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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Family dynasty reigns over winning team

By Raphael Sugarman
Posted
Marisol Diaz/The Riverdale Press
Head coach Gina Nieves huddles with her St. Margaret’s basketball team during the game that set them up to win the Catholic Youth Organization’s Archdiocesan State Championship.

 

When St. Margaret of Cortona Gidgets basketball coach Gina Nieves was searching for assistants to help her mentor the school’s third- and fourth-grade girls’ team, she had to look no further than her two younger sisters Angie and Cristie with whom she shares a house with their mother Georgina in North Riverdale. 

Gina did not pause for an instant to contemplate the perils of sibling rivalry before approaching her sisters, nor did Angie or Cristie flinch at the offer. 

“They were the obvious choices,” said Gina, who just completed her seventh year as head coach. 

Cristie said the partnership was bound to work because of the sisters’ honesty with each other.

“I figured if the relationship did change it was going to be for the better,” she said. 

The Nieves family is inseparable, having nurtured a rare and selfless solidarity.

Gina and Angie are both graduates of the College of Mount Saint Vincent and Cristie expects to graduate there this spring. All three played in the North Riverdale Baseball League. 

“We are Riverdale through-and-through,” said Gina. 

All four Nieves women are educators. Georgina taught Spanish at St. Margaret’s for 14 years. Though she remains the school’s assistant varsity basketball girls’ coach, she now teaches at the Academy of Our Lady of Good Council Elementary School in White Plains. Gina and Angie teach at the school as well, while Cristie is a teacher’s aide at PS 24.

What also connects the Nieves’ clan is their near fanatical love of basketball. 

“I coach my players aggressively,” said Gina. “Even though they are only third and fourth graders, when they are on the court I tell them, ‘you are ball players.’”

Georgina began coaching at St. Margaret’s in 1998. She coached her daughter Cristie, who was then in the third grade.

“In the beginning it was a bit of an adjustment,” said Georgina. “Cristie said I was very hard on her, but I don’t think so. I give the same firm treatment to every player.”

Gina was playing on St. Margaret’s varsity team at the time and Angie on the junior varsity team.

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