Tag Archive | "SYS"

SYS Considers an Ice Rink

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By Kathryn G. Menu

Wearing a New York Rangers jersey, last Thursday Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst remembered all too well the journey East End parents of children interested in year round hockey or figure skating have to endure. Generally, their commitment involves driving their kids to the Rinx in Hauppauge, often as early as 4 a.m., via the Long Island Expressway.

“I am sure that hasn’t changed,” she said. “But only increased.”

If Southampton Youth Services (SYS) proves successful, skaters may soon have a rink to call their own.

Last Thursday, members of SYS presented preliminary plans to the Southampton Town Board for an indoor ice rink at the SYS athletic facility at North Sea Park. SYS Director Scott Johnson made the pitch on behalf of the SYS board of directors, who were also on hand for the presentation.

“We have been talking to people for a couple years and this kind of started to heat up more recently than not,” said Johnson, referring to an earlier proposal by a separate business to build an ice rink with SYS.

While that proposal waned, Johnson said SYS has looked at other options and believes it has settled on a plan at least worth exploring financially.

Originally, said Johnson, SYS looked to the Southampton School District and a nine-acre parcel next to the SYS property that was donated to the school district by Tony Panza, one of the developers of the Courtyards townhouses on Major’s Path. However, said Johnson, the school district was not interested in selling the property, preferring to lease it for no longer than 10 years at a time, making it unviable for the project.

As a “plan b,” Johnson said SYS looked towards the town-owned athletic field, which he said was somewhat underutilized and has parking nearby. SYS could commit, he added, if the project moves forward, to develop a multi-use field on SYS property for town use.

The initial proposal calls for a two-rink facility, although Johnson noted that could change depending on how cost estimates work out. Johnson said eventually SYS would like to see school hockey teams develop using the rink. Camp programs, figure skating and accommodating everyone from toddlers to seniors interested in getting on the ice is a priority, said Johnson, as will be operating the rink on a year round basis.

SYS board members said they want to make sure they can run the facility under the umbrella of the youth organization, rather than contract the rink out to another management company as it does at its main facility, which is run by Future Stars.

Board president Mark Antilety noted the cost, and time associated with a feasibility study on the financial ability for SYS to move forward with a formal plan for an ice rink, has been reduced because of previous efforts to build a rink associated with the organization. The next step is a feasibility study, which Antilety said they hope to complete in the next two to three months.

Board members largely supported the idea, although Councilman Chris Nuzzi said he looked forward to the feasibility study results and Councilman Jim Malone urged the board to ensure any lost town parkland was made up for in another location.

“Prioritizing ice where we have not been able to prioritize ice anywhere else is a really, really good thing for us,” said Throne-Holst.

Scott Johnson

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WEB convo scott johnson

Conversation with…

Scott Johnson, Executive Director of Southampton Youth Services (SYS) on the facility’s beginnings, how it’s grown, where it’s headed and the 5th annual Family Fun Day taking place there this Saturday.

This is the fifth annual Family Fun Day at SYS. Tell me a little about some of the activities you have planned for this year and how the event has changed over the years.

It’s continued to grow. Last year we had about 1,000 people come through. This year we’ve added GameStreet a mobile trailer with video games for kids. It has five different screens, so kids can sit down and play games together. It’s really great for some of the older kids who may have aged out of some of the younger activities.

What is the goal of Family Fun Day?

We really want the community to come out and this is a chance for us to give something back. We want people to see the building and the facilities, whether they have supported us in the past, or are people who are new to the area. We get to show off.

It’s not a big money maker, it’s just $10 for adults, $5 for teens and younger kids get in free – but every dollar raised goes to our scholarship program which helps kids who don’t have the means to take part in a program or join SYS. We deal with those kids after school and in other programs — whether it’s Future Stars, gymnastics or karate. Part of the deal for those groups who offer their programs here is to also give back with scholarships.

SYS opened its doors in 2003 and many of us can remember a time before there was an SYS. What in the world did kids do out here before that?

That’s why I got involved in the organization. There were 17 or so of us on the original board. All of us were local parents and coaches. My son was 5 years old and I just wanted to shoot baskets with him. I was thrown out of every gym in the area. It was a liability, of course. There was no free place for kids to just go and play.

So we made a pitch to the town board, we threw a baseball to them and I think they thought we were crazy. They said, ‘Go for it, and good luck.’ At the same time there were some persistent folks on the board who were determined to make this happen, hell or high water.

A big hurdle was cleared when Southampton Town agreed to allow SYS to put the facility on land adjacent to the Major’s Path transfer station, but what were some of the other stumbling blocks along the way?

