Category Archives: Stories

Steven Wong, the program analyst for the Stony Brook Police department at work at the new command center. (Jacqueline Napolitano)

SBU’s new, high-tech hub ready for emergencies

In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, and with stories of school violence in the news regularly, Stony Brook University is taking steps to be prepared.

Stony Brook’s Chief of Police and Assistant Vice President of Campus Safety, Robert Lenahan said he viewed the events of Superstorm Sandy as a learning experience for the school’s emergency management team.

“We saw that we had some limitations with our existing spaces,” Lenahan said. “We could see that we needed to improve with our technology within the Emergency Operations Center.”

Chief of Police, Robert Lenahan talking about the televisions in the command center that show different maps and security cameras around campus. (Jacqueline Napolitano)
Chief of Police Robert Lenahan discusses monitors in the command center that show different maps and security cameras around campus. (Jacqueline Napolitano)

The new $240,000 facility has been equipped with the latest technology to help Stony Brook get “a little better in terms of enhancing technologies,” Lenahan said. Among the upgrades from the previous Emergency Operations Center, all security cameras on campus have been integrated into the new system.

“We have over a thousand cameras on our campus,” he said. “That’s a lot of IP addresses to remember.”

Integrating the cameras allows not only for a simpler, unified system, but for advanced capabilities as well.

These security cameras can be mapped, as GPS technology has been installed. “We can basically track our campus buses,” Lenahan said. Cameras outside of the campus’ system – even throughout Suffolk County – can also be accessed through the Emergency Operations Center.

Technology related to utilities on campus has also been installed, Lenahan said.

“If there’s a power outage, blackout, HVAC issues, we can pull up existing buildings on this site here, and look to see where the outages are so we can address it.”

 

The system has the capabilities to respond to a variety of threats, both natural and manmade, from hurricanes to terrorist activity. “When you’re talking campus, you’re talking an active shooter scenario,” Lenahan said. “It’s highly unlikely, but you have to be prepared.”

The center, fully funded by the university, can also serve as a secondary location for the Town of Brookhaven’s emergency responders.

“We’ve had a long relationship with the Town of Brookhaven,” Lenahan said. “If something happens to their primary location, they always can come over here, use our facilities.”

While the town has no plans to use the campus’ center at this time, according Brookhaven Communication Director Jack Krieger, Lenahan said the invitation’s open.

“We continue to work with them on a long-lasting relationship,” he said. “It still continues to grow.”

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Camp Kesem was created in 2001 to help kids with a parent who has or has had cancer. This is Stony Brook's first year with a chapter in the camp, which will be held at Camp Candlewood in Fairfield, Connecticut. (Kayla Aponte)

Summer ‘magic’ as Camp Kesem debuts

When Wendy Fang talks about her expectations for the first Stony Brook University Camp Kesem, a weeklong getaway for children who have had parents who struggled with cancer, she describes the impact the disease can have, even on adults.

Wendy Fang is a counselor at Camp Kesem. The Camp starts August 10 and last through August 15 at Camp Candlewood in Fairfield, Connecticut. (Kayla Aponte)
Wendy Fang is a counselor at Camp Kesem. The Camp starts August 10 and last through August 15 at Camp Candlewood in Fairfield, Connecticut. (Kayla Aponte)

“My mom in particular had her father pass away, but she was much older,” Fang said in a recent interview. “But even with that age group as an adult, you can still see the impact. So I can only imagine what it feels like for kids at six to 16.”

Fang, 20, a rising senior at Stony Brook University, will be one of 23 counselors and four administrators creating a week, from Aug. 10-15, of fun and memories for 50 to 60 Long Island children, ages six to 16. Kesem campers will be at Camp Candlewood on a lake in New Fairfield, Connecticut, just over the New York line.

The Camp Kesem website explains that children of cancer patients are often overlooked and cannot receive much attention, so the counselors here help give them the attention they need with a 3:1 camper to counselor ratio. The Stony Brook campers are the children of people being treated for cancer at Stony Brook University Hospital, as well as other medical centers throughout Long Island.

Alex Fu is a counselor at Camp Kesem, a camp for children who's parents have or have had cancer. This is Stony Brook's first year participating in the camp. (Kayla Aponte)
Alex Fu is a counselor at Camp Kesem, a camp for children who’s parents have or have had cancer. This is Stony Brook’s first year participating in the camp. (Kayla Aponte)

During that week, Fang, a biology major who is on a pre-dental track, will be known as Sunshine. Counselors as well as campers pick a fanciful name for themselves for use during the week to leave the reality of home behind.

Camp Kesem was started in 2001 through a Hillel organization at Stanford University in California. Although Hillel is a Jewish organization, the camp is secular, serving children from all walks of life.

