KATONAH, N.Y. – On April 5, 2011, former New York Yankees centerfielder and Westchester resident Bernie Williams participated in the groundbreaking ceremony for The Harvey School’s new 22,000 square foot athletic center.
On that day, Williams promised the Cavaliers that he would return to cut the ribbon when construction finished. On Friday, he fulfilled that promise.
Williams took a pair of oversized scissors and snipped a blue ribbon to symbolize the opening of The Harvey School’s new athletic center that features two full-size basketball and volleyball courts, a 2,000 square foot fitness center and seating for 420 people.
“It’s a great thing for me to be here just to see your dreams come true,” Williams said to the students and faculty in attendance. “It’s just awesome to be part of this.”
The former Yankee also joked that he was “still mourning the loss” of the Yankees, who were eliminated by the Detroit Tigers in four straight games of the American League Championship Series.
Williams said a mutual friend who knows Paul Shaffer of "The Late Show with David Letterman" connected him with The Harvey School and the four-time World Series champion was proud to help a local endeavor.
“Obviously, (there’s) a great community of people and I’m always trying to help,” Williams said. “Plus the fact that I always try to help in the community that I live. I’m a Westchester guy so it’s just great to be here.”
Steve Masiello, head coach of the Manhattan College men’s basketball team and 1996 Harvey School graduate, was the other special guest at the event. Masiello holds the all-time scoring record for the Cavaliers’ basketball team.
“Obviously, to see a facility like this at a high school level, I’m blown away,” Masiello said. “It’s just a sign of Harvey, the excellence that they have not only for student-athletes, but for the students.”
Masiello also joked during his remarks at the podium that he is jealous he would not get to play in the new gym.
The Harvey School’s original gym was built in 1964 and Headmaster Barry W. Fenstermacher said in a letter that the school’s most pressing need was to build a new athletic center. The school’s enrollment has tripled since 1964 and 340 boys and girls in grades six through twelve now use the gym, as opposed to the 100 boys from grades five through eight when the original gym was built.
The school's board of trustees laid out a long-range strategic plan for The Harvey School in 2000. The first phase was a capital campaign called “Building on Success” that ended in 2005. This phase also included construction of the new Middle School additions and the Arts Center.
Phase two came to fruition on Friday with the ribbon cutting ceremony. The second phase consisted of the $5 million athletic center, $1 million for tennis courts, field acquisitions and upgrades, and a $1 million endowment.
The school expects construction on all the projects to be completed in 2014.