Volleyball unites a community and keeps memories alive
by Andrew Pavia
Jan 16, 2013 | 6616 views | 0 0 comments | 46 46 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Members of the Maspeth High School volleyball team, coach Jerry Matacotta, and representatives of Premier Care
Members of the Maspeth High School volleyball team, coach Jerry Matacotta, and representatives of Premier Care

Maspeth High School’s volleyball team recently received a donation of new equipment from Premier Care, a medical facility located near the 57th Avenue school.

The girl’s volleyball team is the first organized sports team at the newly opened school. On Friday, two doctors from Premier Care visited the high school and were thanked by the team for their contribution to the volleyball program.

Principal Khurshid Abdul-Mutakabbir said the team deserves the new equipment. “They worked hard right from the very beginning, going back to last spring,” he said.

Along with the school’s volleyball team, the Police and Fire Department volleyball team uses the gym to practice on Wednesday nights and will also use the new equipment. Both teams are coached by volleyball legend and local resident Jerry Matacotta.

The first responders are part of a team that participates in the bi-annual World Police and Fire Games that takes place in various countries and features over 70 different sports. The next games will be held this August in Northern Ireland.

The volleyball team was founded in 1998, and that first year was soundly defeated in Stockholm, Sweden. “We’re the Bad News Bears of volleyball,” joked team member and FDNY Lieutenant William Miccio

In 2011, when New York hosted the games, over 3,000 volunteers came out. Miccio said that most of them were family members of firefighters. For the first time, the United States volleyball team walked away with hardware. The team came in third and was honored with a bronze medal.

Matactotta said that he has seen certain sports become “elitist,” which he is trying to prevent from happening with volleyball.

“By getting neighborhood people to donate equipment, by getting police and fireman to show that this is part of the city’s sports, we’re going to hopefully go out there and show kids that there is a place to play volleyball and improve their skills,” he said.

“Volleyball is really just a conduit,” Matacotta added. “It’s to get [kids] to go to school, to do well academically, to have character. That’s what this is all about.”

Matacotta said that he has begun working with Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley’s office to create a program in which kids and teens practice the sport with the Police and Fire volleyball team.

“We’re goingMaspeth High School volleyball teamto put together clinics for kids,” he said.

During last week’s practice, two pictures of firefighters watched over the players. Miccio said that the two men were members of the team that had passed away. “We promised that we would take them with us, wherever we go,” he said. 

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