Rockaway players homeless

The homes of Brooklyn’s Fontbonne Hall Academy volleyball players were burned or flooded by Hurricane Sandy. Most of the players lived in Breezy Point or Belle Harbor. Photo by Christina Santucci
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The damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in the Rockaways forced nearly the entire Fontbonne Hall varsity girls’ volleyball team, including Coach Linda Strong, to leave their homes and almost cost them their season.

The players were called in Monday by Principal Sister Dolores Crepeau and given the option to continue or not. They unanimously decided to play its CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Division I semifinal against Archbishop Molloy on Wednesday at St. Francis Prep.

“Emotionally each girl is dealing with a different tragedy,“ Athletic Director Donna Schirripa said. “That can be a good thing on the court or it can become a disaster, but they all felt this was something they needed to do. This is their first step forward.”

Only one player from the 11-member team from the Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, school does not live in the Breezy Point-Belle Harbor area. Strong and junior Casey McDade had their houses burn down and the rest were flooded or evacuated. It left them living with family and friends throughout the area.

“We just want to go home,” said junior captain Kristin Sullivan, who is staying with the family of varsity basketball Coach Steve Oliver. “Breezy is such a close community and we all love each other.”

Strong and Schirripa left the decision to continue their season solely with the players. Uniforms were thought to be an issue, but Schirripa said only one or two girls lost their entire uniform. They will be asked to share a uniform with a JV player or use a sample uniform with a taped-on number.

Continuing the season was not a priority initially after the loss of so many homes. The McDades lived on Beach 130th Street where 16 houses burned to the ground, just 200 yards from where American Airlines Flight 587 crashed in 2001. The family had to evacuate using surfboards and a kayak. They are living with family in Rockville Centre, L.I., in a one-bathroom house that now has 10 people in it. Finding a new permanent place to live has not been easy.

“Every place we call for a rental is taken,” Amy McDade, Casey’s mom, said. “We don’t know where we are going to go.”

The volleyball team was not the only one affected. Families of soccer players Cindy Henderson, Kristen Corral and Brittany Scheriff were also flooded out of their homes, according to Coach Victor Popovsky. The soccer team’s playoffs continue Thursday with a semifinal game against Mary Louis. He said a win would be a positive thing for everyone.

“For my girls from Breezy Point, that would be such a nice present,” Popovsky said.

The girls kept in touch through Facebook and social media in the days following the Hurricane. The captains talked about trying to fund-raise in some way to help McDade, Strong and the rest of the community. Until then, they are finding comfort in each other.

“I just want to be with my friends right now,” Sullivan said. “We are all scattered everywhere.”

Reach reporter Joseph Staszewski at Follow him on twitter @cng_staszewski.

Updated 8:10 pm, November 7, 2012
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