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Spring Edition




nts FEATURES Features

10 Stephanie Gales Undefeated Senior

14 Cardozo

Senior Beats Cancer and Serves as Inspiration

18 Columbus Sharks

Making a Name for Themselves in the PSAL

22 Francis Lewis





Patriots Finish in Queens A1, but Get Win Over Rival Cardozo


26 JFK Knights

Coach Bromfield Looks to Serve a Win for the Kights of Kennedy

31 John Adams

Fresh Faced Spartans Ready to Win a Chapionship Title

36 Jordan Brand Classic

Top High School Ballers Bloom in 2010

40 Norman Thomas

Tigers Baseball set to Defend Championship Title

42 St. Joseph by the Sea Talented Vikings Can Go All the Way

46 Staten Island Girls Lacrosse

50 Telecommunication Arts & Tech Twins Dominate the Sport of Handball

54 Thomas Edison Double Dutch

56 Xavier

Rugby Gets Down and Dirty

62 Mike Antonio

Can Take on the Major Leagues

66 UA Fitness

Whats Your Goal?

70 Sports Psycology

Performance Enhancement Drugs



Photo by Andrew Adler

High flying lacrosse action at Columbus High School.




Photo by Andrew Adler

Norman Thomas Baseball pitcher has the eye of the tiger.






A closer look at Norman Thomas Cricket.

Photo by Daniel Burnstein


Stephanie Gales has achieved all the success a high school fencer can ask for. A fouryear starter, the Brooklyn Tech senior has compiled a 58-6 record since her sophomore year, including a flawless 20-0 mark as a junior. Gales is 18-0 this season with one regular season match to play. Individually, Gales is bidding for a rarity in city fencing, namely the Triple Crown of victories. She took first place in the Season Opener Tournament, first in the Girls Invitational Championship and will be competing for

top honors in the PSAL Individual championship later this spring. So far, Gales is two for two, having won the Season Opener and the Girls Invitational while compiling. For undefeated Brooklyn Tech, she has been a dominant force on the team. At the Girls Invitational, Gales competed among 21 fencers from nine outstanding fencing schools, among them Beacon, Benjamin Banneker, Cardozo, LaGuardia, Long Island City, Staten Island Tech, Stuyvesant and Townsend Harris. Her victory in this event came after Gales won the Season Opener Tournament, outscoring 45 girls from 10 schools. She registered 35 touches while receiving only six. Brooklyn Tech coach Bert Yaged, who has coached three fencers who have gone on to the Olympics, said Gales is one of the best he has seen in 30 years. “She’s exceptional, she’s in the top 3 percent,” he said. “Stephanie will go as far as she wants to. I don’t see any ceiling in her ability. The fact is she is constantly getting better. She doesn’t sit on her laurels, she is trying to get better every day.” Gales said that while individual wins are nice, it is how the team performs that matters most to her. “I would rather win the city championship for the team,” she said. “I want the banner for the school. We have come in second the last three years but we want to go farther than that this year.” Gales is the top player back from what Yaged says is the “strongest, most balanced team I have ever had in all my years of coaching.” This is Yaged’s second stint as a coach. He coached from 1970 to 1975, then again from 1995 until the present. “The caliber of the students over here is exceptional,” said Yaged. “They are very focused. To be successful in fencing you have to be focused and engaged, and your brain has to be alive when you fence. You have to move and you have to think while you’re moving. Everything is done in a very close space.” Gales, who is also a black belt in karate, is nationally ranked in B competition. Her exact ranking will be determined at a qualifying tourna-


ment in late April. Gales said she will attend the University of Cork in Ireland in the fall, where she plans to fence for the varsity team. In the meantime, she is looking to lead Brooklyn Tech to a city title. Her worth to the program goes beyond mere victories. “As a captain, she is a great leader who helps bring everyone up to her level,” Yaged said. “She helps me coach the other half of the team. She is exceptional in that regard. She wants to win and she wants the team to win.” Gales isn’t the only Brooklyn Tech fencer having a banner season. Freshman Sarah Harvey Browne, “who is going to be something special,” according to Yaged, is 18-0 in the A2 position, and sophomores Wynne Vanderveen and Daria Chernyscheca are 18-0 in the B 1 and B 2 positions, respectively. Browne, who is ranked


nationally, won the silver in the Season Opener Tournament, in what was her first varsity completion. Other Brooklyn Tech fencers who are excelling include senior Ashley Kalitais, 17-0 at C1, and junior Stacy Zhao, 8-3 at C2. Brooklyn Tech has been a perennial power in the PSAL. The team has won back-to-back PSAL championships and entered this season as the prohibitive favorite in Division I. In going 9-0, and winning the Division I title, as expected, Brooklyn Tech has been completely dominant, winning by scores of 9-0, 8.5-0.5 or 8-1 in every match. “I’m very happy with this team as a group,” Yaged said. “Even the kids in the B and C slots are exceptional. Normally you have one or two good ones on the team but this team

is good top to bottom. It is very satisfying for me. I’ve been doing it for 30 years. At times you get really satisfied with your team and this is one of those years.” Yaged, who is looking to win 10 matches for the second time in school history this spring, acknowledges that he has a built-in recruiting advantage at Brooklyn Tech since he teaches two fencing classes as part of the physical education program. The classes give the students a chance to get a taste for the sport; many of them get hooked on it and want to come out for the team, which he encourages. “When we see kids have an acumen for the sport, we invite them onto the team, and they get better as a result,” said Yaged. Because of the team’s dominance, Yaged has been able to get his reserves some valuable match experience. They include juniors Anastasia Bromberg and Angelika Lukasik, and freshman Annabelle Swain. Yaged added, “It’s nice to get everyone involved.”

Story By: Melissa Tabatabai Photos By: Andrew Adler



A senior at Benjamin Cardozo High School, Steven Budhan has been through what most high school students could never even imagine – a battle with cancer. Last March Budhan noticed a lump on his neck, which he quickly dismissed as a cyst. He went for what he thought would be a routine biopsy and the results came in a few days later. It was cancerous. Budhan was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system, which is part of the immune system. “I was shocked and scared,” said Budhan. “At first I was quiet, but then I just burst into tears.” The news traveled fast and Budhan’s lacrosse coach Chris Milani was faced with the difficult task of breaking the news to his teammates. “It was tough. I can remember every detail of what I said, where I was. It was so hard to get the words out. I beat around the bush for about 20 minutes and then I told them,” said Milani. “Then there was complete silence for about two minutes.” Coach Milani said it was one of the toughest things

he’s ever had to do. Budhan immediately started his treatment at Schneider Children’s Hospital on Long Island – chemotherapy from March to July, and aggressive radiation during the month of August. He proudly remembers his last day of treatment – August 22. “At first it was hard,” said Budhan, about the time he spent at the hospital. “But the nurses at the hospital were great and they got me used to it, and made it easier.” Budhan especially wanted to thank his mother and girlfriend Lindsey, who he says were his main support system during that difficult time. Other huge supporters were his classmates and teammates at the school. Many of them went to see him or called him to share encouraging words. Budhan received letters and cards almost every day during the six months he was receiving treatment. “His [Budhan] mom was great. She constantly kept us updated on what was going on,” added Milani. Budhan was home schooled through the hospital, and rarely left the hospital or his home during treatment. Coach Milani said his absence was felt heavily on the field. Budhan was the top player of the Cardozo defense, a smart player who was always a step ahead of whoever he was guarding. He was an intimidating force to most teams, and players steered clear of his path. His physical ability, along with his vocal leadership could not be replaced. The season ended with a hugely disappointing 3-11 campaign. “We didn’t feel right all season long. The year before we were great, and this year we’re great, but last year we were in last place,” said Milani. “It was huge loss for us chemistry wise and strategy wise. The whole season was weird and just didn’t feel right.”


While Cardozo struggled, Budhan slowly improved. Budhan was deemed cancer free in August, and eagerly returned to school the third week in September. “I was so happy to get back to school and back on the field. The first game was tiring, but then I got back into shape and it got easier,” said Budhan. Budhan wasn’t the only one happy to be back at school. His teammates were ecstatic to have him healthy and back in the locker room. “A piece of the puzzle was missing,” said Milani. “When he came back it just felt like we were all a family again.” This year the team is playing harder than ever and it shows. The Judges are on their way to the top of the PSAL Blue division. They currently hold a 6-5 record with huge wins over perennial powerhouse Christopher Columbus High School and rival Tottenville High School. A huge improvement from only three wins the season before. Since his return, Budhan has served as a huge inspiration to his coaches and teammates. “Steven is strongminded. He has a lot of faith and knew he was going to get over it,” said Milani. “It was so refreshing because he was optimistic the whole time. I give him a lot of credit; he has a lot of courage.” His courage shines both on and off the field. Having gone through this experience, Budhan can share his advice to other teenagers who might be going through the same or a similar situation. “Keep your head up, be strong and you’ll get through it,” said Budhan. “I did.”


