Tag Archives: Holy Cross High School

Holy Cross player named to All-New York City hockey first team

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy the Hart family

A star member of the Holy Cross Knights hockey squad topped the list of honorees of MSG Varsity’s 2014-15 All-New York City hockey first team.

Sean Hart, a senior defenseman from the Catholic high school in Flushing, received the honors from the online network devoted to high school sports and activities in the tri-state area. He also earned the New York City Player of the Year Award from the high school sports coverage team.

This is the third consecutive year that Hart has been named to the All-New York City hockey first team, after accomplishing the feat in his sophomore and junior years at Holy Cross.

Hart led all defensemen in the Catholic High School Hockey League (CHSHL) ‘A’ Division with 10 goals and 13 assists, for 23 points this year — one reason he was awarded this honor. His shutdown defensive play also aided him in winning the Player of the Year Award.

“It’s great to win it,” Hart said. “It is a very prestigious award for me to win, but it wasn’t just because of me, it was because of my teammates, too.”

Hart was also named to the CHSHL ‘A’ Division All-Star Second Team this year. He has previously been named to the CHSHL All-Star First Team for the 2013-2014 campaign.

Hart was named the captain of the Holy Cross hockey team this year, being one of only a few seniors on the team. Being a captain for his team has “helped me be more mature,” Hart said.

“I can help them with my four years of experience and I can help them out and get them ready for their next four years,” he added.

Hart has been playing hockey since the age of 4 and has excelled at the sport ever since. He quickly joined youth hockey leagues in Long Island and his travel team, Long Island Edge, recently returned from nationals where they finished 1-1-1.

“It was a great experience,” Hart said of making it to the nationals. “It wasn’t as good of an outcome as we wanted, but it was a good trip with that team.”

As Hart leaves his high school hockey career behind, he has started looking toward the future.

“It was a good run for high school and travel. It was a great experience,” Hart said. “To be around those groups of kids, especially being the captain and being looked at as a leader was really fun.”

“I’m trying to keep my options open at this point,” Hart said of his future. “I might be interested in playing hockey at college. I would like to keep playing as long as I can.”


Forest Hills triplets graduate at top of classes at Holy Cross High, Mary Louis Academy

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel/Gallery courtesy of the Chow family

Three’s the magic number for the Chow family.

Forest Hills triplets Dylan, Brandon and Kylie Chow ended their final year of high school as academic superstars, with each being honored as a valedictorian or salutatorian in the graduating classes of their schools.

Two of the trio, Dylan and Brandon, both graduated on June 6 from the all-boys Holy Cross High School in Flushing. They had grade point averages only one point from each other, with valedictorian Dylan earning a yearly average of 105, and Brandon graduating with 104.

Kylie, the third of the Chow triplets, graduated as the 2015 salutatorian from The Mary Louis Academy, an all-girls Catholic school in Jamaica Estates that had a 100 percent college acceptance rate last year for the 2014 graduating class.

According to Nina and Jeffrey Chow, the brainy teens’ parents, all three are self-motivated to attain academic achievement and did not need any outside discipline imposed on them to get good grades.

“Mostly, I think it comes from within,” Nina Chow said, “and I think those are the people the succeed and do well.”

Even in elementary school, Dylan, Brandon and Kylie breezed through at the top of their classes, and all won full scholarships to attend private high schools. They say that their greatest scholarly competition was each other, and this proved to be a strong incentive toward their continued success.

“You don’t want to be the dumbest out of the three,” said Brandon, who could compare many of his own grades with marks earned by his brother in the same classes. Both he and Kylie plan to begin classes this fall in the business school of Villanova University in Pennsylvania.

Although what they have accomplished is a dream for many, the teens manage to stay humble.

“It’s nice to know that your hard work paid off,” said Kylie, who said she was surprised to be named for the salutatorian position because her grades were very nearly beat by another girl with whom she competed academically.

“I didn’t really care about being the best, just in doing my best,” said Dylan, who is set to attend the Macaulay Honors College at Baruch College. “I didn’t put too much pressure on myself, I just took it easy.”

