Editor Emeritus - Ed Wilkinson

Local Students Score Big at Cyclones’ MCU Park

Students from the Catholic schools of Brooklyn and Queens were the big hits at Diocese of Brooklyn Night hosted by the Brooklyn Cyclones at Coney Island’s MCU Park. (See photos here.)

Twelve students represented the valedictorians of their classes as their names were called during pre-game ceremonies on Thursday evening, Aug. 3. One by one, they were presented MVP medals by Auxiliary Bishop Raymond Chappetto. They all then posed at home plate for a group photo with the bishop and Sandy the Seagull, the Cyclones mascot.

Following the medal ceremonies, Bishop Chappetto walked out to the mound and threw out the ceremonial first pitch that was caught by Cyclones’ outfielder, Jeremy Wolf.

The purpose of the evening was to recognize the contributions that Catholic schools make to the wider community. At the same time, the more than 400 fans who purchased tickets through DeSales Media, the sponsor of the event, seemed to have a good time.

The kids were awed to be on the ballfield and overwhelmed that they had been singled out.

“I wasn’t expecting this at all,” said Sophia Sabala, a recent graduate of St. Pancras, Glendale, when she was interviewed by Currents, the daily news show on NET-TV.

“I come from a very small school. My class was only 13. I’m very touched and honored to receive an award this large.”

While they were overjoyed to accept their medals, they also said they were excited to be continuing their education in high school in the fall.

“It’s going to be a big experience for myself to be able to improve my academics and to grow in my faith,” said Paul-Edward Blaise, who graduated from St. Edmund School, Sheepshead Bay.

In the stands were several parish groups who were accompanied by their pastors. Father Ed Kachurka, pastor of Mary’s Nativity-St. Ann in Flushing, brought a contingent and sat right behind home plate.

Other pastors spotted in the stands included Msgr. Ron Marino of Regina Pacis-St. Rosalia, Dyker Heights; Msgr. John Maloney, St. Anselm’s, Bay Ridge; and Father Dwayne Davis, St. Thomas Aquinas, Flatlands.

“The whole evening was fun and the kids and families loved it and so did the Bishop!” said JoAnn DiNapoli, advertising

manager for DeSales Media, who helped organize the event. Plans are underway for an even bigger gathering next season.

While the students were the winners, the Cyclones dropped a 3-1 decision on the field to the Tri-State Valley Cats. As we say in Brooklyn, “Wait until next year!”

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A correction on my column from two weeks ago about the great work being done at the Dorothy Bennett Mercy Center in Fort Greene. The name of the programs coordinator should have been Marcela Cuevas, not “Maria,” and board member Adina’s last name is Johnson, not Jackson. See you at the Mercy fundraiser on Friday, Sept. 29 at the Belle Harbor Yacht Club.