This camp is nonprofit and the campers come for free, which means the counselors must fundraise throughout the year for things such as food, games, and equipment. The idea for the camp came from a therapist who works with the families of cancer patients at Stony Brook University Hospital who suggested Camp Kesem as a project.

With her encouragement in 2013, a group of students at Stony Brook University applied for and won a $10,000 grant from the Livestrong Foundation, which provides support for people affected by cancer.

The name Kesem comes from the Hebrew word for magic.

“Camp Kesem is magic, and I really believe in that because in a sense we are kind of bringing magic to these children’s lives,” said student counselor Alex Fu, a rising senior who will be known as Snap.

Brittany Stapelfeld will be a camp counselor at Camp Kesem this August. Along with Stony Brook, Camp Kesem has 53 chapters around the country. (Kayla Aponte)
Brittany Stapelfeld will be a camp counselor at Camp Kesem this August. Along with Stony Brook, Camp Kesem has 53 chapters around the country. (Kayla Aponte)

During the year, the counselors have prepared for the week in several seven-hour training sessions on lighthearted things like camp songs, camp games and camp cheers, as well as the more serious issues that can confront this group of kids, like cutting, eating disorders, child abuse and suicide.

Counselor Ruchi Shah, 20, a rising junior, will be known as Giggles. Shah is known around campus as that woman who developed a mosquito repellant that is inexpensive and can help fight malaria in tropical zones.

Shah now works in a cervical cancer lab, and has come to see the value of experiences like Camp Kesem.

“Sometimes we focus so much on the cancer patients themselves that we forget about the family members and how they are impacted,” she said in an interview. “So, Camp Kesem is a phenomenal opportunity for kids to have fun and forget their parents have cancer.”

 

 

The counselors keep the magic alive by jam-packing the week with fun activities with the kids. This camp may be for children with struggles at home, but it is meant to be fun, not therapeutic.

“I hope the kids take away from it, really learning that even though they have a hard situation at home, that it’s OK for them to let go and have fun and have a week of their summer just being kids” said counselor Brittany Stapelfeld, also a rising senior at Stony Brook.

The first day of camp, will be Fang’s 21st birthday, as well as her first day as a counselor at Camp Kesem.

“There’s a lot that goes into the magic that is Camp Kesem,” says Fang, who has taken the training. “It’s been a difficult journey, but it’s definitely been very rewarding.”

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Emily_resnick

Off campus, but still Seawolves

Stony Brook wants to help its commuter students stay safe and be better neighbors.

The Office Commuter Student Services has added “and Off Campus Living” to its name and its mission.

“I really want my students to be educated about the process and understand legal means, what it takes to be a good neighbor and how to respect their community,” said Assistant Director Emily Resnick.

She and her staff offer services and resources to about 6,500 commuter students on everything from staying safe, being a good neighbor and finding housing.

“What we provide to students are tools that they can bring to a prospective rental such as a renter’s checklist, inspection checklists and a monthly budget checklist that they can use,” Resnick said. “We also provide information about local town codes”

“Each township provides their own rules and regulations on what is and what is not considered safe living standards,” Resnick said, adding “we’re encouraging students to be educated about the process.”

As for being a good neighbor, Resnick said, it’s about students understanding “the community standards what’s expected of them as Seawolves both on and off campus.”

The response from commuter students has been positive, Resnick said, adding that a tenants rights workshop her office hosted with an attorney last semester drew 80 students.

One former commuter student said he embraced the new services.

“I guess it should be a service to be provided,” said Daniel Levine, a math major who commuted for two years and graduated in May. “A lot of resources are helpful.”

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Outside the Stony Brook School of Health Technology and Management (Leslie Perez)

New center links SBU, community

 

A new center at Stony Brook University will help surrounding underserved communities improve health and education, build capacity to tackle community-based challenges and put food on families’ tables.

The new Center for Community Engagement and Leadership Development brings together faculty from across the Stony Brook campus to work on community-based projects that can best be addressed from a multidisciplinary approach.

Brooke Ellison (Leslie Perez)
Brooke Ellison (Photo by Leslie Perez)

“The Center for Community Engagement Leadership Development is meant to be a bridge between the university and the community,” said Assistant Director Casey McGloin.

“The center allows for a broad-based exchange of central ideas,”said Associate Director Brooke Ellison. “It makes sense to have people all in one spot rather than scattered throughout the university, because then we can exchange ideas.”

The main focal points include community engagement, helping communities to reach their goals, engaging in community based participatory research, and establishing a pipeline of researchers dedicated to this work.  The team is led by Associate Dean Carlos Vidal, Ellison, McGloin, Educational Specialist Erik Flynn and Program Associate Jennifer Mesiano Higham. The center will be housed in the School of Health Technology and Management.

Photo by Leslie Perez
Casey McGloin (Photo by Leslie Perez)

According to a description released last September, the program’s initial focus is to “enhance the academic experience of future leaders in community health disciplines and collaborate with local community members to meet the challenges of an increasingly complex world.”

