SPORTS SPOTLIGHT, WITH MARC MATURO

Crotty Memorial is more than just another tournament 

       Time cannot erase the event of March 30, 2010, when an auto accident cost the lives of two Suffern High School teammates and friends, Vincent Crotty and Christopher Konkowski, but their legacy lives on thanks, in part, to an annual softball tournament and the Vincent Crotty Memorial Foundation.

This year’s double-elimination event comes around for the eighth time, scheduled August 11-14 with a 16-team field contesting night games on August 11-12, throughout the day on August 13 and concluding on the morning of August 14.

All games will be held at Vincent Crotty Memorial Field – dedicated in the summer of Vincent’s death –  and the softball fields in Suffern.

“[Tournament play] started on the light side, but we now have cut-throat softball players, the Haverstraw PBA, bar teams, serious players. It runs the gamut,” notes Peter Crotty, Vincent’s father. “Some teams are on a professional level and others [are there] for the fun of it.”

The creator of the fundraising tournament, offers Peter, was actually his brother Topper Crotty, a 6-foot-4 DPW worker in Suffern who very close to Vincent and his younger brother Sean, a recent graduate of SUNY Albany and, like Vincent, a superb athlete.

“[Topper] was like his second father and best friend,” relates Peter, with obvious affection and pride. “He does a ton of work organizing and taking care of the field. He’s a worker.”

Peter’s well-deserved pride is also apparent when he talks about his late son Vincent, about Sean, his wife and long-time insurance business partner Jean, and the foundation that has raised in excess of $250,000.

All proceeds raised by the foundation, which is run entirely by volunteers, assist needy children and families as well as youth sports throughout Suffern and the surrounding areas.

At this year’s Suffern HS season-ending sports banquet, the foundation doled out boys and girls basketball scholarships, each in the amount of $1,022.

“Why 22?” asked Peter, anticipating an obvious question. “Because 22 was my son’s number in basketball; they retired the jersey.”

Baseball and softball scholarships also were awarded, each in the amount of $1,019. Again, without pausing, “because that was my son’s baseball number and they retired the jersey.”

There was a possible problem when school coaches could not decide on one award winner for each sport, but Peter quickly resolved it.

“We doubled the award … we gave out over $7,000 that night.”

The Foundation just recently reached out and helped the children of a 39-year-old veteran battling cancer.

“We just paid for two kids to go to camp,” Peter relates. “The family could not afford it. We took care of it.”

The Foundation, added Peter, also gives scholarships at Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey, NJ, which provides invaluable assistance at each year’s Wing Night & Barbecue, a large and popular annual fundraiser held the first Saturday in June.

The scholarship amount is $1,051. Why 51 you might ask. “Because,” says Peter. “That was my son’s number in summer baseball.”

And why that number, you might ask again: because that was the number worn by former Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams, who became a confidant to Vincent.

Vincent, as a 4-year-old, acquired Bernie’s signature on a baseball cap as a 4-year-old following a game at Yankee Stadium.

“He idolized Bernie Williams,” notes Peter. “He actually came to Vincent’s room at our home. He couldn’t be nicer. He signed his hat and we still have it.”

The Crotty Foundation, whose president is Suffern Chief of Police Clarke Osborn, hopes to raise even more funds following the purchase and volunteer renovation of the old VFW building in Suffern, which can accommodate about 250 people for various functions.

The chief will be on hand for opening day on August 11, but the honor of tossing out the ceremonial first pitch will go to the big guy, Topper.

“We push him out there,” said Peter. “He’s a great guy and a great brother.”

For further information or to support the cause, visit http://www.vincentcrotty.org/contact or reach out to Peter Crotty at 201-321-3007.

 

DENZA SURGES FORWARD

 

There is no place like home, except when you join a well-oiled amateur baseball team with travel tags in its duffel bags.

Nick Denza, Surges ahead

Take, for instance, the New Jersey Surge, a nearby team supported by Akadema, a relatively new sportswear and equipment company, and pitcher Nick Denza, a senior at Tappan Zee High School.