Story By: Renee Keller Photos By: Andrew Adler


Over the past four years, the boys lacrosse team at Christopher Columbus High School in the Bronx has risen to the top of their division, tied with Midwood High School in Brooklyn, with a 5-1 record. With just three weeks left before the playoffs, the Columbus Sharks have become one of the top contenders for the blue division championship. Not bad for a team that has no junior varsity squad, and whose students have never played or watched the game before. If someone had told Victor Arroyo that he would be the head coach of a top-ranked lacrosse team, he probably wouldn’t have believed it. “I never played it and I didn’t know anything about it,” said Arroyo, amused. Arroyo has been the Athletic Director at Columbus High School for the past six years. “Everyone else was already involved in something else, so I was asked to do


it,” said Arroyo. “Matt Levine of City Lox was a big help because he offered clinics on Saturdays to help the students learn the game,” he added. City Lox is a nonprofit foundation that teaches lacrosse to inner city schools. Herbert H. Lehman and Albert Truitt Campus School are two other Bronx-based schools that have lacrosse teams. A lot of students didn’t know what the sport of lacrosse was about, and it was tough to find students who wanted to join the team in the beginning. “I got a lukewarm reception at first,” said Arroyo. Coach Arroyo decided to approach the players on the varsity football, soccer and volleyball teams, and they agreed to try it out. “There were a lot of weekend clinics,” said Arroyo. The players received a lot of assistance from volunteers at the City Lox program, and lacrosse players from Don Bosco Prep School participated in lacrosse clinics at Columbus on Saturdays. Don Bosco

Prep’s lacrosse team is rated No. 3 in the country. “We still practice together and the kids have become good friends,” said Arroyo. When Arroyo holds practices with his team, he keeps it simple. “I cover the basics – ground balls, stick handling, strategy, applying plays, how to read the field. Lacrosse can be a very physical game for someone who‘s just starting to learn how to play, but as you develop more skills you become a more agile player.” Arroyo also teaches the players about the importance of responsibility on the field and in life. “If you commit to something you should do it,” he added. The first year in the orange division was developmental for the Columbus Sharks. “There was a lot to learn,” said Arroyo. After playing six games, they finished with a 3-3 record. The team made an impressive turnaround in the second year, not only finishing with an 11-1 record but also tying for the division title with Frederick Douglas Academy. Unfortunately Columbus lost in the first round to Tottenville High School – one of the top teams in the city. The buzz was starting to generate about the talented Columbus team as they entered their third season and, as a result, they were placed in the top division, which included top teams from New Dorp and Tottenville. Although the Sharks played a strong season, they ended up losing to Tottenville in the playoffs. Despite the loss, Arroyo was still happy about being in the blue division because it would expose the team to much stronger competition. The Sharks team roster is deep with close to 27 players, and includes 14 seniors. Of that 14, six of the players are first-time lacrosse players. The rest of the team is made up of juniors, sophomores and freshmen. “Only one player, Eric Ketemepi, has been with


me since the team started,” said Arroyo. “He is the backbone of my defense.” Ketemepi, who also plays for the varsity football team, has been a huge force on the team. “I never turn down student who wants to play, as long as they’re willing to show some effort,” said Arroyo. Besides effective coaching, every strong team needs a team leader that keeps the team’s best interests at heart at all times. Two-year captain Billy Nguyen is the leader for the team. He joined the team as a sophomore and plays the middle position. Nguyen is also a member of the football and indoor track teams, but it’s clear he has a passion for the sport of lacrosse. “I was asked to play because I was on the football team. Coach Arroyo works us hard, but he has us learning,” said Nguyen. Nguyen also enjoys the camaraderie with his teammates. “We watch the college and high school matches on television, and we go out and we practice on our own,” he added. Arroyo is proud of Nguyen’s work ethic. “He applies himself, he’s a hard worker and he does good stick work on the field,” he Arroyo This season Nguyen has 37 shots, seven assists and has scored 12 goals. Also an excellent scholar, Nguyen will attend St. John’s University on a full academic scholarship. This year the Columbus Sharks are tied for first place with the Midwood High School Hornets. With just six games left to play in the regular season, the Columbus Sharks are working hard to make it through the playoffs so that they can compete for the championship title. The team is excited about their chances to win it all this year. “We are confident and we’ll take it a far as we can,” said Arroyo enthusiastically.



Story by Ken Ryan

Photos by Andrew Adler


The girls tennis team at Francis Lewis High School knows a little bit about success, having qualified for the Public School Athletic League (PSAL) playoffs for 12 consecutive years, including a final four appearance in last year’s tournament. Along the way the Patriots have beaten just about every program on their schedule,

with one notable exception: Cardozo. The Cardozo Judges have ruled Queens A girls tennis since it became a varsity sport in Queens. Francis Lewis has had the misfortune of playing in the same division as Cardozo, otherwise the Patriots would have had a bushel of championships to their credit. Alas, the Patriots have had to settle for second place in Queens A1 all these years. It’s not always the regular season that Francis Lewis has to contend with Cardozo. Last season, Francis Lewis finished second to Cardozo during the regular

season and was then eliminated by Cardozo in the PSAL semifinals. For the five Francis Lewis seniors on the 2010

squad, nothing would be sweeter than to taste victory over Cardozo – at least once – before graduating. That moment occurred in mid-April when the Patriots eked out a dramatic 3-2 victory. Francis Lewis won all three singles matches, including a match-deciding 11-9 win at second singles by senior Hikari Miyazawa, who rallied from a 3-0 deficit. Miyazawa was down 9-8, held serve to get even, and then went on to the win. It marked the first time since 2004 that Cardozo lost a league match. “It was nice for me but nicer for the girls. It was a team accomplishment,” said Francis Lewis coach Wayne Zweigbaum. Miyazawa agreed, say-

ing that while tennis is for the most part an individual sport, this match was about “the we in tennis.” She added, “We waited for so long to beat Cardozo. That it happened in my last year does make it a bit more special.” Miyazawa is one of several key players on an outstanding Francis Lewis team, which rivals the dominant Patriot teams of the early 2000s, according to Zweigbaum. “We have a lot of depth with returning experienced players and senior leadership,” he said. “Four of the players are four-year varsity members including two four-year starters. Another senior is a three-year player. We have a nice mix of veterans and underclassmen, which make for good, competitive practices.” Sophomore Alexis Tashiro, who plays No. 1

singles for Francis Lewis, was 9-2 in the PSAL as a freshman. She is a ranked player in the girls 16under category for the East region. “She devotes a lot of time every day on improving her game and will be a major contributor to our team’s success,” Zweigbaum said. “Tashiro is also an excellent student.” Miyazawa, a two-year starter, is at No. 2 singles. “Hikari is a very hard worker who is a student of the game,” Zweigbaum said of the former U.S. Open ball girl. “She is extremely devoted to the team and is a wonderful role model both on the court and in the classroom. She has been a pleasure to coach throughout her high school career.” Zweigbaum said Miyazawa would be a “terrific addition” to a Division 1 or 2 program


next season. Sophomore Stephanie Rances plays third singles. She drew praise from her coach for her work ethic and great attitude. “Stephanie continues to get better every day,” he said. “She is extremely coachable and has a very bright future.” Rances was 81 at third singles her freshman year and won most valuable player honors on the team. Francis Lewis’ doubles pairings feature juniors Joanna Haich and Tashrika Sharma at No. 1., and Anamika Sharma at No. 2. “Joanna is a very solid allaround player who is extremely powerful on both the forehand and backhand sides,” Zweigbaum said. “Tashrika is a

student of the game and is constantly looking for ways to improve. She is also a wonderful teammate.” Sharma also ranks in the top 25 academically in her graduating class. Senior Kim Xiong and sophomore Anamika Sharma are paired at No. 2 doubles. Xiong has been honored with both the team’s most improved player and Coaches Award in the last two years. “Kim is one of our co-captains who is extremely hard working and devoted to the team,” Zweigbaum said. “She is very coachable and has continued to improve as a player.” Anamika Sharma started for the Patriots as a freshman and has worked hard in the offseason to improve her game. Senior Katherine Borda is 3-1 in doubles matches this season. Zweigbaum described the three-year varsity member and three-sport athlete as one of the hardest working individuals. Her efforts have made a competitive player

on the varsity level. Senior reserves Julieana Steiner and Vanessa Lee have been with the varsity program for four years and have both been dominant forces on the team. “This is a very easy group to coach,” Zweigbaum said of his 13-member squad. “We have a nice team spirit about us.” Cardozo exacted a measure of revenge for its April 16 defeat with a no-doubt-about-it 5-0 whitewashing of Francis Lewis on April 28. The closest individual match was at first doubles where Joanna Haich and Tashrika Sharma put up a good fight before losing 10-7. The victory gave the Judges the A1 title at 11-1. With its 10-2 league mark – and the win over Cardozo – Francis Lewis entered the PSAL playoffs among the top seeds.



