• 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.