The Valley Stream District Rifle Team closed out the winter-sport season undefeated with an unblemished 14-0 record. The team consists of 10 athletes and included twelfth-graders Brian Aliventi and Syaad Khan; eleventh-graders Matthew D’Arcio and Malaika Zaidi; tenth-grader Amisha Mangal; eighth-graders Priya Mangal and Ariel Reyes; and ninth-graders Nicholas Cavaliere, Isabela Cintron and Ivan Ymaz.
This year’s team captains, Syaad Khan and Brian Aliventi, both seniors from Valley Stream Central High School, were an integral part of the team’s undefeated status.
“Every shot is meticulous yet simple at the same time,” Khan said. “Making sure your cheek is in the same spot, the sights are lined up the same way each time, and all the other things you just keep in mind.”
New coach Heather Zawislak, a veteran of high school competitive shooting herself, credits the team members’ successful season to not only their skills as athletes, but their cohesion and connection as a group.
“If the team does not trust each other and the members don’t feel connection and friendship, it shows in their scores,” she said. “I have never seen a team as connected as this one.”
Additionally, Aliventi and Mangal will be attending the annual New York State Air Rifle Championship held at West Point Military Academy. While the team suffered a heartbreaking loss at the county championships, Aliventi will be attending as the Section 8 all star accompanied by Mangal.
“Having the ability to go as an all-star in the state match for Section 8 is proof that if you work hard and dedicate yourself to one thing, it will pay off in the end” Aliventi said.
“It’s an honor to be able to attend states as an athlete,” Mangal added. “I have changed a lot over the past couple of months because of the support that I have received from my team.”
Despite the loss at counties, Zawislak said the team is “a legend in their own right.”
“It feels like coming home,” she said of coaching. “I spent a great deal of time at this range growing up and being able to share my knowledge and skills with upcoming athletes is an honor … I cannot wait for what their future holds.”