Coach Bromfield Looks to Serve a Win for the Knights of Kennedy

The statistics for the Lady Knights are also very impressive. Having won several division championships over the years, the team lost a finals match two years ago and have been working hard to re-capture a championship title ever since.

By Renee Keller Photos By: Daniel S. Bernstein


For more than two decades, Coach Iris Bromfield has successfully led both the John F. Kennedy girls and boys volleyball teams to multiple championships. Last year, the Bronx-based Knights boys volleyball team were co-division champions with the Walton High School Wildcats. In 2008 and 2007, however, the Knights won consecutive division championships. Currently they rank No. 1 with a 5-2 record, with just a few weeks remaining in the season before the playoffs begin in May.

While the tough training has helped strengthen all of the Knights and prepare them to face off against formidable rivals, there are three key players who add something special to their team. They are: Pedro Bautista, Yomar Agiar and Angel Acosta.

Bautista is a senior who plays the outside position. Bromfield describes him as one of her top players. So far this season he has 20 serving points, one assist, five blocks, 36 digs and 41 kills. Bautista has served 12 aces in six matches. Bautista is a four-year player who joined the volleyball team as a freshman.

This spring season Coach Bromfield has only a few seniors playing on the court for the boys team. “The rest are rookies,” she says. But she doesn’t hesitate to add that the rookies are very talented, and perhaps that is in part due to her hard practice sessions. The team workouts focus on defense, digs, blocking and serving.

“I was looking for a place to fit in. I was considering soccer, but a friend suggested I try out for volleyball, so I did. I liked it,” he said.

Bautista played for a club team, the Bronx Bombers, as a sophomore and junior. He added how playing for coach Bromfield has taught him a lot of useful things he can use on the volleyball court, and in his life. Bautista added that he’s interested in a career in engineering, but would like to attend York College because of their computer science program.

“Serving is very important,” said Bromfield. “You have to have a strong serve in boys volleyball.” During those rigorous practices, however, Bromfield tries to create a balance of fun and focus, by letting the kids play music while they go through their drills. “It’s all about tough love,” she says. “If anyone came to my practices they would see the kids having fun, but they’d also see that I stress focus.”

Another valuable player for the Knights is outside position player, Yomar Aguiar. Like Bautista, Aguiar is also a senior. His statistics include 21 service points, 40 digs and 39 kills. Aguiar has also served 14 aces in six matches this season. Last, but certainly not least is Angel Acosta. He is a junior who plays the libero/setter position. This season he has 21 service points, 30 digs, two kills and has served four aces in nine matches.


Besides coaching the boys vol leyball team, Bromfield also coaches the Kennedy girls volleyball team – for over 20 years. After years of winning championships, the Lady Knights lost in the finals two years ago and have been working hard to win another championship. After rebuilding the squad last season, the Lady Knights now have five sopho mores, four freshmen, three juniors and two eighth-graders who are up and coming—Shefi Zarigi and Doratina Zarigi. Each of the girls on the squad this season also plays for a club team. The Lady Knights’ standout players include Suada Ibric, Jessica Gonzalez and Paola Piroli. Ibric is a sophomore. The 5-foot-3 libero/ setter has 74 service points, 41 digs, four kills, and has served 36 aces in 11 matches this season. Senior Jessica Gonzalez is also a huge force on the team. A natural leader on the team, she was a junior captain for the Lady Knights in 2007 and 2008. The 5-foot-3 setter has 57 service points, 97 assists, three blocks, 41 digs, 24 kills and has served 32 aces in 11 matches. Senior Paola Piroli was named Rookie of the Year her freshman year and adds an edge to the roster. The 5-foot-6 star has had 85 service points, 108 assists, 36 blocks, 28 digs, 13 kills, and has served 30 aces in 11 matches this season.


For 22 years Bromfield has taught, guided, and mentored hundreds of students as a coach. She enjoys being a coach and is proud of the athletes she has watched develop into responsible young adults. “I love coaching because I love to teach and work with the kids. You can learn from them,” she said. For a brief time, Bromfield said she considered switching from coaching volleyball to coaching softball, but after the students told her how much they wanted her to stay she decided to keep coaching volleyball for as long as she remains at John F. Kennedy high school. “Volleyball is a lifetime sport because it’s not tough on your body like basketball or football,” says Bromfield, who also plays for a club team. Perhaps the best part of her coaching job is teaching the players the principles of the game, and watching how they use it on the court and in the classroom. Bromfield’s top three principles are: Apply yourself. Have lots of fun. Never forget where you come from. “I want them to carry on all the principles they learn in volleyball throughout their lives,” added Bromfield. There are three matches left in the regular season before the playoffs start in the second week of May. The Walton Wildcats are in first place with a 6-0 record, while the Knights are firmly in second place and hold a strong seed for the postseason. This means there is still a chance for the Knights to win the championship title. Bautista reflected on the hard work that lies ahead for the team. “The Wildcats are a good team,” he said. “But we’re working hard and not giving up.”



Cricket is one of the fastest growing sports within the Public School Athletic League. In its first year, there were just 15 teams across two divisions. Now there are 26 teams across five divisions, two of which each include six Queensbased high schools. The city’s PSAL has only been sanctioning competition in the sport of cricket for three years. Yet a passionate and competitive field has emerged, particularly in its Queens divisions. The John Adams High School Spartans and the Lions of Newcomers High have been at the cornerstone of this movement – both teams have met in the league championship the past two seasons. Both times, Newcomers clinched the title;


with last year’s victory coming on a late rally after the Spartans held the lead the majority of the match. Having suffered a crushing loss, head coach Alex Navarrete instead chooses to focus on the positive – namely that he and his team have consistently worked to meet the benchmarks they set for themselves. “After the first year I told these boys I expect no less than for us to make it to the finals, because we had the talent and the leadership to do that,” said Coach Navarette. Navarrete, in addition to being a physical education teacher at John Adams, is also the school’s swim and soccer coach. He took charge of the cricket team three

years ago when the Ozone Park school was among the city’s first to field one. Coach Navarette had little knowledge about the sport of cricket at the time. However his success as both coach and teacher prepared him for the task. Coach Navarette stresses unity and sportsmanship in his coaching principles, which has proven to be both effective and universal – he won the Queens Coach of the Year Award in soccer for three consecutive years. “The key is creating the right chemistry and becoming a family,” he said. “I don’t believe in superstars, I believe in teamwork.” Coach Navaretts has also proven himself to be a quick study of a game that can be puzzling to the uninitiated. Despite the obvious aspect of a player using a stick to hit a ball being pitched toward him, Navarrete chooses rather to equate parts of the game with basketball, specifically the high-scoring possibility and game-changing scoring runs. While he can relate the game to a layman, he is well aware of its intricacies, and he credits his students with helping him to learn them. “Cricket is an amazing sport. I picked it up my first year because I had an amazing team to teach me,” he said. The team consists of students hailing from Guyana, Bangladesh, and other international countries. They are all well-versed in the game, and grateful for the opportunity to compete in the sport. Team captain and departing senior Nicholas Ramrattan supported the sentiment. “It’s great that we have the chance to play here, a lot of Caribbean kids that don’t play soccer can play something they like,” said Ramrattan. While the league title eluded them their first two years, the Spartans were highly decorated and regarded both for their prowess and their etiquette, something they take notable pride in. “Everyone respects us,” Navarrete said, adding that the team won the Sportsmanship Award in their inaugural season, and has routinely been praised by PSAL Cricket Commissioner Bassett Thompson for their conduct. After going 8-4 in their first year, the team built on their experience and had an almost perfect second season, with their only regular-season loss coming at the hands of emerging division force Richmond Hill High School. This time around John Adams isn’t setting such lofty goals. With seven of last year’s starters having graduated, this season is considered a “transition year.” Coach Navarette hopes to take his group of freshman and sophomores – which he feels are among the best in the city – and mature them into a position where they’ll be a major contender come next season. However, the up-and-comers aren’t exactly looking


past this year either. “We have a young, but very talented team [and] we hope to make the play-offs and reach the final again,” said sophomore Troy Mars. Fortunately for the Spartans, their rivals at Newcomers have been equally affected by a large number of graduating students. Both schools are currently fielding teams mostly made up of freshmen and sophomores. Coupled with expansion and better developed teams in their divisions, this season has highlighted the end of, or at least a brief lull in the dominance these schools displayed in their first two years with the sport.


