The 2021 Sports activities 12 months in Evaluate: Removed from excellent, however we’ll take it

The Staten Island sports activities 12 months 2021 was removed from excellent, and everyone knows why.

But it surely additionally was fairly nice … and everyone knows why.

Sports activities in our borough made a tenuous but triumphant return after the pandemic shutdown. “An abundance of warning” was a standard phrase in 2021, however that warning allowed for competitors to restart and issues to really feel a bit extra regular.

Not that every part was clean. Protocols and vaccination mandates saved confusion from reigning, however maintaining with the information and the newest directives may very well be a exercise in itself.

Because the 12 months ends, we’re a good distance from the world – sporting and in any other case – we as soon as inhabited.

And, sure, we’re beginning to fear, with the information of current days, that we haven’t turned the nook as a lot as we first hoped. However perhaps the 2022 year-end story will learn much more to everybody’s liking. Let’s hope. Meantime, a rundown of the final 12 months.


Staten Island FerryHawks’ associate Eric Shuffler palms out FerryHawks t-shirts to followers throughout a renaming get together on Staten Island. (Picture courtesy of the FerryHawks)

FerryHawks land in St. George

Quickly after the Staten Island Yankees folded because of Main League Baseball’s contraction of the minor leagues (a high story in 2020), rumors of an Atlantic League group coming to Staten Island surfaced.

Rick White, the loop’s president, instructed the Advance in June that an enlargement group could be transferring into Richmond County Financial institution Ballpark beginning in 2022.

Quickly after that the investor group, known as Staten Island Leisure LLC, was revealed. The group consists of billionaire food-chain mogul and WABC radio proprietor John Catsimatidis and New Jersey politico Eric Shuffler, amongst others.

The Atlantic League is house to unbiased skilled groups and is a associate of Main League Baseball, however the Atlantic League groups will not be affiliated with particular MLB groups the best way minor league groups are.

The brand new possession group revealed plans to make use of the 7,171-seat stadium as a year-round facility for leisure and different sporting occasions.

A two-month contest to call the group ended with the nickname FerryHawks being chosen and logos have been revealed in November.

Tottenville resident and longtime Brooklyn Cyclones assistant common supervisor Gary Perone was employed because the FerryHawks’ common supervisor.

The group remains to be trying to find a discipline supervisor and gamers. The FerryHawks’ first recreation can be on the street on April 21. The house opener is schedule for Might 3 towards Lexington.


Wrestling was moved open air at Monsignor Farrell within the spring of 2021 due to state COVID mandates. (Staten Island Advance)

How sports activities got here again

Our native sports activities world began to awaken within the spring when the Catholic faculties participated in a shortened soccer season whereas the Public Faculties Athletic League determined to conduct all 23 of its sports activities – together with soccer – throughout a 21/2-month stretch within the spring.

That introduced challenges for gamers, coaches and athletic administrators. Two and three-sport athletes might solely play one sport, leaving many groups shorthanded. Coaches might solely coach one sport, which means assistants could be taking head teaching roles quickly. In the meantime, athletic administrators needed to discover apply slots and recreation instances for his or her many groups.

Not allowed to play indoors, some indoor sports activities, like basketball and volleyball, have been moved exterior for per week or two till some mandates have been lifted. Fan attendance was restricted or, generally, prohibited.

Within the CHSAA, wrestlers at Monsignor Farrell took their mats open air and held competitors and practices on the college’s athletic discipline and on the college’s concrete concourse. The Catholic excessive faculties performed an abbreviated four-game spring soccer slate. Some CHSAA basketball groups performed in Westchester County tournaments and a few PSAL groups – girls and boys – performed within the spring.

It's that time again

HS basketball followers have been left with out the standard Curtis-St. Peter’s Thanksgiving Eve recreation in 2021. Additionally, there was no Staten Island Excessive Faculty League Match performed final February. (Staten Island Advance/Derek Alvez)

No SIHSL Match

Most conspicuous by its absence in 2021 was the Staten Island Excessive Faculty League Match, canceled together with the 2020-21 winter basketball season.

