By Mitch Silver
The Rye Lions Club, in association with Rye High’s Athletic Department, has chosen track star Mackenzie Chimento as the school’s December Athlete of the Month. All she did in her first meet of the winter season at the Armory in New York City was come in first in the 300-meter sprint, finish second in the 55-meter sprint, and lead off the opening 200 of the winning 4×200 relay.
“My times in the individual races were both personal bests,” she said. “I guess I’m not much for endurance, but I’m good at starting!”
Mackenzie’s also good at lacrosse — an all-League midfielder and all-Section honorable mention selection, who has scored 50 goals in the last two seasons. “I’ve committed to play lacrosse next year at College of the Holy Cross. It’s small enough (a little like Rye High), that you can really get to know people. I’m pretty much an introvert, so it’s nice to have something like athletics as a way to meet people and make friends.”
One reason Mackenzie was scooped up by Holy Cross so early in the recruiting cycle is her 4.0 GPA; she’s been on the High Honor Roll since ninth grade while taking all Honors and AP classes. “One of my favorite courses this year is AP Literature, taught by Mr. Edminster. He really made Cormac McCarthy’s novel, “The Road”, rewarding. As a sophomore and junior, I got a lot from Mrs. DeVito’s Mathematics class.
To become a Lions Club honoree, an athlete has to be nominated by her coach. Here’s what track coach Kevin Murphy has to say: “Mackenzie has brought a competitive nature to the team that has motivated all of our athletes to bring their results to the next level. She has recently become the league champion in the 300 meters and was second overall in our league for the 55 meters as well. She was leadoff for our girl’s 4×200 meter relay, which also placed first overall. Her times speak for themselves but her attitude and work ethic have really been the best part of our team.”
Asked who she wanted to thank for this honor, Mackenzie replied, “Coach Murphy, of course. He got me to do the relay when I wasn’t sure I wanted the other runners to have to depend on me. I also have to thank my folks. I used to play basketball in the winter, but my mom and dad pushed me to do track.”
The Lions Club award recognizes more than athletics and academics; there are also extracurriculars and community service. “I’ve spent a lot of my summers teaching little kids to play lacrosse. How to hold the stick, how to switch hands. I didn’t learn that until I was in seventh grade. Too late,” she says, smiling. “And one of my favorite memories this year was serving homeless people dinner in a soup kitchen Christmas Day through the Church of the Resurrection. Very heartwarming.”
This win makes Mackenzie eligible to attend the Lions Club year-end luncheon honoring all the monthly winners, and to appear on the ballot for Rye’s Athlete of the Year.