John Adams is 2-2 so far this season, just getting back to .500 with their victory over Hillcrest High School. Newcomers earned their first win of the season just last week, now sitting with a record of 1-2. Meanwhile, Richmond Hill – regarded as the team to beat this year – and Aviation Career & Technical Education High School are each undefeated at 3-0. Both schools are currently benefiting from the same older makeup of students that the Spartans and Lions once included. Should one or both teams fail to make the playoffs, John Adams will have to wait for their chance at retribution.

Newcomers High School plays in the opposing Queens division and they will not meet during the regular season. Despite a struggling past, freshman Zafaar Yusaf – along with his young teammates – is more concerned with the team’s future, rather than rectifying the past. “We have a young team and the majority will come back for the next season with more experiences,” said Yusaf. “The more we play together, the better we get to know each other, and that will help us next year, definitely it will give us more experience.”

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Story By: Chris Greenberg Photos By: Andrew Adler


On the third Saturday in April, Lebron James emerged from a cloud of chalk dust to take the floor at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio for Game 1 of a first round playoff series. And the King of Akron wasn’t alone. Basketball stars across the country were playing crucial games that weekend. Likely with a fresh haircut and undoubtedly with the confidence that his preternatural speed and vision have instilled in him, the Milwaukee Bucks precocious rookie point guard, Brandon Jennings, laced up his high tops for the first postseason game of his NBA career. The next afternoon Kevin Durant, the lithe and lethal scoring champ for the Oklahoma City Thunder was also setting out on his first foray into playoffs, and bespectacled Suns power forward Amare Stoudemire was hoping to cap another monster season with his maiden trip to the NBA Finals. Before James, Jennings, Durant or Stoudemire were ready to ply their trade in the NBA, each of them had to pass a different mid-April test. Each participated in the Jordan Brand Classic during his senior year in high school, and each took home MVP honors. Based on history, it will probably just be a few years before Harrison Barnes from Ames High School in Iowa, and Kyrie Irving out of St. Patrick High School in New Jersey are treading the boards in an NBA arena. The


high school standouts were named coMost Valuable Players of the 2010 Jordan Brand Classic. While NBA players were playing in buildings named after banks, insurance companies and office supply superstores, these two were playing at the legendary Madison Square Garden in the Big Apple. “Harrison is very talented: great size, great attributes athletically, tremendous skill set level. But the other thing that people don’t talk about a lot is his high basketball IQ,” lauded Mike Peck, the coach of the West squad and the up-and-coming sideline guru at Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nevada. “Harrison has those intangibles already. Plus his demeanor is such that he’s very com-

petitive, yet he’s not a jerk. He doesn’t need all the cartwheels after a good play or anything. He’s just so focused and mature for his age. It’s unbelievable. It’s going to be fun to watch him. And to know that he has success in his freshman year is not going to shock me at all.” Already committed to the University of North Carolina, the 6-foot-8 Barnes finished with 20 points and 15 boards as the West team, decked in white jerseys, caught fire early and then held on for a 129-125 in front of more than 15,000 fans. “Basketball IQ is definitely something that separates players, as is proper foot work,” said Dr. Mark Mugiishi, an assistant coach for West

and the longtime head coach at Iolani High School in Hawaii. Dr. Mugiishi is a practicing surgeon and an assistant professor of surgery at the University of Hawaii, and just might know a thing or two about the effect that IQ has on the game. “I think that UNC coach Roy Williams will be very happy with Kendall Marshall and Harrison Barnes in both of those respects,” he said. Barnes, Marshall and the rest of their West teammates hit 55 percent of their shots in the first half to take a 19point edge into the intermission. Buoyed 59 bench points and the stellar play of 6-foot-2 Irving at the point, the black jerseys closed to within two scores by the final buzzer. The East’s Duke-bound


floor leader finished with 22 points, seven assists and four rebounds. Whether it’s highly touted point guard Josh Selby out of Lake Clifton High School in Baltimore, or Canadian-born Cory Joseph from Findlay Prep, these boys have been playing with each other for the better part of their high school careers, both competing and developing friendships. “These kids have known each


for a while. They have played with each other at other Nike events and other AAU functions,” noted the East team’s assistant coach Douglas Lipscomb. “They enjoy being around one another. They kind of know that they’re going to be seeing a lot of each for the next few years.” Most arrived at the Garden on April 17 with their collegiate decisions long since made public, but a few were keeping recruiters and their peers in suspense until the last minute. Queens’s own Doron Lamb, who has been attending Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, announced during halftime that he would be attending the University of Kentucky. With Tobias Harris from Dix Hills, New York sitting out the Jordan Brand Classic with a foot injury that he suffered in the McDonald’s All-America Game, Lamb was the closest thing that New York City high school hoops fans had to a hometown hero. Standing 6-foot-8 and weighing 210 pounds, Harris will be attending the University

of Tennessee and has distinguished himself as the premier power-speed combo in the country. Fans from the five boroughs were able to quench their thirst for local action by watching the Jordan Brand Regional All-Star Game, which opened up the afternoon’s festivities at Madison Square Garden. Led by Jersey City’s Derrick Williams, the Suburban All-Stars topped the City All-Stars in a 137-133 thriller. In The City Game, his classic 1970 ode to Big Apple hoops, Pete Axthelm referred to New York City as “the most active, dedicated basketball city of all—from the asphalt playgrounds to the huge modern arena that houses the professional champions of the world.” The love affair between the city and the game hasn’t changed at all in forty years – even if the mailing address for the world champs hasn’t been in Manhattan for some time. Tomorrow’s champions—whether that’s James, Stoudemire or Barnes—know that they have to cut their teeth at Madison Square Garden in order to take their place among the greats. “Madison Square Garden is just so … there is just so much history and tradition. Some people term it the biggest stage in basketball period at any level. And when you’re on that stage you know the greatest ones have played there,” Peck gushed about the thrill for players and coaches alike to be a part of the Jordan Brand Classic at the legendary Garden. “Everyone knows what Michael Jordan did there; what Reggie Miller used to do there; and that Patrick Ewing played there with John Starks. If you were ever a player in the NBA then you’ve gone through the Garden. And being that it’s in, some would argue, the world’s capital, New York City, I mean that’s just a stage that is tremendous with so much tradition,” said Peck. “I think that, coupled with the fact that was the last high school basketball game for those guys, those two things made it that much more special.”


Tigers Baseball Set to Defend Championship Title By Greg Price Photos by: Andrew Adler


From the time they first grasp a bat or a slip on a glove, every baseball player dreams of taking the field at Yankee Stadium. After capturing its first-ever PSAL Class A New York City Championship title at Yankee Stadium last season, Norman Thomas High School turned the corner from a perennial middle-of-the-road team to determined juggernaut, ready to defend. Last year the Norman Thomas Tigers swept through the regular season and playoffs for a perfect 26-0 record, and a city championship title on the golden arm of then senior Mariel Checo. The New York Yankees drafted Checo in last year’s draft, but the Tigers are out to prove they are just as strong, if not stronger, than last season’s championship team. Championship malaise tends to strike professional and on occasion college teams, but in high school players want the elation and exuberance that comes with winning again and again. So far this season the Tigers are out to a blazing 6-0 start, scoring at least 12 runs in three of their victories. Their defense has also dominated – hindering some of the top offenses in the league for two shutouts. A year removed from their championship run, Norman Thomas head coach Nerva Jean-Pierre still has trouble believing his team claimed the ultimate prize. “It’s just an unbelievable feeling,” Coach Jean-Pierre said, catching his breath. “I never thought I would ever do anything like this.” Jean-Pierre, now in his seventh season as head coach for Norman, led the team to the city quarterfinals in four consecutive seasons, but the Tigers finally got over the hump last season. “Once we beat George Washington our kids really felt like they could do it,” said Jean-Pierre. “We really believed we were the best in the PSAL.” The Tigers staved off George Washington in consecutive games by a one-run margin late last season, and then pushed forward to the title. “We saw how the kids responded playing against one of the best teams in the city,” he added. This season the Tigers return with 18 seniors, each with the desire to repeat and improve their skills. Most of the team has played all four years, and look to turn what was once one of the least successful programs in the PSAL, to one of the most elite, championshipcaliber teams in the league.


