Tag Archives: Hofstra University

NYC college students to vie for spot in Red Bull’s worldwide paper plane competition

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

New York City college students are getting wings this weekend in Long Island City.

On Sunday, over 250 students from seven city universities and colleges will try to earn a spot in the worldwide competition called Red Bull Paper Wings.

Participants from Manhattan College, and New York, Columbia, St. John’s, Hofstra, Fordham, and Rutgers universities will get together at Studio Square to create paper planes and compete to join 75 other students from around the nation in May at Red Bull’s competition in Austria.

Students from the schools can sign up at www.redbullpaperwings.com and on Sunday will receive the materials to build their planes on-site.

Professional skydiver and Red Bull athlete Jeff Provenzano will be judging the competition to see which design goes the farthest.

The event will take place Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m. on the fifth floor event space at Studio Square, located at 35-44 37th St.


Sports Star: Danielle Fabiilli, junior, Hofstra University dance team

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Danielle Fabiilli

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Name: Danielle Fabiilli
School: Hofstra University
Grade: Junior
Sport: Dance team


Middle Village resident Danielle Fabiilli helped the Hofstra University dance team to a second place overall finish in the Universal Dance Association national championship last month. In addition to the overall finish, the team also took second place in the Division I Hip Hop and Doubles Jazz competitions. Fabiilli was also a member of the team that was the national champion in 2012 and 2013.

She started performing at age 3 when she enrolled in That’s Dancin’, a dancing school in Middle Village. She was also part of the Archbishop Molly High School dance team. As part of the Hofstra University team, Fabiilli performs at athletic events and school proceedings. The team also performs at children’s hospitals, nursing homes and for charity events, such as cancer walks.

Despite being a lifetime dancer, Fabiilli aspires to be a math teacher. She maintains a 3.6 GPA, while double-majoring in education and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). For her senior year, she is looking forward to being a leader on the dance team and completing her degree. And while being a school teacher, Fabiilli would also like to coach the school’s dance team.


Why do you want to be a teacher and not a dancer?
“Because I come from a family of educators. My mom is a teacher, my grandparents were teachers and two of my aunts are teachers.”

How does dancing help with teaching?
“The leadership roles that I gain from the team and also I am so used to performing in front of thousands of people so I’m not afraid of teaching.”

Why is it important to perform at charity events?
“I think it’s great because we don’t only compete, but we reach out to the community. They love when we come to perform, because they are not used to dance teams coming to perform for them.”

What do you want people to know about the dance team?
“A lot of people don’t consider dance a sport. But I think a lot of what we do is a sport. We want people to know that we are very hardworking. We do as much as any other sports team at Hofstra.”

What would you like to give your future students?
“I want to put the fun back into math and learning. I want to make it a fun learning environment.”

How great has it been to win national championships?
“It would be amazing, winning those past two years have helped me with my confidence. It is a great feeling to say that I am a national champion, and that you can balance school and sports at the same time.”



Sports Star: Travis Atson, forward, Christ the King HS basketball team

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Rick Atson

Name: Travis Atson
School: Christ the King High School 
Grade: Junior
Sport: Basketball
Position: Forward

Travis Atson is a junior forward on the Christ the King high school basketball team. Standing at 6’5 he is one of the team’s big men. As the reigning state champions, Atson is a part of a team which hopes to defend their title. Atson averages a double-double and has scored an average of nearly 20 points and 12 rebounds per game in the five games as of December 29. On top of his athletic prowess, Atson is maintaining an 85 percent academic average and participates in various community service activities, such as blood drives and volunteering to teach basketball to younger children.

Why did you start playing basketball?
“I started when I was about six-years-old. My mom’s friend was babysitting me and she brought me to a game, and I said I want to play. My first game I scored 16 points.”

What colleges are you thinking about attending next year?
“The main thing is to get a free scholarship to school. I haven’t thought about college yet. But I have received interest from Boston University, Hofstra, VCU and Georgetown.”

What kind of community service do you do?
“With my school with do a lot of community service. We just did a blood drive.”

