Announcement Regarding NCAA Division II Membership

I am excited to share the news that the NCAA Division II Membership Committee has accepted our application to join Division II, enabling us to join Queens College and eight other public and private institutions competing in the East Coast Conference. CSI and Queens are now the only NCAA Division II institutions in the five New York City boroughs, and the only public NCAA Division II institutions in New York State.

The move to NCAA Division II fits in perfectly with our Strategic Plan and will continue CSI’s standing as a scholar-athlete driven athletic program, with 50% of CSI’s student-athlete body holding a 3.00 cumulative GPA or better, and 38% holding a 3.2 or higher.  The move will facilitate scholarship-driven education and help us expand the College’s current regional footprint. In addition to making our program more attractive to local student-athletes looking to play DII, we will now be able to offer scholarships that will help increase our percentage of out-of-state and international student athletes. The costs of scholarships will be borne by revenue generated by Athletics and by philanthropy.

I want to thank Athletic Director Charles Gomes and his team, as well as everyone on campus, who has helped us throughout the application process. You can access more information on the move and our championship program online.

Once again, congratulations to our Athletic program and Go Dolphins!

Michelle Kushnir ’17: Student Success On and Off the Court

Michelle Kushnir playing a doubles match during the CUNYAC Women's Tennis Championships in 2015.

As a star athlete, tech expert, and Macaulay Honors College (MHC) student, Michelle Kushnir ’17 may appear to have a full college plate. However, being captain of the College of Staten Island (CSI) Women’s Tennis Team, winning the 2015 CUNYAC Sportsmanship Player of the Year Award, and conducting data visualization research are just a few of this Computer Science major’s accomplishments.

Kushnir, who is minoring in Business and Mathematics and maintaining a 3.7 GPA, was also a member of the Emerging Leaders Program (ELP), and has studied abroad and interned extensively.

The 21-year-old held a research assistant position for the CUNY High-Performance Computing Center, working with Michael Kress, PhD; Jonathan Peters, PhD; and Nora Santiago on analyzing public data such as taxicab and land use data. She is currently a research assistant for the Engineering Science and Physics Department, working with Dwight Richards, PhD, on improving the audience experience at cyber defense competitions using data visualization.

With the ELP, Kushnir volunteered at food drives for Project Hospitality and the CSI Food Pantry. She also traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark, taking a course in Danish Greenspace, and recently studied Japanese business and culture in Tokyo, Japan.

The Eltingville resident’s internship experience includes positions at Princeton SciTech as a Website developer, and at UBS as a Technical Business Analyst in the Business Intelligence Department, where she will return to this summer.

Michelle Kushnir studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark.

“Take every opportunity handed to you. Even if it doesn’t fit exactly what you want to do, take it, because you’ll never know who you’ll meet or where that opportunity will take you next, “commented Kushnir, who graduated from Tottenville High School, where she was a student in the Classics Institute.

Born in Brooklyn, Kushnir plans to pursue a graduate degree in Information Systems Management, with concentrations in Business Intelligence and Data Analytics.

“Students in college should always explore a wide range of interests; Michelle has explored – and excelled – about as widely as anyone possibly can! She’s intensely driven to succeed in everything she does – while at the same time being fun-loving, deeply thoughtful, generous, and kind.  It has been a privilege to have her as a student in my class and as a member of the CSI community,” said Charles Liu, PhD, Director of MHC and the Verrazano School. Kushnir was a student in Dr. Liu’s HON 223 seminar, “Science and Technology in New York.”

“I am grateful to the Macaulay Honors College staff, specifically Lisa French, Anita Romano, and Dr. Charles Liu who all provided so much guidance for me throughout my four years at CSI. They truly care about their students, and were there for me whenever I needed their help,” said Kushnir.

[video] Dolphins Back on Top of CUNYAC with Win Over CCNY, 77-66

POSTGAME INTERVIEWS – The College of Staten Island men’s basketball team completed their perfect run through CUNYAC competition with a come-from-behind CUNYAC Final Championship, defeating City College of New York by a 77-66 count at CCNY’s Nat Holman Gymnasium in New York.  For the Dolphins it was their 14th CUNYAC title and their first since the 2012-13 season, and insured the 21-6 Dolphins a berth into the NCAA Division III National Championship Tournament beginning next week.

