Tag Archives: St. John’s University

St. John’s men’s basketball shaky in first exhibition game of the season


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

St. John’s University men’s basketball head coach Steve Lavin promised that this year the Red Storm would do something special.

But it certainly didn’t look that way in the Johnnies’ 2013-2014 pre-season debut, an exhibition game against the Division II San Francisco University State Gators on Saturday.

The Red Storm struggled throughout the game, shooting just 41.3 percent from the floor, while allowing the Gators to shoot 51.6 percent. The Johnnies, however, managed to escape with an 82-80 win.

“Clearly there are a number of aspects both defensively and offensively that we need to clean up,” Lavin said. “We went down the list of areas that we need to improve upon and then also gave them credit for having the resourcefulness to find a way to win on a night where things weren’t going well for us, and that’s an important trait.”

The Red Storm squeaked out the win due to junior guard D’Angelo Harrison’s big shots with seconds remaining. Harrison, who led the Red Storm by scoring 29 points, hit a mid-range jump shot over two defenders with 16.7 seconds left in the game to give St. John’s an 81-80 lead.

After a defensive stop on the ensuing play, Harrison was fouled and knocked down one of two free throws to expand the lead. With just 4.8 seconds remaining, the Gators took a final three-point attempt, but missed what would have been the game-winning shot.

“I don’t care what division it is, it’s hard to come back, especially the way they were playing and executing,” Harrison said. “It was good that we pulled it out.”

With 8:02 left to play, the Red Storm was trailing 73-65 and were forced to play catch-up. The Johnnies put together an 8-2 run to make the score 75-73 with just 5:54 remaining.

God’sgift Achiuwa, who returned after sitting out a year, lead the comeback with four points, two rebounds and one block. In his first game since the 2011-2012 season, Achiuwa totaled nine rebounds and eight points in 20 minutes.

Besides Achiuwa, newcomers senior Orlando Sanchez and freshman Rysheed Jordan played well throughout the game as well. Sanchez had nine points, 10 rebounds, four assists and four steals, while Jordan scored 16 points and had a big play in his college debut.

Down 80-77, Jordan ran the length of the floor and hit a crucial layup to pull the Johnnies within one point with 1:53 remaining.

“He was hype but at the same time he was calm,” junior guard Sir’Dominic Pointer said of Jordan. “He came out ready to play and he had a great game tonight. He came out and showed us what he could do. I expect a lot from him this season.”

With just six days remaining until the Red Storm face No. 20 Wisconsin on the road for their season opener, the Johnnies have just one more exhibition game against Humboldt State on Monday.

While the Red Storm believe they will be ready for the season opener, Lavin feels that it will take a while before they fully gel together.

“We are still two to three months away from playing our best basketball,” Lavin said. “But I think we could surprise some people along the way and get some wins, and maybe do better than some would think in that next two months.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Star of Queens: Gabrielle Fonrouge, president, Society of Professional Journalists, St. John’s University; Homes for the Homeless at the Saratoga Family Inn


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

New Picture (1)

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Gabrielle Fonrouge is more than just a journalism student at St. John’s University and president of the Society of Professional Journalists. She is also a major community service leader at Homes for the Homeless at the Saratoga Family Inn in Jamaica. She works with the adult program there which assists homeless adults in finding jobs so that they are one step closer to being off of the streets or out of shelters.

She also travels abroad to places such as Ecuador and Vietnam in the hopes of creating a sustainable service that can change lives. Her mantra is “Give a man a fish, he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.”

“I believe in justice and sustainable service,” said Fonrouge. “It is changing the systems and studying the systems and finding ways so that [people] no longer will be in these positions.”

BACKGROUND: Fonrouge is originally from a low income neighborhood in southern Florida. Growing up there, she made it her mission to assist people in reaching their potential through motivating them.

“I think some people just got off the right track because they do not have someone there motivating them, telling them that they can do it, telling them that they are worth it, all of these things. Those people will never go anywhere and I have watched it first hand, so that made me want to let people know that they do have a purpose, they do have a meaning and you will succeed if you try.”

