Category Archives: Sports

The Rye Racquet Club A Team, left to right: Nan Pozios, Carol Chirico, Hiromi Inagawa, Joy Cummiskey, Corinna Bode, Kathrin Blanch, captain Carolyn Cruz, Marcia Pflug, Eileen O’Connor, Suzanne Schnitta, and Stefani Shavel.

Rye Racquet sweeps MITLs

The Rye Racquet Club women’s doubles teams just wrapped up another stellar summer season, sweeping titles in all three Metropolitan Interclub Tennis League divisions, taking home top honors in the A, B and C levels of play. Since the club’s inception, this is the fifth time that the Rye Racquet Club has taken all three divisions, having done the same in 2005, 2008, 2010, and 2012.

The A team, which earned 28 out of a possible 32 points, have won the division for six straight years, while the B team shared the top spot with rival Westchester Country Club this season. The C team also finished strong to secure the club sweep. All three teams compete in the highest level, flight one, and all receive coaching from Kit Byron, club owner.

Under the leadership of captain Carolyn Cruz, director of tennis and operations for the club, the A team maintained a strong lead throughout and, at one time, was ahead by seven points. Cruz said that, while many of the matches may have seemed one-sided on the score-sheet, teams New Rochelle, Westchester, Saw Mill and Bedford all proved stiff competition for the champs.

“We had great team of players who worked really well together,” Cruz said.

Susan Choo, B team captain, was pleased with the outcome and the team’s ability to prevail despite being bit by the injury bug.

“We had to deal with three serious ankle injuries on our team,” Choo said. “Teresa Fellows injured hers a few months back, Sandy Khouri injured hers a few weeks before the season started and I injured mine after the first match. Aside from all of us sporting heavy ankle braces, we struggled to put a lineup together almost every week.”

“Our team this year was a mix of returning players and a few new players,” added Young Kim, C team captain. “Rye Racquet Club is fortunate to attract players from all over, so we are able to field a strong team. I think people like to be on Rye Racquet Club teams because of the great coaching we get.”

-Reporting by MIKE SMITH

A Mamaroneck ball carrier tries to turn the corner against Harrison at New Rochelle’s Champions Camp. Mamaroneck was a newcomer to the camp this year. Photos/Bobby Begun

Area teams hit gridiron at Champs Camp

From July 29 to Aug. 2, area football teams went through what is likely one of the last big camps of the summer as some of the top squads traveled to New Rochelle High School to take part in the annual Champions Camp hosted by the Huguenots.

Teams from Tuckahoe, Harrison, Eastchester and Mamaroneck competed in the camp alongside the hosts for a week-long event that saw teams work individually and against other squads in heavily monitored scrimmages.

While many teams have had long histories at the camp, Mamaroneck was a newcomer this year. Head coach Anthony Vitti believes that the process was a rewarding one from start to finish.

“This was our first real attempt at doing something like this and we thought it would be a great way to get some extra work in,” said Vitti. “One thing we did was try to get some new people looks at new positions.”

In particular, said Vitti, matching up against teams like Eastchester and Harrison–teams that employ a triple option attack–proved educational, as it forced his players to see some packages that they haven’t seen over the past few years.

“It was definitely good for us to see these other offenses,” he said. “We don’t gameplan for this, but we could use the opportunity to teach the kids why they’re getting beat in certain scenarios if we do end up seeing this during the year.”

Tuckahoe, the smallest school at the camp, got the chance to go up against some teams from Class A, including Mamaroneck and New Rochelle’s backups. Tuckahoe, which is dealing with a small injury to quarterback Michael Castracucco’s wrist, used part of the time to audition backups for the three-year starter, and head coach John D’Arco, Sr. was pleased with what he saw. Running back Anthony Castracucco, Michael’s brother, and sophomore Chris Corroda, who played on the modified team last year, both acquitted themselves well, according to the head coach.

“Michael was just participating in the non-contact drills, so when we went up against the other schools, we had Anthony and Chris back there,” D’Arco said. “They far exceeded my expectations. I came in just hoping to get our handoffs down, but we were able to start working in some of our passing game with them as well.”

Although the elder Castracucco is expected to be ready for the start of preseason two-a-days, which begin on Aug. 19, D’Arco felt that both Corroda and Anthony Castracucco–who will be playing in the offensive and defensive backfield–got valuable time seeing live action during the camp.

