MetroSports Magazine

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MetroSports Magazine

New York Rugby 7s Returns to Action

November-December 2021

2021 World Table Tennis Championships

Remembering Brandon Hendricks & Willie Negron


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November-December 2021 4 NYCFC Brings the MLS Championship Home to New York New York City Football Club claims its first Major League Soccer Championship 10 Remembering B-Diddy Hendricks NYC high school basketball standout re membered for a life cut-short 13 Remembering Willie and Surrob Negron A legacy of commitment to NYC basketball 14 ITTF World Table Tennis Championships Celebrating 50 years of ping-pong diplomacy 20 62nd New York Sevens Rugby Tournament NY7s returns to Randalls Island NYC after a Covid pause 26 Product Review - AirPop Kids Face Masks Perfect for the active young athlete

Cover Photo by Warren Rosenberg, MetroSports Magazine | 1

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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: Editorial Director / Sales: John Chuhran Writers: John Chuhran, Warren Rosenberg Director of Photography: Clark Thompson Social Media: Clark Thompson, Warren Rosenberg Photo Contributors: -Clark Thompson, -Warren Rosenberg -New York City Football Club 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

NYCFC Brings the 2021 MLS Championship Home to NYC by Warren Rosenberg “Nobody can say they did it the easy way. Yes, they caught a break when Philadelphia had a COVID-19 outbreak, but let’s not forget that they won that game without their star forward, the Golden Boot presented by Audi winner Taty Castellanos. To go away to New England, away to the Union and away to Portland, emerging victorious all three times, is an incredible accomplishment that makes them worthy champions.” Major League Soccer


n September 19th, 2019, the New York Yankees won their 19th MLB American League Eastern Championship Title bringing that honor home to New York City and Yankee Stadium. On December 5th, 2021, the feat was repeated when Yankee Stadium’s other home team, the New York City Football Club (NYCFC), won the MLS Eastern Conference Championship. This is their first Conference Championship since joining Major League Soccer in 2015.

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Unfortunately, many of the published reviews of the NYCFC’s 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Union team have been less than flattering with repeated references to the many Philadelphia players who were sidelined because of Covid protocols. While it may true that Philadelphia took to the field absent several starting players, such has been the case throughout professional sports over the past year. Almost every team, in every sport, has competed with one or more starting players

Above: Showing off the Eastern Conference Medal. Photo Courtesy Facing Page: On-field action at the MLS Championship Finals in Portland, OR. Photo Courtesy

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Above: Locker room strategy session prior to the MLS Championship Final in Portland, OR. Photo courtesy

sidelined, be it from injury, suspension, contract negotiation – or Covid. Every team recruits, trains and fields back-up players for every position and, as compensated professionals, they are expected to perform.

On Saturday, December 11th, the NYCFC traveled to Portland, Oregon, to take on the Western Conference Champion Portland Timbers for the 2021 Major League Soccer National Championship Cup.

The Eastern Conference Championship game between the NYCFC and the Philadelphia Union was a hard-fought and close contest with athletes on both sides playing well representing their teams honorably. The game could have gone either way but it was NYCFC’s Talles Magno’s goal with just minutes remaining that put NYCFC on top. There is no shame in the performance of the Philadelphia squad and nothing to be taken away from New York.

In a tightly contested match that came down to wire in the closing minutes and required going into two overtime periods to settle the score, the NYCFC came out victorious, capturing their first ever Philip F. Anschutz Trophy. Perhaps this shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone as the NYCFC had previously showed their potential by defeating the New England Revolution, the team with the best regular-season record, earleir in the MLS playoffs.