While they are bursting with as much pride as any parent would be in their position, Nina and Jeffery Chow admit that even they are amazed at having all three of their youngest children graduate high school with such distinction. Their eldest daughter, Kaitlin, currently resides in Philadelphia and will turn 25 this month.

“They are different in personality, but for them all to accomplish the same thing, to us it’s just amazing,” Nina Chow said.

“It’s pretty incredible what they did,” Jeffrey Chow said. “We had some idea that they were somewhere near the top, but not the top.”


Councilman Vallone introduces new student ambassadors

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilman Paul Vallone's office

Councilman Paul Vallone introduced last week a group of high school students that will be working in his office during the second year of his Educational Ambassador Program.

“I couldn’t be prouder of my student ambassadors and all the work they’ve accomplished in the first year,” Vallone said. “They played such an important role in supporting every aspect of the work our office does and I look forward to seeing our new group achieve their great potential.”

There are nine students participating this year from three different high schools. Ambassadors Abbas Husain, Hongju Choi, Kean Gibbons and Jennifer Kim are from Bayside High School; Erika Donis, Rawlanda Hinds and David Legunsa attend World Journalism Preparatory School; and Daniel Bosko and Josh Santis study at Holy Cross High School.

The inaugural year of the student ambassador program saw teens experiencing different aspects of a city council member’s responsibilities through the expanded program in Vallone’s office.

The first student ambassadors played a critical role in organizing a toy drive for Saint Mary’s Hospital for Children and helping to put on the Holiday Parade & Winter Festival on Bell Boulevard. Student ambassadors also had an integral part in the participatory budgeting process by spreading awareness about the process and staffing multiple voting sites.

Thanks to students’ efforts to increase the visibility of participatory budgeting, Vallone noted, District 19 had a 2015 voter turnout of over 1,000 residents to award funds for locally developed capital projects.


Holy Cross High School to host doowop spectacular April 18

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Jay Siegel and the Tokens will play the Doowop Spectacular at Holy Cross High School on April 18.

Some of music’s most famous doowop acts will bring their vocal talents to Holy Cross High School later this month for the Flushing school’s 17th annual Doowop Spectacular.

Presented by the Holy Cross Fathers’ Club, the show takes place at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 18, at the school located at 26-20 Francis Lewis Blvd. Disc jockey Dennis “Dion” Nardone of WVOX-AM serves as the host.

Headlining the spectacular will be Jay Siegel’s Tokens, best known for their 1961 hit, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” Also scheduled to take the stage will be The Marcels, famous for their 1961 classic “Blue Moon”; John Kuse and The Excellents, who had the 1962 single “Coney Island Baby”; The Orions, whose “Wah Watusi” rocked the charts in 1962; and The Knockouts, best known for their 1959 single, “Darling Lorraine.”

The CODA Band will back up all the acts as they take the microphone.

Founded in 1956, the Holy Cross Fathers’ Club holds various fundraising events every school year to assist the Flushing all-boys school in meeting the educational and spiritual needs of its students.

Through its events, the Fathers’ Club typically raises about $15,000 every year for Holy Cross, according to John Wheelan, who has coordinated the doowop spectacular the last 17 years.

Reserved seating tickets are $45 a piece. To purchase tickets or for more information, call Wheelen at 718-279-0470 or Holy Cross High School’s main office at 718-886-7250, ext. 574.


Local high school sluggers look to rack up ‘WINS for Cancer’

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of The Mary Louis Academy

Like good siblings, the sports teams at Holy Cross High School in Flushing and The Mary Louis Academy in Jamaica have long supported each other, and this spring they’re taking that partnership to a new level for a good cause.

Holy Cross’ varsity and junior varsity baseball teams, along with their softball counterparts at Mary Louis, officially launched their joint “WINS for Cancer” campaign in Jamaica Estates Thursday afternoon.

