In gym class freshman year during the flag football unit, Shane Cronin asked his teacher Michael Scarpelli if he could try to kick some field goals.
Cronin had played soccer since the age of eight, but never tried football. He hit a field goal from 20-yards out, then 30, followed by makes from 40, 47 and 54. Scarpelli, the head coach of Clarkstown South’s football team, told Cronin that he might want to look into joining the football team.
“You don’t really see that everyday,” Scarpelli said. “It was obvious he had a gift.”
Scarpelli called Cronin’s parents to tell them he thought their son would have a chance to play in college if he took up football. While Scarpelli wanted Cronin to join the team, he didn’t want to steal the freshman from the soccer team.
“My colleagues are coaching those teams and so I didn’t want to disrespect them at all,” Scarpelli said. “Still I told him that football might be something to consider.”
Cronin considered and sophomore year played football for the first time. On Thursday, Cronin signed his National Letter of Intent to play collegiately at Wagner College in Staten Island.
“I thought I had a better chance to go to college with football,” Cronin said Thursday.
“It was a little different," he explained. "I never played football before. It was a new experience, a little weird or awkward in the beginning. Then I got used to it.”
During his junior year, Cronin earned all-league, second team all-county and fourth team all-state honors. He was the only junior to make an all-state team in Class AA. Cronin had a productive senior year, earning all-league, first team all-county and second team all-section honors.
Cronin expanded his game his senior year, adding punting to his arsenal. It’s actually what he was recruited for by Wagner. Cronin said he’s going to punt for Wagner, with the possibility of kicking off. He said there are a few kickers ahead of him on the depth chart, but he hopes he gets a chance to kick as well.
At the signing on Thursday, Croning was joined by his parents, Allison and Rick Cronin, his sister, Kelly Cronin, Scarpelli, South’s kicking coach Bill Kennedy and a few teammates and friends.
Allison Cronin said that even after putting in years of time and money into soccer, the family was happy to support their son's sport switch.
“It’s what he wanted to do,” she said. “It was his choice. We let him make that choice and the coaches really helped him make that transition.”
Shane Cronin said he’s not sure what he’s going to study in college yet. He said he knows Wagner has a theater arts program that sounds interesting, but he’s undeclared as of now.
“Whatever I choose to do, I know they have good internships because it’s right next to the city,” he said.
Cronin added other schools interested in him that he looked at included Alabama A&M University, Fordham University, University of New Haven and Saint Francis University in Pennsylvania. In the end, it was his trip to Wagner that convinced him and helped him make up his mind.
“The location was close and just the feel of it, getting to know coaches, getting to know players,” Cronin said. “It was a good experience.”