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In summing up this championship contest, perhaps Major League Soccer put it best when posting the following on its website, “Finals can often be impossible to predict, especially in MLS. But when you get a big-time performance from one of your big names, your chances of success become that much better, and that’s exactly what happened for NYCFC. Sean Johnson took over the penalty shootout and helped bring the most coveted prize in American soccer to the Bronx.” And, in answering the question, ‘Does the NYCFC deserve the Championship’, MLS notes, “Nobody can say they did it the easy way. Yes, they

caught a break when Philadelphia had a COVID-19 outbreak, but let’s not forget that they won that game without their star forward, the Golden Boot presented by Audi winner Taty Castellanos. To go away to New England, away to the Union and away to Portland, emerging victorious all three times, is an incredible accomplishment that makes them worthy champions.” And we here in the New York Metropolitan area couldn’t agree more. Below: Sean Johnson with what will turn out to be the game winning save at the MLS Championship Finals in Portland, Oregon. Photo vourtesy

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Above: Post-match celebration in Portland; Photo Credit Below: Brining the trophy home to New York City. Photo Credit

On December 14th, at a ceremony on the steps of New York City Hall, Mayor Bill de Blasio presented the team with the keys to the City, a ceremonial honor reserved for only the most special of occasions. The mayor said, “The team motto is ‘For the City’ and this team lives it out. They inspire us, they make us feel hope even in the toughest moments. This is an amazing team for the ages.” There’s now a new space on the shelf at Yankee Stadium, one where the NYCFC’s first MLS Championship Cup sits next to the 27 of their Stadium partner New York Yankees. Whether it remains there or moves to a coveted spot in a new stadium remains an issue for the future.

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Remembering Brandon “B-Diddy” Hendricks James Monoe High School Retires the Number of Graduate An Innocent Victim Lost to NYC’s Street Violence Karim Adeen-Hasan, Martiza Martinez and Warren Rosenberg


n November 30, 2019, the publication Hoop Dreams NYC posted a tweet about an up-andcoming St. John’s University basketball prospect at James Monroe High School in the Bronx. The tweet recognized this young athlete for capturing the Sportsmanship Award for his 18 point, 5 rebound performance, against rival Brooklyn Collegiate. The winner of this award, Brandon Hendricks-Ellison, had reposted this on his own Twitter page as shown on the facing page (in red uniform). Two years later, on November 30, 2021, during a Public High School Athletic League game against Samuel Gompers High School, the James Monroe Campus High School retired Brandon’s #5 uniform at a touching ceremony honoring his short life.

Above. Brandon Hendricks mother receiving his retired uniform. Photo Credit Karim Adeen-Hasan

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On June 28th, 2020, seventeen year old Brandon Hendricks-Ellison had been gunned down on a Bronx street while enjoying an outdoor barbeque with friends and family. He was the unfortunate victim of a stray bullet intended for someone else. One more victim of the City’s senseless gun violence. He had just recently graduated from high school and was just one week from celebrating his 18th birthday and looking forward to beginning college at St. John’s where he hoped to continue playing basketball.

At the ceremony, Brandon’s mother spoke, saying thank you to those at James Monroe High School who taught, coached, and looked after Brandon. She went on to note that, “in retiring Brandon’s jersey #5, you have made Brandon an example for others to follow, and that was very important to Brandon. My Brandon, your ‘BDiddy’, made a change. Brandon left an impression on everyone he came across and will continue to influence others in the future.”

Although he is gone, Brandon is not forgotten. His memory will live on in a New York City street bearing his name, Brandon Hendricks-Ellison Boulevard at the intersection of 156th Street and Park Avenue. Bearing truth to her words that Brandon will “continue to influence others in the future”, a scholarship has been created in his name. In 2020, the Bronx Rising Initiative (BRI) launched the Brandon Hendricks Scholarship and, as they stated in announcing the scholarship, “Brandon Hen-

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dricks was a consistent source of hope and inspiran. The scholarship awards $5,000 to high school seniors from the Bronx who have been admitted into college. On July 7th of this year, on what would have been Brandon’s 19th birthday, ten young women were awarded

the Brandon Hendricks Scholarship. For information about the scholarship, for application information, or to make a donation, reach out to the Bronx Rising Initiative at: https://