What do you like to do besides basketball?
“In school I take a hip hop dance class. We performed in front of the whole school. It gets my footwork and coordination better.”

What would you do if you couldn’t be a pro-basketball player?
“Actually, I would want to be a teacher and I would want to be a basketball coach for my school [Christ the King]. First, because they get to play sports all day and I just love being around kids and having fun.”


One-arm Benjamin Cardozo High School cheerleader hopes to continue dancing in college

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

In every aspect Benjamin Cardozo High School senior Kayla Garcia is an average teenage girl.

She goes to parties with her friends, complains about the length of the SAT, and is still contemplating which college to attend next year.

But Kayla, 17, was born without her right forearm.

“When I first had her I was worried, is she going to ride a bike?” said Cindy, Kayla’s mother. “But then I was like, it’s stupid to worry about stuff like that. She’s healthy, there is nothing mentally wrong with her, those are the kind of challenges that are probably harder to overcome.”

Kayla, who is a member of Cardozo’s step team and cheerleading squad, is just fine with her body and is hoping to continue dancing in college.

She wants to major in psychology, while participating on the cheerleading and stepping teams at the next level. Kayla is considering a wide range of schools, including Dickinson College, Hofstra University, Wesleyan University or Ithaca College, among others.

“I’m excited for that, I’m not nervous for college,” Kayla said. “I’m just wondering where I am going to go.”

Her right arm is stunted to about her elbow, but the Flushing teen uses the ligament naturally, such as to brush aside her long, wild hair when strands creep in front of her face.

During her years in Cardozo she has done various extracurricular activities, including volunteering at local organizations and events, such as the Dribble for a Cure cancer fundraiser at St. John’s University with the cheerleading team. She is also part of Cardozo’s Leadership Class, the student government group that oversees all club activities, parties and numerous events for the more than 4,000 students enrolled in the school.

Kayla performs with the step club during the school’s popular basketball games, and the cheerleading squad at the football games.

She shines with confidence, despite the missing limb, because Kayla has been attending support groups since she was about three years old with her mother to meet with parents and other children in similar situations.

Cindy heard some advice that stuck with her from the groups, which influenced the way she raised Kayla. “Your kid is normal, how people perceive her that’s their problem. Raise her like you would any other kid and she’ll be fine,” Cindy recalled.

And she followed through. When Kayla was about eight years old, Cindy pushed her into salsa dance classes.

Kayla developed a love for dancing, which years later she used to be accepted into Cardozo, after auditioning her talents for the school’s performing dance program.

Looking towards the future Kayla doesn’t think she will cheer or do dancing for a career. She also doesn’t want a right forearm.

Since she never had one, she doesn’t even miss it.

“I’m so used to doing everything with one. Doing it with two would throw me off,” Garcia said. “I am just used to being this way I wouldn’t want [a prosthetic arm].”



Holy Cross football paves the way to college

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Charles Osborn


This year, Holy Cross High School football coach Tom Pugh sent three of his players to the UnitedHealthcare Empire Challenge, the annual all-star style football game held at Hofstra University.

The game was held on Tuesday, June 18 at James M. Shuart Stadium, with ticket sale proceeds going to cystic fibrosis research.

The match-up pitted the five boroughs against a team that drew its ranks from Nassau and Suffolk Counties. The city’s squad was stronger defensively thanks to the three Holy Cross players: cornerback Lekeith Celestain, defensive end

Malachi Hoskins and outside linebacker Juwan Wilson.

Along with bringing them to the big stage of the nationally televised Empire Challenge, the game will also help each of the graduating seniors to go to college.

Celestain, a tall cornerback who also played receiver throughout the past season, will head to Monmouth University in

New Jersey. The Kensington, Brooklyn resident said football has always been a big part of his life.

“I started to play organized football when I was 12 years old, but ever since I can remember, I’ve been playing,” Celestain said.

Monmouth University immediately offered Celestain a scholarship, he said, but he also received offers from James Madison University, Stony Brook University and Villanova University — all Division I schools. He said he is looking forward to college because it will provide him with more competition as well as more freedom.

