Spring Sports Begin at Briarcliff

Spring is officially here – and so are Spring sports at Briarcliff.

We caught up with new and returning coaches to find out what’s new with the teams and what they are looking forward to the most this season.

Varsity Boys Lacrosse has had a big change this year with longtime Head Coach Al Meola retiring and Assistant Coach Ryan Tirelli taking over.

Mr. Tirelli has been with the school for nine years, starting out as a modified coach, coaching Junior Varsity, and acting as assistant coach in Varsity for the past three years.

“I finally get to be Head Coach after The Godfather retired,” he said. “I was hoping he would never retire because he is such a great leader and mentor – he was the best. I personally loved working with him.

“Briarcliff is a special place – once I got here, I never wanted to leave,” he said. “It’s kind of like a small Ivy League school; it’s a small school, but the kids are so intelligent and they are so humble and hard-working, that it is so easy to coach them. The respect goes both ways and they are smart and receptive to the knowledge that is being taught.”

Although there were many seniors on the team who graduated last year, Mr. Tirelli is optimistic about the season.

“We have a fair number of upperclassmen, and we are looking forward to success in the near future,” he said. “Every day we have a different focus. Today is about attitude and gratitude: be happy about where you are and enjoy every minute of it.”

Varsity Baseball Head Coach Mychael Lugbauer is also taking over this year after being Assistant Coach last year.

“I was Head Coach in Mahopac for five years prior to being Assistant Coach here,” he said. “I’m excited to take over – it’s a great group of kids; they have been working hard in the off-season, so we are excited to get back out on the field and see what happens this season.”

Junior Varsity Baseball Head Coach John Mariano is also looking forward to the spring season.

“JV Baseball is looking really good this year,” he said. “I’m familiar with a lot of the players because I coached modified last year – they are my boys – I love them. I can’t wait for those last-second wins and winning in the last inning, but most of all, just laughing and having fun at practice – those are the best times.”

The Track and Field team keeps getting bigger with each year.

“We have the largest girls’ team that we have had in several years,” said Zach Rose, who is Co-Head Coach with James Tlsty. “A lot of freshmen are trying it for the first time and we have seniors who are great leaders and can help the younger players get acquainted with the sport.”

Perhaps the number of participants is growing because there is something for everyone on the team.

“Pretty much everyone that tries out gets in,” said Mr. Tlsty. “We like to have an all-inclusive environment. There’s a spot for everyone on the team.”

“The students don’t need a refined set of skills. It’s more like: come here and we will figure out what you enjoy and help you get better at it,” Mr. Rose said. “We want to tap into that potential that people might not have realized they had.”

According to the coaches, the most important characteristic is persistence.

“Be persistent and be patient during the process and progression will come,” Mr. Rose said.

The team has enjoyed many accomplishments over the past several years and the coaches are hoping for continued success.

“We want to continue to build on the success we have had and there are always benchmarks of winning certain meets and being a high-performing team, but ultimately, it’s about helping everyone grow in their individual event and have fun,” Mr. Rose said. “It should be a fun season and we want kids to enjoy their time on the team.”

The Varsity Girls Lacrosse team has also enjoyed great success over the past few years.

“We have been getting a step further every season: Quarter Finals, Semi Finals and Finals last year, so I hope this trend continues,” said Head Coach Dan Perito, who won Section One 2023 Coach of the Year. “Five seniors graduated but we have five seniors this year, so it’s more or less the same team. I am excited to see them continue to grow – they have been progressing nicely.”

The Varsity Boys Tennis team will be seeing big changes, with their move up a league.

“I asked Athletic Director Chris Drospoulos to move us up because we had a good season, but the students needed to be challenged – they were too strong for the other teams,” said Head Coach Bob Slotoroff. “Competition will be tougher now but it’s all about doing the best they can do. I always tell them: you play better tennis in May than you do in March.”

“I wanted to take this moment to wish our teams and coaches good luck in the upcoming season,” said Mr. Drosopoulos. “As a former athlete and coach, I know how the energy begins to rise as you near your first competition and I look forward to cheering you on. Thank you for your hard work and commitment. Have a great Spring Season and Go Bears!”


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