SPORTS SPOTLIGHT: Hip hip hooray for North Rockland cheerleading

With Marc Maturo

County football teams begin official practice sessions on Monday in preparation for their season openers only weeks from now, while at the same time cheerleading squads are also beginning the process of putting their lineups together.

North Rockland High School, whose cheerleaders were crowned grand champions for a second straight time only three years ago at the Westchester County Cheerleading Invitational in White Plains, begins another team mission with tryouts on Monday under the leadership of new varsity coach Tanya Kelsch of Stony Point.

“We’re excited, we’re always excited,” noted Kelsch, an alumna of North Rockland HS whose junior varsity coaching duties will now be handled by Justin Hood.

North Rockland cheerleading

Also involved in running the program are Shawna Dean, Kelsch’s daughter and a North Rockland cheerleading alumna; Michael Kelsch, Tanya’s husband; and North Rockland graduate Kerianne Kennelly, who assumed varsity coaching responsibilities last year after the untimely passing of beloved Lauren Gould at 32 after a battle with cystic fibrosis.

Coach Kelsch, who for 10 years has directed the All-Stars at Cheer Mania in Stony Point, previously owned by Coach Gould, is determined to reach the national competition in Dallas,

Texas once again and continue a legacy.

“Over the summer we worked on skills and we’re ready to go,” enthused Coach Kelsch, adding that from a starting field of some 60-65 potential cheerleaders, about 20-25 will go on to cheer at the varsity level and about the same number at the junior varsity level.

“It’s tough, very tough to pare it down, but they’re all used to the process, ” Coach Kelsch said. “We certainly want to continue her [Coach Gould’s] legacy but start one of our own and keep it moving.”

The cheers will start in earnest once the football season gets under way and continue through the playoffs in November.

“Once that is done, then we start our competition on the road to states and nationals,” continued Coach Kelsch, adding that both squads will attend National Cheerleading Association (NCA) camp August 25-28 in order to earn a bid and invitation to the nationals.


Mike Oliva stays in charge


Pearl River HS opens official football practice on Monday, with Coach Mike Oliva back in charge.

Oliva, who was dropped from all coaching duties after guiding the baseball team to its first Section 1 championship, was restored as varsity football coach during a recent school board meeting following a spate of public rallies railing against his unexpected and sudden dismissal.

But all’s well that ends well,

“We all want to do what is best for the kids — that’s the main thing,” Oliva said. “Everything’s good. We had good constructive meetings to work through our disagreements.”

Coach Oliva, who is pointing toward the 1:30 p.m. season opener at Sleepy Hollow on September 2, not to mention the highly anticipated Orange Bowl Game at home against rival Tappan Zee on September 23 (also at 1:30 p.m.), said he has been given no ultimatums.

“Basically, it’s just the basic requirements of any coach,” he said.

Coach Oliva brings back veteran assistants Brian Agosti, the defensive coordinator; Steve Leuthner, who handles the outside linebackers and wide receivers; and Steve Lonergan, responsible for the offensive and defensive lines and special teams.

Perhaps the finest returnee of them all is three-year starter Jonathan Farley, a fullback/linebacker who was all-Section as a junior and the team MVP.

Farley has collegiate potential, already receiving serious offers, including from Monmouth College.

Two other three-year returning starters are Tyler Tilorenzo, a two-way lineman, and halfback/linebacker Troy Travaglino, the son of a former head coach, Mark Travaglino.

Two-year returning starter John Delgrosso is another two-way lineman.

Coach Oliva is itching to get the ball rolling, and it’s not an exaggeration to add that the team is probably more ready to roll in its annual confrontation with Tappan Zee in the Orange Bowl.

“We lost last year, and all summer our goal has been to avenge that loss,” Coach Oliva said. “That game is always one of the best.”

On the “unofficial” schedule, pending playoff situations, in the 10th week, would be a meeting with Nanuet, a Class B school and another local rival.