The Center for Community Engagement and Leadership Development has several important goals designed to work toward meeting its mission: service learning, leadership development and research. Select activities of the center include the Health Careers Academic Readiness and Excellence (HCARE) and HCARE HStem programs, which exposes high school students in Wyandanch, Brentwood, Amityville, William Floyd, and the Sovereign Unkechaug Nation to the allied health professions.

Faculty and staff from the center travel to these schools and communities and assist students with SAT preparation, college applications, applying for financial aid and anything else that could improve their future educational careers.

The center also provides a Distracted Driving program to curb motor vehicle deaths among youth. Another program is a campus-based food pantry launched last year and co-founded by McGloin, which provides food to  members of the Stony Brook University community who are in need, or are food insecure. The center also works with the Town of Islip Youth Bureau to survey middle school students’ needs. The center is proposing to conduct an evidence-based, consumer satisfaction survey of Suffolk County residents on their experiences with the Suffolk County Police Department.

The center has invited representatives from Long Island Native American tribes to begin discussing and exploring the possibility of developing a Long Island Native American business incubator.

“Many Native American Tribes have difficulty getting loans,” McGloin said.  Business incubators often can offer services like leadership training and space for entrepreneurs who are interested in developing new business ventures.

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Ruchi Shah is a junior at Stony Brook University where she is currently in the pre-med track and minoring in journalism. While there she developed a mosquito repelant and she was featured in IMPACT magazine's top 30 under 30. (Sharon Ahmed)

Communicating science and passion

At 20 years old, Ruchi Shah has achieved more than many people do in a lifetime.

A junior biology major at Stony Brook University, Shah has participated in a Forbes Women’s Summit, already given a TEDx talk, and secured provisional admission to medical school.

“My dream job would be to marry my interest in biology and in science with my interest in journalism and communicating science,” said Shah. “I’d love to be a medical correspondent.”

Shah said her journey began with little more than passion and high school-level science equipment to go on. With the help of mentors, she developed and now plans to market a low-cost, all-natural mosquito repellent that she hopes will bring about global change.

“I think by travelling and talking to people and getting different perspectives, you gain a lot in terms of just different advice,” said Shah. “. . . I’ve also met a lot of women who are now my mentors in a lot of ways.”

This summer, Shah has interned at Fox News, with a focus on science reporting. Her own science research informs her work, she says. “I’m really passionate about investigating diseases and how to improve diagnoses and really improve healthcare in the United States.”

Shah credits careful time management with enabling her to juggle academics, research and a social life.  “It’s really hard balancing everything during the school year,” Shah said. “ I have a planner and it’s almost like every hour there’s something going on.”

Shah said despite how far she’s come, she feels like she’s only beginning. “I’m nowhere near being done,” she said.

“I think when you really find that one thing that clicks with you,” Shah said, “it’s not an effort to be passionate about something.”

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The Stony Brook Police department's new Ford Sudan’s are an update to the old crown Victoria’s that the police have been using. (Courtney Taylor)

New cars on campus

The incoming freshmen class won’t be the only new fleet on campus this fall.

In the last month Stony Brook University Police has bought two new Ford Police Interceptors to replace the older Ford Crown Victorias, which were discontinued two years ago.

“So far so good, the cops are loving the car, they’re comfortable in in the car,” said Inspector Robert Swan. “I have a couple police officers who are six feet four inches tall and will politely tell me ‘inspector that car is a little small.’”

 

The “police package” includes a larger engine, transmission and suspension, as well as more safety features that are not included in the regular sedan.  The Ford Police Interceptor is 75 mph rear crash tested and officers sit behind Level III ballistic door panels, according to Ford.

The door panels are built to fit the Level III Ballistic Resistance of Body Armor NIJ Standard, which protects against a high-powered rifle and threats which are not as great.

“I’m a big proponent of moving forward and newest technologies, I believe it is where the world is going nowadays,” said Steven Wong, lead programmer and client support specialist in the department’s division of information technology. “I’m a big fan of the newer cars that we have and the new technology and computers we are putting into them.”

The new cars equipped with onboard computers will have license plate tracking, and a mobile radio that will connect other places on Long Island. (Kelly Colligan)
The new cars equipped with onboard computers will have license plate tracking, and a mobile radio that will connect other places on Long Island. (Kelly Colligan)

According to the university 2013 Clery Report, there were 73 crimes reported on campus, 39 in residential facilities and 2 off campus; the most common crime reported was burglary in 2012.

“We’ve had an overall reduction in crime, 11 percent in 2012-2013. Burglary ends up being the most common because one perpetuator ends up committing several burglaries; Clery requires us to consider every separate dorm robbed a separate burglary,” said Eric Olen, Assistant Chief of Police for SBU police. “We are also required to report anything near the campus so that would be considered non-campus, on campus includes the library, any classroom, or cafeteria and residence halls are the dormitories.  The concept is to make the community aware of incidents on and off campus for safety.”

