At a time when some schools are cutting back on activities, Iona Preparatory, an all-boys Catholic school in New Rochelle, is increasing its athletic offerings. In the past few years, the school has added wrestling, crew, freshman lacrosse, freshman swimming, and others to its roster.
And it’s not just about quantity: Iona’s teams regularly make it to the playoffs, which is “a pressure and a pleasure experience” for students, says Director of Athletics Bernie Mahoney. Though he says all of the sports “take turns with peaks and valleys,” Iona’s teams have recently earned the Catholic High School Athletic Association (CHSAA) Class AA baseball championship, Class A boys’ basketball state championship, and awards for cross-country, golf, and hockey. (The CHSAA is the largest Catholic high school athletic league in the nation, encompassing schools in New York City, Westchester, and Long Island.)
Of the recent additions, Mahoney is particularly excited about crew. “The parents really pushed for it. Crew parents are the most passionate of all sports parents. Only 4.5 to 5 percent of students continue their high school sport in college; for crew, that jumps to eighty-five percent. Kids who work their tails off in crew and get good grades are a good fit with the Ivies.” The rowing team won Iona’s first national championship in 2010.
Iona athletes typically go to Division II and III schools like Rutgers-Newark/Camden, Union College, Amherst College, and Williams College, “places where they get a quality education and a chance to play. It’s hard to get playing time in Division I schools.”
The prep school counts at least two pro athletes among its alumni: Dick Ambrose, who started with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns in the mid 1970s, and Brian Slocum, who pitched with the Cleveland Indians, starting in 2006.