FAVORITE MEMORY: On the final night of a three-week program in the Miguel Chiriap community of Ecuador, the group Fonrouge was with prepared an American feast and dressed in native garb and danced tribal dances.

“It was such a magical moment,” said Fonrouge. “We were underneath the stars, outside, the music was playing and nothing else was happening in the world at that moment. It was just us, the people we were serving and the music and dance.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “To truly commit yourself to community service and fully devote yourself, it means saying goodbye to yourself and the other people in your life, saying goodbye to your responsibilities, saying goodbye to your income, saying goodbye to all of that. You must put yourself and the ones you love second to those you serve.”

INSPIRATION: She finds inspiration through her passion for media and journalism by creating documentaries that focus on the underserved population and impoverished communities. She hopes to bring awareness to her subjects so that she can make a difference in their lives. “If the world doesn’t know a problem exists, it is never going to change and will always exist.”

NIKKI DJOKOVICH

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

St. John’s men’s basketball makes promise at annual Tip-Off


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

“Let’s get it in.”

The St. John’s University men’s basketball team embraced this phrase as their season motto at the Red Storm Tip-Off Friday. Men’s basketball head coach Steve Lavin said it first, declaring that this year they are expecting to do something “special.”

“This year the goal is to get it in,” Lavin said as he addressed the crowd of 5,308 in a packed Carnesecca Arena. “So let’s get it in.”

While the motto, which was inspired by former Johnny Metta World Peace, started a chant by fans and made its way around social media, the news of the night was that sophomore center Chris Obekpa had been suspended.

Lavin said Obekpa violated “university policy” and will miss two exhibition games, but return to the team in time for the season opener against the University of Wisconsin on November 8. The bad news dulled the mood slightly as it brought back memories of junior D’Angelo Harrison’s suspension last season and the need for the players to become mature.

“I think it will be a valuable learning experience for Chris,” Lavin said. “That’s where the focus is on, the lesson and opportunity to understand that there is a responsibility that comes with representing this basketball program and University.”

Obekpa’s trouble aside, the Tip-Off was once again a fun event for students, residents and past Johnnies to celebrate everything about both men’s and women’s basketball teams and to signal the start of the season.

Much like previous years, the season kickoff event included tons of giveaways and prizes for fans, daredevil performances by the cheerleading squad and energetic performances by the dance team.

Grammy-nominated rapper Lupe Fiasco headlined all performances. In his return to St. John’s he rocked the house with hits, such as Kick Push and Superstar.

The event started with an alumni basketball game, which featured past greats such as Felipe Lopez and Tyrone Grant, and recent Johnnies such as Rob Thomas and Sky Lindsay.

As with tradition the current men’s and women’s basketball team members were introduced one-by-one with fog and music. The women’s basketball team performed a dance-off among themselves and then they separated for a three-point shooting contest.

The men’s basketball team played a scrimmage game, which served as the debut of big man Orlando Sanchez, touted freshman Rysheed Jordan and lethal shooter Max Hooper.

To end the athletic showcase, the men’s team held a dunk contest. Sophomore Christian Jones, who pulled off an amazing 360-through-the-legs jam, took the crown, but Jordan also made a big splash by dunking over 6’8” God’sgift Achiuwa.

And when the event came to an end, the Red Storm knew that playtime was over.

“The energy was crazy. Everyone is excited for the season to start so the energy was off the meter,”said sophomore Phil Greene IV. “This is a key year for us and we’re going to deliver.” 

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

St. John’s men’s basketball team all grown up


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

St. John’s basketball head coach Steve Lavin once said it would take about “three or four” years to build back the Johnnies’ program.

Now in his fourth year as head coach, Lavin was optimistic at the annual St. John’s basketball media day on Thursday, October 10, because the Red Storm has a full set of returning players, plus new talents like never before.

“The last three-plus years was to put our program in position,” Lavin said. “We now feel we can be competitive, because we have the artillery and the firepower to be on more equal footing to the competition.”

