Tag Archives: St. John’s University

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.”

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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

 

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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.

 

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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

 

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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.

 

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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.”

 

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St. John’s University alumna Dagmara Wozniak wins fencing gold and bronze


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of St. John's Athletic Communications

BENJAMIN FANG

Dagmara Wozniak, a St. John’s University fencing alumna, won bronze in the women’s individual saber and helped Team USA win gold in the team saber event at the Pan American Games.

The victories marked her third individual medal and seventh consecutive gold for the U.S. women’s saber team at the Pan American Games. This year, it was held in Cartagena, Colombia from June 16-21.

“It was a hard competition, but was a good preparation for the Senior World Championships in August,” Wozniak said. “Hopefully, I can bring home my first Senior Worlds medal.”

Wozniak, currently ranked second in the country and sixth in the world, now has two bronzes and one silver medal. In the 2012 Olympics, she placed eighth in the individual competition.

Daryl Homer, the top-ranked fencer in the U.S. and also St. John’s alum, won bronze in the men’s individual saber. However, Homer withdrew from the team event because of work commitments.

At the end of the Pan American Games, Team U.S.A. topped the medal count with 14 individual medals and six team medals.

 

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Redesigned Big East Conference officially goes live


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

The revamped Big East Conference officially went live today, July 1, months after nearly breaking down, because of the lure of big-money college football.

“While we have much to do in the months ahead to bring the conference office to full operating capacity, I’m confident that we will create a first-class organization we can all be proud of and that will fully support the work of our member schools,” said newly appointed league Commissioner Val Ackerman in a release.

Earlier this year seven schools known as the “Catholic Seven” split from the former Big East,” because numerous schools interested in stronger football conferences were breaking away. The seven schools, St. John’s University, DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall and Villanova vowed to redesigned the Big East and refocus the league back to basketball and they recruited three new members–Butler, Creighton and Xavier.

Prominent members of the conference announced they were breaking away from the conference earlier this year including founding member Syracuse, Louisville, Pittsburg, Rutgers and Notre Dame.

In 1978 Providence College Athletic Director Dave Gavitt met with St. John’s Athletic Director Jack Kaiser and Georgetown Athletic Director Frank Reinzo to discuss about making the conference focusing on strong basketball competition. A year later with Syracuse Athletic Director Jake Crouthamel the league was created.

“Now, nearly 35 years later, the Big East is poised to build on its heritage and bring a new wave of excitement to the student-athletes, coaches, students, faculty, administrators, alumni and loyal fans of its ten distinguished schools,” Ackerman said.

Fox Sports 1, which will launch as a new Fox sports network on August 17, announced a deal to broadcast the Big East in a joint press conference in March.

“We are very excited about our long-term television contract with FOX Sports and its new cable network, FOX Sports 1, which will allow us to nationally air a wide range of BIG EAST basketball games, as well as other conference events,” Ackerman said.

The Big East will establish its headquarters in New York City and continue to host its famed basketball tournament in Madison Square Garden.

St. John’s former athletic director’s career spans seven decades


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of St. John’s Communications

For the past seven decades, John “Jack” Kaiser has been the backbone of St. John’s University’s athletic department.

But his relationship to the school extends much further.

Kaiser, 86, started out as a student athlete in the 1940s on the baseball team. A former athletic director, he now serves as the athletic director emeritus.

“I’m here every day, Monday through Friday, and I love it,” Kaiser said. “It’s the delight of my life, second only to Connie, my wife.”

Kaiser was a senior and the captain of the baseball team when St. John’s was known as the Redmen in 1949. That season he led the squad to its first College World Series appearance. His talent for baseball led him down a path he had not intended to follow.

He entered St. John’s in 1944 on an academic scholarship with the intention of majoring in history and becoming a teacher. Because he loved to play sports, he played both basketball and baseball in his freshman year.

After finishing just one semester, he was drafted by the U.S. Army as World War II was winding down.

During the year-and-a-half he was in the Army, he completed training in America and traveled to Okinawa, Japan.

There, while playing a baseball game with some fellow soldiers, he broke his ankle sliding into second base.

He was sent back to the U.S. for rehab and later discharged from the Army.

“Of course it hurt,” Kaiser joked, but “it was better than being hit by a cannonball.”

He reentered St. John’s and finished his degree in three years, graduating in 1949.

He wanted to play baseball in the major leagues, but was not immediately drafted. So he played for a local team for a year.

Then the Red Sox took notice of his talents and offered him a contract in 1951. He played in the team’s farm system from 1951 to 1954.

During that time, he married his first wife, Faye, and had his first daughter. When he realized he could not make it to the big leagues, he decided to look for a more stable job to provide for his family.

