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Open Mike (Column): Frontier dedicates season to injured teammate, alumni coaching locals

Frontier junior forward Nicole Rockey plays here last season. She will be out for the season after being injured in a recent car accident. (Photo by Ron Larson)

Over the past two seasons, Frontier has been not only getting better on the court but building relationships and bonds off of it. Nicole Rockey has been a part of the team’s growth during this process, but the Frontier junior’s impact will only be felt from the sidelines this season.

An car accident on Mile Strip with a tractor trailer about three weeks ago left Rockey with a skull fracture and although her prognosis is for a full recovery, she will be unable to play basketball this winter. After being out of school for three weeks, she returned Monday walking on her own and continuing to improve, according to Frontier head coach Rick Mihalik. He also noted she plans to be at games and practices.

Her Frontier teammates will show their appreciation for her by dedicating the season to Rockey. Sometimes it takes tough times to realize just how strong those relationships have grown. Frontier’s bond seems to be a tight one.

“She’s a huge part of the team and a huge part of what it means to be a teammate,” Mihalik said. “That’s kind of our motivation right now — we’re playing for her.”
Former St. Francis basketball standout Brian Ferris takes over the program this season after spending the last five years as Ed Hoak's assistant.

Ferris takes over St. Francis; Caterella back at Hamburg

After graduating from St. Francis in 2000, Brian Ferris played competitive college football at the University of Rochester and it was football that he first returned to coach at his alma mater, but he never lost his passion for basketball.

So, Ferris said that the minute his friend, Ed Hoak, an alumni himself, got hired to take over the basketball program six seasons ago, he came right to him with a request. “I told him I want in on your staff,” said the former St. Francis standout in basketball. “He gave me the JV job, so I started there for a year and then spent the last five years as his assistant.”

Although he followed his dreams in football, Ferris said he never gave up loving basketball. He even considered playing it too in college except that the two seasons overlapped and Rochester also made it to the Final Four during two of his four years. For the past few years, Hoak, a 1968 graduate, had been grooming Ferris to be the next coach. Hoak had said at the end of last season he felt better about stepping down now that he knew the program would be in good hands.

“It’s been something I have been preparing for,” Ferris said. “It’s nice to have it as my own and do it for this school — I love St. Francis and came back here immediately after college. It’s something I dreamed about, so I’m excited to get it going.”

Also, Hamburg brought in an alumni when Tim Brueckl became head coach five seasons ago and now the staff has another former Bulldog.

Former teammates at Hamburg, Vince Catarella joins Brueckl as his assistant. Catarella, a 1997 graduate, who went on to play at the collegiate level as a guard at Xavier, was one year ahead of Brueckl, who’s from the Class of 1998.

Catarella said he was invited by Brueckl to join the team during offseason workouts and before he knew it, was agreeing to help out this season.


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