07/01/14 5:00pm
07/01/2014 5:00 PM
NBA guard Nate Robinson poses for a picture during Tuesday's camp at McGann-Mercy High School. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)

NBA guard Nate Robinson poses for a picture during Tuesday’s camp at McGann-Mercy High School. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)

Among the jerseys on display Tuesday at McGann-Mercy High School were the mainstays of the NBA: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony. Some of the kids went old-school, wearing the likes of John Stockton’s Utah Jazz jersey and Glen Rice’s Charlotte Hornets jersey.

One boy wore the jersey representing the man of the hour: Nate Robinson.  (more…)

06/06/14 4:00pm
06/06/2014 4:00 PM
Mercy graduates move their tassels during Thursday's commencement ceremony in Riverhead. (Credit: Robin Bay)

Mercy graduates move their tassels during Thursday’s commencement ceremony in Riverhead. (Credit: Robin Bay)

Bishop McGann-Mercy High School’s Class of 2014 graduated Thursday evening, marked by a commencement ceremony and liturgy in the Riverhead Catholic school’s auditorium and chapel. (more…)

06/11/13 12:00pm
06/11/2013 12:00 PM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO |

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Southampton Town Councilman Chris Nuzzi presents 17-year-old Shannon Merker with a framed copy of her Flanders flag design Tuesday morning.

For the first time, an official flag representing the Flanders community is flying over the hamlet.

The flag, designed by 17-year-old Flanders native Shannon Merker, was raised above the Flanders Memorial Park Tuesday morning in a ceremony to honor the efforts of the McGann-Mercy High School junior.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO |

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Shannon Merker raises her flag with help from her mother, Lisa.

Shannon first pitched the idea for a flag representing her hometown six years ago when she noticed other local communities like Hampton Bays had official flags, but Flanders did not.

She sent her original design to Southampton Town Councilman Chris Nuzzi, who presented it back to her Tuesday, framed along with her final design and photos of her receiving a proclamation from the town.

Mr. Nuzzi praised “all of the persistence, all of the dedication, all of the effort” Shannon showed to make the flag a reality.

Councilwoman Bridget Flemming said the flag will be available at the Flanders Farmer’s Market this year. Southampton Town Fire Marshal and Flanders Fire Department commissioner Brian Williams invited Shannon to lead the 65th anniversary fire department parade this fall.

Shannon, whose family has lived in Flanders since the early 1900s, said she never doubted whether the flag would be made. She said she imagined for the past six years what it’d be like to see a flag flying over Flanders.

But the flag doesn’t look the way Shannon expected it to.

“No, it’s better,” she said.

psquire@timesreview.com

01/04/13 9:00am
01/04/2013 9:00 AM
McGann-Mercy High School, Riverhead, Mercy football, Jeff Doroski

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | McGann-Mercy football coache and teacher Jeff Doroski.

During the pregame huddle before an early season game this fall, McGann-Mercy football coach Jeff Doroski gathered his players to deliver a message. Before him stood a group of players expected to finish near the bottom of Division IV — an all-too-familar destination for the Monarchs.

We’ve been down for a long time, Mr. Doroski told his team. No one believes Mercy is a team that can contend.

And Mr. Doroski posed a question to his team: Why not us?

Believe in your teammates, he said. Believe in your coaches. Trust the hard work you’ve put in.

“You get chills when you hear him speak sometimes,” said Phil Reed, an assistant coach at Mercy. “You feel like you want to put on a uniform and go out and play for him. I don’t know how he does it, but he just comes up with these things.”

Under Doroski’s leadership, in only his second season as Mercy’s head coach, the Monarchs surged to their most memorable fall in three decades, posting seven wins, advancing to the semifinals of the Division IV playoffs and captivating the close-knit Riverhead school.

For his efforts in turning Mercy’s football program around, while also working as a well-respected health and physical education teacher and volunteering his time at a bevy of school functions, the News-Review selected Mr. Doroski as its 2012 Educator of the Year.

McGann-Mercy is a second home for Mr. Doroski. His parents both attended Mercy. So did his wife. As a high school student, he was the featured running back for the Monarchs. After graduating in 1992 he owned the single-season and career rushing records.

It was back when Mr. Doroski carried the ball for Mercy that the Monarchs last had a season comparable to this year. When the Monarchs won an epic 22-21 playoff game over Hampton Bays in November, it was the first postseason win for the program since 1991. The seven wins matched their best season since 1978.

“He’s a big part of continuing the tradition of excellence at Mercy because he’s been through it,” said athletic director John Lonardo. “He’s very aware of that and that’s something he really brings to the kids and reinforces to the kids about what McGann-Mercy stands for and the tradition of McGann-Mercy.”