After a spring of practicing and a summer playing basketball in Europe, the Johnnies, which were once the youngest team in school history, are all grown up. The Red Storm’s leading scorer junior guard D’Angelo Harrison’s behavior behind the scenes last season eventually got him kicked off the squad at an essential time. This time around, he said he’s changed his ways.

“Knowing how I used to act and the way I am today, now I can see,” Harrison said. “I can honestly say I thank Lavin for what he did.”

A whole cast of Johnnies who were prominent in last year’s National Invitational Tournament appearance will be returning, including the country’s leading shot blocker, sophomore center Chris Obekpa, reigning Big East Conference Rookie of the Year Jakarr Sampson, junior Sir’Dominic Pointer and combo guard Phil Greene IV.

A fresh set of players will also join them for this season, including senior Orlando Sanchez, a 6’9” forward from the Dominican Republic, who hopes to provide stability to the front court.

Sophomore transfer Max Hooper, a three-point specialist, will help the Red Storm from behind the arch, which they desperately needed last season. Also, after redshirting last season, forward God’sgift Achiuwa will return to the Red Storm, and said taking a year off actually improved his game.

“I was able to watch the game from the sideline,” Achiuwa said. “So now I have good perspective of a basketball game. I have an overview of what basketball is all about from every angle.” 

The team’s only true freshman, point guard Rysheed Jordan who was missing in action at the media event, is one of the nation’s top recruits, rated 17 in the country by ESPNU. Jordan hopes to help the back court with scoring.

With this armament of talent for the Johnnies, it seems like the only problem might be how to distribute minutes on the court.
RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

St. John’s women’s basketball team looks to continue dynasty


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

The St. John’s University women’s basketball team has big shoes to fill.

With last year’s departure of seniors Nadirah McKenith and Shenneika Smith to the WNBA — the first female Red Storm players ever drafted to the league — the team has some gaping holes.

Smith and McKenith were the key players of the greatest dynasty of St. John’s women’s basketball, which included four-straight NCAA tournament appearances for the Red Storm and the team’s first-ever Sweet Sixteen berth. But with the stellar pair and other key players gone that means new players have to step up.

“No matter that our face has changed our goals stay the same, our expectations stay the same,” said head coach Joe Tartamella.

Sophomore guard Aliyyah Handford, the reigning All-Met Rookie of the Year and a 2012-2013 Big East Conference All-Freshman team selection, will be a major factor to determine how the Red Storm fare in the new-look Big East. Handford scored 9.4 points per game last year and averaged 4.5 rebounds per game, and those numbers are expected to balloon this year.

“To be honest I think it’ll be great to be the top player on the team,” Handford said. “I think we can go further than we did last year.”

In the front court junior forward Amber Thompson, who averaged 6.5 rebounds per game last year, is returning to pound the boards and solidify the Johnnies’ interior defense.

The Red Storm also has a cast of returning guards that can push the ball, such as seniors Keylantra Langley and Briana Brown, and sophomore Ashley Perez.

Redshirt senior Eugeneia McPherson, who was inactive last year due to a season-ending knee injury, expects to be able to take the court when conference play begins.

But as one of the only seniors on the team and the only current player who has been through all four-straight NCAA tournaments, McPherson will be counted on for her experience to direct the team.

With this mix of experience, top players and team chemistry, the Red Storm is confident that they can continue the dynasty to a fifth year.

“We have a great group of young ladies that have been working hard,” Tartamella said. “We will put a product out there that will make our fans, alumni and university proud.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

St. John’s third annual Dribble For The Cure raises $55K for cancer


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

About two years ago St. John’s University men’s basketball head coach Steve Lavin announced he had prostate cancer and would need surgery.

Lavin missed most of the following season and had a successful surgery and recovery, but for members of the university and especially the men’s basketball team, talking about cancer still hits home.

“Coach always talks about the struggle of it and the importance of giving back to the community and you can tell its coming from a good place,” said sophomore forward JaKarr Sampson.

With the most anticipated season in the Lavin era before them the men’s basketball team joined the women’s team to co-host the  third annual St. John’s Dribble For The Cure on Saturday, in which more than 500 people participated and more than $55,000 was raised for pediatric cancer.

