Congratulations To The Hempstead PAL Tigers
Jul 01, 2019Posted by james

The Hempstead PAL lacrosse team of fifth and sixth grade players won the 2019 championship in the Nassau County PAL Lacrosse League. The Tigers’ 6-1 record included victories over Oyster Bay, Glen Cove, Hewlett, Hicksville, Freeport and New Hyde Park. The only loss was to Plainview and that was by a single goal. Hempstead outscored its opponents 45-21.

Congratulations to the players and Head Coach Alan Hodish, and to Coach John Tangel, Coach Bernard Williams, the families and Hempstead PAL.

Hempstead Tigers Championship Roster

Adrian Ayala

Roberto J. Barrera

Makai Bell

Amare Collins

Jonathan Davis

Kaeon Grier

Jhaheem Harvey

Jhalil Harvey

Jeremy Henderson

Xaviah Lewis

Jaden Locke

Jayden Polite

Derick Reynolds

Eric Rucker III

Aaden Sarduy

Adill Sesay-Conteh

Ramon Washington

Jalil Watts

All the players received awards for the championship season along with individual awards that recognized various skills and accomplishments. My award to a player for “his strong work ethic and improvement made throughout the lacrosse season” was presented to Adrian Ayala. I enjoyed the opportunity to speak with him, all the players and their families about the fun of the game and the many opportunities lacrosse provides by opening doors in high school, college and later in life.

I have supported the Hempstead PAL lacrosse program since its inception eight years ago. Along with the coaches and other benefactors, I have enjoyed introducing this great game to children who may never have had the opportunity to pick up a lacrosse stick.

The chant for 2020 already has started — “Tigers Repeat!”

Long Island Lacrosse Is Getting Better All The Time
Jun 15, 2019Posted by james

Every high school student looks forward to the end of spring. Not the final exams part of it but the final few days that lead to summer vacation.

Lacrosse players look forward to the championship games, athletic and academic award celebrations, and the opportunity to take on the next challenge—summer practice to prepare for next season, or the leap into a college program.

At the Section VIII Nassau County high school boys’ lacrosse championships at Hofstra University, I presented my annual Leadership Award to six young men who are definitive leaders on and off the field. Vincent Sombrotto, Nassau lacrosse star and my Hofstra teammate from the 1970s, joined me in the presentations to the following scholar-athletes:

· Cold Spring Harbor High School senior midfielder Danny Striano.

· Garden City High School senior midfielder Joe Scattareggia.

· Locust Valley High School senior goalie Colton Teilelbaum.

· Manhasset High School senior attackman Louis Perfetto.

· Massapequa High School senior faceoff specialist Angelo Petrakis.

· Syosset High School senior midfielder Christian Lyons.

· Wantagh High School senior attacker Thomas Rohan.

Each award recipient reflects the tenacity, honesty, commitment and positive attitude required in Nassau lacrosse. Each player also possesses the ability to inspire teammates and others in the classroom and their communities. These young men are on their way to bigger and better successes in lacrosse, in school and in life.

Immediately following the Nassau games, Vincent and I voted on and presented my inaugural MVP awards for the Suffolk-Nassau Championships. The recipients:

· Manhasset High School senior midfielder and faceoff specialist Marc Psyllos.

· Mattituck/Southold High School senior midfielder Max Kruszeski.

· Massapequa High School senior midfielder Thomas Greenblatt.

· Shoreham-Wading River High School junior midfielder Gavin Gregorek.

A few days after the presentations to these outstanding scholar-athletes, I had the honor to speak with the lacrosse team, their parents and coaches at my alma mater, Half Hollow Hills High School East. I was honored to meet senior Sal Pascarella and present to him my annual Hills East Outstanding Player Award. He was team captain this season, a fabulous team leader and now he is headed to St. Joseph’s University.

Following the excitement of presenting all these awards, there still was more great news for Long Island. I was pleased to learn that, with my support, the New York State High School Boys’ Lacrosse Championships will be coming to Hofstra University’s Shuart Stadium for the 2020, 2021 and 2022 seasons.

Go Long Island Lacrosse! It is getting better all the time.

Country Over Sports — Marines Before College Lacrosse
Jun 02, 2019Posted by james

Catrina Babnick is a Carmel (Putnam County) High School girls’ lacrosse goalie who has opted, temporarily, to forego college for a different opportunity.

Cat could have pursued a successful collegiate sports career. She set a school record with 25 saves in one game. Then, she set a school all-time girls’ lacrosse record when she recorded her 489th save. But, while the other local girls committed to play college lacrosse this fall or next year, Cat decided to follow a path that led her to the United States Marines. She was sworn in on February 8. Following graduation, she will attend boot camp on Paris Island in South Carolina.

