by Eddie Mayrose

Sports Heroes are Everywhere; If You Know Where To Look

There were seven minutes left in the CUNY Women’s Basketball quarterfinal when the College of Staten Island suddenly found itself in a battle.  What had looked to be an easy win was now in jeopardy as visiting York had whittled a twenty two point deficit down to ten and taken hold of the momentum of the game.  Then CSI senior guard Mallory Ameneiros, with five of her ten teammates on the bench in street clothes, decided that this was not to be her last college game.  It was a decision she’d made twice before, but this time, it was made on the court; not in a doctor’s office.

Ameneiros, a basketball lifer, had enjoyed a stellar career at St. Peter’s Girls High School; one of the city’s best programs, before coming to CSI.   A point guard with terrific court sense and a feathery jump shot, she missed most of last season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in her knee  in December and undergoing reconstructive surgery in January.  Despite the severity of the injury, an exhaustive rehab stint had her ready for the team’s opener on November 18th; the first game of what would be her final season.  Or so she thought.

Early in that game, Ameneiros tore the ACL once again as well as the medial meniscus in the same knee.  Devastasted, she resigned herself to the fact that her college basketball career had ended and, as a team captain, set about the business of supporting her coaches and younger teammates.  “We missed her terribly”, said CSI assistant coach Tim Shanahan.  “We were now without a true point guard and forced to shift players out of position.  Worst of all, though, was losing Mallory’s leadership on the floor.”  What the CSI women didn’t know at the time, however, was that Amaneiros’ injury would be the first of many that would gradually pare the roster down over the course of the year.  By mid-season, the Dolphins, who somehow remained near the top of the standings, were dressing just eight players.  Then their captain visited her doctor.

Assured that she could do no further damage to the knee and that pain management would be her biggest issue, Ameneiros informed her stunned coaches that, in fact, she still had some basketball left to play.  And, on January 13th, less than two months after the injury, she returned to the CSI lineup, albeit cautiously.  “My doctor warned me that I won’t be able to be the player I once was. I’ll go to do something on the court that I know I’m capable of doing but my knee won’t allow me to.  I’ve had to just come to grips with it, but its still hard.”  She played sparingly at first, as she and her coaches tried to figure out how much she could handle.  That plan went out the window when two more women went down for the season, sending CSI into its first round playoff game against York with an active roster of just six.

A solid first half that saw the Dolphins build a sizable lead gave way to a second stanza that was less than impressive.  As York crept closer, there was a sense that CSI was running out of gas; that the fast pace and depleted roster would be too much to overcome.  Enter Ameneiros.  “I knew I wanted to attack. I figured I would attack and get fouled  and be able to build the lead further and further.  My coaches also told me to keep driving because they weren’t really pressuring the ball or playing help defense. So that’s why I drove to the basket every chance I got.”   The plan worked to perfection as Ameneiros hit all ten of her foul shots over those final seven minutes and carried her teammates into the next round.

That CSI fell to Baruch in the semi finals is a minor detail when compared to the lasting impression left by Ameneiros on her coaches and teammates.  “We came to CSI at the same time”, said Shanahan, “so, I’ve seen how much she’s grown.”   “To see how Mallory supports her teammates, works with our younger players and provides such leadership, it makes you so happy that she was able to come back because you know what it meant to her.”  “She’s a wonderful person who’s become one of my favorite players.”  As for Mallory, the last month of her college basketball career is something she’ll treasure forever. “Every game I played after I tore my knee the second time was a game I never thought I’d get back. I’m really grateful that my doctor cleared me to come back and give it a shot. I was well aware that at any given moment I might not have been able to physically push any more, so that’s why I took advantage of every second I was on the court.”  A fortunate thing, I guess, for everyone associated with the women’s basketball program at the College of Staten Island.  It’s an old saying among athletes that there’s nothing better than being called a “great teammate”.  Try and find someone who won’t say that about Mallory Ameneiros.

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2 Responses to “The View From the Cheap Seats: No “I” in Team”

  1. Eddie,
    Thank you for letting the world know what a special kid this is.I like to add one footnote to her career. She is graduating on time. Mallory has become the true sense of what a student athlete should be.

  2. Great stuff!

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