Staten Island CYO kicked off the 2020-2021 season Sept. 3 with its annual Dr. Theodore Atlas CYO Junior Golf Tournament that normally takes place at the conclusion of the school year.
James Lamantia shot a 40 to capture the overall boys’ title and lead Intermediate School 34 to the team championship with a 185 in the nine-hole tournament at Silver Lake Golf Course on Staten Island.
Abby Garcia of Sacred Heart School finished with a 45 to win the overall girls’ title in the first sporting event hosted by Staten Island CYO since the Covid-19 pandemic canceled CYO sports in the archdiocese in March.
“I really did enjoy the round,” Abby told CNY. “I swung the club really well and was able to make new friends.”
Abby, who plays golf four times a week, said she had some initial concerns with returning to the golf course when they reopened this summer, but said she feels “spectacular” about playing again.
“If I do what I have to do and stay six feel apart (from other golfers), I’ll be fine,” the 12-year-old said.
Michael Hui finished with a 43 and joined Lamantia; Andrew Biscocho, 47; and Sean Bailey, 55, in winning the team championship for Intermediate School 34.
Michael, 14, was happy about his performance, the team’s outcome and is thrilled to be playing golf five days a week.
“I feel comfortable out there (in the pandemic), it’s non-contact,” said Michael, who attends Mass at Our Lady Help of Christians Church on Staten Island.
“It’s fun and great times. It’s very refreshing too. I enjoy interacting with all the other golfers.”
Staten Island CYO Director Mike Neely said there was debate following the schedule change from June 29 to Sept. 3 whether to hold the tournament, which started in 1998, and a final decision was made with support from the golfers and their parents; Vincent Ignizio, CEO of Catholic Charities of Staten Island; and Seth Peloso, director of CYO New York.
“I felt it was important to keep it going especially in the pandemic. The kids needed something to do,” said Neely, who added preparations are underway for CYO bowling and cross country this fall on Staten Island.
“It will show CYO is still around and will be there for kids in the future.”
Twenty golfers, representing 10 Catholic and public schools, registered for the tournament. Golfers were required to wear masks off the course but were not required to wear masks while playing if they practiced social distancing on the course. Trophies, medals and a boxed lunch were given to golfers when they came off the course.
“It was really nice to have this for the kids this year,” said Sue Hui, Michael Hui’s mom. “It was a nice event, well organized and seeing kids being kids again was nice to see.”
The tournament, co-directed by Mike Sanborn and Matt Zuntag, is sponsored by the Dr. Theodore A. Atlas Foundation, named after a Staten Island doctor who founded two Staten Island hospitals and also served as the medical director of six nursing homes.
Dr. Atlas died in 1994, and his son, boxing trainer and commentator Teddy Atlas, began the foundation in 1997. Operated by volunteers, it has given more than $3 million to individuals and families in need.
Teddy Atlas is a frequent speaker at the barbecue and awards presentation following the golf tournament. A barbecue was not held at this year’s tournament due to the pandemic.
“He is one of the most impressive human beings I’ve met,” Neely said. “He takes time to come to this event to speak to the kids and parents. You can hear a pin drop when he speaks.”