It’s not uncommon to hear those with a connection to Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School in Riverhead refer to the Catholic school as a family. But one need look no further than the school’s football program to find a family within a family.
That would be the Doroskis, a family with long, deep ties to the school they share a great affection for.
Jeff Doroski, 43, is in his sixth year as the varsity head coach. His father, Alex, 69, is an assistant coach. Jeff’s son, Christian, 14, is a freshman player.
There you have it: three generations of Doroskis, all committed to Mercy football in one fashion or another.
“It’s remarkable,” Alex said of the opportunity to coach alongside his son and watch his grandson play. “I’m certain a lot of other grandfathers would love to see the same thing. It’s a very unique experience.”
Alex attended Mercy, founded in 1956, himself (Class of 1966) back when he lived a long kickoff away from the school on Roanoke Avenue. “We were never late for school,” he said.
Alex’s mother, Helen, became a cafeteria worker in the school when the building opened. His father, also named Alex, “became Grandpa Doroski to two generations of students here at Mercy,” Alex said. “No official title or anything, but he was a highly motivational character.”
Mercy did not have a varsity football team when Alex attended the school. This year marks Mercy’s 50th year of varsity football.
Jeff cherishes the memories he has of being a youngster, visiting his grandparents and then making the short walk to watch the Monarchs play on Friday nights.
It must have made an impact on him because when it was time to choose a high school, he picked Mercy, where he became a three-sport athlete, playing football, basketball and baseball before graduating in 1992. “I kind of fell in love with the place,” he said.
When Jeff became Mercy’s coach, he asked his father, who had retired after 40 years in banking, if he would like to join his staff as a team statistician. Jeff said his father, who had coached him in youth sports, was one of the reasons why he became a coach himself.
Before Alex could answer, though, he had to check first with his wife, Priscilla. “My mom was all for it because he was driving her nuts at home,” Jeff said. “So she was like, ‘Anything to get him out of the house.’ ”
The third piece of the Doroski football generation arrived last year when Jeff’s son, Christian, played for the junior varsity team as an eighth-grader. Christian had played for a PAL team under Mercy’s name the year before. As of now, Christian, a wide receiver and defensive back, is on the junior varsity team until “otherwise determined,” said Jeff, who also has a daughter, Hannah, 6, and a son, Thomas, 3, with his wife, Lyndsay.
Jeff said Christian addresses him as “Coach” when they are on the field together. “He’s developing into a good player for us and I think he will be down the road, but he doesn’t take anything for granted and he doesn’t think he can slide through just because I’m his father,” Jeff said. “That impresses me.”
Even though it was well before he was born, Christian saw his father play, thanks to some outdated technology. “I watched a lot of his highlights and stuff on — what is it, VCS tapes?” he said, meaning VHS.
What did he think?
“He was alright,” said Christian.
The current arrangement seems to be working fine for the football Doroskis.
“I’ve been blessed with the opportunity that I’ve had here at Mercy, and to have my son and my father be a part of this for me, it’s been great,” said Jeff.
For Alex, it’s an experience to be treasured. “I couldn’t have dreamt it better than this,” he said. “There are a lot of things you can have in life, but I’d take this over the rest of them.”
Photo caption: Christian Doroski, left, with his grandfather, Alex, and father, Jeff. (Credit: Bob Liepa)