Each car can price out differently but the base car is about $30,000. Enhancements such as stripping, computer and emergency equipment, sirens and lights all have to be put on separately which costs several thousand dollars.

“Frankly, this is the best bang for the buck,” said Swan. “We have a large campus, we have to get around quickly, promptly, safely and you can’t do that if you have an old fleet or a fleet that ends up being in the garage half of the time.”

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Two Ducks fans, Louise and Dan, attened the Ducks game on July 23rd, 2014. (Noelia Vazquez)

Ducks’ playoff dreams dim

The Long Island Ducks faced another loss on Wednesday, July 23 to the Connecticut Bridgeport Bluefish. This is the eleventh consecutive loss for the Ducks this season, a trend that started on July 9. The team lost 11-3, which clearly does not help the spirit of the Ducks fans.

“The Ducks have been on a losing streak so far,” said a Ducks staff member. who Brandon Schneider, a Ducks staff member. “With what I’ve seen so far, the losing is really putting the crowd and the players down.”

 

“The Ducks need a win soon.” Schneider is constantly with the crowd. Therefore, he gets an inside look at the crowd’s reactions to the game.

With the Ducks loss to the Bluefish and no sight of a win, the spirit of the crowd might be slipping. However, Chris Wenz, 38, of West Islip and a frequent Ducks fan, said otherwise. “They [the Ducks] were national champions for the last two years, so I figured that a losing streak now and then is probably expected.”

Another loyal fan of the Ducks, Michael Heeren, 13, from Long Island, expressed his worry. “If the Ducks lose 10-plus games, I might be a little concerned if the Ducks are going to make it to the playoffs or not,” he said.

With the loss last night, the chances of the Ducks making it that far are growing smaller.

There are eight more July games for the Ducks, all of which are away. In August, there are 29 games, 16 of which are home.

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Maria Garcia, 18,  one of the cancer survivors honored at The Daniel Brooks Memorial Educational Award for Students with Cancer. She was diagnosed at two years old with rhabdomyosarcoma and underwent treatment until she was six. (Lisa Angell)

Scholarships honor cancer survivors

Many students find school difficult.  Managing the many different facets of receiving an education is hard enough when you are perfectly healthy, but imagine trying to do all of that while fighting a life-threatening disease.

It may seem like an impossible task, but that is exactly what the 39 students who were honored at The Daniel Brooks Memorial Educational Award for Students with Cancer reception and celebration did.

 

The reception, held July 22  at Stony Brook University’s Charles B. Wang Center, commemorated cancer survivors who were treated at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, successfully graduated high school and were on their way to college.  The event was created in memory of Daniel Brooks, a leukemia survivor who was  struck and killed by a car in 2002.

Before Brooks was fatally hit, he was asked to help explore and support the needs of children suffering from cancer.  Debra Giugliano, head of the program, said Brooks was instrumental when asked to help the cause.  “He was a great kid,” Giugliano said.  “He had a great heart, he always wanted to help the little kids that were in the clinic.”

The event, created in honor of Brooks, was planned by parents whose children were treated for cancer at Stony Brook University Medical Center.

“Early on, we met a great group of parents and we realized that one of the most important things for our kids was to get them back into school,” said Giugliano.  “We have to plug them back, we have to get them into school, and we have to help support that.”  She added that the parents wanted to be proactive and help the cause.

Stony Brook Children's Hospital hosted The Daniel Brooks Memorial Educational  Award reception at the Wang Center. The program provides scholarships to cancer survivors to help pay for college. (Lisa Angell)
Stony Brook Children’s Hospital hosted The Daniel Brooks Memorial Educational Award reception at the Wang Center. The program provides scholarships to cancer survivors to help pay for college. (Lisa Angell)

Those who were involved with taking care of the cancer patients started going out to schools and tried to provide information about the children’s medical needs, how their disease and illness impacts their education and what the community can do while the kids were missing school and staying at the hospital.  They wanted to publicize the medical and financial burden the families and the students faced, hoping to give the patients their necessary care.

The reception is centered around celebrating the accomplishments of those being honored.  It also serves to acknowledge the courage, strength and perseverance of the survivors, organizers said.

“We realized that one of the most important things for our kids was to get them back into school because as they dealt with childhood cancer, they were on treatments for long periods of time,” Giugliano said.

The program’s number of graduates has skyrocketed over several years.  In the first year of the program, there were four recipients of the award.  This year, there are 39.  So far, $195,000 in scholarships has been awarded to the high school graduates.  The amount of the scholarships varies each year depending on how much money the program raises.

