A Bay Ridge senior who was once a superior athlete has finally gotten her due.
Eighty-two-year-old Sheila Maroshick — a retired teacher who has received several awards and won a handful of competitive handball tournaments — was finally recognized by being inducted into the United States Handball Association (USHA) Hall of Fame.
To celebrate the rare honor, which 50 individuals and just six women have been given, an official induction ceremony and celebration was held last month at Chadwick’s Restaurant, 8822 Third Avenue.
Friends, family, former teammates and members of the USHA were in attendance.
Maroshick’s biggest supporter — her sister, Eileen — organized the event.
“I was extremely proud of her that day, but I’m always proud of her in whatever she’s done,” Eileen said. “She’s always had a plan and always would reach the top of it. She’s very determined.”
Maroshick’s love of handball began at just 11 years old when she started going to Lincoln Terrace Park near East New York Avenue.
“It was known as the mecca of handball,” Maroshick said of the spot. “The best players were there.”
Despite thousands of participants in tournaments that New York City Parks Department once ran, Maroshick won the New York City Handball Championship five times and the National Handball Champion four.
Due to a misunderstanding, though, she almost didn’t receive the honor.
“I didn’t even know they had a hall of fame for handball,” said Maroshick, who first heard of the hall of fame at a visit to her dentist. “When I called, the man said I must be a daughter. They thought I had died.”
Once the mix-up was cleared, Maroshick was on the fast track to receiving awards and — just a few months ago — got the call from Arizona.
“It was very emotional. I felt like women were not acknowledged in sports 50 years ago,” she said.
During the local ceremony, Councilmember Vincent Gentile presented Maroshick with a citation and the USHA awarded her a jacket and a plaque.
One of the highlights of the process for Maroshick came days after the ceremony when she came home to a congratulatory letter from Mayor Bill de Blasio himself.
“I know your success and legacy in handball and tennis will continue to inspire young women to pursue their own interests in these sports and I applaud you for all you have achieved both on and off the court,” said de Blasio in the letter.
“I was shocked. I really was,” said Maroshick.
Today, the Ridgeite still keeps busy as she’s written educational children’s books with proceeds going towards the Make a Wish Foundation.
Both Maroshick and her sister say they will never forget the successful ceremony.
“That day was a day to remember and I’m so glad that we were both around that we can remember it together because you never know,” Eileen said. “We’re never apart. We’re like twins.”
The USHA is located in Tucson, Arizona.