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Friday, July 12, 2024

Islip Drill/Racing TeamReceives Highest Honor In Suffolk Sports

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What do Mets legend Keith Hernandez, 3x NBA Champion Danny Green, and the Islip Wolves Fire Department Drill/Racing Team have in common? All were inducted into the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2024.


The Suffolk County Sports Hall of Fame was established in 1990 and has been honoring individuals in professional and amateur sports in Suffolk County ever since. The Islip Wolves have now become a part of their 34-year history. They were honored in a ceremony on May 30 at Flowerfield Celebrations in St. James, along with 23 other players, coaches, and sports personalities from Long Island.


“It’s a great honor to have Suffolk County recognize us as a sport, but also for what we do for the community,” said Mike Welton, captain of the team.


The Wolves earned their spot in this year’s class for being one of the most successful drill/racing teams in New York State history. Dating back to the 1880s, these racing teams consist of volunteer firemen who compete in drills that display their firefighting skills.


The drill team won its first major tournament in 1886, starting a tradition of winning that would last over 100 years. In 1947, the team earned its first-ever New York State Championship, ironically the same year they took the team name “Wolves.”


Their most recent success is seen through back-to-back New York State Championships in 2022 and 2023. The Islip Fire Department now has a total of eight state championships, putting it over the edge as a historic drill/racing team. The team’s success stands out through their hard work and dedication.


“We practice two nights a week all Summer long,” said Welton. “It’s very hard and it takes commitment.”


The team joins four other drill/racing teams that have been inducted into the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame since 2004 when the organization first recognized groups through the Special Recognition Award. The Patchogue Fire Department was the first team to earn this honor in 2004, followed by the West Sayville Flying Dutchmen (2011), the Central Islip Hoboes (2015), and the Bay Shore Junior Racing Team (2018).


“This represents everyone that ever raced for Islip,” said Anthony Pizzo, First Lieutenant of the Islip Wolves. “This means everything to guys who didn’t win. This shows them that their race meant something.”


The 2024 racing season began on Saturday, June 1, and Islip already has another win under its belt. They were the Efficiency Winner of the Lindenhurst Invitational Drill. The Islip Junior Wolves have also made waves to start the season, earning first place overall at the West Sayville Jr. Invitational Drill.


The organization looks to continue its success this season and earn yet another State Championship. The Wolves hope to prove why the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame chose to give them this honor.

James Haupt
James Haupt
James Haupt is The Messenger Papers' weekly Sports Reporter and Staff Writer, covering everything from local little leagues to professional sports teams. James is also a full-time college student at Villanova University majoring in Journalism.