“It is the only reason that he is alive.”
Hana Gross was covering a shift for a colleague when a Blind Brook boys basketball player collapsed and went into sudden cardiac arrest. Gross, along with a pair on-site police officers and a doctor in attendance, helped save the boy’s life.
“When you coach, (women) are portrayed as, ‘Oh, you’re a bitch, you just yelled at me.’ When guys yell at (girls) it’s just like, ‘Oh, he’s just being hard on me,’ and a lot of (female) coaches don’t want to be portrayed that way.”
The annual New York State Public High School Athletic Association participation survey conducted in August 2017 showed that 46.42 percent of the high school athletes in New York were female. However, just 23 percent of girls basketball and girls soccer coaches in the area were women the previous school year, while 38 percent of softball coaches were women.
None of the area’s varsity football, boys soccer and boys basketball, wrestling, ice hockey, baseball or boys lacrosse teams is headed by a woman.
“Good Morning Football, I’m on camera for three hours, but I’m not on camera in my bedroom, in the bathroom, in the shower – there’s none of that that goes on at the NFL Network, mercifully. I think after what I’ve been through, three hours of live TV about the Packers and the Cowboys is actually pretty easy.”
Kyle Brandt has one of the most eclectic resumes you will find around. From Princeton running back, to reality-TV star, to daytime soap opera hunk, to NFL Network host, the former frat boy is now Emmy-nominated and a father of two.
“Being around these kids and seeing them 10 years later — whether it’s at the store, or at the deli, or just out on the street — it’s, ‘Hey coach!’ or, ‘I remember this about you,’ or ‘I remember doing this,’ and those are the things that are exciting.”
Our entire sports department combined efforts to produce this massive enterprise project on various figures and “unsung heroes” in the local high school sports scene.
“Those are more like nightclubs. They’re more bar-driven. You’re not going to take your family of five there — you’re just not going to feel comfortable.”
Venues like Lucky Strike and Bowlmor have put the focus on making a night on the lanes more about the amenities than the bowling itself with bars, game centers and other lures. As large corporations continue to modernize bowling, local bowling centers are doing their best to keep up with the times while also holding on to their roots.
“When we walk into a gym, or an arena, or a field, right away, we are targets.”
During an investigation into the shortage of high school referees in the Lower Hudson Valley, we found that verbal (and sometimes physical) abuse was a major reason behind refs walking away from the profession. This is my feature on what some officials endured on the job.
“Honestly, looking into the rafters and seeing both your parents’ numbers retired, I was just like, ‘Man, I’ve got a lot to live up to.’”
Patrice Wallace wanted to be like the Mount Vernon greats that came before her when she chose to wear No. 12 for the Lady Knights. She had no idea it would be the start of a family tradition and part of the greatest legacy in program history.
“In 1997, there were zero percent of adolescents who have had (Tommy John) surgery. It’s approaching 50 percent in 2017.”
The Journal News/lohud hosted a panel discussion in March 2017 on the new pitch count rules implemented by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association. Panelists included MLB pitching coach Rick Peterson, MLB scout Brian Aviles, Dr. Stephen Nicholas, John Jay athletic director Chris McCarthy, and Keio baseball head coach Darren Gurney.
“They’re nuts. They’re psychos. They’re best friends to a tee. They’re sisters.”
Colleen, Rieley, and Kelsey Walsh all play for the Lakeland girls basketball team, but none of them are related to each other. They might tell you otherwise, though.
“He’s one of those guys who probably goes on vacation and sees somebody playing a sport and is ready to tell them, ‘Hey, why don’t you try this?’ It doesn’t matter where he’s at, he was always a coach.”
Dave Sachs, 68, died of a heart attack on Oct. 11, 2016 after coaching more than four decades in the East Ramapo district. Sachs coached three sports in all but three years throughout his career. This is the obituary I wrote on Sachs.
“Nothing is in my way to stop me.”
Victoria and Robbie Alonso were infants when their mother was killed in the 9/11 attacks. Fifteen years later, one is a Division I-bound softball player and the other is eyeing the Special Olympics. This feature ran as a 1A centerpiece.
“I don’t get to kiss my son. I don’t get to hold him. I don’t get to talk to him. Nothing. They took that from me because of their cowardly, punk actions.”
Yonkers resident Mike Nolan, 23, an Oakland Athletics draftee, died from injuries stemming from a drive-by shooting in October 2015. Three of the four individuals involved in his shooting pleaded guilty in July 2016. This feature ran as a 1A centerpiece.
“It’s been a staple of our program that older (players), they have a responsibility to the younger (players) to help them, because somebody did it for them. … I’ve seen all of that between Stewie and Saniya.”
Ossining alumna Saniya Chong, Section 1’s all-time leading girls basketball scorer, forged a bond with UConn teammate and eventual No. 1 WNBA Draft pick Breanna Stewart after facing each other in the state semifinals in high school.
“It’s almost a turning of the tide up here.”
Longtime North Rockland athletic director, varsity football and golf head coach Ralph Cordisco passed away in January 2016. Members of the North Rockland community reminisced of memories they had with Cordisco.
“My absolute first thought was, ‘Am I going to die?’”
Yorktown sophomore Brielle Furci was diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer in August 2015, weeks before her 16th birthday. Furci completed chemotherapy and returned to the lacrosse field on Mar. 26, 2016.
“He walked on like he was meant to be there.”
Mamaroneck senior Andreo Otiniano played on the varsity girls volleyball team his sophomore year, but has since been prohibited from playing. Even though he can no longer play in matches, Otiniano still practices with the team and is on the Tigers’ roster.
“The way he lived his life was how I wanted to live my life. … It’s how I’m living my life.”
Longtime North Rockland varsity boys soccer head coach Fran Consagra was killed in a bicycle accident in July 2015 at the age of 68. I spoke with several of his former players, who went on to coach at North Rockland at various levels.
“For me, it’s the perfect way to unwind after a day of thinking.”
Will Shortz is widely known as the crossword editor for The New York Times, but few know him as an avid table tennis player. Shortz completed a streak of 1,000 consecutive days playing in July 2015, and I even got to play against him as part of this feature.
“Your shoulder is not really made to be whipped into thousands of circles a week.”
My first year on the softball beat, I wondered why so many softball pitchers often threw every game — sometimes doubleheaders — with no pitch count limit or days’ rest required. I spoke with a highly-respected sports physician, the state softball coordinator, and several of the area’s top softball pitchers to find out more.
“With people with disabilities, there’s tolerance, there’s acceptance, and there’s respect.”
Cerebral palsy has not kept John Thompson away from his love of sports, both as a fan and as a reporter.
“Sometimes I’ll hear people in the stands, but sometimes people will come up to me after the game and say, ‘That’s really cool. … I’ve never seen that done before.’”
In an attempt to improve her free-throw shooting, Ossining senior forward Abby Squirrell adopted a one-handed release. She finished as the second-best free-throw shooter on the eventual state champions.
“From September until the end of June, I’m always here.”
I collaborated with features writer Pete Kramer to produce this 1A centerpiece story during the high school winter playoffs about super fans around the area. We highlighted three fans: an 81-year-old woman who has regularly attended games at her alma mater since the 1960’s, a mailman who has seen over 10,000 high school games, and a bowling parent who has continued to cheer on the team even after her four sons graduated.