Tag Archives: St. John’s University

St. John’s hoping for national spotlight as college hoops kicks off


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of St. John's University

BY LARRY FLEISHER

Four years ago, Steve Lavin returned to coaching and with a team comprised of mostly recruits from the Norm Roberts’ regime, St. John’s returned to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2002.

Then, he recruited a class that fans hoped signaled a resurrection of the program so that would be permanently in the national spotlight.

It has not quite worked out that way. With the Red Storm winning 13, 17 and 20 games in the last three years, they’ve proven to be enigmatic at best.

Perhaps last season was the biggest example of St. John’s confounding ways as it opened conference play with five straight closes losses, but then finished with 11 wins in the last 14 games and then were blown at home by Robert Morris in the NIT.

This year Lavin gets one more go-around with his first recruiting class — and D’Angelo Harrison symbolizes the inconsistencies of recent seasons.

Two years ago, he was suspended for poor conduct, but last year he became one of the league’s top scorers by averaging 17.5 points and was named the Haggerty award winner.

Notice the phrase “top scorer” was used, but not top player — even though the honor is supposed to be for the metropolitan areas top college player.

While Harrison’s scoring average was good enough to be the fourth-best in the league, he only shot 38 percent of his hoops.

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Dolphin Diner opening soon in Hillcrest, replacing shuttered eatery


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

The Dolphin Diner in Hillcrest is set to make a splash with its grand opening just a few weeks away.

The eatery already has its sign up and owner and veteran restaurateur John Papas told The Courier that he plans to open the establishment in the second week of September, after completing certain filings with the city.

The new diner, which is blocks away from St. John’s University’s main campus and Queens Hospital Center, will replace Cornerstone Diner in the mall where Union Turnpike and 164th Street meet.

Papas, who has previously owned diners around the city and one upstate, said he thought it was a good spot for a restaurant, and that’s why he decided to open there despite Cornerstone recently shutting its doors.

Dolphin will offer everything from seafood to steaks, and will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner daily from 6 a.m. to midnight. The new establishment will be able to seat up to 125 people, Papas said.

The diner is still hiring employees for positions, and expects to have more than 20 workers when it opens.

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St. John’s women’s basketball team playing in Europe


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

The Lady Johnnies are going international.

Following in the footsteps of the St. John’s men’s basketball team last summer, the women’s basketball team will travel through Italy and Spain for pre-season games in the program’s first experience traveling abroad.

The Red Storm will play four games during the journey from Aug. 16 through Aug. 27, against the Dutch National Team, Adriatic Sea Sirens, Distrito Olimpico Madrid and CB Barcelona Saint Feliuenc. Mixed into the game schedule are sightseeing and service trips to famous spots such as the Coliseum and the Pantheon.

“This opportunity is more about the bigger picture for our players,” head coach Joe Tartamella said. “We’ll have a chance to visit our campus in Rome and be able to do some community service projects.”

The European contests will be the first time the Johnnies play against other teams since having lost their senior leaders, guards Eugeneia McPherson and Briana Brown.

“We’ve had about 10 practices and they’ve probably practiced a lot more together, so it will be a good test for us,” Tartarmella said.

Last season, the Johnnies finished with an overall record of 23-11 and defeated the University of Southern California in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. But the team lost to the University of Tennessee, 67-51, in the second round of the national tournament.

This year the team has added four freshmen, who are expected to see minutes from the pre-season journey. Team members admit that they are still in need of fine-tuning before the season starts and they hope the trip will do just that.

“We’re still trying to put the pieces together, but I think it gives us a better scale overall of where we are going to be in October,” junior guard Danaejah Grant said. “It gives us a jump-start on the other teams that don’t have this same opportunity. I think ultimately it puts us ahead of everyone else.”

 

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$1.4M raised for cancer in sixth annual RBC Decathlon at St. John’s


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy Dmitry Gudkov


The sixth annual RBC Decathlon was held at St. John’s University on Sunday and raised $1.4 million for cancer research.

The contest, which tests the physical fitness of Wall Street’s workers, fielded hundreds of competitors from the financial industry for the 10-event competition on DaSilva Memorial Field.

Mark Rubin of Barclays won the male side for the third consecutive year, while Jennifer Lidel of TradeLink Securities finished first in the female section.

