Healy Tureski was sitting near his old dugout at Seton Park, a place he called home as a key part of the Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy baseball team for the past four seasons.
Although his high school baseball career came to an end with a playoff loss to Washington Heights almost three months ago, Tureski says the game always will be special for him.
“It changed everything for me from the second I was on the team in my freshman year,” said Tureski, who pitched and played second base for the Tigers. “I’ve always said that the second the preseason starts in January it starts to feel like you’re getting ready for a war. It’s a war, not only against other teams, but against your own boundaries and your time management. And everyone grew closer through the struggle of having to put in the work every day and be punctual every day, and just working their hardest.”
That hard work and dedication translated into 27 regular-season victories for the Tigers over the past three seasons as well as three postseason appearances. But it all seems to have gone by in the blink of an eye.
“It definitely feels like it went by quick,” Tureski said. “I would say to a lot of the younger students that they should make sure that they are appreciating every moment because your time here does go by very quickly.”
But Tureski will take away a lot of treasured memories from his time wearing his No. 75 jersey at RKA. And one game, in particular, will always remind him of how close his team was.
“We were playing a game in the South Bronx (against Bronx Law & Justice High School) and we took a 7-2 lead,” Tureski said. “But we knew they were a pretty good team and that they would try to fight and come back. But we had our energy up for that entire game, and it was a great team environment. I played two other sports in high school (soccer and wrestling), but neither of them really felt like that, where everyone was in it together.
“We just felt in that game, that with all of us cheering on each other and supporting each other, that it really helped us hold on to that lead and get the win in the end.”
The Tigers took the victory, 7-3.
Next up for Tureski will be the University of Albany, his collegiate home for the next four years. But Tureski will no longer don No. 75 — he’s putting his athletic career behind him as he becomes a full-time student.
Baseball is over, but he did learn a lot playing under coach John Reingold — lessons he’ll take with him to Albany.
“He was different from the other coaches I had,” Tureski said. “My soccer coach (Will Cushing) and my wrestling coach (Michael Lepetit) were a little more lenient. But with Reingold, you didn’t mess him. You didn’t come late. It was a different kind of experience. It was a stressful one, but it was definitely worth it.”
Tureski, an avid weightlifter, is looking to major in medicine once he gets to Albany. It’s a course of study that will take a lot of discipline and commitment, two things Tureski learned at RKA under Reingold.
“I want to get on a health track in college to become a doctor of some sort,” Tureski said. “Hopefully I can take that on. I’ve always been interested in fitness and nutrition.”
Tureski will leave for his new upstate campus Aug. 23, making the three-hour drive from the Bronx, leaving RKA behind for good.
“College is an exciting opportunity to meet new people, but I’ll definitely miss some of the teachers I had at RKA and the great people that I got to know,” Tureski said. “But I am excited for a new challenge and to go to a different place in my life.”
The interview over, Tureski then joined a couple of friends on his old field one last time, taking turns taking swings at a baseball on a tee. Three swings, three solid hits on his old baseball stomping grounds.
Baseball, it seems, will be a hard habit to break for Healy Tureski.