St. Peter's announced the formation of a new baseball team for its seventh and eighth-grade male students. Joining the Nassau/Suffolk Catholic Middle School League, the new St. Peter's Blue Angels team is made up of 16 enthusiastic hard-ball baseball players, led by third generation St. Peter's alumni and accomplished baseball champion Coach John Slaney. John's father Robert, also a St. Peter's graduate and recent retiree from UPS, is serving as assistant coach.
Formed just four years ago, the Nassau/Suffolk Catholic Middle School League was the dream of Coach Frank Keating of St. Agnes Grammar School, whose goal was to revamp the grammar school Catholic baseball league. Adding the newly-formed Blue Angels to its roster in 2008, the league has steadily grown from eight to 13 teams, with further growth expected.
"We are thrilled that our boys are enjoying the opportunity to play in this highly organized league," said St. Peter's Principal Sean O'Connell. "These students work very hard on and off the field, making their fellow classmates, families and community very proud. It's really wonderful for them to have this additional outlet for them to enjoy. Coach John Slaney and his father are clearly devoted. Every boy is getting the chance to perfect their game, continuously challenged and inspired by these two accomplished athletes."
The Blue Angels have played two games already this season. Practice takes place twice a week at Lions Field, with games spread out across the week. Home games are played at Tully Park, near the Denton Avenue Pool in New Hyde Park.
Already known for working the athletes hard, Coach John Slaney knows how to balance the experience with fun. His strategic abilities and competitive spirit are evident, and the boys adore him. Coach John stresses teamwork, and teaching the ball players how to run and throw, and most of all, play as a team. He makes sure that every child plays and has fun. Before each game, the team huddles in prayer, and in unison, asks Our Lady of Victory to "Pray for us!"
"I am deeply honored St. Peter's chose me to lead these great kids," said Coach Slaney. "In addition to my own remarkable dad, I also have to credit Mike Ajello, who believed in me and recommended me for the position. (Mike's son Greg Ajello is a fifth-grader at St. Peter's. His older son Michael is a graduate of Chaminade; and now at Providence College.)
Born and raised in Port Washington, Coach John Slaney graduated from Kellenberg in 2005. He attended Florida Southern College, a Division II baseball school, with the hope of playing baseball there. Coach John sustained a shoulder injury during a football game that prevented him from competing there. He has now rechanneled his abilities and love for the game, finding fulfillment in coaching.
"I hope to share all that I have learned with young people; as so many great coaches have taught me the great game of baseball," said Coach John. "I have to thank Coach Jim Cosilito, Coach Many Alas, Coach John Mehan and Coach Al Duranti. They taught me that it's all about developing young kids into great ballplayers, and carrying their development and achievements forward," he stressed.