Competitors were tested in a 400-meter run, football throw, pull-ups, 40-yard dash, dips, 500-meter row, vertical jump, 20-yard shuttle, bench press and an 800-meter run.

The money raised for the event will be donated to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

 

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Flushing resident in near-fatal motorcycle accident, family raising $500K for medical fees


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Michaelides family


The family of a Flushing resident and St. John’s University alum who was in a near-fatal motorcycle accident on Father’s Day is in a desperate struggle to raise half a million dollars for medical fees.

Anthony Michaelides, 25, lost control of his bike on June 15 while trying to merge into a freeway in Los Angeles and hit the guardrail, propelling him over the barrier and more than 100 feet down into a ravine, family members said.

He suffered double lung collapse, bleeding from his brain, a ruptured spleen, a lacerated aorta, severe damage to his liver, fractured wrists and a broken left arm. Despite the injuries, paramedics found him alive and currently he is in stable condition at Los Angeles County General Hospital under heavy sedation. His family is hoping to raise money through upcoming events and crowdfunding site CrowdRise.

“He is one of the sweetest and most generous persons you could meet. Whenever you needed help he was always right there,” said Michaelides’ cousin, Krysta, who started the CrowdRise page. “This is such a tragedy, I couldn’t sit back and do nothing. I think about him every day. But doing this and collecting donations like this is gathering positive vibes. It’s keeping me busy and in my mind, keeping Anthony alive for me.”

The family has raised nearly $50,000 on CrowdRise already. Michaelides’ alma mater, Frank Sinatra School for the Arts High School, is organizing a show with proceeds to benefit him to be announced at a later date.

Family and friends will host fundraising events at Republic Bar in Astoria on Wednesday night, in Pita Pan restaurant on Saturday, and in Five Guys Burgers and Fries chains in The Bay Terrace shopping center on Friday and Saturday in the College Point location. Proceeds from sales during the day at the eateries will go toward Michaelides. There will also be #saveanthony shirts on sale for $15 during the events.

Michaelides graduated from St. John’s University with a degree in psychology, and then earned a master’s last year from New York University in education counseling. His goal was to be a guidance counselor at Frank Sinatra, but since there were no open opportunities he moved to Los Angeles late last year.

The school called Michaelides a few weeks before his accident to let him know there was a position opening, a sibling said, but now he won’t be able to take it.

“It’s just really bad luck. Everything that happened is bad luck,” said Michaelides’ sister, Connie. “It would mean a lot to the family if he did get his dream job, but our priority is for him to get better.”

 

To donate, please visit the CrowdRise page.

To learn more about Anthony Michaelides, please click here

Upcoming fundraising event times and locations:

Wednesday, June 25th
Republic Bar
3329 Astoria Blvd
Astoria, NY 11103

Saturday, June 28th
Pita Pan
37-15 30th Avenue
Astoria, NY 11103
11 am- 2 am 

Friday, June 27th
Five Guys Burgers and Fries in Bay Terrace Shopping Center
210-33 26th avenue
Bayside, NY 11360
4 pm – 9 pm

Saturday, June 28th
Five Guys Burgers and Fries in Northside Plaza/College Point
132-01 14th avenue
Queens, NY 11356
4 pm – 9 pm

 

 

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John Messer stops bid for state Senate


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy John Messer


Oakland Gardens lawyer John Messer is dropping his third bid to unseat 14-year veteran state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky in District 16, which includes Flushing, Bayside, Forest Hills and Fresh Meadows, among other areas.

“I look forward to continuing to work together to make our community a better place to work and live. However, for personal and business reasons, I will not be a candidate in this election season,” said Messer, who announced his decision through a press release on June 9.

Messer, who holds a master’s degree in government and politics from St. John’s University, ran an unsuccessful race against Stavisky in the 2012 Democratic Primary, losing the race to the incumbent after receiving 41.9 percent of the vote. The Queens Courier reported in 2012 that Messer spent $351,000 of his own money in the campaign.

Messer hoped two years ago that the redrawn District 16, which included a 53 percent Asian population, would give him an advantage, since his wife is Chinese-American, and because the primary was just a head-to-head battle between the candidates.

Messer’s first attempt in 2010 was a three-way primary election with Isaac Sasson, a retired professor and cancer researcher.

