The Rockaway Beach Volleyball League concluded its 15th season on Saturday with an entire day of playoffs, crowning five different division champions by day’s end. The mood was festive but bittersweet as the RBVL ended the 2004 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.
The action took place at Riis Park in an almost miraculous 12-hour window of beautiful volleyball weather squeezed in between Hurricanes Bonnie and Charley. The absence of sun and wind made the setting perfect and the level of play reflected the conditions. In the Ocean division the top players faced off, beginning with Abbracciamento’s 3-1 win over the much-improved Rugby Clubhouse. (Watch out for these guys next year if they pick up a hitter in the free agent market.) The ancient ones advanced to meet Mark’s Maintenance in the semi-finals but were unable to get by the Carey brothers, who led the charge for Mark’s, taking the match 3-1 with two of the games being decided in overtime. Healy’s eliminated the young guns of the Kerry Hills Eiele 3-0 but lost a rematch of the 2003 finals with Freedhand’s Court Champs 3-1. That left the top two seeds in the championship game where the big dogs of Freedhand’s - Richie, Bernie and Jack - were too strong as they won easily 3-0. Freedhand’s was clicking on all cylinders and made sure there was no repeat of their last year’s disappointing upset loss.
The Wave Division: The fireworks began early with Fillmore Insurance beating the Federation and then spanking league leader, Stealth, in three straight lopsided games to land in the finals. In the other bracket, the Bikini Bottom All-Stars won a surprisingly tough match 3-2 against league charter member, Connolly’s. Captain Steve Gifford played with a bandaged leg and his young star didn’t have enough money to pay for parking but his troops put up a good fight. The All-Stars then played one for the ages against second seed Jameson’s. After spitting the first four games, Jameson’s was on the brink of advancing until Coach John Sica moved to the service line trailing 18-19. He rattled of three service points to take the thriller 21-19 and send home (or at least to the coolers) a dejected Jameson’s unit. The championship game was anticlimactic as Fillmore finished off the worn-out All Stars 21-14, 21-12, 5-21 & 21-17. Fillmore became the only 5th seed to win a trophy at this year’s tournament, a testament to the parity in this division.
The Beach Division: The Beach Orphans upset Grassy’s Ratpack 21-19 in the 5th game and the Beach House upset the Beach Club 3-2 in the first round but neither could continue their magic carpet ride as they subsequently lost in the second round to the top two teams. The Beach House played their best ball of the season with MVP Dickie Ferrin (Peter Pan) and Moose Reilly improving with age. (Or are they aging? It doesn’t seem so.) Congratulations to Marlon and Bridget on their new baby boy, Brendan Byrne (Arena?) and congratulations to Gary and Becca on their upcoming wedding. Gary is considering a transfer to 116th St. just to be eligible for the squad next year. It was only fitting that the Mahooshkas and It’s All Good met for the title as the rivals finished tied for first place during the regular season. The Mahooshkas jumped out to a two game lead and all eyes and ears turned to Coach Bugsy, awaiting his motivational speech to inspire the troops. For a change, he said nothing – and it worked. After winning the next two games, a deciding 5th game was contested until the Mahooshkas emerged with a 21-18 victory. Inquiring minds wanted to know if the results would have been different if star player, Brian, hadn’t been lost to a cramp late in the match. And who knows what the outcome would have been if TBG showed up? (And really, who cares?)
The Boardwalk Division: In a day filled with upsets, the Boardwalk division went pretty much according to form. Round 1 saw the Nobody’s edge the Suns of Beaches in four close games while Connolly’s Island handled EZ Company EZ-ily. In round 2, the top seeds prevailed, leaving Vaughn’s Cheese Fries and Sands Point to square off for all the marbles. After losing 19-21, the Fries came back with three straight for the crown. Was anyone more dedicated than Jimmy “The Jockey” Ferraro, who drove down from Saratoga to play and returned upstate right after his match to check on a sick horse?
The Sun Division: One Win started out in the league just hoping to get one win but Saturday they were just one win away from a championship. They started out with a tough five game win over Pier 92 and then upset the #1 seed Ramblers and Gamblers in four games, landing themselves in the finals. The Irish Circling Sharks repeated their familiar playoff pattern when they won handily against the Harbor Light but lost a tight one to the Odd Couples 21-9 in the fifth. The stage was set for the upstarts from One Win but they fell just short to the second seed Odd Couples (19-21, 19-21, 21-14, 18-21).
The First Annual Bud Bowl matched up the league’s two best party teams, the Brooklyn Transplants and the Kerry Hills Pub. They battled it out for a special prize – a case of Budweiser beer. After the loser received a consolation prize of a case of Coors Light beer, both teams sat together and toasted to a good match and a good season (among many other things). The Transplants set a new league record for total attendance and average attendance per victory. Patty extends her thanks again to Noelle for all of their “Thelma and Louise” rides to Riis Park, especially on Wednesday during the hurricane. Little Paris and Little Nicky made an appearance as the latest dynamic duo, joining Laverne and Shirley and Big Paris and Big Nicky. (And, of course, the real Paris and the real Nicky, who don’t hang out in Rockaway.) A special thanks to Bugsy for supplying the music and to Mary Beth for giving up her umbrella so that the stereo equipment could remain dry while she got wet. Players were energized throughout the day by 13 bagel wheel sandwiches and boxes of apples, peaches and oranges. Many folks brought beer and soda but some players went upscale with their beverages, including Eileen with some tasty White Russians and Mary Beth with some classy Mimosa’s.
An impromptu party at Jameson’s followed the beach extravaganza and continued until the last revelers left the beach at 11:00 PM. Apparently darkness and a steady rain didn’t phase these diehards but empty coolers did. Among the last soldiers were several prominent league officials and Dickie “Cement Shoes” Flanagan who set another league record with the largest backup cooler of 60 brews.
We asked you who are the oldest active man and woman still playing in the RBVL. We heard about a 54 year old man still actively spiking and bumping but we have not heard of anyone else. Please let Patty know before the league dinner if you have any entries. The RBVL Awards Dinner will be held at the Beach Club on Friday, 9/17 from 8:30 PM to 12:30 AM. The cost is $60 and includes an open bar, bottled beer and hot food with music by Head Over Heels. Captains are collecting money as we speak and the first 140 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 (http://rbvl.tripod.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 won’t see you on the beach next week – the season is over! We hope to see you at the awards dinner on September 17th.
The pictures for the playoffs were captured by Danielle Ford using a video camera. There are plenty more to come, but unfortunately I'm heading to Vegas for a week and won't put up the rest of the pictures until Saturday the 28th. In the meantime there are some exciting photo's here. All the leagues will be represented in the upcoming photo's. If you have any that you would like on this page email them to me at: email@example.com