Livingston’s tremendous high school softball program has been a result of a lot of hard work on the part of its players and coaches, not to mention a very successful youth program within the town.
But what sometimes can be forgotten is that the players who wear the Black and Green of what I like to call the ‘Big Green Machine’ are also very good students.
So with that said, it’s nice to write articles like this, as two of the Lancers’ top senior players, Alexa Altchek and Kylie McLaughlin, will be honored at the prestigious Men of Essex Dinner on Wednesday, May 21. The dinner will be held at Newark Airport’s Marriott Hotel.
This will be the 56th annual Men of Essex Dinner, which honors the best of the best for high school student-athletes within Essex County. Last year, Livingston pitcher Jess Peslak was bestowed the organization’s highest honor, The Essex Award, for her outstanding achievements in the classroom and softball field. Peslak is now a freshman pre-law student and a member of the softball team at Hofstra University.
This will be the second straight year that McLaughlin will be honored by the Men of Essex as the county’s outstanding athlete for softball. It will be the first visit for Altchek, who was named a Men of Essex Scholar Athlete.
To be facetious for a minute, Altchek is struggling to find a college to attend.
The affable senior announced early in the school year that she’ll be attending Harvard University this fall, where she plans to play softball.
“When I got the news that I received the Men of Essex award, I was honored,” Altchek said. “Academics and athletics have always been a huge part of my life, and extremely important to me. It was very fulfilling to be recognized for my dedication to both. The Men of Essex is a highly esteemed organization, that has been around over for 50 years. I feel so lucky to follow in the footsteps of such accomplished people who have also received this award. To be honored alongside my 10-year teammate and friend, Kylie, is just icing on the cake.”
Altchek, the daughter of Meryl and Mo Altchek, is a speedy outfielder for the Lancers. She played right field for last year’s Super Essex Conference (SEC), Essex County Tournament (ECT) and state sectional title team. This year, she’s been the regular center fielder as McLaughlin was moved to second base.
As for McLaughlin, who is a tremendous soccer player as well, she plans to attend the University of Delaware this fall.
“It’s really nice to know that all my hard work, in and out of school, has paid off,” said the young woman I like to call Seattle Slew. “It’s an honor to receive this award and the fact that I had the opportunity to receive it a second time is unreal. It’s also really nice to know that I was recognized for not only my athleticism. I treat my studies just as I play on the softball field. I like to get work done efficiently and successfully.”
Obviously, the two are well spoken, in addition to being fine athletes. Altchek has a 4.25 GPA and is the recipient of Livingston High’s Wendy’s Heisman Award as an excellent student-athlete. She’s a Board member of the National, Spanish and Science Honor Societies,
McLaughlin, the daughter of Jill and Dave McLaughlin, has a 4.0 GPA. In addition to being a member of the National and Spanish Honor Societies, she is an Ambassador of the Big Brother and Sister program. An All County player in soccer, as well as a two-time All State softball player, she has been a big part of Livingston’s success on the softball diamond.
Since 2012, Livingston has put together a 66-7 record (through games of April 28). In addition, the Lancers are 52-1 against Essex County-based teams since the start of the 2012 season. The program has won back-to-back SEC, ECT and state sectional championships and has gained the top seed for this year’s ECT, where it hopes to become the first team to win three straight titles since Caldwell accomplished the feat from 1986-1988.