NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Saturday, October 31, 2015, 8:49 PM
Beach Channel has a new football field three years after Superstorm Sandy devastated the Queens high school.
Three years after Superstorm Sandy, the Beach Channel HS football team plays on a beautiful new field with a state of the art running track surrounding it.
And while there is still work to be done at the school that is located in one of the city’s neighborhoods that was hardest hit by the storm, the Dolphins and other members of the Beach Channel community were in a reflective mood on Saturday.
While there is a sense of pride there, another emotion also lingers over the team: Sadness.
That is because one of the Beach Channel players most responsible for getting the team back on the field following the devastating storm is no longer around to see just how far the school has come.
Justin Zemser, a Beach Channel senior in 2012, was one of the players who pushed hard for the team to get back onto the field for a playoff game a few weeks after the storm. His leadership was one of the reasons the Dolphins, whose final few regular season games were cancelled after the storm, were able to play a playoff game in November 2012.
Sadly, Zemser was killed in the Amtrak train crash in Philadelphi last May. He was 20.
Zemser was a captain in 2012 and while his team, like the rest of the school, was displaced when the building was annihilated three years ago, he gallantly took on a leadership role in the days after the storm. He was eventually credited with convincing coach Victor
Nazario to let the team take on Port Richmond in a playoff game. Though the Dolphins lost, just getting back onto the field was enough to raise the spirits of the players and the school community.
“We had no field, we had nothing,” said Omar Brown, a current senior who was a freshman in 2012. “But Justin kept our heads up. He was a pleasure to play football with.”
Beach Channel coach Victor Nazario (l.) touches memorial for former player Justin Zemser, who died in train accident two years after helping team recover from Superstorm Sandy.
Beach Channel played on their rebuilt field on Saturday, losing to Springfield Gardens, 20-14. Dolphins quarterback Josh Timmer ran for two touchdowns but Beach Channel was done in by a kick return for a touchdown.
Still, Saturday was a good day for the program. And an emotional one.
Before kickoff, Nazario touched a memorial stone that sits next to the field and has Zimser’s name and a tribute printed on it.
The memorial was an essential tribute to Zemser, Nazario said, but the school still owes $ 1,700 towards it. Nazario and his wife are trying to raise funds through a GoFundMe campaign.
“I wanted to pay tribute to this young man because he really changed my life,” Nazario said as he ran his hand over the stone. “It was so refreshing to know a person like him, I had to make sure he gets remembered even after I’m gone.”
Beach Channel is 4-5 this season with a game against James Madison next week that will impact the Dolphins’ playoff hopes.
Timmer was in eighth grade when Zimser played his final game at Beach Channel but the QB uses Zimser’s memory as motivation.
“He never gave up,” Timmer said, “It was always 110% with him.”