“There was Ted Williams in left field, Dom DiMaggio in center and Jackie Jensen in right,” Kaiser said, naming three franchise Red Sox players at the time. “So I said I better get another job. I would have been playing in the minor leagues forever.”

In 1953, he started coaching freshman basketball at St. John’s. Three years later, he became head coach of the baseball team, getting them to the College World Series three times — in 1960, 1966 and 1968.

“I had very, very good people on my team — not only baseball players, but people,” Kaiser said.

After compiling a 367-133 record as the head baseball coach, Kaiser became the school’s athletic director in 1973.

But one of his greatest accomplishments came about six years later.

In 1978, Kaiser met with three other athletic directors of top college basketball schools — Dave Gavitt of Providence College, Jake Crouthamel of Syracuse University and Frank Rienzo of Georgetown University — to talk about forming the Big East Conference. A year later, the conference was realized. Decades later, it would be known as the strongest college basketball league in the country by many sports enthusiasts.

Kaiser was upset when big-money college football contracts threatened to lure schools away from the league and break up the Big East earlier this year. St. John’s and six other Catholic schools came together and saved the conference by redesigning the league.

“I think the new outfit is going to be good,” Kaiser said of the new Big East Conference. “They are going to be competitive, both athletic and academically. And nothing will distract them. It’s basketball-oriented, as it started out to be.”

After seeing the school through as athletic director for 22 years, Kaiser was named athletic director emeritus.

Nowadays he reaches out to alumni and recruits them to events. He also does fundraising and assists current student athletes with internships and job opportunities through the connections he has made over the years.

Kaiser has watched as St. John’s expanded from a building in Brooklyn to an international institution with a sprawling main campus that has a church, tennis courts, baseball and soccer fields and thousands of students.

He said he enjoys his current role because he feels he can make an impact in the lives of student athletes.

“I get to meet the student athletes, not just watch their games,” Kaiser said. “I feel I can be a positive image to help young people, not only to be better in their sport.”

Jack Kaiser, right, when he was named head coach of the St. John’s baseball team in 1956.

 

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Bayside man recalls pioneering surgery that saved his life


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Konigsberg, Levine, Smith 150 Anniv

Life was not easy for Phil Konigsberg when he was growing up. As a child and teenager, he faced more challenges than most. When he was only two years old, he was stricken with polio, and his loving family and doctors did everything they could to help him.

He told his story at the Hospital for Special Surgery’s (HSS) 150th anniversary symposium, thanking Dr. David B. Levine, his former spine surgeon, and the hospital for saving his life.

Konigsberg, now 61, was among numerous speakers who came together to celebrate the hospital’s milestone at the symposium this past month. In addition to HSS patients who told their inspirational stories, the event featured noted historians, scholars, scientists, physicians and health policy thought leaders from around the country. Konigsberg explained that the polio caused scoliosis, and by age seven, he was in a turnbuckle cast to correct his spinal curve.

“I thought of it as a ‘mummy’ cast,” he said. “I remember a doctor periodically turning the metal turnbuckle attached to the cast, attempting to straighten my back while I was lying in bed.

He was supposed to be in the cast for nine months, but at six months, he developed pneumonia. He remembers being rushed to Hospital for Special Surgery.

“I know that I almost died that night. I recall being transferred by ambulance from HSS, which is an orthopedic hospital, to another hospital that had a special pulmonary unit. I had an emergency tracheotomy to enable me to breathe, and then I was put into an iron lung,” he said. “I recovered over the course of a year-and-a-half.”

In 1968, at age 17, Konigsberg had a critical decision to make.

“I remember being told by Dr. Levine and my parents that I was running out of time to have a spinal fusion operation, and that if I chose not to have the surgery, I was faced with the scoliosis continuing to get worse and eventually crushing my organs.”

The good news was that Dr. Levine was performing the surgery with relatively new instrumentation called “Harrington Rods” that reduced the curvature and provided more stability to the spinal fusion.

“Harrington Rods were a major advance in scoliosis treatment,” Dr. Levine explained. “In Phil’s case, we weren’t sure if he would need one operation or three surgeries, but we were able to correct his problem with the first procedure. We were all very happy about that.”

At the symposium, Dr. Levine asked Konigsberg what he remembered about his hospital stay.

“I am forever grateful to Dr. Levine and to Dr. James P. Smith, my pulmonologist, for each being my personal lifesavers,” he continued. “I strongly doubt I would be able to stand here today had they not been part of my life.”

Despite the breathing problems caused by polio, Konigsberg managed to graduate from St. John’s University and then enjoy a successful career in the insurance industry. In 1973, he became a founder of the Jamaica Estates-Holliswood-South Bayside Volunteer Ambulance Corps, of which he is a life member. He is the community advocate of the Queens Tobacco Control Coalition and has been a smoke-free advocate for the past 25 years. This year he will celebrate his 25th wedding anniversary.

