MetroSports Magazine

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MetroSports Magazine

Curtis Riley: Defying the Odds



60th Annual New York Sevens Rugby Tournament

Liberty 9410 “Roots Rugby” Connecticut Native Joey Logano Crowned NASCAR Champion


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November-December 2018 4 Curtis Riley: Defying the Odds Perseverence and Grit Take This White Plains Native to the NFL 12 The NY Rugby 7s Tournament A 60 Year Tradition Continues on the Pitches of Randall’s Island NYC 13 Randall’s Island NYC A Rich History of Sports 14 NYR7s Tournament Champions Wrap-up of Tournament Winners by Division 22 Liberty 9410 - Roots Rugby The 2018 New York Sevens Mens Premier Division Cup Champions on a Special Mission 28 Joey Logano, NASCAR Champion Local Boy Makes Good in NASCAR’s Top Circuit 32 Product Review USA Boxing Metro takes the Everlast PIQ Robot Blue Trainer Through Its Paces at Gleason’s Gym

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Train Like a Champion. Train with a Champion. MetroSports Magazine’s former Athlete of the Month and cover of our May-June 2015 issue, Keisher “Fire” McLeod, a former NY Golden Gloves Champion, current NYS Flyweight Champion and current WIBA World Flyweight Champion can now be your personal boxing trainer at the world famous Gleason’s Gym. 2 | November-December 2018

MetroSports Magazine (MSM) is published six times a year by the New York Sports Photo Group. MSM is available online and can be downloaded in electronic format for viewing on tablet and hand-held devices, laptop and desktop computers and purchased as full-color glossy print editions. Founder, Editor-in-Chief, Art Director: Warren Rosenberg Publisher: New York Sports Photo Group: Features Editor: John Chuhran Director of Photography: Clark Thompson Social Media: Clark Thompson Photo Contributors: Clark Thompson, Warren Rosenberg Cover Photo of Curtis Riley: Matthew Swensen/New York Football Giants Contributors: John Chuhran, Kyle Granby Sonya Lamonikas Advertising: For rate card contact Please direct all inquiries to: Visit us on the web at:

MetroSports Magazine accepts and welcomes photos, short articles, opinions and letters from our readers. There is no guarantee that unsolicited contributions will be published and MetroSports Magazine assumes no responsibility for failure to publish or for editing published contributions. The Contents of MetroSports Magazine consist of copyrightable and/or copyrighted material and cannot be reproduced without the express written consent of the publishers. MetroSports Magazine | 3

Curtis Riley Defying the Odds

It’s Been an Uphill Road From Undrafted Free Agent to Starting Safety in the NFL by John Chuhran


uccess in life often is determined by how hard you work for it. Curtis Riley, the soft-spoken starting free safety for the New York Giants, knows this better than most. Challenges have been an almost constant part of Riley’s life and he has successfully fought to overcome all of them. Football came naturally to Riley, who was born in White Plains but grew up in Orlando, Fla. where he found he had natural athletic gifts. Under the guidance of his father, the younger Riley became a multi-sport competitor in basketball, track and football. Playing all four years on the gridiron, he peaked as a senior, being named as the Offensive MVP for Orlando’s University High School and selected as one of Central Florida’s top 100 players. “In high school I played almost every position,” said Riley, who split duty between safety and quarterback as a junior. “In my senior year we had a new head coach, so I just did everything they asked. It was tough, because in your senior year they put you in a position where they know you’re going to succeed. They stuck me at quarterback and I was pretty solid at it -- I had to run around a lot!”

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Despite his on-field success, Riley faced an uphill battle to take his game to college. “I didn’t really have a lot of colleges to choose from.” Riley said. “My grades weren’t really where they needed to be. That’s what makes my story so amazing. That senior year (in high school), they tried to get me to re-do a lot of classes to get my GPA up. It didn’t work out, so I ended up going to a Division II school, Mars Hill College, in North Carolina. I ended up going there for a year and I had, like, 50 tackles and two interceptions. I started the last half of the season. My grades weren’t that good there, either, but I ended up leaving to come back home to Florida to help my mom out.” The family needed money and, with no training, Riley was desperate for whatever work he could find. He took a minimum-wage position at a local Dollar Tree store moving freight and

