February 24, 2012

Fields Of Dreams


Young City Athletes Talk Spring Sports

By Gavriella Mahpour


We’re at the tail end of a cold-ish winter that hasn’t
yielded much in the way of outdoor snow play. It’s no wonder many city children
(parents, too!) are looking forward to the fun and physical elements that
spring sports programs have to offer. To kick off the season, we spoke with
several young athletes who shared their thoughts and aspirations regarding
their spring sport of choice.

LACROSSE

Nigel Andrews, 14,
Doc’s NYC Lacrosse

What made you want to
play lacrosse?

When I was seven, my uncle brought me to a UVA lacrosse
game. It was the semifinals of the national tournament and it was a great game;
it went into overtime. Afterwards I started looking into the game and found
that I actually liked it and I started playing for Doc’s.

How often do you have
to practice?

I try to practice every day, because I have a little
backyard and I have a rebounder wall so I hit the ball off the wall. I also
have team practices twice a week.

Who is your favorite
professional lacrosse player?

Probably Kyle Harrison who played lacrosse for Johns
Hopkins. He was actually playing against UVA at the first lacrosse game that I
saw, which I didn’t know at the time.

Is lacrosse a good sport
for kids to consider playing?

I think it’s helpful for kids in terms of schools. A lot of
good academic schools also have great lacrosse teams, so if you’re good at
lacrosse it can help you get into a good school.

What has lacrosse
taught you about life?

It’s taught me that academics are much more important than
sports. As I said before, a lot of great schools have great lacrosse teams, so
if you’re not into academics and you don’t think it matters, then you probably
aren’t going to go to a great lacrosse school.


SOFTBALL

Julia Britt, 15,
Yorkville Softball League for Girls

What do you enjoy
most about softball? Julia_Britt.jpg

The fact that everyone has to work together. We need to
rely on each other, whether we play well or not. It’s nice to have people
behind you no matter what the outcome is.

What advice would you give other kids
who are considering signing up for the sport?

Don’t be afraid to try it. A lot of girls are in the
same boat as you.

Do you play any other sports?

Softball and basketball at school, and soccer and volleyball
at summer camp. I also enjoy snowboarding, when there’s snow!

Who is your favorite athlete?

Shaun White. He works really hard which allows him to push
the limits of the sport.

Why do you think that softball is good for kids living in the city?

It’s a great opportunity to play outdoors while getting the
chance to meet kids from all over.

Do you plan on playing softball in the
future?

I would love to play in college and know I will continue to
play every chance I get.


BASEBALL

Alex Perel, 13, Manhattan Youth Baseball

Why do you play
baseball?Alex_Perel_at_Bat.jpg

I love the competitiveness. I also love the feeling of joy I
get when I make a nice play or get a hit. After I make a great catch or
turn a double play, I feel like I really accomplished something and helped the
team. 

What position do you
play?

Anywhere Coach puts me, but I normally play middle infield,
which is second base and shortstop.

Do you play other
sports?

Yes, basketball, tennis and I run cross country. The agility
and work needed to play these sports has helped me improve my speed and
conditioning for baseball. 

How often do you
practice?

We have fielding practice on Saturdays and hitting practice
on Sundays, so twice a week during the winter. During the spring and summer
when we have games, we can play up to four times a week. 

Who is your favorite
professional athlete?

Albert Pujols, because he is the best baseball player in the
major leagues and is an example of how success occurs when one works
hard. 

Would you recommend
baseball to other kids living in NYC?

It serves as a relief from school and homework, and you
really do not need a lot to play, only a ball and two mitts, and you can have a
catch and play almost anywhere. 


SWIMMING

Cole Collier, 12,
Asphalt Green

When did you start
swimming?

My parents took me for swim lessons at our local YMCA from when
I was a toddler. I swam every Saturday morning so that I would eventually
become a good swimmer. When I was eight years old, my swim instructor said
that I was good enough to try out for the local swim team. So we went to
Asphalt Green Unified Aquatics (AGUA) and I tried out for the team and started
swimming competitively and absolutely loved it.Cole_Collier.JPG

What do you like
about your coaches and teammates?

My coach, Jialin Hu, is a wonderful coach who emphasizes technique,
hard work and respect. He is a former Chinese national champion swimmer
and has taught me a lot. My teammates are very supportive and we are all
very good friends. Most of them are from different schools around the city
so I feel fortunate that I have an extended circle of friends.

Do you play any other
sports?

I am currently training for my black belt in jujitsu. I
also play tennis, sail and ski.

Where do you hope
that swimming will take you in the future?

