YONKERS – It was bad enough that Yonkers volleyball captain Nicole Frascati was finding out the team was without a head coach less than a week before the preseason officially began. What made it worse was that this has become commonplace for the senior and her teammates.
For the third consecutive year, Yonkers was without a head coach just days before the preseason.
Alicia Murray left her post as head coach following the 2013 season, and said she informed the Yonkers athletic department she did not plan to return the following year before summer break. The last-minute hire of Christine Crowley delayed the Bulldogs’ 2014 season by two weeks.
Crowley informed players in an email on Aug. 10, 2015 that she would not return that fall, citing uncertainty about a teaching position at Yonkers for the school year and her commute from Long Island as the reasons for her resignation.
“I truly wish you all the best of luck,” Crowley said in the email, obtained by The Journal News/lohud. “Feel free to keep in touch as I would love to hear about how you all are.”
Players found out that Crowley would indeed return to the team four days after the email, and two days before the preseason opened. Yonkers players were informed that Crowley would not return this season last Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016, setting off confusion throughout the program.
“So many people were contacting me, telling me, ‘Is there going to be tryouts? I want to try out,’ and I had like no answer for them,” third-year varsity junior Amanda Marji said. “It was very frustrating.”
Players and parents put the pressure on athletic director Jim Rose for clarity surrounding the coaching situation, but struggled to get any concrete answers. Yonkers spokesperson Jeri Fierstein said Wednesday afternoon the school was “working diligently” to finalize a coach for this season.
“It’s just been a nightmare,” said Valerie Frascati, Nicole’s mother, who was in constant contact with Yonkers administration this week. “This is not my responsibility, or the responsibility of a kid that’s 15, 16 or 17.”
Murray stepped up to fill the coaching vacancy after receiving “quite a few phone calls” from Yonkers administration. The deal was finalized Wednesday evening, but an announcement was kept under wraps so that Murray could surprise the team at practice Thursday morning.
Players were on the verge of tears when Murray emerged through the gymnasium doors.
“It’s horrible for the girls,” Murray said of the emotional roller coaster the team has gone through the past three seasons. “Every year has been a different story. It’s not fair to them.”
Nicole Frascati said Murray is “perfect for this position,” and noted that a head coach is more than just a body on the sidelines.
“We need someone who wants to be here,” she said. “We can’t just get someone just because the athletics needs to hire them for the job. We need someone who is qualified and who really is dedicated to the sport and loves what they do.”
The irony surrounding this situation over the last three years is remarkable.
Students and children are taught to honor their commitments, yet the adults they are supposed to be learning from often do not seem to follow the same basic principle. Student-athletes are expected to have pride in their school, yet often it is the school’s administration that is letting them down.
The story may have a happy ending, but it doesn’t make up for the confusion and disappointment the girls had to put up with the last three years. They deserved better.