Essentially the most anticipated occasion on the Island sports activities calendar can also be off for 2022, as a result of permission for PSAL and CHSAA faculties to compete towards one another was not granted this fall till properly after schedules needed to be organized. In consequence, the standard Thanksgiving Eve video games (together with Curtis vs. St. Peter’s) glided by the boards as properly for the second straight 12 months.

We’ve highschool boys’ and women’ hoops again up to now this winter – with restricted fan attendance and sure masks and vax restrictions. We’ll take it.


The Berry Homes athletic advanced is all new, due to an $11 million renovation. (Staten Island Advance)

Berry Homes revival

In June, an $11 million mission to refurbish the Berry Homes recreation advanced – formal title Gen. Douglas MacArthur Park – in Dongan Hills was accomplished.

The mission included renovated ball fields, refurbished basketball courts with an improved enjoying floor, to associate with digital scoreboards, fiberglass backboards, and grandstand bleachers. All the facility was upgraded to LED lighting. A health space with out of doors train tools was added adjoining to the previous handball courts, whereas a “mini pool” was additionally constructed behind the park past the hoops part, as have been chess tables.

CYO outdoor hoops season

Motion from the CYO out of doors basketball season. (Staten Island Advance/Joe D’Amodio

CYO takes it exterior

Probably the borough’s largest youth sports activities program, CYO basketball, was on pandemic pause for the whole winter.

As spring arrived, the CYO launched an outside league on the grounds of the CYO-MIV Heart at Mount Loretto and the mission turned out to be a smashing success.

In all, 180 groups have been entered within the league, in keeping with CYO County Coordinator Mike Neely, who labored time beyond regulation along with his diligent workers to offer the children a great program.

The 2021-22 indoor season remains to be on pause, with many parishes nonetheless unable to make use of their gyms. Neely is hoping to start out the season in mid-January.

Browne’s future

Boxer Marcus Browne obtained his lengthy awaited title battle this month and misplaced by TKO within the ninth spherical to WBC-IBF world gentle heavyweight champ Artur Beterbiev.

Browne, a 31-year-old Clifton native and 2012 U.S. Olympian, has misplaced two of his final three fights. It’s unclear what course his profession will take, but it surely appears probably he’ll get one other probability to climb the ladder.

Aaron Boone, Zack Granite

New York Yankees supervisor Aaron Boone, proper, pats Zack Granite on the again after Granite scored throughout an intrasquad recreation in baseball summer season coaching camp Sunday, July 12, 2020, at Yankee Stadium in New York. (AP Picture/Kathy Willens) APAP


Milestones and moments

Outfielder Zack Granite, a Tottenville HS product, retired from professional baseball after an 11-year profession that included a big-league stint with the Minnesota Twins. Shea Spitzbarth, the right-handed pitcher from Moore Catholic, made his MLB debut with the Pirates.

On the ice, Farrell product Joe Gambardella signed with the New Jersey Devils and was assigned to their AHL affiliate in Utica. The Comets received their first 13 video games, an AHL file to start out a season. Randall Manor resident Zach Aston-Reese has been a daily within the Pittsburgh Penguins’ lineup. New Dorp Seaside resident Kevin Labanc was seeing intensive motion with the San Jose Sharks till injuring his shoulder earlier this month. He had surgical procedure on the shoulder and is anticipated to be out three months.

A number of Island hoopsters are enjoying internationally together with Farrell’s Ryan Rossiter (Japan), St. Peter’s OD Anosike (Mexico) and Tottenville’s Nakye Sanders and MSIT’s Brian Hogan-Gary (Portugal).

Yard dominance

Monsignor Farrell head soccer coach Tony Garofalo led his Lions into the CHSFL AAA championship recreation in 2021. (Staten Island Advance/Derek Alvez)


Gridiron heroics

Possibly the spring highschool soccer season wasn’t all that satisfying, but it surely supplied the template for many sports activities to return this fall.

And when soccer got here again this fall, the outcomes have been nothing wanting fabulous.

There have been so many standout groups and gamers it’s robust to know the place to start out.

