Frank Samoylo personified the type of student that Albertus Magnus prides itself on developing – conscientious, dedicated, selfeffacing and continually striving for betterment in all aspects of his life. Now a Roman Catholic priest at St. Augustine’s Parish in New City, Samoylo, a 1968 Albertus graduate,can look back on his basketball-playing days with the Falcons and recall an era of togetherness and team success that helped shape the selfless person he was to become.
“Playing for Albertus was a good experience,“ says Samoylo, who is 53 and grew up in Valley Cottage. “We played together very well and all got along well. We didn’t look to one guy” to lead the team.
That may be so, but Samoylo was unquestionably the brightest star in the Falcon galaxy. A 6-foot-11Ú4-inch forward, he fulfilled many roles for Albertus: shooter, rebounder, ball-handler, tenacious defender. Sure, he had a great supporting cast, with guys like Bob Ahrens, a three-time All-County selection, and fellow All-County players Drew Leale and Pete Reilly. But Samoylo was the axis around which the Falcons revolved. In the memorable 1968 season, he was named Player of the Year in Rockland County;
All-New York State and one of the top 100 scholastic basketball players in the country (as was Ahrens); and also was a New York Daily News All-Star.
In the era before Albertus joined the Rockland Public School Athletic League (PSAL), the Falcons traveled all over the metropolitan region to play quality opponents. Despite a demanding schedule, the 1968 team posted a 16-2 record, with both losses coming by two points. It was also was the first Class B team ever to play in the Large School Eastern New York Catholic
Tournament (the Big Eight Classic). With Samoylo leading the way, that ‘68 squad also defeated Clarkstown, at that time the cream of the crop among Rockland public schools. Coincidentally, the 1968 Falcon team was recently inducted into the Albertus Magnus High School Hall of Fame.
The 1967 team was no slouch either, charting a 14-4 record including a victory over PSAL champion Spring Valley. Samoylo made first-team All-County that season as well, and averaged between 15 and 20 points per game both his junior and senior years.
Samoylo then went on to play for Georgia Tech, an NCAA Division I program. In his freshman year, at a tournament in Florida, he scored 50 points for the Yellow Jackets’ freshman team, a school record that still stands. By midway through his junior year, he was the starting guard on the varsity, thanks to the confidence entrusted in him by new coach Butch Clifton. Samoylo averaged 71Ú2 points a game for a team that went 23-9 and advanced to the championship game of the National Invitation Tournament before bowing to North Carolina. In those days, a berth in the NIT was highly coveted because only 16 to 20 teams qualified for the NCAA Tournament.
Although Georgia Tech was not nearly as successful the following year, Samoylo made a name for himself by averaging a team-leading 15.4 points per game, which included a 26-point effort against archrival Georgia. He also led the team in assists and was team captain and MVP.
After graduating from Georgia Tech with a degree in management, Samoylo worked for a year at a textile firm in Columbus, Ga., before obtaining a master’s degree in education from Iona College. He then pursued a religious calling by entering the Benedictine Monastery in the Worcester, Mass., archdiocese and spending six years there. However, he left before final vows.
Samoylo’s career path then took him to the educational field, where he spent the next 14 years. He served as an in-school suspension counselor at Clarkstown North High School for almost 14 years, and coached junior high school basketball in the Clarkstown Central School District for about nine years. Concurrent with that role, he also assisted Tom Collins with the Albertus Magnus varsity basketball team for about seven years before serving a four-year stint as the Falcons’ junior varsity basketball coach. He also had a turn as varsity golf coach at Albertus. In the fall of 1994, Samoylo followed a strong religious conviction and entered the seminary.
He spent the next seven years training to enter the priesthood – two years of “pre-theology,” or philosophy; one year of “spirituality,” or novitiate period; and four years of theology at St. Joseph’s Seminary-Dunwoodie in Yonkers. Samoylo was ordained a diocesan priest in May 2001 and currently serves the large, 2,700-family St. Augustine’s Parish in New City.
“As a priest, it’s very fulfilling,” Samoylo says of serving in the area where he grew up. “It’s not like I walked into a strange situation. It was familiar right away. I have parishioners who I worked with at Clarkstown North – teachers, retired teachers, secretaries, custodians, former students. It’s a really nice situation.”
Samoylo is a charter member of the Albertus Magnus High School Hall of Fame, having been inducted in 1994.