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Former Pro Players Inspire Plainview Youth

Young people from Plainview-Old Bethpage got a lesson in pro hoops at a recent Police Athletic League event at the Town of Oyster Bay Hicksville Athletic Center.

Former NBA/WNBA standouts Vin Baker, Wes Matthews, Anthony Avent and Tamecka Dixon served as youth coaches at a program sponsored by National Basketball Retired Players Association, National Police Athletic/Activities League for National Urban League and Nassau County PAL.

The “Full Court Press: Prep for Success” youth basketball and life skills clinic was held for more than 120 Nassau County Police Activity League (NCPAL) and local Urban League boys and girls. Besides Plainview-Old Bethpage, young people from Bethpage, Hicksville, Levittown, Oyster Bay, East Norwich, Massapequa, Roosevelt, New Hyde Park, Valley Stream, Wantagh, Seaford and other communities from across the region participated in basketball skills sessions and competitive games led by former star NBA players, and attended life skills workshops conducted by Urban League instructors. The kids were given t-shirts, lunch, certificates of completion and autographs from retired NBA players.  

NBA/WNBA retired basketball players and clinic instructors Vin Baker, a four-time NBA All-Star/Olympic Gold Medalist, Wes Matthews Sr., two-time NBA Champion/University of Wisconsin, Anthony Avent, Seton Hall University/seven-year NBA career, and Tamecka Dixon, three-time WNBA All-Star and two-time WNBA Champion inspired, instructed and interacted directly with the young players ages 10 to 16.

“It is fulfilling to know that the kids who participated in this event benefited from the skills and the years of experience of the former NBA and WNBA players,” said Jeff Hood, national PAL event coordinator. “The goal of this program is to give boys and girls a way to interact with the former NBA players and learn to play basketball better and gain self-confidence and learn teamwork. The “Full Court Press: Prep for Success” programs provides a memorable experience, which helps to instill a positive attitude for each of the boys and girls who participated.”

The commanding officer of the Nassau County Police Activity League Sgt. Doug Kenah said the youngsters eagerly learned a lot from the retired players.

“The positive interaction between the former NBA players and the young people is exactly what PAL is all about,” said Kenah. “The kids were eager to learn from the pros about basketball and success in life. The life skills workshops were productive and covered important topics such as health, education and careers. The event achieved its goal because of the hard work and planning by all involved. We thank the retired NBA players and their association, Jeff Hood of National PAL, National Urban League and all the volunteers for coming to Nassau County and hosting this event.”

“Full Court Press: Prep for Success” is a 14-city nationwide basketball and mentoring tour sponsored by National Basketball Retired Players Association, National Police Athletic/Activities League, and National Urban League. 

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Claude Solnik of Plainview, the Plainview Project’s writer, is married with two children. While he has a master’s degree in dramatic writing from New York University, after graduating he ended up going into journalism, which currently remains his day job. But in his free time he indulged in his true passion, hammering out numerous play scripts until the day they he realized that he needed to stop sitting on these works he was creating and put them in the hands of actors that could give them life.

Even as they hoped the parties would reach a last-minute settlement, commuters across Long Island were scrambling last week to devise alternate plans for getting to work if Long Island Rail Road’s 5,400 workers go on strike July 20. And they were vocal in their anger with the Metropolitan Transit Authority. The strike, it seems, has roused commuter ire over a wide range of LIRR issues, from timeliness to cleanliness to costs.

“I’ll have to figure out a new way home from work,” said Marco Allicastro, a 20-year-old Queens resident waiting for a train home at the Bethpage station after a day’s work at the local King Kullen. “Long Island doesn’t really have a lot of options in terms of transportation. Maybe I should get a new job.”


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