“It’s definitely special to beat an opponent like Villanova or a Notre Dame, but it’s even more rewarding to see our players participate in an event like Dribble For The Cure,” Lavin said. “We want to compete in every game, but helping find a cure for cancer is even a more worthy cause than winning a basketball game.”

At the event participants  dribbled basketballs in teams around St. John’s campus. Teams and individuals also raised money prior to the event and donated it to the cause. The participants that raised the most money received autographed shirts and basketballs from St. John’s players and coaches.

Before the dribble tour there was a festival of free food, giveaways, games and performances from the St. John’s cheerleaders and the pep band. Then in the opening ceremony New York Knicks head coach Mike Woodson made a guest appearance.

“It’s an honor to be here,” stated Woodson. “I had a sister who died of cancer many years ago, so I’m a big supporter of fighting cancer and finding a cure.”

Participants came from Queens and much farther to support the annual event.

Larry Kovacs, a St. John’s alum, and his family traveled from Pennsylvania for the second straight time to dribble around the campus. Last year his daughter Jenna, 5, was so young she couldn’t dribble the basketball and he had to carry her across the finish line. But this year Jenna dribbled the entire way by herself.

“We’re blessed with three healthy children and its just a way for us to give back and help others that are less fortunate,” Kovacs said. “It’s a very positive experience for us, it teaches good qualities and characteristics for our children.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Victory marks fourth consecutive win for St. John’s men’s soccer


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of St. John’s Athletic Communications

In the 19th minute St. John’s men’s soccer forward Sean Sepe clutched his head and looked to the sky as if the world was coming to an end.

Sepe just missed an easy goal directly in front the frame. With no defenders around, it was just him and the West Virginia University goalkeeper, Lee Johnston. All he had to do was kick the ball pass Johnston on the right side and the Johnnies would have taken the lead.

“I thought I had it, I was so close,” Sepe said. “It was very disappointing.”

Johnston defended Sepe well and deflected the ball just enough for it to carry wide. But a few plays later in the 24th minute Sepe found himself in the same position after teammate Jimmy Mulligan connected a pass inside the box. Sepe, who scored the winning goal in the Red Storm’s last game, slipped through three defenders and this time kicked the ball just pass Johnston for the score.

“The goalie didn’t rotate back to his position and I put it in there,” Sepe said. “I was mad at myself that I didn’t score the first one. I was like ‘I’m definitely getting one this game.’”
And one would be all the No. 12 ranked Red Storm needed as Sepe’s goal gave the Johnnies a 1-0 win over the Mountaineers on September 15. The victory is the Johnnies’ fourth consecutive win, moving the season record to 5-1-0.

Although the final score doesn’t show it, it wasn’t a quiet match between these former conference rivals. Both teams had ample chances to net goals.

West Virginia led St. John’s in shots on goal, 12-11, while the Red Storm led in corner kicks, 10-5. But defense was the deciding factor as the Johnnies’ goalkeeper Rafael Diaz came up with five saves to record St. John’s third straight shutout.

“We know that if we get a shutout that we are going to win, so it really motivates us,” Diaz said about the team’s defense.

The victory also ends the Johnnies’ four-game homestand and the team will start a three-game road trip, beginning with new conference rival Creighton University on September 21.
St. John’s is undefeated (5-0) this year at home, but the team’s only loss came on a road game against the University of Virginia. The Red Storm is looking forward to the road trip to prove they can compete everywhere.

“The last time we went to Virginia we didn’t play well at all,” Sepe said. “We got played off the field. So I guess it’s personal for everyone.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Mulligan’s golden goal puts No. 23 Red Storm pass No. 5 Akron


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of St. John's Athletic Communications

With a penalty kick lined up, the game rested on St. John’s forward Jimmy Mulligan’s foot.

Pressure poured in as the intense match, in which both teams just scored one goal apiece in 90 minutes of regulation and more than 15 minutes in overtime and had seven yellow cards handed out, came down to just one kick.

