This is the 57th in a series of postings that are updated at least once each month. It is designed to keep you informed about improvements we are making with Island Garden, Lightning and NY Metropolitan AAU.
- It is hard for me to believe that we are quickly approaching the 20th Anniversary of Island Garden. We opened our doors on October 28, 1998. Some quick and possibly incorrect math leads me to conclude that there have been close to 120,000 games played at the Island Garden. There have been so many players and so much fun enjoying the great game of basketball. There may have been some bad calls, missed layups and heart breaks but the vast majority of memories are winning games, last second heroics, good friendships and great fun enjoying basketball. We will be planning some celebrations and special offers to commemorate the twenty years at Island Garden. There are literally hundreds of thousands of people to thank for their support over two decades.
- Congratulations to three New York Metropolitan teams that won AAU National Championships this summer. One is the Heat Elite coached by Nick Tsikitas who won the highly competitive and elite 14U Division l Division. Heat Elite plays many of their games here at Island Garden. So happy to see Coach Nick reach this plateau as there are few more dedicated and passionate coaches than him. The other two teams were from the Riverside Hawks under the direction of Danny Colon.
- We continue to work on our newly renovated sister facility, the JMF Sports Center which is located at 575 Merrick Avenue in Westbury (just outside Eisenhower Park at the intersection of Stewart Avenue). The Center is still being renovated while we are playing games. We have completely redone the bathrooms and front area, built a snack bar, and have significantly expanded the rear parking lot. We realize that air conditioning still has to be installed on Court 2 and improved on Court 1. Please be patient with us while we do our best. Our manager, Joe Armenio, has been doing a great job in renting space. It may be difficult to believe but we are close to being fully sold out for the winter months on both the courts and turf areas. We are now moving on to planning for the Spring and Summer of 2019. I hope to be able to soon announce that we will be installing two state of the art portable courts over the turf during the warmer months. That will give us four regulation size courts during the AAU season. We will also be starting a second AAU Basketball program in the near future that will differ somewhat in its model from Lightning. Our goal is to provide more opportunities for players who love the game and just want to play and enjoy. Watch for an important announcement on that program very shortly. Our new website, www.jmfsportscenter.com is live but we are working on more extensive content during the next two weeks.
- We will be introducing a camera and software application known as Playsight what will live stream all Island Garden games as well as record games, clinics ad practices that can be utilized as player and team development tools. The cameras and hardware are already installed and we will be finishing the remainder of the software by the end of this month. Full details will be announced shortly.
- This past week we have completed a project that we have been working on for over two years. Zero Gravity and AAU Basketball are two of the biggest and most successful youth basketball organizations in the country. They are also competitors in some parts of the country although here at Island Garden we have enjoyed a close and very productive business relationship with both. The benefactors of this relationship have been Lightning and most importantly, all of the players who participate in both types of tournaments. It was our vision to create an alliance where the organizations come together and draw from the benefits of each. In 2019, you will see a new and very interesting tournament format that will combine both organizations. We are finalizing the details now.
- We have also been working on bringing back AAU Girls District Championships in 2019. This will be a challenge because of the many successful tournament operators outside of AAU and quite frankly the lack of imaginative leadership on the part of Girls AAU on the National level. We are taking an aggressive approach to this and we realize that no one ever made a shot they didn’t take! Let’s see what happens after we give it our best shot.
- Another area where we have been active with New York Metropolitan AAU is the development of touch football and basketball leagues as well as karate competition with the NYPD in Brooklyn North. AAU is supporting the NYPD’s efforts to join together with the community to work with its youth to provide a healthy and safe sports initiative. It will be great to see police officers volunteering as coaches with children in the neighborhoods they are sworn to protect and serve. We in AAU are incredibly proud to be part of what is taking place in Brooklyn and we believe it will quickly spread throughout the city. We are seeing tremendous leadership and dedication coming out of all ranks of the NYPD. Our own Joe Armenio of JMF Sports is heading up this program for AAU.
- There is a great deal new going on as you can see. It is exciting but we can never lose sight of our core activity which is running leagues for all teams. Our Summer Leagues for both youth and adults are again a tremendous success. We work very hard to have the best possible leagues in the New York area. We appreciate your support and will always do whatever we can to make playing at Island Garden and now the JMF Sports Arena, a great experience. We realize that you can go elsewhere but we also know that we will provide you with the best facilities and service. We just shake our heads when we watch our competitors play on small courts, lack a full time staff to address your needs, employ substandard referees, operate with minimally experienced administrators, little to no internet reporting of scores, schedules and standings, etc. We offer so much more than anywhere else and we are proud of it. Most of all, we will never stop trying to get better.
- The Fall will have several new programs. Mike Kelly of Hoops 101 will be coming to Island Garden to conduct weekly training clinics. We also are about to finalize a program with other top high school coaches to prepare players for tryouts. One of the most interesting offerings will be the Crown Basketball Academy under the leadership of the tremendously successful Chris Diasparra. That program will be offered at the JMF Sports Center starting next month. No reason why a motivated player cannot participate in more than one of these great programs led by top coaches.
- We are also branching out to uniforms and other basketball gear. We can offer Under Armour but also a new high quality brand that will be very attractively priced while having a wide selection. Contact us at the Island Garden if you are interested in receiving more information.
- Lightning Basketball is the largest and one of the most successful AAU youth basketball programs in the country. We are so incredibly proud of all of our teams. One team that stands out among all others is our 11th Grade girls team coached by Jon Lawniczak. That team finished their live recruiting season last week with 7 of their 8 players receiving college scholarships. That may seem incredible except that Jon’s last team that graduated five year ago, all the players received college scholarships or grants in aid.
- Lightning tryouts are scheduled for WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12. Watch this website for details. Don’t miss this opportunity to become part of the Lightning organization.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and being a supporter of Island Garden, Lightning, NY Metro AAU and now our new JMF Sports Center. Please contact us if you have suggestions as to how we can continue to improve every day. Many of our best ideas have come from coaches and parents.
The following is a terrific quote that I read in a great book given to me by daughter entitled Dads Paybook: Wisdom for Fathers from the Greatest Coaches of All TIme by Tom Limbert:
” There are five fundamental qualities that make every team great: communication, trust, collective responsibility, caring and pride. I like to think of each as a separate finger on the fist. Any one individually is important. But all of them together are unbeatable.” Mike Krzyzewski
Hope you are having a safe and enjoyable summer.