All In: Athletic Director Tassone in His War Room

When he took on the job as head coach of the Kennedy Catholic varsity football team in 2016, Dominick Tassone took over a struggling program. The Gaels had won just one game the year before, and zero the year before that. From a high of around 50 kids in the program during the 2011-12 season, the head count had dropped to about 30.

Coming off last year’s turning point 4-4 season, Tassone has managed to add 10 more players to the roster. But he makes it clear there is still a rough row to hoe in the season ahead.

“The big challenge is a lack of experience on the offensive side of the ball,” he said. “The positive is that our offensive line is all coming back, but we did lose two starters. We got a first year quarterback who is a junior, we lost our leading wide receiver. But we got a new transfer in, a running back. We got some basketball guys coming to play some skill positions, so offensively we’ll be fine.

“Our defense is loaded. We have 7-8 returning guys, we are going to put in some good athletes around them, so defensively we should be better than we were last year.”

Kennedy Catholic Athletic Director Dominick Tassone

Kennedy Catholic Athletic Director Dominick Tassone

The Gaels play in the Catholic High School Football League of Metropolitan New York, which Tassone describes cheerlessly as a “gauntlet.”

“It’s the best league in the state,” he explains. “Every week you are traveling to different boroughs, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Queens, Long Island. So you are on the road a lot, you’re not just facing Westchester. Every week, we’re going to see someone from a different area, ready to beat up on us.”

It’s a familiar kind of bruising for Tassone, as the coach grew up in the Catholic League. Raised on Long Island, he went to Holy Trinity in Hicksville as a student. Later on, Tassone coached at that school, before making the move down to Southeast High School in Bradenton, Florida. Last year he jumped at the chance to come back home.

Over the summer, Kennedy tapped Football Coach Tassone to be new Athletic Director Tassone. When he began to broaden his horizons to meet his new responsibilities, the newly-minted AD liked what he saw.

“Our varsity teams are tremendous!” Tassone said. “Girls’ soccer, boys’ soccer, they are always making deep runs into the playoffs and the state championships. Baseball won the league this year, lacrosse made it to the state finals, won the city championship. Volleyball has been tremendous. So as far as those programs go, we are doing pretty well.”

Even though there is no chess team at Kennedy, Tassone knows he needs to play several moves ahead if the Kennedy varsity squads are going to enjoy continued success past the unforgiving grinder of graduation. Right now, the JV and frosh teams, where they even exist, are a little light in the roster.

The coach reveals that the secret to swelling ranks in a high school sports roster is sincerity.

“As long as the kids know that you care about them, they are going to buy in,” Tassone told The Gael. “If they think you are in it for yourself or some other reason, it’s not going to work. If the kids can see that the coaches are all in, that the school is all in, then it’s something they will buy into.”

The new AD figures his recruiting efforts will get a boost in the wake of the football team’s scheduled trip to Sarasota, Florida. The Kennedy Gaels will take on the Out of Door Academy Thunder on October 13 in a game Tassone set up through his network of Sunshine State coaching colleagues.

“I reached out to a connection I had, and they were loving the idea of having a New York team come down there,” Tassone said. “It just worked out. Fr. Vaillancourt thought the idea was a home run, so we just went ahead and did it. The parents were one hundred percent on board, so we are looking forward to a nice road trip.”

Since becoming athletic director, Tassone has become very active working with the Admissions Department in the recruitment of new Kennedy students. To hear him tell it, it’s not the toughest part of his day.

“As far as a sales pitch, almost all our sports speak for themselves,” he said. “Softball, lacrosse, baseball, volleyball, basketball: All teams playing in championships within the last couple of years. Football’s on the rise. I talk about our facilities, we got top notch fields, we got two football fields, two soccer fields, two lacrosse fields, that’s a big deal. Many schools don’t even have one. Our softball field is beautiful, we just got the brand new scoreboard, our baseball field is by far the best in the league, we got the nicest gym in the league… so I just stress our facilities.”