The athletic programs at the all-boys Holy Cross and all-girls Mary Louis developed a strong bond over the years. Mary Louis cheerleaders rally the crowds at Holy Cross football games. Holy Cross, in turn, opened its gym to Mary Louis for their girls CHSAA basketball games.

With CHSAA baseball and softball seasons on the horizon, the two schools launched “WINS for Cancer,” hoping that their teams’ performance on the field would raise big bucks for the Sunrise Day Camp, a Suffolk County summer escape for children battling cancer and their siblings.

For Joe Lewinger, Mary Louis’ athletic director, “WINS for Cancer” is a personal cause, as his twin son and daughter are cancer survivors.  Diagnosed at age 2, they attended Sunrise Day Camp during and after treatment, and got to enjoy outdoor summer activities that the isolation of cancer treatment deprived them.

“It’s the opportunity for kids who are forced to live an isolated life to feel like a normal kid,” Lewinger said. The experience at Sunrise proved wonderful for his children, both of whom are now 9 and in remission.

Sunrise Day Camp is the only camp of its kind in the U.S. dedicated to cancer survivors and their siblings from 3 1/2 to 16 years of age. It is equipped with specialized services and facilities to allow all children to have fun in safety, including an on-call medical staff.

The camp is offered free to parents and relies solely on donations.

According to Lewinger, Holy Cross’ baseball teams pledged to contribute $10 per league win, while Mary Louis’ softball will pitch in $20 per league victory; Holy Cross has 16 league games on schedule, while Mary Louis has eight.

Lewinger is hoping for a perfect campaign so Holy Cross and Mary Louis can deliver at least $640 to Sunrise Day Camp. Parents are also invited to sponsor their sons or daughters on the teams and contribute per batting achievement, such as a hit, run, home run or stolen base.

“We got the two teams together, hope to win a lot of games and help a good cause,” Holy Cross Assistant Athletic Director Tim Gilvary added.

Click here for more information about Sunrise Day Camp.



Developing Queens: Hunter’s Point South is an example of what the city needs

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos courtesy of Related Companies

Frank J. Monterisi, Jr. is a senior vice president at Related Companies, where he is responsible for overseeing residential developments in New York and Chicago. Since joining Related in 2007, Monterisi has overseen the construction of 4 million square feet of residential housing valued at more than $2 billion. A native of Whitestone, Monterisi returned to his hometown to manage the Hunter’s Point South Living development in Long Island City, which will bring 925 permanently affordable apartments to the area. However, there were nearly 93,000 applicants for those units. 

La Guerre: So you’re a Queens native? Tell me about growing up here.

Monterisi: I grew up in Queens. I went to Holy Cross High School. There are two things that I wanted to be in my life. One was a marine and the other was a real estate developer. I went to the Naval Academy with the intentions of being a marine officer. I got nominated for the academy by Congressman Tom Manton and his office was in Long Island City. I remember going to my interview for the nomination on Queens Boulevard. Just think, 20 years later I would be building buildings in his district.

La Guerre: What’s changed in Long Island City that you like or don’t like?

Monterisi: Changes that I like are there are many new restaurants that popped up, new places, more people moved in and there is more density so things are getting built up and that is a good thing from a real estate developer’s perspective.

La Guerre: With the influx of this developing boom, the industrial sector of Long Island City is being threatened. Where do you stand on this issue?

Monterisi: New York needs more housing. At the same time there is a look and feel that as authentic, native New Yorkers, you want to see preserved. The two things can co-exist.

La Guerre: But what about the possibility of another residential–focused rezoning for the neighborhood?

Monterisi: That is a good thing, because we need to find neighborhoods for growth. We need to find places to build affordable housing like Hunter’s Point South, which will stay affordable so that New Yorkers can stay in New York and we don’t see the flight of people getting priced out

La Guerre: What does it say about this city when you get 93,000 applications for 925 units in the Hunter’s Point South buildings?

Monterisi: All those people, the average everyday New Yorker, what’s at the top of their list? To find a nice place to live without horrible rent stories.

