Mattituck-Cutchogue seniors ink D1 scholarships for the fall

Life came full circle for Mattituck-Cutchogue seniors Ava Vaccarella and Trevor Zappulla on Thursday afternoon when they signed national letters of intent as scholarship college athletes in the fall.

 “We have a picture of them winning an award for the school district, I think it was in grade six, and the two of them are representing Mattituck at that point…and [now] here they are,” said Trevors mother Jill Zappulla. “They’ve done a lot together.”

In the fall, Ava, who has been a cross-country athlete since the eighth grade, will be attending Connecticut’s Sacred Heart University and studying nursing as well as competing in cross country and track and field. Trevor, who started running cross-country his freshman year, is heading to Hofstra University to also compete in cross country and track and field. He will be pursuing a major in finance with a minor in computer science.

The district’s director of health, physical education and athletics, Greggory Wormuth, led a brief signing ceremony Thursday, which was attended by the student athletes’ parents and friends. His remarks highlighted how inspirational Vaccarella and Zappulla have been for a younger generation of student athletes.

“When I hear the younger student athletes [talk] they’ve mentioned your names,” Mr. Wormuth said. “‘I want to be like Ava, I want to compete like Ava, I want to train like Ava. I want to get to that number where Ava is’ and the same with Trevor, I hear some of the younger kids go, ‘I want to be like Trevor on the track, or on the court or on the cross-country course’… I think it’s very important for you to know what value you have as a student athlete and that those younger generations really do look up to you.”

According to Mr. Wormuth, Ava is the only female cross country runner in the district’s history to ever break 20 minutes. Ava cracked that threshold when she was in eighth grade during an event at Sunken Meadow. 

“That record holds to this day, and I don’t see it being broken in the near future,” Mr. Wormuth said.

Ava’s mother, Tina Vaccarella, said she’s excited to continue to watch her daughter’s growth.

“She’s been running a really long time and I think she’s learned a lot, I think she’s shown some really nice growth throughout the years and we’re excited to see her run at a different level.”

Trevor has played five varsity sports this year alone. In the fall, he ran cross-country, in the winter he competed in winter track as well as basketball. In the spring, he ran track and also played lacrosse, setting a record of his own.

“It’s the first time in history that’s ever been done,” Mr. Wormuth said. “I don’t see many other student athletes following in the footsteps of what he’s done as a varsity athlete here.”

Trevors father, James Zappulla, also expressed great pride in his son’s achievements.

“I’m very proud watching him run through all these years,” he said. “It’s nice that they’ve progressed so much to where they’re also running Division 1 and they can actually focus solely on running for four years.”

Both student athletes are looking forward to starting a new era in their academic and athletic careers.

“I’m excited for a new chapter and a challenge at my new school,” Trevor said.