New Class for GCHSAA Hall of Fame

The 2024 GCHSAA Hall of Fame class includes, from left, Jeri Faulkner, Ken Conrade, Susan Cassidy, Denise Lewinger-Naftaly, Sarah Kuehl, Teresa Petrucelli-Weston, Danielle Johnson, Russell Rodriguez, and Alan Wharton. (Photo: Courtesy of Michael Graziano)

This year, nine honorees joined the ranks of dozens of former student-athletes, coaches, administrators, and officials who have been celebrated for their contributions to girls’ high school sports in the Diocese of Brooklyn and beyond. 

The GCHSAA also awarded five Joan Casazzone Service Awards to longtime coaches and league officials for their dedicated service. The award is named for the former league president and longtime basketball coach who died in 2017 from cancer. 

This year’s award winners included Danielle Johnson, St. Edmund Prep H.S., Sheepshead Bay; Sal Fischetti, St. Francis Prep, Fresh Meadows, and league treasurer; Jennifer Cocchi, St. John’s Prep, Astoria, and league secretary/volleyball chairperson; Heather Green-Wresch, Archbishop Molloy H.S., Briarwood, and league vice president/swimming chairperson; and Denise Hillig, St. John’s Prep, Astoria/St. Agnes H.S., College Point, and league president/junior varsity basketball chairperson. 

Meet this year’s GCHSAA Hall of Fame class: 

Susan Cassidy 

Susan Cassidy-Lyke started her coaching career at Holy Trinity H.S., Hicksville, L.I. She coached varsity softball and volleyball as well as junior varsity basketball. Her softball teams captured nine GCHSAA titles and won four New York State championships. 

After spending nine years as women’s volleyball coach at C.W. Post, she’s spent the last 19 years as the director of athletics and head softball coach at Molloy University. Her teams have won three conference championships and three NCAA East regional championships. 

Ken Conrade 

Ken Conrade’s softball coaching career at Kellenberg H.S., Uniondale, L.I., has spanned 32 years in which his teams have amassed over 420 wins, five Nassau-Suffolk GCHSAA championships, and three New York State CHSAA championships. 

He currently serves as the chairman for the Nassau-Suffolk GCHSAA softball league and as Kellenberg’s chief operating officer. 

Jeri Faulkner 

In 1975, Cardinal Spellman H.S., the Bronx, started a girls’ volleyball program, and Jeri Faulkner was a member of the team. She later returned to teach at the school and took over as volleyball coach in 1982. 

Over her four decades coaching, she’s led the school to 12 division titles, seven league titles, and more than 500 wins. 

Danielle Johnson 

In addition to receiving a Joan Casazzone Service Award, Danielle Johnson of St. Edmund Prep was enshrined in the GCHSAA Hall of Fame. While a student at the Prep, Johnson was a member of the cheerleading, swimming, and softball teams. 

She went on to star on the St. Francis College, Brooklyn Heights, swimming and water polo teams. She is currently the head coach for the Eagles’ varsity boys’ and girls’ swim teams and the school’s assistant athletic director — in addition to being a physical education teacher. 

Sarah Kuehl 

Sarah Kuehl played four years of soccer, four years of basketball, and two years of track at Archbishop Molloy. For soccer and basketball, three of the four seasons were on the varsity team. 

Upon graduation from Molloy, she went to the U.S. Naval Academy and served eight years in active duty as a nuclear surface warfare officer. She is currently the program management lead for the JPMorgan Chase Institute. 

Denise Lewinger-Naftaly 

Denise Lewinger-Naftaly helped found the cheerleading program at Fontbonne Hall Academy, Bay Ridge, where the team won six Brooklyn-Queens championships. 

In 2011, she began coaching at The Mary Louis Academy, Jamaica Estates, where her teams captured three diocesan championships — giving her nine total championships in her career. 

Teresa Petruccelli-Weston 

A four-year starter and two-year team captain for the St. Francis Prep varsity soccer team, Teresa Petruccelli-Weston went on to play for Boston University, where her teams won two America East championships and made two appearances in the Division I NCAA Tournament. She is also a member of the St. Francis Prep Ring of Honor. 

Petruccelli-Weston is the founder and co-owner of Kick Start Soccer Academy, known for its First Kicks Soccer Program that introduces children ages 3-5 to the sport through skills training and team-building exercises. 

Russell Rodriguez 

Russell Rodriguez began his career officiating GCHSAA volleyball matches in 1994 and worked his way up to the collegiate level in 1999. Over the years, he was selected to officiate conference championships and NCAA Tournament matches in Division I, II, and III for both men’s and women’s volleyball. 

In 2005, Rodriguez became girls’ volleyball assignor for the Brooklyn-Queens GCHSAA. He later became the boys’ assignor in 2018 and then for the Archdiocese of New York’s girls’ volleyball league in 2021. 

Alan Wharton 

Alan Wharton was a member of the New York Metro Intercollegiate Soccer Officials Association from 1967-2023. In 1973, he founded the New York City Soccer Officials Association and has remained president to this day. 

Included in his work assigning officials in New York City has been his involvement with the GCHSAA, serving as the league’s soccer assignor for more than 40 years. Wharton is also a member of the boys’ CHSAA Hall of Fame and in his career has officiated soccer, basketball, softball, baseball, and World Team Tennis.