The 11-point win certainly didn’t come easy, as the Dolphins found themselves down by a sizable chunk of the first half, ultimately trailing by w basket at the break.  Before that the lead changed hands six times through the opening six minutes.  A lay-up by Robbie Dionosio gave CCNY a modest 7-4 edge, but later, a lay-up by Kevon Murphy and a three by CSI’s Robert Rossiter gave CSI back the lead, 13-9.  Consecutive three’s by Mark Richards and David Solano scored CCNY the lead again.

Khaleeq Baum added another inside power drive to give CSI a 19-18 lead with inside of 10 to play in the first half, but the Dolphins then hit a major bump in the road, turning the ball over an unprecedented six straight times over the next four minutes, and the Beavers used it to motor off a 10-0 run, giving them a 28-19 lead, prompting a CSI timeout.  The Dolphins responded well from there, going on a 12-3 tear to force a 31-31 tie.  Robert Rossiter added four points in the run and Edin Bracic connected on a pair before CCNY hit on free-throws by Mark Richards to end the first half, 35-33, in the Beavers‘ favor.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5vzF3txB1Q[/youtube]Much like the first stanza, the second followed a familiar script, as the teams traded shots and strong defensive play, flip-flopping the lead five times in the first seven minutes.  Then CCNY had its cold turn from the floor, going 0-9 from the floor with two turnovers in a seven minute stretch, and the Dolphins took full advantage.  Two Frank Schettino free-throws gave CSI a 46-44 lead, and then Murphy added three-straight lay-ups to balloon the lead.  After another Beavers miss, Bracic canned a three, getting CSI up 55-44.

CCNY tried to paw into the lead, but the inside game proved too much as Baum then stepped in offensively, scoring three straight buckets of his own to expand CSI’s lead to a comfy 14-points with 7:13 left.

CSI would take another 14 point lead with 4:03 to go on a Schettino three, and from there, CCNY never got to within 9.  CSI scored their last field goal with 1:34 left, going ahead by 12 before ultimately winning by the 77-66 count.

Baum led all scorers with 21 points and 11 rebounds and took the Tournament Most Valuable Player honor.  Murphy added 20 points and 9 rebounds while Schettino added 11 points and six assists. Khalil Hamer and Mark Richards both topped CCNY with 16 points, with Richards besting the team with 9 rebounds.

For CSI the CUNYAC title was their 14th overall and the sixth for Head Coach Tony Petosa.  It marked the third time the Dolphins finished a CUNYAC season undefeated during the regular season en route to a postseason championship (2012, 1989).  It also marked the first time since 1983 that both CSI basketball teams took home CUNYAC Championships in the same year.

The Dolphins will now await the NCAA Selection Show webcast on Monday that will outline the tournament and who the Dolphins will play in the opening round of competition.  More information will be released when the information becomes available.

[video] NCAA BOUND! Dolphins Bounce Brooklyn for First Title since 2005

POSTGAME INTERVIEWS – The College of Staten Island women’s basketball team got up early, then weathered a frantic Brooklyn College surge to secure a 53-42 win over the top seeds at the Nat Holman Gymnasium in New York.  It was the Dolphins’ first CUNYAC Championship since 2005 and their seventh overall.  The 22-6 Dolphins will now await word on an NCAA Division III National Championship Tournament berth, announced on Monday.

Both teams struggled to find the bottom of the net in the opening stanza of tonight’s game.  Angelique Price, however, did not have trouble finding the net as she shot 50% from the floor and paced all scorers with eight points through 10 minutes of play.  The nationally ranked defense of the Dolphins showed up in the first quarter and forced seven turnovers with three of them resulting in steals. The Dolphins were able to use their fast paced offense to weather the Bulldogs and the tired legs led to sloppy play by Brooklyn.  BC starting point guard Karen Mak found herself in foul trouble early and had to sit out for a majority of the first half, tempering the Bulldogs attack.