Photo Credit: Matthew Swensen/New York Football Giants

and stocking shelves. It was a situation that was barely above the level of survival and Joanne Riley, Curtis’s mom, realized that her son had no future if he continued with it. So, she had a heartto-heart talk with the teenager that led to a decision to move 3,000 miles away. “My mom sat me down and told me I had to do something to better myself,” said Riley, who lives in New Jersey during the season but still calls Orlando home. “That’s when reality hit me. I needed to go back to school and turn my life around. To get where I wanted to be in life, I knew I needed good grades -- that’s what was going to get me to where I want to be. I decided to go to a junior college in California (Fullerton College) and, unfortunately, they told me that I couldn’t play because my GPA was (too) low.” With no athletic scholarships at the junior college, Riley found himself having to work again to pay the rent and get some food. Though his father, now divorced from his mother, could help with some of the rent, Riley needed to work to pay for living expenses. He found opportunity at a familiar spot. “When I was out there,” Riley said, “ I worked at another Dollar Tree store overnight so I could make some money to help with the rent and food. I’d work overnight, get a couple of hours sleep and go throughout the day with school and then football practice or working out at the gym. It was hard to get through without much sleep, but it really was just me knowing there was nothing for me back home. So, I focused on trying to better myself. “It’s just a matter of determination. I know the type of athlete that I am. When people try to tell me that I can’t do things, I just lock in. Even when 6 | November-December 2018

I first got to Fullerton, I remember I sat down with the head coach. He looked at my grades and my GPA and everything and he told me ‘I don’t see you going Division I’. “When people tell me I can’t do things it just makes me go even harder. That’s just how I’ve always been. It’s just something that’s always been in me. I guess I get it from my mom -- she always encouraged me to go hard in everything that I do. I get my athleticism from my dad -he played on the national soccer team for Trinidad and Tobago. He told me something similar -- don’t let anybody tell you what you can’t do. I kind of get a little bit of determination from both of them.” Riley knew he had to play Division I football to improve his game if he planned to become a professional. The determination and hard work paid off. “So, I kept my head straight. I practiced with the team every day and focused on getting my grades up so I could go Division I. I got some extra help from one of my coaches because he knew my situation and he recognized how good a player I was. He really helped me with a highlight tape and sending it out to (Div. I) coaches and letting them know who I was; nobody knew who I was because I didn’t play (in games). “He helped get me some offers. A lot of Pac 12 schools were talking with me, but they didn’t know if I would get my grades up in time (to gain playing eligibility) and none of them were willing to take a chance on me. In the end, I came up with three (scholarship) offers from Toledo, UNLV and Fresno State. I ended up going to Fresno State for two years and then the NFL from there.”

Photo Credit: Matthew Swensen/New York Football Giants

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Photo Credit: Matthew Swensen/New York Football Giants

The Fresno State opportunity started extremely well for Riley, but it ended with disappointment. “At Fresno State, I ended up being a starting cornerback after one week of training camp,” Riley said. “After not playing for two years, it was like a complete turnaround. We had a great year and were ranked 14th in the nation and went to a bowl game, so that was good. I went into my senior year and we had a few problems. I don’t know what happened but, my coaches ended up benching me toward the end of the year. I have no idea what it was for.” As a senior, he started only the first eight games of the 13-game season. Seeing limited playing time down the stretch, Riley was worried about the 2015 NFL Draft. When it was over, no team had selected him. But a few days later he got a phone call from the Tennessee Titans. 8 | November-December 2018

“I didn’t have anyone to really teach me what was going to happen (when I declared for the draft),” Riley said. “I didn’t know what to expect. Tennessee had their eyes on me and they reached out -- they invited me to (training) camp. The reason why I went there was I looked at their defensive back situation and saw that they didn’t draft any corners, so I liked that. And the defense that they ran was similar to what I ran in college, and I liked that, too. “I’ll be honest, at that stage, I didn’t really know that much about football and I didn’t really understand all the details of football. I just knew that I was athletic and I played the sport. I was actually moving up the depth chart during training camp and I was looking good going into the final preseason game, but then I broke my ankle and I end-

ed up missing the whole year. I got ankle surgery in August and then when I was able to put my foot on the ground they decided to fix my shoulder, too, which I had injured in college.

of the two positions. But after appearing in just 4 games in 2016 and just 7 in 2017, Riley realized that he would have to look to other teams if he were to get the chance to truly show his talents.

