Building on Momentum, Red Storm Aims to Continue Winning Ways
As the Red Storm athletics program prepares for the 2015–16 season, the energy and optimism of players, coaches, and fans have never been higher, according to Joseph Oliva, interim director of athletics. “This is an exciting time for St. John’s sports and our University as a whole,” he said, reflecting on the Johnnies’ recent accomplishments and the hiring of Chris Mullin as head men’s basketball coach.
Last March’s announcement that Mullin had accepted the position contributed to a sense of enthusiasm from every segment of the St. John’s community. “I know that Chris will be an inspiring coach for our basketball players and a great ambassador for St. John’s University,” observed Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, Ph.D., president. “His passion for the game and love for the University is a winning combination that will strengthen our basketball program and support our efforts to ensure student success in academics and athletics.”
Red Storm men's basketball
The past year saw many reasons to celebrate the achievements of teams and student-athletes. The men’s basketball team finished a 21-win season with its 28th appearance at the Big Dance, earning a ninth seed in the NCAA Tournament. The women’s basketball team advanced to the WNIT Round of 16, marking the third time in program history they have advanced that far in the tournament.
Making its 35th NCAA Tournament appearance in program history after capturing its record eighth BIG EAST Tournament crown, St. John’s baseball team finished as Stillwater Regional Finalists, while men’s tennis advanced to its second-straight NCAA Tournament after winning its second-straight BIG EAST tournament. For the first time in the program’s 35-year history, the women’s softball team advanced to the NCAA Tournament after being crowned the 2015 BIG EAST champions.
Individual achievement was another hallmark of SJU athletics during the past year. Women’s fencer Isis Washington ’15CPS won the gold in épée at the NCAA Fencing Championships, and men’s golfer Dylan Crowley ’15TCB qualified for the NCAA Tournament.
St. John’s student-athletes Erin Burner ’15TCB (softball), Rachel Daly ’16CPS (women’s soccer), Erick Reyes ’15CPS (men’s tennis), and Zach Lauricella ’15TCB (baseball) were each selected as winners of the 2014–15 BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete Sports Excellence Award. St. John’s had 182 Academic All-Stars for 2014–15, and for the 10th time in program history, the St. John’s women’s volleyball team has been honored with the American Volleyball Coaches Association Team Academic Award.
“What sets St. John’s apart from otherschools,” observed Lauricella, “is the University’s emphasis on the Vincentian mission, and its ability to give students a full experience that combines great athletics, academics, and service to the community. The baseball coaching staff always emphasized the importance of being a complete student-athlete. Balancing course work with playing can be difficult, but the academic support staff helped us find that balance in order to succeed in the classroom.”
St. John’s athletes serving meals
Reflecting St. John’s commitment to making the world a better place, 75 students, staff, and administrators joined in the inaugural BIG EAST Day of Service on March 11. Timed to coincide with the opening of the 2015 BIG EAST Men’s Basketball Tournament, the event highlighted its member schools’ dedication to serving the needy in their local communities.
“The Vincentian mission resonates with all SJU athletes,” said Burner. “We use our free time to help the community in any way possible. Helping people in need drives us to work together at becoming better people, which benefits us on the field and in the classroom.”