I am very passionate about swimming. I have big
dreams. Currently I am ranked the #1 (12-year-old and under) boy in the
Metropolitan area and my goals this spring are to become the #1 all-around
swimmer in the Northeast and then go on to make the National level competitions
and eventually the Olympic trials in the coming years. I also hope to swim
competitively in college. 

Who is your favorite
professional?

My favorite professional athlete is Michael Phelps. I
look forward to seeing him in the 2012 Olympics in London.


TENNIS

Maurice Russo, 15, John McEnroe Tennis Academy

What do you enjoy
most about playing tennis?Maurice Russo_1.JPG

What I love most are all the small aspects that are crucial.
Being an individual sport with no coaching, you can never sub-out of the game
if you’re tired or not playing well, and you can’t call a time-out for
coaching.

What are your coaches
and teammates like? 

All of my coaches and teammates are great people off court,
but when we step on court, we all change. Our coaches get really tough on us,
and good friends become rivals. We all like to be very competitive on court, because
that’s how we learn to win.

How often do you
practice?

I practice everyday, having the McEnroe Academy four times a week, fitness
and lessons three times a week. Practicing every day is a big step to improving
your game.

Who is your favorite professional athlete?

Having so much help and inspiration from him, John McEnroe
has become my favorite athlete. Aside from him being a great coach at our
academy, he is also a great guy to meet off the court.


SOCCER

Kylie Stenzler, 9, Manhattan Soccer Club

Why did you decide to
start playing soccer?
Kylie_Stenzler2.JPG

I was first introduced to soccer through my cousins who are
older and who also play for Manhattan Soccer Club.

How often do you
practice?

I practice four times a week.

Do you play any other
sports?

I also play basketball and tennis and also enjoy ice
skating.

Who is your favorite
professional athlete?

Soccer player Abby Wambach.

Why do you think that
soccer is good for kids living in NYC?

Living in NYC, it’s great to be able to spend time outside
on the fields.

Do you plan on
playing soccer in the future?

I love it and I can never imagine not playing soccer.


Where
To Play

Baseball

Asphalt Green, asphaltgreen.org

The Baseball Center,
thebaseballcenter.com

Fastbreak Kids, fastbreakkids.com

The JCC in Manhattan,
jccmanhattan.org

Kids in Sports, kisnyc.com

Lil Sluggers, lilsluggersbaseball.com

Manhattan Youth Baseball, manhattanyouthbaseball.com

On Deck, ondeckny.com

Simply Sports, simplysports.net

SPORTIME Randall’s Island,
sportimeny.com/manhattan

YMCA, ymcanyc.org

Yorkville Youth Athletic Association, yyaa.org

Lacrosse

Doc’s NYC Lacrosse, citylax.org

Kids in Sports, kisnyc.com

SPORTIME Randall’s Island,
sportimeny.com/manhattan

YMCA, ymcanyc.org

Yorkville Youth Athletic Association, yyaa.org

Soccer

Fastbreak Kids, fastbreakkids.com

Kids in Sports, kisnyc.com

Kick & Play, kickandplay.com

Manhattan Soccer Club, manhattansc.org

Simply Sports, simplysports.net

Soccer by Coach Fher, coachfher.com

SocRoc, jcsocroc.com

SPORTIME Randall’s Island, sportimeny.com/manhattan

Super Soccer Stars & Super Soccer Stars Premier,
supersoccerstars.com and starspremier.com

Yorkville Youth Athletic Association, yyaa.org

Softball

SPORTIME Randall’s Island,
sportimeny.com/manhattan

Yorkville Softball, yslg.org

Yorkville Youth Athletic Association, yyaa.org

Swimming

14th Street
Y, 14streety.org

92nd Street
Y, 92y.org

Asphalt Green, asphaltgreen.org

Chelsea Piers, chelseapiers.com

The JCC in Manhattan,
jccmanhattan.org

Physique Swim School, physiqueswimming.com

Swim Jim, swimjim.com

YMCA, ymcanyc.org

Tennis

92nd Street
Y, 92y.org

Elftennis, elftennis.com

The JCC in Manhattan,
jccmanhattan.org

NFCH Sports, kidstennisatnfchsports.com

New York Junior Tennis League, nyjtl.org

SPORTIME Randall’s Island,
sportimeny.com/manhattan

Sutton East Tennis, suttoneasttennis.com

USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, usta.com

YMCA, ymcanyc.org

Yorkville Youth Athletic Association, yyaa.org


Free
Sports Clinics

A great resource is the City Parks Foundation’s free classes
in swimming, golf, tennis, and other activities. Check their website, cityparksfoundation.org, for
application deadlines.

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