Know the score about Madeline Napolitano

| 22 Feb 2012 | 02:47

Tuxedo and Greenwood Lake communities rally to raise money to help George F. Baker High School’s long-time, beloved scorekeeper, By Nancy Kriz TUXEDO - Madeline Napolitano sat in her wheelchair, wearing her bright red Tuxedo Athletics shirt, in her apartment at The Promenade in Tuxedo this past Wednesday, waiting for guests to arrive. On her blanket- covered lap were six chocolate Tootsie pops she would give her visitors as treats. Normally, she’d have freshly made brownies, cookies or other homemade goodies ready, but these would have to do now. And when her guests - six members of the girls and boys soccer teams - arrived, each with their own red team jerseys on, they quickly walked over the Napolitano, lined up to hug and kiss her and offer their personal greetings. She knew each of them, happily asking them what was new, as if they were her own grandchildren. Keeping score for 48 years Up until 13 months ago, she saw them and most others at George F. Baker High School every day, particularly if there was a basketball or soccer game taking place. That’s because Napolitano has served as the high school’s scorekeeper for those games, a job she’s held for 48 years - an unbelievable record by anyone’s standards. But last October, Napolitano suffered a fall that broke one of her vertebrae and left her partially paralyzed. She’s been hospitalized and in rehabilitation since that time, unable to live at home by herself. Currently, she lives in an apartment at The Promenade, wheelchair -bound with a 24 hour aide to help with all her daily needs. Her apartment window overlooks the high school and soccer field, and during soccer season she watched the game from there. But it’s not the same. “I’m feeling pretty good,” said Napolitano. “Some days, you do feel bad, some days it hurts. I was paralyzed and coming back little by little with therapy. Hopefully, someday I’ll get back to normal. I’ll make the best of it.” Indoor tailgate party The Tuxedo and Greenwood Lake communities are gearing up to help Napolitano continue to make the best of it with a fundraiser to be held this Sunday, Nov. 21 at the Arthur Finnegan American Legion Post in Greenwood Lake called “Kickoff for Madeline.” The event - an indoor tailgate party - is intended to raise money to assist Napolitano with the costly expenses not covered by insurance: medical supplies, specialized equipment, transportation and a 24-hour caregiver, to name a few. Organizers want to remind community members that Napolitano is a giving person herself, serving as a Eucharistic minister, donating to the Times Herald-Record’s People to People Campaign, and looking out for anyone she knows who was ill. And then, there’s Napolitano’s lifelong commitment to George F. Baker High School, which began when she became a member of The Class of 1942. In addition to playing sports and graduating from Tuxedo, Napolitano also worked as a full-time employee (in addition to scorekeeper), managing its food service program and was known for her authentic Italian dishes. Role model Tuxedo School District Superintendent Joseph Zanetti considers her an iconic figure to students and the community. “Madeline has been, for decades, a positive role model for the extended Tuxedo community,” he said. “Often, when I attended sports competitions at other schools around the area, I would be asked by teachers, athletic directors and other administrators, ‘How is Maddy?’ Madeline is strongly convicted to doing what is good and right for people. In the years following her ‘retirement,’ Madeline has always been welcomed and visible to our high school sports teams. Her whole persona is about positively influencing kids - from strong words of encouragement to cooking a pre-game meal for the basketball team just before it enters sectional play.” Tuxedo Athletic Director John Landro agreed, adding Napolitano’s contribution to the Tuxedo school community is priceless. “She’s done so much for this school and the students in this school,” said Landro. “The big thing about her is her dependability. When she shows up to be the scorekeeper, nothing else took precedence. She’s so passionate about this school. She grew up here, went to school here, worked here, for the past 48 years, she’s been our scorekeeper.” ‘Important to be nice’ Perhaps that’s why Napolitano is so distressed over her current inability to keep score. “Oh God, I do miss seeing the kids,” she said. “I live close by. The kids would come by my house, and I would go to the field. I miss the scoring. I miss going on the bus with them. I miss bringing those lollypops and brownies. I was born and raised in Tuxedo. This is school is my alma mater. I’ve always been active with the school, and the school’s been very good to me. We have a beautiful school with wonderful teachers and administrators and students.” Napolitano’s been focused on her rehabilitation and vows to get back to the scorekeeper’s table. “This is wonderful,” she said of the efforts to help her, fighting back tears. “I sure miss them. I broke my promise to them… I told them I’d be back to keep score for the soccer team and I wasn’t. But I’m working hard.” The district is providing its new handicapped bus to bring Napolitano to Sunday’s gathering so she can have a chance to meet with the hundreds of people planning to attend. Her son Ralph is flying in from Kissimmee, Fla., to be part of the festivities. She also has a humbled perspective on the interest of so many to help her. “My mother always believed it was nice to be important, but it was more important to be nice,” said Napolitano. “ She also offered this advice, which she is following herself: “Stay active, think positive, have a good outlook, don’t give up and have faith.”

‘Kickoff for Madeline’
Sunday, Nov. 21, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Arthur Finnegan American Legion Post on Mountain Lakes Road in Greenwood Lake.
The event is an effort undertaken by the Tuxedo and Greenwood Lake communities to assist Madeline Napolitano, the long-time scorekeeper at George F. Baker High School, with her unreimbursed medical expenses.
This event is an indoor “tailgate” style picnic during the broadcast of the Jets/Houston Texans game at 1 p.m.
Hamburgers, hot dogs, sausage and peppers, salads, soda, ice tea, coffee, tea and an assortment of homemade desserts will be served.
This is an alcohol-free event. Cost: $10 per person, children under five are free. If you can’t attend, donations are also being accepted. For more information e-mail to: or call JoAnn Miele at 351-2382 or Bonny Takeuchi at 351-5232

Join the Facebook connection
Since the “Madeline Napolitano - Friends of Madeline Napolitano” group was formed this past Oct. 1, more than 500 people have joined and posted comments about the beloved scorekeeper. To join and post your thoughts, visit:!/pages/Madeline-Napolitano-Friends-of-Madeline/156546064367090. To learn more, visit:

What do George F. Baker High School students have to say?
Students at George F. Baker High School in Tuxedo are happy to be part of efforts to help their long time scorekeeper Madeline Napolitano as she continues her rehabilitative efforts to recover from a broken vertebra which caused her to become paralyzed. Student representatives said that with alumni still living in the immediate and surrounding areas, current students and their families, community members as well as college students returning home for Thanksgiving, they believe at least 500 people at a minimum will come to the American Legion hall in Greenwood Lake.
When visiting Napolitano this past Wednesday, they dismissed her notion this event was a burden to organizers.
“She’s dedicated her life to sports at Tuxedo,” said Mae Comerford. “We can certainly dedicate a day to her. It’s important for everyone to support her.”
Junior Andy Ehlers added: “Madeline is the most important person in Tuxedo. She has positively affected everyone.”