Senior center fielder Miguel Reyes has started all four years for Norman Thomas and said the team wants to build on last season’s success. This year’s team wants to be recognized as a solid team, despite losing Checo to majors. “Yes he helped us, but we’re a team and that’s why we went undefeated,” said Reyes. “He’s a great pitcher, but Checo didn’t hit. He didn’t score runs.” One of Jean-Pierre’s major tenets as a coach is having his older players lead by example; a belief that Reyes echoed. “Every senior should lead by example,” Reyes said. “We practically built this team four years ago. I really believe all we have to do is execute. To me we have the number one defense in the city.” This season Reyes has lived up to his word. He has hit two doubles, along with a .600 average through four games, and started the season just 10 stolen bases shy of the Norman Thomas career record. Reyes has been scouted by the Oakland Athletic’s and Cincinnati Reds, and has received a full scholarship from Western Oklahoma University. One of the leaders Coach Jean-Pierre believes can lift the Tigers to another title wasn’t on the team last season. Senior third baseman Harold Fich transferred from Dewitt Clinton this season and has hit .455, and scored four runs in four games for the potent Tigers offense. The transition was fairly easy for the major league prospect, who said he was able to play with many players from Norman Thomas in summer leagues last year. “It wasn’t uncomfortable or anything,” Fich said. “I knew most of the guys and just wanted to go after a ring this year.” Fich, who has received a scholarship offer from St. John’s University, believes the Tigers defense is in midseason form. “The defense is solid already,” he said. “We have to come together as a team and dominate whoever we face.”

Despite possessing a future Yankee draft pick on their rotation last season, assistant coach and pitching coach Louis Monell believes this year’s rotation is more complete from the starters down to the bullpen. Coach Monell mentioned starter senior Isaac Reynoso, who has matured as a pitcher this season and regularly reaches 8789 mph on his fastball. “Last year a lot of our pitchers were inexperienced,” said Monell “The starting rotation has improved after last year with experience and more hard work.” Senior Johnny Pimentel shows great command of his pitches, solidifying the second spot in the rotation, while junior Jorge Vasquez has proven himself “nearly invincible” when he maintains his strike zone, Coach Monell pointed out. It would appear the Tigers have everything in place for another title, however for Coach Jean-Pierre it’s more than just the wins and losses. Coach Jean-Pierre takes pride in his 92 percent graduation rate, and encourages his players to think beyond the diamond. Jean-Pierre added, “I mean I always tell them what are the odds you make it to the pros? One in a million? If they have baseball in their lives it’s a way for them to stay grounded. I try to show the kids there is more to life than the street corner.”

Story By:Ken Ryan Photos By:Andrew Adler


Following back-to-back losses in the state championship game, the St. Joseph by the Sea softball team is bound and determined to make sure the third time is a charm this spring. “They’re extremely motivated. They believe this is their year to win,” said coach Mike Ponsiglione, in his first year at the helm after six years as the assistant varsity coach and the junior varsity coach. St. Joseph by the Sea is off to a great start, winning their first 14 games, including nine in the Catholic High School Athletic Association. With the bulk of last year’s team back, including several all-city selections, the Vikings expected to be a dominant force. So far, they have yet to disappoint. “We have a lot of young players, but as young as we are, we have a lot of excellent experience,” the coach said, noting that there are four juniors, a freshman and a sophomore on the squad. Ponsiglione shared his thoughts on the 2010 players, going over position by position, starting with the infield. In senior first baseman Laura Leone, St. Joseph by the Sea has an all-everything player. The cleanup hitter hits for power and average, and has very soft hands at first base, which is why she is so good at scooping up balls in the dirt. “She is a legitimate power hitter who has a chance to hit it out every time she steps to the plate,” Ponsiglione said. Leone batted .543 last season with 17 runs batted in. Meaghan Seaman, the second baseman, is one of four junior starters who have been on the team since freshman year. Seaman swings the bat well and is an outstanding defensive player. Junior Kristina Mazzarisi has started at shortstop since her freshman year. “In my eyes, she is the best


shortstop on Staten Island,” Ponsiglione said. “She can hit, she’s a good bunter, she plays defense. In a nutshell, she is a catalyst for our team.” At third base is Jackie Kelly, an All-City selection last year, who is a natural leader both on and off the field. “She’s mature beyond her years,” Ponsiglione said of Kelly, who hit .533 with 18 runs batted in last season. The catcher is senior Sammi Lou Anastasio, a power-hitting captain who is a stalwart behind the plate. “She is the core of our defense. She can control the game from behind the plate,” the coach said. Anastasio had two home runs at press time and is having an outstanding all-around season. Junior Maria Scopiletto, another of the threeyear varsity players, is a two-time All-City selection in leftfield. She hit .387 with 10 extra base hits last spring. Leadoff hitter Jackie Bonamassa plays centerfield. She is a switch hitter, a slap hitter extraordinaire who had a .571 batting average with 28 runs scored. She can spark an offensive rally with her on-base prowess and kill the opponent’s momentum with her great play in the outfield. Senior Toni-ann Canova, the team’s most valuable player, is a returning starter in rightfield. “She has a strong arm, which you have to have to play right field, and she is a power hitter,” Ponsiglione said. “She is one of our hottest bats.” No successful softball team can win without an excellent starting pitcher, and St. Joseph has that in senior Amanda Barrese. The two-year No. 1 starter


throws strikes, keeps the ball in play and lets her defense do the rest. “She’s a smart pitcher,” Ponsiglione said. Barrese has given up just two runs this season in 40 innings of work. St. Joseph by the Sea has been a dominant program on Staten Island for many years. They have been to the state final the last two years, as well as in 2006. The team has won one state title in its history, and would like nothing better than to add a second. Into this dynastic world comes Ponsiglione. He replaced Kathy Kelly, who became the school’s girls athletic director. Kelly compiled a 21558 regular-season record in 20 seasons


overall, including 39-7 the last three seasons. Her legacy includes 12 Staten Island, seven Archdiocesan and four city titles. Kelly said that while she will miss the program, and especially her players, it was time to move on to a new position in her life. At the same time, she holds comfort in the fact that the program is in a good place. “[Ponsiglione] knows the game,” Kelly said. “Every person I have on my staff knows the game. I left them in good softball hands. People would die for the coaching staff I had.” Joining Ponsiglione on the coaching staff are Mike Jordan, Carla Buonviaggio and Lisa DeRenzio. All

four have worked together in the past. Ponsiglione said he could not have dreamed of a better position to be in. Not shying away from expectations, Ponsiglione said St. Joseph by the Sea has the talent to go all the way this spring. Its big statement win so far was a 10-2, five-inning victory over Archbishop Molloy, the second ranked team in the CHSAA behind St. Joseph. The teams met in last year’s CHSAA state semifinal with the Vikings taking the top spot. Bonamassa had a big game for the Vikings in this year’s win over Molloy, going 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored.


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Story by Alessandra Malito Photos by Andrew Adler



The Staten Island Academy girls lacrosse team is undefeated this season, and leading the team to its success is Coach Mike Bowler. The team already beat the defending champions of the league, which clearly means they’re in great shape. The Tigers are now on their way to continue a brilliantly successful season, with a great group of athletes. The team, which is led by energetic captains Sydney Avis, Briana Calcagno

and Karisa Cernera, is a huge force in the league. Other key players are Sarah Valero and goalie Emery Lieberman. Last season the Tigers, which ended the season 9-6, did not make it to the state tournament. Since then they have made it their top priority to make it to the New York State Independent Tournament. That is, after they win leagues, of course. “This year we’re hoping to win our league and get the bid into the New

York State Tournament,” Bowler said. The team has been doing well, not only on the field as athletes, but as teammates, coming together as a group and working closely. “So far it’s been a great mix,” added Bowler. “There’s great veteran leadership and seven new starters with fresh faces eager to make their mark.” Captain Calcagno and her co-captain Avis agree. “Our team is very close. Most of us have been friends and teammates since

freshman year. Seeing we have a small school, you know everyone’s name before the first practice, so bonding is never an issue. Still, we try to do fun things like sleepovers and group songs,” said Calcagno. The school is small in size, which also helps keep the bond strong. “We all know each other so well because our school

is so small,” said Avis. “No one is really shy so we can help each other out without feeling like we’re stepping over boundaries. We can all help each other im-

prove.” The girls agree that there is team chemistry on the field, as well. “Our team knows who to look for on the field and during the game we all feel a similar vibe,” said Avis. “Usually when a whistle is blown we


can look at each other and know what the other one is thinking.” Another veteran leader – aside from the captains – is Coach Bowler. Bowler played lacrosse in high school at St. Anthony’s on Long Island, and then went on to play at the college level at Amherst College. “Being from Long Island, I grew up in a lacrosse family,” he said. Not only does Bowler play lacrosse, but his three older brothers play lacrosse, and his dad and wife both coach for the sport. All of his brothers are either currently coaching

or have coached for boys lacrosse in the past. His father, also named Mike Bowler, has coached lacrosse for over 30 years at Rocky Point. His wife, Emily Bowler, is just starting to coach lacrosse at Hunter College High School. Coach Bowler’s team will be playing against his wife’s team later this season in a non-league game. “It’s very cool that his whole family is so dedicated to the sport,” Avis said. “He’s a great coach so he must have learned from some great people.” With a family full of lacrosse fanatics, Bowler certainly grew