Staten Island had a repeat of the first half in the second half, scoring 13 points while the Bulldogs managed to only tally eight to start things off.  Price, who was hot in the first half, cooled off in the second half but when she cooled off Samantha Flecker found her groove.  Flecker was shut out in the first quarter but poured in eight in the second on the back of a pair of three-point baskets. Throughout the first half the game would be tied three times and have the lead switched a total of three times.  The Dolphins led in second chance points despite losing the battle on the boards, 26-23.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5vzF3txB1Q[/youtube]Staten Island was able to hit their deep shots on a neutral court with relative ease whereas the Bulldogs struggled and went 0-4 from the line. Over the last three games, all of which were playoff games, the Dolphins held opponents to an average of 21 points at the half.  Tonight was no different as they held the top-seeded Bulldogs to 18 at the half.  Aiding in the solid defensive stand was Rosa Perone, who was able to keep Olivia Colbert and  Maya Agee-Thomas in check while staying out of foul trouble.  While the Dolphins were having success from behind the arc, they had their issues from the charity stripe as they went 0-4 from the line.  The Dolphins were really able to jump out to their lead after Victoria Crea and Flecker sunk three’s to cushion their lead.

The Dolphins came out of the locker room after the half and picked up right where they left off in the first half.  CUNYAC Player of the Year Christina Pasaturo drained a three to extend the Dolphins’ lead to 11 which caused Brooklyn to call a quick timeout to try and regroup and slow down the surging Dolphins. The Bulldogs were able to get Mak back on the court but the Dolphins had full momentum of the game and were really settling into the flow of Championship game.  After coming out of timeout called by Brooklyn, Crea was able to slice through the lane and dish a pass out to Flecker who sank a corner three to give the Dolphins their largest lead of the night.

Down 41-23 the Bulldogs would catch fire and go on a 7-0 run to shrink the deficit to 11 with 2:45 remaining in the third quarter. With under 10 seconds remaining on the shot clock, Price would attempt a three-point shot only to get fouled and sent to the line.  The scoring drought of the Dolphins would continue as Price would miss all three to make the Dolphins 0-for-7 from the line.  Things began to unravel for the Dolphins as the third quarter started to come to a close as that 7-0 run from earlier extended to a 9-0 run.  Perone picked up her fourth foul with two minutes remaining in the third quarter which sent her to the bench and send the Bulldogs to the line.  Luckily for the Dolphins the Bulldogs couldn’t find success from the line.  The final five minutes of the quarter the Dolphins went scoreless but were able to keep the Bulldogs at bay and maintain a 41-32 lead heading into the final quarter of play.

With the momentum on their side the Bulldogs chunked away at the Dolphins lead.  Brooklyn was able to come all the way from down 18 to down just four points with 6:38 remaining.  The Dolphins were stuck on an iceberg as they were scoreless for 9 minutes before Pasaturo was able to break their drought with a tough layup.  With that basket, Pasaturo broke the single season scoring record (608) that was held by Courtney Aimetti in 2000-01.  Up just four with 5:34 remaining, Crea found herself wide open from behind the arc and converted it to add to the Dolphins lead and put them up seven.

At 4:42 the Dolphins lost their big defender Perone when she was called for a fouled, knocking her out of the game. Jacquelyn Cali, who was also in foul trouble, subbed in for Perone.  Both teams would go scoreless for a four minute stretch as both teams struggled to convert any of their shots.  The Dolphins, holding the lead, with just over a minute remaining decided to use up all 30 seconds wisely before taking their shot. That was a tactic that would work nicely for the Dolphins as they Bulldogs were forced to foul and send the Dolphins to the line.  After missing all of their free throws for 90% of the game, the Dolphins finally found their rhythm and finished with seven made free throws on the night.

After the Dolphins converted their free throws the Bulldogs came storming down the court and chucked up three’s only to have the rebounds fall into the Dolphins’ hands where they were able to hold the ball until the clock hit zero.