“We’re not ruling out a run in the future,” Messer said. “We have so much support in the community now, everyone knows we are here to stay.”

 

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Painters union fights St. John’s for summer jobs


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Members of a local painters union feel that St. John’s University has brushed them off of summer jobs.

Union workers and representatives of District Council 9 (DC 9) rallied in front of the university’s Gate 1 on Thursday to ask that the school negotiate a contract to paint and prepare vacant dormitories during the summer for when students return in the fall semester. The university uses dozens of non-union workers to paint and prepare the dorms.

“We want everybody to have a fair chance,” said Jose Torrent, a representative from DC 9. “We have a lot of members that live in the area— some whose kids go here.”

Torrent said last year the school said they would give the union a contract, but they never got to negotiate. Union workers have been used in previous university projects, such as the renovation of Carnesecca Arena and the transformation of St. Louise de Marillac Hall cafeteria years ago, Torrent said.

According to a statement from St. John’s University, it accepted bids from union and non-union painting companies for the summer jobs to prepare the dorms and choose a “competitive” non-union offer.

“The university prides itself in giving fair consideration to outside companies (union and non-union) who contract with St. John’s for work-related projects at our New York campus locations,” the statement said. “In this instance, the university decided to accept competitive bids from non-union firms.”

 

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Undercover operation busts eight Queens stores for selling alcohol to minors


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

LiquorBottlesHC0401_L_300_C_Y

An undercover investigation has caught eight Queens stores, mostly near high schools and colleges, for allegedly selling alcohol to minors.

The busted businesses, located in Astoria, Long Island City and Flushing, were part of an effort by the State Liquor Authority (SLA) to fight underage drinking in the city, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo, who announced the results of the investigation Monday.

“The law is the law, and we will continue to do whatever it takes to crack down on underage drinking and hold accountable those who serve alcohol to minors,” Cuomo said. “Our message is simple: If you put children at risk by placing alcohol in their hands, you will face the consequences.”

From April 17 to May 1, the SLA used decoys to visit 74 liquor and grocery stores throughout the five boroughs, according to the governor.

The operation was conducted by the SLA’s newly formed part-time investigative unit, which was funded using a $147,000 grant from the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

During the sting, uncover minors were allegedly able to buy alcohol at 32 of those businesses, including WooYong Corp., Astoria Vitality & Health Inc. and Green Leaf Deli & Mini Mart in Astoria; Cruz Mexican Products Inc. in Long Island City; and Parsons Convenience Store Inc., Parsons Wine & Liquor Inc., R & H Food Corp., Amy’s Deli, and P & M Convenience Store Inc., in Flushing.

Some of the stores are within walking distance of several high schools, as well as St. John’s University and Queens College.

Businesses can face civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation if charged for selling alcohol to minors as well as fines, starting at $2,500 to $3,000, for a first time offense. Repeat offenders can potentially have their licenses suspended or revoked.

 

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New York Cosmos signs St. John’s midfielder Jimmy Mulligan


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy St. John’s Athletic Communications

Follow me @liamlaguerre

 

A St. John’s Red Storm soccer player is blasting off to the Cosmos.

The New York Cosmos professional soccer team announced the signing of St. John’s senior midfielder and captain Jimmy Mulligan on Friday. The team, which won the NASL championship last year following a 30-year hiatus in the league, believes Mulligan will be a key role player.

“Jimmy is a young, promising midfielder who brings a lot of energy on the field,” Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese said. “He’ll provide good depth on the squad and help add some healthy competition.”

Mulligan, 22, finished his Red Storm career by earning both third team NSCAA All-Northeast Region accolades and second team All-BIG EAST honors. In his senior year, Mulligan helped lead St. John’s to the second round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament. Mulligan was also the first St. John’s player to earn NSCAA/Adidas Scholar All-America honors since 2008.

“For any kid growing up it’s a dream to play for their local team,” Mulligan said. “As a New Yorker, I’m thrilled to be signing for the Cosmos and playing for a team with such a revered history.”

 

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St. John’s University selects new president


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Miami University

Follow me @liamlaguerre

 

After a major scandal that rocked the school and a year-long search for a new leader, the St. John’s University Board of Trustees announced Dr. Conrado Gempesaw as its 17th president on Thursday.

