2009-03-27 / Sports

Crockett Departs Kearney With No Regrets

By Elio Velez

Cathy Crockett has deftly the juggled the balance of raising her four children, but also the numerous amounts of players that have passed through the Bishop Kearney girls basketball team for 23 years.

The Breezy Point resident has had a quite successful coaching career on the basketball court. With 349 wins in her career and capturing state and federation titles along the way, Crockett has been an institution at the Bensonhurst school.

Crockett had just enjoyed recently coaching a Bishop Kearney Tigers team that had overcome a long mid-season losing streak to capture the first seed in the New York State Catholic girls A playoffs.

The Tigers eventually were defeated by Sacred Heart Academy, 54-47 in the opening round on March 13. But Crockett knew at that point after the game she had a difficult choice to make.

After a talk with longtime assistant coach Kerry O' Grady, Crockett announced to her team in a meeting at Bishop Kearney on March 19 that she will leaving as coach of the team to spend more time with her family.

Crockett wanted to especially spend time with her two younger sons, 14-year old Matt who will enroll at Xavier High School in the fall, and 12-year old Kevin, who plays both basketball and football. It wasn't easy leaving a team she's coached for 23 years, but Crockett knew the choice was the right one.

"During the season I was focusing on the team and we had a lot of chemistry. They were fun to coach and I enjoyed it," Crockett said. "But I felt it was time. Next season I want to be at my son's games. It was easy when they were younger but as they get older, I just didn't want to miss them growing up."

Crockett has two older sons, 20-year old Ryan and 18-year old Timothy who at times regrets missing out on watching their high school athletic track and field endeavors. She's also sympathetic to O' Grady, her longtime friend and assistant coach for 15 years who have gone through the same. Crockett had taken over the varsity team 22 years ago and O' Grady was then a senior player on the team.

O' Grady, who also has three children, left the school to give more time watching her son Matt play basketball at Xavier. In a critical tiebreaker game that Bishop Kearney played against Bishop Ford to decide who would win the top A seed, O'Grady had to miss her son Matt playing a junior varsity playoff game.

O'Grady is just as devoted as Crockett to guiding her players. In talking to Crockett once the final playoff game ended, both had come to the decision that it was time to devote solely to their families.

Once the meeting was set up to tell the players, O'Grady says the trip to the school may have been the longest she's ever made.

The ride to Kearney was so sad," O'Grady said. "Cathy was driving. It was a terrible feeling. If they were all seniors, it would have been easier."

"They see our kids at practice. And the players are like our family also. Even my kids were sad."

Bishop Kearney junior and Breezy Point resident Meaghan McGoorty thought it was a meeting to prepare for next season. Though it was sad for most of the players to hear the news, McGoorty has the utmost respect for Crockett's decision.

"Cathy is such a great coach. She was so close to use and we could talk to her about anything. It's hard to replace her," McGorty said.

Crockett's departure has gotten around to a number of players she's coached. Janelle McManus, the all-time leading scorer in the CHSAA, and whose number is retired at the school, was shocked to hear the news.

McManus led the Tigers to a catholic state and federation championship in 1997. Bishop Kearney also won a federation title without McManus in 2002.

The Rockaway resident graduated after playing basketball Fairfield University and is now working for L'Oreal in Manhattan.

"She always prepared you top play at the next level. She prepared you in conditioning, mental preparation and she pushes you to do your best," McManus said. "She's not only a basketball coach but she's also a friend."

Crockett isn't done with basketball just quite yet. She will be inducted to the Brooklyn-Queens CHSAA Hall of Fame at Russo's On The Bay on April 30. She'll continue to coach Kevin's CYO team at Blessed Trinity and l New York City girls' basketball team at the Empire State Games this summer.

The bonds that have been forged with players and the administration through her career at Bishop Kearney won't ever be broken Crockett says.

"I've enjoyed the 23 years. It's brought so much to me in my life. I've met so many wonderful kids," Crockett said.

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