Those new facilities are lit! – literally, as of later this season. Brand new field lights will illuminate the gridiron when Kennedy Catholic ushers in a new era with Friday night football. Tassone hopes that alumni will use the night games to reconnect with other grads and the school over tailgate parties.

“Everybody loves it, we did it last year for Homecoming, and the whole school came out for it,” he enthused. “Great atmosphere. It changes the culture of the school.”

…but not nearly as much as the new athletic director is changing it. This year the coaching staff is initiating what Tassone calls the “academic playbook.” Athletes will be required to fill it out with all their test scores and homework grades and have it signed by their coach. If the coaches see that the player’s scores are sagging, they will ensure the student receives extra help.

“These kids have to be held accountable, and they are expected to be able to perform in the classroom – number one! – and out on the field. We cannot allow academics to take a back seat, it is just not in our DNA. It’s academics first. We promote the scholar athlete, not just the student athlete.

“That’s another thing we use to attract talent here. We tell the kids, ‘You will be getting a top notch education and playing in a great program!’”

l. to r.: Ayden Sanchez '20, Athletic Director Dom Tassone, Mikeala Jennings '20 and Katelyn Agro '18

l. to r.: Ayden Sanchez ’20, Athletic Director Dom Tassone, Mikeala Jennings ’20 and Katelyn Agro ’18

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y Courtney Manbeck ’18 & Julianna Montuoro ’17

Tennis has making improvements year after year at Kennedy

This season for the Girls Varsity Tennis Team was full of accomplishments and victory. The season began with the introduction of several new teammates, both freshmen and upperclassmen alike. The team welcomes new girls with open arms, ready to assist them in becoming skilled players. Daily practices from late August to mid-October improved all players’ skills and brought the team closer together. The team bonded and really got to know each other better, on and off the court.

The team was led by senior Juliana Montuoro. Although the team suffered a loss when she transferred schools at the very end of the season, she supported the team by boosting team spirit and coming to the games, even when she wasn’t feeling well. Freshman Victoria Kleinschmidt claimed the spot as first singles player and consistently won most of her matches against difficult opponents. Sofia Valente acted as a manager for the team, organizing and setting up events such as a celebration for the graduating seniors. All of the girls on the team did their best to do well in their games and be kind to their teammates.

Coach Joe Melian returned for his third year coaching the team. Even after the season finished, he still had plans for the team. There is a possibility that he will create a program that will allow the girl and boy tennis teams to play together in the spring.

The team was able to finish extremely well, losing to only one school in the entire league. It is highly likely that the team might be able participate in the championship league next season. This year’s season ended on a high note, continuing the growth of Kennedy’s tennis program. The team hopes to continue their success in the next season.

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Kennedy’s 2016 Volleyball Season Recap: by Hannah Langley ’17


Members of the 2016 team with Coach Santora

The end of Fall sports at Kennedy Catholic means the end to a great season by the freshmen, junior varsity, and varsity volleyball teams. The junior varsity and varsity teams both had extremely successful seasons, winning nearly all of their games. The JV team had a record of 13-1, and the varsity team finished with an undefeated record of 15-0. Home games were made more entertaining this year as the wins racked up and as fans filled the bleachers to support the girls. The combination of athletic abilities and teamwork amongst the girls on the court proved to be a recipe for success.


A member of the team soars above the net to block the ball

Unfortunately, not all great seasons end as well as their teams had hoped. Although the varsity team went undefeated during the regulated season, they lost in the first round of playoffs in a heartbreaking and fierce game against Preston. The JV team found more success in playoffs, winning the Division Championships. They lost the City Championship game in a competitive game against Archbishop Malloy. Overall, both teams had amazing seasons and should be proud of their accomplishments.

The girls faced many challenges, but in the end, they accomplished winning seasons that they should be extremely proud of, knowing deep down that they played their absolute best! Kennedy Catholic has surely proven to be a force to be reckoned with in the Catholic League when it comes to volleyball, and the program will hopefully continue to grow as time passes. As a senior on the varsity team, I feel fortunate that I was able to experience such a successful season.

