Vincent Cannizzaro, former Christ The King women’s basketball coach, dies at 82

vincent cannizzaro
Photo courtesy of the New York State Basketball Hall of Fame

Vincent Cannizzaro, who spent 19 seasons as head coach of the women’s basketball team at Christ The King High School in Middle Village, died Saturday at the age of 82 following a battle with cancer.

During his time as head coach from 1981-1999, Cannizzaro earned 456 wins. Under his leadership, the team won 12 New York State Catholic High School championships, as well as 10 consecutive New York State Federation titles. There was a stretch where the team won 120 straight league games. USA Today crowned Christ The King national champions three times under his leadership.

He also coached and developed future WNBA Hall of Famer Chamique Holdsclaw and future WNBA Hall of Famer Sue Bird.

Vincent Cannizzaro with the Catholic High School Athletic Association (CHSAA) Brooklyn/Queens championship trophy. Photo courtesy of the Cannizzaro family
“Mr. Vincent Cannizzaro was a legend,” current Christ the King men’s basketball coach Joe Arbitello posted Sunday on X, formerly known as Twitter. “He belongs in the [Naismith Hall of Fame] for what he did for women’s basketball. My conversation with him as a young coach was so helpful. RIP Vinny once a Royal always a Royal.”

Cannizzaro spent four seasons as an assistant coach for the Stony Brook University women’s basketball team after leaving Christ the King. In 2008, Cannizzaro was inducted into the New York State Basketball Hall of Fame.

“It’s a great honor for anyone to be considered for a prestigious award like that, but it’s an honor not just for me,” Cannizzaro said at his induction ceremony. “Because as a coach everything I accomplished relied on the coaches I worked with, the players that played for me. They all contributed to the success I’ve had.”

Cannizzaro is survived by his wife, Carol, his three children, seven grandchildren and five great grandchildren.