In addition to coaching the varsity football team, Mr. Doroski, 38, also coaches the junior varsity baseball team in the spring. When it comes to baseball, he is a bit of a legend. In 2003 he coached the varsity team to a state championship, the only state title for any team in Mercy history.

No matter the time of year, Mr. Doroski, who lives in Riverhead, can be spotted at Mercy long after the school day has ended. In the winter he works the scoreboard during basketball games. He also monitors the weight room.

“Jeff has an outstanding rapport with the students,” Mr. Lonardo said. “He’s extremely liked. He communicates very well with the kids. He’s extremely motivational. The kids not only enjoy his classes, but they enjoy playing for him.”

When Mr. Doroski became the varsity football head coach, numbers were dwindling in the program. Former athletic director Paula Nickerson said in 2011 that it was a “miracle” the program survived during some of the leanest years.

Mr. Doroski helped rejuvenate interest in football and this past season the Monarchs had the kind of depth that allowed them to not only stay competitive, but excel.

“You could see from day one when he took over the program that the kids responded to him,” Phil Reed said. “The way he wanted to set the program up and it’s grown from leaps and bounds from when he started.”

As a teacher in a small school, Mr. Doroski gets an opportunity to work with many of his athletes in the classroom as well. Asaiah Wilson, the football team’s junior quarterback, had Mr. Doroski as a health teacher last year and as a gym teacher this year.

Mr. Wilson said Mr. Doroski’s demeanor as a coach and teacher is very similar.

“He wants us to work hard,” he said. “If we got a 99, he wants us to ask why we didn’t get 100.”

The quarterback position was something Wilson had little experience in before this season. He had played in PAL leagues during his youth, but never anything close to being a varsity quarterback.

Mr. Doroski was instrumental in helping him learn the position and encourage him along the way, even when things were tough, Mr. Wilson said.

“He guided me through everything,” he said. “Reading defenses, switching plays at the line, he guided me through all that. Sometimes I would get down on myself and he’ll pick my head up.”

Patience is one of Mr. Doroski’s greatest strengths, according to Mr. Reed.

“He’s not an excitable guy,” said the assistant coach, who also coaches varsity boys basketball at Southold. “He can be loud when he wants to be but when it comes to the games he has nice level confidence about himself in order to make the right decision.”

After the Monarchs improved 5-0 in October, Mr. Doroski was selected for the New York Jets’ High School Coach of the Week award.

“He’s been one of the best coaches I’ve been able to work with and I’ve been coaching for a long time,” Mr. Reed said. “He’s just a wonderful person to be around.”

joew@timesreview.com

11/27/12 10:47am
Hurricane Sandy, February Break, Long Island School Districts

BETH YOUNG FILE PHOTO | The auditorium at Riverhead High School served as a shelter during and after Sandy, until classes resumed Thursday.

Local school district officials are giving mixed reports on whether they’ll shorten their upcoming February breaks due to superstorm Sandy-related closings.

Many Long Island schools have already cancelled all or some of their mid-winter breaks.

Shoreham-Wading River officials have announced they will likely reduce their February break to make up for school days lost due to superstorm Sandy — though nothing is set in stone.

McGann-Mercy High School officials said they would not shorten their winter break, because they only lost 2 1/2 days of school.

Riverhead schools convened classes the Thursday and Friday after the storm, which hit Monday. The district lost three school days, said superintendent Nancy Carney, but some of those school days have been made up using superintendent conference days.

The Riverhead school board will adopt a revised calendar at its meeting Tuesday night, she said, adding that she was still meeting with union representatives and school officials, but expected the district would not have to shorten mid-winter break unless there are additional missed school days during the winter.

Shoreham-Wading River students are among many on Long Island who lost five school days because of the storm, officials said.

The district only had two school days built into the schedule to cover storm-related school closings, said district superintendent Steven Cohen.

Mr. Cohen said the district is bound by state law to hold a minimum of 180 days of instruction. Unless the state Legislature allows the state education department to reduce the number of school days, the district’s vacation in mid-February will be cut short.

Under the current plan, Feb. 22 and 21 as well as Monday, April 1 will be school days. If more school days are cancelled during the winter, additional vacation days will be cut, Mr. Cohen said.

“Please note that these changes to the school calendar are provided now to enable you to begin planning for the February and March breaks, but there is still a chance that the Legislature will not require us to make any changes to our current calendar,” he said.

McGann-Mercy High School had already planned to take the Thursday and Friday off during the week of superstorm Sandy for religious holidays, and so only lost two and a half school days, a school official said.

There have been no changes to the school’s vacation schedule.

psquire@timesreview.com