Being a grass roots organization, we were raising $25 or $50 when we needed a few million to make it work. Fundraising began around 9/11. As a board, we were not sure we should even move forward after that. But we figured let’s go for it and started raising funds, getting pledges and finding great sponsors.

All it takes is a quick trip upisland to see any number of facilities and programs geared toward making kids top athletes. Was that important to you as a board?

We weren’t looking just for the competitive athlete, we wanted it to be for all, whether you were a terrific athlete or not, an actor or a gymnast. We wanted a well rounded recreation center. There really is nothing else out here — we’re really the hub for activity in Southampton. We just started a rattle and stroll program moms to get in shape, so we have members from infancy to one who’s 102 years old.

How does the facility we see today differ from the initial vision of 10 years ago?

At first, we wanted to build a basketball court and that was it. Then we got together with the board and it became 30,00 square feet, then 45,000 then 55,000 square feet. And we hadn’t even broken ground. I thought wait, we haven’t done any of this. But we spoke to people out in the community about the activities they wanted. We went to the senior center. We never had an elevated track in the drawings, but they needed a place to walk in winter. In other places they walk at the mall. It’s been a great addition. Since then we’ve added 6,000 square feet of squash courts, 4,000 square feet of gymnastics space. We now have 65,000 square feet and we probably have 3,000 members. Last spring we added eight tennis courts, four of which are covered.

What difference have you seen SYS make in the lives of kids and what are some of the programs you’re most proud of?

I run a basketball league for kids in third to eighth grade. We have 450 kids from William Floyd to Montauk and it’s something I’m proud of. I’m also a certified official for school games. I see kids at third grade and then I see them at the varsity level — I see them blossom through their middle school and high school career.

Looking ahead, what does SYS have planned for the coming years by way of activities or facilities?

It’s not necessarily top secret – we’re just tying to move forward. We have a number of ideas in the infancy stage. One is an outdoor covered ice rink to be used from November to March for a competitive hockey league or kids learning to skate.

SNAG Golf for kids 5 to 7 has been very well received. It’s sold out right through March. It stands for Starting New At Golf and it’s run by the pro from South Fork Country Club, Tim Garvin. It’s a great way to learn, the kids use big clubs and aim for targets. There’s a thought to bring a golf range here year round and we think we can make a go of it.

Squash has also turned out to be very popular, right?

This is really the first public facility in America, all the others are private clubs driven by the wealthy. We have after school programs for local kids and Saturday clinics for adults. I didn’t know what squash was when we were first approached. After 10 minutes in there I was dead – next day trying to sit down, forget it. It’s a great game and a great cardio workout.

So speaking of workout, can we expect to see you in the bouncy castle this weekend at the Family Fun Fair?

If you had a dunk booth you might see me in there. We’ll be out there selling food and having a great time. We’re just hoping for good weather.

February Camps for Kids

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It’s on the calendar and coming quick. The winter break for local schools is set to start February 15. Families not going away and those visiting for the week will be looking for what to do with the kids.

Recreation and theater programs abound in and around the Harbor, Southampton Youth Services (SYS), the East Hampton YMCA RECenter and Bay Street offering a full slate of activities to keep kids busy.

SYS on Majors Path has a 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. camp each day for those in kindergarten through sixth grade. There is a weekly $200 fee and a $45 a day drop-in rate. SYS is also offering an all-day karate camp for those ages four-and-up and a half-day squash camp for those ages nine-to-seventeen. More information is available online at sysinc.org or by calling 287-1511.

The RECenter also has an all-day camp, theirs running from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for ages five to thirteen. Games, swimming and arts & crafts are part of the YMCA program; the cost is $60 for the first day and $55 each day thereafter.

For kids not so much into recreation, Stages is holding a camp at The Bay Street Theater, ages eight to twelve honing their acting skills from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Outside the village, The Parrish Art Museum has morning and afternoon sessions for artists four-and-up; L’Atelier 5 in Southampton is hosting an art camp, attendees coming in by age group; and the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center (WHBPAC) has created a one-week camp for thespians ages five to eighteen, culminating in a performance of “Jack and the Beanstalk”.

More information on the Stages/Bay Street program can be found at baystreet.org or at 725-0818, extension 110. The Parrish program information is available at 283-2118; the L’Atelier 5 at 259-3898 and the WHBPAC at 288-2350.

Baseball, Golf & Strength Camps

There are kids that are very specific about likes and dislikes. Those five-to-thirteen that enjoy baseball can travel west to All-Pro Sports Academy in Bellport for a 10 a.m. to noon “Spring Training” camp.

