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Home Schools Rye High School Mello Awards - Remarks from Emcee & Rye Garnet Football Game-Day Announcer

Mello Awards – Remarks from Emcee & Rye Garnet Football Game-Day Announcer

We reported this past Saturday on the Mello Award Winners & The Importance of Community, Shared Tradition and Respect. We were able to get our hands on Stephen “The OG” Feeney’s remarks for the event. Feeney, the Rye Garnet football game-day announcer, served as the emcee for the event.

The remarks are included below.

Steve "The OG" Feeney
Steve “The OG” Feeney



Welcome to John Nugent Stadium on the beautiful campus of the Rye High School.  At the request of the Westchester County Department of Health we ask that your wear masks and practice social distancing while on campus.  Please look around and adjust your location should you be too close to your neighbor.  Thank you.


Today presents a unique opportunity – presentation of the Chris Mello Memorial Scholarships to two football players, one from Rye and the other from Harrison, without the traditional rivalry game being played.  Today, right now on this new field, would have been the kick-off of the 93rd meeting between Rye’s Garnets and the Huskies of Harrison in Section One’s premier rivalry game, first played in 1929.  Instead of being part of the traditional pre-game fanfare, the Mello Scholarship Committee and school officials decided to focus attention on the positive aspects of the award in these times of concern – to shine some light on the dark shadows of the Covid virus affecting America and the world.


The Committee would like to thank all who have contributed their time and resources to the 2020 campaign to fund the scholarship corpus from which today’s awards are made possible.  Community response, both in Rye and Harrison, has never been more solid.  There are those who say “Harrison hates Rye” or “Rye doesn’t respect the Huskies”.  Instead ladies and gentlemen I submit that the cross-community cooperation in a common goal has never been greater than that exhibited in 2020.  Before continuing with today’s program the Mello Scholarship Committee would like to recognize the local officials, school administrators and athletic directors as well as the Rye High School custodial staff here today.


It was a day just like this in 2001 when Chris Mello boarded American Airlines Flight # 11 at Boston’s Logan Airport on his way to business meetings in California.  He had just been upgraded to Business Class when he remarked to his girl-friend, “What a beautiful day to fly.”  We all know what followed.  In the aftermath the Verizon Foundation and senior executives of Verizon Corporation contributed $40,000 to establish the corpus of a scholarship fund in the name of Chris Mello.  The Mello family, in consultation with school officials, decided to award two scholarships, one to a Harrison Husky football player and another to a Rye Garnet gridman, who in the opinion of respective athletic departments personified the stellar qualities of Chris Mello.  The first grants were made in 2002 in amounts of $1,000 each.  Subsequently the scholarship amounts were doubled by the committee to $2,000 each.  After a decade of awards, the Verizon Foundation and Verizon executives recommitted funds to preserve the scholarships, and in 2018 a successor committee was formed with representatives from Harrison and Rye to fund raise with the goal of perpetuating the scholarships, but at an increased award level of $5,000 to each designee.  Representatives from both Rye and Harrison accepted the challenge and have worked together in joint community cooperation never before seen on Purchase Street or Halstead Avenue.  Since 2002 (19 years) over $65,000 has been provided through the Mello scholarships to 37 young men, 39 after today.


Chris Mello, an outstanding Rye High School Class of 1994 member was killed by terrorists on September 11, 2001 on board the first aircraft to strike the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan.  This award is the result of the outpouring of respect and affection for this young man who at age 25 was taken from us.  The Mello family, all of Chris’s friends, teammates and the Rye community hope that the tradition of the Rye/Harrison Game will continue for another hundred years, and that it will maintain the same level of competition and sportsmanship that were so much a part of Chris Mello’s life.


Humble, quiet, reserved, intelligent, caring, honest and loyal, these are but a few of the descriptions of T J Ciafone.  If you are not looking directly at him you would never know he is there.  He oozes the quality character traits you want in a football player, a son, a young man and a Harrison citizen.  T J is a ferocious lineman who plays the game with class and passion and demonstrable sportsmanship.  He loves to be on the field with his teammates and projects a team-first mentality.  He leads by example not voice as a leader on the field and in the classroom.  T J is a young man you want your son to follow and emulate, evidenced by his GPA and Magna Cum Laude recognition.  As a lineman T J never seeks the spotlight, rather he celebrates the accomplishments of others.  The Harrison community recognizes the exceptional qualities of T J Ciafone as someone whose name is carved on people’s hearts, not just on a plaque on the Chris Mello Award.  Ladies and gentlemen – presenting T J Ciafone, the 2020 Chris Mello Award recipient representing the Harrison Huskies and accompanied by his mother Kristen DiGiacomo.


Jack Griffiths epitomizes what the Chris Mello Award represents for any Rye Garnet football player – a superior student, a strong and passionate leader – someone who teammates naturally follow.  Jack’s commitment, dedication, hard work and selfless attitude have been the model for present and future Garnets.  Jack is an extremely competitive, polite, honest, caring and intelligent individual who puts team first.  Jack Griffiths truly grasps and personifies the importance of the legacy of Chris Mello in the Rye High School, the Garnet football program and the Rye community at large.  Ladies and gentlemen please welcome and recognize the Christopher Mello Memorial Scholarship recipient from the Rye High School, Jack Griffiths and his parents Jen and Aaron Griffiths.




Ladies and gentlemen this concludes today’s ceremonies. May I request a final round of applause for the 2020 Christopher Mello Memorial Scholarship designees Jack Griffiths and T J Ciafone.  Thank you.  As you prepare to leave, the Mello family has a singular message again this year, “PLEASE NEVER FORGET”. Thank you and good afternoon.

Stephen M. Feeney – Rye Garnet Football Game-Day Announcer – October 17, 2020


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