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Archbishop Molloy girls’ basketball parents are looking for answers from the school after varsity coach Tom Catalanotto was unceremoniously dismissed Friday. Many of them planned to go to the school in an attempt to get them.
“We didn’t see this coming,” said Anna Dietrich, mother of rising junior guard Alexa “Weazel” Dietrich. “The kids are very upset. They are still upset .… It’s just sad the way they did it.”
The school has been tight-lipped about any details as to why the third-year head coach was not retained after leading a sophomore-laden team to the state Federation Class A title in March. Athletic director Mike McCleary said it was “an administrative decision” Friday afternoon. Catalanotto has declined comment.
First-year President Richard Karsten and Principal Brother Thomas Schady issued a joint statement via e-mail Saturday:
“We appreciate everything Tom has done for our girls basketball team, and we wish him the best in all his future activities. These are always difficult decisions. However, we believe it was time for a new direction in the best interest of our students and our athletic program. This matter was discussed in detail with Mr. Catalanotto and we are respecting his right to privacy. No additional comment will be made at this time.”
Parents said they have yet to be contacted by the school, despite sending e-mails and letters to administrators. Phillip Dietrich, Alexa’s father, said he went to Molloy Friday around noon and waited an hour, but was told that Karsten and Schady were in a meeting together. Karsten’s daughter, Kayla, was a reserve on last year’s squad and will be a senior next season. His older daughter Julia played under Catalanotto during his first year at the helm.
“I think we deserve to know what happened,” said Audrey Tatum, mother of rising junior guard Amani Tatum. “I think we deserved to know at least what the reason is. Will this happen again next year?”
The program’s instability and the uncertainly of who will take over has them concerned. The next coach will be the program’s fourth in the last four years. Dom Cecala, now the junior varsity coach at Christ the King, was not asked back after taking over after John McGlynn resigned in mid-January of 2008. That season, Cecala won the school’s first CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens title and ended CK’s reign of 23 straight crowns.
“You know what the bad part is,” Philip Dietrich said. “We don’t know what we are getting now. It’s junior year. It’s the most important year for these girls.”
The Stanners boast a roster that will include six players entering their junior year, considered integral in terms of the recruiting process. Four of those players, including Tatum and Dietrich, are on Catalanotto’s NYC Lady Bulldogs travel team, which played at Island Garden Friday night.
“The situation is unfair,” Amani Tatum said. “Mr. C has been nothing but good to us and he will truly be missed as a coach and male role model in my life. Right now, I’m living by the quote that things always get worse before they get better. This is another mountain we are stepping over as a team.”
The team’s current parents talk about Catalanotto, who had an uneven first two seasons and two heated outbursts at games this year, as someone who has always gone above and beyond for their daughters. Catalanotto, a Molloy alumnus and former varsity assistant coach, always spoke highly of the school and its family atmosphere. They would like to hear from the school why he will no longer be on the Stanners bench.
“It must be something big for them to let him go, right?” Anna Dietrich said. “I don’t know. Why would they let go of a coach like Tom?”
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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