Private pitching and hitting lessons are also available all week at the All-Pro facility, as are golf lessons from the Rich Jones Golf Academy (767-3444) and performance training for ages seven-and-up from Infiniti Sports (286-2414).

The All-Pro baseball coaches are planning to be back for their annual mid-August baseball camp in Mashashimuet Park. Details on that program will be available in mid-May. All-Pro can be reached at allprosportsacademy.com and 286-5144.

A Ball, A Racquet & A Dream

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web squash

Sayed Selim, the Director of Squash at Southampton Recreation Center (SYS), calls the sport a fast paced game of cat-and-mouse which, he adds, must be seen live.

During the third annual Sotheby’s Realty Hamptons Squash Juniors Open Tournament held at SYS last weekend, Selim’s characterization of squash was on the mark. Dozens of children and adults in the audience sat in the bleachers, absorbed in the game as they watched every dive, dodge and near collision between the two players negotiating the indoor court. For many of the players involved in the tournament, though, squash isn’t merely a recreational sport, but a means to explore new environments, away from their stomping grounds of the inner-city in the Bronx, and gain access to a better education. The dedication these young players display on the the court spills over into their personal lives and is due in no small part to their participation in the not-for-profit organization, City Squash, also based in the Bronx. Last weekend, more than a dozen children involved in City Squash were invited to play in the tournament, and many of them went home with trophies and a taste of what life is like on the East End.

“City Squash is about opening up opportunities for inner-city youth by combining squash and academics,” explained Tim Wyant, Executive Director of City Squash, who chaperoned the group of children to the tournament. City Squash was founded in 2002 by Sanford Schwartz as an after school program, which in addition to squash and academics focuses on mentoring, traveling, community service, and high school and college preparation. Around 115 students, ranging in ages from eight to eighteen, participate in the program. In order to recruit children into the program, City Squash reaches out to two schools in the Bronx and shows a presentation to the children about squash.

“Squash is the hook,” noted Wyant about what initial attracts the children to the program. The standards for being accepted into City Squash, however, are rigorous and children must complete a series of tests and interviews to show that they can handle its demands.

“Although there is plenty of demand, we can only accept a limited number of students . . . The idea is that this is a nine to ten year commitment and it is paramount to find students who are most likely to finish school and are motivated and gifted,” added Wyant.

According to Wyant, almost 60 percent of students participating in the program go on to attend private day schools or boarding schools.

“Mostly everyone goes to boarding school . . . I guess I would be homesick, but the older kids make boarding school seem like it is exciting,” said Esmeralda Mejia, as she watched older students compete against local players. Mejia is an 11-year-old City Squash student who played over the weekend.

This is the second year, City Squash players have participated in the local tournament, but Selim and Wally Glennon, an SYS board member and head of Squash in the Hamptons, hope to establish a local program, named The Academy: SYS Squash and Academic Enrichment Program, for local youths this fall. The Academy will be modeled after City Squash.

“This type of program is successful on a number of levels. These children are being faced with both mental and physical challenges . . . and it is a brilliant example of how to teach kids life lessons and open their horizons,” remarked Glennon.

The academic staff is already in place and Selim will oversee the squash part of the program, but Glennon adds that they are still looking for funds. Overall, the program will cost around $100,000 a year to run, however, the children will not have to pay a dime for the tutoring and squash lessons they receive. Glennon said he is working with the Southampton public school to help introduce students into The Academy at the beginning of the school year.

Although the initial costs for this type of program appears steep, the benefit to the students involved is immeasurable. Edgardo Gonzales, 18, who was among the first students to participate in City Squash, said the experience made him a “more responsible and better person.”

“I think it taught me how to prioritize, and how to balance squash and academics,” noted Gonzales, who will attend Hobart and William Smith College in the fall.

Wyant notices a steady change in the demeanor of children as they continue with the program. He often accompanies the players to their competitions and remains close with many of them.

“Their grades go up. Their self-esteem improves . . . They have higher sights and aspirations for themselves as they get out of the Bronx,” explained Wyant of the student’s experiences.

Squash, added Wyant, is a great mechanism to attract scholarships to higher education institutions. Alex Patricolo, a 12-year-old Tuckahoe student and finalist in the weekend tournament, hopes to be one of those students to earn a college scholarship because of his love of the game. Patricolo was first introduced to squash by his mother, Linda, who added that the sport has improved her son’s focus and sportsmanship.

Programs like City Squash also help foster friendships between children from disparate socio-economic backgrounds. When the City Squash students travel for competitions and tournaments, they often stay with host families whose children are squash players.

Sag Harbor resident David Diskin and his family housed two City Squash players last weekend, hoping the skills of the older players would rub off on his 12-year-old daughter who is starting to play the game.

