The 1946 and 1947 Amityville High School girls field hockey teams were inducted into the school's Sports Hall of Fame on Friday, a delayed honor for teams once hailed as Long Island's best but forgotten in an era when schools paid scant attention to girls sports.
Former coach Berneice Muncy Giordano, former player Rosalie DeMarco Hauswirth and Catherine Taylor, the daughter of another former team player, Caroline Smith, beamed as a crowd of 200 cheered and Beyoncé's "Run the World (Girls)" played over the sound system.
"It's important that women have a place in the Hall of Fame," Hauswirth, 86, said in an interview after the ceremony.
Amityville has a history of success in such sports as football, and track and field, but even by its standards, the field hockey accomplishments are impressive: undefeated in regular season play for two straight years, undefeated in regional round robins at Valley Stream Play Day and Adelphi College Play Days in 1947, chosen as Long Island's "outstanding squad" in 1946 and 1947.
Those feats were described in a 1947 yearbook that Jessica Bernius, an Amityville Village trustee and Hall of Fame secretary, discovered in a school closet earlier this year. Official records, if they were even created, appear not to have survived.
"Girls sports didn't mean anything," said Bernius, an Amityville High multisport athlete, Class of 1962, who was also inducted last week. "Girls were supposed to go to school, graduate and become homemakers."
Long before the passage of Title IX, the 1972 law prohibiting sex discrimination for activities receiving federal aid, most Suffolk County girls sports were intramural, with no structure for play between schools, said Don Webster, executive director of Section XI, the county's governing body for interscholastic sports.
No formal championships were held and basic records of wins, losses and goals were not kept. "They didn't have anywhere near the recognition that males had," he said.
In those days, Giordano said, the entire high school, located in the Park South building, had about 200 students. She recruited the most promising girls from gym class to join a hockey "honor team" that played other schools. "I'd have six weeks to teach them the fundamentals," she said. Besides afternoon practices, "I allowed them to sign out a hockey stick so they'd go home and practice their skills for the weekends."
Taylor learned the game from her mother, who is deceased, and brought her mother's old stick to the ceremony last week -- deep brown wood and marred from years of use, it drew a round of applause on its own. She said that the sport didn't get much official attention at Amityville High in the 1970s, when she played.
Amityville stopped offering field hockey in the early 1980s, as interest dwindled and soccer grew more popular.
Hauswirth, whose chief memory of the 1947 championship season was a broken nose she got at one of the tournaments, loved playing under Giordano so much that she went on to a career as a physical education teacher.
Taylor kept playing at the University of Maine. "You just played to enjoy it," she said. "You didn't do it for the recognition."