NEW YORK CITY — As he took the elevator up to the fifth floor at Madison Square Garden for a press conference Friday morning, Murry Bergtraum girls basketball coach Ed Grezinsky spotted freshman Quintae Wyatt.
“How old are you,” he asked Wyatt.
“Fourteen,” she responded.
Then it hit Grezinsky. He’s been winning city championships for as long as Wyatt has been alive.
Murry Bergtraum has won a remarkable 14 consecutive PSAL Class AA titles and will be vying for a 15th straight Saturday morning against top-seeded South Shore.
The once-in-a-lifetime experience of playing at Madison Square Garden that PSAL executive director Donald Douglas spoke about during the press conference is an annual occurrence for the Lady Blazers.
“I never get tired of this,” Grezinsky said.
Although the Manhattan business high school has fallen on hard times academically, the girls basketball team remains its crown jewel.
“When I was at Bergtraum, there were all types of rumors that it was getting shut down, but it never did because of the success of the basketball team,” said Cori Coleman, a sophomore guard at Cleveland State and former Bergtraum standout. “When people hear of Murry Bergtraum, the first thing that comes to mind is the girls basketball team.”
And the face of the team is Grezinsky, a former football coach who has become one of the country’s most successful girls basketball coaches.
“You could say Ed Grezinsky is the Geno Auriemma of girls basketball in the New York metro area,” said Mike Quick, who has covered high school sports in New York City for MSG Network and MSG Varsity for nearly 30 years. “What was Murry Bergtraum before Ed? What was UConn before Geno got there?”
One of the secrets to Bergtraum’s success comes from Grezinsky’s football background. As an assistant at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy from 1983-88, Grezinsky’s responsibility was to scout the opposition.
“I wasn’t that important there, just a small cog, but they sent me out to scout,” he said. “I used to love to scout because I knew I was doing something positive for the program.”
He continues to do the same today. A mainstay in high school gyms when his team isn’t playing, Grezinsky usually sits in the top row or the bleachers, alone, furiously writing notes.
“He’s the supreme tactician,” said Joe Lewinger, who coached The Mary Louis Academy for 11 years. “He’s methodical in the way he prepares for a game.”
Grezinsky, who his players lovingly call ‘G,’ also has a soft side for his players, often proving a shoulder to cry on.
“G cares more than just about basketball,” Wagner College-bound senior guard Jasmine Nwajei said. “He shows up to classrooms. If you need something, he’s got you. He’s a mentor. I spoke to him about problems. He cares about your self-being and basketball second.”
Of course, Bergtraum has had some great players over the past 14 years. Standouts like Shannon Bobbit, Epiphanny Prince and Erica Morrow, who each went on to earn Division I college scholarships.
They helped pave the way for the current crop of Lady Blazers, including Nwajei, who transferred in last year from Mary Louis, and sophomore sensation Ashanae McLaughlin.
If there’s one coach who understands that level of success, it’s Vinny Cannizzaro, who guided Christ the King to a 410-56 record in his 19 years at the helm. During his time, the Lady Royals won 10 consecutive New York State Federation championships.
“To constantly stay at that level that Ed Grezinsky has brought Bergtraum to year after year is the amazing thing, to do it constantly with different kids year after year,” he said.
Unlike other sports where speaking about the streak is sacrilege, Grezinsky embraces it, using it as motivation.
“I try to give them a challenge every year to be the team that carries the torch and passes it off to the next team,” Grezinsky said. “Don’t be the team that breaks the streak.”