From the James Monroe H.S. Twitter Page RIP Diddy I have so many fond memories of the short time that I spent with Brandon while he was with us on this Earth. He was a charismatic, humble young man. He listened and respected everyone. He was an awesome team mate. Thoughtful, kind and caring. Full of life and positivity. I’ve never met anyone who had anything bad to say about him. He was a remarkable basketball player. Incredible handle and quickness. He was our leader on and off the floor for the past 2 seasons. Just graduated from HS two days ago. His whole life ahead of him...why did he have to be taken from us so soon? I have so many special memories of Brandon that I’ll treasure for ever. Many of them on the court during our countless hours of practice. Many of them in the games. Win or lose we could always count on him to fight and give his best. Some of my fondest memories of Brandon was not on the court but in my Geometry class. Brandon was so inquisitive and intelligent. His questions, thoughtfulness and summaries always moved the class forward. He would bounce around the class helping his classmate until they got it. His effort in class was equal to his effort on the court...why was he taken away so soon? What can we do as a community and a society to prevent our Princes from killing each other so senselessly? I’m pretty certain that the bullets that took Brandon’s life were not meant for him. He wasn’t that kind of a kid. But those bullets should not have been meant for anyone. We need to find a way to get our young brothers to value not just the lives of others, but to value their lives. Two lives were lost last night. Two families will be devastated, and our hearts will be eternally broken. The senseless violence has to stop. We’ve lost a special part of our family. RIP Brandon. Coach Thompson June 29, 2020 12 |November-December 2021

Remembering Willie and Surrob Negron back in just our third published issue of MetroSports Magazine, in Clark Thompson’s reportage I tofwas New York City’s 2015 Entertainers Basketball Classic (EBC), that we featured a tribute to NYC’s

legendary urban “streetball” photographer, Robert “Surrob” Negron, who had passed away in 2010 leaving his brother, Willie, to carry on the family tradition. The article featured a photograph taken on the famed basketball court of Harlem’s Rucker Park with the late Greg Marius, EBC’s founder, and Willie Negron posing with a montage of Surrob’s NYC streetball photographs (below).

Willie Negron and Robert Negron were orphans. All they had as family were eachother and NYC basketball. Willie was the unofficial “Director of Basketball Operations” at James Monroe High School in the Bronx, founder and manager of the A.A.U. basketball team, the Willie Howie Allstars, and founder and coach of a semi-pro basketball team, the New York Lightning. The Instagram post from James Monroe High School, below, posted in November of last year, says it best.

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ITTF 2021 WORLD TABLE TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS Celebrating 50 Years of Ping-Pong Diplomacy

Three Athletes Represent the NY Metro Area by Leon Libin or the first time in Table Tennis history, the International Table Tennis Federation’s (ITTF) 2021 World Table Tennis Championships (WTTC) Finals took place in the United States. From November 23-29, Houston Texas welcomed Table Tennis delegations from all over the world for the first time since the the LIEBHER 2019 Championship Finals in Budapest, Hungary, having been cancelled in 2020 due to the Covid Pandemic. It was there, in Budapest in 2019, that the USA delegation presented a Bid for hosting the next Individual WTTC in Houston, Texas which became the winning Bid, chosen by the ITTF Committee.


While the Championships are a special event for all competing teams, this year’s event held special significance for Team USA and Team China for which it commemorated the 50th Anniversary of Ping Pong Diplomacy between the the two countries. In 1971, the US National Table Tennis Team, under auspice of the Agreement between the US and Chinese Governments, visited China in an ice-breaking activity between the countries and establishing an exchange of Table Tennis Teams.

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Among the five US players who went to China in 1971 was a New York City resident George Braithwaite, who recently passed away from COVID-19. An article describing his historic visit appeared in the February 2015 issue of MetroSports Magazine. He was called “Chief” for his dignity and positive attitude.

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This news was announced on Sunday, November 21st, 2021, at the Peace Trough Sport Dinner celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Ping Pong Diplomacy. Among the guests present were Christopher Nixon Cox - grandson of President Richard Nixon, Neil Bush - son of President George Bush, representatives from the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United States of America, Mayor of Houston - Sylvester Turner. The Chinese Table Tennis Association (CTTA) and the US Table Tennis Association (USATT) together submitted the request to the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) to allow China-USA table tennis pairs to compete at the 2021 World Table Tennis Championships. The International Table Tennis Federation Executive Committee granted the request. Several athletes from the New York Metro area competed in the ITTF 2021 WTTC Finals. In Women’s Championships, the USA was represented by Lily Zhang (California), Amy Wang (New Jersey), Yue Wu (New York), Rachel and Joanna Sung (California). In the Men’s Championships, the USA was represented by Kanak Jha (California), Nikhil Kumar (California) and Kai Zhang (New York/

