On January 7, Sachem alum Nicole Kaczmarski will have her No. 23 retired in the gymnasium at Sachem High School North. She is the first female in the school district's 56-year history to receive the honor.
Before a game against Sachem North and Sachem East, Kaczmarski, one of the greatest high school basketball players in New York State history, will have her jersey lifted to the walls. The festivities begin at 5 p.m.
"I’m excited for Kaz," said Sachem East girls basketball coach Matt Brisson, who was an assistant at Sachem when Kaz took Long Island by storm. "It’s an honor that’s overdue. I’m biased, but that’s the best girls basketball player in Long Island history."
Kaczmarski, who graduated from Sachem in 1999, led the Flaming Arrows to a New York State title in 1995 as an eighth grader. From that moment on she became a household name and was one of the most heavily recruited high school athletes in United States history. Although she had brief stops at Longwood and Christ the King, she finished her career with the Flaming Arrows.
She eventually settled at UCLA, but only spent a season on the West Coast before transferring briefly to Georgia and eventually to Stony Brook. She only played one season of collegiate basketball.
After a brief stint during training camp with the New York Liberty of the WNBA and playing in Europe, Kaczmarksi stepped away from the game. Last year she came back in full force as an analyst with MSG Varsity.
Brisson recallst the buzz that followed Kaz at home and on the road, it's unlike anything that occurred before or after Kaz played.
"She was ridiculous and was that type of magical player," he said. "She lit the fuse and since then the culture has exploded. We’ve had a lot of nice players come out of Long Island in the last few years, but Kaz was a cut above."
Next month she'll receive a long overdue honor as no one else in Sachem girls basketball history will wear No. 23 again. She is also eligible for the Sachem Athletics Hall of Fame, which will start inducting deserving individuals at some point in the near future, but has not been added to since its inception in 2003.
There are only four other athletes in Sachem history to receive the honor of having a jersey number retired. The latest was , who had his No. 26 lacrosse jersey retired in 2010. The others include (75), (43) and (16).