La Guerre: What is the next step in the process for future tenants?

Monterisi: We just got the list from the city last week, and now there is an administrative process and after that happens we will start calling people and inviting them to meet our team and talk about the buildings. We are hopeful that by spring time we’ll have places for people to move into.

La Guerre: What will people be most amazed at when seeing this project when they step into it for the first time?

Monterisi: The views are off the charts — it’s some of the best views in New York City. When people get into the building they are going to say to themselves “I know people that live across the river and pay three times the rent that I am paying for the same apartment.”

Frank Monterisi

Frank Monterisi


High school ambassadors wanted in City Hall

| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Momos

A high school program meant to give politically-minded scholars a taste of City Hall will begin this fall.

Councilman Paul Vallone will announce the kickoff of his Ambassador Program at a press conference Friday.

The initiative allows about 10 incoming juniors from Holy Cross High School, Bayside High School and World Journalism Preparatory to serve for a year as community representatives.

The future leaders will organize food collections and cleanups, work with city agencies, take trips to City Hall and even draft a bill to be introduced in the City Council.

“Education is important in classrooms, but it shouldn’t stop there,” Vallone said.

“Providing this opportunity that gives each student every possibility of future success is the least we can do for our children.”

The program will begin this September and last until June.

Students are chosen by a principal, guidance counselor or teacher.

For more information, call 718-619-8611.



Vallone announces new high school program, outlines big ideas for district

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Councilmember Paul Vallone wants sparks to fly during his time in office.

The freshman legislator launched idea after idea — including shooting fireworks on Bell Boulevard and hosting movie and game nights — during a two-hour interview with The Courier.

“I want to bring back that old-time feel,” he said, gazing at the boulevard out of his fifth floor Bell Plaza windows.

“You look at things from a different perspective,” he said. “As a father, I think, ‘What would my kids want to do?”

His long list of plans for the district also include having quarterly roundtables with the district’s community groups and starting up a new Student Ambassadors program in February with three local high schools.

The initiative allows about 10 juniors from Holy Cross High School, Bayside High School and World Journalism Preparatory to serve for a year as community representatives.

The teens would organize food collections and cleanups, take trips to City Hall and even draft a bill to be introduced in the City Council.

“It’s the next generation’s input,” Vallone said. “I’m not going to touch it, whatever they draft.”

As for his own bill, Vallone filed his first piece of legislation Jan. 9, calling for the city to recognize Lunar New Year as a major holiday.

It supports a law already introduced in the State Senate and Assembly that has not moved for years.

The lawmaker also plans to continue participatory budgeting, which begins in 2015 at its earliest. The city initiative gives residents the chance to develop and vote on physical infrastructure projects they want to see in their neighborhoods.

At the top of his growing list of priorities is still making sure a school is not built in the former Whitestone Jewels site.

“This is nonstop,” he said. “We’re still watching.”



Holy Cross High School sophomore moves closer to NFL dream

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

One Holy Cross High School football player is one step closer to playing in the National Football League (NFL).

Sophomore Jason Vargas was selected to participate in the high school showcase game of the Offense-Defense Bowl in Orlando, Florida on January 4.

Vargas, 15, was one of 200 players selected from approximately 6,000 participants in Offense-Defense Sports’ nation-wide camps. Active NFL players Dez Bryant, Cam Newton and more than 185 others once played there as well.

“It’s a great honor to play,” Vargas said. “To be able to play in that kind of game, it’s amazing.”

Vargas started playing football with his older brothers and family members and fell in love with the game at an early age.

Now the high schooler, who is 6’1”, is playing on Holy Cross’s junior varsity team and expects to make the varsity squad next year. While Vargas aims to be a professional wide receiver in the NFL, he also enjoys playing the kicker position.

“Kicker is very important, because it comes down to you sometimes,” Vargas said.

While playing at Offense-Defense’s camp during the summer, he performed so well that he received an MVP medal for wide receiver and the All-Star game invitation.

