On April 24, St. Peter's CYO will honor Tom ("Pitch") Piccininni at the Huntington Town House. Pitch will join a growing list of individuals that contributed so significantly to the CYO program. The past honorees were:
1994 - Father Richard Henning
1995 - Tom Robertson
1996 - John Fitzgerald
1997 - Robert McLean
Anyone interested in attending this wonderful event should contact either Manny Alas (767-9032) or Anthony Silva (484-5449). The price of $70 per person will provide an evening of dinner and dancing. Proceeds from the event will benefit CYO of Nassau and Suffolk Counties - the self-supporting entity that services 20,000 children whoparticipate in CYO sports on Long Island. We hope that all coaches, friends and supporters of St. Peter's CYO will make every effort to attend this gala event.
A Bio of Tom "Pitch" Piccininni
It was obvious at a very young age that Tom "Pitch" Piccininni would always have a ball in his hand. Growing up as a student of St. Patrick's Elementary School in Long Island City it is for sure there was a pair of sneakers hidden under his altar boy gown for a quick change after mass. Whether it was a baseball, football or basketball his parents barely saw him after school; at suppertime as he ran in the door, and as fast as he could eat, back out to continue a game. He attended Bishop Loughlin High School where he played basketball and after serving two years in the Marine Corp he continued his education in North Carolina. At Edwards Military Institute and Elon College he received his teaching degree in physical education while playing baseball and basketball on a full scholarship. He received EMI's Most Valuable Athlete Award.
In 1964, Pitch's teaching and coaching were immediately realized through the New York City Boys' Club on the Lower East Side of Manhattan where he obtained invaluable experience of working with inner-city children in a recreational setting and at the same time worked as a substitute teacher in the South Bronx. While waiting for his full-time assignment with the NYC Board of Ed, he accepted a teaching position at St. Peter's Catholic High School in Saratoga Springs for one year where he taught physical education, biology and coached the school's football, softball and baseball teams.
In September 1965, he was assigned to a newly built junior high school in the South Bronx. At the same time he worked as a recreational director in the NYC Community Center Program in Queens and was head coach of the Long Island City High School girls' softball team. His summers were spent working baseball and basketball camps at St. John's, West Point military Academy and LU-HI Summer Programs. In 1994 upon his retirement from his Bronx school, he was bestowed the honor of naming the gymnasium after him.
All through his years as a professional teacher and coach, he was always involved in sports on a personal level. At times he played in as many as four basketball, softball, baseball or football leagues including CYO in a single season. Half of his dates with his wife Sandie of 25 years was going to his games. It was only natural when Pitch's children, Philip and Madalena, were old enough, they too would become involved in sports. Tom immediately became involved in PYA, PAL and the Pt. Washington Junior Soccer League. When his children started St. Peter's School, Tom volunteered to coach CYO boys basketball. He had devoted his life to teaching and coaching, and through his own children, this was full circle. In many ways it was time to give back what CYO and sports had given to him in a very special way. It was also a time when he met a very extraordinary man, Mr. John Fitzgerald who dedicated himself to the St. Peter's CYO Program and its children. Under John's leadership, quickly Tom not only volunteered his time in coaching, but tried to lend his assistance to Mr. Fitzgerald wherever he could to help improve and administer the St. Peter's CYO Program. He was the first coach to start a basketball clinic for third and fourth graders in preparation for fifth grade CYO competition. During this period, he was offered the position of head coach of women's softball at St. John's University, but refused because he felt that the commitment would be a personal sacrifice to his family and volunteer responsibilities. Tom has served the St. Pater's CYO Program for more than 15 years as coach, acting coordinator, and advisor and has seen the benefits served to the thousands of children who play CYO sports each year. The program has grown as fast as the need for positive, healthy activities for young people today and CYO and its coaches is one way to fulfill this tremendous necessity.
Although Tom is retired, he continues to be active through his part-time position at LI Lutheran High School as physical education teacher, coach and middle school athletic director. His summers are spent as co-director of the LU-HI Baseball Summer Camp for more than 18 years. His children played CYO basketball throughout high school. Philip, a three-year high school varsity basketball player for LI Lutheran High School, twice State Champs; Madalena is a four-year varsity basketball player at Lutheran winning four league championships and a State Semi-Final. Philip continued to Division II Keene State College and Madalena will play for Molloy College in Rockville Centre on a full scholarship this September.
Tom Piccininni is the consummate teacher, coach and role model. Each year he returns to his Bronx school which annually awards the Tom "Pitch" Piccininni Physical Education Award to a deserving student. It states: "In honor of a teacher who 'cared' to make a difference and who embodied the true spirit of athletic competition, leadership, dedication, teamwork, integrity, loyalty and sportsmanship."