Gempesaw, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Miami University in Ohio, has over three decades of academic experience and will start July 1, replacing Interim President Rev. Joseph Levesque.

“In Dr. Gempesaw, we have found a visionary leader who understands and embraces St. John’s mission as a Catholic and vincentian university, and has the skills necessary to realize our goals for the future,” the Board said in a letter. “We are confident he will help St. John’s continue its remarkable transformation from a commuter school into a global educational institution with enhanced and expanded facilities and new academic initiatives, while maintaining its mission of providing a world-class affordable education.”

Former president of 24 years, Father Donald Harrington, announced he would step down last year as the head of St. John’s in May, following immense media pressure over gifts he received from former dean Cecilia Chang, who was facing charges of embezzling $1 million from the school. Chang ultimately committed suicide before the end of her trial, increasing the attention on Harrington and his chief of staff, Robert Wile, who also resigned.

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Rowdy college bar ‘behaves’ as awaits license decision


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The sobering news of its last call has at least temporarily tamed a problematic college bar in Queens.

Cheap Shots, at 149-05 Union Tpke. passed a recent multi-agency checkup with “flying colors” and received no summonses, police and local leaders said.

“They have been behaving,” said Carolann Foley, president of the 107th Precinct Community Council.

The once-rowdy bar near St. John’s University has been under fire since it opened in March 2010. Residents said unruly customers constantly break out in fights outside. Some have even been spotted urinating and vomiting on the street.

Community Board 8’s Liquor License Committee unanimously rejected the bar’s liquor license renewal application in January.

But the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) has not cut the bar off yet.

It fined Cheap Shots $15,000 on March 25 for numerous complaints and at least 10 violations, mostly for disorderly conduct and alleged underage drinking, officials said, but has not reviewed its liquor license application yet, a spokesman said.

Bar owner Louis Abreu, who has hired more security detail to hush up weekend commotions, said a decision will likely not be made until a court date in two weeks.

Foley said she’s skeptical the state agency would close the tab on Cheap Shots.

“I don’t know what to think,” she said. “The SLA is just so hot and cold.”

 

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OKCupid date steals Queens college student’s cell phone, alters profile: report


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

HandsLaptopHC1109_X_th_C

A Brooklyn man took revenge on a Queens college student by stealing her cell phone and altering her online dating profile after she refused his advances on an OKCupid date, according to a published report.

The woman, a 22-year-old St. John’s University student, told the New York Post, that they spoke for two weeks before meeting in-person. Everything was going well during their date near Union Square one evening until they had a few drinks and he allegedly tried to get her to go back with him to his Williamsburg apartment, the publication said.

She refused and things turned ugly, according to the publication. He allegedly followed her to the subway, threw a water bottle at the woman, then took her phone.

Though she escaped, the man texted her friends pretending to be her, and changed her profile by uploading photos of the woman and writing “I’m available for threesomes,” she told the Post.

Police are reportedly investigating the incident.

 

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Cambria Heights high school scholar set to graduate in three years


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Rosmary Reyes

Follow me @liamlaguerre

While most high school students are happy to leave school when the bell rings, Rosmary Reyes takes extra classes, which sometimes keep her as late as 6 p.m.

Now that extra time is about to pay off.

Reyes, a student at Business, Computer Applications & Entrepreneurship High School in Cambria Heights, is set to graduate after just three years.

“I feel like as soon as I get out of high school, I can get into the real world and closer to my dream of being a lawyer,” Reyes said. “The faster the better.”

Reyes, 16, maintains a 91 percent average in school, is a member of Arista, the National Honor Society, and is in the running to be her school’s valedictorian or salutatorian. She speaks fluent Spanish, and also knows American Sign Language, which Reyes learned so she could communicate with her deaf cousins.

Besides her academics, Reyes participates in a great deal of extracurricular activities and volunteer work.

She is president of the school’s student government, editor of the yearbook, a member of the journalism and the recycling clubs, and she also tutors students who need help in specific subjects. Reyes volunteers at the annual high school fair for eighth-graders and the college fair.

Outside school, Reyes is a New York Cares team leader and has volunteered to help many causes, including working in a soup kitchen and taking part in a coat drive for a senior citizens home.