Above and Facing Page: Photos by Leon Libin

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California) while in Mixed Doubles the competitors were Lily Zhang (California) and Kanak Jha (California). Team USA was coached by Gao Jun, a nine-time U.S. Women’s Champion and Stefan Feth, the 2018 and 2019 USATT Coach of the Year. In this historic 2021 WTTC Finals in Houston, Texas, China and the USA joined table tennis forces with two mixed Doubles pairs: Lily Zhang with a World Ranking of 35th (WR 35) USA, Lin Gaoyuan (WR 7) China and Manyu Wang (WR 4) China, Kanak Jha (WR 31) USA. Lily Zhang, 25 years old, having World Rank (WR 35) and being seeded 26th, competed in Women’s Singles Championship, where, in the Round of 128, she beat Leonie Hartbrich (WR 183) of Hungary - 4:0, won against Andrea Todorovic (WR 115) from Serbia 4:2 in Round of 64 and lost to Hoi Kem Doo (WR 13) from Hong Kong 3:4 in Round of 32. It is needed to be said, that all matches in the ITTF 2021 WTTC were played in the Knock-Out format and best out of 7 in Women’s Singles, Men’s Singles matches and best out of 5 in all Doubles matches. In the Women’s Doubles

Championship, Lily, paired with Yue Wu(Rank 42), from New York, (WR 43 as Doubles) and in the Round of 64 they lost 2:3 to the pair Natalie Marchetti and Margo DeGraef (WR 127 as Doubles) of Belgium. New York’s Yue Wu (WR 44), 31 years old, started the Women’s Singles Championship with a victory in the Round 128 over Sofia-Xuan Zhang (WR 125) from Spain 4:1 and completed it with the loss to Jihee Jeon (WR 14) of Korea 0:4 in the Round of 64. Amy Wang (WR 131),19 years old, from New Jersey, encountered Nina Mittelman (WR 31) from Germany in the Round of 128 of Women’s Singles and won 4:0; then in Women’s Singles Round of 64 she with the same “dry score” 4:0 beat Sibel Altignkaya (WR 182) from Turkey and then lost 0:4 to I-Ching Cheng (WR 8) from Chinese Taipei in the Round of 32. The youngest female players in the USA Team - twin sisters Joanna and Rachel Sung (WR 115 as Doubles) from California competed in the ITTF 2021 Women’s Doubles Championship, where in the Round of 64

they met a pair from Turkey Sibel Altikaya and Ozge Yilmaz (WR 244 as Doubles) and won the match with the score 3:2, advancing to the next Round of 32. There, Joanna and Rachel Sung encountered a joint pair from Czech Republic and Slovakia - Barbora Balazove and Hana Matelova (WR 11 as Doubles) to whom they lost the match 3:1 in four games.

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In Men’s Championships Kanak Jha, 21 years old, (WR 28) played against Jaehyun An (WR 43) from Korea in the Round of 128 and in a quite even match won it 4:3 in seven games, advancing to the Round of 64. There, he overplayed Andrej Gacina (WR 49) of Croatia 4:0, with whom our readers could be familiar from MetroSports’ publications and his participations in the Westchester Open Championships. This victory advanced Kanak to the Round of 32 and to the contest with a Belgium player Martin Allegro (WR 109). In six games out of seven Kanak Jha prevailed in the match over his opponent 4:2. Next, Round of 16, matched the USA player with a strong German modern defender Ruwen Filus (WR 34) whom he overcame 4:1. Now, Kanak had to face in a match with a Table Tennis Legend - Timo Boll (WR 10) of Germany. The match started favorably for Kanak with a victory 11: 4 in first game, but after that Timo broke the trend and brought the result of the match to his favor - 4:2 in six games. This happened in the Round of 8 or Quarter Final of the Championship and playing in a Quarter Final of an ITTF WTTC became Kanak Jha’s personal Record of his Table Tennis carrier and the first time since 1959, when American Men’s Singles entered a Quarter Finals. I had a chance to ask Kanak Jha a question after his historic victory in the Round of 16.