The win is the Dolphins’ first CUNYAC title since 2005 in a bout that saw the Dolphins and Bulldogs square off for the first time in the championship game.  Christina Pasaturo (16 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists) was named CUNYAC Finals MVP while Angelique Price (14 points, 9 rebounds)was named to the CUNYAC All-Tournament Team.  Samantha Flecker (11 points, 11 rebounds) collected another double-double in the win.  Victoria Crea was an essential part to the Dolphins and collected 10 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 assists.

The Dolphins will now await until Monday to see who they will face in the NCAA Division III Regional Round.

Four-peat Complete; Dolphins Take Razor-tight CUNYAC Championship

POSTGAME INTERVIEW – The College of Staten Island men’s swimming and diving team led the CUNYAC Championship from wire-to-wire but ultimately won by the slimmest of margins, taking a 2.5 point win at the end of it all to win their fourth-straight CUNYAC Championship earlier this afternoon at Lehman College.  The Dolphins won four of the six races that were held on the final day of competition, adding a silver and a bronze medal as well.  For his effort, Timothy Sweeney was named the Most Valuable Performer at the meet, un unprecedented fourth-straight for the CSI senior.

The Dolphins had the meet in hand in time for the final race of the event, but hung on to ultimately win the event with 597.5 points, just better than 595 scored by Baruch College.  Lehman College took the bronze with 367.5 points while Brooklyn followed with 259 and York with 23.

The Dolphins entered the final day with a comfortable 45 point lead, but knew their top-heavy squad would be challenged by the depth of Baruch, and that’s exactly how the final day would follow through.  To start it all off, Derek Villa scored the first of four first-place finishes for the Dolphins, coming in at 17:45.65, almost two minutes faster than the field in the 1,650-yard Freestyle.  Pete Carle and Santonio Shand added valuable points in the event as well.  Baruch, however, would counter with a win in the 200-yard Backstroke, despite the Dolphins winning bronze with a time of 2:12.25.

CSI kept the lead padded in the next event, the 100-yard Freestyle.  There, Nicholas Defonte won the meet, coming from behind to score a 50.26 second finish, less than a tenth of a second faster than Lehman’s Chris Fischer.  Mike Munoz also finished fifth in the event, jumping up spots from the original heat sheet seedings.  The Dolphins would feel even better about their chances after Jonathan Gorinshteyn raced in at 2:17.23 in the 200-yard Breaststroke, scoring gold.  Brandon Lei and Roberto Hidalgo scored a fourth and fifth place finish to add valuable points as well.

That put the Dolphins firmly ahead, and the door was subsequently closed by Timothy Sweeney in the 200-yard Butterfly.  Already the CUNYAC record holder, Sweeney flew through a run of 1:51.93, beating his previous record by almost two full seconds.  Christopher Sorenson, also placed fifth in the event.

The Dolphins could not be caught from there, as they held a 34.5 point lead going into the final 400-yard Freestyle Relay.   The Dolphins’ team of Defonte, Gorinshteyn, Villa, and Sweeney would actually win the event, but a subsequent disqualification for entering the water early struck out the Dolphins’ placing in the event, and Baruch bumped into the top spot and gained 32 points to make the final score very close.  Despite being an exhibition team in the event, the CSI team of Mike Munoz, Brandon Lei, Pinto, and Omar Zaky collected a silver medal in the same event.

Upon conclusion of the meet, Sweeney was named the Most Valuable Performer for the fourth-consecutive year.  The margin was the lowest in CUNYAC history and the win by the Dolphins was their 9th overall in program history.

The postseason will continue for CSI.  Fresh off of their CUNYAC title, the Dolphins will compete in the Metropolitan Swimming and Diving Championships in two weekends at Rutgers University.

