Molloy makes controversial choice for girls’ hoops coach

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Despite having led the Archbishop Molloy girls' basketball team to its best season ever, Dom Cecala will not return as head coach next year. Tom Catalanotto, an assistant at The Mary Louis Academy, will coach the Stanners next season, Molloy Athletic Director Mike McCleary told the TimesLedger.

"He's been interested in the job each time it's been open," McCleary said of Catalanotto, a Molloy graduate and former JV coach at the school. "He's shown a lot of passion for the job and for Molloy...We felt that Tom brings the most to the table for us at this time."

Catalanotto will meet with Bro. Roy George, Molloy's principal, and afterward he will officially be named head coach of the eight-year-old program.

"I'm very happy," Catalanotto said. "I'm happy for the opportunity and I'm very grateful. I know I'll do a good job. I'm confident."

Catalanotto is a 1975 Molloy graduate, his son, Tom, played baseball at Molloy and his wife, Nancy, works there as an assistant to Molloy president, John Sherry. Catalanotto was an assistant coach for the first three years of the varsity girls' program at Molloy before serving as an assistant at Francis Lewis HS for two years and the last two years at Mary Louis.

"Molloy has always been very special to me," Catalanotto said. "It was tough going there as the opposition."

Cecala, on the other hand, was disappointed with the decision. While still coaching his JV team, he took over the varsity Jan. 17 when John McGlynn resigned. Under Cecala's leadership, the Stanners snapped Christ the King's eight-year CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens regular-season winning streak Feb. 9 and two months later became the first team to end CK's 23-year reign as Brooklyn/Queens champion. Cecala also coached Molloy's JV team to a city championship.

"I guess nothing really made a difference after all," Cecala said.

He interviewed with McCleary about six weeks ago, Cecala said, and Tuesday morning McCleary called to say he wouldn't be getting the job. Later Tuesday afternoon, Cecala went to Molloy and resigned from his job as JV coach.

"I have no problem with Molloy," said Cecala, who graduated from the school in 1997. "I love those kids. They mean a lot to me and so does the building."

Sources told the TimesLedger McCleary chose between five candidates: Cecala, Catalanotto, Kevin White Dawn Gorynski and John Lipari. White is the father of Kerri White, one of Molloy's graduating seniors, and also the head of the NYC Heat AAU program. Gorynski is a math teacher at Molloy, the current assistant girls' basketball coach at Manhasset HS and a former St. Francis Prep standout. Lipari is an assistant coach at Holy Trinity HS on Long Island and coaches with the Long Island Lightning AAU team. Cecala runs his own AAU program, the Xplosion.

Catalanotto also coaches with the NYC Heat and previously worked with the Liberty Belles. Catalanotto will be the fourth Molloy girls' basketball coach in four years and third in five months.

"I'm looking forward to it," he said. "There is a lot of talent on the team and some good players on the JV."

Cecala said he wasn't given a reason for the decision.

"To be honest, I didn't even ask," he said. "I was just too disappointed. I didn't even ask."

Updated 6:58 pm, October 10, 2011
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