Denza, who would usually be found in left field before turning his full attention to pitching, is just back from a trip to Florida with another on tap, most probably at a fall tournament.

Denza, whose rooting section is led by his younger brother Chris, a tennis player at Tappan Zee HS, and his parents, Jennifer and Bill, said his quest to compete beyond Rockland’s boundaries began when his firstpitching trainer Rob Debrino from Throwing Heat in Norwood, NJ, introduced him to New Jersey travel teams.

The road has taken him to places other than Florida –  namely Arizona, Boston, Pennsylvania and Georgia.

“I enjoy traveling, and I’m lucky to fulfill both my passions to pitch at a competitive level and travel to some states I have never been,” Nick says.

Denza’s mom, like her husband, a graduate of St. John’s University in Queens, is happy to note that they are able to attend games almost every weekend, and tournaments throughout the East Coast including, naturally, New Jersey, home to the Surge.

Surge Coach Jared Verebey “drafted” Denza after watching him compete against his team, which already included some friends. It was an easy decision for the young man, whose dad won a New York City championship as an outfielder with John Adams HS in Queens, but was a backstop for several New Jersey adult teams.

“Surge has given me an opportunity to prepare for the possibility of playing college baseball, and to pitch at college showcases,” notes Denza the Younger, who is interested in becoming a criminal psychologist or practice law. He is applying to John Jay college, George Mason, Florida Southern college, Marist, St. John’s University, Pace, Florida State University, University of Tampa and SUNY Albany.

 

 

GOOD MEN ARE NEVER FORGOTTEN

The 25th annual Coach Dag Memorial Scholarship Golf Outing is scheduled for August 3 at Blue Hill Golf Course off Orangeburg Road in Pearl River. Dinner will be served at the Pearl River Elks Club in Nanuet.

The event, which has raised thousands of dollars in scholarships to Pearl River student-athletes, honors the late coach Julius D’Agostino, who has been called “one of the most beloved coaches in history of Pearl River sports,” by local historian and legendary former athletic director Tom Doherty.

D’Agostino is a member of the Pearl River HS and Rockland County Sports Halls of Fame, and while noted for his outstanding wrestling teams, also coached baseball, golf and football.

For further information, contact former state champion wrestler and Rockland County Sports Hall of Fame inductee Phil Donnelly at 347-231-0330; Matt Homenick at845-548-4540; Gibby Sweet, another former state champion wrestler and member of the Hall of Fame at 845-558-7571; or Pearl River HS athletic director Todd Santabarbara at 845-620-3943.

 

THIS & THAT

            The Pirates scored five runs in the first inning and defeated the Cubs, 13-3, to win the Nanuet Little League baseball championships. … In Pearl River, the 10-year-old all-star softball team won the District 18 title to reign as county champions. … Clarkstown Soccer alum Robert ‘Baggio’ Kcira of New City and Miami FC will be in action August 2 at FIU Riccardo Silva Stadium in a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal against FC Cincinnati. Kcira has two goals and an assist on the season. The original match was washed out by a severe storm. The survivor will host Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls on August 9 in the East Semifinal. Miami FC from the North American Soccer League (NASL) and FC Cincinnati of the United Soccer League (USL) are the last remaining Division II clubs in the competition. The last non-MLS team to reach the semis was the Richmond Kickers in 2011. … The New York City Football Club (NYCFC) and veteran Tommy McNamara of West Nyack challenge Toronto FC on Sunday (July 31) at BMO Field in Toronto before returning to Yankee Stadium on August 6 to host local rival Red Bulls at 6 p.m.McNamara, a midfielder, has two goals and two assists on the season. … The Nyack Boat Club will be conducting a Junior Sailing Half Moon Regatta on Saturday (July 29) at 9 a.m., and Sunday Racing (July 30) at 1:30 p.m.Membership inquiries should be made to admissions@nyackboatclub.org. Staying on the water, the River Rowing Association (RRA), another Nyack-based organization with tentacles beyond the county, offers four distinct programs: Juniors; Adult (Masters: Learn to Row and Competitive); Adaptive (physically challenged athletes); and a four-month winter program. For information, visit www.riverrowingassociation.org.