I will try to take an idea from one of the late night television comedians, David Letterman, when he did his nightly comical segments that he called his Top Ten Lists. I am not a comedian and do not have a team of writers but I will use this idea. I am certain I will leave something important out but I will give it a try because I believe the saying that ” You never make a shot that you do not take”. So here is my Top Ten List for reasons why you should play at Island Garden.
- Island Garden has been operated for the past 25 years by basically the same leadership team. Those individuals are highly respected by the millions of people who have come through our doors in our 24 years of existence. October of this year will be our 24th anniversary! People constantly come in and share memories of playing at Island Garden. We have been in operation longer than virtually every facility in the country. Equally as important, we are stronger now than ever. We have survived the threats on our business brought about by the pandemic and somehow we found a way to continue our successes. Our team works every day to improve our performance. Just like any great sports team, we can never be content to rely on our past success. In sports and business, we believe that you must always get better or someone will pass you by,. That is a standard we live by every day.
- Northwell Health Services Orthopedics recognized the importance that Island Garden has on youth sports and now wants to be affiliated with us. We have just signed a five year partnership during which Northwell Health Services Orthopedics will become an important teammate of ours providing needed medical and educational services to very person who walks through our doors. Watch for full details in early January.
- Our customer service is the most important aspect of our operation. We have always strived to provide teams and individuals with what they requested within reason. We are blessed to have Tom Sigismonti as our key person who communicates with coaches every day and who does everything he can to accommodate their requests while also being fair to all who participate in our leagues and tournaments. He has the ability to place teams at the level where they belong in order they have the chance to be successful . Our leagues, unlike many others, are large enough to offer different levels of competition which Tom manages extremely well Tom is the best at what he does and is one of the main reasons for our sustained excellence. People respect him because of his fairness, responsiveness and work ethic.
- Our administrative component is led by Karen Cammer who is always at the top of her game. We use the most up to date technology to insure that we are highly organized, responsive and accurate. This is no easy task considering that we are such a large operation and Karen is called upon to do so many diverse roles. Karen is a true professional in the field of sports management and I have not met anyone who does his or her job better than Karen. We also recently added Isiah Wilson to our full time staff. He specializes in social media as well as growth initiatives. He is being called on to extend Island Garden into new areas and participants who were not previously familiar with our offerings.
- Rosemary is in many respects the heart and soul of Island Garden. She has been there since the day we opened our doors. The coaches and players who have been with us the longest know Rosemary the best and love her the most. She is always on the courts working and making sure everything is running just right. She treats everyone with respect and is especially attentive to the players with the least resources or the greatest needs. I know that Rosemary loves the Island Garden more than anyone. It is a huge part of her life and is a the core of her existence.
- Our commitment to training is also second to none in my opinion. We are so blessed to have my son Jim who coached at the Division l level for 18 years which included multiple NCAA appearances and an Elite 8 finish in 2008 with Davidson. His expertise is well known at the highest levels of basketball. He now brings that experience, knowledge and ability to teach to all of our players. It is especially fun to watch Jim working with our youngest players when he not only teaches them the fundamentals but also shows the players how to have fun while learning. Jim is joined by such top basketball people as Billy Harkins, Kevin Carpenter and Chris Diasparra in teaching the great game of basketball to all levels of players out of Island Garden.
- We have the best facility. We were able to renovate in November, 2021 and have plans for more significant improvements this Winter. Our facility is safe and constantly monitored. We take great pride in Island Garden. Special thanks goes to Dwayne, our chief custodian who has been with us for over 20 years. It is no easy task to keep our facility clean every day which has an annual attendance of over 200,000 and is open almost every day of the year. Dwayne is known by his smile and his constant purchase of lottery tickets! ( I believe is he ever hits, he would try to buy the Island Garden because he always refers to it as “my place”).
- We have tremendous partners which include the Northwell Health Services Orthopedics, JUNIOR NBA, AAU, Lightning Basketball, Crown Basketball, Mecca basketball, Heat Elite Basketball, Northsport and so many more. Recently, we reached an agreement with Steph Curry to be the only club in the country to wear his Curry brand gear. This is an incredible recognition and accomplishment for what we have built for 30 years. We are close to announcing another tremendous new partnership that will have a significant positive impact upon everything we do. Watch for that announcement very soon.
- In regard to day to day operations, we are so fortunate to have the the best refs in travel basketball world that we could ever hope for. This impacts upon every game that is played. We carefully select referees and then monitor as well as mentor them. Special thanks goes to Ernie Rudloff for working and evaluating our refs to make them the best in the youth sports business. Also, our assignor is simply outstanding. Everyone who plays a game at Island Garden knows and respects Master Sergeant James Washington. He cares so much for the integrity of the game as well as the well being of his fellow refs.
- AND FINALLY OUR #10 REASON IS YOU, OUR LOYAL SUPPORTERS. We would have never survived the many challenges of running this type of business for so long without your loyalty. Competitors come and go, some are formidable and some are not. I recall during the worst days of the pandemic our landlord basically telling me to get out and then asking what it would it take to get that done. My response was not something I can print here. Instead, I became more resolute than ever to carry on in an even bigger and better way. I was able to take this strong position because I was certain of the loyalty of our teams, coaches, players and parents. I was also quite sure of the importance that youth sports plays in the lives of families and in society in general. I speak for my entire team in sincerely thanking you for your being there for us.
ONE FINAL THOUGHT THAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT REASON- Meeting some of the nicest people in the world who share the values of supporting their children in this great world of youth sports.
P.S. For those of you who remember this Top 10 List, I realize it went from 10 to 1. I’m sorry but I could not figure how to make that work on the software!!!!