Coached By: Joe Cuozzo
Ward Melville lacrosse was in Jay Negus' blood when he was born. His uncle Jeff Spooner held many Melville records before they were broken in the 1980s and 1990s.
Growing up in Port Jefferson, Negus moved to the Three Village area as a ninth grader, but he was already playing with the Three Village youth program since Port Jefferson did not have its own club at that time in the late 1980s.
He didn't play varsity until his 11th grade season, but he hit the playing field in perfect stride and did not take any time to adjust to the higher level of play. It was still uncommon at that time for eighth and ninth graders to play varsity, so Negus was right where he needed to be.
By the following season, he and the Patriots "were really on a roll," he recalls. "Once the skill level got there, it all blended and meshed together." He scored 20 goals and added 13 assists as a junior, so things looked very promising. Then a major setback came crawling into Negus' world. He tore his ACL and meniscus.
Rehabbing like a possessed athlete, he unthinkably made it back before the end of the season.
"I wasn't nearly the same in the first three quarters of the season and I was playing with a brace," he says. "My knee kept popping out of its socket."
Ward Melville lost to Sachem in the Suffolk County championship in 1995, but Negus believes had he "been healthy, the outcome may have been different. I was scoring quite a bit of goals per game. We were on a tear."
Negus did not get his knee completely fixed during the season. He had limited cartilage damage, but that was eventually fixed with some basic arthroscopic surgery. With the help of a trainer, he performed non-weight bearing activities in a pool to strengthen the muscles around his knee. The brace helped it slightly more on the field.
For his efforts before the injury and through his diligence of playing through pain, he was recognized as the Enners Award winner in 1995. He scored 24 goals and recorded 18 assists that season.
"It was a tremendous honor especially since I saw some of my idols growing up in the Three Village lacrosse program win the award in the past," he says. "Gregg Cattrano, John Banks. It was a really nice honor to have."
Playing for Joe Cuozzo and the dynasty that is Ward Melville, Negus felt an added pressure to play through pain and perform at all costs.
"Joe is very hard on all of his players because of the program that he established," says Negus. "He expects a lot from you. It's Ward Melville lacrosse and he instilled some fear and drive to push people past their limits."
Since Spooner went to UMass, Negus became a Minuteman and kept it in the family. Luckily, his ACL stayed in tact and he saw significant playing time throughout his four years in Massachusetts. His biggest game was against Hofstra, when he scored five goals as a sophomore.
Negus is a physical education teacher and assistant varsity coach at Ward Melville High School, helping teach today's Patriots athletes the benefits of playing for a dynasty that lives on.