By Anthony Rondinelli
It was a beautiful day as I made my way to Mt. Loretto for the 22nd annual induction into the Staten Island Sports Hall of Fame. It was being held at the Staten Island Sports Museum, located there at Father Drumgoole’s Mt. Loretto, named after the order of nuns in Buffalo N.Y. who took care of Father Drumgoole when he was ill in the upstate city well over 100 years ago. True to his word he opened the orphanage and named it in honor of the ladies of the cloth as he promised.
I am usually honored by an invitation from Jay Price, former SI Advance sports reporter and author of Thanksgiving 1959. A great book chronicling the great tradition of the famed CHS vs NDHS Turkey Day game and the people of SI’s connection to it all. I was running late when I got a cell call from Trevor Mills, CHSAAF alumni president. I’m coming, I’m coming, I told Trevor. I didn’t expect the traffic. It may as well have been held in the Bronx the traffic was so horrendous. I crossed over at Huguenot ave. from the x-way to get on to Hylan Blvd. There was less traffic on the wide blvd and I managed to get there on time by seconds.
There were seven inductees, but I was going to cover two in particular. Both girls who played for Curtis and now decades later were being honored for their athletic talents. Leslie Stahl Clauson ’72 and Karin Muller Crowley ’93. These two super heroes are what makes local folk legends. The Stahl family were famous in CHS for both athletics and scholarship. Both Karin and Leslie (now women) both honed their athletic abilities playing with the boys as they said. Karin Muller, a product of the Sacred Heart school’s athletic program in West Brighton, Snug Harbor LL (formerly North Shore Little League) and CHS. Leslie a PS45 kid who developed her athletic skills playing on the streets of West Brighton. Playing touch football on Metropolitan avenue with her older brother Peter,(former CHS Football Capt.) who, said he always picked Leslie when choosing up sides because she could catch. No doubt she was among some heavy completion, that being the notorious Dr. Dan Wheeler, the infamous Javelin catcher at CHS. Dr. Dan was credited with that famous saying: ”I need this like I need another hole in my head.” Of course, a long day at track and field catching javelins does seem to make its point.
As for Leslie, she developed a love of Volleyball at the West Brighton, YMCA. She brought that love and skill to Curtis H.S. where she became a star athlete. She was multitalented. She was a strong swimmer, cheerleader and star volleyball player. At Curtis she was popular, beautiful, smart and athletic. When she put her mind to something it was as good as done. A trait that seems to be shared among all the Stahl family.
After CHS, Leslie went onto Northwestern University. There she helped lead the Wildcats to their best record in the school’s history. She was a pioneer in women’s competitive sports .This was being done before there was a NCAA tournament. While still only a sophomore at Northwestern, Leslie was named to the United States National team; part of the group that trained together for about two years or so then went on to compete in the 1975 Pan Am Games. Unbelievably, despite her magnificent athletic prowess she fell short of making the eight team field for the 1980AD Olympics. Back home, Staten Island was proud and CHS were following her exploits as another great alumnae. She continued to cast a long heroic shadow as a great scholar athlete. Furthermore she was also inducted to the NYC PSAL Hall Of Fame as well. Considered at the time to be the best American player east of the Mississippi in the eyes of her home town she will always be considered the best nation wide because she is ”our home town girl who done good.”
Wherever she goes she will have our hearts and minds. and when she looks into her husbands eyes, rest assure those eyes belong to another part of West Brighton and CHS, the other half of the dynamic dual, Ed Clawson, CHS ’72 The left footed punter and right handed passer. As for the future, Leslie will be retiring now from a long career in education in Washington State. First as a teacher, then as a school principal. Ed and Leslie will be relocating to Prescott Arizona. Question, does the Advance deliver that far(LOL) God’s speed to Eddie & Leslie.
Now onto the Babe Ruth of women’s softball. The pride of both Sacred Heart and Curtis H.S. The scourge of the diamond, the awesome Karin Muller Crowley. There was something scary about looking at Karin at bat. It can be unnerving to a pitcher. Two eyes looking back at you that remind you that you are looking down the barrel of a side by side 12 guage shot gun. She doesn’t have that look of determination. No, its more intimidating than that. She has a sly grin when at bat. A grin of confidence that reminds you that the cat is about to swallow the canary and you my friend are the canary. Its not if she may get a hit, she most definitely will; its only a matter of how far its going. Those blue eyes peering back at you are telling you: I am smiling because you dear pitcher, are a done deal. The confident stare of an anaconda with that smirk that you are about to be swallowed one inning at a time.
The Curtis grad is a pitcher’s worse nightmare. Starting in the Snug Harbor little league she was something special. She lead her 1992 Big League Series with three game winning hits. She was a three time All City and 1993 All state player at her beloved Alma mater, Curtis High School. Karin hit.375, .417, .505 (yes, that’s Five oh five) and .473 twenty six homers; 177 runs battered in and lead the Curtis Warriors to three city championships.
Oh boy, or should I say oh girl? It gets better. The kid heads to New England to the University of Connecticut. Where the motto of the school now is ”there is God and he has blessed us with Karin Muller”. No doubt the kids at Sacred Heart are smiling too with the priest waving the banner for one of their own. There, in the frosty climate of New England, the gal from Curtis High went on to continue as the queen of swat. More slugging records followed. Three times All-Northeast. Two times All New England and 1997 ECAC All Star led the Huskies to two Big East titles. If that wasn’t enough the babe still holds the schools single- season and career RBIs records. There is no stopping Karin. Recently she coached Port Richmond H.S. to a 2015AD city championship. Yesss, the magic continues even as a coach.
Now did I forget that she was also the 2016AD honoree to the N.Y.State softball Hall of fame? This gal ain’t human. These two women, Leslie and Karin have a lot to be proud of. Maybe, only our pride might outshine theirs in the fact that these two super heroes are both Staten Islanders and Curtis grads. They truly are, one of us. You go girls!!! We are proud and love you both.
Anthony N. Rondinelli
Alumnus, teammate, classmate