“Every year his game has elevated that tells me he is listening to what the coaches have been telling him,” said Milow Weems, youth brand director and coach of Offense-Defense, who trained Vargas during summer camp. “I see him playing Division 1 [college football], if he keeps up the hard work.”

Vargas’ final goal of course is to be a professional player, but first he has his eyes set on playing football in college.

He is interested in playing for the University of Oregon, West Virginia University, Florida State University or Boise State University.

“From what I’ve been told he has the ability to take it all the way, but we’re focused on scholarships. We have to focus on the short term,” said Laurie Morris, Vargas’ mother. “I’m proud of Jason because no matter what he always tries his hardest, even when he’s hurt or injured.”



Whitestone teen skates his way to success

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Peter Pallos

Stephen Pallos is skating his way to success in the hockey rink.

After playing on Holy Cross High School’s varsity team for four years, the 17-year-old is making his way to college hockey. After being contacted and recruited by numerous schools, Pallos and his family made the final decision that he will attend Washington and Jefferson College in Pennsylvania, where he will join the school’s highest level American College Hockey Association program.

“I spent last summer playing in many of the top tournaments in Boston hoping to be seen by just one team,” said Pallos.

The Whitestone honor student has been a member of the Catholic Prep Schools City Champs for the past three years and was honored as part of the Senior All Stars during the 2012-2013 school year. He is also a member of the Brewster Jr. Bulldogs, an Eastern States Hockey League junior hockey team.

“Stephen is a big, physical winger who forechecks hard and also brings a lot of offensive upside to the team,” said Lou Biancaniello, head coach of the men’s club ice hockey team at Washington and Jefferson College. “The program is happy with his commitment and what he brings to the table.”

Along with being dedicated to his teams, Pallos has been involved with a local church community that has become a feeding site for the homeless and underprivileged. He also led a fundraiser for victims of Sandy, helping close to 12 students and numerous staff members at Holy Cross who lost their possessions.

Pallos plans to spend the summer practicing and training to become part of a college hockey team. He also looks forward to joining some school clubs and a fraternity.

“My interests are many and therefore, I would like to attend a school that fosters a community of accelerated learning, but also one where there are many opportunities to get involved and grow,” said Pallos.

Although his heart is in his beloved sport, Pallos plans on majoring in political science at Washington and Jefferson and eventually hopes to attend law school with the goal of becoming an attorney.



Holy Cross football paves the way to college

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Charles Osborn


This year, Holy Cross High School football coach Tom Pugh sent three of his players to the UnitedHealthcare Empire Challenge, the annual all-star style football game held at Hofstra University.

The game was held on Tuesday, June 18 at James M. Shuart Stadium, with ticket sale proceeds going to cystic fibrosis research.

The match-up pitted the five boroughs against a team that drew its ranks from Nassau and Suffolk Counties. The city’s squad was stronger defensively thanks to the three Holy Cross players: cornerback Lekeith Celestain, defensive end

Malachi Hoskins and outside linebacker Juwan Wilson.

Along with bringing them to the big stage of the nationally televised Empire Challenge, the game will also help each of the graduating seniors to go to college.

Celestain, a tall cornerback who also played receiver throughout the past season, will head to Monmouth University in

New Jersey. The Kensington, Brooklyn resident said football has always been a big part of his life.

“I started to play organized football when I was 12 years old, but ever since I can remember, I’ve been playing,” Celestain said.

Monmouth University immediately offered Celestain a scholarship, he said, but he also received offers from James Madison University, Stony Brook University and Villanova University — all Division I schools. He said he is looking forward to college because it will provide him with more competition as well as more freedom.

Ozone Park resident Wilson, who played linebacker at Holy Cross but was safety in the Empire Challenge, was excited about both the atmosphere and the stiff competition at the event.

“It was a chance to play against the best around,” Wilson said.

Wilson, who is heading to Utica College’s Division III program, holds a unique distinction in the annals of Holy Cross football — he is the only player to ever be captain of the squad two years in a row.

Pugh cited his work ethic and intelligence as factors that have led to his success on the field.

