This is the 66th in a series of postings. It is designed to keep you informed about improvements we are making with Island Garden, Lightning and NY Metropolitan AAU.
- Today is a sad day as one of our own Lightning players will be laid to rest. Gab Rice, a player on Warren Wagner’s high school Lightning team drowned earlier this month off Rockaway Beach. Warren described Gabe as a great young man who loved to play basketball. We ask that everyone keep Gabe, his family and teammates in your prayers. Such a tragic loss of a young life of a wonderful young man is incomprehensible.
- As previously reported, we have been focusing on improving our clinics and camps. In addition to having Jim Fox Jr. run clinics and camps, he also is working a special program to assist players at the middle school and high school ages to prepare for tryouts that will be upon us later this month. This is a great opportunity to learn from a top professional who began his career right here with Lightning.
- During the past three months, I have been involved with a select committee appointed by the AAU President to address how to revitalize AAU Boys Basketball. We have completed the work and our recommendations have been approved by the various levels of authority within the AAU. We have changed the eligibility criteria to participate in AAU Nationals and have re-branded to AAU Global Championships (allowing teams from outside the US to participate) , created a new level of competition known as Regional Championships, reduced the length of the World Championships to four days, implemented various discount programs, finalized an alliance with Zero Gravity and at least large operator that was previously our competitor , urged for the establishment of a new registration system that makes it much easier to register for events, engaged scouting services for AAU events, reinstate All American selections, create a post-grad/unsigned senior division and establish a ratings system and retain a public relations firm to enhance the image of AAU. We will be publishing additional information in the next couple of weeks.
- Fall League is nearing the half-way point and is now in full swing. Registration has been great even though we were faced with competition from a very low-price alternative. That league has encountered its problems and will no longer exist after the Fall season. We have been in existence for 25 years for very good reasons; quality and outstanding customer service. We know what it costs to operate a league that has outstanding facilities, top professional administration, strong officials who are monitored as well as evaluated on an ongoing basis and most importantly, a commitment to excellence. I predicted in my last article that “Sometimes cheaper alternatives have little true value and end up being a bad experience for the players”. This is exactly what happened.
- We are finalizing plans for the 2019-2020 Super League. Full information has been released and registration has begun. Our plans call for holding the price at the same level as last year while also increasing services and offerings. We are also implementing the USA Basketball Youth Guidelines and Rules in a modified fashion. This will include a restriction against pressing at the youngest ages, a shot clock at older ages where feasible ( if the teams agree), adhere to the maximum number of games that can be played in a given day or week and some other changes. We will be releasing these rules in the next ten days. The rules have been researched and developed by experts affiliated with USA Basketball and the NBA. This will be a challenging change but is also reflective of our goal of “always trying to get better”.
- We have been fortunate to compile several facilities in Nassau County that will offer rental space, training programs and high quality leagues. These opportunities apply to all sports and not just basketball. Our venues include Island Garden, JMF Sports Center, LIU Post and Chabad of Port Washington. Call Tom or Karen at 516-292-4956 if you are planning an event, looking for top training for your child or virtually anything in the world of youth sports. We have the programs and facilities to make your plan become a successful reality.
- In regard to our commitment to providing the best officials for all games, we continue to have highly respected senior official attend games and evaluate as well educate officials. This senior official has gone out 30 times and observed most of our officials. The program has been highly successful in terms of not only providing me with valid ratings but more importantly has improved the performance of our officials. I am very proud of this program and it certainly has added to our goal of “always trying to get better”.
- Our success and hard work continue to be recognized by the National AAU leadership. At the recent Annual Conference last month, our own Karen Cammer was appointed to the National Board of Directors to the position of Chairman of Law and Legislation which is a critical and highly responsible position for the governance of the entire AAU. Karen was appointed by AAU President Goudy based on her impressive experience and dedication to youth sports throughout her lifetime. Karen is currently the President of U.S. Baton Twirling in addition to her duties with us at Island Garden, Lightning Basketball and JMF Sports Consultants. I am also proud to be a member of the AAU Board of Directors. Joe Armenio, our District Registrar and Manager of the JMF Sports Facility on Merrick Avenue was also recognized for his outstanding leadership of the Urban Initiative throughout the country. This program goes into areas with the highest crime rates and other social needs to introduce sports as a way of addressing crime, gangs and social problems. The success realized by Joe and his other leaders in the law enforcement and religious communities has proven to be very impressive even though it is at its early stages. Finally, I was especially humbled and surprised when I was inducted into the AAU Hall of Fame two weeks ago at the National Conference. It was a great honor that I will always cherish.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and being a supporter of Island Garden, Lightning, NY Metro AAU, JMF Sports Center and our new JMF Sports Consultants.
“The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man’s determination”. Tommy LaSorda