It’s a rare choice among promising high school athletes, but Cat firmly and succinctly stated her preference — “I want to serve my country.”

A high score on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Batter test allowed Cat to choose her Marine Corps career path. She considered joining the military police to follow her father’s footsteps. He is a retired New York City police detective. Her recruiter, though, reviewed her score and encouraged her to pursue a better opportunity.

Initially, Cat considered becoming a pilot, but this would require many more years of service than the four of active duty and four additional years of reserve service. So, she decided on diesel mechanics that will allow for maintenance assignments with planes and tanks. Cat will enroll in Marine-funded college classes, hoping to complete two years during her enlistment. She plans to secure her degree post-service and become a history teacher.

Cat has played lacrosse since fifth grade, becoming a full-time goalie as a high school freshman. She loves the game and will miss it. Playing college lacrosse after her service is possible, but not a guarantee.

For the moment, Cat has promised to commit herself 100 percent to the Marines. She summed up the challenge with just a few words — “It’s like the ultimate team.”

Mr. Football NYC Is….Adisa Isaac!
May 16, 2019Posted by james

Adisa Isaac played for Canarsie High School in Brooklyn. At 6-5 and 220 pounds, Coach Brian Ellis’ defensive end was ranked the top college prospect in New York State and the 66th overall prospect in the country. Isaac completed his high school career with 198 total tackles, 38 sacks, eight forced fumbles, two safeties and one interception.

The Whitmore Group sponsors the Mr. Football New York City Player of the Year Award offered by the New York City Chapter of the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame. I was honored to present this year’s award to a fine young man. Isaac is more than just a football all-star. He finished high school with very good grades and he has accepted a full athletic scholarship to play for Penn State University. He is going places on and off the field.

Along with Adisa, 11 other outstanding New York City high school football players were honored at the seventh annual “Elite Eleven” Scholar-Athlete Award Dinner hosted by the foundation. The event is managed by Marc T. Hudak, who is chairman of the local NFF chapter and a partner and member of Whitmore’s management committee. The awards recognize the players for their performance on the field, in the classroom and as leaders in their communities. The award criteria is 40 percent based on GPA and academic achievement, 40 percent based on football ability and achievement, and 20 percent based on leadership, school and community involvement.

I extend my congratulations to each of the “Elite Eleven” 2018 scholar-athletes:

The Bronx

  • Antonio Corrado (committed to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) – St. Michael High School, Coach Mario Valentini
  • Jalien Nias (college commitment pending) – DeWitt Clinton High School, Coach John Applebee

Brooklyn

  • Tyrik Bethea (committed to Delaware State University) – Lincoln High School, Coach Shawn O’Connor
  • Jason Blisset (committed to University of Miami) – Poly Prep Country Day School, Coach Kevin Fountaine
  • Sean Hart (college commitment pending) – Fort Hamilton High School, Coach Daniel Perez
  • Tariq Hollingsworth (college commitment pending) – Franklin K. Lane High School, Coach Jason Mollison

Queens

  • Efrain LeBron III (committed to Utica College) – Jamaica High School, Coach Calvin Whitfield

Staten Island

  • Alex Bashaba (committed to Lafayette College) –Staten Island Technical High School, Coach Anthony Ciadella
  • Thomas Bossert (committed to College of Staten Island) – St. Peter’s High School, Coach George Mahoney
  • Kolubah Pewee (committed to United States Military Academy at West Point) – Tottenville High School, Coach Brian Neville
  • Michael Regan (committed to United States Merchant Marine Academy) – Monsignor Farrell High School, Coach Anthony Garolfalo

The Athletic Talent Of “A Little Fat Man”
May 01, 2019Posted by james

He was athletic during his boyhood years, playing sandlot baseball and basketball. Then, during his late teens, he got into the ring under the promotional name of “Lou King.”

It is not known if the young man would have continued to pursue a successful boxing career. The plan unraveled soon after his Uncle Pete brought the boxer’s father to see “this new kid in the ring.” The next morning, the father waited for his son to arrive at the breakfast table. Then, he lowered his newspaper and greeted his son with “Good Morning, LOU KING!”

So, the young man concentrated on basketball. He loved the game and played on a semi-pro team in Paterson, New Jersey. During an exhibition game against the Boston Celtics, Lou defended against Nate Holman, later a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame. He held Nate to a few points and outscored him.

Though he was small in size compared to the other players, many teammates recalled that Lou was fast on his feet and performed foot and basket-throwing maneuvers similar to players for the Harlem Globetrotters. He even won a 1926 shooting contest with 24 baskets out of 25 shots.