Maria Garcia, 18, is a cancer survivor who received scholarships from this program.  Garcia had rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancerous tumor that develops in the body’s soft tissues, usually the muscles. From age two to age six, she received treatment such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Garcia continues to get checkups to make sure she stays cancer-free.

Debra Giugliano a nurse practitioner discusses her work with the program.  She is a founding member of The Daniel Brooks Memorial Educational Award. (Lisa Angell)
Debra Giugliano a nurse practitioner discusses her work with the program. She is a founding member of The Daniel Brooks Memorial Educational Award. (Lisa Angell)

Garcia graduated from Brentwood High School and completed her first year at Suffolk County Community College last year, receiving a $1,000 scholarship from The Daniel Brooks Memorial Education Award.  She is receiving a scholarship this year as well.  “I’m going to school for nursing,” Garcia said.  “I definitely do want to do some of the help and treatment that I got and I do want to help give back to the people that need it.”

Garcia is now is a healthy, full-time student and works.  She said she would like to become a nurse and help other cancer patients get through the tough recovery process.

“It’s truly a blessing for them to say, ‘I’m going to college, I’m taking the next step,’” said Giugliano.  “It’s about succeeding.”

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Peter Castaldo, a young Ducks fan has only been to three but to plans to not make it his last. (Laura Fallick)

Still passing time at the ballpark

Baseball has always been America’s pastime but is it still the kids’ favorite pastime? Will kids put down their electronic devices long enough to watch the game in front of them?

For a July 23rd Ducks game at Bethpage Ballpark, there were families of all ages. Kids wore baseball gloves on their hands and baseball hats on their heads. For some, this was their first Ducks game; others had been there before.  Kids had foam fingers on their hands, quackers in their mouths, and smiles on their faces.

Little League teams, Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts attended the game. The Metro-Gnomes, a youth violinist group, played the Star-Spangled Banner. As they played, fireworks exploded overhead.

 

Some fans came more for the sport than for the entertainment at the park.

“My favorite thing about playing baseball is being with my friends,” said Brandon Vlacancich, 13. “It’s a fun sport to play.” Chris Mchugh, 8, of Commack, added: “My favorite thing about coming to a baseball game is the home runs.” A shortstop and pitcher for the Commack North Little League team, Chris said he also believes baseball is still America’s pastime.

Tom Hazell of East Islip, an outfielder who cited baseball’s worldwide popularity, said he really enjoys participating in the sport.

“My favorite thing about playing baseball is just playing because it’s always fun.” he said.

And Mason Holland, 10, of Cooperstown — home of the Baseball Hall of Fame — said: “My favorite thing about baseball is hitting the ball and having fun.”

Still, other fans study the professional players to improve their own skills on the diamond.

”I like coming to a Ducks game because it helps me learn baseball,” said Patrick McNelis, 13, who said he thought baseball was still popular.

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A photo of  the new Stony Brook Arena at Stony Brook University on Tuesday, July 22, 2014. Photo by Hanna Da'Mes.

Stony Brook’s home court advantage

As summer is quickly coming to an end, Stony Brook University’s men’s and women’s basketball teams look forward to their upcoming fall seasons in the newly renovated Stony Brook Arena, designed by NK Architects and Popolous with Fortunato Sons Contracting Inc.

“Before the game, the arena will be a great atmosphere for fans,” said Adam McLeod, the assistant director of athletics. “And we find that a lot of times the players draw off the fans and really when you a great atmosphere you know that helps the team.”

Construction on the arena started in June 2012 and cost $21.1 million. The 40,000-square-foot renovation holds 4,008 seats; three times the 1,800 seats that Pritchard Gymnasium features.

Additionally, four luxury suites were built into the arena, which also features two video boards, three scoreboards, three concession stands and four men’s and women’s restrooms.

“We’re excited about packing the place, our goals is to sell out every game and put 4,000 people in the seats, build a great environment and go from there,” McLeod said.


As school as school starts up again in the fall, Stony Brook University will not only have a new arena, but a new athletic director as well. Shawn Heilbron was introduced as Stony Brook’s new athletic director in May 2014. Heilbron said he is excited about the new arena and is working toward growing it with more opportunities and fans.

“We want to have a great show so that when people come to a game they tell their friends,” Heilbron said. “We want to bring concerts in. We want people outside of the Stony Brook community to come on campus and experience the arena. It is a great way for people to see what Stony Brook is really about.”

Women’s basketball player Brooke Proctor, a senior who has been playing for the school for three years, believes that the new arena was well designed.

“It would attract the fans of Long Island and bring the women’s team into a new level and bring a new vibe to the game,” Proctor said, adding that she’s looking forward to the new, louder sound system. “It would give the players more energy to do well.”
 

 
Despite the anticipation for the new arena, the players and staff expressed an emotional connection toward Pritchard Gymnasium because it has been the location of practices, failures and success.

