Before the Lakewood BlueClaws took to the field on Thursday night Howell High School senior Nicole Czysz was busy warming up her arm on the mound.
Czysz was one of a number of Howell residents who were honored before the game as scholarship winners courtesy of the 's Education Foundation.The scholarship presentation was part of Howell Night at FirstEnergy Park and also included tables on the concourse run by township businesses.
As she prepares to start The College of New Jersey in the fall the soon to be graduate Czysz said she was nervous when she was selected to throw out a ceremonial first pitch. "I'm kind of scared to be throwing the first pitch," she said. "It might hit someone."
Fortunately nobody was injured as a result of the throw and the Chamber's Executive Director Sue Dominguez said it was a successful night all around. "It's just a great opportunity for the residents to come out and celebrate," she said. In addition to the scholarship the winners also got a chance to watch the game from the comfort of the TD Bank suite. "It makes it extra special," Dominguez said. "
Fellow scholarship winner Rebecca Colson said she will use the money to help defray the costs of Ramapo next year. Heather Kees, who goes to Freehold High School, said she was very appreciative of the award. "It means a lot to me because I get to help people and do what I want to do." She said her goal is to pursue a degree in nutrition. "I get to give back to the community by doing this."
Alexandra Boncimino said the money from the scholarship fund will also help her at TCNJ next year. "It's really important because it enables me to go on and become what I want to do and afford it."
Several local businesses including The , and others featured their wares on the concourse, which Dominguez said helps provide extra exposure to the surrounding communities. And because it was Thirsty Thursday was in attendance selling their chicken wings at the Coors Lite WRAT Trap.
The local team lost the game 7-1 to the Hickory Crawdads but on a Military Appreciation night fans at the stadium got to see a military helicopter in action and was also treated to a flyover by a special jet that soared after the National Anthem.
The BlueClaws are still home until Sunday afternoon with three more games against the Crawdads. They will be home again June 25 to start a four game series with the West Virginia Power.