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288 Express

Living in Alvin, Manvel and beyond

It takes a team Sports medicine programs key to success in Alvin ISD Page 6

A publication of

September 2019 Volume 2, Issue 9


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288 Express Living in Alvin, Manvel and beyond Editor and Publisher David Rupkalvis

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Inside Cover Photo It takes a team — including sports medicine students — to succeed in athletics at Alvin ISD high schools.

6 11 14

Cover Story Sunday Drive Roller Derby

16 18 19

School Starts Italiano’s Restaurant Time to Eat


Cover Story

The team behind the team From left, Alvin’s Ernie Garza, Manvel’s Sam Sorrell and Shadow Creek’s Cody Wade work to keep over 4,000 studentathletes at their junior and senior high schools healthy. Below, Trichelle Walters, assistant athletic trainer at Shadow Creek, instructs student trainers during class. Students undergo rigorous training as part of the sports medicine activities.


ehind every good team is a sports medicine team. The Alvin ISD sports medicine team is comprised of certified medical coaches and student athletic trainers that work closely with athletic teams, cheerleaders, band members, etc. Athletic trainers are charged with the task of working to ensure the overall physical health and safety of students that participate in extracurricular activities that require a physical element for participation. Alvin ISD student athletic trainers are selected based on the successful completion of an application and interview process. They are self-motivated, responsible and eager to learn. Alvin ISD athletic trainers are committed and have a strong work ethic, as they log in hundreds of hours per year often sacrificing their nights, weekends, holidays and vacations to fulfill their duties of providing the best care to student-athletes during practices and games. They are responsible for a variety of duties such as prepping equipment, taping, pregame and postgame treatments, and applying first aid. While serving over 4,000 student-athletes this season, Alvin ISD’s sports medicine teams will prove to be a vital asset to their respective programs.


Story and photos by Prentice C. James

Most student trainer staffs consist of 20-30 well-rounded students. Right, students learn the basis of various taping techniques such as the buddy job, wrist job and thumb spica job. These tapings must be secure while allowing proper circulation and a degree of flexibility.

Above, Manvel’s assistant athletic trainer, Joshua Watson, applies kinesiology tape as an injury preventative measure. Right, no two athletes are the same, so student trainers must learn how to properly apply their learnings to meet the needs of the individual athletes.


Left, Houston Methodist’s outreach athletic trainer, Mayra Reed, tends to a football player prior to a game. Alvin ISD has partnered with Houston Methodist to provide a medical liaison at each high school for additional support. Student trainers work to keep athletes properly hydrated during sporting events.

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Top, Alvin student trainers prepare for an upcoming scrimmage game for freshman, junior varsity and varsity teams. Bottom, Manvel’s head athletic trainer Sam Sorrell, left, works on an injured player during a recent football game.

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Sunday Drive

Children’s Museum of Houston

The Children’s Museum of Houston is packed with hands-on activities for children to do.


inding stories to write every month for A Sunday Drive has taken my family and I to some really neat places in the Gulf Coast Region. But to be honest, most of them have been places I wanted to go and the kiddos got dragged along. They had fun, but more often than not, it wasn’t their top choice. So this month, I decided to let them choose. And their choice was a good one — the Children’s Museum of Houston. Designed for children of all ages, the children’s museum is a hands-on experience that makes it fun to learn. And fun it was. From the moment you walk in the doors, the experience is almost overwhelming. Every inch of the museum is filled

Story and photos by David Rupkalvis

with things for children to do, touch and experience. While there are specific exhibits, they flow together easily and every one has a similar theme — get children involved with their hands and their heads. Within five minutes of walking in my children were dressed as doctors or scientists and were conducting experiments on a variety of different things. They climbed and pulled and touched and drew. And that was just in the first room. As we moved on, it just kept going. There were things to ride, more experiments and a never-ending supply of fun things to touch and do. Outside, the fun continued, but with water. Technically, they were supposed to

