Staten Island, NY | After an incredible 17-year stretch at the helm of the College of Staten Island softball program, Head Coach Stella Porto will be stepping away, announcing her retirement from the program to staffers this week. The move comes on the heels of the program’s seventh-straight CUNYAC Championship and their 12th appearance in the NCAA Division III National Championship Tournament. The search for a replacement will begin immediately.
Porto, a full-time staffer with the New York City Board of Education, currently has 23 Special Education school sites throughout Staten Island under her jurisdiction as an administrator in charge of Alternate Assessment, from Pre-K to 21 years old, for P25R. With the College of Staten Island exploring the move to NCAA Division II, she determined that she could not give the head coach position the full-time commitment it will require moving forward.
”I will treasure the memories and relationships I have made through the years at CSI, and my wish is for the program to remain as successful as it has been,” she said. “It would be impossible to put in the full-time commitment necessary for the softball program to be a success at the next level with my responsibilities with the Board of Education as well. I have enjoyed the great moments our program has been able to achieve and am thankful for the student-athletes and fellow coaches I have worked with.”
Porto’s tenure at CSI began in 2003, taking over a team three years removed from a conference championship at the time. After a 12-4 conference season in her debut the Dolphins advanced to the Championship Final that season but ultimately fell. The next season, however, the Dolphins took home their first title under Porto, making their first trip to the NCAA Regionals in program history.
Porto would go on to collect 11 more CUNYAC titles, including the last seven in a row, a CUNYAC record. Of Porto’s 399 career wins, 46 have come in the CUNYAC Postseason Tournament, where her teams have boasted a 46-10 mark in her career and have won 21 games in a row. CSI has also claimed five victories under her watch in NCAA Regional play. She leaves the program as a seven-time CUNYAC Coach of the Year.
“Stella is leaving behind a great legacy at CSI and we will certainly have big shoes to fill,” said Director of Athletics Charles Gomes. “Stella has had a real passion for the softball program at CSI and that has translated into a host of success and records that may likely never be broken. I know it’s very hard to step away but she does so with the program on capable footing.”
Porto’s departure comes simultaneously with the College’s prospective move to NCAA Division II, a move that may allow the College to pursue a full-time replacement for the opening going forward, with the addition of other duties.
“With making the potential move going forward we’ve tried to identify ways to keep our coaches here in full-time capacities and we hope to do so similarly with our softball program,” said Gomes. “When you look at the success that Stella has had through the eyes of being a part-time coach, it’s really impressive, and so we hope we can build on the momentum she has provided.”
On top of her win-loss record, easily the highest in the softball program’s history, CSI Softball has also set numerous other records under her watch, including wins, hits, walks, triples, home runs, fielding percentage, team ERA, and strikeouts thrown in a single season, a testament to her impeccable recruiting and a call to bring the best talent to the CSI campus.
A former student-athlete at CSI, Porto earned a scholarship to NCAA Division I Long Island University to play softball, and helped lead the Blackbirds to an ECAC Championship in 1987. She then transferred to the College of Staten Island, where she played her final three years, winning CUNYAC Championships in 1989 & 1990.
After graduation, Porto hit the high school coaching circuit, winning three consecutive junior varsity titles with St. Joseph by the Sea High School. She then spent three years with St. Joseph Hill High School before making her collegiate coaching debut at the CSI campus. Porto served as an Assistive Technology Specialist with the New York City Department of Education for 12 years before her current position at P25R, where she helps thousands of children yearly through program coordination and outreach all over the borough.
Her background in education makes her sensitive to the accessibility that the CSI program has provided for many of her student-athletes and the academic achievements of her pupils are what has excited her the most.
“Having the ability as a coach to work with all kinds of students from different social, academic, and economic backgrounds and to be able to help them by using their love for softball as a tool to graduate from college is something I will always treasure most,” said Porto. “It’s exciting to coach a winning program but to me, that’s the biggest takeaway of all my years as a coach, and it’s what I will miss the most.”
The close of the academic year at CSI is on May 30, with the celebration of CSI’s Commencement ceremonies. The athletic program plans to conduct a full search for Porto’s replacement soon after.