Familiar Face Takes Over New Role for Stanners

Lou Santos has taken over Archbishop Molloy’s varsity softball program after spending more than two decades as the head junior varsity softball coach. (Photo: Courtesy Archbishop Molloy H.S.)

After more than two decades coaching junior varsity softball at Archbishop Molloy H.S., Briarwood, Lou Santos is in his first year as varsity head coach.

And he’s off to a fast start.

The Stanners were undefeated through the first several weeks of league play and only lost two non-league games. Santos has relied on the same style that made him a successful junior varsity coach as he gears his team up for the playoffs.

Santos took over for Maureen Rosenbaum, who was the first varsity softball coach in school history. When Rosenbaum retired after last season, Santos was the obvious choice to assume the role.

Born in Manhattan, Santos played baseball at Power Memorial H.S. When his family moved to Corona during his sophomore year, he started playing ball for the Catholic Youth Organization team at Our Lady of Sorrows.

After earning an undergraduate degree at St. John’s University, Jamaica, a master’s degree at Iona College, and a professional administration degree from St. John’s, he began a 51-year career as a Catholic high school teacher in 1970.

His first stop was at St. Raymond’s H.S. for Boys, the Bronx, where he also coached baseball. He was primarily a Spanish teacher but also taught other subjects – and coached other sports – as needed.

“If it was round or oblong, I coached it,” said Santos, now a parishioner at St. Gregory the Great, Bellerose.

After a stint as the baseball coach at Queensborough Community College, Santos got a job as a Spanish teacher at Molloy. The legendary Jack Curran was entrenched as the baseball coach there, but when the school went co-ed in 2000, the softball coaching positions opened up. Rosenbaum was tapped to lead the varsity team, while Santos took over the junior varsity program.

This year’s Molloy varsity squad is made up of just 11 student-athletes. Yet the team has cruised through CHSAA Tier 1 league play, including wins against rivals St. Francis Prep, Fresh Meadows, and The Mary Louis Academy, Jamaica Estates.

Some tough teams await if the Stanners plan to make a deep postseason run, including the likes of Xaverian H.S., Bay Ridge; St. Joseph’s by-the-Sea H.S., Staten Island; and Moore Catholic H.S., Staten Island. Santos though will surely have his team up for the challenge.

So far, the biggest differences from coaching junior varsity to varsity have been the speed of the game and the quality of the opposing pitching. Also, the varsity level brings out the importance of small ball.

“Even if you have good hitters, if you don’t play small ball, you don’t win,” Santos said. “You have to lay the ball down and run and force your opponent to make mistakes.

“Small ball makes a difference. On the junior varsity level, we practiced it but didn’t use it as much. But on varsity, we have the emphasis that you can’t win big unless you go small.”

Throughout his journey, Santos said he has been blessed to have been surrounded by quality coaches. His right-hand man for 14 years has been Chris Zucchi, now his varsity assistant. Samantha Estupidian and Charlie Harms round out the varsity staff.

On the junior varsity level, Chris Chelius is the head coach, with Maggie Donnelly, Felix Acevedo, and Molloy graduate Regan Goger as assistants – all of whom have bought in to Santos’ program philosophy.

The accolades over the years have piled up for Santos, including inductions into the New York State Baseball Hall of Fame, Archbishop Molloy Hall of Fame, and Maimonides Park Hall of Fame. However, all he’s focused on is creating a memorable experience for Molloy’s student-athletes.

“Coaching has given me a purpose,” he said.

Now in his 60th year overall as a coach, Santos continues to have a positive impact on the diocesan sports scene.