By Joe McGivney
The Rockaway Beach Volleyball League concluded its 16th season on Saturday with an entire day of playoffs, crowning six different division champions by day’s end. The mood was festive but bittersweet as the RBVL ended the 2005 season and the joy of another terrific year was offset by the sadness that many friends would go their separate ways over the next 10 months, not seeing each other quite so regularly anymore. Commissioner Patty Moule outdid herself again although she selflessly deflected credit to her committee of Bugsy, Rocky, Steve, Denise, John and Joe for a job well done.
For the first time in league history, the playoff extravaganza was sponsored jointly by the RBVL, Lipton Tea and Gateway NPS and the results were spectacular. Players feasted on sandwiches all day while enjoying Lipton drinks throughout. Every player and family member was given a nifty Healthy Parks-Healthy Living tee shirt until all 900 shirts were distributed. Most people liked the design on the back of the shirt even more than the front, except Steve who had a blank back. He wants to know if that makes it more valuable than a Mickey Mantle rookie card. Were there any others? Thanks to Rita Mullally and Danielle from Gateway and Sarah Pittman from Lipton for their tireless efforts in making the event a huge success. Their innovation of adding a children's clinic complete with instructors was a big hit with every parent present. Photographer, Kevin McCormick took lots of pictures during the day and you can view them on his website at www.kjmphoto.com/lipton. If you see one you like you can order up a copy directly from Kevin.
The addition of DJ Timmy Tubridy kicked the finals up to a new level. Tubbs rocked the beach with the sounds of summer and played more requests than you could shake a fist at. He peppered the music with scores and updates from all of the courts and he supervised the championship awards presentation. Additionally, he donated a couple of hours of OT to his good friends of the RBVL, finishing up at 6 PM. If you liked what you heard and are in need of a DJ drop him an e-mail at email@example.com. All summer long Gateway National Recreation Area participates in the “Healthy Parks-Healthy Living” program with support from Lipton® Tea and the National Park Foundation. It is designed to highlight the vitality, wellness and recreation benefits inherent in National Parks. Feel free to call (718) 318-4304 for information about upcoming events.
The action took place at Riis Park on the hottest August 13th ever recorded. With the temperature reaching 99 degrees, staying cool was as much a chore as bumping, setting and spiking. The heat gave a distinct advantage to the younger teams in what turned out to be the new reality show, "Beach Volleyball Survivor." In the Ocean division the top players faced off, beginning with the Sugar Bowl's 3-2 marathon win over the ancient warriors of Abbracciamento’s. However, the newcomers could not sustain their momentum and dropped their semi-final 0-3 to Freedhand's Court Champs. Former champ Healy’s eliminated the young guns of the Killer Hills 3-1 but bowed to archrival Mark's Maintenance 2-3 in the next round. That left the top two seeds in the championship game where the big dogs of Freedhand’s - Richie, Bernie, Jack and Mark - eventually won 3-2 despite the efforts of Craig Carey, who probably would have been named tournament MVP if the award existed.
The Wave Division: The fireworks began early with Fillmore Insurance beating the Federation for the second consecutive year and then spanking the #2 seed, Papa Pizza Bikini Bottoms in four games to land in the finals. In the other bracket, Jameson's won a surprisingly tough match 3-1 against the Rugby Fisheads who had a walkover against the BHYC in round one. Fillmore's OT win in game 1 deflated Jameson's and led to a sweep and a second consecutive championship. Watch for Fillmore to make waves in the Ocean next year.
The Beach Division: Grassy’s Ratpack edged Almost All in the Family 21-16 in the 5th game and the Beach Posse dropped Connolly's (to a lower division?) 3-0 in the first round but neither could sustain the magic as they subsequently lost in the second round to the top two teams. It was only fitting that the Mahooshkas and It’s All Good met for the title again as the rivals finished in the top two spots during the regular season. The Mahooshkas jumped on top quickly and shockingly swept their way to the title. DJ Teddy led the team in kills and shameless plugs at the microphone - no big surprise there. After his performance at the BHYC last Wednesday people are calling for a new annual tradition of Teddy, the Yacht Club and Adult Musical Chairs. Once again TBG was missing and who knows what the outcome would have been if he showed up? You would think he could handle the pressure of volleyball playoffs after handling the rigors of mail delivery all day. Apparently he cannot. Perhaps he was off at a Mascot Hall of Fame function, reprising his character of the "Bison", which he originated in Buffalo at the Rock Pile in the 70's. Let's hope he remembers to come to the league dinner at the Beach Club and that he doesn't spend that night in the Knights of Columbus wondering where everyone is. Remember, Murph - vertical stripes!