“Pritchard has its place in all of our hearts,” said Carson Puriefoy, a junior and guard on the men’s basketball team. “It was a great atmosphere. We had one of the best home courts in the country, I think. But I think we can make this arena a great home court as well.”

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The 9/11 Memorial at Bethpage Ballpark was built in 2012 in t he memory of Long Island Victims of the attacks. (Kayla Aponte)

Ballpark memorial honors Sept. 11 victims

Bethpage Ballpark is home to more than just the minor league baseball team, the Long Island Ducks.

It is also hosts a September 11th memorial, with a steel beam from the World Trade Center site and a plaque, the only one of its kind to list all 490 names of Long Islanders who perished during the attacks.

 

The beam was dedicated to the founder and CEO of the Ducks, Frank Boulton, as well as to the team itself, by the World Trade Center Foundation in a ceremony on Sept. 11, 2012. A year later, the plaque was added in yet another ceremony on the 2013 anniversary of the attacks.

“Our founder and CEO Frank Boulton knew folks that perished in the attacks that day, so I know it’s near and dear to his heart,” said Michael Polak, the Media Relations and Broadcasting Manager for the Ducks. “We had, for both ceremonies, a very good turnout of fans that were out on the plaza. It’s always received a positive response and fans are happy that we have some way to remember what happened that day.”

Not all fans realize the memorial is there, stationed outside the ballpark in front of the smoking area between the East and West Gates.

“I honestly didn’t even see it. Wow,” said Suzanne Cascio. “I was rushing in and I totally passed it.”

The 9/11 Memorial at Bathpage Ballpark honors the 490 Long Islanders who lost the lives in the September 11 attacks. (Kayla Aponte)
The 9/11 Memorial at Bathpage Ballpark honors the 490 Long Islanders who lost the lives in the September 11 attacks. (Kayla Aponte)

Fellow Ducks fan Jimmy Falk was also unaware of the memorial.

“I’ve been coming here for years and this is the first I’m hearing of it,” he said.

Upon learning of the memorial, though, Falk was pleased.

“I think it’s terrific,” he said. “I think especially as New Yorkers, we need to be aware of it. Everybody that lives on Long Island was touched by that event, and somebody knows somebody whose name is on that plaque, without a doubt. Now that I’m aware of it, I’m going to look for it.”

When the memorials were unveiled, the ceremonies were announced on the Ducks’ website, though since then, no additional promotion has been done.

“I didn’t even know it was outside,” said fan Laura Jensen. “If they just had a poster or something somewhere, people would probably go visit it.”

Andrew Rella is one fan that knew about the structure, and his response was positive.

“I’m a UPS driver,” Rella said, “and I’ve delivered this route before, so I saw when they were building it. You know, my uncle was a paramedic that day and was back and forth to St. Vincent’s [hospital] a thousand times. Friends of mine that drive for UPS in the city helped evacuate people out of there. So to me — my brother’s a marine – he’s been overseas. It has a lot of special meaning for me.”

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Cub scouts from Pac-12 League attend a Long Island Ducks game at Bethpage Ballpark on Wednesday, July 23, 2014. Photo by Madison Flotteron.

Take them out to the ballgame

From the moment the Metro-Gnomes, a youth violinist group from Bay Shore, did an unusual rendition of the National Anthem before Wednesday’s Ducks game, it was clearly a night for the kids.

“I’m a baseball fan myself, and I have a lot of little boys who also like baseball and I thought it would be a really fun thing to do,” Thalia Greenhalgh, teacher of the Metro-Gnomes, said. The young boys performed in front of the large audience and received huge applause.

 

Ten- year-old Mia Grello of Bay Shore said this was her third year with the Metro-Gnomes.  “I like playing in front of everyone because I think everyone likes to hear the violin,” she said. “You know, it’s like, it’s a nice instrument.”

Gregory Reardon, a 9-year-old Cub Scout from East Northport, said he came “to watch the Ducks crush the other team,” and that this is not his first time being at a Ducks game.  “The Ducks are gonna crush ‘em by like 10 runs,” Gregory said. Unfortunately for him, the Ducks lost, 11-3.

The Lacey Township All-Stars, a youth baseball team, came to Central Islip from New Jersey where they are representing the area in the Eastern Regional tournament.  “I’m feeling a win,” Keith Apostolos, a 14-year-old Lacey player.

Commack North’s baseball team is participating in the same tournament. “Well, they’re [the Ducks] not winning right now, but they might come back,” 12-year-old player, Timmy McHugh said.

Evan Wallis,  a 14-year-old Commack player, offered an observation that could apply to the Ducks as well as his team’s upcoming game in the tournament. “We can win if we have just enough hitting and enough defense,” he said.