As for Tappan Zee, the Dutchmen are now under the direction of Coach Ralph Iannucci, who was an assistant to retired head coach Andy DiDomenico.

“I know Ralph. I love the guy. He’s a good guy, just like Andy,” Coach Oliva concluded.


Twenty-seven-year-old rookie southpaw Chris O’Grady of Congers, who pitched at Clarkstown North High School and at George Mason University, looked sharp in his sixth major-league start with the Miami Marlins on Monday night at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.

O’Grady (2-1), working quickly, retired the side in order in the first inning against the league-leading Nationals, with two strikeout victims, including all-star Bryce Harper. O’Grady threw three straight balls to Ryan Zimmerman leading off the second, causing his right oblique to start tightening up.

O’Grady walked Zimmerman on the next pitch. And then two pitches later, he got another highly rated hitter, Daniel Murphy, to pop out on a curveball. But Miami’s training staff and manager Don Mattingly visited the mound out again, and O’Grady went out, leaving the game with a right oblique strain. He threw just 18 pitches, 11 for strikes.

“It just got worse after that last one and figured not to risk anything, hopefully something light, like a cramp or something,” O’Grady was quoted as saying, adding that he was excited about pitching near his collegiate stomping grounds.

O’Grady played those college days at George Mason from 2009 to 2012. He was drafted in the 10th round by the Los Angeles Angels in the 2012 MLB draft, becoming the second highest drafted Patriot in program history. He spent several seasons in the minors before he was called up on July 7 and made his first career start July 8.

O’Grady said he is going to be day-to-day, but oblique injuries have a way of lasting longer than expected to heal. Despite it all, what really bothered O’Grady was his short stint on the hill.

“I had a lot of people out here to come watch, so it’s disappointing. I feel like I let them down, let the team down not going deep into the game, but you don’t want to mess with an injury,” O’Grady was again quoted as saying.



The North Rockland High School sports program, generally considered among the finest and deepest in Section 1, has been recognized by the New York State Sportswriters Association with a second place finish in the ninth annual Kerr Cup All-Sports Championship.

The Red Raiders racked up 52.33 points, a shade behind front-running Shenendehowa, which benefitted from 44.33 points in the portion comprising girl’s sports.

Rounding out the top 10 were Jamesville-DeWitt (51.83), Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (49.50), Somers (45), Garden City (43.50), Pittsford Mendon (42.33), Vestal (42), Maple Grove (40) and Fairport (38.33).

The Kerr Cup is named in honor of Neil Kerr, the retired Post-Standard sportswriter who has been a driving force behind the New York State Sportswriters Association for half a century.



  • Marisa Bentleyof Blauvelt, who was a two-time all-Section selection at Tappan Zee HS, is a senior forward on the women’s soccer team at Iona College in New Rochelle. The Gaels open the season at nearby West Point on August 18, challenging their counterparts from Army at 7 p.m.



  • The 41stMGA/MetLife Four-Ball Championship Qualifier will be held the weekend of August 19-20 at Blue Hill Golf Course in Orangeburg. Contact the pro shop at 845-735-2094 to make reservations. Also at Blue Hill, the Senior Club Championship is scheduled for October 6 with the men’s and women’s championship slated for October 7-8.
  • The 5th annual Game Changers Conference will be held September 14at the New York Marriott Marquis in Times Square.  The Game Changers Conference is a one-day event that focuses on the multiple ways in which women intersect with sports. Access:
  • Outfielder Pat Kivlehan of West Nyack, who was the Big East Player of the Year in his senior year at Rutgers University, batted .201 with 6 homers and 14 RBI through 76 games with the Cincinnati Reds.
  • The Jackie Robinson Foundation has established a new executive position as VP & Executive Director of JRF Impact. JRF is a national not-for-profit that perpetuates the memory of American hero Jackie Robinson, by addressing the achievement gap in higher education.  Visit:


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