“I’ve been playing football since I was four years old with my brother,” Wilson said.
Wilson, who plays the traditionally cerebral position of outside linebacker, cited the family atmosphere at Utica as the reason for his choice.

“It reminds me of Holy Cross,” Wilson said. “Everyone is close-knit.”

He is most looking forward to the jump from high school to college because it will provide a learning experience.

“It’s a chance to learn even more about the game,” he said. “I’m also looking forward to the jump in physicality. I really like being physical out there on the field.”

Hoskins knows all about physicality, too.

He plays defensive end, a grueling physical position that requires size, speed and toughness. Hoskins will bring his fair share of each to a college program later this year, but he has not settled on a choice yet. He is currently leaning toward Division I Central Connecticut University, which he described as a “good fit.”

“I look at the jump to college as a chance to get better and to learn the game,” Hoskins said.

The Queens Village resident also received an offer from Wagner College, but he saw the Empire Challenge as the opportunity to gain exposure.

According to Pugh, Celestain, Wilson and Hoskins will not represent Holy Cross in the college ranks alone.

“We currently have 42 graduates playing some form of college football. This year, we have 10 more to add,” Pugh said.



Two Queens teens accepted to US Air Force Academy

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Two Queens teens have gotten their wings.

Seamus McCaffrey and Alan Mook have been accepted to the United States Air Force Academy. They are the only two in the borough who were given the elite nod this year.

“This is a dream come true,” said McCaffrey, 18, a senior at St. Francis Preparatory School. “It’s something surreal because I get to do what I want to do through serving my country. It’s a tremendous opportunity.”

McCaffrey, of Glendale, said he had his sights set on the skies since he was old enough to learn about planes.

“I’ve always wanted to be a pilot. Going to the Air Force was the only thing I really had in my mind,” he said. “I have a love for flight.”

The aspiring fighter pilot soared academically, with a cumulative 90 average, while leading as senior class president and playing on the school’s varsity football team. McCaffrey also serves as a sacristan at Sacred Heart Church in Glendale.

“He worked very hard for what he wanted. He put everything into it,” said his mom, Antoinette McCaffrey.

The trailblazer will be the first in his family to attend college, as well as enter the military, when he leaves for the Academy on June 26.

Meanwhile, Mook, 18, will be the second airman in his family. He joins his brother, Kevin, who is a junior at the Academy.

“It was all worth it,” said the College Point teen.

Mook, who graduated from Holy Cross High School last year, said his application was originally rejected by the Academy, but he was offered a scholarship to attend a prep school in New Mexico for one year.

Alan Mook (Photo courtesy of Holy Cross High School)

“When I was denied at first, it was very disappointing,” he said. “But I had another chance to get back in. I’m getting a degree from one of the best schools in the nation. Nothing beats that.”

Graduates of the free four-year program at the Colorado school agree to serve in the Air Force for at least five years.

Last year, three Queens students were given the green light by the Air Force Academy. McCaffrey and Mook beat out about 12,000 applicants this year, Academy officials said. Only about 1,200 get accepted annually.

“The candidates that have been getting in have been really reflecting the diversity of Queens, which is outstanding,” said Major Andrew Mattson, the academy’s Queens admissions liaison officer. “These are people taking on significant leadership roles. They are just great Americans.”



Star of Queens: Catherine Donohoe, president of the board of directors, Bridge to Life

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Catherine Donohoe is president of the board of directors of Bridge to Life, an organization that works to provide parents with food, clothes and other items necessary for raising a child. The organization, Donohoe says, has only one part-time employee, an accountant. The board is made up entirely of volunteers. “We have doctors, lawyers and accountants on our board,” she said. “They all come from different religions.”

In addition to providing supplies, Bridge to Life also provides services for those who might be pregnant. “We have free pregnancy tests, we provide sonograms,” she said.

The organization was started in 1992 with one location on Bell Boulevard. Today, the organization has two locations with one in Flushing and the other in Astoria. Bridge also has a 24-hour hotline.