Ozone Park resident Wilson, who played linebacker at Holy Cross but was safety in the Empire Challenge, was excited about both the atmosphere and the stiff competition at the event.

“It was a chance to play against the best around,” Wilson said.

Wilson, who is heading to Utica College’s Division III program, holds a unique distinction in the annals of Holy Cross football — he is the only player to ever be captain of the squad two years in a row.

Pugh cited his work ethic and intelligence as factors that have led to his success on the field.

“I’ve been playing football since I was four years old with my brother,” Wilson said.
Wilson, who plays the traditionally cerebral position of outside linebacker, cited the family atmosphere at Utica as the reason for his choice.

“It reminds me of Holy Cross,” Wilson said. “Everyone is close-knit.”

He is most looking forward to the jump from high school to college because it will provide a learning experience.

“It’s a chance to learn even more about the game,” he said. “I’m also looking forward to the jump in physicality. I really like being physical out there on the field.”

Hoskins knows all about physicality, too.

He plays defensive end, a grueling physical position that requires size, speed and toughness. Hoskins will bring his fair share of each to a college program later this year, but he has not settled on a choice yet. He is currently leaning toward Division I Central Connecticut University, which he described as a “good fit.”

“I look at the jump to college as a chance to get better and to learn the game,” Hoskins said.

The Queens Village resident also received an offer from Wagner College, but he saw the Empire Challenge as the opportunity to gain exposure.

According to Pugh, Celestain, Wilson and Hoskins will not represent Holy Cross in the college ranks alone.

“We currently have 42 graduates playing some form of college football. This year, we have 10 more to add,” Pugh said.



The Dirty Gems let loose into the music world

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Beth Laschever

Starting off with covering everything from Lady Gaga to No Doubt, to now evolving into their own unique sound, The Dirty Gems are taking the stage to show everyone that they’re ready to let loose.

The pop-rock-soul band started off as part of a school course at Hofstra University in 2007 when Raycee Jones (vocals), Ulises Amaya (bass) and Cam Underhill (synth, vocals) were chosen by Professor Bob Bowen III to create a jazz combo. The college students then formed the cover band, Pump Yo Brakes, with the drumming beats of Jack Goode. After graduation, their love of music continued and they decided to take matters into their own hands and began writing songs with the creative mind of long-time friend and Raycee’s fellow songwriter Mills.

“When your experience is the song and the crowd is feeding off your energy and comes back to shows, it’s a very humbling and very exciting thing,” said Raycee.

Tragedy struck in late 2010 when Bowen, their mentor, passed away from a bike accident. The band performed at the late professor’s student memorial benefit concert, where they met guitarist Gary Heimbauer after watching him perform.

“He [Bowen] brought someone to us again at the event,” said Raycee.

Since then it has been smooth sailing for the band as the group released its debut self-titled EP in 2011. With half of the members from Astoria, The Dirty Gems were semi-finalists in the Battle of the Boroughs for Queens in 2012 and won the Upper East Side Music Festival the same year. Now the band is ready for round two, the Ultimate Battle, taking place on June 21.

Performing from Boston down to Maryland, The Dirty Gems put on a show capturing both fun and emotional aspects. Mills pointed out that audience participation is big at their shows and the feeling is great when they see the reactions. If you’re the lucky lady picked from the crowd by Raycee, your name will be accompanied by clapping and shouting as they perform the aptly-titled “Your Name Here.”

“We tend to be a stadium rock band that plays small bars and venues,” said Mills.

The group has played various venues including Spike Hill and Public Assembly in Brooklyn, and Bowery Electric and Webster Hall in the East Village. Yet The Dirty Gems took the stage at their biggest venue to date on April 28 at the Highline Ballroom.

Their 2nd EP, “Vujà Dé,” will be released in the summer and will include the single “Let Me Loose.”

“It’s just a whole package,” said Raycee. “It’s about the strange feeling that none of this has ever happened before.”



