$2.1 million complex donated by 1977 alum Stephen Squeri
Monsignor McClancy High School in East Elmhurst celebrated the opening of its new $2.1 million state-of-the-art sports complex Monday, coinciding with the varsity baseball team’s first home game of the season.
American Express CEO and 1977 graduate of the school, Steve Squeri, made the generous donation to his former stomping grounds for the new athletics complex that is believed to be the biggest donation to the school in its history.
The completion of the new sports complex comes after numerous improvement projects inside the school —- from classroom renovations to an extended cafeteria space — have been completed and funded by Squeri.
The new Stephen J. Squeri ‘77 Sports Complex makes the school the only Catholic High School in Brooklyn and Queens to have a state-of-the-art baseball, softball, soccer and track fields on campus.
Squeri delivered remarks in a pre-game ceremony, shortly before delivering a strike for the honorary first pitch of the baseball season.
“If it wasn’t for this school, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Squeri said.
He recalled the conversation with the school’s president, Nicholas Melito ‘78, where the idea for the sports complex was proposed to him over a pizza lunch in his neighborhood of Astoria.
“I’ve known Nick for 49 years, I love him like he’s my own brother.” Squeri said. “And when your brother asks you for something, you do it.”
Squeri credited Melito with having the vision for the sports complex, and for having the guts to ask him for the school’s new athletic facility.
“So many times, the answer is going to be no unless you ask,” Squeri added.
Friends since their days as students at the school, Melito expressed his gratitude to his lifelong friend at the ceremony.
“On behalf of current students, and future students for many years to come, we thank you for turning a dream into reality,” Melito said.
The multi-purpose turf field, complete with a separate track and field portion, was constructed by Bayside-based LandTek Group.
Marty Lyons, Landtek’s Vice President of Public Relations Marketing and former New York Jets football player, praised the completion of the project and Squeri for stepping up to get it completed.
“We’re lucky that we have people at the school like Steve who want to make an impact,” Lyons said. “I’m happy for the kids and happy for the school. It was long overdue.”
Student-athletes expressed their joy to be able to play on the new turf field, which will serve as the new home for the Crusaders for the near future. The multi-purpose field will also be used for physical education classes and other events for the school.
Nicholas Rodriguez, a junior on the varsity baseball team, says the new field is a blessing to have. His senior teammate, Ryan Ehret,
“It’s a great feeling,” Rodriguez said. “It’s a lot better than last year. It shows how much the program means to players and how much the players love the program.”
Ehret added, ““I’m glad I get to play on it for my last year. It looks beautiful and feels great. Everyone is hype for it and it’s an overall good feeling.”
Players surprised Squeri with his own personalized jersey to wear while throwing out the game’s first pitch.
Before stepping on the pitcher’s mound, Squeri delivered a message of inspiration to the student-athletes and alumni who attended the pre-game ceremony.
“What you see here today is a result of somebody having a vision,” Squeri said. “What you see here today is a result of someone not afraid to ask the question. And what you see here today is the ability for somebody to give back and to realize where they are.”
“Dream big. Don’t let anybody tell you what you can or cannot do. Anything you do, give 110%. Leave it out all on the field. Be true to yourself. Never forget where you came from. And most importantly, give back and make the world a little better for you being in it.”