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Liccese, longtime coach at Our Lady of Lourdes, dies

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They arrived in droves, basketball coaches and players from all around to remember Ron Liccese, a longtime CYO coach who died March 2 from complications from diabetes at Flushing Hospital Medical Center. He was 55.

At a packed Our Lady of Lourdes in Queens Village Friday was legendary St. John’s coach Lou Carnesecca, former Christ the King coach Vinny Cannizaro, Hofstra coach Tom Pecora and Queens College coach Kyrk Peponakis all to pay their respects to a man who dedicated his life to coaching basketball.

Liccese, who coached basketball at Our Lady of Lourdes for more than 20 years, was waked at Stutzmann Funeral Home in Queens Village last Thursday where floral arrangements signified some of his passions — the Philadelphia Eagles, basketball and cigars.

An estimated 1,000 people attended.

“He went out with a bang,” said Liccese’s younger sister Marilyn. “It was so nice to know that he touched so many lives. He never had a bad word to say about anybody.”

Liccese, an Air Force veteran who was stationed in Thailand for three and a half years during the Vietnam War, was buried with full military honors at Calverton National Cemetery in Suffolk County.

In addition to running the Basketball Tech summer camp out of Our Lady of Lourdes, Liccese also was an assistant coach for the Cathedral Prep freshman basketball team and last year was an assistant coach with the Mary Louis varsity team before spending almost the entire year in the hospital.

“He always had an anecdote, a little story,” said Mary Louis coach Joe Lewinger. “He had a way of speaking that put a smile on everyone’s face and at the same time delivered a message.”

Liccese’s love for food was surpassed only by his love of coaching and talking basketball.

“You would wind up sitting at the diner, the waiter’s trying to kick you out and you realize you haven’t touched your food in about 45 minutes because of all the stories he had,” Lewinger said.

Peponakis said Liccese, who was his sixth-grade coach at Our Lady of Lourdes, got him interested in coaching.

“I wish he had the opportunity to work with me because I think he would have loved that level,” Peponakis said. “But to me, he fit right where he was. He was great at teaching kids. He liked them and they liked him. If someone was meant to do something, he was meant to do that.”

According to Frank DeLuca, the Athletic Director of Basketball at Our Lady of Lourdes, plans are in the works to rename the school’s bantam boys tournament in December after Liccese.

“Probably without Ronnie the sports program at Our Lady of Lourdes wouldn’t be around,” DeLuca said. “He would coach two, three teams at times just to make sure the kids would have a coach.”

Former Mary Louis standout Donna Lohrey, a sophomore at Molloy College, attended Liccese’s summer camp when she was 11.

“He was probably the most intense coach I ever met. He would yell and scream but it was always positive,” Lohrey said. “He was intense to the point of being funny. He made the girls laugh.”

Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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