Scoliosis treatment has come a long way since the 1960s, according to Dr. Levine, author of the new book, Anatomy of a Hospital, about the 150-year history of HSS.

“From the full-body plaster cast that patients wore in the 1950s, to the Harrington Rods, to improved rod implants and better techniques used today, there’ve been tremendous advances,” said Dr. Levine.

Today, people who have scoliosis surgery can usually go home after a week in the hospital, and before long, they can return to school or to work.

 

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St. John’s grads hike all of Long Island for charity


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Terence M. Cullen

Most recent college graduates spend their first few weeks of freedom basking in the summer weather and decompressing after finals.

But six Queens transplants decided to take in the outdoors in a different way.

From May 28 to June 4, five recent St. John’s University graduates and one current student trekked 128 miles from the Brooklyn Bridge to the Montauk Lighthouse to raise money for a Developmental Disabilities Institute (DDI) facility.

The group surpassed its goal of $20,000 toward renovations at the DDI Little Plains campus in Huntington, raising money from sponsorships, private donations and people they met during the course of their journey.

“They decided to mark their graduation, all six of these students, by doing something to help others,” said Dan Rowland, DDI’s director of development. “They’re just great, great kids.”

Nathan Holmes and John Kenny were ready to make the trip after graduation, but wanted to find a cause to walk for.

Since they both knew people with autism, they found DDI was an ideal cause.

Walkers wore signs on their backpacks relating to the walk.

They worked from February to May securing sponsors and mapping out their trip, at times putting it ahead of their classes. The number of walkers soon expanded to six when Kenny’s brother Liam and fellow graduates Morgan Zajkowski, Mike Sardone and Rita Rausch joined in. Rausch had to opt out due to work commitments, but graduate Michael Cunniff replaced her.

The six, who are originally from Massachusetts, New Jersey, Utah and Maryland, had never been so far out on the island.

During the journey, they carried whatever rations they could along with signs promoting the walk, which Kenny said caught the attention of people driving by. He added that throughout their walk, people stopped and asked about DDI, often making a donation as a result.

Kenny said what helped cultivate all of this was previous volunteering the six had done while in school.

“Everybody does have an inclination toward service,” he said. “Our time at St. John’s has definitely influenced our desire to serve our community. It’s made us more aware that we can use our abilities to impact other people’s lives.”

As weather became a problem at times, the group grew concerned about potential health affects. Their first day was rainy and damp, but a heat wave hovering around 90 degrees followed and took a toll on their bodies.

However, a stop at the Little Plains facility about halfway through the trip helped motivate the group to finish the trek.

“Everybody was really excited to meet with us, and obviously we were excited to meet everyone else,” Cunniff said, adding it “put a little hop in our step for [Thursday’s] walk.”

Zajkowski said there were few facilities outside of New York City like DDI’s centers. She added she was impressed by the care the institute’s staff gave.

“It’s really cool to see how well taken care of the DDI families are,” Zajkowski said.

Holmes said seeing the programs in action helped paint of picture of DDI’s significance.

“The programs they have, you can’t find them in other parts of the country,” he said.

Those who want to still donate can by calling Ellen Holmes at 631-366-2978 or visiting www.ddiny.org.

 

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Parker Jewish, St. John’s team up to highlight residents and patients’ individuality


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Parker Institute

For some St. John’s University students, reaching out to the elderly has expanded their family.

The Parker Jewish Institute for Healthcare and Rehabilitation teamed up with students to highlight residents and patients’ individuality. The event, called Parker: Discovering a New Family, took place Sunday, May 5.

“These are individuals,” said Ron Shafran, associate vice president of public affairs and government relations for Parker.

Shafran’s wife, Phyllis, had her campaign event planning class from St. John’s come up with a public relations campaign to highlight the individuality of the residents. Another goal was to transform the image of the Parker Institute into being not just a rehab center, but also a place of learning.

The students interviewed the seniors about their lives and compiled snapshots depicting what made the seniors who they are.

Caren Russo, a resident at the Parker Institute, said she was initially unsure about why the students wanted to interview her.

“I really didn’t know what was going on,” she said. “I was ready to back out.”

But Russo said in the end, she was glad she stuck with the project.

“It was exciting,” she said. “I enjoyed it, frankly.”

Student Bianca Pappas said that in addition to gaining experience on how to run a successful public relations campaign, she also became very close to the residents she interviewed.

Pappas said she was also able to learn a lot about life by seeing how the seniors reacted to the prospect of creating an art project.

“I learned that life still goes on,” she said. “You can still grow passion.”

-BY ANTHONY O’REILLY

 

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