Years later, after he had moved away from sports to build a successful career in the entertainment field, Lou’s athletic talent was featured in hit films such as “Buck Privates,” “Here Come the Co-eds” and others. He was so skilled that the directors never substituted a stuntman for his boxing and basketball scenes. But, for “Co-eds,” Universal Studios did hire a renowned basketball star to stage a game for the cameras. This star also “coached” the gifted athlete in a condescending manner. The entertainer played along, asking, “How do I hold the ball?” and “Can’t I throw the ball from here?” The basketball star just smiled indulgently, then stared unbelievingly as the actor tossed a perfect shot into the basket!

According to “Co-Eds” writer Edmund Hartmann, “a little fat man is the last guy in the world you’d expect to be an athlete.”

That little fat man was comedian Lou Costello, who, by the way, made it all the way to Cooperstown with partner Bud Abbott and their hilarious routine about baseball.

Congratulations To Hofstra
Apr 16, 2019Posted by james

The recent college basketball season at Hofstra was a fun run. We didn’t get to the big dance, but we continue to build a winning culture. As an alum, I am proud of the continued forward progress for the program.

Coach Joe Mihalich completed his sixth season with us. He said that the key to the team’s ongoing success goes beyond talent. The guys are close. They play together. They work together.

The Pride enjoyed a 16-game winning streak during the season, the longest active streak at NCAA Division I. Hofstra was near the top in team winning percentage for the season.

Coaching at Hofstra is fun for Joe, because the players love the game. Each player contributed with a positive attitude and the will to improve individual skills and the team concept. Competitiveness among the players is high and going higher.

So, we didn’t earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament. The last appearance was during 2001. The coach knows that next year’s team will need to put in more work. The coach is ready. The returning players are ready. Be assured that they will embrace the new players. Together, they will take that next step forward.

Refer To Her As Miss New York Basketball
Apr 02, 2019Posted by james

Aubrey Griffin, a senior at Ossining High School, is New York’s new queen of high school basketball. She was named Miss New York Basketball by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association of New York.

Aubrey isn’t the first Ossining player to receive the honor. Andra Espinoza-Hunter (Mississippi State) received the crown during 2017 and Saniya Chong (UConn and WNBA Dallas Wings) was honored during 2013. As you can tell, Ossining High School girls’ basketball is a state powerhouse. The school is just the second program to feature three honorees.

The latest honoree is the most accomplished girls’ basketball player from the Lower Hudson Valley. Aubrey is the only player named Section 1 player of the year, a McDonald’s All-American, WBCA All-American, Section 1 champion, state champion and Federation champion. She is committed to UConn.

At one point, Aubrey averaged 25.9 points, 9.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 3.7 steals and 1.8 blocks per game. She scored at least 35 points in each game of the sectional final, regional semifinal and regional final.

Wow! Then there was more!

This season, Ossining captured its ninth consecutive Section 1 Class AA championship and moved on to its eighth straight state championship tournament appearance. The final game was an easy victory for Ossining – a 93-46 win over West Genesee. Aubrey earned tournament MVP honors after tallying 35 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists and three steals in the championship game. She set a New York State Public High School Athletic Association tournament record with 146 points.

For Aubrey, it has been success upon success. It all started for her during freshman year when she helped lead Ossining to its fourth consecutive state title at the time and its first ever Federation title. Aubrey then accomplished so much more, on the court and in the classroom, in the succeeding three years. Now, it is time to for Aubrey to move on to her new challenges at UConn.

The Bernardo Boys Look Beyond X’s and O’s
Mar 15, 2019Posted by james

Rasmus Dahlin, a defenseman, was the first overall pick in the 2018 NHL draft. At that point, he had played defense full-time for just one year.

Rasmus’ rise to become the top pick at the age of 17 at a position that still was new to him placed the spotlight on the importance of long-term athletic development—develop the athlete first and then allow the player to focus on specialization.

To accomplish this in hockey and for any sport, parents should allow their children to experience a variety of athletic programs. When the player decides to concentrate on a specific game, then a coach should allow the young athlete to experience all angles of that game. The best way to learn is for an athlete to play multiple positions.

So, how can coaches and parents support our young athletes? Here are some thoughts, with a couple of examples from brothers Anthony and Nick Bernardo. A while ago, Anthony (who also participated in lacrosse and track) and Nick (who enjoys and still plays baseball) decided to concentrate on hockey. Their subsequent success on the Long Island ice hockey scene has been showcased for a number of years with the PAL Junior Islanders.

