RBVL Crowns 8 Champs At Riis Park Playoffs
On Saturday, volleyballs flew all day on the sands of Riis Park as contestant's fought for the fabled winner's sweatshirts in the Rockaway Beach Volleyball League playoffs. The weather was an ideal 81 degrees, sunny and windless and the quality of play seemed to match the quality of the playing conditions. Eight different division champions were crowned by day's end and the mood was both festive and bittersweet as the 2009 season ended 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. More than a few people were weepy!
Commissioner Patty Moule outdid herself again, although she selflessly deflected credit to her committee of Rocky, Steve, Denise, John and Joe for a job well done. To be thanked are all those who made the season a great success and made Saturday one of the RBVL's most spectacular playoff days ever. As always, the exciting games, food (kudos to Beach Bagel for the delicious sandwiches, wraps, macaroni salads and fruit) and music (more kudos to DJ Ryan who rocked the finals) help but the participants are what make the day so special. Their camaraderie and friendship elevate the RBVL to heights no other league enjoys.
Ocean Division: The top players faced off, with S&G playing well but falling short against defending champs, Freedhand's, 18-22-19. The Sugar Bowl won another tight battle against Mark's Maintenance in four games with two going to extra time. That set up a championship, which might have been the best in league history. Both teams played at a level you might recognize from watching the AVP on TV, making digs, blocks and spikes of which the pros would be proud. The Sugar Bowl took the first two games and it looked like the Freedhand's dynasty might be over. But the champs dug deep and came back to win games three and four.
One game remained for the prestigious Ocean Division title! The youths of the Bowl jumped out to an early 11- 3 lead and held off the veterans 21-15 to take home their first championship. Everyone on the court excelled but no one more so than the women of both squads. Their setting was a thing of beauty on each and every volley.
Because all of the day's activity had finished, virtually the entire league circled the main court to witness this great sporting spectacle. And no one was disappointed. Newcomer Frank Ganun had several critical blocks against Freedhand's and was an integral part of his victorious team. When Rocky D. loaned Frank to the Sugar Bowl in the off-season he figured he'd be a big help to them and he was right. But now he has invoked his Rule 5 Waiver Recall to take him back onto Casino Towing for 2010. When told of this development, Frank replied, "Rocky who? Casino what? I've never heard of either of them." This one may go to the courts for a decision.
Ocean Breeze Division: Round one saw the Big Mahooshkas and Jameson's advance into the semi-finals, sending 212 Bravest and Casino Towing to the showers. The Mahooshkas stayed hot and edged Coppersmith's in a barn-burner in the fifth game by a 21- 18 tally. Jameson's could not sustain their momentum and dropped their semi-final 1-3 to regular season leaders, the Flip Cup All Stars, who shook their late season funk to get back on form.
A late night celebration for Liz Murphy's birthday contributed to some first game blues for the youngsters but the All Stars came through under the guidance of John "The Elder" Sica. They continued to roll on all cylinders and finished off the Mahooshkas in four. One play summed up the day for Flip Cup - Mike Sica ran 20 feet off the court to retrieve a wildly blocked ball and brought it back into play to brother Brian who made an impossible angle set across court where dad John was waiting to tap it down into the open court.
The boys ran a mile between them and dad got the point and the glory. Isn't that the way it should be in all families? Liz's birthday party continued on Saturday until it turned into a victory celebration at the Sica Tiki Bar, lasting into the wee hours of the morning.
Wave Division: Four games were needed in each match as Brooklyn Windows and Doors, Sand Spikers and Wharf Rats all advanced over Connolly's, Healy's Rat Pack and Safe Sets and the Federation even needed a fifth game to eliminate the Wave/King's Pharmacy 21-18. In round two, both matches went the distance with the Sand Spikers holding off the Wharf Rats and Brooklyn Windows coming from two games down to beat the Federation.
The expected dramatic fight between the top two in the Wave fizzled as the gang from Brooklyn swept 17-12-18. Team MVP Berna-SET Higgins fed ball after ball to her hitters and the Brooklyn Windows and Doors squad spanked them for point after point on the way to the title. It took this budding young star to deliver their first championship to charter league members Jimmy Mack and Cubby. (Louie and Jeannie think it had more to do with Cubby's 15 years of Shark training.) Original league scribe, Coach, noted that Cubby could now cross "Winning RBVL title" off his bucket list. Next up on the list - climbing Mt Everest! Then, facing off across the net against Rocky for the first time in 21 years and roofing one of his spike attempts for a clean winner.