With just two weeks before the official start the season, teams will look to finish up summer workouts on their own as they prepare for the grueling two-week stretch that precedes the opening weekend.

“We’ve been working on X’s and O’s, but now we’re going to go back and work on our conditioning,” D’Arco said.

“We’re done with the pads,” added Mamaroneck’s Vitti. “We’re going to do our lift tests and then give the kids a little time to recover before we start back up.”


Liliane Lindsay, left, is one of two local rowers who got the nod to compete in the World Rowing Junior Championships in Lithuania this week. Joining her is Melissa Curtis of Rye. Contributed photo

Local rowers to crew at worlds

Two local rowers will be representing the United States at the junior world championships this week, as Rye’s Melissa Curtis and Harrison’s Liliane Lindsay will both be on the junior Women’s 8 boat that will compete in World Rowing Junior Championships in Trakai, Lithuania.

Curtis, who rows for the Greenwich Water Club and Lindsay, who operates out of the Pelham Community Rowing Association, were both selected to attend the U.S. Junior National Team Camp earlier in the summer, and impressed the camp’s instructors enough to earn a spot on the Women’s 8 boat that will compete against the best junior crews in the world this week. Both girls—whose clubs have scrimmaged against each other quite a few times—possess a great work ethic, something their coaches both feel has led them to this place.

“Lily’s potential was immediately obvious,” said PCRA coach Guy Monseair. “But you can tell what sets her apart is her professional approach to rowing, and she has a real love for the sport.”

Marko Serafimovski, who coaches the Greenwich boats, said that Curtis’ frame first alerted him that he might have a future star on his hands, but that the Rye native’s work ethic is what sets her apart from other rowers.

“When I first saw her, you see 5-9, 5-10, she had long arms, long legs,” Serafimovski said. “But being a good rower is more about hard work than genetics, and she’s always putting time in before or after practice, pushing herself to get better.”

Serafimovski went on to say the selection of Curtis for the Women’s 8 boat is significant because Curtis—who was more versed in the art of sculling (two-oar rowing)—has been working on the adjustment to sweeping (rowing just one oar), which she will need to do in the Women’s 8 boat.

The selection of the two girls to the national team is a huge coup for the two local programs, one that Monseair believes will manifest itself in the aspirations of younger rowers.

“It’s fabulous for our junior rowers to realize there’s no limit to what they can do,” he said. “It’s like that saying, “a rising tide lifts all boats.’”

Though it’s difficult to predict just where the American boat will place out of more than a dozen boats slated to row, most believe that the Women’s 8 has the ability to match up with the best in the world.

“You don’t want to take anyone lightly, but they have a chance to medal,” Monseair said. “But there’s some stiff competition, especially from Romania and Germany. Then you have China. It’s not often that they send boats to worlds, so, when they do, people know that it’s usually fast.”


Rye boosters push for new scoreboard

Rye’s scoreboard in the southwest corner of Nugent Stadium will soon be replaced by a newer model thanks to fundraising efforts by the Rye Booster Club. Photo/Corey Baumer

Rye’s scoreboard in the southwest corner of Nugent Stadium will soon be replaced by a newer model thanks to fundraising efforts by the Rye Booster Club. Photo/Corey Baumer

Plans are underway to ensure that Rye’s athletic teams will have a new scoreboard this fall, as Rye parents and alumni are in the process of raising funds for a new installation for Nugent Stadium.

The current scoreboard, which members of the newly formed New Scoreboard Committee believe was donated some 40 years ago, is simply too antiquated to serve Rye’s teams any longer, according to several in the community.

“There’s some upkeep, it’s faded and some of the figures don’t work properly,” said Ted Livingston, who has been instrumental in the process so far. “Really, it’s pretty old.”

Three months ago, a committee comprised of parents on various Rye athletic teams approached the school board with a proposal to raise funds for the new scoreboard. The proposal was accepted and the fundraising process began. Livingston estimates that $45,000 will need to be raised in total, but that, so far, the community has been very forthcoming in their donations

“Reaching out to the alumni association has been extremely helpful,” said Livingston. “They’ve been very willing to donate, and we’ve received verbal commitments from many of them.”

As far as the replacement scoreboard goes, Livingston was quick to dispel any notion that Nugent Stadium would soon be fitted with a garish monstrosity. The plan, he said was to make a more modest upgrade, one that would be in keeping with the atmosphere and history of the great Garnet home field.

