Seven years ago, Lincoln’s Athletic Director Renan Ebeid set out on a mission to overhaul the Coney Island school’s sports program. She couldn’t do that without the proper facilities though so she put in a call to local councilman Domenic Recchia.
“Every single month for seven years I hounded him,” Ebeid recalled. “I made sure he never forgot who I was and the worst thing he did was give me his cell phone number.”
Recchia, who graduated from Dewey High School, agreed to try to help out, but under the condition that the school’s football team win a championship before he left office. Seven years later, Recchia fulfilled his end of the bargain and then some as he helped the school get a new field, new lights, a new floor on its basketball court and had its swimming pool re-grouted.
The football team also held up its end of the bargain as it has won two Public School Athletic League titles in the last three years.
At Lincoln High School on Friday, in his last public appearance as a city councilman, Recchia unveiled one last project that he helped with — a new fitness center.
“I wanted to help because I know first hand that not every kid goes to school for reading and writing, but it’s that gym class, football or soccer team that is what keeps kids going to school and working hard,” Recchia said. “That’s how we achieve success.”
The new fitness center is twice the size of Lincoln’s last weight room and is filled with brand new equipment that is for the use of not just the football team, but all of the students.
“I want kids from Brooklyn to be on the same level and have access to the same equipment that kids from high schools in Ohio, Texas, Florida and California have access to,” Recchia said.
Brooklyn’s Borough President Marty Markowitz, whose wife Jamie Snow was a cheerleader at Lincoln from 1974-76, was also on hand for the event and presented the Lincoln football team with certificates of recognition for winning this year’s city title.
“I never promised to bring Brooklyn a professional football team because we don’t have the land, believe it or not, to build a stadium,” Markowitz said. “And with the Jets and Giants in the area there is no chance. So you are our championship football team.
“You bring pride to Brooklyn and bring us respect,” he continued. “You shine Brooklyn’s apple even greater with the prestige you brought us.”
Lincoln’s football coach, Shawn O’Connor, couldn’t have been happier with the new digs especially as his office is inside the new fitness center. He said the best thing is that it will encourage students to use the facilities more since the old ones left much to be desired.
“The old place was kind of tight, smelly, and beaten down,” O’Connor said. “It wasn’t something that kids had pride in using. It’s nice to have this space and equipment. It’s a great facility for our kids. It gives them a chance to see what it feels like to be in a college atmosphere.”
With the new facilities in place, Ebeid feels like the school, which has won two city titles in football and three city titles in basketball over the last seven years, will continue its winning tradition. They aren’t done though as Ebeid already has mentioned a new tennis court while O’Connor mentioned a new field house for the football team.