The Boardwalk Division: This year it was the division of upsets as the 3rd and 5th seeded teams made it to the finals. #5 Sandbusters improved steadily throughout the summer and defeated the Beach House in round 1 and demolished the #1 squad, NIC Ramblers and Gamblers 7-10-2 in round 2. The 3rd seed, Odd Couples beat the Beach Orphans and then eliminated the #2 team, the Rogue Sharks. All that was left for Cubby and the gang was to recall the early glory years of the "Shore Sharks." A hard fought final saw Abel Pena's new team come together at the perfect time to bring home the trophy for the Sandbusters. Felix and Oscar couldn't help the Odd Couples as they lost in four tough games. Congratulations and welcome to the RBVL, Sandbusters!
The Sun Division: Round 1 saw the top two teams prevail with Vaughn's Cheese Fries and Coppersmith's winning easily over Connolly's Island and Sands Point PT. However, the other bracket saw two come-from-behind upsets. Kerry Hills nosed out One Win Away 21-19 in the 5th game and you just can't get any closer than that. Harbor Light tried by losing the first two games only to take the last three over Pier 92's Piranha's. The match was highlighted by some of the best play by the young women of Rockaway that any division has seen. In the semi-finals, Harbor Light won another match in the 5th game with a 21-17 squeaker over favorite Vaughn's Cheese Fries while Kerry Hills also once again went to the last game, only this time to lose 19-21 to Coppersmiths. After two marathon matches Harbor Light ran out of steam and succumbed to the champs of Coppersmith's in three straight (but close) games.
The Moon Division went pretty much according to form. The Brooklyn Transplants, Jameson's Turtles, Blarney Castle/Hair Den and Last Call advanced with victories although Last Call needed a 21-17 win in the deciding game to do so. Next the Turtles won a long battle (23-21, 17-21, 18-21, 21-12, 21-18) while the Transplants dispatched Last Call quickly. Finally, in a rematch of last week's season finale, the Transplants edged the Turtles 3-2. Then both teams settled in to do what they do best - party. They sat together and toasted to a good match and a good season (among many other things). Combined, they improved on their previous league record for total attendance and they broke new ground by using a long extension cord to power up some blender drinks. However, they lost points by serving blue Kool-Aid with clashing purple straws. The celebration was carried well into the night at the beach until only Pat remained for the winners. "Toes in the sand, drink in the hand!" was his battle cry. However, an hour later Healy's Tommy Dalgish claimed, "Butt in the chair, I'm still here."
The final group - Rocky, Joe, Patty, Tommy and Eddie - left Riis Park at 1:04 AM - that's a long day. Special tribute was paid to Joe by the Brooklyn teams who regard him as their Jackie Robinson. When Joe and the Martorana Sisters joined up in 1989 they were the only three non-Rockaway players in the league. They opened the door for all of those outsiders who followed. Additionally, the three Brooklyn kids found a new home away from home and friends for a lifetime. (Jenny even found a husband and mixed doubles partner.) Steve Gifford reports that the 127th St. gang enjoyed their first campaign and can't wait to return next year. Has any athlete ever looked happier after losing a match than Stevie Kearns? The man truly understands the meaning of the words fun and sportsmanship. Stevie and his ilk are the foundation that the league has been built on and they are the reason the league has flourished and grown to 40 teams. Bugsy recollected the good old days at Fitzgerald's, where the first seeds of the RBVL were sown in an all-male, no rules weekly drink fest. How far we've come!
A cold case has been cracked after a 7-year investigation and a missing volleyball from 1998 was found in the possession of Rockaway's most eligible bachelor, Cubby (The Accessory"). He immediately rolled over and gave up his partner, Jimmy Mack who had stenciled his name on the purloined ball under the letters RBVL. "I inherited it!" he proclaimed. Kind of like Bonnie and Clyde inherited the money from the banks. By the way, Cubby and Jim can finish up their perfect attendance season with an appearance at the award's dinner. I think you can bet on that one. What long-time RBVL bachelor has taken himself off the market by getting engaged over the summer? Hint #1: He never brings a cooler to the beach. Hint #2: He carries a red and yellow card at all times. Hint #3: He was drummed out of Rockaway and forced to move to Long Beach a couple of years ago. That's right, your favorite ref - Coach! Congratulations, Coach, did you get a discount for scheduling the wedding the day after Thanksgiving? Inquiring minds want to know.
The RBVL Awards Dinner will be held at the Beach Club on Friday, 9/16 from 7:30 PM to 12:30 AM. The cost is $60 and includes an open bar, bottled beer and hot food with music by Souled Out. Captains are collecting money as we speak and the first 160 people will be confirmed. In the past we have never had to turn anyone away but this year’s expanded league has produced large turnouts at all of the parties and the dinner promises to be booked solid. Get your money in early. If you have any questions or want to secure an entire table, call Rocky on 718-338-3951 or Bugsy on 917-680-3891. Continue to check our website (www.rbvl.com) for photos and stories in the upcoming weeks. If you have any pictures you’d like to have posted, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. We expect to add photos from the playoffs as they come in.
We won’t see you on the beach next week – the season is over! We hope to see you at the awards dinner on September 16th.