No Field, No Travel, No Problem: Construction HS Softball Still Winning

Construction High School softball does a yearly candy fundraiser to buy the team's uniforms. Courtesy Marco Migliaccio

Marco Migliaccio has been the softball coach at Construction High School in Queens, New York, for nine years, since the day the school opened. He led the team to a Class B PSAL title in 2009, then a Class A PSAL title in 2013.

What's more impressive, his teams have consistently competed at an elite level despite a scarcity of funding, and not having their own field or even a travel budget. Migliaccio, a New York native who played baseball at Brooklyn College, took some time to answer questions about his program's success, even with so many financial roadblocks.

espnW: Tell me a bit about how you came to coach softball at Construction High School.

Marco Migliaccio: I am one of the original teachers who opened up HS for Construction nine years ago. I was the softball coach at my old school, Van Arsdale HS, and I loved it so much that I wanted to build a program at Construction.

espnW: How does a school that struggles so much with funding win a Class B title, and then jump up a level and win Class A?

MM: My motto is to work hard and good things will happen. I never give up on an athlete, as long as they are willing to put the time in. We at Construction work for everything that we have earned, in the weight room, on the track and on the field.

espnW: My understanding is your players needs to find their own way to travel to games. What's the most extreme travel scenario you've faced?

MM: We play a state schedule for our nonleague games. All of our league games we travel to either by public transport, via bus or train. We play in different boroughs, from Staten Island to the Bronx. For the games upstate, we have to beg parents to take some players.

espnW: What is the reaction on the subway when your entire softball team gets on?

MM: At first, when the girls would get on public transportation with all their gear (including the catcher's equipment), the public would say things to them regarding taking up too much space.

espnW: If you could be king of New York City schools for a day, what would the very first thing your team would get that it currently doesn't have?

MM: If there is one thing that we would love to have, it's a field. We are the only Queens A team that doesn't have one. We play in a public park that we share with two other teams, and we are always interrupted by cricket guys playing in the outfield. The Parks Department does not take care of the field, and my team does all the raking and ground work to maintain it.

espnW: What, if any, opportunities have you had to turn down due monetary issues?

MM: Every year we get asked to an invite-only state tournament that we have to turn down due to lack of funding.

espnW: Is there a gap between how softball is funded on the New York City level, and other sports -- particularly boys' sports? If so, what message do you think that sends?

MM: The gap between boys' sports and softball is so big that it puts the Grand Canyon to shame. The girls' softball program is one of the lowest on the PSAL totem pole. Even for a big state tournament, like the NYC Mayor's Cup, for almost every other sport, the participants get shirts, socks and uniforms. For softball, they get nothing. They have to wear their school uniforms to that game. Unfortunately, this can make the girls feel like all the hard work they put in is not as important as that of some of the other athletes.

espnW: What do you see as the larger social value for the players on your team, and do you think it's been enhanced by a need to fund so much of what you do yourselves?

MM: Due to the fact that we spend so much time together, we have become a family and this family grows every year when the seniors graduate. The older girls learn to become mentors to the younger girls, and the younger girls have someone to look up to. This is a bigger lesson than one they can learn on the field.