By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
Every year, for the past 21 years, Seton Hall holds a special event in connection with National Girls and Women in Sports Day. In 1986, the United States Congress ruled that February 2 should be designated as the day nationwide to recognize the athletic achievements of women and the positive aspects that sports have in their lives.
Soon after, Seton Hall started the New Jersey National Girls and Women in Sports Day awards luncheon.
Last Sunday, more than 100 of New Jersey’s top female high school student/athletes were honored at Seton Hall in an awards luncheon prior to the Pirates taking on Rutgers in women’s basketball, a game that Seton Hall managed to win, 45-42.
Of the female athletes honored at Seton Hall, three were from the Observer area, namely Lexus Lopez of Lyndhurst, Rayven Lucas of Harrison and Noura Farih of Kearny.
Lopez is the diversified athlete who competes in bowling and basketball during the same season. She’s headed to FDU to compete as an NCAA Division I bowler, but loves basketball as well.
Lopez finished second in the NJSIAA North 1 Groups I & II state sectionals in bowling Saturday.
Lopez liked the event because it was strictly for and about women.
“It is very rare,” Lopez said. “I couldn’t believe I was picked. There were so many athletic girls in Lyndhurst and I was chosen. It was great.”
Lopez was glad to share the awards presentation with Lucas.
“When we were younger, we played AAU basketball on the same team, the Triple Threat Dreamers,” Lopez said. “So we’ve been friends since then. Even when we play against each other, I still give her a hug. She’s an awesome girl and I was happy that I got to watch the game together. She loves basketball as much as I do. I also love her Dad.”
Everybody loves Raymond – that is, Harrison native and former Jets’ quarterback Ray Lucas, now readily seen on the SNY Network as a football analyst.
Rayven Lucas, who just returned to action after missing six games with a sprained ankle, was also happy to be at the luncheon – and to be reunited with friend Lopez.
“Even though Lexus plays for a rival team, we’re still actually good friends,” Lucas said. “It was good to be able to bond again with her, as well as everyone else there. I was pretty happy and honored to be there. It was awesome to be in that big room, filled with girl athletes. It was really a great honor to be chosen. I was actually shocked that it was me.”
Lucas had maintained all along that she wasn’t going to play sports in college, that she wanted to be like her father and head to Rutgers.
But now, Lucas has changed her mind and will go to play at Montclair State, where she will join Kearny’s Janitza Aquino, the starting point guard for the nationally ranked Red Hawks.
“I think it’s going to be great,” Lucas said of playing basketball at Montclair State. “It’s been frustrating for me not to able to play the last six games, but the team did great and now I’m back.”
That’s good news for the Blue Tide.
Farih had a great game last week against North Bergen, scoring 16 points in a loss. She also was shocked that she was selected to attend the event.
“Honestly, I didn’t know about it, but it was a complete honor to be there,” Farih said. “It made me feel good. I was glad to be able to share it with Coach (Jody) Hill and my family. There were some bigtime recruited players in the room from some big Division I schools, so I was a little starstruck. I really had no idea about it, before Mr. (John) Millar (the Kearny athletic director) and Coach Hill took me aside and told me about it. I wasn’t sure about it, but I came away very impressed.
Added Farih, “To see all the other players and for me to be there with them was amazing. And they came from all different sports, like golf, lacrosse, tennis. Of course, there were a lot of basketball players.”
Farih doesn’t know yet where she will head to college. She is an excellent student, ranked in the top 15% of the class. She definitely wants to study sports medicine.
“I’m still a little shocked that I was there,” Farih said. “It really was a great day.”
If that’s the case, then Seton Hall definitely served its purpose by honoring these great female student/athletes.
“I was proud of it,” Lopez said. “I was glad to be there. I actually didn’t know that there would be so many girls there.”