And finally, "Having a frozen drink at Connolly's while wearing RBVL Championship sweatshirt." That one should get crossed off of the list on August 28 or August 29 after the Awards Dinner. Hopefully, Cubby and Jimmy will show up to accept their sweatshirts, unlike the year they won the Perfect Attendance award and were absent when the award was given out. Also, Kerry Douglass becomes the second person in RBVL history to win both the Adult Musical Chairs competition and a league championship in the same year. She matches the feat of Laura "The Knee" Phister who previously turned the trick with Connolly's.
Beach Division: Once again the venerable Beach House went out in the first round when they lost in the fifth game to arch rivals, the Land Sharks 21-17. They joined the Miley Home Improvement Posse, Ocean's 12 and It's All Good Tees, who made their usual early playoff exit. When Green (formerly Cement) Shoes was spotted on his way for a swim in the ocean with TBG (The Big Goldberg) and TFBG (The Former Big Guy) at 11:00 a.m., he was asked, "What's up?" He replied, "We got knocked out already and if we hurry we can get home in time to watch "The View." Once again, It's All Good led the parade into the Perimeter of Ignominy (POI), that special place for all of the teams that failed to live up to their competitive expectations. Top seed, the Bay House Babes, took out the Sharks 3-0 and second seed, JG Electric, squeaked by Carvel/Blue Bungalow 21-15 in the fifth setting up another 1-2 contest for all the marbles. This one did not disappoint the spectators as the see-saw battle finally tilted toward the Babes 21-13 for a 3-2 win. Commissioner Patty was rewarded for all her hard work (and 8 service winners) with only her second championship sweatshirt in 21 years.
Boardwalk Division: The RBVL's most evenly matched division showed why in the first round. It took five games before the Snotty Yachties prevailed over Boarders Surf Shop 21-18, before the Breakaways downed the Blackwater Cheese Fries 21-14 and before 3rd and Long NYC beat the Bayview Barracudas 21-18. Kerry Hills had the easiest time, knocking off the Irish Circle in four. In the semis, 3rd and Long NYC and the Snotty Yachties dispatched the Breakaways and Kerry Hills in five and four games, respectively. The final could have gone either way but 3rd and Long prevailed 21-19, 18-21, 21-18 and 23-21. After seeing the Snotty Yachties men go shirtless, the Social Yachties have proposed a new RBVL rule: No men over 40 should be allowed to take off their shirts. "Please leave the shirts on, fellas."
Sun Division: All four top teams advanced to the semi-finals, knocking out Team Margarita, the Odd Couples, Sands Point PT and Summer Winds. In round two, Sets on the Beach swept A Night Out and Average Joes needed five to squash the Harbor Light, setting up a final pitting two new rivals. The Sets won this round in four games but keep an eye on these two for years to come. Hats off to the Sands Point PT owner and sponsor who came down to support his team in the playoffs; not many owners do that. Of course, legendary sponsor, Frank Abbracciamento, still takes the cake with the time he sent a tuxedo-clad, whitegloved waiter to the beach on 86th Street carrying 12 Heinekens on a serving tray right to the team during a first-game timeout. Needless to say, the team went on to victory. Also, hats off to Tommy Tunes who helped save the day musically by supplying extra speakers for DJ Ryan. And what a great job by Carol, carrying three large bags of ice on her back while bicycling to Riis Park from Breezy Point. Rocky was nice enough to wave to her as he passed her on the road in his empty pick-up truck. I guess it looked like she needed the exercise. By the way, those were tears of pain on Carol's face not tears of joy.
Moon Division: Apparently, the regular season RBVL standings meant a lot as five divisions had the top two squads meet in the finals and two divisions had the first and third teams square off. However, the Moon Division produced a stunning upset in the first round with the first-place team, Le- Greann, falling to the last-place team, Bad News Bears, in three straight. Second and third-place finishers, Simon Says Sea Bar and Robin Shapiro Realty Island also exited early along with the Suns of Beaches. That left the title up for grabs as the Coral Reefers spanked Bar 13 NYC and the Bad News Bears edged the Bungalow Bar-anhas in overtime of the fifth game 22-20. The Bears could not complete their miracle run and lost 0-3 to the Coral Reefers, who became the lowest seed to win a title (sixth place). Inspectors checked the Reefers for PEDs after they dominated everyone 9-0 on the day, after finishing 25-28 during the regular season. Only traces of barley, hops and yeast showed up on the tests and all are legal and approved substances in the RBVL.