“My rookie year was a lot of learning about the NFL -- how teams like to attack you in different coverages and learning tendencies, stuff like that. That year I take as a blessing because it helped me mature more and understand how the NFL works. You see guys get cut and they bring in a lot of new faces -- not just players, but coaches, too; I had some coaches changed while I was at Tennessee. I learned more about football and the NFL and that has helped me to this day.”

“I actually learned (to play) safety while I was on IR,” Riley said. “It was all about adjustment -when the offense moves, we have to move into this coverage instead of that coverage; I’ve got to play this technique instead of that technique. It was a big learning experience, but it wasn’t too tough. It really helped me because I got a better sense of where your help was in any situation.

Spending 2015 on the Titans’ Injured Reserve list and more than a year working on physical therapy and strength and agility training after the surgeries, Riley only recovered enough to be activated late in the 2016 season. He saw limited action in just four games. But there had been significant coaching changes at Tennessee during his absence, and Riley was facing another challenge -- this time, he needed to adapt to a new position. “I came into college as a corner(back) and at Fresno I was a corner,” Riley said. “When I got to the NFL, I got the injury and the surgeries and I put on some weight. With the coaches changing at Tennessee, they drafted several corners and maybe just one safety, so they were looking for safeties. It wasn’t that big of deal -- I had played safety at Division II. The main thing was that after playing cornerback for two years, it was just about understanding how to communicate to the players on the field. At safety, you’ve got to be the defensive quarterback, the leader who adjusts. I had to learn the defense another way from what I knew.” There were similarities and differences between playing cornerback and safety and Riley spent long hours learning the subtleties and the interaction

“When a route combination comes down, you know how the safety’s got to play it. As a cornerback shifting to safety, it helped me with leverage. I still had to get used to the transition because I had to get comfortable with moving (before the snap) and have my eyes in the right place because I was not just playing man-to-man on the receiver. It was a pretty tough transition at first, but once I settled down, it got easy for me. It helped that I played quarterback in high school because I understood what the (opposing) quarterback was thinking and looking for. “After coming off IR at Tennessee, there was really no stand on me since they had new coaches and a new GM. I was really at the bottom of the list (for the 54-man roster). They really didn’t know about me and I fought my way just to get onto the roster. I had gained a lot of knowledge and I thought it was the right time to take my talents to the next level. If I would have stayed at Tennessee, there’s no way I would have been able to improve -- they wouldn’t have played me.” Turning 26 in 2018, Riley knew that his age would soon be held against him as he tried to secure a job on another team. Tennessee gambled that no other teams noticed Riley’s skills and they let him test the free agent waters with the hopes of getting him

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back at league-minimum salary. Fortunately for Riley, executives at the Giants had noticed his ability. They invited him to their 2018 training camp and promised to give him a real chance to compete for a starting job. Landon Collins was recognized as one of the top five safeties in the league and he was a defensive anchor at strong safety, but Riley would have the chance to compete for the starting free safety spot with 2017 starter Darian Thompson and 2016 starter Andrew Adams. Under new head coach Pat Shurmur, there would be no favorites. Each player would have to demonstrate why he deserved the starting job. “Once I got the call from the Giants, I knew I would have a chance to be a starter. I thought that was my opportunity to showcase what I can do. I was never in a position battle like I had at the start of (training) camp, but that’s what the NFL is about. It’s competition every day, every play. I still communicate with them (the others battling for position), we still do stuff like playing video games, because at the end of the day we’re still a brotherhood trying to stick together. Every day we were rotating -- one day I’d be with the ones (starting squad), the next day with the twos (second string), next day with the threes (third string), then back to the ones. I had never seen anything like it, but it’s a really good thing. You get to see the type of person somebody is when they get thrown in different situations. It was a great competition with those guys.”

tinues to play hard and says his teammates are doing the same. “Nobody on our team has quit,” Riley said. “There’s been times when we lost close games after we fought back, so regardless of the record, nobody on the team has quit. Speaking for me, I look at the first half of my first year as a starter and I’m trying to elevate my play. I don’t see myself as a young player anymore -- I have to start acting and playing like a pro. In the second half of the season, I see myself making more plays and putting myself in better positions. I am certainly playing for now, but I’m also playing for my future. There will never be quit in my heart. If I am showing that I am quitting on the field, nobody (in the NFL) is going to want somebody who quits. I’m always trying to get better and every day on the field I am trying to show the world that.” And for Riley, personal ego does not get in the way of team success. When asked about his first interception of the year -- a pick in the fifth game of the year, a 33-31 loss to the Carolina Panthers -- he kept things in perspective.

