By Gabriela Cafaro ‘22
Swim Coach Joe Verponi, a beloved member of the Fontbonne family, died on January 10, 2019, after struggling with health issues for some time. He was 91 years old.
Joe started to help out the swim team 50 years ago when his daughters attended the school. He was known to pile a team of 12 girls in his car and drive down to the YMCA on 9th Street for pool practice.
He continued to coach and eventually became head coach for many years. He enjoyed teaching and improving the swimmers’ strokes - the hardest one to master, the butterfly, was his favorite.
He taught hundreds - maybe thousands of swimmers - to improve their strokes while being part of FHA’s swim team. Even as he aged and began to use a cane, Joe looked forward to coming back to the pool and getting team results on his iPad that his grandchildren set up for him.
Kathi Kocur, the current swim coach says, “When I became head coach, Joe would always listen as I talked about our lineups and give suggestions to get the best out of the team.” She often spoke to him and sent him rosters with the swimmers’ times, and they talked about how the Freshwomen would succeed.
He was a universally admired swim coach at Fontbonne and has been recognized over the years. He was Coach of the Year twice - given the honor by his fellow swim coaches - and has been inducted into the Brooklyn-Queens Catholic Girls High School athletic association's Hall of Fame.
He was a father to four daughters who attended Fontbonne Hall Academy and leaves behind many great and great-grandchildren. He was a coach, a mentor, and a friend to many people. He will be sorely missed.
We, as members of the Fontbonne family, are saddened to hear about this great loss to our school. His spirit will live on in every stroke of our Bonnie swimmers.