Leon Libin, MetroSports Magazine, New York, USA: “Congratulations! This is the Record! What do you feel?” Kanak Jha: “I feel, that I have to go to the next Round. That is everything for me. I have put everything on this table. If you win - you win, if you lose - you lose. This is my set for the entire Tournament. And tomorrow is a new match.” Nikhil Kumar (WR 1430), 18 years old, started the Men’s Singles Championship with the match against Brazilian Thiago Monteiro (WR 91) in the round of 128 and lost it in a hard fought manner 3:4 in seven games. Nikhil, also, played in Men’s Doubles Championship in a pair with Kai Zhang (WR 52 as a pair). They started in the Round of 64 against Aleksandr Khanin and Pavel Platonov (WR 55 as a pair) and won the match 3:0 advancing to the Round of 32 to meet in a match with Paul Drinkhall and Liam Pitchford (WR 13 as a pair) of England, to whom Nikhil and Kai lost 1:3, having the score in 3rd game 17:19! In Mixed Doubles Championship, Nikhil Kumar with Amy Wang (WR 79 as pair) have encountered Korean pair Daeseong Cho and Yubin Shin (WR 23). The match went in favor of Koreans and finished with the score 3:0. Kai Zhang, pictured at left, 24 year old (WR 167), also, played in the Men’s Singles Championships in the Round of 128 against Gaston Alto (WR 97) from Brazil. The match finished with the score 4:0 in the Brazilian’s favor with the second game’s score 12:10. The culmination of the USA team success in the ITTF 2021 World Championships in Houston, Texas, was the performance of Lily Zhang in Mixed Doubles joint pair with CHINA’s Lin GaoYuan (WR 22 as pair). Began in the Round of 32 against German pair Nina Mittelman and Dang Qiu (WR 19 as pair) they advanced to the Round of 16 after the victory 3:1, following the victory pathway in the match against Olga Vorobeva and Kirill Skachkov (WR 28

Above: Kai Zhang. Photo by Leon Libin

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as pair) of Russian Table Tennis Federation with the score 3:1. In the next Round of 8 or Quarter Finals, the pair overplayed one of the top pair from France with World Ranking 4 - Jia Nan Yuan and Emmanuel Lebesson - 3:1 and that victory opened for Lily and Gaoyuan a chance to challenge Hina Hayata and Tomokazu Harimoto (WR 7 as pair) from Japan in Semifinals. The match went with the alternating success and when on the board there appeared the score 2:2, all had to decide the fifth, the final game of the match. In the result, Japanese players managed to win the game and advanced to the Finals. Nevertheless, this achievement of the joint pair and Lily Zhang in particular is phenomenal! Lily Zhang and Gaoyuan Lin won Bronze Medals of the ITTF 2021 World Table Tennis Championships in Mixed Doubles! This is the first Table Tennis Medal for the USA in ITTF World Championships since Dick Miles won the Bronze in Men’s Singles in 1959. Spectacular result! Congratulations!!! In an after-match interview I asked Lily Zhang and Gaoyuan Lin: Leon Libin: “Lily, Gaoyuan, Congratulations on your Joint Table Tennis victory today, in this Championship! What are differences and similarities in your playing styles and what contributed today into your victory. Thank you?” Gaoyuan Lin: “This is the secret about our similarity, but what I can say we have a bond of understanding each other, that made success here today.” Lily Zhang: “Tactic-wise, I also would not say anything, but I think our chemistry was great on the court. I think that we were able to communicate really well and that was our greatest strength.” In this World Table Tennis Championships became apparent a wave of young stars, new generation table tennis players from different countries. And, nevertheless, table tennis legends and established players still held their positions demonstrated world class performance and with dignity replied to the challenges from rising stars. As vivid examples of this can be Xia Lian Ni (WR 40), 58 year old, female player