  • Encourage young athletes to try multiple positions. Learning, understanding and then executing the responsibilities of each position helps build game knowledge and player confidence. Anthony has played left and right wing on his hockey teams. As a right-handed shooter, he has learned that he can create more plays in the offensive zone from the left side than from the right side.

  • Let players “feel” the game from different positions. Players develop empathy and understanding for the challenges faced by teammates when they personally obtain a different perspective.

  • Each position is responsible for specific assignments within a game. The opportunity to adjust to different roles improves a player’s awareness as the game unfolds. As a forward, Nick realized that his team’s defensemen were not rushing the puck up ice to help generate offense. Now, as a defenseman for eight years, Nick concentrates on moving the puck quickly to the offensive zone after taking care of his responsibilities in the defensive end. Today’s hockey is more dynamic than ever and a defenseman such as Nick knows that the position spends less time skating backward and more time joining the rush.

  • Encourage each player to contribute to the team concept. While some young players will be adamant that they only want to play one position, teach them the benefits of adapting their abilities to different positions. They will broaden their game knowledge, improve technical skills, build confidence and raise their compete level. This opportunity also allows players to begin to think about the team and it provides a coach with game day flexibility to cover for injured, ill, or otherwise unavailable players.

From Polo To The Happiest Place On Earth
Mar 01, 2019Posted by james

The brothers played polo regularly. Sometimes they played “hooky” from work to get involved in a game at the Riviera Country Club.

Enjoying the elite sport of polo at the California country club with some of Hollywood’s biggest movers and shakers seemed a bit out of sorts for these two down-to-earth Missouri farm boys. But they enjoyed the comradery and the competition with Spencer Tracy, Leslie Howard and Will Rogers.

The younger of the two started riding horses as part of a health regimen after a breakdown. Someone placed a polo mallet in his hand and he just plowed forward, as he did with everything in life and in business. To get up to speed, he invited several of his employees to a conference room to listen to an expert lecture them about the elements of polo. Then, the brothers and any employees who remained interested practiced regularly at a nearby riding academy. They also housed a horse and a net at the offices so they could practice scoring goals during lunch hour.

According to several employees, the younger brother possessed the most drive. He had the ambition to play well. This was no different than his drive and ambition to be successful in business. After learning that the quality of the horses contributed to a high percentage of success in the game, he convinced his older sibling to purchase four expensive horses.

The brothers played for several years until the older and more prudent of the two advised his kid brother, who had played in matches that resulted in several fatalities, to sell the horses and give up the game. The older brother, Roy, maintained that the company’s primary asset should not be playing such a dangerous sport. The end for polo did not come until the younger brother, Walt, took a spill and crushed four cervical vertebrae.

At that point, the Disney brothers concentrated solely on cartoons and feature films. Eventually, they added a theme park that they dubbed the happiest place on earth.

Huntington Honors Hall of Fame Inductees
Feb 15, 2019Posted by james

During early February, I was honored to participate in the dedication of the third satellite exhibit created by the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame. The first two offsite exhibits are located at Long Island MacArthur Airport and at Bethpage Ballpark. This new exhibit is in the west wing at Huntington Town Hall.

The exhibit pays tribute to the inductees of the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame who have a connection to the Town of Huntington as players, coaches, or residents. The photo of each inductee appears in the exhibit.

The celebrated professional athletes who are town representatives in the Hall of Fame are football’s Emerson Boozer and Wesley Walker, boxing’s Gerry Cooney, hockey’s Clark Gillies, basketball’s Tom Gugliotta and soccer’s Sara Whalen.

Other Town of Huntington honorees in the Hall of Fame are Stephen Bowen, Charles Boccia, Don Buckley, Jill Byers, Fred Cambria, Rich Castellano, Tony Cerullo, Bob Chipman, Tom Combs, Bill Edwards, Ray Enners, Melvin Fowler, Fred Fusaro, Lou Giani, Frank Gugliotta, Tom Gugliotta, Kim Gwydir, Bob Herzog, Bill Ketcham, John Nitti, Ed Norton, Carol Rose, Cathy Vayianos and Ann Marie Wyckoff-Bagshaw.

As a 2014 inductee, I am very appreciative and excited to be included in this wonderful new exhibit and I extend my thanks to the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame and its director Chris Vaccaro and to Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci and the Town of Huntington. I am appreciative for the recognition of my high school and college athletic career along with my business and philanthropic contributions to Long Island.

It is a wonderful honor to be featured in an exhibit that places the spotlight on so many talented local people, including American hero and fellow Half Hollow Hills alumnus Lt. Raymond J. Enners, who are connected to amateur and professional athletics.