“We’re trying to keep it about the same size, the same basic layout,” he said. “Some other schools have made the switch to huge jumbotrons on their scoreboard, but we didn’t want that, and we didn’t want a scoreboard that was replete with advertising.”

Fundraisers are hoping to make a push over the next few weeks so that the scoreboard can be ordered, shipped, and installed by the time the Garnet football team plays its first home game on September 7. Even if the fundraisers miss that deadline, he said, they hope to have it up sometime this fall.

“This is going to be something that doesn’t just benefit the football team,” he said. “You have so many sports; field hockey, lacrosse, boys and girls soccer. Everyone will benefit from this.”

For those looking to donate to the New Scoreboard Fund, checks made payable to Alumni and Friends of Rye High School Inc. can be mailed to the New Scoreboard Committee at PO Box 562, Rye NY 10580.


KAOS squad wins Connecticut title

The 16u Total KAOS Blue team poses with a championship plaque after winning the ASA Connecticut State Championship on July 22. The team won the championship game of the tourney with a walk-off sac fly in the bottom of the eighth inning. Contributed Photo

The 16u Total KAOS Blue team poses with a championship plaque after winning the ASA Connecticut State Championship on July 22. The team won the championship game of the tourney with a walk-off sac fly in the bottom of the eighth inning. Contributed Photo

On July 22, the Total KAOS 16u Blue team won the Amateur Softball Association Connecticut State Championship, beating the Branford Hornets 1-0 in a hotly contested extra-inning affair held in Southington, Conn.

The game, a 0-0 pitchers duel, was decided under international tie-break rules, which state that, upon reaching extra innings, the final out from the previous inning will start on second base at the top of the next frame. After KAOS, who were the home team, foiled the Hornets attempts to score in the top of the eighth, they started the bottom half with Mahopac infielder Mary Hunt on second base with the team’s three-hitter, pitcher Diana King, at the plate. King moved Hunt to third with a sac bunt, and, in the next at-bat, shortstop Kimi Chiapparelli drove in the game-winner with a sac fly to center.

Coach Brian Hunt‑Mary’s father‑has been with the program for a decade, and said that the chance to have players like Chiapparelli and King–who are standouts at Mamaroneck and Rye Neck, respectively–do the “little things,” like moving runners over, that help a team win games and will be important to their growth as ballplayers.

“I told Diana before she got up there that if she got the bunt down, we were winning this game,” Hunt said. “When you put star players like we have in positions where they have to perform under pressure, that’s only going to help in the long run.”

Hunt said that the chance to play teams stocked with elite player from top-to-bottom is also a chance for pitchers–including King–to elevate their games.

“During the high school season, Diana can get away with throwing fastballs and be fine,” he said. “But I believe in working in the change-up against these hitters because you can’t throw the ball by everybody.”

The tournament was the last of the summer for the team, and, according to the head coach, a state title was certainly a fitting end to a season that saw the ball club reach many tournament semifinals. The program’s 18u squad is headed down to North Carolina this weekend to play in the Pony Fastpitch Softball national tournament that will feature top teams from all over the country.

“We had a very, very good summer,” said Hunt. “As I said to the kids after the game, this is a team game. Everybody had to be involved; everybody had to make plays. That’s what you have to do to win, and it was a great team win.”


High School athletes hit the weights for better performance

crossfitnesslogoOver the last 10 or 15 years, there has been a seismic shift for younger athletes. Not so much in the way their sports are being played on the field, but how the athletes are preparing themselves for action. As athletic trainers learn more about the human body, the way athletes are training continues to evolve.

There has long been a very distinct stereotpye about the culture of the weight room. Mamaroneck head football coach Anthony Vitti, himself a former Tiger standout, recalls that, in his day while weight training was a big part of the football program, the workouts being done by athletes weren’t nearly as sophisticated as they are today.

“We used to call it the ‘Pig Iron Room,’” Vitti said. “You’d go in there and try and lift as much weight as you can, but in reality, that didn’t help in terms of becoming a better football player.”

Now, Vitti—and other area coaches—employ varied strength programs that incorporate much more thought. The Tigers offseason program, run by assistant coach Jason Washington, is designed to focus on developing the fast-twitch muscles football players need in order get stronger and faster. With combinations of lifts, plyometrics, and sprints, the Tigers don’t even work out in a weight room anymore, preferring to train outside when possible.