Senior Naomi Gaggi takes home presigious CUNY Scholar-Athlete of the Month citation

The City University of New York Athletic Conference has named College of Staten Island women’s swimmer Naomi Gaggi as the CUNYAC/Hospital for Special Surgery Scholar-Athlete of the Month for December 2016. The senior from Brooklyn, NY has earned a 3.9 GPA as a Psychology major with a concentration in Neuroscience and Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The Dolphins’ distance swimmer earned 10 first place finishes and a total of 24 podium finishes in the month of December alone. Gaggi is the team’s second leading point getter with 188 total points through December’s action. In addition, Gaggi is three-time CUNYAC All-Star and 2017 will look like more of the same for the senior, “this will be my first year to medal individually (at the CUNYAC Championships) and I’m excited. Our team put in a lot of hard work, the boys should be favored and our girls team will look to give everyone a run for their money.”

The team captain began swimming competitively in fourth grade and has only improved since then. Gaggi competes for the Dolphins in the 200, 500 and sometimes 1,000 freestyle, as well as on the freestyle and medley relay teams. Distance wasn’t always her forte however, “The first time I swam the 500, it kind of came as a surprise, I was not a distance swimmer, but I did well and it showed all my hard work payed off in practice.” The St. Joseph Hill alumni said the transition to the storied CSI swim program was not the easiest, “I’m a much stronger swimmer now than when I first came to CSI. I didn’t come from a specialized club team like others, so there was a pretty tough transition to college swimming.”

Leaving New York City was never a thought when Gaggi was choosing a college for herself. “I knew I wanted to stay local in the city, CSI had a great research database and access to so many different research institutions in New York City that focus on autism research.” The senior has made the most of her four years at the College of Staten Island, while being a part of two research teams on campus, Gaggi also has conducted research at the Yale University School of Medicine and Mount Sinai with nationally renowned doctors and researchers. Due to her outstanding efforts in the research field, Gaggi was recognized nationally as a 2016 honorable mention for the Barry Goldwater Scholarship. The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation was established by Congress in 1986 to serve as a living memorial to honor the lifetime work of Senator Barry Goldwater. “I want to focus on neuroscience and autism spectrum disorder because there is so much known about the basic mechanisms of the brain and so little known about the social aspect of neuroscience. Autism spectrum disorder, on the other hand, is understood on the social level, but little is known about the mechanisms of the brain. I see this as a challenge that I want to further explore through neuroimaging while I obtain my PhD,” states Gaggi.

“I wouldn’t say that being a student-athlete has struggles, it’s just obviously very time-consuming. I think the time-consuming nature helps people learn to prioritize things and manage their time better. It’s certainly pushed me to be a better student.” Like many other scholar-athletes, Gaggi turns the demands of being a full time student-athlete into positives, “swimming twice a day and going to the gym as well, it takes a lot of time, it’s not only helped me make friends but the mindset of being an athlete also helps me be determined and to persevere in the classroom.”

CSI swimming head coach Michael Ackalitis had plenty of praise for his senior captain, “Naomi is a top candidate to be the CSI Valedictorian at this year’s Commencement. She is an exceptional researcher and an outstanding athlete and how she has been able to do both is amazing. She has been a very special piece to the women’s program over the last four years. Her leadership has set the tone for what being a Dolphin is all about. She is a Macaulay Honors Student who is majoring in Neuroscience and boast a 3.89 GPA, she has been the leader for the women’s team earning the highest GPA on campus the last two seasons. Her leadership translates to the pool where she continues to work hard and has won several gold medals at CUNY’s as part of winning relays and also four school records. Naomi has been a major key to keeping the women’s team going in a positive direction,” stated Ackalitis.

“I’ve become a lot more cultured through my tenure at CSI, I volunteered in Sri Lanka with children who have autism spectrum disorder, and I studied abroad in Denmark as well,” says Gaggi. Looking towards the future, Gaggi has been applying to graduate schools to pursue a doctorate in neuroscience and one day hopes to become a full-time researcher and professor in the field. “Swimming and life have taught me one thing, when it’s freezing cold and you don’t want to jump into that pool at 6 AM, you just have to take that initial leap, and that’s the same thing you do if you want to achieve your goals,” said Gaggi.

When asked what it meant to Naomi to be named December’s Scholar Athlete of the Month she had this to say, “it is a really great honor to be recognized with, I really want people to see how great being a student athlete is, it not only helps me in swimming, but it’s given me so many valuable lessons about life and how to be great academically.”