Star Division: Everything went pretty much according to form. Regular season champ, Last Call, Atlantic Service Sand Storm, EZ Company and the Beach Orphans all moved on with victories in round one with the first two going the minimum and the last two going four games. In round two, the Sand Storm edged EZ Co. 23-21 in another OT fifth game, while Last Call thumped the Beach Orphans 3-0. The Sand Storm won the title in another OT game 23-21 in an exciting finale. The Social Yachties did not win the playoffs but they did win the title of Most Sociable Yacht Club Team and that was what they were really shooting for anyway. The good news - the Rockaway Breakers won their first playoff game ever, the bad news - the Rockaway Breakers won only one playoff game and were ousted, the even worse news - Dancing Vinny was turning cartwheels on the beach while Rusty was nowhere to be found. Advantage Bar-anhas!
Even the two teams that failed to make the playoffs enjoyed themselves with a grudge match. The Harbor Light Brooklyn Transplants and their arch rivals, Rathbones, had a bigger score to settle between themselves for yearlong bragging rights. The results — Rathbones took all five games, with three of the games going to overtime 23-21, 24-22 and 22-20. Let the trashtalking begin. Dix Hills Derek thoroughly enjoyed being back for the day with Brian and his old crew and he just might have won the award for bestdressed with his paisley, collared, epaulet-studded shirt. ("Spalding, fetch me a spot of tea.") It looked like the visitor of the year award was going to Linda McGivney's mom, Helen Bonade, who came up for the festivities from Tamarac, Florida but she was nosed out by Colleen McHale's cousin, John McNeill, who hails from County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Good on you, John (and Helen, too); they hope to see you in 2010. You'll always have friends stateside within the RBVL. Was it a coincidence that the top two division champs had mostly 20-somethings on their teams with one father figure each? I don't think so.
Is there a better way to celebrate your birthday than the way Regina Carey did, spending it on the beach with 1,000 of her close friends in the RBVL? I don't think so. Plans have already begun for the 2010 season. First Brother, Mike, suggests that next year every team show their AARP cards at the start of a match and that's how many points you start with. For example, Flip Cup - zero points, It's All Good - 8 points. That would even things up a bit.
Patty and Denise and the men of the RBVL committee would like to say, "Thank you" to all the well-wishers for their kind words, hugs and kisses on Saturday and all along the way. And thanks to all who helped out on "Playoff Saturday," particularly Sam Green, Kevin Cregan and Alex Moule who ref'd, tracked scores, updated the scoreboard and basically did a little bit of everything. And special thanks go to two young ladies who worked all year with their mom's and did an amazing amount of work, Caroline Brunner and Lauren Moule. Well done!
Patty and everyone else in Rockaway is getting a bit verklempt just thinking about the season coming to an end. Here are a couple of quotes that sum up the RBVL experience: From Jay Butler's crew, "This is the greatest thing I have ever done in my life." And from Alice's daughter EJ, "What you guys do for Rockaway is magical." Just because the league is officially over doesn't mean that the volleyball games must stop. It looks like the weekly Monday night pick-up games at Steve's 127 Street stadium will expand to Wednesday nights as well. They hope to see many of you on the beach at 127 Street on Mondays or Wednesdays or both.
As you know by now, the date has been set for the annual RBVL Awards Dinner and that date is Friday, August 28. This year they will be going to Jameson's on Beach 129 Street from 7:30 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. The cost is $40 per person in advance by August 24 to Patty @ 550 Beach 133 Street; $50 per person at the door. The price includes an open bar, bottled beer, buffet dinner and music by DJ Bobby Joseph. As you know, Jameson's is a relatively small restaurant and space is limited. First come, first served!
If you want to make sure you are included, get your money to Patty ASAP. Dress casual and wear your best Hawaiian shirt; it should be a blast once again. Now for your weekly reminder and countdown - there are zero more weeks left in the regular season and zero more weeks of playoffs. The last big RBVL event of 2009 is the Awards Dinner. Then comes fall, school, winter, cold weather, snow, stalled cars, train delays, the Super Bowl, Ground Hog Day, spring, Easter, NY Mets opening day, Memorial Day and, before you know it, RBVL opening day on June 2 and the 2010 playoffs on August 14.
As always, if you have any questions please call Patty at 917-613-0908. (Be sure to call between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. Remember, Patty has a life outside of VB, too.) Or just check the website at www.rbvl.com. You'll find the answers to most of your questions there, not to mention pretty pictures and funny stories. See you on the beach (but not for league games), around the neighborhood and on the dance floor at Jameson's!