from Luxembourg, who won Bronze Medal in Women’s Doubles together with Sarah DeNutte (WR 12 as pair) and, also, played very decently in Women’s Singles, and, of course a Legend of Table Tennis Timo Boll of Germany, who won Bronze Medal in Men’s Singles. In an interview with me Timo Boll said that, he still has his strength and in another one, that he is still one of the best. Our readers probably, also, familiar with several established table tennis professionals, who played in the ITTF 2021 WTTChampionships by their participations in Westchester Opens: such names as Robert Gardos (WR 27) of Austria, Tomislav Pucar (WR 34) of Croatia, Andrej Gacina (WR 48) of Croatia, Olajide Omotayo (WR 89) of Nigeria, Jeremy Hazin (WR 156) of Canada tell much to table tennis lovers. The 2021 WTTC Championships in Houston, Texas, gathered Table Tennis Legends and Stars from all over the world and, also, Celebrities, among whom we could see Will Shortz, New York Times Editor, Nenad Bach, Composer, Musician, Founder of PING PONG PARKINSON, watching its exciting matches. The ITTF 2021 World Table Tennis Championships has been a success and delivered plenty of positive memories to all table tennis participants, as well to those who came to watch the matches. It, also, gave a big impulse to development of Table Tennis in the United States of America. A significant Event, at the ITTF 2021 WTT Championships, was the Annual General Meeting of the ITTF Member Federations and the Election of the ITTF President. Newly elected ITTF President became Petra Sorling of Sweden. Congratulations! The ITTF 2021 Championships in Houston became a Festival of Table Tennis professionalism, friendship, PING PONG DIPLOMACY, spectators’ enthusiasm and hospitality.

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2021 New York Rugby 7s Tournament On November 26th, after a year’s pause because of the Covid pandemiic shutdown, New York City’s Randall’s Island came alive with over 1,000 athletes, representing 91 teams from across the United States and abroad, competing in the 62nd 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-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 RFK (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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2021 NY7s Results

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Spotlight On the Roots Rugby Family The Roots Rugby Family’s sentiments about the 2021 NY7s is perhaps best said in their Instagram post,

Thank you New York Rugby Club for another well run @newyork7s tournament. We had 2 Women’s Premier Sides, 2 Men’s Premier Sides and 1 Men’s Club Side compete this year and represent ROOTS. We had a fantastic group of individuals who came together as family over the course of 1 practice and a long, cold day of 7s. Our Men’s Red side won the Premier Division after defeating our Men’s Black side in the Semi-Finals by a conversion with no time left. Our women put on an impressive display of skill, teamwork and heart finishing 4th and 5th to some strong sides. Our men’s club side played some terrific team rugby from the start all the way down to the last play of their final game.

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A HUGE thank you to our Coaches for taking the time to work with players individually and pass on your knowledge and lessons. From scrumming to different ways to attack, taking the time to go from the basics to the complexities was valued by our players. We look forward to a strong 2022 schedule taking us all over the globe but starting in Memphis with a combine on MLK weekend. Registration will be opening soon and give us a great opportunity to see players who are looking for a way to represent ROOTS in our 2022 touring season. Thank you again to all of our players for simply being your best selves.

Spotlight On Canada’s Celtic Young Guns Traveling down from Canada, the Celtic Barbarians Girls High School Club team, competing as the Celtic Young Guns, claimed the 2021 NY7s Plate Championship Trophy, defeating a scrappy Pennsylvania All State team in the finals. MetroSports Magazine had a chance to speak with the Young Guns team Captain, Aja Good (pictured below), after the tournament. The 17 year old, originally from Brantford, Ontario moved to Lake Country, British Columbia in 2017 and to train at MacDowell’s Rugby Academy. She attends Cowichan Secondary School.

“This was my first time playing in NY7s although not my first international tournament”, Aja told us. “I have played in the Las Vegas 7s, Salt Lake City 7s, Florida 7s, and LA 7s.” With the travel, competition schedule and frigid weather, she said, “I did not get the chance to visit any sites in New York although I did experience how crazy the streets of New York are. The harsh weather doesn’t stop New York from hosting an amazing tournament for youth. All the teams put up a fight and you just have to embrace the cold.”