A little nervous, Mulligan was brimming with confidence, having much experience with this situation in practice. But what threw him off was the crowd’s anxiety. Approximately 1,533 Red Storm fans came to a silence the senior forward set-up for the kick.

“When they went quiet I got even more nervous,” he said.

Mulligan approached slowly, looked up quickly to see which way the goalie was leaning and then blasted the ball in the opposite direction for the golden goal and the 2-1 victory over No. 5 University of Akron on Friday night. Following the score the Johnny faithful started to roar again.

With the victory the No. 23 Red Storm is now 2-1 for the season and earned their first win against a ranked-team. “I was pretty confident, I was thinking I was going to bury it and get this win for the team,” Mulligan said about the kick.

For the first 70 minutes both sides struggled for control. In the first half Akron outshot the Johnnies 5-1, but the Red Storm took the lead in corner kicks, 2-0.

It didn’t look like either would score, until Eric Stevenson powered a goal from about 20 yards out in the 71st minute for the Zips, assisted by Ismail Seremba.

The goal came as a sudden shock, but the Johnnies responded quickly. About three minutes later, Red Storm sophomore Josh Godec beat a defender and scored from about five yards of the goal after a cross pass from teammate Jelani Williams.

“I knew I just had to get across that man, I saw the ball coming in and I was like I’m going to get there,” Godec said. “I’m just lucky it went in.”

It was a significant moment for Godec, who red shirted his first year and didn’t play a game last year, because it was his first college goal.

“It’s amazing to see the hard work finally paying off,” he said.

The Johnnies will host Pennsylvania State University in their next match on Sunday.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

 

St. John’s edges out NJIT in 2013 men’s soccer season opener


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of St. John’s Athletic Communications

Going into his 23rd season as St. John’s men’s soccer head coach, Dr. Dave Masur has seen it all.

As one of Division 1 most winningest active coaches at 367-123-76 (.716), Masur has raised the St. John’s program into a national contender, but he knows every year the slates are wiped clean.

“What’s that?” Masur said, when asked about his 23 season. “I redo every season like it’s my first.”

For this reason Masur coached the no. 19 ranked St. John’s to aggressively attack New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), a team that until last season hadn’t won more than five games since joining Division 1 in 2004, in the Johnnies’ season and home opener on August 30. The Red Storm dominated possession and stifled the Highlanders, until redshirt senior Jimmy Mulligan blasted the winner in the 77th minute for the Red Storm’s 2-1 victory. Now the Johnnies’ slate reads 1-0-0.

“This was a hard-fought victory against a very organized NJIT squad,” Masur said.

From the start of the first half the Johnnies were on attack mode and pressured the highlanders, beating them to a 20-7 shot on goal difference in the game. Despite being the aggressor, the Red Storm allowed the Highlanders to tie the game 1-1 going into the final 30 minutes.

But after a throw in from Adrian L’Esperance, redshirt junior Daniel Herrera dished a pass through a few defenders to find an open Mulligan, who rocketed a strike from just beyond the box that curled over goalkeeper Alexander Czempik and found the back of the net with exactly 13 minutes remaining.

“Once I saw the ball coming across, Danny did a nice flick through the defenders and I was like that’s the sweet spot for anybody looking at the goal,” Mulligan said.

Before Mulligan’s goal the Highlanders found a way to shake the Red Storm’s pressure.

In the 61st minute, trailing the Johnnies 1-0, NJIT’s Phillipp Hannemann connected a long pass to captain Franco Gamero, who outpaced two trailing defenders and slipped the ball passed Red Storm goalie Rafael Diaz, exactly has his coach said to do.

“In the second half I said ‘we just got to do a better job of trying to connect the passes and switch the ball and it’ll come’ and obviously it did and it opened up the game for us so that helped,” said NJIT head coach Didier Orellana, a resident of Forest Hills.

Sophomore Sean Sepe scored the first goal for the Johnnies’, which was his first career college goal, in the 33rd minute after receiving a pass from Jamie Thomas. Sepe said he thought only about shooting when he received the ball, which is understandable since it’s a new season and the Johnnies are hungry for wins.

