Female Athletes Join Ranks at McClancy

With Msgr. McClancy M.H.S., East Elmhurst, going co-ed this fall, six new female teams have been added to the school’s sports program, which was previously comprised of nine boys’ teams. Young women will have the chance to participate in soccer, volleyball, basketball, track and field, cheerleading and softball.

As part of the process of becoming co-ed, the McClancy administration surveyed prospective students last fall at open houses to gauge what sports would interest them. For the fall, soccer and volleyball will institute a new chapter in the school’s sports history.

Since only freshmen have been accepted, both teams will compete at the junior varsity level, with aspirations to move up to varsity in the coming seasons.

With the switch, McClancy’s fifth-year athletic director, Gerry O’Riordan, will have an increased workload, but he said he’s excited that he’ll get the chance to shape the school’s future sports programs. A 1990 graduate of the school, he played soccer while there and coached soccer and handball for 11 years.

The 2012 Msgr. McClancy junior varsity volleyball team (Photo by Jim Mancari)
The 2012 Msgr. McClancy junior varsity volleyball team (Photo by Jim Mancari)

“When it comes down to it, we’ll have almost one-third of our female students playing volleyball and soccer,” he said.

In addition to buying new equipment and uniforms for the Lady Crusaders, O’Riordan embarked on a three-month search to hire the new coaches. The school had so much interest in these positions right away that it did not even have to publicize the openings — a major credit to the school’s strong sports tradition.

“These new coaches will be able to build their programs,” O’Riordan said. “It’s going to be their project.”

One of these new coaches is Robert May, a Belfast, Ireland, native who will be starting the girls’ junior varsity soccer program. He’s coached basketball and run the soccer clinic at St. Joan of Arc parish, Jackson Heights.

“I’m Irish, so all we do is play soccer,” May said. “The opportunity came along to coach, and I said I’d love to do it, especially since it’s the first one.”

The girls’ soccer team will compete in the junior varsity ‘AA’ division of the CHSAA. Many of the teams they’ll play have already been together for a year, so the Lady Crusaders will look to establish the building blocks for future success.

“It’s a learning curve season,” May said. “We’re going in there with the idea of ‘Let’s see what we can do. Let’s be competitive.’ That’s really all I’m asking the girls to do. If we remain competitive, I’m quite confident that we can start off on the right foot.”

Tryouts for the team were held Aug. 20, so the players had a few weeks to adjust before starting school. May said that the team has gelled well, and everyone already seems to be comfortable with each other.

“The team has been looking really good,” said Victoria Ramirez, a freshman forward from Valley Stream, L.I. “We’ve been practicing a lot and even sometimes scrimmage with the guys. Some of the guys stay back and help us out.”

May has been quick to remind his players that they’ll be making history at the school as the inaugural soccer team. He likened his players to sponges, enthusiastically absorbing information in preparation for the start of the season.

“We’re the first girls soccer team at McClancy, and we are hoping we can win so it can be a good accomplishment for the school,” said Bella Reinoso, a freshman soccer player who attended St. Gabriel School, East Elmhurst, and Our Lady of Fatima School, Jackson Heights.

May said he hopes his team starts to get noticed as they show what they can do on the field.

“I would like to get recognition as far as the team solidifying itself in the JV division and earning the mutual respect of the other teams,” he said. “Are we in for some bad days? Of course we are. But at the end of the day, I want the girls to say, ‘That was fun! Let’s do it again next year and see what we can do.’”

The team opens its season at home on Sept. 18 against The Mary Louis Academy, Jamaica Estates.

Just as the girls’ soccer team is gearing up for action, the McClancy volleyball team has begun laying the foundation of its program. Junior varsity volleyball head coach Danielle DeStefano takes the helm of the Lady Crusaders after coaching last year at St. John’s Prep, Astoria, and spending the last eight years coaching CYO volleyball at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Astoria.

“I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to start the program from the ground up,” DeStefano said. “That doesn’t happen every day.”

The volleyball team, which will compete in the CHSAA’s Division II, will be comprised of 12 young women, some of whom have never played the sport before. However, the players have looked to DeStefano to teach them the fundamentals of the game.

“She’s (DeStefano) really an amazing coach,” said Ashley Martin, a freshman hitter who attended St. Mary Gate of Heaven, Ozone Park. “She treats us like we’re her own children.”

DeStefano said that although this will be a learning year, the team will not be using that as a crutch. She’s impressed with the improvements the team has made in just a short time.

“Now they’re asking to stay later after practice,” DeStefano said. “They want to be here because they see how good they’re getting and their improvement. They don’t want to hear about days off.”

Freshman lebaro and team captain Tatiana Plasencia has echoed her coach’s sentiments. As the voice of the team, the Our Lady of Fatima alumna said she’s excited to be a part of the first-ever volleyball team.

“Even though we are new, we are going to leave something that people can remember us by,” Plasencia said. “I want us to have the potential of a varsity team by the end of the season.”

The volleyball team will be featured in the first-ever female sporting event in McClancy history Sept. 17 as they play a road match against Bishop Kearney H.S., Bensonhurst.

Though female sporting events will be new at McClancy, the school’s ideal of using sports to enhance a Catholic education will remain in the forefront.

“Our philosophy is that it’s great to win, but developing sportsmanship, character and teamwork amongst our athletes is most important,” O’Riordan said.

The Crusaders and now Lady Crusaders will be continuing that sports tradition this fall and beyond.

Career Night for Holy Cross Knight

Kevin Ogletree, a 2005 graduate of Holy Cross H.S., Flushing, made a name for himself Sept. 5 on the NFL’s opening night. The Dallas Cowboys wide receiver and St. Albans native caught a career-high eight passes for a career-high 114 yds. and scored the first two touchdowns of his professional career. Dallas earned a 24-17 victory over the reigning Super Bowl champion New York Giants.

St. Augustine D.H.S. Alumni Reunion

St. Augustine D.H.S. Alumni Association will conduct its alumni reunion and Hall of Fame induction dinner on Saturday, Sept. 29, at Bishop Loughlin M.H.S., Fort Greene. The day will include the induction ceremony, a cocktail reception, Mass and dinner.

The Class of 1962 will celebrate its 50th anniversary, while graduates from 1967, 1957, 1952, 1947, 1942 and the 1930s will also be honored.

For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Charlie O’Donnell at 718-857-2700 ext. 2255 or