CLINTON HILL — Who better to guide student-athletes and coaches than someone who has actually walked in their shoes?
St. Joseph’s College Brooklyn, Clinton Hill, has a new athletic director who brings more than 30 years of experience as a collegiate athlete, coach and administrator to the Bears family.
Margaret Alaimo took over as St. Joe’s new director of athletics this school year. She became the second female athletic director in school history — the first since Bears Hall of Fame inductee and first-ever athletic director, Margaret Ward.
A native of Marine Park, Alaimo grew up attending school and playing Catholic Youth Organization basketball at St. Thomas Aquinas, Flatlands. From there, it was on to starring on the basketball team at Stella Maris H.S., Far Rockaway.
Even as a high school student, she was able to give back to her parish by coaching a CYO team. The seeds of a long career in collegiate athletics were planted at the same place where her passion for sports began.
Alaimo played two years of basketball at the College of New Rochelle, N.Y., before returning to her home borough of Brooklyn to finish up her playing career at St. Francis College, Brooklyn Heights. Combined, she scored more than 1,400 points in her career, eventually leading to an induction into the St. Francis College Hall of Fame to go along with her place in the GCHSAA Hall of Fame.
After graduating in December 1986, she stayed on as an assistant coach for the women’s hoops team under head coach Kevin Jones, who also was an English teacher at Bishop Ford H.S., Park Slope. Jones further fueled Alaimo’s interest in coaching.
As a business management major in college, Alaimo planned to pursue a career with Brooklyn Union Gas Co. In fact, she had been accepted into the company’s management training program in 1987 — that is until Long Island University Brooklyn (LIU), Downtown Brooklyn, gave her a call.
LIU had just instituted a full-time women’s basketball coaching job and viewed Alaimo as the right fit for the gig. Though she had a job lined up, she knew deep down that coaching would lead to a unique and exciting career.
“It was a great opportunity, so I took a chance,” said Alaimo, who spent three years as LIU’s head women’s coach before moving into more of an administrative role within the school’s sports program.
She spent two tours at LIU Brooklyn, sandwiched between a two-year stint as the associate director of athletics at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck, N.J. She returned to LIU in 2004 as senior associate director of athletics.
When most recent St. Joe’s athletic director James Lally moved over to St. John’s University, Jamaica, Alaimo was the perfect fit to assume the role. It surely helped that St. Joe’s is located less than a mile from LIU Brooklyn.
“I just had a great feel from the first day I was here,” said Alaimo, who resides with her husband, Steve, in West Nyack, N.Y. They have three children: Elizabeth, Clare and Danny.
Her time at Stella Maris prepared her well for her new position, because a good number of St. Joe’s student-athletes previously played in the local Catholic sports league.
“I walked in their shoes,” she said. “We’re going to continue to try to draw kids in from Brooklyn and Queens. We want to be in the mix. We think we’re a really good option for kids who want to stay home for college.”
The sports program’s momentum at St. Joe’s has been trending upward for the better part of the last decade. The Bears joined the NCAA’s Division III in 2011, opened the state-of-the-art Hill Center on Vanderbilt Avenue in 2014 and had all 13 sports become members of the Skyline Conference in 2015.
“It’s about maintaining the culture, the sense of family and the things that are important,” Alaimo said. “It’s an opportunity for us to work with young students and prepare them for life.
“There are such parallels between athletics and the real world, and we’re just going to continue to try to keep student-athletes our priority. We’re going to work to be the best we can be with the resources we have.”
Sounds like a great plan to keep the Bears roaring in Brooklyn and beyond.
Contact Jim Mancari via email at email@example.com.