The Public High Schools Athletic League in New York is known for producing top-notch basketball teams and players.
However, it turns out not every school is lucky enough to have its own home court. So in Bensonhurst, a local Catholic parish has opened its doors.
Starting this season, St. Dominic’s Church on Bay Ridge Parkway formed a partnership with Brooklyn Studio Secondary School, located just several blocks away. The boys’ and girls’ varsity high school teams practice and host their home games in the parish gymnasium.
“I was approached early on in the scholastic year that Brooklyn Studio was searching for a home court, and I thought it would be a wonderful idea for them to come and utilize our gymnasium,” said Deacon Anthony Mammoliti, pastoral associate at St. Dominic’s. “It allows St. Dominic’s to be a vibrant member of the community extending a helping hand to neighbors down the road at the public high school.”
“We played 16 out of our 18 games on the road last season, so it was very difficult for us,” said Craig Cutaneo, Brooklyn Studio head boys’ varsity basketball coach. “So this year we just got out there and called around and were lucky enough to speak to Deacon Anthony and get an opportunity here to come and play a whole home season.”
A strong sense of community has developed between the high schoolers and the parish, allowing the student-athletes to feel comfortable in their new surroundings.
“Being that we have a home court for the first time in a long time and it’s right next to our school, we get to play in our neighborhood, and it’s easier for us to get here,” said Junior Dunn, a junior forward on the boys’ hoops squad.
The atmosphere in the St. Dominic’s gym gets extremely intense, and slowly but surely, the Brooklyn Studio teams have adjusted to their new home floor.
Home-court advantage can go a long way on the high school level, and so far, the transition process has been a smooth one.
“It’s wonderful because our school members can come over to this gym easily and watch us play and give us the support that we need,” said Colleen Barone, a senior guard on the girls’ team.
“It definitely gets us a bigger crowd,” junior boys’ forward Kreshnik Muja said. “Now that it’s at a certain spot, it definitely gets riled up.”
The Catholic faith is all about helping a neighbor in need, and when Brooklyn Studio called, St. Dominic’s answered that call with open arms.
“St. Dominic’s has been very welcoming to us,” said girls’ varsity head coach Irene Soulaides. “It means a lot to us to have a place to call home, where we can practice and develop new skills.”
“Opening the doors of a church to anybody is a way to evangelize,” said Msgr. David Cassato, who serves as an administrator at St. Dominic’s. “People see that the Catholic Church is open and willing to share with them.
“They come in, get to learn, they meet a priest, they meet people that work in the parish and they begin to feel an atmosphere of welcoming.”
This basketball partnership between a local public school and a Catholic school perfectly embodies the meaning of what the word “team” really should all about.
All parts working together to arrive at a common goal.
Contact Jim Mancari via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.