Good luck to the teams next year, and here’s hoping for bigger and better things to come!


You can read more about the girls volleyball team by scrolling through their team’s twitter feed below.


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Ribbon Cutting for the New Track: By Chiara Calov ’18


Father Vaillancourt Cuts the Ribbon on the New Track

The Kennedy Catholic community came together at the first K-Fest celebration on the weekend of April 23rd, to celebrate two days of social events and sports games. To kick off the jamboree, Father Vaillancourt, along with various students, parents, and family members of Kennedy, cut the ribbon to open the newly-renovated, state-of-the-art, 400-meter track. At 7 am, crowds joined to walk a mile around the track, in honor of Sister Barbara. During the week prior to K-fest, Kennedy students received monetary pledges to raise donations that will go towards a restoration of the prayer Grotto in the front of the Kennedy property. The Grotto will also be in recognition and commemoration of Sister Barbara.


Senior Rebecca O’Callaghan passes the baton to Sister Janet

The opening of this new track symbolizes an era of progress within Kennedy Catholic. From the first track team to the current one, led by senior captains Kenny Brown and Rebecca O’Callaghan, the spirit and passion for running has been kept alive. Not only will the track team have the opportunity to feel at home with their gorgeous facility, but other sports team athletes will have the ability to make use of the area. The track is simply another great addition to the beautiful Kennedy campus, and a visual depicting the unity and contributions of the Kennedy Catholic population.

Thank you to all those who assisted in the coming-to of this track, and to those who came out to the honorary opening and walk-a-thon.

To see more pictures, visit our Online Gallery. Pictures are also available for download for a period of time on our PIXIESET account.

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Boys lacrosse looks to continue their winning ways: by Nico Quartironi ’17


Team Captains – The Seniors – 2016 Lax

Spring has officially arrived bringing nice weather, wearing of school polos and most importantly, the start of another promising season for the Kennedy Catholic Men’s Lacrosse Team. Despite having lost “the core four” group of talented seniors, who led last year’s team to an outstanding and extremely thrilling New York Class A State Championship Title, this year’s team is looking to step up and follow in the footsteps of the 2015 team.


Number 14 carries the ball down field looking to pass.

“Buy into the package.” A phrase often spoken by the one of the team’s head coaches Vin Savastano, might be a major key for unlocking success in these upcoming months. The essential aspect of victory is pulling everyone’s individual strengths together to create an unstoppable army. Lacrosse is a sport defined by teamwork and cooperation. This allows for great plays to be executed —whether it be a save by the goalie which is then dumped off to a freshman midfielder who then passes it to a senior captain for a goal, which is what exactly occurred during the final 2.9 seconds of last year’s City Championship match, or whether it be a simple communication on defense to shut down the opposing team. This year’s team  has already seen great improvements, including cohesiveness and a strong, “family-like” bond which will only mature further as the season progresses.


Defensiveman, number 1, looks to pass the ball downfield.

This season, there are some major match-ups that stand out to our team. Archbishop Stepinac has been a constant rival of Kennedy, each and every year, and after an electrifying victory on our home turf last season, the clash between the teams is intense. Another opponent that the entire Kennedy community is sure to anticipate is St. Mary’s of Long Island. Last time the boys played this team was when they defeated them 15-1 in the epic State Championship Game last year. However the zenith of the season, quite possibly the most crucial game of the fifteen game schedule, will be Saturday April 30th, when Kennedy’s army takes on their archenemy and most significant adversary, Monsignor Farrell of Staten Island. The battlefront of the contending teams will be played on the KCHS home turf and will be a critical factor for the forthcoming postseason. It will also act as a benchmark to determine the level of growth, skill, and teamwork which the team has developed each and every day of the season. A win against Farrell will put the Kennedy team on track for yet another championship title.

