MARC MY WORDS: Former STAC coach ready to receive hall of fame adulation

Possinger earns special acclaim in Sullivan County

BY MARC MATURO

Dave Possinger, basketball lifer, is adding another laurel to an impressive resume this weekend.

Possinger, who forged an outstanding career as the men’s basketball coach at St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkill, will be accorded Hall of Fame status on March 13 – not at STAC (only alumni are eligible), where he piled up the most wins in the decade of the 80’s of any coach at a four-year program, but at Sullivan County Community College, where he compiled an astounding 133-5 mark in four years.

The Hall of Fame ceremonies at the college in Loch Sheldrake, which will be attended by Possinger’s wife, Arlene, and friends from Rockland and Sullivan, will be capped on March 14 with a 20-year reunion of the 1995 national championship team. Possinger, by the way, turns 72 that same day and some members of his 1992 national championship team will also be on hand.

“I’m deeply honored,” Possinger said from Pelham, Ala., where he still is involved in the game (see business card: Dave Possinger, basketball skills specialist).

“This award has to do with numbers, wins and losses (500-118 overall),” continued the Towson State (BS degree) and Morgan State (masters) graduate. “But for me, I want to be remembered for the positive impact I had on young people’s lives. Being in my program not only taught you basketball — the sacrifice, discipline and hard work to be part of a great team — but it also taught them life lessons and gave them the tools to go into society and get gainful employment and be a contributing member. This is far more important than just wins and losses.”

Among those is STAC Hall of Famer James Carter – “Maybe the most famous athlete ever at STAC,” lauded Possinger.

Carter (full name: James Raymond Carter Gaudino) went on to captain the national team representing Puerto Rico in the Olympics, playing against the Dream Team from the U.S. He was also a member of the team that won the gold medal at the 1994 Goodwill Games in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Possinger also mentioned former players Kyle Washington and Ken Tobey.

“They told me they had sons who would be very good, and they were right — Mike Tobey (junior swingman at the University of Virginia) and Curtis Washington (senior forward at George State),” Possinger recalls.

Not to be overlooked is Mike McGuire, who was the athletic trainer at STAC during Possinger’s tenure and who, now as the Generals athletic director, would bring Possinger to Sullivan. “He hired me and then, after I left, he became an elected judge in Sullivan County,” said Possinger, a two-time national coach-of-the-year honoree who also coached at Western Carolina University, Rhode Island College and Northern Montana College.

Upon retirement and relocating to Alabama, Possinger got acquainted with University of Alabama at Birmingham assistant coach Mike Davis, who asked Possinger if he wanted to volunteer as an assistant and perhaps speak at his summer basketball camp. One thing led to another, leading finally to his business that now embraces four girls and eight boys under his tutelage.

The only thing missing, it seems, is entry into STAC’s Spartan Club for his many accomplishments coaching the Spartans during their time in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), recording seven straight 30-win seasons and District 21 titles, and twice being ranked No. 1 in the nation. In his last year at STAC, the Spartans won 38 straight games. At Sullivan, the Generals were ranked No. 1 four times and put together a 68-game undefeated skein

STAGS STOPPED: Fairfield University, which was coming off a sterling 65-57 victory over Niagara as senior Felicia DaCruz of Chestnut Ridge set a season-high with nine assists and just one turnover, was unable to get by defending MAAC champion Marist College, falling 67-50, in a semifinal game in Albany. The Stags end the season with their ninth straight winning season, including the last eight under Coach Joe Frager, who became the first coach in conference history to have eight straight winning records to begin a career.

WHO’S THE GREATEST:   A simple personal post on Facebook two months ago by Suffern native Andre Chiavelli, who was graduated from Spring Valley HS, has mushroomed into something he might never have imagined. “We had 4,000 comments in two weeks … comments and photos, former Spring Valley Tigers coming in,” enthused Chiavelli, a one-time schoolboy captain and all-Conference baseball player at Rockland Community College. Chiavelli’s theme song was, naturally, “Eye of the Tiger,” in deference to his high school teammates. Pictures, articles and comments continued to flow in, generating a page of its own, Rocklands Greatest. Chiavelli, astounded by the response, said this site is the place for Rockland sports. “We have pictures from 1929!” exclaimed Chiavelli, who is now in Houston, Tx. Among those on the site are former NFL stars Seth Joyner (Spring Valley) and Blaise Winter (Tappan Zee). Other familiar names would be Tommy Rowe, Chuck Todd, Pete Cappelo, Jim Rooney, Kurt Lundgren and a bevy of all-state and collegiate players, not to mention softball superstars such as Karl Farina, Skip Feinberg and Ron Malin among many others. Also honored are “Fallen Heroes,” coaches past and present, fans of all ages, cheerleaders, you name the connection to Rockland sports. “Everyone who cares is great, not just if you were a great player,” emphasizes Chiavelli. “We have the power to make the past the present; that’s our mission statement.” Chiavelli expects to put together a monster reunion, an all-sport reunion, perhaps to be held at the Rockland CC Field House. “It’s very viable, it could be huge, with thousands getting together,” concluded Chiavelli. To get involved access: https://www.facebook.com/chiavelliandre

MORAN, MERCY PREVAIL: North Rockland HS alumna Cara Moran of Tomkins Cove picked up her first collegiate victory in goal as the Mercy College women’s lacrosse team routed the University of the District of Columbia, 15-2, on the campus of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Redshirt senior Nicole Kline of Deer Park had four goals on four shots in the first half as the Mavericks improved to 2-1. Mercy is scheduled to return to action on March 14, visiting the Warriors of East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania at 3 p.m.

QUICK HITTERS: North Rockland HS graduate Tom Kelly of Stony Point is a freshman attack on the men’s lacrosse team at Kean (N.J.) University. The Cougars meet FDU-Florham on March 13, and then travel to Virginia Beach, Va., to challenge Skidmore College on March 18. … Junior Nick DiBenedetto of Nanuet, the second of four Cortland relievers, earned the win with one and a third inning of scoreless relief as the Red Dragons beat Stevenson University of Maryland, 7-5, in the first game of a doubleheader at Rocky Mount, N.C. Junior Brandon Serio of Bedford Hills, a Fox Lane HS alum, started and struck out six in four innings. The Red Dragons, ranked third nationally by D3baseball.com, won the seven-inning nightcap, 9-5. … Clarkstown North HS alumna Alissa Silvestri of Congers played the majority of the game in goal as the Pace University women’s lacrosse team defeated visiting Nyack College, 15-5. Silvestri made six saves, giving way to Jillian Oross of Bay Shore for the final 3:50 of action. Captain Casey Gelderman of Farmingdale led the Setters with five goals in the first-ever game for the women’s lacrosse program. Captain Angela Kelly of Garnerville, a graduate of North Rockland HS, chipped in with two goals and two assists for Pace, which begins Northeast-10 Conference play on March 14with a road showdown against Merrimack. … Senior Anthony Simon of Suffern and sophomore Sean Getman of Oneonta each drove in two runs as the Cortland baseball team defeated Gallaudet University in the first game of a doubleheader at Washington, D.C. The Red Dragons completed a sweep with a 7-0 win. … Mercy College senior Bryan Greig of New City was named the East Coast Conference pitcher of the week after going seven strong innings with only one earned run as Mercy took on No. 9 Franklin. … Junior Tara Monaghan of Stony Point powered the Red Dragons with a career-high six goals as the nationally third-ranked Cortland women’s lacrosse team defeated visiting Union, 19-10, in the season opener for both teams.