Product Review

AirPop Kids Active Face Masks Protection for Active Youth


s this issue of MetroSports Magazine goes to press, New York State along with seven other states, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington, is under a mandatory policy of being masked inside. As had been the case earlier in the Covid-19 pandemic, many state education departments and local school districts have also instituted mandatory indoor mask requirements. As we in the northeast and other northern regions now find ourselves in the season of indoor competitive youth sports, the wearing of masks during competition is something that young athletes have to contend with. In prior articles, pictured here, we’ve covered many winter season indoor sporting events where athletes completed in protective face coverings deemed by many of them to be both uncomfortable and restrictive. We recently became aware of a new protective face mask, the AirPop released in late 2020 and available as in both Adult and Kids styles. MetroSports Magazine recently had the opportunity to review the AirPop masks and give them a test run. Reviewed here is the AirPop Kids Mask available in packages of 2 or 4 and in either pink or blue.

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The AirPop Kids Masks are constructed with three layers, with outer (environment facing) and inner (skin facing) layers of spun-bond polyester and a middle layer of meltblown electrostatic material. The individual conforming nose bridge is made of closed-cell foam and the ear straps of polyester. Designed to be used by children ages 3 – 12, the AirPop face covering is manufactured to achieve certified levels of filtration, breathability and fluid resistance providing the wearer an effective twoway barrier reducing the spread of airborne particles and respiratory droplets / secretions in a community setting. It is not a replacement for OSHA compliant workplace protection or for use in clinical settings. “Masks provide the first line of defense from airborne threats, but they’ve been largely unregulated, under-designed, and ineffective for the consumer market. So we at AirPop set out to change that,” said Chris Hosmer, Founder of AirPop. “Because we all have a vital role to play in reducing the spread of COVID-19 through our communities, choosing an

appropriate mask means it has to both fit and filter well to reduce transmission from airborne particles and droplets. With AirPop there’s finally an option that protects the rest of us, doesn’t divert critical N95s from healthcare professionals, yet meets the same high quality standards and two-way filtration as the best medical and industrial respirators.” The AirPop line of face masks have been designed to address three known deficiencies of other common face coverings, fit, filtration, and breathability. Fit: An accurate, close fit is essential to prevent the inhalation and exhalation of small particles and droplets. AirPop masks feature a patented soft-seal and frame that responds to different fit profiles to help ensure a snug, but comfortable fit. And the tented, 3-D Air Dome shape keeps the filter away from the face, increasing airflow and improving breathability and comfort. Below: Student athletes performing in 2020 and 2021 while wearing a variety of facial coverings - the norm in today’s Covid environment.

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Filtration: When it comes to harmful pollutants, size matters. Anything smaller than 2.5 microns is known as “fine particulate matter” (PM 2.5) – think airborne bacteria, for example. AirPop masks create a barrier down to 0.3 microns with greater than 99 percent effectiveness at this scale. Our unique combination of 4-layer filter material provides an effective two-way barrier against particles and droplets. Breathability: Superior breathability is also vital — consumers won’t wear what isn’t comfortable or doesn’t work. AirPop masks “give and take” in sync with your natural breath. And they have four layers of protection — from the droplet-resistant, non-woven outer layer to the filter and skin friendly inner layer to ensure security and comfort. All of the materials used to manufacture our masks are tested by accredited 3rd party labs to exceed the World Health Organization and FDA medical mask material performance standards. In order to test what the consumer thinks about the AirPop Kid’s Mask, we gave a set to family with two active children, Emma age 11, and Ethan age 9, sent them out for day in New York City asked

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them and their Mom a series of probing questions. In addition, they’ve given their AirPops a test drive both Inside and outside, walking, and while in the car, aboard a plane, walking, playing at recess, and while in school. Our testers found the name, “AirPop” to be catchy and the masks to look nice and to generate positive comments from friends when they see it. They feel good wearing it and prefer the look of the pink and blue AirPop Kids Masks to the other, more generic masks, they’ve been most frequently wearing. Our evaluators summed it all up with a simple comment, “it looks cool and I feel safer!”. More importantly for the active youth, they found the AirPop Kids Masks to comfortable and easier to breathe through. With respect to its fit and wearability, Ethan told us that “it stays up better than other masks on my face and it fits better around my nose than other masks. And the ear straps are comfortable. I can’t breathe through the other ones.” Below Left: Ethan wearing the AirPop Kids Blue Mask Below Right: Bubble design hoding the AirPop Kids Mask slightly away from the face

28 | September - December 2020