YONKERS, N.Y. -- "As a freshman in college, I looked at a list of names and thought 'I wonder who will be the first woman in the Hall of Fame,'" says Marianne Reilly with a chuckle, recalling her initial encounter with Manhtattan College's pantheon of athletic excellence. Little did she know that just 14 years later, her name would be the first to grace the list.
Shattering the norm isn't something new to Reilly, a Bronx native and Crestwood resident. As a member of St. Barnabas High School's Class of 1978, Reilly went on to become the first female recipient of an athletic scholarship in Manhattan College's history, and in 1992 became the first woman inducted into the Manhattan College Athletic Hall of Fame.
However, she credits her success on the hardwood to the experiences at her close knit, single-sex high school on the Yonkers-Bronx border. "There were many role models for the girls at SBHS and as a sophomore I promised myself that I was going to go to college on athletic scholarship." That inspiration came after she saw her Senior coach receive an athletic scholarship to play basketball at Iona College.
"There is a sense of empowerment and confidence that a St. Barnabas education gives you," she believes. "The four years in high school was a time when I was able to focus on my own personal and social development. High school years at St. Barnabas are a special time to develop yourself with less distraction than a bigger or co-ed school would offer. The smaller class sizes lends itself to a better learning environment. The environment really is like a sisterhood."
In fact, Reilly feels the mindset she developed at St. Barnabas went on to make her one of the best scorers in Manhattan College history. "By looking at the Hall of Fame list and wondering what female would be first, I was thinking like a St. Barnabas girl. What woman is going to do this?"
Since her playing days, Reilly has gone on to a successful career in academia. After teaching and coaching in New York public and Catholic systems, she began her long tenure at Fordham University. From serving as an assistant women’s basketball to an associate athletic director, Reilly has been a staple of Fordham athletics for more than 25 years, where she currently is the Senior Associate Athletic Director.
Looking back on her formative years from her current Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees for St. Barnabas, she feels it is important for alumni from all walks of life to give back. "Women with professional careers are more successful than ever before; we are cultivating them and asking our alumnae to reinvest in St. Barnabas High School which continues to educate, empower and transform young women."
If it's anywhere near as easy as putting the ball in the hoop, it should be a layup for Reilly and the school.