Riverhead CAP Say No to Drugs walk honors Sue Wicks

As early as ninth grade, Sue Wicks knew she wanted to play basketball professionally, but her coach kept her grounded with a simple reality check: There was no women’s professional basketball league at the time. 

“I didn’t give up, I didn’t even skip a beat,” Ms. Wicks said, “I just raised my hand and said ‘it will be because I’m dreaming this dream so hard that it has to come true.’ ”

Now a retired WNBA All-Star and member of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, she shared her inspiring story Friday with students from Pulaski Intermediate School as the keynote speaker at Riverhead Community Awareness Program’s 37th annual Say No to Drugs march.

More than 1,000 guests were in attendance, including at least 800 fifth and sixth graders, Riverhead CAP executive director Felicia Scocozza said. The parade marks the completion of Riverhead CAP’s “Too Good for Drugs” program. The two-year initiative focused on building students’ self-esteem and increasing healthy decision-making with a goal to prevent underage drinking and drug use among youth.

Photos by Melissa Azofeifa

Community members cheered for participants as the march progressed south on Roanoke Avenue and west on Second Street past Town Hall before returning to the school. After the parade, Ms. Wicks shared her remarks with the community and public officials including town councilman Robert Kern and Interim Superintendent of Schools Cheryl Pedisich. A picnic lunch was served following the ceremony by the Loyal Order of Moose Lodge #1742.

Ms. Wicks played for the New York Liberty from 1997 through 2002 during the first seasons of the fledgling WNBA. Before her professional career, she established herself as an international star, winning gold medals at the 1987 Pan-American Games and the 1988 Olympics. Playing for Rutgers University from 1984 through 1988, Ms. Wicks ended her career there as the school’s all-time leading scorer and all-time leading rebounder. She was also the most decorated player in Rutgers basketball history, holding records for points scored, scoring average, rebounds, rebounding average, blocked shots, field goals made and attempted and free throws made and attempted. She was the second Rutgers women’s basketball player to have her jersey retired. 

Growing up on Long Island, Ms. Wicks shattered the record for most points scored in a game with 59 while playing at Center Moriches High School. She was inducted into the Rutgers Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013.

“She was on board as soon as I called her, she was great,” Ms. Scocozza said of working with Ms. Wicks. “She is a very motivational person, and she understands the impact of substance misuse to families.”

Ms. Scocozza thanked the community for supporting CAP and its programs over the past three decades.

“This is really a school, community, CAP partnership and what this event shows is how the schools and the community support our youth in Riverhead and we need to keep that going,” Ms. Scocozza said. “When prevention works, nothing happens, so sometimes it’s hard to understand the impact of prevention, but we really appreciate the support of the community.”