“High pressure is the main point in our game and if we put them under pressure and they make a mistake we will capitalize,” Sepe said.

St. John’s will travel to play no. 20 Virginia next on September 2.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

 

 

 

Star of Queens: Janet McCreesh, president, Broadway-Flushing Homeowners Association


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

janet1

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Janet McCreesh serves as the president of the Broadway-Flushing Homeowners Association, which serves to unite and encourage all homeowners and residents to improve and maintain the community. In addition to her duties as president, McCreesh is also an executive assistant for a construction company in New York City. McCreesh is the mother of four children, and volunteers for the alumni association at their school, St. Andrew Avellino.

BACKGROUND: McCreesh has lived in Queens her whole life. Born and raised in Sunnyside, she attended school at St. Teresa’s in Woodside and later attended St. John’s University. For the last 16 years, McCreesh and her family have lived in North Flushing.

FAVORITE MEMORY: “My favorite memory was when City Planning wanted to upzone Northern Boulevard to allow buildings up to a height of six stories. I had been mostly uninvolved in the community and got together with some friends and we were able to get over 600 signatures on a petition to the city requesting they not change the zoning on Northern Boulevard,” explained McCreesh. “When the executive staff of the BFHA found out what we were doing they contacted me and they explained that we were going about it all wrong.  After that meeting the plan changed and we were able to negotiate with City Planning. Even though they changed the zoning, it was such a minor change that the community remained low density with low building heights.  It was a great success for our community and I realized people do make a difference,” said McCreesh. 

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: McCreesh says that her biggest challenge has been educating homeowners about the Rickert Finlay covenant that is attached to their deeds. “One of the most important ones is no fences within 20 feet of the property line.  The original developers of our neighborhood intended it to have open streetscapes with a suburban feel,” explained McCreesh. “We send newsletters and have regular meetings but there is always a greedy developer/individual lurking in the background trying to make a profit by subdividing lots (which is not permitted) just to get two houses and double their profits.”

INSPIRATION: “My inspiration has been the members of the Broadway-Flushing Homeowners Association,” said McCreesh. “I have never met a more passionate and hardworking group of people who volunteer their time, money and energy for the sole purpose of protecting and maintaining our beautiful community.”

 MELISSA FERRARI

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Tuesday: Clear. High of 84. Winds from the WNW at 5 to 10 mph. Tuesday Night: Clear in the evening, then mostly cloudy. Low of 68. Winds from the WSW at 5 to 10 mph shifting to the WNW after midnight.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Queens Symphony Orchestra: Viva Verdi & Friends

The Queens Symphony Orchestra will perform Viva Verdi & Friends, celebrating the bicentennial of Giuseppe Verdi’s birth, on the St. John’s University Great Lawn at 7 p.m. The show will include selections from La Traviata, Falstaff, Aida, Rigoletto and more. Free. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Two people struck and killed by LIRR train

Two people were hit and killed by an LIRR train in Queens. Read more: ABC New York

City to move forward with plans to install beachfront restrooms near Arverne by the Sea

It’s a tempest in a toilet. When the city announced Monday that it is moving forward with plans to install public bathrooms along the beach in Arverne, the news generated less opposition than it did in the past. Read more: New York Daily News

Gov. Cuomo signs LIPA reform bill, promises ‘competent’ new utility

The Long Island Power Authority is now under new management. Read more: CBS New York

Woman accused of leaving 4 kids in car while gambling in Queens

Brooklyn woman was arrested this past weekend and charged with leaving her children – the youngest just 9 months old — and her middle school-age brother in the car while she went off to gamble. Read more: CBS New York

U.S. soldier braces for judge’s verdict in WikiLeaks case

U.S. soldier Bradley Manning could learn on Tuesday whether he will face life in prison without parole when a judge renders her verdict on charges that he aided the enemy when he released 700,000 classified documents to the website WikiLeaks. Read more: Reuters 

St. John’s University names interim president


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of St. John’s Communications

St. John’s University’s board of trustees has announced that Reverend Joseph Levesque will replace Father Donald Harrington as the school’s interim president, closing the chapter on the corruption that shook the institution.