Wrestling voted out of Olympics

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Hofstra University


The sport of wrestling is now fighting for its life.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) voted the sport, which was part of the inaugural 1896 Olympics held in Athens, Greece, off the 2020 games program.

Richard Zbytniewski, a wrestling coach at MS 72 Count Basie in Jamaica, said he couldn’t understand the decision made by the IOC because wrestling has been a part of the Olympics since the beginning.

“If you’re going to get rid of one of the oldest sports then you’re losing the identity of the Olympics,” he said.

Robert Anspach, head coach of wrestling at Hofstra University, said he was shocked when he learned the news and at first thought it was a joke.

“I didn’t even know it was up for discussion,” he said.

Anspach argued with one of the reasons the IOC gave for voting wrestling off, low ratings.

“If you’re going to put it on at 1 or 2 o’clock in the afternoon of course nobody’s going to be to watch it,” he said.

Anspach said that despite the decreasing ratings, there seems to be a growing support for wrestling, citing growing attendance at Hofstra’s wrestling events.

Zbytniewski said when he was a wrestler in college he’d use the Olympics for motivation.

“The Olympics were inspiring me to do better,” he said, adding that the event does the same for the students he coaches at the middle school.

Anspach said that the Olympics may not be the only goal that all wrestlers look to, but that it is one of the main ones.

“It’s the dream and aspiration of some of these guys,” Anspach said of his wrestlers.

Anspach and Zbytniewski also said that wrestling should stay in the Olympics because it is, in their opinion, the ultimate sport.

“It’s something that you’re born with, it’s instinctual,” Anspach said. “It’s the only sport that’s opened to everybody. There’s a weight class for everyone. You don’t see a short basketball player. But in wrestling there’s a division for everyone.”

“There are sports on that list that I really wouldn’t even consider to be a sport,” Zbytniewski echoed. “They don’t take any skill to do. Wrestling is a highly skilled sport that you need to train hard for in order to get good at.”

Anspach, when asked if there was any official word on what would happen in the wrestling community, said everything is still up in the air.

“People are asking us ‘what’s going to happen?’” he said. “We don’t know. It’s not official yet that it’s going to happen and I really hope they overturn the decision.”

Wrestling still has a fighting chance to be included in the 2020 games, but has to apply for inclusion along with six other sports: baseball/softball, karate, roller sports, sport climbing, squash, wakeboarding and wushu (Chinese martial arts).

Anspach said this could be a lesson for the wrestling community, saying those in charge need to be more active in promoting their sport.

“We need to stop being reactionary and start being more proactive,” he said. “It might be too late to stop this, but now we need to figure out how we prevent this from happening again.”



Queens’ Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com


Wednesday: Partly cloudy. High of 61. Winds from the ESE at 5 to 10 mph. Wednesday night: Mostly cloudy in the evening, then clear. Low of 55. Winds from the SSE at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT of the DAY: The Platinum Band

The Platinum Band is once again performing on the Resorts World Casino New York City’s Bar 360 Stage. The band, which boasts a heavy rotation of reggae music, takes you back to an era of Bob Marley and the Wailers. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Students sickened after pepper spray is released in Queens school

One student was hospitalized, and 10 more had to be sent home, after pepper spray was discharged in a school lunchroom in South Ozone Park, Queens. Read more: CBS New York

Makeover for Queens traffic hub is underway

Pedestrian plazas and a gleaming stainless steel elevator are coming to Queens Blvd. and the Van Wyck Expressway but completion of the massive Kew Garden Interchange project is still years away. Read more: New York Daily News

Baggage handler who smuggled cocaine in planes is sentenced to life

An airline baggage handler who was convicted of trafficking millions of dollars’ worth of drugs in the bellies of commercial jets was sentenced to life in prison on Tuesday, putting an emphatic stamp on a case that revealed rampant theft and corruption by some airline employees. Read more: New York Times

Union officials ask Queens district attorney for fair investigation of cop in fatal shooting of unarmed man on Grand Central Parkway