be learning about flowing water and how moving water impacts different things. But for the little ones, it was just a chance to play in the water while watching different things flow down a little river. It was hot outside — real hot — but you would have never known it watching my kids. They probably could have stayed outside all day if my wife and I hadn’t dragged them back inside. But don’t worry. Waiting inside in the air conditioning was Kidtropolis, where a city was waiting to be explored. One of the highlights of Kidtropolis is children can get jobs where they get paid and add their new money to their own bank card. Whether one wants to make drinks at a café, bag groceries

at HEB, work as a veterinarian or drive an ambulance, there are jobs for everyone. And before we moved on, my little ones might have tried each one. And they banked some serious cash in the process. After hours of playing and laughing and without even knowing it, learning, mom and dad were wiped out. But even as we tried to drag them away, my son saw something he hadn’t done yet — the Challenge Course. The Challenge Course is a rope course where kids can climb and maneuver and work their way around the course while mom and dad watch from below. More and more fun. When we finally left, the kids were exhausted. It was


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hard just keeping them awake on the drive home. But they were ready for more. The Children’s Museum of Houston was a great way to spend the afternoon, and we didn’t even see the whole thing. If you have children, especially younger than teens, give it a shot. It’s reasonably priced and an easy drive from Alvin or Manvel.


Sunday Drive

Rocking and Rolling on skates

Every jam (the term for a play in roller derby) begins with the teams facing each other off similar to football.


ee one woman knock another down and you may think there was no love to lose between the two of them, but all participants in the sport of roller derby, which draws dozens of people as spectators on the sidelines when the girls of Alvin’s Third Coast Roller

Story and photos by Joshua Truksa

Derby team gear up to face off with their opponents, will tell you that respect and friendship among everyone regardless of team is a large part of the game. “I also love that no matter how hard you’re getting hit or how aggressive the game may be on the track, at the end

of the bout, everyone goes to the afterparty and has a good time and there’s no hard feelings; everything’s left on the track, that’s the end of it,” Pivot and Jammer K. W. Phoenix said. Blocker Ashley Connelly started playing roller derby in May 2016 with the Southside

Roller Derby team that she and the rest of Third Coast went against Aug. 10, locking in their sixth straight win in a row. “It’s for everybody of all ages, all sizes, all colors, all everything, so nobody is left out in this sport,” Connelly said.

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There is no ball in roller derby. Who can score points is determined by which helmet one is wearing. The skater with a star on their helmet is the jammer. Her job is to skate past all blockers and score points by lapping the opposing team’s players. Randa “Wreck It Rambo” Medows was selected as most valuable player for the Aug. 10 game. She has played roller derby for six of the past nine years, first starting with the Spindletop Roller Girls in Beaumont when she was 20 years old. “I just like the aggression of it, being able to hit people for fun and be able to get away with it,” Medows said.

Despite the fierce competitiveness, roller derby players still show a great camaraderie with all participants of the sport, even rival teams. Many say this is one of the most positive aspects of the game.

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Back in Class

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Italiano’s Restaurant

Delicious food at a better price

The Sadiku family — Al, Ariana, Susie and Benny — have turned their love of food into Italiano’s.


n the middle of Pearland, surrounded by many restaurants, lies a gem that offers amazing food at an even better price — Italiano’s Restaurant. A true family restaurant, Italiano’s is owned by Al and Susie Sadiku, who are in Pearland almost every day. And their son and nephew help with the day to day operations. Someone from the family is there all the time because that’s the way they want it. Located on Broadway Street next to Shadow Creek High School, Italiano’s offers food made from recipes passed down through the family. Susie’s grandfather began the family legacy, opening a pizzeria in Brooklyn in 1967. When he moved his family to Houston in 1980, he contin-


Story by David Rupkalvis

ued the restaurant work. “My father always made sure we worked in the family business, making sure we learned the recipes,” Susie said. The Sadikus started their first restaurant in Humble more than two decades ago, serving the same Italian food now loved in Pearland. At the urging of family in Pearland, they added the Broadway location a couple of years ago. A third restaurant is open in Atascocita, and they are considering expanding again to Kingwood. But even as the business grows, three things have never changed. No. 1, family leads the way. Benny Sadiku graduated from The Conrad Hilton Hotel and Restaurant School at the University of Houston and now runs the

Pearland store. No. 2, the food is prepared the way Susie cooked it at home. No. 3, it will always be affordable. And despite the low cost — calzones for $7, lasagna for $7.30 and amazing pizza starting at $12 for an extra large — quality will never go out the window. Just walk into Italiano’s and you will know that immediately. As you open the door, you are greeted with the aroma of garlic, olive oil and steaming tomatoes from their homemade marinara and tomato sauce lovingly made with the freshest of vegetables. Once you take a bite of their complimentary homemade garlic rolls, your taste buds will come alive and you’ll know you are in for a wonderful meal.

