Bench Blessing in Memory of Cathi Gray Wasilik '62
Reflections by Sr. Jeanne Ronzani, SHCJ, Trustee and Former Head of School and Alina Troya Aquilato '00, Director of Global Programs/Religion Teacher
Cathi Gray Wasilik, Miss Gray to some, Mrs. Wasilik to others, lived the Holy Child motto, “Actions, not words.” She was a beloved teacher, administrator, coach and friend.
Cathi was a true pioneer in the whole field of women’s sports. She learned many of her skills from her father who coached her teams when she was in elementary school. Cathi loved sports of all kinds and recognized the possibilities for women at a time before sports in girls’ schools were considered important.
Cathi’s accomplishments were many. When she joined the Holy Child faculty in 1966, there were just two varsity teams. At that time Cathi WAS the Athletic Department. Single handedly she taught all the phys. ed. classes, health classes, coached basketball, volleyball, softball and field hockey. Thirty-four years later, by the year 2000, under Cathi’s leadership, Holy Child fielded 29 teams in the Middle and Upper Schools. She led the Varsity Basketball team to over 500 wins, becoming the winningest woman coach in Westchester County. She served as President of the Fairchester Athletic Association and the Catholic League for several years and had the reputation of leading teams of outstanding sportsmanship. And it was she who chose the mighty Gryphon as the school’s mascot.
Most importantly, Cathi was a wonderful role model and friend for thousands of young women over her 37 years at Holy Child. The 1982 yearbook was one of a number dedicated to Cathi. In part the dedication reads, “Mrs. Wasilik is the personification of the true spirit of School of the Holy Child…We hope, in maturing and fulfilling our potentials, we will retain and exude Mrs. Wasilik’s extraordinary spirit. And so, Mrs. Wasilik, we give you this special thanks, for the guidance, the support, the good times and the exercise! In other words, we cannot imagine these past four years without you.”
All of us who knew and loved Cathi cannot imagine Holy Child and its outstanding athletic department without the strong foundation which Cathi so carefully and competently built. She was a true woman of “conscience and action.” Thank you, Cathi. You live on in our hearts and memories. How blessed we have been to have had you a part of our lives and our school.
Mrs. Wasilik was an incredible coach and teacher. But what many of remember most was her sense of humor, and the way she cared for her students; she always focused on who we were as people. She recognized our potential, taught us to learn from our mistakes, and helped us to become our best self. Mrs. Wasilik's office was a second home to us, even when it was no more than a literal storage closet at the back of the old gym. She was a comedian when we needed a laugh, as well as a trusted advisor and true friend.
I asked a few alumnae and former faculty to help share some memories about Mrs. Wasilik. Here is what we came up with:
- She was our biggest cheerleader, our motivator, and our #1 fan. I can still hear her booming voice yelling to me from the side of the softball field, telling me to slide!
- She had an amazing way of interacting with the girls and everyone she met.
- She always did funny things to bring a smile to my face, especially her creative display of lost and found items.
- She always made us feel safe.
- She was the epitome of the Holy Child spirit.
- She had a heart as big as a house, offered countless students hours of compassionate counseling, was a fierce and fearless coach, a sympathetic nurse, a wonderful colleague, and a great mom.
- I’m not sure how Ring Day and the balloon arch survived without her!
- Despite a reluctance for technology at first, many of us remember her screen name: "EZGoing22", and we looked forward to the countless jokes she would send to our inbox.
- She was warm, funny, and had an irresistible personality.
- We had makeshift fields and a smaller than regulation court, but she made do with what we had, and we were competitive. She brought athletics at Holy Child to a new level.
- She was the best mom in the world to our dear friend, Megan - their close connection was obvious. But she was also a "mom" to all of us at school - MamaWaz was always ready to listen, to give sound advice, to make us laugh. She would give us a tough talking to if we needed it, but joy was always apparent.
Mrs. Wasilik, thank you for all you did for us. I pray that you are still watching over us, and that we are up to the task of carrying on your legacy and the Holy Child spirit, as you did for so long.
Jayne Pickett, Upper School Campus Minister:
God of the fields and the streets, fresh air and troubled hearts, we thank you for the wonderful witness of love, joy, and passion we gained through your servant, Cathi. We ask for your blessing upon this bench, dedicated in her memory. May it be a symbol of all that we strive for in being women of conscience and action. Bless those who will sit here, laughing, listening, sharing, and resting, especially the young girls we serve each day. Let each person experience from you all that Cathi embodied at Holy Child: motivation, support, zeal, and care. Make this place of rest be a place of peace and nourishment for the soul, furthering Christ’s realm here on earth. Amen.