James Cohan: A Different Kind of Brave

The former Syosset High School baseball and football star to join the U.S Army.

While a large majority of the class of 2011 will head off to college in the fall, one student has chosen to take a different path. James Cohan, now a former Syosset Braves center-fielder and wide receiver, has joined the United States Army.

The decision to enlist was well thought out - Cohan was only in the 10th grade when he decided he was going to join.

“I wanted to serve my country,” Cohan said. “I feel like I was put on this Earth to serve the United States of America and make my family and friends proud.”

Cohan is currently in Georgia, where he will undergo 14 weeks of One Station Unit Training (OSUT) at Fort Benning. As part of OSUT, he will complete both Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training at the same site.

After training, Cohan hopes to go to a three week long Airborne School, where he will learn to jump out of planes. He will then be sent to his first duty station.

The next few months for Cohan will surely represent a tectonic shift in his day-to-day life.

As a freshman at Syosset, Cohan moved up to the varsity baseball team for the playoffs. He never left, spending the next three years of his career patrolling center field for the Braves. Cohan quickly became one of the most feared players on the Braves roster, wielding a bat that flung through the hitting zone with unbelievable force and a glove that always seemed to find itself attached to a ball.

“He’s the best centerfielder I’ve ever seen,” coach Pat Fitzgerald said at the. “If anyone saw the (class) A Championship game, they’ve been talking about a play that the centerfielder made where he made a kind of Superman, laid out catch. People were telling me about this and I said ‘that’s nothing. I see that every day.’”

While Cohan has clearly made an indelible mark on his coach, the feeling goes both ways.

“Coach Fitz' taught me that not everything was about baseball and that baseball was a game of life,” Cohan said.

But the diamond is not the only place where the gifted athlete shined. Cohan was instrumental in leading the football team to the semifinals. He caught seven passes, four of which went for touchdowns, in .

He cites this game as his best memory at Syosset, heaping praise on Head coach Paul Rourke.

“He was the best coach I ever had because I knew he was always there for me,” Cohan said. “He taught me to always keep my head up and take it out on the field.”

Always a team player, Cohan will miss his teammates more than anything else.

“They were all like my brothers,” he said.

Now Cohan is on a different team, a band of brothers with one common goal, protecting the country they call home.

Matt Beers July 08, 2011 at 11:24 PM
your the man james
Jane Cohan July 09, 2011 at 12:20 AM
To my son, I love you. Be strong, be safe, be you.
Karen Ventricelli July 14, 2011 at 02:05 AM
The Ventricelli Family is so proud of you, James. We wish you all the best and will pray for you while you are serving our great country. You are such an amazing young man and athlete. We enjoyed every minute of watching you play both baseball and football over the years. We will continue to follow you as you follow your dreams! Good Luck James!
bobbi nuzzolese July 15, 2011 at 11:31 AM
We wish all the best for you James as you follow your dream. You will be in our prayers! The Nuzzolese family
Steven Nicastro (Editor) July 15, 2011 at 09:33 PM
A very exciting player to watch, in both sports. Best of luck!
sara July 20, 2011 at 05:25 AM
best of luck follow your heart follow your dreams always in our prayers and thoughts be the best you can be we wish you all the luck and success!!!!
John Cohan August 03, 2011 at 04:45 PM
James, Just got to see this article. I am so proud of you. You are strong, and the Army is lucky to have you! I have seen you play your heart out in this game of baseball since you were five, even though you loved that baseball in your hand since you where two. You have given me so much joy watching you thoughout the years. It was great to have a son that gets his dad on the team instead of the other way around. But through all the years of baseball, basketball, hockey, wrestling and football you took away the most important life's values from these sports and made you into the man you are today, ready to serve our country. I'll never forget the words many of the Syosset moms and dads would say about you. If there ever was anybody I wanted to defend my freedom, it is James Cohan. Again I'm proud of you son. Be safe, be careful and I will see you as soon as possible. I love you James! Dad


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