Number 36 looks to score on the opposing team

With the leadership of captains Alex Souza (Attack), Al Cantarella (Defense), Brian Devey (Goalie), and Nico Quartironi (Defense) combined with the supervision and coaching of the Savastano brothers and assistant James Wilson, each player is sure to work hard as a powerful, unified team. Another promising season looks upon the Kennedy Catholic Lacrosse Team, a season that will hopefully end with the raising of another State Championship plaque.

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Girls Lacrosse Starts 2016 Season Off on the Right Foot: By Rebecca O’Callaghan ’16

Coach Matthew Tieber has led the ladies to a 6-0 start for the 2016 season.

Coach Matthew Tieber has led the ladies to a 6-0 start for the 2016 season.

Kennedy Catholic Girls Lacrosse is starting off to what is sure to be an exciting season. For the first time in the New York Catholic High School Athletic Association‘s history, there is a female lacrosse league. The league consists of eight teams and next year will expand to include the Archdiocese of Brooklyn and Queens. In seasons past, Kennedy girls lacrosse could only participate in tournaments or play friendlies, but this year they have the chance to win titles. The Kennedy Gaels are eager to make the most out of this new opportunity and have set their standards high. Under the leadership of senior captains, Hannah Callaghan, Meghan Dooley, Deirdre Ledley, and Gabriella Vlattas, the team hopes to spearhead a legacy of Kennedy Catholic girls lacrosse with this first season in the league. Coach Matthew Tieber helped form the league and has also set high aspirations for their season. He has stacked the team’s schedule with many crossover  games against teams in Section 1 and the NYSAIS to keep the team ready for tough competition. They are approaching the season focused, determined and aren’t taking anything for granted. This team is certainly one to watch as they begin their journey this spring.


Senior Gabrielle Vlattas runs after the ball to in the Gaels win over Cardinal Spellman

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The Future is Bright for Track and Field: By Rebecca O’Callaghan ’17

The Kennedy Catholic track and field team’s spring season is looking bright. With the addition of their newly renovated, 400 meter track, they are eagerly working hard to reach their new season goals. Under the leadership of senior captains Kenny Brown and Rebecca O’Callaghan, the team aims to improve their times, jumps and win medals in their events. They started off strong at the Iona Prep Developmental and Tusker Twilight Invitational with medals being won by junior Deirdre Kokasko and freshman Kayla Curtin in the triple jump and long jump. Medals were also received by freshman Janine Gayanelo in the discus throw and senior Rebecca O’Callaghan in the 400 and 200 meter dashes. Returning upperclassmen Silvana Acierno, Catherine Brennan and Nick Goebelbecker have also performed well in the beginning meets. With the team being predominantly made up of underclassmen, it is exciting to see what the future holds.  Sophomore Michael L’abbate and freshman Trish Curtin are working hard on improving their miles and are sure to be key components of the team. The assortment of talents on the team has also allowed for great relay teams. Many members of the team have their eyes set on setting new personal records and qualifying for States. The energy throughout the team is definitely one of determination and excitement. Overall, the Kennedy Catholic Gaels are happy that the spring season is upon them and are practicing hard in anticipation for their CHSAA championships in May.


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Girls Volleyball Has Another Successful Season: By Annie Burns

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Vote for David Keogh – Kennedy’s Heart of a Giant!

David KeoghThe Heart of a Giant program, sponsored by USA Football and the Hospital for Special Surgery, recognizes and rewards Tri-State area (NY, NJ, CT) high school football players who demonstrate unparalleled work ethic and passion for the game.  Our own Kennedy Junior QB David Keogh has been selected as a week 1 nominee and is competing against 9 other players for on-line votes and the opportunity to go own to the next level of the competition.  The grand prize winner is recognized on the field at a home Giants game and receives $5,000 in sports equipment for his high school.

We need everyone to vote for David as often as you can through November 11th.  Share this link with others willing to vote.

Click here, select Week 1 and scroll to the bottom for David’s picture to submit your vote.

Vote 1 time every day on each device (e.g., phone, ipad, laptop, etc.)