“Jason is our strength guy, and he’s able to understand the body, he’s able to train the different muscle groups you need to function as an athlete” Vitti said. “Sure, you can walk into a sports club and see a body builder, but you have to ask yourself: Can that guy run?”

Aside from team run programs, athletic training is fast becoming big business. Mike Basciano, who graduated from Harrison High School in 2006, has devoted his life to helping athletes train ever since a chance encounter in the gym with Harrison track coach Dominic Zanot changed his life in 2005.

“I was a 125-pound kid, a back-up wide receiver,” said Basciano. “Then Dominic Zanot started coaching kids in the weight room, teaching kids how to do Olympic lifts, and then the next year, I’m 150 pounds and I’m an all-state running back.”

Basciano now competes as a weightlifter, but also operates Elite Athlete Summer Camp in Stamford, Conn., a training facility that specializes in catering to athletes.

Over the summer, he has athletes in sports from football and baseball to track and water polo, spending 20 hours in the gym a week in order to optimize their performance. Like a growing number of places, Basciano’s facility includes Olympic lifts and other speed and agility training—including instructions on proper sprint mechanics‑to make a more well-rounded athlete.

“What we pride ourselves in is not just the training, but also educating our athletes,” said Basciano. “When we’re doing a drill, we make sure the athlete understand how it relates to their sport.”

With such a diverse number of sports represented in his clientbase, he said, it’s important that the instructors find some way to make the movements relatable.

“Training a baseball player is a little different than training a football player, but mostly just in the explanation,” he said. “It’s all in the cues that you’re using to teach.”

And unlike the old days, said Basciano, the routine is constantly evolving as new discoveries are made.

“We’re always looking at our drills. As much as it is on the athlete, it’s our job to keep creating new drills,” he said. “Whether it’s conversations about training, YouTube videos of new things people are trying; we always go through each motion as coaches until we have a finished product.”

Reach Mike at


Tigers hold alumni football event

On July 27, scores of past Mamaroneck football players congregated on Memorial Field to once again lace up their cleats and hit the gridiron for the third-annual Tiger Football Alumni Game. Though the event gave the Mamaroneck alums a chance to relive past glories, it also served as a link between generations and a celebration of the Tiger tradition.

Mamaroneck head coach Anthony Vitti is no stranger to the importance of Mamaroneck’s football history. A Tiger player in the 1990s, Vitti is a Mamaroneck lifer and set his sights on re-establishing the connection his program had with its alums when he was named head coach three years ago.

“I grew up here, my parents both went to Mamaroneck, so I grew up with the lore of Mamaroneck football,” he said. “I got to see the pictures, the film, and I guess when we took this thing over, we wanted to recapture that alumni attention.”

While most of the alumni who turned out for the game suited up for Mamaroneck from 2000 on, there were a number of players from the 1990s on hand, and even some notables from the 1960s who showed up.

Sal Ticli, who played on Mamaroneck’s fabled 1963 team, first came in contact with Vitti’s team during the 2012 Vietnam Memorial project and quickly found that he–and other past Tigers–were embraced by the current coaches and players alike.

“I got close to the 2012 team and we did a lot of things that were good,” said Ticli. “I had drifted away from Mamaroneck football, but now I’m back into it.”

Ticli and his former teammates were quick to praise Vitti not only for his on-field success, but also for his acknowledgement of the program’s link to the past.

“He’s immersed in Mamaroneck High School football,” said Richard Martinson, who graduated in 1966. “He knows about the tradition, the great teams, and he wants to see it happen again. And I think it’s happening.”

“He’s a class kid and class rubs off on class,” Ticli said. “He works these kids hard. He’s an old-fashioned coach with new ideas.”

Vitti has also given a sly nod to the past with the Tigers new uniforms this season, threads that consciously evoke the spirit of those 1960s teams.

“You look at some of these schools, like Oregon, who have these new uniforms every year,” said Vitti. “But then you look at Penn State, Notre Dame, Alabama. Places with great history, who haven’t changed much. That’s kind of what we were going for.”

At the very least, said Vitti, he hopes that events such as these will inspire his team to be cognizant of the eras that came before them, and the lessons learned by their predecessors on the gridiron.

“It seems like you can’t turn a channel without seeing some negative publicity about football, especially in high school football, but, ultimately, this is something that helps young boys become men,” Vitti said. “It may just not be something you realize right away, it might be 20 years down the line.”