by Jim Mancari
Seven new inductees joined the 224 members of the CHSAA Hall of Fame May 9 during the 28th annual ceremony and dinner held at the Brynwood Golf and Country Club, Armonk, N.Y.
All proceeds benefit the Msgr. Matthew Peters-Bernard Gallagher Scholarship Fund. Both were former presidents of the league.
This year’s class featured an eclectic mix of dedicated men with representation from all five boroughs of the city.
Though he’ll always be remembered from his playing career at St. Francis Prep, Brooklyn, Jim O’Brien was inducted into the Hall of Fame as a coach. He’s been a college basketball coach for the past 27 years.
After playing at Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Mass., O’Brien had head coaching stops at St, Bonaventure, N.Y., Boston College and Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. He was named Coach of the Year in three different conferences, and he owes his methods of preparation to his days at the Prep.
“The CHSAA was the league to be in,” O’Brien said. “Now when I mention the CHSAA, not only is it respected in New York, but on a national level, people know about the CHSAA.”
O’Brien currently is the head basketball coach at Emerson College, Boston.
From his days at St. Thomas Aquinas, Flatbush, Lou Piccola was always surrounded by the Catholic influences of sports, which led to his CHSAA Hall of Fame induction.
He played baseball and basketball at Nazareth R.H.S., East Flatbush, before spending 37 years as a coach of both sports at Xaverian H.S., Bay Ridge. He held a .650 winning percentage in basketball and won two N.Y.S. Federation titles.
He also led the baseball team to the school’s first-ever CHSAA city championship in 1990 during his first year as varsity head coach.
“You were forced to prepare in the Catholic high school leagues,” Piccola said. “The level of competition was at the highest. It’s an unbelievable fraternity of coaches.”
Piccola continues to coach basketball at Colts Neck H.S., N.J., where he recently recorded his 500th career win.
For the past 34 years, James Carey has called Msgr. McClancy M.H.S., East Elmhurst, home, serving in a variety of roles. He’s currently the school’s principal but was inducted into the Hall of Fame for his time as the Crusaders’ track and field coach.
As head coach, his teams won 10 Brooklyn/Queens championships, five CHSAA city championships and two Mayor’s Trophy championships. He also coached more than 40 individual city champions and more than 70 individual diocesan champions.
Carey earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of South Carolina, Columbia, S.C., a master’s degree in exercise physiology from Adelphi University, Garden City, L.I., and a doctorate in school administration from St. John’s University, Jamaica.
He said his time spent as a coach prepared him well for his post as a school administrator.
“It’s all about teamwork,” Carey said. “You treat the school environment like a team, like in track and field. It’s just bigger and more complex. You need good people around you to do a good job.”
Frank Cardascia from the Bronx started officiating Catholic Youth Organization basketball games in the 1960s. His tenure as an official has landed him in the CHSAA Hall of Fame.
He was a member of the Bronx Umpire’s Alliance, the Uptown Association and the Metropolitan Football Association. He started officiating football games in the CHSFL in 1973 and then moved on to both football and basketball.
“[The CHSAA is] probably the best football and basketball league in the city and probably the state as far as the competition and the coaching,” Cardascia said.
He currently spends his time between Boynton Beach, Fla., and Yonkers, N.Y., and has served on the CHSFL Board of Governors since 2000.
Connie Meibauer dedicated his professional life to the sport of swimming at Msgr. Farrell H.S., Staten Island, which earned him a CHSAA Hall of Fame induction.
He founded the program at the school and spent nearly 40 years as the head swim coach and a teacher at Farrell. He led his team to 252 varsity wins, six team championships and five dual-meet championships. He also served as the swimming league chairperson.
“I was very fortunate to have some outstanding swimmers,” Meibauer said. “My value was to teach them how to be respectful and how to conduct themselves no matter what the other teams did. That’s what we did.”
Though he’s retired from teaching and coaching, he’s often seen poolside at Farrell as the Lions’ biggest fan.
A 1967 graduate of Power Memorial Academy, Manhattan, Harry Hart’s time on the basketball court as a player and coach led to his enshrinement in the Hall of Fame.
He holds the single-game rebounding record at Power with 38 boards. After graduating Iona College, New Rochelle, N.Y., in 1971, he spent 42 years as coach and educator in the CHSAA and beyond.
He coached basketball at Cardinal Hayes H.S., the Bronx; Stonehill College, Easton, Mass.; Blessed Sacrament-St. Gabriel H.S., New Rochelle; Iona College; and the Academy of Our Lady of Good Counsel, White Plains, N.Y.
He has also served as athletic director for Blessed Sacrament-St. Gabriel. He said the CHSAA taught him a strong work ethic, which he’s carried throughout his coaching career.
“I’ve been associated with this league for 50 years in every way possible as a player and coach,” Hart said. “It’s been a really good 50 years.”
Finally, Iona Prep, New Rochelle, golf coach Kevin O’Meara was inducted into the Hall of Fame. He ran track at Holy Cross H.S., Flushing, and has been an administrator, teacher and coach at Iona Prep for the past 32 years.
Since becoming the golf coach in 1989, O’Meara’s teams have won seven CHSAA championships and have made the playoffs in each of the 20 seasons the team competed in the league.
O’Meara joins his father, Bill O’Meara, as the only father-son coaching combination to be inducted into the CHSAA Hall of Fame. Bill coached basketball, football and golf at Holy Cross and was inducted posthumously after passing away in 1979.
“My father was very well respected in the league, and to be in the same club as him because of my achievements is very satisfying and a warm feeling,” O’Meara said. “It’s a connection that not everyone can get.”
O’Meara and the other coaches and officials would agree that the mission of the CHSAA took precedence over winning or losing games. It’s always been about helping young student-athletes develop their faith.
“It’s not just a job,” O’Meara said of his time as a coach. “It’s your life.”
Contact Jim Mancari via e-mail at email@example.com.