up to love the game. “I love the fast pace of the game,” said Bowler. “It’s a great weather spring sport.” He also feels it is a part of his history, considering how much he’s been exposed to the sport. “It feels natural,” he added. “I always knew when I went into teaching I would coach lacrosse one way or another.” In high school, Bowler was an allleague player. Now, at Staten Island Academy, he coaches some of the best girls in the sport. “Whenever he is showing us a dodge or a shot we can definitely tell he is a skilled

player,” said Avis. “He never really talks about his experiences but it’s clear he was great at lacrosse.” Bowler may be a nice guy, but he works his athletes hard on the field. “Mr. Bowler truly challenges us both in lacrosse training and in conditioning,” said Calcagno. “Having him as a coach this year is proving to be a great success. We currently have a 3-0-0 record, and I know it is mostly because of his great coaching. He knows each and every players’ strengths and weaknesses and utilizes them to our advantage in

every game and practice. Not only is he a great coach, but he is a great guy. He always tries to make practice fun and always jokes around with us.” “Coach Bowler is definitely helpful,” said Avis. “I feel like I can always go to him if I need help with something. He has good coaching methods and explains things well,” she added. “The biggest goal for the team and girls is to have fun and enjoy,” said Coach Bowler, also adding that he teaches them “as students of the game because that’s what I consider myself.”

The team is looking to conquer leagues this year and make it to state championships. “We have a great team this year and I have confidence that we can go a long way,” Avis said. “Our team is a great upcoming team with a great coach, and I’m excited to see how we do this season.”


Story by Sean Reilly Photos by Andrew Adler The High School for Telecommunication Arts & Technology ironically excels in the extremely low-tech sport of handball, thanks in large part

to a pair of twins who’ve been playing it practically since they were babies. Joshua and Raquel Garcia, both 17years-old, have been star players for the the Bay Ridge school’s boys and girls teams respectively, and their prowess has helped to make the two of them well known in the emerging sport. The pair has competed in handball

since elementary school. Raquel’s first competition was a 13-andunder boys tournament – girls

did not yet have a team. Fellow prodigy Joshua has been playing competitively since the tender age of seven. Their father Mike and mother Adria are quick to mention alongside their enthusiasm and pride, that their children have been at the game since they were three, when Mike took the them to a park and noticed the knack and interest they had bouncing a ball off a wall. From there he encouraged and nurtured their skill at it, indoctrinating them into the strenuous, but deceptively simple-looking game. All that work came to fruition last month, when the Garcias became the first set of twins in PSAL history to win both gender divisions of a tournament, with their top finishes in the Spring Handball Invitational. Now the junior year students each hope to lead the Yellow Jackets to the PSAL Championships, which in the case of Joshua and the boys,

narrowly evaded them last season, and for the girls would cap an amazing resurgence from the previous season’s record of 5-5. The boys currently have a very good chance to repeat last year’s perfect 12-0 season, while the girls at 8-3 are only one win out of first place in their division. The Garcias are excited not only for the prospects of the current season, but also the progress that has coincided with it. “I love this sport, the best thing I know about it is that it’s growing,” Joshua said, adding that he’d like to see the game become more mainstream as a competitive outlet, perhaps eventually becoming a fullon professional sport. The twins’ dominance in the sport and their synergy is comparable to that of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams, as the two are one another’s in-game advisors and their

loudest cheering section when one of them is in action. That flow was on display as Joshua watched Raquel play in the final match of the Yellow Jackets’ girls meet against Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School, in which she rallied back against opponent Jane Chen to pull out a hard-fought 21-18 win, which was part of ‘Telecom’s’ 4-1 match victory over FDR. “I wish I could just get tagged in,” Joshua said anxiously between serves at one point in Raquel’s match. During each timeout he walked over and advised his sister, who takes pride in being the elder of the two by all of two minutes; how to best handle Chen. Their father later demonstrated the same keen


eye as his son in dissecting Raquel’s technique after the match. “We try to tell her, you got to watch with lefties,” he said referring to Chen, “lefties have a natural hook, they’ll hit it off on the opposite side.” Meanwhile, Mike contrasts his daughter’s form with his son’s. “Joshua’s left is almost as strong as his right,” he said. The siblings say that that base of support and feedback their family cultivates has contributed to their success. “I get my butt whooped, but he tells me what to do, and we have fun,” Raquel said, talking about what she gains from practicing with her brother. “Usually she’ll be my cheerleader and I’ll be hers,” Joshua said of his sister, adding, “we want to see each other do well.” To an extent, the Garcias have already seen one another do quite well as it relates to the game. Besides numerous strong finishes and victories in a number of tournaments, both have reputations that precede them among area handball enthusiasts. Their success has been chronicled by the PSAL and other organizations sanctioning the sport, and they’ve been mentioned on a number of websites and forums. Yet despite the attention they’ve gotten in the sport, the twins have remained both humble and passionate about the playing field they compete in. Both proudly acknowledge that the game’s growth and its following in the city have yielded teams and individuals of comparable strength, whom they’re eager to prove themselves against. “There’s so many great players in the PSAL, we want to see that get better and for the sport to grow,” Joshua said. “The competition is good,” Raquel said while cooling down from her match. “But I always play my hardest to win every game, every time,” she added. In addition, Joshua notes that besides his high school opponents, he has actively sought out more action by hitting the pavement and highlighting his skills with several YouTube videos. “I feel like that my reputation precedes me, and I like that. I like people to be intimidated by me when they see me play. I like to go to all the different parks all over the city and take on the best,” he said. With another year of high school ahead of them, the twins – already considered stellar prospects, have time to grow further into their talent and build upon their successes as they move toward wherever their skills and ambition will ultimately guide them. Carter Sinclair, coach of the girls team is undoubtedly confident in the two of them, not only in their ability, but also their character. “They’re amazing athletes and great sportsmen. We want them to learn from their mistakes and blossom, which is what they’re starting to do,” he said. “They’re becoming premier athletes,” he added.



By Deniz Kofteci

Photos by: Philip Hall



If you ask the girls at Thomas Edison High School what is the one thing they wish people knew about doubledutch, their answer is unanimous, “People should know it is a sport.” It’s that simple for this group of girls, who have been a part of the team since it became an official program at Thomas Edison last year. The game of double-dutch was started in the inner cities of America. It wasn’t until the spring of 2009 that the city of New York started to recognize it as a varsity sport. In fact, New York is the first city in the United States to recognize double-dutch as a sport, and it surely won’t be the last. The growing popularity of this game is gaining momentum in cities like Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and Chicago. Young girls across the United States are being introduced to the world of double-dutch at a young age, and staying with it as they get older. The accessibility of this sport makes it a great alternative to other sports that may be too expensive for students to participate in. As the price of equipment for sports like baseball, lacrosse, soccer and basketball may be too much for some parents to afford, students have the option of participating in sports like double-dutch that require little to no equipment. Schools provide girls with jump ropes to use during practice and during competition. Double-dutch may not be a traditional sport, but the skill and stamina required to be successful put these athletes on an elite level. The girls practice four days per week, and have competitions every Saturday. Their workouts are focused on building enough stamina to maintain energy during their routines, as well as a “push up here and there,” according to senior Taylor Erskine. While double-dutch is often compared to cheerleading, these girls perform without music and in standard gym uniforms. They are prohibited from wearing any kind of jewelry during competition, and they are told to keep their shirts tucked in while performing. This isn’t a sport for girls looking for an outlet to dress up and jump rope for an hour. This sport requires a lot of hard work and determination in order to be successful.

At a recent competition the Thomas Edison A-team came in first place out of 24 teams. The thing that sets these girls a part from their counterparts is that they know how to incorporate hard work and fun. “We have fun, we’re all friends. It’s not being competitive – we don’t care about being better than one another. It’s not about that. We are always nice to each other,” said captain and senior Laaneisha Jones. The girls look to Jones not just as a peer, but also as a coach. “Everyone looks up to her, we listen to her at practice, she knows what she’s doing and she’s good at it,” said fellow senior Lauren Wiggins. Coach Adela Brudasca allows her students the free dom to coach themselves during practice because she knows she still has a lot to learn from them. Brudasca is learning just as much about the game of double-dutch from her students as they are from her. When she began the program she knew very little about the sport, and relied on a few young athletes to help her along the way. Brudasca is the dance coach at the school as well and she says many of the girls overlap. “When they are winning and doing so well, I don’t have to tell them what to do. They know. They are talented,” she said.