In the end, Shurmur liked what he saw in Riley, who took the free safety starting job with his agile, 6-foot, 205-pound frame. He maintained a firm grasp on the position, starting all 12 games up to press time and recording solid numbers (59 tackles, 2 interceptions) as he grew more comfortable in the position. But Riley’s individual success contrasted with that of the team, which started 1-7 and stood at 3-9 on December 9. Despite knowing that the Giants would not be playing in the post-season playoffs, Riley con10 | November-December 2018

Photo Credit: Matthew Swensen/New York Football Giants

“I definitely see myself being a starter in this league for years to come” -Curtis Riley

Photo Credit: Matthew Swensen/New York Football Giants

“That was my second career interception. It was big at the time because of the way the game was going. It was a play that we needed. We had some penalties that gave them (the Panthers) better field position on that drive. When I caught the interception, there was a big momentum shift -- you could feel the energy. It was just a great feeling making that play to help the team. I had a pretty good game, but at the end of the day we didn’t win. People ask me ‘how was it getting the pick?’ and I say, honestly, ‘it felt good for the moment, but at the end of the day we lost.’ That’s all that really matters, so I put it (the interception) out of my mind. I’d much rather remember the second interception (a pick in the end zone that he ran back 46 yards and set up a crucial Giants score in game 10, a 38-35 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers). In the end, the only thing that matters is that we won the game.” Despite his strong 2018 season, Riley knows that there are no guarantees in the NFL and that his future

as a starter or even on the team is anything but assured. And he thinks about that every day he steps on the field for practice or a game. “I do think that I have played well and I am a legitimate starter on this team,” Riley said, “but anything can happen. You don’t know how people upstairs in the organization think. They can think somebody is better than me and bring him in. I don’t take anything for granted. My spot is not solidified and I know that, so every day I fight as hard as I can just like I did in training camp. I’m never complacent. I never take days off, but I do feel like I can be a starter in this league, especially considering I’m still learning and getting better and better every game. There are a lot of things I need to work on, but I definitely see myself being a starter in this league for years to come.” Given the challenges that Riley had to overcome just to get here, don’t expect him to stop trying now. The determination to succeed still burns brightly inside Curtis Riley. MetroSports Magazine | 11

2018 New York Rugby 7s Tournament On November 24th, New York City’s Randall’s Island came alive with over 2,000 athletes, representing 139 teams from across the United States and abroad, competing in the 60th Annual New York Rugby 7s (NY7s) Tournament. Hosted by NYC’s own New York Rugby Club, the NY7s is the nation’s oldest and largest single-day Rugby 7s tournament getting its start in 1958. The history of the sport of Rugby Football dates back to the early 1800s when the codes of Rugby Union were first developed in England. Some sources trace the origin of the sport back to a 16 year old named William Webb Ellis who, in 1823 as a student at the Rugby School, ignored the rules of the soccer-like game of football at the time, and ran with the ball rather than advancing it with a kick. The Rugby School, founded in 1567, is still in operation today in the market town of Rugby, Warwickshire, England.

Rugby 7s, a variant of the original game of Rugby Union, dates back to 1883 in Melrose, Scotland and has grown in popularity becoming one of the most recent additions to the Olympic sports, first introduced at the 2016 Rio Games. As opposed to Rugby Union which is played with 15 on-field participants on each team, Rugby 7s is played with only seven on on-field participants per team. It is also a much faster game, typically played in two seven-minute halves, rather than the 40 minute halves of the Rugby Union style of the game.

Above: Randall’s Island Rugby Field under NYC’s Robert F. Kennedy (Triboro) Bridge.

