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St. Francis wins fourth straight sportsmanship award

Grab Northeast Conference Award for Fourth Consecutive Season

May 20, 2016 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
St. Francis Brooklyn head women’s basketball coach John Thurston has not only coached the Terriers to their first-ever NCAA Tournament, but also has them setting a fine example on and off the hardwood. Photo courtesy of SFC Brooklyn Athletics
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Though they didn’t come close to duplicating their dream campaign of 2014-15, the St. Francis Brooklyn women’s basketball team extended its reign as the best in sportsmanship — both on and off the court — this past season.

The Terriers, who the season before last captured the Remsen Street program’s first-ever NCAA Division Tournament bid via a Cinderella-like run through the Northeast Conference Championships, on Wednesday were given the Winter Sportsmanship Award by the NEC for the fourth consecutive year.

It might not be as gaudy a prize as lifting the NEC Championship Trophy and taking on top-ranked and eventual national champion Connecticut in the opening round of the NCAAs, but in a lot of ways it better exemplifies the type of program head coach John Thurston has built.

“It’s exciting for us to win the Sportsmanship Award for the fourth year in a row,” said Thurston, who has seen his team receive the award in each of his seasons at the helm.

“I think it’s a testament really to the type of kids that we have in our program.”

Though the Terriers went a dismal 7-22 in 2015-16, and were ultimately unable to repeat as NEC champs after winning a record three straight road games to accomplish the feat for the first time the previous spring, Thurston’s charges continued to live up to, and even exceed, the NEC’s Principles of Sportsmanship and Standards of Conduct.

“Even though the faces have changed over those four years, the characteristics that they exemplified on the court have remained the same,” he noted. “I also believe that our staff — our basketball staff and the people here at St. Francis College — try to always act within the spirit of sportsmanship.

“And I think getting an award like this shows that people recognize that, so it’s a significant thing to win it once. To win it four years in a row I think says a lot about St. Francis College and the type of student-athletes we have here.”

The honor, which is voted on annually by each team and each head coach, was instituted by the NEC’s league presidents in 2008. According to the league’s guidelines, sportsmanship is a quality that can be applied to all aspects of life. Outstanding conduct, showing respect for others and overall fairness are characteristics that embody a good sportsman.

“If athletic participation is part of your preparation for life after college, sportsmanship would have to be a significant part of that,” Thurston emphasized.

“Making a jump shot wouldn’t be, playing great defense wouldn’t be, but sportsmanship speaks more to character than anything else,” he continued. “I think in today’s world people with great character always forge ahead — they move ahead in life after college. So I think that’s what the biggest significance [of winning this award] is.”

Thurston must now find a way to get the Terriers back into NEC contention after losing several of his key players over the last two years, including seniors Leah Fechko and Taylor Watson following a season-ending loss to Central Connecticut State at the Pope Center in February.

“As I just told them, it was a season of ups and downs,” Thurston revealed after watching his team go from Downtown’s darlings of destiny to also-rans in the highly competitive conference.

“It’ll be eight months before we play again,” he added. “What they do between tonight and those eight months will determine what happens in the future. We have a lot of work to do.”


Also making local college sports news this week, LIU Brooklyn head baseball coach Alex Trezza announced that right-handed pitcher Brendon Malouf has signed a National Letter of Intent to play for the Blackbirds in 2016-17.

“Brendon brings a tremendous amount of energy and focus to the baseball field,” Trezza said. “He has developed nicely on the mound, and he continues to get better and better. His fastball/breaking ball combo is tough for hitters to handle, and will continue to develop once he gets to campus this fall.”

Malouf has been a three-year varsity starter at Beacon High School in Beacon, N.Y.

As a junior, he threw 33 innings, posted a 1.91 ERA and earned All-League honors. During his senior campaign, Malouf was even better, going 6-1 on the mound with an 0.66 ERA. He notched 55 strikeouts in 42 1/3 innings pitched, walking just 11 batters all season.

In addition, Malouf is an honor roll student and a member of the National Honor Society.

“He’s a great student,” Trezza said. “He certainly represents what an LIU Brooklyn student-athlete is all about. We are really excited about Brendon joining the Blackbird family.”
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The New York Islanders will have a new lead voice in their television booth for the first time in over two decades after Howie Rose officially announced Wednesday that he is stepping down as the recently relocated franchise’s play-by-play voice.

Rose, who will continue to fulfill his duties as the New York Mets’ radio commentator, cited a need to spend more time with his family as a reason for giving up the coveted assignment, which he has more than ably filled since 1995.

“Strictly, it’s the idea that I could have an offseason like most people who do what I do for a living,” Rose told Newsday. “Maybe my wife would disagree on some level, but I think it’s only right that she has her husband around more than he’s been. Again, that might be open to her interpretation.

“But at the end of the day it’s something that I do with, as I say, the epitome of mixed emotions.”

Rose was on hand to call the team’s first playoff series win in 23 years last month as New York got past Florida in the opening round before falling in five tough contests to Tampa Bay during the Eastern Conference semifinals.

“The New York Islanders congratulate Howie Rose on a memorable 21-year career as the team’s TV play-by-play announcer on MSG Networks,” the Isles said in a team-issued statement on their website.

“His voice has become synonymous with big Islanders moments, which culminated in his final game call of John Tavares’ series-clinching goal at Barclays Center in Game 6 of the team’s first round Stanley Cup series against the Florida Panthers. We wish Howie and his family nothing but the best moving forward.”

Neither the team, nor MSG Network, which carries Islander games, has yet announced who will replace Rose for the 2016-17 campaign.


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