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Stony Brook University's new Athletics Director Shawn Heilbron speaks to the Greene Team at the School of Journalism's newsroom on Monday, July 21, 2014. Photo by Wasim Ahmad.

New director heads SBU athletics

Shawn Heilbron officially became Stony Brook’s new athletic director on July 1, but it took a lifetime of work to get him to this point.

Heilbron grew up in Dallas, Texas. As a Cowboys fan, one of Heilbron’s role models was Roger Staubach, the Cowboys quarterback. “ He (Staubach) was Mr. America, a great quarterback and a great person.” said Heilbron. “I had chance to meet him when I was a kid, and I really looked up to him growing up.”

This interest in sports led Heilbron to the college of communications at the University of Texas at Austin, with the end goal of becoming a sports broadcaster. However, he changed his mind during his senior year.

“My senior year in college, I had a crossroads moment where I did an internship at the local ABC affiliate in Austin, and I thought ‘This is the first step in my first step toward my career in broadcasting.’ The only problem was it just wasn’t for me.”

 

After graduating, he returned to Dallas and attempted to find a job with one of the city’s numerous professional sports teams. The only team that gave him a shot was a minor league hockey team, the Dallas Freeze. The job only lasted six months and he received no salary. But it gave him his first experience working in athletics.

After his job with the Dallas Freeze, Heilbron went on to a job at Southern Methodist University (SMU), which involved him working to help market the college’s sports. Heilbron greatly enjoyed this job.

“I loved the energy of the college campus, I loved the fact I was involved not just in one sport but multiple sports,” he said.

He then went on to work at Pinnacle Trading Cards, a private sports cards company, but returned shortly to SMU as director of marketing for athletics. This was the point when Heilbron confirmed that he wanted to work in college athletics.

“I loved working with student athletes and realized that we were doing was trying to change lives student athletes’ lives better,” he said.

After eight years at SMU, in 2006, he accepted a job at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) as associate director for development. In this capacity, he oversaw most of the fundraising for UCLA athletics.

However, living in Los Angeles was a hard adjustment for Heilbron, his wife and their three children. So in 2011, Heilbron took a job at Oregon State University as senior associate athletic director. He oversaw fundraising there as well, and helped to raise millions of dollars for Oregon State’s sports programs.

His family enjoyed living in Corvallis, the small, quiet town where Oregon State is located. But they missed the excitement of living in a big city. While in Corvallis, Heilbron realized that his next career move needed to work not just for him professionally, but for his family as well.

The opportunity he was waiting for came earlier this year, when he received the offer from the Stony Brook. Heilbron knew the job was right for him professionally.

“I knew Stony Brook was incredible school with an athletic department that was growing and accomplishing great things,” he said.

He also knew that its location on Long Island and being near New York City would make it great for his family. As a result, Heilbron decided to accept the position at Stony Brook and begin not only his tenure as the university’s athletic director, but also the next chapter – for himself and his family.

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Gregory Commodore "quacking"

Ducks v. Bluefish: Real rivalry or quixotic quackery?

Long Islanders flocked to Bethpage Ballpark for Wednesday night’s Ducks game against Bridgeport, but is there a cross-Sound rivalry?

“They have one?” said Ducks fan Jonathan Softy.

“I don’t know how much of a rivalry it is, being that Bridgeport doesn’t draw much. I’d like to see it improve, but I don’t know if it will,” said Dan Erickson.

There was a limited number of Bluefish fans and a lot of cheerful Long Island kids and adults. One Bluefish fan did have an idea about why there so few in the crowd.

Dan Cunningham who was one of the few Bridgeport Bluefish fans at the game. He says it is hard to get fans to come out to the games in Long Island. (Alejandro Serrano)
Dan Cunningham, who was one of the few Bridgeport Bluefish fans at the game. He says it is hard to get fans to come out to the games in Long Island. (Alejandro Serrano)

“Getting people from Bridgeport to here is pretty tough. With the ferry it is not exactly easy,” said Dan Cunningham, a Bluefish fan.

The Ducks have not had a good season but that doesn’t take away from the crowd and energy from the ballpark. The Ducks have endured an 11-game losing streak as of July 23 and fans believe the players are feeling the pressure.

“Any time you have a losing streak you start pressing, I’m sure they feel it ,” said Erickson.

The Bluefish don’t draw at home as well as the Ducks. “Maybe half if they are lucky,” said Cunningham.

The ‘rivalry’ between the Ducks and the Bluefish is not one to break out into chaos. Ducks fans said they don’t trash talk and they like to have fun with their family and enjoy all the aspects a Ducks game has to offer.

“The atmosphere is great, the stuff they do in between innings is great, it keeps the fans involved,” said Cunningham. “The Ducks have a pretty loyal fan base, nothing but good things to say about the Ducks, they are a good organization and run very well.”

 

Ducks fans do come to the games for the entertainment, enjoy the team and the sport, but some have a die-hard obsession with the minor league team itself.