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Randall’s Island, NYC

Home of the New York Rugby 7s Tournament


ew York City’s Randall’s Island is not only the site for the New York Sevens Rugby Tournament, but it is also a well-known NY Metro area mecca for sports of all types. Randall’s Island has served as the home for New York’s first professional soccer team, the NY Cosmos on which international soccer star, Pele, played. In 1936 in front of an audience that included President Franklin Roosevelt, Jesse Owens qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team with a victory in the 100 meter dash at the Randall’s Island Olympic Trials and went on to win 4 Olympic Gold Medals at the 1936 Berlin games. Jesse’s victory was reenacted in 2004 by U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist Justin Gatlin to celebrate the opening of the island’s Icahn Stadium and recapture a bit of Randall’s Island history. On May 31, 2008, six time Olympic Gold Medalist, Usain Bolt, set a new world record for the 100 meter dash, also in Icahn Stadium. The history of Randall’s Island in NYC dates back to 1637 when Dutch Governor Wouter van Twillin purchased it from the Lenni Lenape tribe of Native Americans. Since that time, the island has been used for a number of purposes including a Civil War veteran’s rest home, burial ground, a juvenile delinquent detention center and various medi-

cal facilities. In 1933, by act of the New York State legislature, Randall’s Island was designated a recreational facility. New York City Parks Commissioner and builder Robert Moses oversaw the construction of playground, ball fields, and a sports stadium, originally known as Triborough Stadium and then as Downing Stadium and which was replaced in 2002 with the modern Icahn Stadium. The lights used at Icahn Stadium to light the field were taken from the old Ebbets Field, the former home of the Brooklyn Dodgers prior to their move to L.A. Back in the days when baseball was a segregated sport and before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, the Black Yankees of base-

ball’s old Negro League played their 1938 season in Triborough Stadium on Randall’s Island although most of their home games were played at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. Also calling Triborough Stadium their home field were one of New York’s earliest professional football teams, the New York Yankees of the old AFL. Triborough Stadium was renamed Downing Stadium in 1955 and, in 2002, was torn down to be replaced by Icahn Stadium in 2004 and which is still in use on Randall’s Island today. Although the NY7s moved to Randall’s Island in 1967 the NY Rugby Football Club has been using the Island since the 1930s.

Photo Credit: (c) Roy Googin 2015. Creative Commons License Attribution Share Alike 4.0 International

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2018 NY7s Tournament Champions Boys H.S. Club

Bowl Champion

Titans Gars

Plate Champion

Cup Champion

Boys H.S. Premier

Equipe Quebec

Upright Rogues

Tsunami CDN Misfits

Girls H.S. Club

Adam Scott Collegiate


Tsunami CDN Misfits|

Girls H.S. Premier

Equipe Quebec

Upright Rogues


Mens Club


Rogue Samurai

Equipe Quebec

Mens College

New York Rugby Club


Bishops University Gaiters

Mens Premier

Rekavary Bulldogs

Northeast Academy

Mens Social

Mitchell Old Boys

Pacific Island Warriors Mountbatten

Mens Social 2

Liberty 9410


Womens Club

Toronto Scottish

Aurora Barbs

Ottawa Irish

Womens College

Royal Military College

SUNY Stony Brook

Seneca Womens Rugby

Womens Premier

Northeast Academy 3

Equipe Quebec

Northeast Academy

Womens Social


Lady Vikings

NYRC Olde Love

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2018 NY Sevens Champions

Titans Gars Boys H.S. Club Bowl Champion

Adam Scott Collegiate Girls H.S. Club Bowl Champion Photo Credit: Clark Thompson

New York Rugby Club Boys H.S. Club Plate Champion

TIRF 7s Girls H.S. Club Plate Champion MetroSports Magazine | 17

2018 NY Sevens Champions

Tsunami CDN Misfits Girls H.S. Club Cup Champion

Atlantis Girls H.S. Premier Cup Champion

Equipe Quebec Girls H.S. Premier Bowl Champion

Upright Rogues Girls H.S. Premier Plate Champion Photo Credit: Clark Thompson

2018 NY Sevens Champions

Rogue Samurai Mens Club Champion

Bishops University Gaiters Mens College Cup Champion Photo Credit: Clark Thompson

