Young men who play sports in high school are always convinced of one thing: No matter how long it’s been since they’ve graduated, they still got plenty of game!
Whether or not that may be true, one local high school has started a unique basketball league to reach out to its alumni.
This past fall, Cathedral Prep and Seminary, Elmhurst, established the Cathedral Basketball League. Over 35 former students play a 12-week schedule of games in the school’s gymnasium, which allows them to reconnect with their old stomping grounds.
There may only be one thing better than rekindling old high school friendships, and that’s rekindling old high school friendships while playing some competitive basketball, and this new hoops league allows for both.
“We at Cathedral are very proud of our alums, and we know that their time at Cathedral was so much an important part of who they are that we wanted to open the doors to create an opportunity for them to rekindle relationships and find the brotherhood in more strength, so we decided to have an alumni basketball league,” said Father Joseph Fonti, rector-president.
“It really gives them a chance to express themselves in the vitality of their youth. They still think of themselves as athletically inclined, and clearly they are. And it’s just a way for them to have fun and also use the skills that they’ve learned as athletes. It’s just another way of inviting the young men to take hold of recent memories and also forge new ones into the future.”
Cathedral Prep is known for its strong network of alumni, but it has been challenging at times to get some of the more recent graduates back to the school. But once competitive basketball became an option, the interest soared.
“We put this league together to get more of the young people back to the school,” said Vinny LaPuma, a 2001 Cathedral Prep graduate who now serves as president of the Alumni Association. “The older guys… we usually get those guys coming back, but it’s not so easy with the younger guys. They want to be here for something, so what better way than playing basketball.”
“The thought process was really to get guys back into the building,” said Matthew Dybus, a 2011 graduate and Cathedral’s associate development officer. “They went to an all-boys school. There’s a competitive edge that they still have. The young guys are trying to prove it to the older guys, and the older guys are trying to prove it to the younger guys.”
The games have been extremely competitive so far, but this new league is all about providing the opportunity for the Crusaders to see some old friends and reminisce about high school memories.
“It’s just nice to see old faces especially the kids that I went to school with that I hadn’t seen in years,” said Gary Lombardo, a 2000 graduate who played four years of basketball as a shooting guard. “It’s really fun to catch up on old times. It’s a lot of laughs and reminiscing about the good old days here.”
The league itself is comprised of four teams, each representing one of the Cathedral Prep fraternities, including the Knights of Cathedral Prep, the Warriors of St. Michael, the Defenders of the Faith and the Protectors of the Holy Name. These were started under Father Fred Marano, the school’s previous rector, to allow for a more intimate exchange among the grade levels.
“The names themselves are very strong names that capture a masculine spirituality and a call to service,” Father Fonti said.
After several weeks of pre-season games, the league is now up and running. It has taken off so quickly that there are already plans in place for a full slate of playoffs and a championship game.
We know winning is fun, but the league is more about re-establishing friendships, networking with fellow graduates and most importantly getting in some quality exercise each week.
“This place was home for a lot of us,” said Dan McQuail, a 2009 graduate who plays on a team with his brothers Tim, ’13, and Sean, ’14. “Everybody feels very comfortable here seeing a lot of familiar faces, so it’s real nice to see everybody and be back where we feel comfortable.”
McQuail, a former power forward for the Crusaders, was quick to add that he has not lost a step on the basketball court.
The league is still accepting any new alumni members. Anyone interested should contact the Development and Alumni Office by phone at 718-592-6800 ext. 137 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Through this new alumni basketball league, Cathedral graduates are able to return to the place that started them on the journey to become men for greatness.
And of course, they get to play some competitive hoops in the process.
Contact Jim Mancari via email at email@example.com.