Two Teams, Two Championships

Two Teams, Two Championships

Two Teams, Two Championships

The winningest sports team at John Jay College, hands-down, is the coed rifle team, which in March brought home its 12th and 13th Mid Atlantic Conference (MAC) championships in air rifle and small-bore — more titles than any other team in Bloodhound history. The team’s long-time coach, Vincent Maiorino, also now holds the distinction of winning the most championships of any coach at John Jay.

And while the rifle team was continuing its string of recent successes, the high-flying Cheerleading team captured its first-ever CUNY Athletic Conference championship on March 9, defeating four-time defending champion Brooklyn College.

"The energy was high, their jumps were even higher, and their confidence was through the roof,” said head Cheerleading coach Kayla Harkness. “I honestly couldn't have asked for a better performance, and I couldn't be more proud of our champions!"

Four team members took home individual honors in the championship competition. Sophomore Sonja "Kiba" Spencer won the gold medal in tumbling, while another sophomore, Kayla Sanes, took the silver in jumping.  CUNYAC Performer of the Year honors went to junior Isis Samuels. Sanes also won the CUNYAC Sportsmanship of the Year award. 

Harkness was voted the CUNYAC Coach of the Year. "Coaching is fun for me,” she said. “It's an opportunity to have fun and enjoy teaching and sharing my love for the sport."

Rifle coach Maiorino, meanwhile, attributed the team’s success to rigorous discipline and a high level of devotion among athletes. “We run a tight ship,” he said, noting that John Jay shooters won’t be seen wearing long hair, beards or even baseball caps indoors. “We like to make a clean-cut impression,” he said.

The old-school mentality has proven effective partly because successful rifle shooting relies heavily on mental discipline. Coach Maiorino and his assistant, alumnus David Vegvari, even brought in a counselor to assess the students’ mental attitudes and break down some causes of stress to help them improve their focus.

According to Vegvari, good shooters must also possess “dedication and a willingness to learn.” Rifle differs from other John Jay sports because all rifle teams compete in NCAA Division I, and while other competitive universities have recruitment programs and scholarship programs to develop the best shooters, a lot of John Jay’s stars are walk-ons or homegrown talent. One such student is Anjelica “Peanut Butter” DeAraujo, last year’s MVP.

Other John Jay shooters were recruited, such as sophomore Lily Graham, who placed second in the conference and was named MAC Small-bore Shooter of the Month. Graham recently returned from Colorado Springs where she competed in the Junior Olympic Rifle Championships. Graham’s teammate, freshman Marc Suda, was named MAC Air Rifle Shooter of the Month.

Coach Maiorino was named MAC Coach of the Year for the 2017-2017 season. “His accomplishment has not gone unnoticed,” said Vegvari.