“The families and the kids might be from opposite ends of the socio-economic spectrum, but this can also help kids gain some perspective,” added Wyant. Diskin said he was impressed with the children and would participate as a host parent in future tournaments.

Glennon and Selim hope to impart local disadvantaged children with similarly invaluable skills on and off the court, and instill in them a life passion for the game which cannot be measured in dollars and cents.

As Glennon, a self-professed squash addict, said, “It is one hell of a game” that can do a lot of good in the East End community.

Bonac Takes SYS Tourney; Whalers in Semis

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By Benito Vila

Last Sunday was a day made for soccer as Southampton Youth Services hosted a high-school tournament indoors at its facility on Majors Path. Participating this year for the fifth annual Supervisor’s Cup were teams from Pierson, East Hampton, Southampton, Westhampton, Center Moriches and Longwood, East Hampton making off with the prize with a 2-0 win over Longwood

Pierson varsity soccer coach Donnelly McGovern was on hand to direct members of his team, reporting afterwards, “We bested East Hampton 1-0 in our opening match of the day, and we entered the knock-out phase as the number one seed. But anything can happen when it comes down to all-or-nothing and they [East Hampton] came out ahead in the semi-final 3-2 in a very exciting match.”

Coach McGovern said the event “allowed returning and potential varsity players to play against other high school players in a very competitive environment. It allowed me to see our players against players other than each other. We have been playing since the season ended outside two days a week, even in the snow, ice, and rain, and our players have also been utilizing the work-out rooms at Pierson to maintain their fitness.” Coach McGovern added, “it was great fun to see the boys in action against some quality opponents. We did a nice job defending collectively and creating some great scoring opportunites.”

In describing the play of the potential 2009 Whalers Sunday, Coach McGovern reported, “Tyler Gilbride, Jake Federico, and Christian Gonzalez worked very hard to create opportunities. They each scored goals that were definitely highlights of the day for me. Christian Bautista, Oscar Reyes, Oscar-Eduardo Reinosa, and Nico McMahon worked extremely well throughout the day as they generated many scoring chances. Other highlights included the play of Mark Mahoney. He was very strong and confident in the goal and made some critical stops in each match we played. Greg Rojano, Gavin Kudlak, Nicholas Gratto (a guest player from Eastport-South Manor) and Jefferey Schimmer were tenacious in the defensive third as they won balls and started our attack.”


More Indoor Soccer

SYS has indoor soccer leagues and clinics throughout the winter, the current sessions running into April. For more information, contact Joy Pariz at 287-1511.

The Hampton-South Fork Colonials, a semi-professional team playing in the Premier Arena Soccer League (PASL), closed out its regular season schedule at SYS on Saturday with a 10-7 win over Central New York United (Syracuse).

The Colonials will meet the New York Shockers in Albany this Saturday in a divisional championship final. Saturday’s winner advances into the PASL tournament, taking on champions from the league’s eight other North American divisions. For more information on the Colonials, visit arenaleague.com.


Winter Away at SYS

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With winter not letting up anytime soon and a school vacation a week away, Southampton Youth Services has put together several family and student-oriented programs at its recreation center on Majors Path.

Tomorrow, SYS and the Southampton Town Youth Bureau are hosting a Sports and Recreation Night for Middle and High School students from 7 to 10 p.m. Next Friday, the younger set is served with a “Parents Night Out” being offered from 6 to 9 p.m.; for $10, parents can drop off potty-trained children 4 to 12 years of age for a evening of games and activities.

SYS is also offering a Winter Break Camp February 16 to 20 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. There is a $45 daily fee per camper or a $200 weekly fee per camper. Children are asked to bring lunch and play clothes and be ready for games, sports, art and crafts.The annual Supervisors Cup, an indoor soccer tournament for Long Island high schools is set for February 22 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For more information on these and other youth programs at SYS, contact Joy Pariz at 287-1151 or visit sysinc.org.

Little League Prep and Winter Track

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Spring is Here


The weather forecast for the weekend has a lot of wet and cold in it, but so do most of March and April. Already looking ahead to those months, the Pierson softball and baseball teams are helping the Little Leaguers get ready for their season, with player clinics at Pierson High School starting this Sunday.

Incoming varsity softball coach Melissa Edwards and her Lady Whalers will start Sunday’s session, working with Little League softball players 7-and-up from 1 to 2 p.m. and those 9-and-up from 2 to 3 p.m.

Little League coaching coordinator Jeff Warne will be leading the baseball sessions this week, using much of the indoor gear the Whalers will train with in a few weeks. Baseball players 7-and-up are welcome to work out from 3 to 4 p.m. and the players 9-and-up are expected to go from 4 to 5 p.m.