Levesque will become the head of the university effective August 1 and guide the school before the upcoming school year as the board searches for a permanent replacement in the next few months.

“We are confident of a seamless transition as Father Harrington steps down as president at the end of this month, and know that, over the coming academic year, Father Levesque will continue to build on his outstanding record of accomplishment,” said Peter D’Angelo, chairman of the board.

Levesque, the former president of Niagara University, has a long relationship with St. John’s, where he was chair of the board in the 1990s. During the same period, Levesque was elected provincial superior of the Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission, a group for Vincentian priests.

Levesque was born in North Tarrytown, NY, and ordained as a Vincentian priest in 1967 after studying at Mary Immaculate Seminary in Pennsylvania. He taught religious studies at St. John’s Prep in Brooklyn and St. Joseph’s Seminary in New Jersey before becoming a lecturer in the religious studies department in Niagara in 1970.

Levesque holds a doctoral degree in theology from the Catholic University of America and honorary degrees from Niagara and St. John’s Universities, two of the three Vincentian universities in the United States.

As president of Niagara since 2000, he oversaw a $100 million investment in new construction, renovation and improvement projects to the 160-acre campus.

Harrington announced he would step down 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.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Star of Queens: Maria DeInnocentiis, Utopia State Civic Association, Order Sons of Italy in America, Community Board 8


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Maria DeInnocentiis

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Maria DeInnocentiis has dedicated her life to the service of others. She is the chair of the Utopia State Civic Association, the treasurer of the Order Sons of Italy in America and the chair and treasurer of Community Board 8, among other posts.

“I work hard to support my community,” she said. “I try to keep up the quality of life for my neighbors, and make sure they have a place to file complaints when they need to.”

BACKGROUND: DeInnocentiis was born in Brooklyn and moved to Queens when she was a teenager. She attended St. John’s University, where she acquired her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education and counseling.

DeInnocentiis’s volunteering efforts began at her church. When she had children later on, she knew she wanted them to have a good life. She thought that getting involved in the community would help her better understand its problems and issues.

“I see a need to give back, and people always ask me to help out,” she said. “I guess I just don’t know how to say no. It’s what I really enjoy doing, and I learned in my 30s that this is what I want to do with my life.”

FAVORITE MEMORY: “I remember when I was at a rally with my one-year-old daughter,” she said. “That’s when Mayor Ed Koch walked up to me and told me that it was people like me that made a difference. He was a great man, and those words still stick with me.”

BIGGEST CHALLENEGE: DeInnocentiis says that her biggest today is getting people away from mass media to focus on becoming involved.

“Finding young people willing to persevere is harder than it was 30 years ago,” she said. “Twitter and Facebook are great for getting a message out, but they can’t solve problems. People have to get out and make sure your voice is heard.”

INSPIRATION: “I have many people I look to for inspiration,” DeInnocentiis said. “But my true lifelong inspiration is Tami Hirsch, my best friend. She’s the president of the Utopia State Civic Association and she’s been my best friend and supporter for many years.”

JOHANN HAMILTON

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Spotlight on justice: Judge Joseph J. Esposito, Supervising Judge of the Civil Court in Queens County


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Judge Joseph Esposito

Judge Joseph J. Esposito combined his interest in political science together and his law school education into a lifelong career that has been filled with enjoyment.

“My life has been a lot of finding myself in the right place at the right time,” he said. “Circumstances being such, I went where God took me.”

The lifelong Queens resident studied political science at St. John’s University as an undergraduate looking to one day teach. He continued his education at The New School for Social Research, where he received a master’s degree in political science in 1974. But he put aside his intentions to get a Ph.D. because of poor job prospects at the time. Esposito changed his career’s direction and went to law school.

With no previous knowledge of law, he applied to many schools, but was not accepted to any. Not letting the rejection deter him, he applied once again and got into Fordham Law School. During that time, Esposito worked for Paul O’Dwyer, who was president of the City Council.