Equipe Quebec Mens Club Champion

Rekavary Bulldogs Mens Premier Bown Champion MetroSports Magazine | 19

2018 NY Sevens Champions

Northeast Academy Mens Premier Plate Champion

Liberty 9410 Mens Premier Cup Champion

Toronto Scottish Womens Club Bowl Champion

Royal Military College Womens College Bowl Champion Photo Credit: Clark Thompson

2018 NY Sevens Champions

Stony Brook University Womens College Plate Champion

Seneca Womens Rugby Womens College Cup Champion

Equipe Quebec Womens Premier Champion Photo Credit: Clark Thompson

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Roots Rugby The Liberty 9410 “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” ― Robert F. Kennedy


n the playing fields of New York City’s Randall’s Island under the foot of the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, a new and somewhat unique team of local and international players unexpectedly captured the Men’s Premier Division Cup Championship at the 60th Annual New York Rugby Sevens Tournament. With relatively little practice time, and having never fully come together as a team prior to gathering Saturday morning for the tournament on Randall’s Island, this team of men representing the African Diaspora went on an undefeated 5-0 run through their tournament competition. Although this year was the first time the Liberty 9410 competed in the Men’s Premier Division, Liberty 9410 squads had previously participated in the NY7s Men’s Social Division. The teams, branded as Liberty 9410, were founded and are coached by Hayden James, the former Head Coach of the Columbia University Men’s Rugby Club, and named after the 9410 Foundation established by James in memory of his son who was tragically killed eight years ago and The Liberty NYC, a Manhattan bar and restaurant that provides financial support to the team. Serving as the team’s Head Coach along with Hayden James was Koma Gandy Fischbein, who also serves as Head Coach of the All Navy Men’s 7s squad. Coach Fischbein, a Navy surface warfare officer, served three deployments to the Arabian Gulf and achieved the rank of Lieutenant Commander.

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Photo: Warren Rosenberg Photo Credit: Warren Rosenberg

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The team also receives support from the New York law firm, Elefterakis, Elefterakis & Panek. Earlier this year, Hayden approached Kyle Granby, formerly a member of the Iona College Gaels Rugby team, to join the squad and Kyle agreed, with one condition. He asked that, under the banner of the Liberty 9410 team, he be allowed to build a Premier Division squad made up of players drawn from the African Diaspora and thereby, along with his wife Tiana Granby, founded Roots Rugby. The players, all of whom can trace their roots and recent ancestry back to the African continent, comprise one of the few, all black rugby teams, competing at the present time. Although entered into this year’s NY7s as the Men’s Premier Division Liberty 9410 team, they adopted the brand, “Roots Rugby”, according to co-founder Kyle Granby, “the brand of rugby created for people of the African Diaspora.” In addition to the many New York Metro area ruggers on the team two players, Mikel Facey and Alpachino Mignott, are members of the Jamaica Rugby Football Union and play on the Jamaican National Team. In future tournaments, this team will play under the “Roots Rugby” name. Liberty 9410 Roots Rugby Team Members

1. Kyle Granby 2. Derek Lipscomb 3. Gavan D’Amore-Morrison 4. Paris Hollis 5. Randy Porter 6. Greg Voigt 7. Kevin Kimble 8. Leon Pantor 9. Kimani Davis 10. Vallon Adams 11. Alpachino Mignott 12. Mikel Facey

Photo Credit: Warren Rosenberg

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Photo Credit: Warren Rosenberg

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Kyle told MetroSports Magazine that there is a special bond among members of the team due to their shared African roots. “To us this was bigger than rugby - especially for the American players. It’s rare to find a team with 3 or more players of African descent. You don’t see too many black players in America in positions of scrum-half or fly-half on a predominately white team unless they had been playing rugby since high school. We want to show we can be skilled, and make plays happen and work together. This team came together to play for each other to prove a point to the rugby community and to ourselves that we’re more than just the speed on the wing. Most importantly we’re here to show the ruggers of the next generation of African descent what they can be and how we as a people can be limitless.” Kyle went on to say that, “the day of the tournament was the first time the whole team had been together so it was a bit nerve-wracking to say the least. When we kind of came out flat-footed in the beginning of the first game it wasn’t looking to bright, but then we just woke up - as if you woke Mike Tyson up out of a coma in his prime; we just came out swinging. We battled back to win the first game on the last play and just never looked back. We progressively got better and kept pushing. All day we reminded each other, “we are a