As the season comes to an end the girls vow to keep double-dutch a factor in their lives – even after graduation. Some girls say they hope to start teams at their respective colleges, and even hope to come back to help the younger generation of doubledutch athletes at Thomas Edison. These girls know that without instilling a passion for their sport to the younger generation there is no way for it to succeed. They take time to talk to the younger girls on the team about the importance of the game and what it takes to be a winner. This year there were no freshmen on the squad, but after seeing this team succeed, that will likely change for before next season. The most important thing the girls on the double-dutch team are looking for is respect and the acknowledgment that what they are doing is considered a sport. “It is a sport, with a capital S,” said senior Kristin Corry with so much conviction that it would be impossible to disagree.

At a recent competition the Thomas Edison A-team came in first place out of 24 teams. The thing that sets these girls a part from their counterparts is that they know how to incorporate hard work and fun. “We have fun, we’re all friends. It’s not being competitive – we don’t care about being better than one another. It’s not about that. We are always nice to each other,” said captain and senior Laaneisha Jones.


Rugby Gets Down and Dirty By Alessandra Malito Photos by: Daniel S Burnstein


The Rugby team at Xavier High School in lower Manhattan started in 1976, and they maintain their legacy and history of excellence. The team has overcome numerous obstacles in the past, and still does the same with ease. The team holds a record of 12-1 so far this season. During this past season alone, the team had to overcome the fact that both of their captains were unable to play due to injury. Instead, players Brendan Murphy and John Gearity had to step up to the plate. . The injured captains are Sean Carley and Pat Coleman, and although they are sitting on the sidelines, they are still cheering on their teammates. Some of the players that have stepped up to fill the hole that was left are: seniors Chris Petri and Dominic DeFalco, and junior Eddie Sullivan. According to Mike Tolkin, the team has already taken care of their first goal – taking the top spot in their division. Now they’re on their way to win Northeast Championship, and from there the National Championship title. Last year, the team lost in the National Semifinal. “It was a great year until we lost,” said the coach. This season, however, they’re feeling much stronger, regardless of the four injuries they have to deal with on the team. “The younger guys are going to step up and be prepared,” Coach Tolkin said. “All the injuries have been difficult,” said Coleman. “The kids have stepped up. The juniors have stepped up and are filling spots for all the kids that are hurt.” According to the coach, the competition for the Northeast Championship is not too strong. He believes the Greenwich, CT team is the greatest competition they face. The National Championship, however, includes eight teams from across the nation during a two-day tournament in Salt Lake City, Utah. The team doesn’t face much challenge when it comes to New York City – due in large part to the fact that rugby is not offered in many of the surrounding neighborhoods. “We’re hoping to get more [teams],”said Coach Tolkin in response to the lack of competition. In the meantime, the boys are going to have to stick together to play those they can, but that shouldn’t be too difficult considering how well they all work together. “The guys get along well,” said Tolkin. “There’s a fun attitude. They work hard when asked and have a good mix of hard work and fun.” Former captain Carley agreed. “Our team has great chemistry,” he said. “I think that’s one of the qualities of our team that makes us as good as we are.


Whenever something bad happens on the field, nobody points fingers at anybody. We just try to figure out how to make up for it on the next play. Everybody is very supportive of each other on our team. Going to an all boys school, you make bonds with your friends that you wouldn’t make at other schools.” The rugby program at Xavier High School turned into a varsity team in 1985. Prior to that, it was solely a club. It is currently part of the Metropolitan Rugby Football Union, which was established in 1967. The union governs more than 80 men’s and women’s clubs, college, high school and youth rugby teams in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey.

The season began on March 14, but the preseason began much earlier in January. Since then, the team has been very active. In March, they played against Gonzaga College High School, Fairfield Prep and in the Jesuit Rugby Classic Tournament – a two-day event. In April, they played in the Union U19 Alumni and Family day on Randall’s Island. They also played against Westerville in Ohio, West Shore in Pennsylvania, Boston College High School, Greenwich High School in Connecticut, and Keio Academy. Greenwich and Keio are both Division 1 matches. Most recently the team participated in the NRU Championship Tournament in West Point, NY, which was also two-day event. They beat Bishop Henrickson from Rhode Island 60-0, and in the championship match won 41-5 against McQuaid Jesuit.

“Our team has done very well this year,” said Carley. “Our record is 12-1, the one loss coming in our second meeting with Gonzaga in a sloppy game in which we were playing without three starters, and lost senior lock Pat Coleman and senior wing Dominic DeFalco during the game.” Carley continued, “I believe this year our team has proved how good we are with the way we have been able to achieve a 12-1 record after losing our starting lock Pat Coleman, our starting inside center Sean Kelly, our starting wing John Wilson and Junior Chris Mattina for some time, and now our starting Junior prop Kevin Murphy. Even with all of these injuries, there are guys stepping up and showing the depth we have.”

The rugby team practices rain or shine, for several hours at a time.





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Shortstop Mike Antonio is the

Latest Hardball Prodigy out of Washington Heights By Chris Greenberg

Photos By Danniel S. Burnstein


As the longtime baseball coach

at George Washington High School

in the Fort George neighborhood of

Washington Heights, Steve Mandl has

worked with many of the best ballplayers that have come through the Big

Apple in the last three decades. Perhaps the brightest light among the constel-

lation of stars that have shined down

from the highest point on the island is Manny Ramirez.

Already in his 18th season in

the big leagues after being drafted out of George Washington with the 13th

overall selection in the 1991 first-year

player draft, Ramirez has more postsea-

son home runs than any player in major league history and ranks in the top five in playoff RBI, runs, hits and walks.

And it all began under the watchful eye of Coach Mandl, a left-handed pitcher

during his youth in Bensonhurst, Brook-

lyn, who had tryouts with both the Mets

and the Yankees before his own hardball dreams were derailed at age 17 by a shattered kneecap.

Of course, the baseball his-

tory of Washington Heights goes back further than Mandl or Manny, back

to when the New York Yankees were

called the Highlanders and played at Hilltop Park on Broadway between

165th and 168th streets. The famed Polo

Grounds were later built nearby as well. With big leaguers from Ty Cobb to Wil-

lie Mays gracing local diamonds over

the years it’s no wonder that neighbor-

baseman Alex Rodriguez, who was also born in Washington Heights.If Yankees general

manager Brian Cashman were to call up coach Mandl then he’d likely hear about a match

hood kids like Ramirez and Rod Carew made not in heaven, but on the Macombs Dam Bridge, which leads from Washington Heights to Y grew up dreaming of big league ball. ankee Stadium. Mandl looks at his 6-foot-3 inch shortstop Mike Antonio and sees the heir apparent to The neighborhood’s influx of Latin

Jeter. “I think it would be phenomenal if the Yankees took him in the first round and if he got up there American immigrants beginning in the real quick,” Mandl eagerly hypothesized about the pinstriped future of his prized pupil who has been 1970s certainly helped deepen the talent ranked as the No. 45 high school prospect by Baseball America. pool, as well. With the Yankees now just across the Harlem River, the generation

currently populating the halls of George Washington High has grown up idolizing shortstop Derek Jeter and third


“Jeter tutors him for one year up there, he plays alongside Jeter the next year, and then Jeter retires. And then he takes over. He’s going to be that kind of kid.” To hear Mandl tell it, this scenario is foolproof. The vendors on River Ave. might as well start printing up dark blue t-shirts with Antonio stenciled on the back. Whether the city’s top senior is drafted in the majors June or if he decides to enroll at St. John’s University, there is little doubting that he’s got the tools that seamheads salivate over. “If you want to put three guys together then take Jeter, Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez,” Mandl gushed. “Mix them together. And if you take the best of all three then he’s what you’re going to get: the speed of Reyes; the maturity, leadership and calmness of Jeter; and the power of Hanley. The good qualities of all three, I think he has.” Upon beginning his high school career at George Washington in New York City’s Public School Athletic League, there was little doubt about Antonio’s physical skill. Barely a teenager, he


was already quick, strong, and had a 6-foot-3 frame that looked destined to pack on muscle. In fact, Antonio is so big and strong that fans sometimes do a double-take when he lines up as a shortstop. Even when he was stuck behind an entrenched upper classmen at the start of his freshman year, Antonio insisted on playing short, working fur ously to improve his range. Not especially eager to dive early in his high school career, Antonio has trained himself to go for those balls that seem out of reach, He has grown into a player equally adept at flashing leather as smoking a ball into the gap. “He’ll do whatever he can to get to the ball,” said Mandl. “He’s a real good athlete. His mobility and range are great, plus he’s got a cannon for an arm, which is makes him even more lethal.” Antonio has always been extremely polished at the plate for someone his age. With quick hands and a keen eye, Antonio manages the trick of rarely getting cheated on a swing and rarely striking out. During his junior season he raked at a .565 clip, scored 26 runs, drove in 26 more and nabbed 14

bases. “His hands are so quick and strong and he’s got a big, hard swing and he rarely strikes out. He makes contact all the time,” Mandl said. “His pitch recognition is phenomenal. His hand strength is great and his hand speed is great.” With the ability to field the most difficult position on the diamond at a high level and powerful stroke at the dish, Mandl believes that Antonio has the natural ability to surpass his favorite player and eventually be considered the best ever to don a GW cap. “He loves Hanley Ramirez, and he kind of plays like that,” Mandl said of Antonio’s idol, fittingly another 6 foot, 3 inch shortstop. “Although I think he’s got more range and is a better shortstop. That’s the kind of player that he’s going to be. Just like that.” For all of his physical skills, Antonio wasn’t necessarily prepared to handle the inherent failure in a sport where even an All-Star fails to get a hit in seven out of 10 turns at bat.