“It’s not just for academic achievement or looking better for my resume,” Reyes said. “I like [volunteering] because I want to do it. I like helping people and being in leadership roles.”

Even before high school, Reyes was an exceptional student. She received student of the month and student of the year awards from M.S. 61. Reyes pushes herself to do more, because of her philosophy to stay motivated.

“When you are tired and just want to give up, you should just stop for a moment and imagine what you can achieve if you try just a little bit more,” Reyes said.

But her ideals aside, Reyes recognized that she wouldn’t have been able to achieve all of her accomplishments without her family as a backbone of support.

“[I] give thanks to my parents for always giving me the resources I need, and my sister for always giving me the push I need to achieve my goals.”

Reyes is now waiting to hear from St. John’s University, where she plans to continue her education. She then wants to go to law school to become a civil litigator or human rights lawyer.

“I always found a true passion in it,” Reyes said. “The thing I like about lawyers is that they get to help people who may not be able to help themselves.”

 

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BOLD & BALD: St. John’s loses locks for cancer research


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Ana Santos only flinched once as all her hair fell to the ground. 

The 30-year-old former St. John’s University student was one of nine women and 47 men to shave their heads Thursday during a child cancer research fundraiser in the school’s student center.

“Hair is nothing,” the East Meadow speech pathologist said. “We’ve lost a lot of people in my family to cancer. There’s nothing more important than health and their lives.”

Santos donated a foot of hair and went bald for the first time to mirror her loved ones still battling the disease.

“Everyone in my family with cancer is bald right now,” she said. “I was crying before I got here. I’m trying to give them all my strength to let them know they can get through it.”

Santos held her tears back, periodically checking out her new do on her phone.

But 21-year-old Jackie Herro opened up the floodgates, when flashbacks of her boyfriend Chris, who succumbed to cancer in 2011, raced through her mind.

“It was very emotional knowing I was doing it for Chris,” the Red Storm senior said. “I cried even more when I looked down in the crowd and saw how many people were there to support me. They were happy tears.”

Herro had more than a foot of her bleached blonde hair snipped off, raising more than $7,000 for the cause.

“I would go up and do it again,” she said. “There’s no other feeling like it.”

The Johnnies, in the event’s fifth year, raised more than $35,000 for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. And 26 others chopped off at least eight inches of hair to donate to Locks of Love.

“All these students are learning at a young age what adults take a lifetime to learn,” former St. Baldrick’s chairman John Bender said, “the importance of giving back and being involved in something larger than yourself.”

“They’ll take this experience with them,” he said.

 

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Sports Star: Robyn Francis, junior guard, Francis Lewis HS girls basketball team


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Follow me @liamlaguerre

 

Name: Robyn Francis
School: Francis Lewis
Grade: Junior
Sport: Basketball
position: Guard

 

Robyn is a junior guard on the Francis Lewis High School girls basketball team. Francis scored 8.9 points, grabbed 6.9 rebounds and added 4.4 assists per game this season for the Lady Patriots, and contributed to the team’s recent PSAL Division AA city championship title. Francis is also part of the school’s outdoor track team. In her spare time Francis volunteers to mentor young basketball players around ages 7 to 10 in a local league. She oversees practices and helps with drills.

Off the court and track, Francis maintains a 92 percent average, and has applied to be a member of Arista, the National Honor Society. Her favorite subject is math and she would like to study accounting in college. Although she is not completely sure yet where she will continue her education, St. John’s University in Jamaica is at the top of her list. Francis is also hoping to join the women’s basketball team at St. John’s.

Why is it important to do well both academically and athletically?
“It’s hard, but it’s also worth it. If I can get a half basketball scholarship and a half academic scholarship, that would be great. I want to go to go college for free, and I want to focus on my education.”

Why do you want to major in accounting?
“Because I’m good at math, and I want to do math as a career. Accounting involves math, and it’s a good paying job.”

Why do you like teaching young children to play basketball?
“Since I have a great talent in basketball, I want to share that with others. Also, when I stop playing, I want to see the younger generation playing at a higher level of basketball than me.”

Why would St. John’s University be a good fit for you?
“I think St. John’s is convenient because it’s close to home, it has accounting and I like how the girls [basketball team]plays.”

 

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