program in the state],” Tim said. “My dad wheeled me into the gym and I received a 20 minute standing ovation… it was the most unbelievable, special night my family has ever had; we still talk about to this day.”
Tim said that, after his accident, the people of Northport showed him kindness and generosity – qualities of the community that have long-since kept him involved around town.
“I know I’m biased when I say this, but I really don’t think there’s another community as special as Northport,” Tim said. “The town really rallied behind my family and I – but that’s what they always do whenever there’s that kind of tragedy in town; people rally around one another whether it’s emotionally or financially.”
Today, still a resident of Northport, Tim is a member of the varsity boys team’s coaching staff. The boys were off to a 5-1 start as of press time, but will unfortunately be without Tim for the second half of the season. After a Jan. 6 contest against Bay Shore, Tim and his parents will be moving upstate where the remaining Dunne siblings reside.
“We’ll miss the whole town,” Tim said, “but we’ll be back.”
Especially if the Tigers make an appearance in this year’s Long Island championship game, he added.