In the fall of 2012, Msgr. McClancy M.H.S., East Elmhurst, transformed from an all-boys school into a co-ed institution. With that change came a host of new girls’ sports at the school.
In their brief history, the Lady Crusaders have shown that experience is not necessarily the only deciding factor in achieving success in the local GCHSAA, as the teams have enjoyed many memorable moments thus far.
Instead, it’s the will of student-athletes to do their very best that determines how a new sports program evolves.
Xaverian H.S., Bay Ridge, is set to follow in McClancy’s footsteps, as the formerly all-boys school is now co-ed. As the school year gets underway, four new girls’ sports will be making their Xaverian debut.
Under the direction of new assistant athletic director Margaret McKeon, the Clippers will compete this fall in volleyball, soccer, tennis and cross-country.
No matter the results, each team will go down in Clippers’ history, and the coaches are readily preparing the students to be their best.
“Our first victory is going to be historic, and that excitement allows you to bring a real clear focus to what we’re doing,” said girls’ volleyball coach Marie McGoldrick-Raico. “It’s the beginning of building a solid foundation of what we hope to be a long-lasting program rich in educational and athletic traditions.”
McGoldrick-Raico is familiar with the GCHSAA, having coached 18 years at St. Edmund Prep H.S., Sheepshead Bay. She also has coached volleyball on the Division I college level at St. Francis College, Brooklyn Heights.
The volleyball team will begin this fall on the junior varsity level in the ‘A’ division, with aspirations to join varsity next year. The rivalry matches with neighbor Fontbonne Hall Academy, Bay Ridge, are already firmly on the radar.
As the season begins, the team – with the complete backing of the athletics staff – is set to nurture the program for continued success, whether that comes this year or in successive years.
“They’ve (Xaverian’s athletics staff) been fantastic in saying we’ve had a storied history in men’s athletics and we want a program that will create the same rich history for female athletics,” McGoldrick-Raico said.
From inside on the court to outside on the field, Xaverian’s girls’ soccer team also is prepping for its first junior varsity season.
The team’s mentality so far is to work hard to be competitive as it revels in the opportunity to turn heads as a new program.
“Exciting as this year is, they’re very focused,” said Erin Kennedy, the new soccer coach who played at Manhattan College, the Bronx, and coached at St. Joseph by-the-Sea H.S., Staten Island. “So not only is this year important, but the next two or three years down the line are really going to be their big standout moment.”
Kennedy said the support of the athletics staff has been vital so far in allowing the girls to adjust to their new environment and new experiences.
“I think this has been one of the most impressive schools I’ve ever been a part of,” she said. “They want to know the girls’ needs and what they can provide them. Everyone seems aligned on the same thought process.”
Out on the tennis courts, Xaverian has had a boys’ team and will now be joined by the girls. Alex Alfredo has coached the boys for 13 years and has also spent the past 15 years coaching at St. Saviour H.S., Park Slope. But now, St. Saviour becomes one of his primary rivals.
“I have always loved coaching the girls teams, so it’s exciting,” he said about the new opportunity. “I’ve never had a team of only freshmen.”
Unlike the previous two sports, the tennis team will immediately be making the jump to the varsity level, and even so, the goal is still to set the bar high and make the playoffs.
“They are in a unique place where they’ll always be remembered as the first group of girls that did anything in Xaverian,” Alfredo said. “I told them I want to be the first sport to win a girls’ varsity title, and we have the unique situation where we are the only one in varsity.”
Just like tennis, Xaverian has had a cross-country program, coached the past several years by Brian McCartney. Since the CHSAA typically combines boys’ and girls’ meets, the schedule itself should not be too different.
However, McCartney can already sense the history, especially after receiving a number of emails from incoming students and parents about how excited they are to join the team.
As a team of just freshmen, the cross-country girls have the chance to set the tone for what the program is to become. While that may seem like an immense responsibility, McCartney is confident these girls will step up to become leaders someday.
“In the beginning, you absolutely just want to get your feet wet,” he said. “What’s nice is that they’re only freshmen. I think it’s going to be exciting for the girls knowing in the back of their minds that someday they are going to be the seniors and the leaders of this team.”
While there may be some bumps along the way for these four sports programs, the attitude and drive are there to plant the seeds of what is expected to become another strong sports program among Catholic high schools in the Diocese of Brooklyn.
And while the school year officially starts Sept. 9, the journey towards athletic success has already begun.
Contact Jim Mancari via email at email@example.com.