2014-03-14 / Columnists

Who’s Who

Stan Brown, Coach, Stan Brown’s Pepper Steppers
By Dan Guarino

Tell us about yourself.

I live in Rockaway. I’ve been in Rockaway since, let me see...I moved to Rockaway near the end of 1957. I moved to Redfern.

I went into the service in 1965. In the Navy I was a petty officer. I came out in 1969, with an honorable discharge. I live in Arverne now.

I am a Recreation Director with City of New York Department of Parks and Recreation. I’ve been with the Parks since 1981.

I’ve done a lot of things. They gave me an award at Lincoln Center for my lifetime of work with youth, through the New York City Parks. I also have any Emmy nomination for “The Rhythm of The Ropes.” I was in a Spike Lee movie, “Do The Right Thing,” And I’ve done fundraisers for a lot of causes. A lot of things.

My family, my friends, my neighbors, my co-workers, and especially the children— they are great and very supportive.

Were you involved with community or civic affairs before that?

As a young person my first sport was track. But I always had what you would call leadership qualities where I’d want to help my friends get better. I was pretty decent in handball. When I moved to Rockaway I continued in track. Then I started playing baseball. And we did pretty well- we won the City Championships. My coach at that time was Charlie Harper.

I played the usual sandlot football, stickball, handball, track, basketball and enjoyed them all. I boxed a little bit, too and I was introduced to martial arts.

Double Dutch was a sport that started as a game. We were playing some place and there were some girls playing Double Dutch. They wouldn’t move. So they said, “Well, you can’t do it.” So I tried and I couldn’t. I became fascinated by it.

What activities are you currently involved in?

Currently I am the Sports Director of the Sorrentino Recreation Center in Far Rockaway on Cornaga Avenue.

I am involved in a lot of sports, a lot of activities, a lot of different sports.

The name of our Double Dutch Team is Stan’s Pepper Steppers and we are current World Champions. We have a history of world championships. And we have a history that’s 40 years deep.

The Wave 2006-2007 Rockaway Newcomers Guide said, ‘The Pepper Steppers are a little league team of boys and girls. Brown has been the guiding influence of creating one of the most successful teams not only in the city, but all over the country.’

We’ve been in international competitions. We’ve performed with four mayors.

I start off with 3 year olds and it doesn’t stop at youth. We have all kinds of divisions, and people all the way up to their sixties. I did a demonstration out in Rockville Centre. I had a lady, she’s 101 years old.

I never had tryouts. I am interested in the children. I am not interested in their ability, but what they’d like to learn.

What constitutes a winner to me is someone who finishes what they start.

How long do you see yourself doing these things?

That’s a good question. I have been blessed to live to the age I am now. Every time I do things with the kids, it’s great. I do street hockey, I do flag football, Double Dutch---I had swimming teams, handball teams.

But to answer your question, I am a Christian, I believe in God and I just take each day one day at a time. I don’t plan on ever not doing things. I don’t know in what capacity, but if I wasn’t doing this, well what would I do?

What is the most important issue facing Rockaway?

The most important issue facing Rockaway is identity. See at one time we had an identity. Now we don’t. We’re not an urban area; we’re not a suburban area. We’re not a resort area.

Manhattan and Brooklyn, they have an urban identity. Upstate, out on Long island, they have their own identity.

Even though we live by the beach, we’re not considered a resort area. When we had Playland, we had more of that. Who are we now?

We have a history that only the people in Rockaway know.

Until we have an identity, how can we move forward?

People say we need to bring down crime, we need education, employment— and that’s all true. But we need to know who we are so we can let other people know.

What is the best thing about living in Rockaway?

The best thing about living in Rockaway, ironically, is the people. It’s not Rockaway; it’s the people in Rockaway.

You will go all over the world and never meet people like the people in Rockaway. These people here have gone through and faced all kinds of the things and they have stood up to it. They have survived through it and thrived. Rockaway stands by itself.

The people out here are great. Nobody like them anywhere. I have traveled; I’ve been to other countries. I have trained athletes in Moscow, Russia—in France, in the Netherlands. There’s no place like Rockaway. I’ve coached at least 11 different sports. I’ve worked with and met teams from all over—as far away as Japan.

Even when the Pepper Steppers compete, like against Japan, against Tokyo—we ARE from Far Rockaway. That is who we are, that’s how we compete.

The biggest complaint?

Services. We lack a lot of services that other areas are just given. Rockaway is pretty much the last to receive a lot of things. When things are mapped out, when things are put into a plan, we are not considered the main thing. If something works well, say, Brooklyn will try to claim it.

It all boils down to identity.

What advice or suggestions do you have for people who are not involved right now, but are interested in helping Rockaway?

If you want to help somebody, someplace, do a little research. Find the history. The people here in Rockaway have constantly made adjustments. It takes a strong person to make adjustments, not just sacrifices.

If you understand a little bit about Rockaway, you find it is not just a peninsula. Rockaway is an area that divides itself, and then collectively, brings itself together.

It is so good now to see things coming together here.

Get to know Rockaway. Find out what it’s all about. You’ll be glad you did. If you don’t know yesterday, you can’t know tomorrow.

Like I tell my Double Dutch players, ‘you are a legacy’. You are building that.

The winning, that’s easy. Stick to what you’re doing, see it through.

That’s really what makes a winner.

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