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Ron’s Day in the Sun

Ron Naclerio got a call a few weeks ago. It was only one of the dozens he gets everyday. But this one hit a nerve. He had heard that a former Cardozo cheerleader was interested in attending the school’s upcoming annual boys’ basketball reunion, but she wasn’t sure if cheerleaders were invited.

The response from Naclerio, the Judges’ longtime coach, was obvious: Of course, they’re invited. Almost everyone is. But his actions didn’t stop at the quick reply. No, that just wouldn’t be Ron Naclerio.

A few days later, he entered the Bayside school in search of yearbooks. Naclerio went back through 30 years of them and wrote down the names of every cheerleader who appeared next to her name in the keepsake. Then, he set out to try and find their addresses, so he could officially mail out invitations to this year’s reunion, which will be held Saturday at noon at PS 46 in Bayside (64-45 218th Street).

“It’s gotten to the point where it’s almost like a job now,” Naclerio said.

The coach says that he’s sent out over 800 parcels of mail to alumni, members of the Cardozo community and friends of the program.

“He’s an amazing human being,” said Steve DeMeo, one of Naclerio’s former players and the former associate head coach at Providence College. “He sacrifices his time for nothing in return.”

Naclerio says he has spent 20 to 30 hours a week planning the reunion since April. And it could be one of the best yet. This year’s highlight: T-shirts have been printed with the names of every player who has ever donned the Cardozo uniform since 1981, when he started as head coach, and some from even before that.

Cardozo’s three NBA alums – Rafer Alston, Royal Ivey and Duane Causwell – are all expected to show up and Naclerio, who will be getting his own reality show on SNY in the fall, says he’ll spend some time on the mic introducing people.

In other words, be prepared for the usual, unpredictable Naclerio hijinx.

“He’s so dedicated, people think he’s crazy,” said Reynaldo Walters, a sophomore basketball player at Cardozo. “That’s why he sticks out so much, people see this crazy white guy walking around.”

If it rains Saturday, the festivities will head inside the Cardozo gymnasium. There will also be an after-party at The Plaza Lounge at 29-30 30th Ave in Astoria, a restaurant and bar owned by former Cardozo player Anthony Maminakis. During the day, Positive Direction, the AAU program that longtime Judges assistant coach Billy Medley works with, will provide the food.

“That’s all [Naclerio] talks about right now,” Walters said of the reunion. “If you don’t go, he’ll kill you.”

Reach Associate Sports Editor Marc Raimondi by e-mail at mraimondi@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 130.

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