Earlier this year, the basketball community lost beloved coach, Carol O'Connell . The hard-nosed, passionate Miss Carol, from Astoria Queens, left it all on the court and field while helping kids who lived all over Astoria, in the housing developments in Queens and players from all over NYC for five decades.
The 26th season of the Heroes Youth Basketball League kicked off last week. For the first time in two decades O’Connell wasn’t there. “Although Miss Carol wasn’t on the sidelines, she was on the hearts of all participants,” said longtime friend and fellow coach Rich Gordillo, from Maspeth.
A commemorative patch was printed on all Heroes shirts in honor of Miss Carol’s contribution to the community, and to the game of basketball.
The league has 30 teams with boys aged 10 through 17 and plays at Frontera and Crowley Park through May and June, every Monday through Thursday evening. Countless players have gone on to play basketball at NCAA Division 1 Colleges. Miss Carol has even had a few NBA players under her.
“She was truly a selfless mentor,” said Karsheem Robinson, former coach and Heroes referee. “She helped guide them, find them jobs, opened up the door for high schools and made sure they worked hard to excel on the court and the classroom."
Miss Carol has always entered her teams in Heroes. “Her teams were always tough to play against,” continued coach Gordillo. “Even if she didn’t have the best talent, she would get the best out of her players.”
“She coached the kind of way that made players feel responsible. No excuses, no explanations… just work hard and play with pride,” said John Sanchez, Martin Luther Varsity Basketball Coach. “If you were whistled for a questionable foul call, learn to avoid that situation by stopping the ball outside. If you are being out-rebounded, the big men must protect the paint while the guards box out as well.” “She taught me that an offensive system that produces easy baskets should be the goal of all offenses.”
Heroes Basketball League is committed to displaying the values portrayed by Miss Carol. “The MC patch on all Heroes jerseys reminds participants in the league that real success is believing in yourself,” said head referee Ray Schick.