By Merle Exit
The signature of Lucille Kyvallos was unveiled at the basketball court of Queens College’s Fitzgerald Gymnasium Oct. 14. The unveiling was a long time coming and finally came to fruition after several years.
Borough President Melinda Katz was on hand during the ceremony to issue a proclamation, which read:
“Whereas, as part of its celebration of its 80 years of service, Queens college is dedicating its basketball court in honor of Lucille Kyvallos, who coached the Queens College women’s basketball team from 1969 to 1979 and from 1980 to 1981 and who led the U.S. women’s national basketball team to a silver medal at the World Games in Bulgaria in 1977.”
“The World’s Borough, is extremely proud of the achievements of Lucille Kyvallos and warmly congratulates her as she receives the honor of having the Queens College basketball court be dedicated in her name.”
Additionally, Katz declared Oct. 14, 2017 as Lucille Kyvallos Day.
Once inside the gymnasium’s basketball court, various speakers came to the podium to honor Kyvallos. Cathy Andruzzi, chairperson of the Lucille Kyvallos Court Committee, introduced the speakers.
Eileen Mentone talked about the early years around 1967. Barbara Riccardi focused on the ‘72-73 Championship Final Memory. Sharon Manning Beverly spoke about the final years as she became a coach. Queens College alumni Sherry Fitelson, although not a speaker, was a force on the committee as well.
Dr. China Jude, Assistant VP and athletics director, spoke alongside Queens College President Felix V. Matos Rodriguez and issued a second proclamation.
“In gratitude to Lucille Kyvallos, legendary QC basketball coach, women’s basketball pioneer, member of the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame, and Queens College Hall of Fame, for her generous support of and dedication, and the foresight, dedication and leadership of Lucille Kyvallos brought QC women’s basketball into the national spotlight and continues to inspire our current and future athletes, now therefore, let it be known that the basketball court in the Fitzgerald Gym shall from this day forward be known as the Lucille Kyvallos Court,” the proclamation read.
After the speeches, Kyvallos received special gifts from each of the speakers.
The early years teams presented her with tickets to Tapestry; 1972-73 team put together a picture album of all her teams and pages for guests to sign and express their sentiments. Three mounted pictures of her in various activities were given by the 1973-74 team to place on her desk. The later years group came across with a beautiful bouquet of 13 roses with one white rose and a bottle of Champagne.
The signature was then revealed as everyone reveled.
“I’m overwhelmed with this tribute to my past and I’m very happy to see my signature,” Kyvallos said. “It is a major honor to be the first woman in the city that had a basketball court named for her. It is really monumental to me.”
Former player Gail Marquis pretty much summed it all up.
“Seeing Lucille Kyvallos and her heart-felt thanks and appreciation at the dedication ceremony of the basketball court that now bears her name, was so uplifting and rewarding for me,” Marquis said. “I think I speak for many of my teammates, managers, friends and admirers in attendance, the court dedication is a small token of thanks for all that Lucille Kyvallos has provided to the game of basketball,” she added.
“It is a realization that she was ahead of her time in training and attitude of web in basketball, sports and life. She allowed us to be vulnerable and challenge ourselves. Similar to the bravery of a Billie Jean King, Lucille Kyvallos said it was OK to be strong, aggressive, fight for a victory and still be a lady when it was over. As women, we could be both. No limits.”