The College of Staten Island Athletics Program took center stage at Staten Island’s Borough Hall today, as Borough President James Oddo and other distinguished guests welcomed a cross-section of Dolphins athletes celebrating their recent move from NCAA Division III to NCAA Division II. New York State Assemblymen Michael Cusick and Charles Fall also joined the group, along with representation from the office of New York State Senator Andrew Lanza.
“This is big news,” said Mr. Oddo as he greeted over 20 representatives from the program, including CSI President Dr. William J. Fritz, Director of Athletics Charles Gomes, and several staff and coaches along with the student-athletes. “We are really proud of the efforts made by the CSI administration in the move to Division II. It has a great impact on Staten Island.”
After some light-hearted banter, where the Borough President joked that he still had athletic eligibility left to offer, it was CSI student-athletes that were focused on, sharing stories of the impact of sport on their lives, the inherent differences in Division II over Division III, and their day-to-day, on- and off-campus, work habits. During the discussion, CSI student-athletes presented the elected officials with College of Staten Island Dolphins Division II jerseys, celebrating them as their first official Division II recruits.
“We’re proud of you and you are on the right track,” Mr. Oddo said to the students. “Continue to be leaders, our society needs it, and we are excited to share this with you.”
Mr. Cusick agreed entirely. “I don’t know if you realize how excited we are that this is happening,” he told the group. “We’ve seen the progression of the College of Staten Island, the growth of the athletic program and the academic programs, and it’s the result of a great deal of hard work from President Fritz and the many folks who sacrificed so much to advance the College the way it has. To hear of this move and to understand what went into it makes me really proud to be a part of it and share it with you.”
Mr. Fall was also quick to highlight the great reasons why the move to Division II is a powerful one for the College. “Especially as a former student-athlete, this is wonderful and a great opportunity to keep our finest student-athletes on Staten Island. When you think about the many student-athletes who want to play at the Division I and Division II level, it’s extraordinary to keep those folks home on Staten Island while bringing outside talent in. You rocked it at the Division III level and now we’re bringing it to Division II. It’s incredibly exciting and I can’t wait to attend some of the games.”
Along with their congratulatory remarks, all three gentlemen shared stories of their own athletic endeavors, notably Mr. Oddo’s anecdotes on the baseball diamond, and Mr. Cusick’s experiences as a Division I cross-country and track & field runner. Later, Mr. Fall spoke about his recent collegiate career as a men’s basketball player, and his memories of a decorated high school career on Staten Island.
After learning more about the College’s recent transition, Mr. Oddo shared with student-athletes various discussion points pertaining to sound body and mind, such as the importance of multi-sport experiences for youth, healthy sleeping habits, and nutrition. By the end, several students, coaches and President Fritz, thanked the honored hosts for their unwavering support of athletics and the college as whole, with Dr. Fritz highlighting some of the many advantages coming from the move in line with the college’s Strategic Plan, such as improved academic student success, and the ability to offer scholarships to student-athletes.
College of Staten Island varsity teams have already started the Division II transition. Dolphins teams in Men’s & Women’s Soccer, Men’s & Women’s Cross-Country and Women’s Tennis are underway with 11 more sports rolling out this coming winter and spring, immediately competing within the NCAA Division II ranks and as part of the East Coast Conference.