Little League player registration will be available at the clinics and board members will be on hand to answer questions parents might have. Registration forms are also available online at sagharborlittleleague.org.

Anyone interested in coaching the Little Leaguers this spring is asked to attend the clinics. A coaching clinic has been scheduled for Sunday, February 1 from 2:30 to 5 p.m. Attendance at this special clinic is a prerequisite for all managers and coaches, as is CPR and AED safety certification.

The Little League player clinics will continue throughout the winter with sessions set for January 24, February 1 and 8, and March 8 and 15, all in the Pierson gym. Completed registration forms will also be accepted at the clinics.


13-and-up Baseball at SYS


Whaler varsity baseball coach Sean Crowley will be leading a series of wintertime workouts for baseball players 13-and-up at SYS. The workouts will make use of the facility’s batting cages, arena court and pitching lanes.

The first of those workouts is set for this Sunday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. with subsequent sessions January18 and 25, February 1 and 8, and March 1 and 8. There is a $90 fee to participate in all the sessions and a $20-a-day drop-in option.

Coach Crowley has also asked Dr. Steve Petruccelli, a local chiropractor and former collegiate pitcher, to provide specialized training and video analysis for players interested in those additional services.


Early Tops in Track


Ross boys’ winter track coach Jim Kinnier has his team running in tomorrow’s League Relay races at Suffolk Community College in Brentwood. Last Sunday those boys competed in their last crossover meet on that same track, Stephen Early winning his section of the 300-meter race in 43.1 seconds.

Early was also a top finisher in the 55-meter dash, coming in second at 7.6 seconds in his heat. Teammate Mike Remkus also finished second in his 55-meter heat, posting a time of 8.7 seconds. Peter Skerys ran the 1600-meter race in six minutes 17.7 seconds.

Coach Kinnier, who is Pierson math teacher and coach of the Class D champion Pierson girls’ cross-country team, is pleased with his team’s performances, pointing out, “They are improving almost every time.”

SYS hires new Squash director

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Some people associate this time of year with football and betting which team may end up in the Superbowl, but in many parts of the world there are other sports that gain more national attention. According to Sayed Selim, squash is one sport that is beginning to get more popular in the U.S.,
Selim, an Egyptian world-class squash coach, is the new director of Squash at Southampton Youth Services’ (SYS) Elmaleh Stanton Squash Facility. Selim came to Southampton in March after applying for the full time position, which SYS posted online.
SYS board member and head of the squash program, Wally Glennon, said that Selim was chosen for the position because of his overwhelming enthusiasm of the sport.
But asking Selim to take the position would require him to relocate from Berlin, Germany where he had been living for nearly two decades. It would also mean hurdling a slight language barrier but Glennon said that Selim was definitely up to the challenge.
“It’s been a fascinating process for all of us,” said Glennon. “He was the missing element in our facility. We searched the top champion players, but Selim had high hopes and high expectations and his motivation is remarkable.”
“The most gratifying thing is how the local community has embraced the game,” Glennon said.
Though he’s been in Europe for many years, Selim said he immediately felt at home when he arrived in Southampton.
“I lived in Germany for 18 years and never felt at home. I was here for nine days and feel truly at home,” Selim said on Friday, “I have this feeling I will die here, I love this place.”
Selim began playing squash in his native Egypt at the age of six, and has worked with some of the top players in Egypt and Germany.
“I used to play very well,” Selim said. “I’ve been coaching now for over 20 years.”
Now, at the age of 43, he hopes to teach and train others to better their skills at the game.
“It’s more than a game. It’s fitness and it’s fun,” said Selim, explaining that the game is played in a court using four walls. “It becomes very challenging because you have people behind, in front and on the side of you.”
Selim has trained various national professional squash players and finds that the sport is gaining popularity in America. Selim’s ultimate dream is to get squash into the local schools. He has already managed to get many of the local community members to join in clinics, which he teaches on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He said he held a competition where 13 women competed against each other and he was able to determine a rating for them, so they would be able to see who their best competitor would be. Selim says that people of all ages are welcome to play and has found that an increasing number of young people have been embracing the sport.
“If we get the kids we get the parents – the kids are the future,” he said. “The game is improving more and more — and is becoming more popular in America.”
The professional squash playoffs will be played January 23 to 29 in New York City’s Central Station Terminal where the best male players compete for the $115,000 grand prize. It’s the largest squash spectator event in the world. Last year, Bear Sterns sponsored the event, but in response to recent economic events, JP Morgan has acquired Bear Sterns and is now the title sponsor. J.P. Morgan has increased the prize money by 50 percent for this year’s tournament.