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Crusaders embrace new field

Posted Sunday, May 29, 2011 by Sharieka Breeden

Crusaders embrace new field but hold onto memories of the old

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The Stepinac athletic program was able to say out with the old and in with the new as it held a groundbreaking ceremony for a artificial-turf field that will be ready for use on Oct. 15.

In a collective effort which included Stepinac alumni, staff and families associated with the program, $1.7 million has been raised for the $2 million project. But while the old field will be replaced, the memories will live on.

Football coach Mike O'Donnell will always hold onto the memory of defeating Iona Prep in the days after the Sept. 11 attack when assistant coach Joe Riverso was killed at the World Trade Center.

"The crowd was as loud as I could remember," O'Donnell said. "Not only did we beat our rival; we did it with Joseph R. Riverso, who died in the World Trade Center, watching down on us. I know he will be excited to see Stepinac's new field. It will be a proud moment to open this field. I may even take a couple of patches of grass and plant them in my back yard."

Baseball coach Pat Duffy has coached the team to four Bronx-Westchester championship titles but his everlasting memories aren't as fond. They mostly consist of carrying 20 tons of clay just to prepare the field.

"The old field was nothing but nightmares for me because there was a poor drainage system and constant work," Duffy said. "This new field is a great relief. For years, the players have been the maintenence crew."

Baseball player Brandon Soto will return next year for his junior season. Soto is anticipating the return that won't include the strenuous labor from past seasons.

"I am extremely excited that I get to experience this new field," Soto said.

Teammate Michael Surovich will play his final season on the new field.

"I have been hearing about it since freshman year," Surovich said. "It wasn't fun to have to do all of that stuff. It's not something we are going to miss."

Duffy sees the new field as a way to attract more student athletes.

"When you have a great facility combined with a winning tradition, it's a no-brainer," Duffy said.

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