CSI Athletics Hall of Fame a Smashing Success with Six New Inductees

(l-r): David Pizzuto, Jason Anarumo, Christina D'Arpa, James Donlan, Tara Gagliardo, David Paul, Ken Lam, Charles Gomes

The College of Staten Island honored six individuals this evening as part of the Class of 2016 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony held at The Vanderbilt at South Beach on Staten Island.  Recipients Jason Anarumo, Christina D’Arpa, James Donlan, Tara Gagliardo-DeGrado, Ken Lam, and David Paul were the honorees, representing a total of nearly 60 years of service as coaches and student-athletes.  The rousing event featured a cluster of guest speakers over a full dinner, with words from each of the honorees or their families.

With many of the guests having not seen one-another in many years, the beginning of the Hall of Fame dinner was a chance for many to catch-up, share anecdotes, and reflect on the meritorious years of service of the inducted.  The evening commenced with words from Associate Athletic Director David Pizzuto, who served as Hall of Fame Committee Chairperson and host, followed by Director of Athletics Charles Gomes and Deputy to the President Kenichi Iwama.  Dr. William Fritz, CSI President addressed the crowd and offered congratulations to end the evening.  Gomes spoke about the importance of connecting with alumni, congratulating the pioneers of the program who help usher in the Class of 2016.  Iwama touched on the direction of the College, and the importance of continuing a legacy that have been storied both at Staten Island Community College and CSI.  Shortly thereafter, the hardware was issued to the seven guests of honor.

First to the stage was Anarumo, who was presented by his father and former CSI Baseball Assistant Coach Anthony Anarumo.  The power-hitting infielder set multiple records for CSI and remains the school’s all-time home runs leader and ranks in the top five of 16 other major offensive categories.  It culminated with a CUNYAC Championship in 1997, the first in a long line since, as Anarumo has set the pace for many future classes.

Next to be inaugurated was men’s hoop star Ken Lam, who starred on the team from 1968-70 when CSI was Staten Island Community College.  The eye-popping numbers saw Lam average over 20 points and rebounds per game over his 43-game career, obliterating school records in both categories at the time.  He would go on to star at NCAA Division I NYU and St. Francis post-graduation from SICC.

Next up was CSI softball star Christina D’Arpa, whose numbers at the plate and in the circle alone would have earned her into hallowed company.  Together, the superstar was the only three-time CUNYAC Most Valuable Player, adding three championships and the school’s all-time home runs, slugging percentage and earned run average records.

After a break in the program, men’s soccer skipper James Donlan was next to be honored.  Donlan guided the soccer unit on four different occasions during his career beginning in 1964, each time taking the floundering program and resurrecting it to championship form.  Along the way were two regional NJCAA Championships and one of the school’s last CUNYAC Championship teams in 1996.  To date, he is the only coach who is the all-time wins leader in their respective sport at both SICC and CSI.

Next up to the podium was men’s basketball dynamo David Paul, who bookended his career with a pair of CUNYAC Championship and was a back-to-back CUNYAC and Metro Basketball Writers Player of the Year his junior and senior seasons.  He finished his career as the school’s all-time points leader, since broken, and is now a professional basketballer with the Harlem Wizards.

Capping the evening was women’s hoops standout Tara Gagliardo-DeGrado, who for four seasons quarterbacked the Dolphins to a pair of CUNYAC Championships.  A tremendous two way player from 1996-00, Gagliardo-DeGrado finished her career as the school’s all-time leader in assists and steals, still standing, and the all-time leader in scoring, since broken.

The Hall of Fame proved to be a magical evening for many of the guests, and for the honorees, the focus seemed to be less about the induction and more about the College’s historical significance.

QUOTES

Alongside the inductees receiving hardware, the same plaques, complete with telling bios will hang in the CSI Sports & Recreation Center as part of Hall of Fame walk, located on the upper concourse of the basketball arena.

Future Hall of Classes will be announced every other year, with the next class slated for 2018.