a family, we’re in this together”. Having that brotherhood and trust within the group allowed us to really come together. Then once the final whistle blew, it was as if I had gone to Disney World for the first time, I was just in disbelief. We worked so hard to put this team together and make everything happen, and just to see everything pay off in a tournament that so many teams come here year after year after year and don’t win, but we came in on our first try and went 5-0 it made a statement about our team, our brand of rugby and what our African Diaspora community has to look forward to.” “What we did on that day was special and will be a milestone in the history of the African Diaspora community because, since winning, we have built up so much interest and have started connecting ruggers of African descent throughout the country and world really. Roots Rugby will continue to be the title you see in future tournaments representing people of African descent. This is bigger than rugby and the pride that comes along with it for players and supporters just means so much and feels like it was right on time. We’d like to thank Hayden first and foremost, without him we’d still be hoping to enter a team like this into next years tournament. Then we have to thank his 9410 Foundation, Glenn the owner of The Liberty NYC for his continued support throughout the years and of course EEP Law for helping us make this a reality too.”

Photo Credit: Warren Rosenberg

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Connecticut Native Joey Logano Crowned NASCAR Champion Considered to be America’s premier auto racing circuit, NASCAR - the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, recently concluded its 2018 season with the Monster Energy Cup Series Champion being crowned at HomesteadMiami Speedway on November 18th. Rivaling major league baseball, NHL hockey and NBA basketball, and trailing the NFL in viewership and sponsor dollars spent, NASCAR stands at the pinnacle of auto racing. Although founded and still generally regarded as a sport of the deep south, the 2018 NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Championship race pitted two New York Metro area natives, Connecticut’s

Photo Credit: Warren Rosenberg

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Joey Logano and New Jersey’s Martin Truex, as contestants in the final battle for the Championship. That two of the four contenders for NASCAR’s premier series championship come from the New York Metro region should come as no surprise. The New York metro area has a long history in auto racing, having been the site of the 1896 Cosmopolitan Race, starting point for the 1908 New York to Paris Race, 1908 Briarcliff Trophy Race, and the Vanderbilt Cup Race Series which ran from 1904-1968. And let’s not forget that the 1985 Indianapolis 500 Champion, Danny Sullivan, gained some of his driving prowess as a NYC cab driver.

Photo Credit: Warren Rosenberg

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Photo Credit: Warren Rosenberg

Born in Middletown Connecticut on May 24, 1990, Joey Logano got his first taste of racing at the age of 4 in a go-kart purchased for him by his father. He entered his first competitive race at the age of 6 and got his first taste of victory before his 8th birthday at Connecticut’s Thompson Motor Speedway in the Junior Stock Car Quarter Midget series. Joey followed up his first win that year by capturing the next two years’ Eastern Grand Nationals Championships. Logano progressed through racing by taking the National Bandolero Bandits championship in 1999 and the Legends Pro National championship in 2002. Martin Truex, the 2017 series champ, was born in Trenton, New Jersey and grew up in Mayetta, on the New Jersey coast and about 96 miles from Times Square, graduating from New Jerssey’s Southern Regional High School. He began also his racing career in go-karts at New Jersey’s New Egypt Speedway. These two local products engaged in a heated battle throughout the last phase of NASCAR’s 2018 Monster Energy Chase for the Cup in ways that were reminiscent of the best fender-bending 30 | November-December 2018

battles of Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough and the Allison brothers (Bobby and Donnie). It was NASCAR racing as the fans love to see it. It all came down to the final 20 laps of the season. With Truex leading, Logano swept around the outside of Turns 3-4 to take the lead. Truex closed the gap but couldn’t find a way to pull even or pass and the lanky New Englander claimed the win and the champions crown. Truex graciously saluted Logano at the season-ending awards banquet a week later: “Joey, Mr. Penske (car owner, Roger), and everybody on that 22 team -- you guys were the best when it mattered and earned the championship. Congratulations.” Perhaps best summing up Logano’s championship year are his own words, “You guys have taken a huge chance on a driver who was out of a ride, I had nowhere to go and this was a great place for me and I’m forever grateful for that. Here I am, standing on the largest stage in NASCAR, so I need to use this moment to challenge all of us, and inspire all of us to be the change.”

