Written by Jane Lawrence, firstname.lastname@example.org Thursday, 11 July 2013 00:00
Despite the high heat and humidity that lingered long into the evening of June 24, an atmosphere of contagious enthusiasm was evident as the 130 members of LI-Kick gathered at the upper fields of Glen Cove’s John Maccarone Memorial Stadium to compete in the playoff games of Long Island’s first and undoubtedly most successful adult kickball league.
LI-Kick is the brainchild of 27-year-old Sal Farruggia who recently moved to Glen Cove and was looking for a way to meet new people in his new community.
“Adult kickball leagues are very popular in the Rochester area where I went to college,” said Farruggia “and I was hoping to find a league on Long Island to join.” When his search proved fruitless, Farruggia set out on a mission to start one.
First, he met with Glen Cove Mayor Ralph Suozzi, who put him in touch with the city’s director of parks and recreation, Darcy Belyea. Belyea jumped on it. “This was definitely an idea worth taking a chance on,” said Belyea and a partnership developed between LI-Kick and Glen Cove’s Parks and Recreation Department.
Belyea and Farruggia had a goal of enlisting 60 people in order to form four teams. Yet, through word of mouth and the use of social media, before they knew it, 130 people had registered allowing them to form eight full teams. In addition to many members from Glen Cove and the surrounding communities, LI-Kick attracts players from as far east as Islip and North Babylon, as far south as Long Beach and as far west as Manhattan. “Each team is co-ed,” said Farruggia, “and our players range in age from 21 all the way up to 68 years of age.”
Many of those “older players” are on Belyea’s team. “I had been a softball player in college,” said Belyea. “And I thought I would give this a try.” When Belyea mentioned the idea to her co-workers in City Hall she was surprised at how many of them signed up. The team “Kickin’ it Old School” was born. With an average age of 47, the team has members from Code Enforcement, the Water Department, the Building Department and the Recreation Department. “We have a huge fan base,” said Belyea, “and we are the only team with an official coach. Michael Coangelo, supervisor of the water department, is there at every game giving us tips and pointers.”
But, “Kickin’ it Old School” was not the only team with a cheering section on playoff night. The bleachers on all four fields were speckled with family members and friends rooting for their favorite teams. Rebecca from North Babylon pointed to her mother proudly watching the “Ball So Hard” team. A man from New Hyde Park was hanging on the fence as his fiancée on the “Ball Busters” played the outfield. Glen Cove residents Gessica Carrabs and her mother, Anna Carrabs, were rooting for “Saved by the Balls.” “My brothers Gianluca and Marino are on this team,” said Gessica Carrabs. Her mother added, “And we are here at every game, cheering them on!”
Farruggia and Belyea attribute the huge success of the new league to many factors, including the well lit playing fields, experienced umpires Damon Garver and Peter Cappiello, a very affordable registration fee and the amazing energy the players bring to the field.
There is a social aspect to the league as well. Belyea credits Farruggia with giving the players a “reason to stay in town after the games.” He has arranged several post-game special events at JD Gates and the Downtown Café in Glen Cove and at Pint of Plain in Locust Valley. Several more events are planned to bring the league together this summer in the off-season.
Farruggia couldn’t be happier. “It’s really awesome,” he said “to have an idea and to see it not only work out, but exceed expectations in every way.”
Farruggia and Belyea are looking forward to a great future for the new league.
Registration is now being taken for the fall and is expected to expand to 190 players on 12 teams in September. One can register as an individual, as part of a small group or as a whole team. For details visit www.LI-Kick.com or call Glen Cove Department of Parks and Recreation at 516-676-3766.
“You don’t have to be young to play,” Belyea said. (“Kickin’ it Old School” finished the season in fourth place with five wins and four losses.) “It’s really all about having a good time.”