By Jerry Lee / Advance Special
It is never easy to retire from a coaching position after spending countless hours studying, learning, improving and building a reputation for being one of the best in the area. … Especially when you are still very good at it.
It’s downright hard to say you’re going to stop doing something you love to do.
Virginia Mayrose was only the last coach to find out when she announced she was stepping down as the St. Joseph Hill volleyball coach.
“I struggled with this for a long time,” said the Castleton Corners resident.
Mayrose had actually talked about making the 2020 season her swan song and a year of transition for longtime JV coach Jenna Itri, but then Covid-19 changed the landscape.
“The fall season kept getting pushed back and it was finally obvious there wouldn’t be any,” said Mayrose. “At that point, I started to wonder if I was sticking to the plan and retiring or leaving for another year? Guess I was looking for a sign… but maybe the pandemic was a sign? It was not easy to decide to leave.
In fact, Mayrose wasn’t even 100% sure a few hours before her program’s senior night celebration last week. It turned out to be a very appropriate place to announce her decision – a decision made a little easier when she learned Itri would be enrolling in medical school and not coming back.
“We’ve had these playoff team gatherings since I started the program,” Mayrose said. “I especially wanted to honor the seniors. They haven’t had their last year; didn’t get the way they wanted… and neither did I.
“I feel like I love coaching, but I think it’s time to have the freedom to be with my family (she and her husband Ed have five children) whenever I want.”
ONLY VOLLEYBALL COACH HILL HAS KNOWN
Mayrose is the only coach the program has seen since the sport began in 2003 at Hill. Mayrose taught and coached at Bishop Ford in Brooklyn for eight years before coming to Hill where she coached several sports including softball where she won three division titles and a diocesan championship. But she never coached volleyball. SUNY Cortlandt’s major in physical education never stopped her from achieving excellence.
“I think my physical education training at Cortlandt provided me with the knowledge to coach, how to break down skills, how to organize a practice,” Mayrose said. “Coaching is more than X’s and Bones; it is equally important to bring different personalities to work together.
The X’s and Bones she gleaned in several ways.
“I just challenged myself to learn the game,” she said. “I went to clinics, to camps where I watched other coaches do exercises and teach skills. I attended college training, picked out other people’s brains, researched, studied… everything to improve my understanding of the game. “
Hill’s success did not come overnight. It was a process.
“The rest of the city’s ACSHC volleyball teams were so far ahead of us on the Island in both skill and the way they played the game,” said Mayrose. “We had a playoff game at Hill in 2007 and I saw the way these teams were playing and it was a different level. We were just learning to do basic games and that inspired me to make sure we were learning to play the game well. ”
Two years later, Hill won his first championship, and then, in 2010, Mayrose led his team to the first-ever playoff victory in SI history. The Hilltoppers have finally reached the Archdiocese playoff finals.
The 2009 title started an incredible run until 2015 when Hill won the Island Championship every year, remaining undefeated in the last five. Overall, the program’s league record over those seven years was a remarkable 67-2.
Mayrose will walk away with nearly 200 career wins – far more than any other SI coach or program has accomplished. She helped Hill raise the bar for all PEI teams.
In fact, a local trainer was quoted in an Advance article saying, “She pushed us all to improve. We take our hat off to him and understand the work we need to do to reach that level. “
Janice Phillips, Hill’s longtime athletic director and head of the physical education department, with whom Mayrose worked side-by-side as a teacher-teacher and then as an AD assistant, said her colleague “has does whatever it takes to develop as a coach and the program as well as the sport. There was no feeding schedule, so she knew she had to create one.
Mayrose has organized summer camps for high school players and sponsored clinics for elementary school students. She recommended her players attend camps during the offseason and attended as well as she learned and took notes to bring back to the Hill program. “She worked hard to improve and learn,” Phillips said. “She created great teams and a great program, but also developed teamwork and camaraderie among her players.”
Players she loved and who loved her in return.
“You are the reason I was able to push myself to be a better player and you not only made our team but also the program in general to an incredible level,” said Kristen Luisi (class of 2010). , Hill’s first Advance All. Star and captain of the school’s first championship team.
Another Advance All Star and three-time Island Champion Victoria Procopio (2011), who also returned to Hill as a JV coach, said this about Mayrose. “You showed me the importance of a work ethic in training, how important respect is when it comes to teammates and coaches. You have shown me how crucial it is to stay focused but still incorporate fun into what I do and that it is perfectly fine to smile and be serious at the same time.
It surely wouldn’t have come as a surprise to any of her former players or any of her colleagues that Mayrose was elected to the Brooklyn-Queens CHSAA Hall of Fame in 2019. The induction ceremony and dinner have been postponed indefinitely due to the pandemic. It will eventually happen for real.
SHE WILL MISS TO GO TO THE GYM FOR TRAINING
What will not happen to Mayrose, who has been the dean of the students for a few years, is the practices or the matches.
“I’m going to miss coming to the gym after school to work out,” Mayrose said. “The workouts were the best because that’s where the real teaching takes place and I loved sailing everything and then the games bring it all together. Obviously I’ll miss everything, but I’m happy with my decision. “
And while Hill’s new AD Lisa BiFalco will no doubt ask for Mayrose’s help in finding her replacement, the old AD has put it all in perspective.
“Hill was lucky to have her as a volleyball coach for so many years,” said Phillips.