Photo Credit: Warren Rosenberg

Product Review Everlast PIQ Robot Blue Having had former WBC featherweight World Champion boxer Maureen Shea give the Everlast PIQ Robot Blue training device a review from her current home and training base on the west coast last year, MetroSports Magazine had east coast based Champion and president of USA Boxing Metro, Sonya Lamonakis, put the PIQ through its paces at New York’s famous Gleason’s Gym with her stable of up-andcoming young fighters. The French technology company PIQ, developed a sports training device incorporating a built in gyroscope, accelerometer and altimeter that can collect almost 200,000 data points per minute and can be used to accurately measure human movement. Coupled with proprietary software accessible through a smartphone app, the PIQ can measure an athlete’s speed, reaction time, and G-force. Further, using an artificial intelligence engine designed by PIQ engineers, the PIQ device can analyze an athlete’s sports-specific performance, calculate a PIQSCORE, and make recommendations for performance improvement. Partnering with well-known sports equipment manufacturers, the marketplace now has devices for skiiers (partnered with Rossignol), tennis (partnered with Babolat), golf (partnered with Mobitee) and now boxing (partnered with Everlast). Professional boxer and motivational speaker Maureen Shea took the Everlast PIQ Blue Robot through its paces during a recent training session. As the champ tells us, “the instructions were clear and, after opening up the box it was pretty easy to get set-up and started. I found that the app was very simple to download and pretty self-explanatory to use. 32 | November-December 2018

The west coast Champ went on to tell us that, “there are many benefits to using the Everlast PIQ for training. Monitoring work/punch output and consistency is extremely beneficial when measuring training progress.” “With respect to the items that the Everlast-PIQ tracks during a workout, I find that the speed and number of punches for me is key. It’s good to monitor how many punches I throw and with what speed I throw them. I’m not too concerned with G-force or calories, but that might be helpful for others, especially if they train for fitness and not competition.” “I think this tool would be good for an established boxer to check how they are performing on a given day of use or to see if their overall progression is consistent from day to day. I think for fitness this could be a good tool. To be put to best use a boxer needs to learn the correct way to punch before using a tool like this otherwise they might be tempted to just try to hit hard or fast enough to beat a number and risk possible injury. But that goes with any training device.” Our east coast Champ, Sonya “The Scholar” Lamonikas, also believes that while the PIQ Blue shows the greatest potential for experienced boxers, it does have some attributes that are useful for those just learning the sport. The items that the device records during a training session would “definitely be helpful for new people”, that she “enjoyed tracking progress” during training sessions and that while

she already has a lot of knowledge about her boxing skills, the feedback provided by the PIQBlue’s tracking system “are a nice reminder” of what she needs to pay attention to. One thing she feels new boxers need to be cautious of when using the PIQ-Blue is to not try and run up high scores on the device and ignore the basics and attention to their form. While she found the device easy to use, telling us that, “pairing it was easy and snapping it in was obvious” and that “it even links to the Apple health app on your phone, so you don’t have to load so much information” Sonya did note that, for her younger fighters, “it’s a little bulky and the thumb loop isn’t adjustable”. One of the Gleason’s Gym trainers with whom Sonya works, Leon “Hurry Up” Moore, once ranked #3 in the world with a record of 35-3-0 with 25 wins by knockout, gave us his opinion of the Everlast PIQ-Blue stating he saw its value in being “good for training camp with an experienced boxer getting ready for a title fight.” And who would know better than the three-time Caribbean amateur champion, WBC Continental Americas bantamweight champion, WBC Caribbean Boxing Federation bantamweight champion, Guyanese National Champion, and North American Boxing Association bantamweight champion.

On our judges’ scorecards the Everlast PIQ Robot Blue boxing training system wins a majority decision. For ease of use, technological sophistication, data feedback and AI-driven training recommendations, the Everlast PIQ wins on all judges’ scorecards. For size and comfort during use, the PIQ scores a draw. As the technology develops and PIQ’s engineers work on further miniaturization, the PIQ Robot Blue is likely to score a knockout.

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