“It was really a big thrill for me to work in City Hall,” he said. “This was like a practical application of my studies. I was very happy and I became enthusiastic about government.”

In 1981, Esposito began working as a court attorney in the civil court of the City of New York. He then made his way to work as a law secretary for Supreme Court Justice Vincent F. Naro in the Criminal Term in Queens County.

During 18 years on the job, until Naro retired, Esposito worked on some of the most violent crimes committed in the borough.

“I was looking at the end of a career with someone that was like a father to me,” he said. “He encouraged me to become a judge, which I wasn’t really completely looking to do.”

Esposito’s career continued as he worked four more years in the Criminal Term of the Supreme Court. In 2005, he was elected as a judge in the Civil Court of the City of New York in Queens County. In January he was also appointed as a supervising Judge in the same court.

By next year, his term as a civil court judge will come to an end and he hopes to get re-elected.

“At the end of this year, who knows where God will take me?” he said. “It’s a rewarding experience being a judge. It really gives me an opportunity to serve my country and my city. When this job stops being fun, that’s when I’m going to stop. ”

Two of Esposito’s three sons have decided to follow in their father’s footsteps. One has graduated from St. John’s Law School and another is planning to attend the same school this fall.

When he is not in the courtroom, Esposito enjoys spending time with his wife and three sons.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Baseball all-stars battle it out at St. John’s University


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Competitive sports are often described as war.

The Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League (ACBL) All-Stars played the USA Military All-Stars in a fun, meaningful game at Jack Kaiser Stadium at St. John’s University on June 29. It was a tense match-up between teams with solid offensive firepower that culminated in a narrow 5-4 victory by the ACBL.

“To us, what can be more meaningful than to say thank you to all the guys that are helping us to be free Americans?” said former St. John’s Athletic Director Jack Kaiser. “And at the same time, our league is a college league where the players are interested in improving and being seen by the scouts for a possible professional career.”

The military players presented Old Glory before the game and there was a moment of silence for Americans who have died in war. But the peaceful diamond turned into a battlefield following the ceremony.

The contest reached a climax in the top of the eighth inning, when the Military All-Stars were trailing 5-3. With two out, the soldiers started a rally. ACBL Pitcher Ryan Casey walked Dalton Martinez. The next batter, Eddie Waters, smacked a base hit into center field, moving Martinez to third. Then Karl Seiter, who the soldiers call “Primetime” because he “gets hits in big situations,” hit a single into left field, scoring Martinez. But the ACBL got the final out, ending the comeback.

“I thought we could pull something off, but they had good pitching and they didn’t give us many pitches to hit,” Seiter said.

It was not the first time the Military All-Stars showed their grit.

With the ACBL All-Stars leading 3-0 into the fifth inning, the soldiers began to turn the tide. ACBL pitcher Keenan Stare gave up back-to-back walks to start the inning and the following batter grounded out, moving the base runners to third and second base.

Military All-Stars second baseman Brandon Wheeler hit a smoking double past the third base line to score both base runners. The following batter, Christopher Schmitt, hit another double that scored Wheeler and tied the game.

“The attitude was when they tied us up that they are a good team, they’re not just going to quit on us,” ACBL vice president Brian Casey said. “It was just, ‘Let’s get back to work, let’s get another lead.’”

That they did. In the bottom of the inning, the ACBL All-Stars had a pair of doubles of their own. With one man on second base and one out, ACBL infielder Rich Ricciardi hit a double to score Chris Smith and swipe the lead back.

“It was a 1-0 count,” Ricciardi said. “I was ahead in the count, so I’m looking fastball. I decided I’m going to take a swing and luckily I just got a piece of it and it dropped into left field.”

Then outfielder Joe Bamford slammed a double to score Ricciardi, improving the lead to 5-3. It was just enough to last until the end of the game.

Despite the loss, the Military All-Stars earned respect from the college players.

“We were surprised at how well they represented themselves,” Ricciardi said. “We were saying how their pitchers really know how to pitch and their catcher had a good arm. It’s an awesome feeling to play against them and be competitive on the same field.”

 

 RECOMMENDED STORIES