November 14, 2011

Lady Bears Swimming: “No Excuses, Just Results”

In 2010-2011, it was "No Pool, No Problem". In 2011-2012 it's "No Excuses, Just Results". St. Joseph's women's swim team is filled with mottos, but more importantly is filled with dedicated women, devoted coaches and a drive to succeed.

The Lady Bears are coming off their finest season in 2010, putting together a winning record for the first time in their brief history. The fruits of their labor are coming together for some of the senior girls who helped start the program four years ago.  Kristen McMaster (Brooklyn, NY/Fontbonne Hall), Alison Nunziata (Brooklyn, NY/Bishop Kearney), Elizabeth Fiorella (Brooklyn, NY/Bishop Kearney) and Catherine Muldoon (Brooklyn, NY/Fontbonne Hall) were instrumental in building the swim team from the ground up and are what head coach Lenny DeVirgilio calls the "heart and soul" of the team.

There is a good mix of youth and experience with the seniors and underclassmen. Darcy Crimi and Abigail Verbil (Queens, NY/Christ the King) round out the large dedicated senior class who have been a part of the program since its inception. Haley Betancourt (New York, NY/St. Vincent Ferrer), Christina DellaRocca (Brooklyn, NY/St. Edmund Prep) and Laura Sonnylal (Richmond Hill, NY/Archbishop Molloy) all have at least one year experience and will be a part of the team for at least the next two seasons.

The Lady Bears welcome six new girls to this year's team, including three freshmen. The coaches like how well they have been responding early in the season and think they are all capable of making an impact and being future leaders.

St. Joseph's will swim in 10 regular season meets before the Hudson Valley Women's Athletic Conference Championship on February 11th at New Rochelle. The highlight of the season is no doubt the trip out west to California. The Lady Bears will compete against Cal Tech, Mills and Chapman in Pasadena, CA on January 15th and 16th. This is the first major road trip for the team and the first time the team will cross time zones. "The opportunity to swim against California competition recognizes our sweat and tears in the pool and how far we've come as a team," commented senior co-captain Nunziata.

Before the voyage to sunny California, St. Joseph's will enjoy a four-meet homestand at Brooklyn Technical High School to close out the 2011 calendar year. The stretch will start on November 17th against Brooklyn College and conclude on December 10th with the annual East Meets West rivalry against St. Joseph's College, Long Island.

Also on their home schedule will be defending HVWAC champions Sarah Lawrence, who visit Brooklyn on January 19th. The regular season ends at New Rochelle for a quad match with the hosting Blue Angels, St. Elizabeth and St. Joseph's College, Long Island on January 27th.

All the girls want to lower their times and see validation for their hard work, but the coaches make sure the women are learning more than just how to improve in the pool. The group acts like a family with coach DeVirgilio saying "We win together. We lose together. We laugh together. We cry together." There is a camaraderie and respect for each other that goes beyond swimming.

Coach DeVirgilio will have two assistants on his staff this season. Jennifer Safi ('09) returns for her third season with the team. Safi was a three-sport athlete at St. Joseph's and is currently the head boys and girls varsity swimming coach at Lincoln High School. Jaclyn Collins ('10) rounds out the coaching staff entering her second season. Collins was instrumental in helping to start the team during her junior year and brings great leadership, having served as the president of student government in her senior year.

The Lady Bears have been through enough adversity in their brief history to know that every obstacle brings a new opportunity. They don't need any excuses, they already have the results.