Coaches saddened by Nazareth closing

February, 9, 2012
2/09/12
10:46
AM ET
Christ the King girls basketball coach Bob Mackey knows the pain for the faculty, students, coaches and athletes at Nazareth, who found out on Wednesday that the Brooklyn school will be closing its doors at the end of the year.

"Having been at (St. Nicholas of) Tolentine when it closed, it's a very unpleasant experience for teachers, students and it effects everybody including the alumni and it's unfortunate," Mackey said. "It's not something I ever want to go through again and it's not something I want to see anyone go through."

Opposing girls basketball coaches in the CHSAA were saddened to see Nazareth become the fourth all-girls school in New York City close over the past three years. The school is closing its doors at the end of the year amid financial problems and declined enrollment.

Nazareth, ranked No. 1 in New York City by ESPNNewYork.com, has developed into a girls basketball power in New York City over the past two years, as it is the reigning New York State Federation Class AA and CHSAA Class AA State champions.

"It's unfortunate that it happened," St. Francis Prep coach JoAnn Wagner said. "I know that their enrollment has gone down for a long time and they have been fortunate with the success of their girls basketball team, but I don't just judge them on that. I judge on the school as well and it affects everyone."

It's been a rough couple of year for Catholic schools in New York City as there have been a handful of closings recently, especially all-girls schools that have developed reputations for their basketball teams.

Two years ago, St. Michael Academy in Manhattan, a power school, closed, as well as Stella Maris. At the end of the 2010-11 school year, Staten Island power St. Peter's closed down and Nazareth is now the latest to fall victim.

Many of Nazareth's current players came to Nazareth after St. Michael Academy closed its doors, following head coach Apache Paschall, who died on Jan. 3. That means some of these players will be undergoing their second transfer of schools in three years.

All coaches talked to mentioned how the closing was an unfortunate situation but it reflected a sign of the times, as evident by the other schools closing around them. Some Catholic schools are struggling to make ends meet revenue wise and have had to close their doors, forcing their students to find new high schools.

"I feel bad for the Nazareth kids, where are they all going to go now?" Moore Catholic coach Rich Postiglione said. "These are children, no matter how you look at it, these are good kids and it's really not good that their lives are unstable. I don't think anyone wants that. I'm sure they have smart people at Nazareth and they would have done something if they could have done, but they can't."

On the court, losing Nazareth will affect the league and it's scheduling, as well as the rivalries that have been developed. Nazareth has developed quite a rivalry with Christ the King and has become the team to beat in the CHSAA.

With St. Peter's closing after last school year, Moore Catholic has had to take on a harder non-conference schedule this year to make up for the games it lost against is Staten Island rivals. The league also shifted around its leagues division to make up for St. Peter's loss.

Still, as much as games will be lost on the court, Postiglione knows that the affect of Nazareth doesn't just apply to basketball.

"The way I look at it, the closing goes much deeper than just basketball," Postiglione said. "That's a small minority but it's affecting all the kids. That's very sad."

Matt Ehalt

ESPN New York contributor

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