And you definitely are. No matter what the choice, if you enjoy Italian food and you don’t want to break the bank, Italiano’s is a must stop. And the service is top notch no matter the time of day. Servers are prompt, professional, helpful and courteous. Find out for yourself; visit Italiano’s at 11710 Broadway between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m. and 10 p.m. weekends. Editor’s Note: My family and I have eaten at Italiano’s half a dozen times over the last few months. I’m fairly traditional, so I stick with what I love — the calzones. My wife, who is Italian by birth and an excellent cook herself, is much more adventurous. She loves the chicken cacciatorre and thinks the pizza is the best she’s had.

Time to Eat


iuseppe Trama came to the United States with his family at the age of 17 in 1973 and got his first taste of the restaurant business working for a fellow Italian establishment in Strasbourg, Penn. At 26 years old, Trama caught two bugs — restaurant building and cooking. Throughout all of the businesses he has had over 40 years, from Atlantic City to Angleton and in between, he said he has always stayed with Italian, and his own creations all, like Trama himself, have Italian “accents.” Trama isn’t the only native Italian to be found at his current restaurant, Amici (meaning “friends” in Italian), which has been in Friendswood for four years. The resident cantante, Rossi

Relaxed and authentic

Quantity or quality? At Amici, you can have both. After 40 years experience, multi-tasking doesn’t affect the deliciousness of restaurateur and chef Giuseppe Trama’s authentically Italian dishes.

Story and photos by Joshua Truksa

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Di Bartolo, can be heard singing numerous Italian operatic songs all throughout the day. Di Bartolo remembers the lyrics to every song, but he knows so many that he sometimes has to look in a book to remember which is which, much like a jukebox locating a record. Both Trama and Di Bartolo are from the ancient Sicilian comune of Gela and both started their lives in America in the Northeast but moved to Texas to escape the cold. Their families knew each other in Sicily, but the two didn’t become friends until they met in Texas. Besides the dry-witted manager of Amici, Amy Laiki (who has picked up some important Italian words herself), it’s hard to find anything that’s not Italian at the restaurant. The authentic Italian wine is purchased from special importers and cannot be found anywhere in American stores, including the Marsala that comes from Marsala in the province of

The goal of Giuseppe Trama at his restaurant on Parkwood Avenue in Friendswood is to be a place similar to the ristoranti that can be found back in Italy, suitable for once in a lifetime celebrations or a laid back bite to eat.





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Trapani, Sicily. “That’s actually wine. That’s the real thing,” Trama said. American retailers sell an imitation of Marsala wine labeled as “American Marsala” that is only fit for cooking (if you’re not Italian), but as one of the smoothest wines around, real Marsala is a wine for cooking and drinking. Trama recalled his mother using Marsala wine to make him a version of zabaione for breakfast on cold winter days when he was a child. And of course, as any Italian would understand, olive oil holds a special place at Amici. The olive oil comes from Italy, as well. But there’s nothing intrinsically fancy about Amici (as many would say about our friends). In the Italian tradition, it is a cozy, neighborhood place that serves well for celebrations or a quick bite to eat. Trama doesn’t want anyone saving his place for special occasions. “I don’t want to be a special place. I want every day, you come and you feel comfortable, like they do in Italy, you know? This is the type of restaurant there, if you were in Italy, you’d go in shorts and then you’d go eat your meal,” Trama said. If you’re looking for an authentic Italian experience, Amici is the perfetto place. Stop by any time (though reservations can fill up on busy nights) and/or enjoy the upcoming Italian wine tasting Sept. 26.

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