When it came to the Long Island high school and college basketball scene, John Corso was “living the dream.”
A renowned figure on the court and the sidelines, Corso occupied a myriad of roles during the course of several decades.
And the former St. Dominic athletic director never took any of it for granted.
“Every time I talked to him he used to say ‘Living the dream,’” Holy Trinity athletic director Chris Hardardt said. “He treated life that way.”
While Corso made his name as a Holy Trinity star in 1976 and continued as an official and administrator, he built an impeccable reputation as a true gentleman who constantly went the extra mile for others.
“He always had perspective,” said St. Dominic assistant principal Matthew O’Brien of Corso, who died of bladder cancer on Jan. 26 at 58 and is survived by his mother, Mary Corso, 90, of Jackson, New Jersey. “He always made you feel like whatever you were going through at the time you would get through.”
The strong legacy Corso left behind was displayed in a tribute on Feb. 9 in the Corso Basketball Classic, where the St. Dominic boys and girls teams hosted Holy Trinity and raised “approximately $30,000” toward the John Corso Memorial Scholarship Fund, according to O’Brien.
“His name is gonna go down here as one of the greatest people to ever walk these halls,” O’Brien said. “And Holy Trinity’s halls. Anywhere he’s ever been, he’s a legend. Not because of what he did, but because of the way he went about doing things.
“I think every student-athlete admired him because he treated them with the utmost respect. And that’s hard to come by in today’s society. He made everyone feel like the most important person in the room in helping them and guiding them.”
A native of Jackson Heights, Corso led Holy Trinity to three consecutive Nassau-Suffolk CHSAA titles from 1976-78 as a dominant 6-8 forward. He then played Division I basketball at Florida and Davidson, and graduated with a degree in athletic administration from Adelphi in 1981.
Before taking over St. Dominic’s athletic program in 2010, Corso served as the director of men’s basketball operations at Hofstra beginning in 2001. Prior to his time with the Pride, Corso worked as an NCAA basketball official for 25 years.
“There’s not a person I’ve ever run into on Long Island or anywhere in the basketball community that had a bad word to say about him,” Hardardt said.
“He was a gentleman. He treated everybody the same way, with class and dignity. And that’s how he lived his life until the end.”