BACKGROUND: Donohoe is a lifetime resident of Queens. She works as a professor at Nassau Community College and is a parishioner at Holy Family R.C. Church in Fresh Meadows.

FAVORITE MEMORY: Donohoe told the story of a volunteer from Holy Cross High School who came to volunteer at Bridge to Life. The student asked his mom where he should volunteer to fulfill his service hours for school and she had chosen Bridge to Life herself and recommended it. Both mother and son were recently honored at the organization’s annual dinner dance.

INSPIRATION: When Eleanor Ruder, the founder of Bridge to Life, came to speak at Donohoe’s parish, she said she was inspired to start the work that Bridge does today.  But Donohoe said her inspiration continues beyond that single event. “You get inspiration when you continue to do the work day after day,” she said.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Donohoe says her biggest challenge is the current “culture” that she sees through the experiences of her daughter who is currently in college.



Kevin Ogletree goes from Queens to America’s Team

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of David Petkowsky/Virginia Media Relations

Kevin Ogletree, a wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys, had eight receptions and two touchdowns in the Wednesday, September 5 NFL opening game against the Super Bowl champion Giants. He joined the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2009 and has battled for a starting receiver spot ever since.

Before that he played for Virginia, where he finished his degree in just three- and-a-half years.

And before that, he played in Bayside at Holy Cross High School. The Queens native played four seasons with the Knights where he not only broke a nearly 15-year-old record, but was academically fit, his former coach, Tom Pugh said.

During his four years at the all-boys Catholic school, Ogletree was a natural, yet quiet, leader.

“[He] knew how to conduct himself as a gentleman,” said Pugh. “He led by example…never ‘rah-rah’”

In his senior year alone Ogletree had 67 receptions and 21 touchdowns. This broke a record set by Carl Mackey (son of Hall of Fame tight end John Mackey), who had 58 receptions in a season in the early 1990s.

“Kevin was a guy who worked after practice, before practice,” Pugh said. “That was the good thing about him.”

The record-breaking receiver with high SAT scores promised his grandparents that he would continue his education and enrolled at the University of Virginia.

There he played under former Jets defensive coordinator Al Groh for three of his four years at the school.

Ogletree was a natural athlete, Groh said, and because of that, he was able to thrive in his first two years, before being sidelined with a knee injury during his junior year. He was able return the following year, but had to work back toward his normal abilities.

Ogletree could not be reached for this story.

At Virginia, he caught the eye of tight end coach John Garrett, who would move on to join the Cowboys’ staff. Groh and Pugh both said Ogletree’s talent and abilities caught Garrett’s eye — and would pay off for the young receiver in a big way.

He was picked up by the Cowboys as a free agent in 2009 after an impressive show at training camp. From 2009 to 2011, however, he saw little playing time — usually when starting receivers were injured. Despite this, Ogletree caught the first touchdown at Cowboys Stadium, albeit in preseason.

Life off the field was hit with tragedy earlier this year when his brother, Calvin, was shot outside of his car rental business in St. Albans. Calvin, it has been reported, is still in critical condition months later.

Facing elimination from the roster after three disappointing, sub-par seasons, Ogletree tightened up his training program this off-season, said Pugh, who still regularly speaks with his former player through text messages.

This included losing weight and working out even harder, something that was always part of Ogletree’s ethic, Pugh said.

“He really pushed himself this year,” he said.

Groh, now a defensive coordinator at Georgia Tech, said Ogletree’s performance against the Giants earlier this month was the best he had ever seen the 6’1” receiver play.

“He looked the most polished I’ve ever seen him,”

After his break-out performance in the 2012 season opener, Ogletree told reporters he was inspired to do well for his brother, whom he visited while in town. When Ogletree took the field at MetLife Stadium last week, Pugh — an admitted Giants fan — didn’t focus on the game. Instead, he watched the player he saw grow into the pro he is working to become.

“I was watching Kevin,” Pugh said. “I root for my guys.”