Sam Martin, Kievon Harper and Maurice Hinton have been simply three mainstays for Curtis because it made it to the PSAL Metropolis Convention championship recreation. The Warriors topped Tottenville within the semifinals and misplaced to Erasmus within the closing.

Tottenville’s solely losses this fall have been to the town finalists. Blake Amrani stepped in at quarterback halfway by the season and, backed by a robust forged of playmakers like Tim Auxtin and Louis Spezio and a robust protection, guided the Pirates to a semifinal spot.

Monsignor Farrell misplaced to Iona Prep within the Catholic league’s top-tier title recreation. It was the primary journey to the ultimate for the Lions since 2004. Sophomore Cristian Pinto emerged at quarterback and Messiah Burch’s return from a preseason harm sparked the bottom recreation.

Moore Catholic misplaced within the Catholic league’s AA-1 title recreation to Chaminade. Quarterback John Michalski piled up sturdy numbers passing and working.

New Dorp misplaced within the PSAL’s Bowl Convention title recreation, however the Central Cougars notched a positioned within the fabled program’s historical past e book by setting a faculty single-season speeding file of two,554 yards, eclipsing the two,274 racked up by coach Sal Somma’s 1964 group. The ringleaders have been quarterback A.J. Gonzalez and working again Anthony Luna.

Grand Salami

Nicholas Pleszewicz broke a tie after belting a grand slam on a 1-1 pitch towards Vestal in a Little League NYS 12s All-Star Baseball Match recreation on July 28, 2021. (LL District 24/Annie De Biase)

The girls and boys of summer season

There was no Little League World Collection in 2020, however the Island’s leagues participated in All-Star play, due to some creativity by District 24 coordinator Frank Cambria and the league presidents who cooked up an all-Island tourney.

In 2021, Little League obtained again to its common schedule and Mid-Island’s 12-year-old boys superior to the state match, driving the recent hitting of Nicholas Pleszewicz.

Spring sports activities

As spring arrived and restrictions loosened, softball obtained again on line and Moore Catholic received the town championship with a comeback win over Xaverian within the semis, then beat Molloy 11-9 within the championship recreation.

The new hand

Excessive-scoring Susan Wagner basketball guard Nicole Melious reached the 1,000-career level plateau in simply her thirty third highschool recreation. The Georgia Tech commit obtained to 1,000 with a 57-point effort towards Lab Museum in SW’s season opener.

School hoops

Wagner School’s males’s basketball group received the Northeast Convention regular-season title, misplaced within the match semifinals to Mount St. Mary’s and is picked to win the NEC Match – and the accompanying NCAA Match bid – this season.

Wagner’s girls stunned by nabbing the No. 2 within the NEC Match. The Seahawks misplaced within the title recreation to Mount and are picked to complete second this time round.

One of many casualties of the pandemic was the entire shutdown of the School of Staten Island’s athletic program because it continued its strategy of elevating to NCAA Division II standing. The Dolphin applications are again up and working this faculty 12 months.

Bill Rogers

Mid-Island LL 1964 World Collection profitable coach Invoice Rogers was a mentor to the various gamers who handed by the league for many years. He died in 2021. (Staten Island Advance)


We marked with disappointment the deaths of many members of our sports activities group.

The record begins with Invoice Rogers, who managed Mid-Island Little League to the 1964 LL World Collection title and remained an inspirational determine to the youth baseball group his whole life.

We should additionally point out: Marty Doherty, who was a champion highschool coach in three sports activities and a optimistic contributor within the borough’s working group in addition to the longtime chair of the Warren Jaques Committee; Ernie Tulino, longtime coach and educator at St. Peter’s HS; Gary Barton, who spent a profession in schooling after a standout soccer profession at Port Richmond HS; Mark Roth, who revolutionized bowling along with his highly effective deliveries; Advance all-century baseball participant Al Naples; Bob Larsen, the primary Jaques Award winner from Port Richmond HS; and the Advance’s personal Invoice Spurge, a mainstay on the sports activities workers for greater than 20 years who was revered by his colleagues for his work and beloved for his persona.