“I eat, sleep and breathe Ducks, so when I wake up in the morning I just think Ducks all the time, I quack randomly,” said Brian from Patchogue, who asked that his last name not to be used.

“[The Bluefish] are not our kind of team,” added another fan, Jordan Buffy of Selden, who embraced the rivalry with Bridgeport.

So did Brian. “Bluefish? I don’t like seafood,” he said.

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20140721-Greene_Institute05

New athletic director has high hopes for SBU sports

Shawn Heilbron already has big plans as the newly hired athletic director of Stony Brook University.

The university has made huge strides in athletics in recent years, climbing from Division III to Division I athletics, and Heilbron said he plans to continue building on this progress.

Keeping the students’ academic success in mind, Heilbron said his goal is to enhance football and basketball to bring in more revenue and more championships for all sports, including women’s.

Heilbron stresses the idea that his student athletes will be ready for life after college. His coaching staff is on board with this idea.

 

“We have coaches that are committed to doing it the right way, with integrity, with conviction, developing our student athletes,” he says. “They know it is a great academic institution and they don’t want to compromise that just to have success. They are committed to helping student athletes achieve their dreams.”

And Heilbron has a strategy to achieve this multifaceted strategy.

“I am committed to all of our sports having that same heightened experience,” Heilbron says, adding that to do this, he needs to raise money through the lucrative sports – football and basketball.

“I am committed to giving my student athletes the unbelievable experience they deserve. I believe one way we can do that is growing our football program. It’s a way we can increase campus pride, it’s a way we can increase additional revenue and invest back to all of our sports. . . To compete at the highest level takes incredible diligence and incredible commitment and it takes a plan.”

It will take Heilbron’s marketing and communications background to accomplish this goal.

“We have to get Stony Brook students really excited about what it means to come and support,” he said. “It’s not just about watching the game; it’s about the campus experience. It is about pride, so we need to reach out to the students, the campus community. It starts with a plan and a process and we will work very, very hard to start right here on campus and build up from there.”

Building up athletics programs will include boosting women’s sports.

“We plan to grow women’s sports just the same as any other sport,” Heilbron said. “It starts with opportunities, it starts with making sure that we are funding our programs properly so they have opportunities to succeed.”

Increased revenue from football games will improve athletics all around, Heilbron says.

“If football does make the jump to the FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) level, that would mean adding women’s sports because of Title IX, which is an exciting thing to think about,” he says. “We just hired a new women’s basketball coach who I am very excited about. And with the new (basketball) arena, we feel like women’s basketball has a chance to do some great things.”

Heilbron said he plans not only to raise money, but also to win championships: “We care more about winning, we care more about them lifting trophies.”

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Review: ‘May in the Summer’

“May in the Summer,” directed by Cherien Dabis, tells a cliché story of May (Dabis), a soon-to-be bride who reevaluates her life after finding out that what she wants isn’t what she needs.

Her overly religious mother, Nadine (Hiam Abbass), is the barrier between her and the perfect wedding. Her two sisters provide support for the stressed-out bride, and along the way, they grow closer, as does their appreciation for each other.

The film is properly laid out, with a less than consistent plot line, and fails to deliver smooth transitions and excitement. In the beginning, the audience is exposed to an array of events that set up the major conflict later in the film.

For instance, Dabis is seen arriving in Jordan via airplane to plan the wedding and visit her family. As suggested, the religious bumper sticker on the family car conveys a sense of constricting rule by the mother, Nadine. The car ride to the house also sets-up information the audience must know: Nadine was cheated on by her husband (now hated by Dabis and her sisters), Dabis is having communication trouble with her hubby, and the entire family seems slightly hostile towards each other. The scene cuts abruptly to the family standing in the house and eating dinner. It didn’t, in the least, contribute to the story, but it definitely built the setting.

Later on, Dabis learns that her mother will not be attending the wedding for religious purposes: the husband, Ziam (Alexander Siddig) is Muslim, but Dabis was raised as a Christian. The plot suddenly gets deeper in a short amount of time: Dabis rekindles her shriveled relationship with her dad, the mother actually still loves the dad, and the sisters encounter their own troubles regarding both sexual orientation and loyalty. Along the way, the audience could easily get confused, and a conscious effort must be made to actually keep track of what’s going on.

Eventually, Dabis realizes that her needs are not being met by Ziam, who is constantly too busy with his work to pay attention to his fiancé, and she, following in her dad’s footsteps, has an affair with a friend. The wedding gets called off as she confronts him with the conflict at hand, and the film ends with the audience wondering what becomes of the previous affair: Will she marry her friend? Will she change her mind? What becomes of Nadine and her ex-husband’s relationship? Nothing, in reality, is truly answered.

Overall, the movie had a sloppy ending and a poor story line.

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