FITNESS By Jillian Karlewicz Exclusively for Ultimate Athlete Magazine All rights reserved


Did you know that your arm muscles are involved in a lot of upper body activities that you do each day? In addition, it’s important to do some resistant training for your arm muscles to look even better in that halter-top dress! One muscle to focus on while training your arms is your biceps. Your biceps can be trained when using lighter weights three non-consecutive days a week. For example: Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.

What’s Your Goal? You need to decide if your goal is endurance and lean muscle or to bulk up. If your goal is to pack on lean muscle you need to do 2-3 sets of 12-16 repetitions. This also depends on how many exercises you want to do. If you do 5 exercises for your biceps, you only have to do 2 sets. If you choose 3 exercises, 3 exercises is better.

Bicep Exercises -

Here is how you do a bicep curl:


The most common bicep exercise is the bicep curl but there are a number of exercises that work the bicep in different ways. This is important when following a workout routine. You don’t want your body getting used to the same exercise every time. Bicep Curl- Choose dumbbell weights that are right for you. If you are beginning, I would choose 5-7 pounds. If you’re more advanced I would choose 10-12 pounds.

1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6:

Stand with feet about hip-width apart, tilt you pelvis to engage your abs. Hold the dumbbells in front of your thighs. Always remember to SQUEEZE! Squeeze the biceps and bend the arms to curl the weights up towards the shoulders. Bring the weight as high as you can without moving the elbows. Slowly lower the weights, keeping a slight bend in the elbows at the bottom (Do not lock your joints) Repeat for 2-4 sets of 8-15 reps.


Changing the hand position can make an exercise challenging in a different way. Doing hammer curls with regular curls or barbell curls will target the full range of the biceps and the forearms.

1: 2: 3: 4: 5:

Stand with feet about hip-width apart, abs engaged as you hold dumbbells in front of the thighs. Turn the hands so that the palms face each other and squeeze the biceps to curl the weights towards the shoulders. Keep the elbows stationary and only bring the weight as high as you can without moving the elbows. Slowly lower the weights, keeping a slight bend in the elbows at the bottom (e.g., don’t lock the joints and try to keep tension on the muscle) Repeat for 2-4 sets of 8-15 reps.

The barbell bicep curl is a great way to work both heads of the biceps. This is a great compliment to dumbbell curls which allow you to work each arm individually.

Concentration Curls- This is a great exercise to put at the end of your biceps workout to really get the blood to your muscles.

1: 2: 3: 4:

Sit and hold a dumbbell in the right hand.

Bend forward, keeping the abs tight and hold the right elbow against the inside of the right thigh. Contract the bicep and curl the hand towards the shoulder without moving the elbow. You don’t have to touch your shoulder. Lower all the way down and continue for (2-4 sets of 8-16 reps on each side)



Tricep Exercises

Tricep Extension Using Rope or Bar

Stand with feet hip width apart with a slight bend and your pelvis tilted so that your abdomen is tight. Holding the rope, bend your arms at a 90 degree angle. Extend your arms straight down by moving your forearm only. Keep your upper arms stationary and close to your body.

Skull Crushers

Using a barbell, grip the bar on the inner grips using an overhand grip. Bring the bar up to your chest and lay down on your back. Extend your arms straight up above your chest. Keeping your elbows still, lower the bar until it is about an inch from your forehead (this is why it is called a skull crusher!). Then, slowly extend your arms back to the starting position. Do not lock your elbows when you are at starting position.

Triceps Extension

Sit on a bench or ball and hold one dumbbell and take it straight up overhead with the arms next to your ears. Lower the weight behind your head until elbows are at about 90 degree angles. Tighten and squeeze the triceps to straighten the arms without locking the joints. Repeat for 2-4 sets of 10-16 reps.

Bent over Dumbbell Kick Backs

Hold a dumbbell in both hands and bend over until your torso is parallel to the floor. Keep a slight bend in the knees and keep your abs tight. Bend your arms and pull your elbows at your torso level. Holding that position, straighten your arms out behind you. Make sure to focus on the muscle you are working by squeezing the triceps muscles. Bend the arms back to starting position and repeat until you feel it burn! (About 12-20 reps) It’s important to remember that when you are working your triceps, only move the forearm and keep your arms close to your body.

sport sports psycology


As long as sports have used professionals we have seen the use of drugs to gain an edge. In 600 BC gladiators used stimulants to manage fatigue and injury during the Circus Maximus in the Coliseum in Rome. In the 19th century athletes used alcohol, caffeine, opium and nitroglycerin to manage fatigue and pain. Anabolic steroids were developed during WWII to help German soldiers with aggression and not long after that Olympic weigh lifters, track and field stars and swimmers started to use them as well. More recently in 2005 we witnessed the public humiliation of Major League Baseball’s biggest stars when Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Jose Conseco were forced to testify about drug use in front of the House Committee on Government Reform. Performance enhancement through drugs has been with us a long time and will continue to be here so it is up to you to learn about the dangers.

II. WHAT IS BEING USED Recreational drugs:

- anabolic steroids, human growth hormones, amphetamines, ephedrine, caffeine, beta blockers and tobacco. These drugs are all variously used to build muscle, increase endurance, enhance speed, improve concentration or reduce weight. They are also used to decrease anxiety and fatigue.

Performance enhancement drugs:

- narcotics, anti-inflammatory drugs and benzodiazepines are used to control pain, anxiety and insomnia.

Therapeutic drugs:

- alcohol, cocaine, marijuana and tobacco and are typically used to relax and decompress after competition.

III. THE NATURE OF SPORTS & WHY IT PRODUCES STRESS Sports are extremely competitive and the fact is that only one in 5,000 will make it to the pros in any sport. Yet nearly every varsity high school athlete will at one time or another harbor the fantasy of turning pro some day. And who could blame them. The thought of earning $10 million per year for doing something you love is intoxicating. This produces the compulsion to do nearly anything it takes to make it. Unfortunately this obsessive drive often produces burnout, injury, fatigue and anxiety. And the next step of course is to seek some drugs to help you along the way. Many athletes turn to drugs to manage other emotions, to handle social anxiety or to deal with low esteem.


The risk of chronic drug use is real. There is no such thing as a magic bullet. The number one killer is tobacco. Chewing or smoking tobacco produces both lung cancer, mouth and throat cancer. Steroids will cause prostate and colon cancer as well as hypertension, acne and hair loss. Human growth hormone thickens the skin and cause polyps and heart disease. Amphetamines cause irritability, headaches, nausea and insomnia. Cocaine causes sudden death, cerebral hemorrhage, addiction and insomnia. Caffeine causes insomnia, arrhythmias, and ulcers. In brief, each and every one of these drugs carries a risk factor that is inevitable if used long enough. And the sad truth is that the beneďŹ ts to performance is never more then 1% and often produces performance decrements instead. I have worked with many athletes who have used drugs to help themselves and have instead learned how they in fact can destroy a career. Many of these drugs are illegal and when caught typically the athlete loses a scholarship and loses endorsements. I am sure Michael Phelps lost as much as $50 million in endorsements thanks to marijuana use.

V: WHAT TO DO? If you or a loved one are trapped in drug use here is what to do... 1) Assess the situation. Have you tried to stop but cannot? Has this produced irresponsible behavior or even

caused police to get involved? Do you notice a change in attitude to things? If you are beginning to feel trapped in the cycle of drug use reach out to a parent, doctor, trainer or psychologist.

2) Get yourself to a doctor or psychologist to get a good evaluation and so someone can help you. 3) Each case is different and a plan could include one to one therapy, rehab, medicine, group work or a therapeutic community like Tiger Woods availed himself of.

I feel that the biggest problem with drug use is DENIAL. Athletes, parents and coaches frequently deny the problem because they are so afraid to face it. But this leads to bigger ones. Do not be afraid to reach out for help. Drug use is a sign that you are trying to do things alone and that rarely, if ever, works. Sports are a great activity but also very demanding and drugs will not help. Reach out to others who can give you support and better answers to your stress, your anxiety and your pain. Human support is far better and far safer than chemical support every time.


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