CYO Hits the Beach for Volleyball Tourney

Fiona Mullen, second from left, and Sammie Ostrander, right, from St. Francis de Sales won the Intermediate Division title in the inaugural CYO Sand Volleyball Tournament. Also pictured are CYO volleyball coordinator Cathy Kenny, and CYO sports coordinator Keith Goldberg. (Photos courtesy Marie McGoldrick-Raico)

For a group of Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) girl athletes, there was no time for sunbathing Aug. 12 on Rockaway Beach.

The young ladies instead showed their competitive spirit by enjoying a day of summer beach volleyball.

The CYO hosted its inaugural Sand Volleyball Tournament in the Rockaways – continuing the theme of offering sports year-round to the youth of the Diocese of the Brooklyn.

The tournament featured three divisions split into 6×6 and 2×2 formats. Girls going into seventh grade or younger competed 6×6, while girls heading into eighth grade or high school participated in the 2×2 format – the typical setup for beach volleyball.

Following pool play, three teams were crowned champions: Blessed Trinity Green, Breezy Point, won the 6×6 Bantam/Rookie title; Fiona Mullen and Sammie Ostrander from St. Francis de Sales Maroon, Belle Harbor, won the Intermediate 2×2 championship match; and Kelly Erhard and Noelle Carey from St. Francis de Sales Purple emerged victorious in the Junior 2×2 division.

The day was made possible with the support of CYO volleyball coordinator Cathy Kenny, CYO sports coordinator Keith Goldberg and Marie McGoldrick-Raico, a member of the CYO board of directors.

McGoldrick-Raico is the girls’ JV coach at Xaverian H.S., Bay Ridge. She also coached varsity volleyball for 16 years at St. Edmund’s Prep H.S., Sheepshead Bay, and served as an assistant coach at St. Francis College, Brooklyn Heights.

She proposed the idea of a sand volleyball tournament to CYO director Rob Caldera at the end-of-year meeting, and Caldera thought it was a great idea.

“It’s been my vision and my theory that sand is the next big movement in volleyball,” McGoldrick-Raico said. “It’s happening all over the country. It’s the next big sport for girls in college. As we say down here (the Rockaways), the beach is our backyard, so why shouldn’t our girls be playing volleyball on the beach all summer long?

The finalists in the Bantam division were Blessed Trinity and St. Francis de Sales.

The turnout for the first-ever tournament was impressive. Eight teams competed in the Bantam/Rookie division, while the Intermediate and Junior divisions contained 12 teams each. A total of 110 girls participated across the three divisions.

The sand tournament allowed CYO to reach youngsters who may not already be involved with the organization as well as kids who play CYO sports throughout the year but maybe not in the summer.

CYO instituted a summer basketball league four years ago, so the volleyball tournament has continued the movement of keeping local children involved in CYO sports all year-round.

“If we have a kid, we’re trying to offer more so that we keep them involved in our program for a longer period of the year,” Goldberg said. “By offering new programs, hopefully we’re picking up new kids who weren’t previously involved.”

As for volleyball, working on their sand game can be an integral factor for these girls as they prepare for their upcoming indoor season.

“One sport feeds the other,” McGoldrick-Raico said. “The sand game is so different than the indoor game in that it allows any kid to develop the skills in all the areas of the game, and that translates into tremendous improvement.

“Having tournaments like this allows them to use their training in a competitive way, which is also important, and it gives them an opportunity to take a sport like this, sand, that wouldn’t necessarily be and represent their parish.”

Based on the initial success, expect to see the CYO take over the Rockaway beaches for this sand volleyball tournament each summer moving forward.

Contact Jim Mancari via email at

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