Union officals for the NYPD detective who shot an unarmed man to death on the Grand Central Parkway met Tuesday with the Queens district attorney to ask for a fair and impartial investigation. Read more: New York Daily News

NYC cabbie suspended after tossing passenger

A New York City cab driver has had his license suspended after a hearing in which he was shown on video shoving and pushing a passenger out of his cab. Read more: NBC New York

Face to face: Obama, Romney in crackling debate

An aggressive President Barack Obama accused challenger Mitt Romney of peddling a “sketchy deal” to fix the U.S. economy and playing politics with the deadly terrorist attack in Libya in a Tuesday night debate crackling with energy and emotion just three weeks before the election. Read more: AP

Queens’ Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com


Tuesday: Partly cloudy in the morning, then clear. High of 61. Breezy. Winds from the WNW at 10 to 20 mph. Tuesday night: Partly cloudy. Low of 48. Winds from the NW at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Live Classical Music

A special presentation of classical music featuring the artistry of soloist Lesley Zlabinger with Catherine Frank on piano. The program will include the song cycle “Frauenliebe und-leben” by Robert Schumann; three songs by Claude Debussy, “Nuit d’etoiles,” “Voice que le printemps” and “Paysage sentimental;” the secular cantata “Lucrezia” by G.F. Handel; and four songs by Mozart, “Ridente la calma,” “Warnung,” “Als luise die briefe” and “An chloe.” Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Fight over proposed Queens Kickshaw bike corral could be paved over with compromise in Astoria

The battle over a proposed bike rack in front of an Astoria eatery may come to a hault. Read more: New York Daily News

Queens landlord wanted in teacher murder nabbed in Maryland

The Queens landlord wanted for questioning in the stabbing death of a 39-year-old public school teacher has been caught in Maryland, authorities said Monday. Read more: NBC New York

Roughly half of Aqueduct racino’s top managers reside in the borough

The operator of the Aqueduct racino released new jobs data this month showing that about half of its top executives call Queens home. Read more: New York Daily News

A ‘match’ for Nobel

Two American scholars — one of them born in Queens — netted the Nobel economics prize yesterday for work on a matchmaking technique that has sharply reduced the number of New York students who end up in high schools they didn’t want to attend. Read more: New York Post

Mayoral hopeful switches to G.O.P.

The field of likely Democratic candidates for New York City mayor narrowed by one on Monday when Tom Allon, a newspaper publisher waging a long-shot bid, announced that he would switch to the Republican Party to increase his odds of making it to the 2013 general election ballot. Read more: New York Times

Brooklyn Nets win their Barclays Center debut game

The Brooklyn Nets won their first basketball game at the new Barclays Center against the Washington Wizards on Monday night, and the preseason victory marked the first time professional sports were played in the borough since the Dodgers left in 1957. Read more: NY1

Pundits: Hofstra presidential debate could easily mean doom for rhe loser

All eyes in the United States and around the world will soon be on a Long Island university. Read more: CBS New York


Christ the King names former NFL player as head coach

| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Christ the King

Christ the King High School announced a new head varsity football coach, Tyree Allison, who has already tackled the pros will now share his experience with the Royals.

Allison, who had a cup of coffee with the New Orleans Saints, has signed on to take over the Royals Varsity Football team.  The Hofstra University graduate also played with the Detroit Fury, the Tennessee Valley Vipers and the Mohegan Wolves in the Arena Football League.

“Tyree has been a valued member of our faculty.  We obviously knew of his NFL career and coaching experience on both the High School and Collegiate levels. When the football season ended this year and the coaching positions became available, I was glad to see Tyree submitted his resume,” said Principal Peter J. Mannarino.

Allison, who is also a teacher at the Middle Village School, said he excited for this chance.

“I am so grateful to have been given this opportunity by the Board of Trustees. Since joining the faculty this school has become my second family.  Watching the academic growth of my students has always been my greatest reward,” Allison said.  “I value the time spent in the NFL and know how important proper football training is to being successful in all walks of life.  To be able to share my experience and passion with the Christ the King community as head coach is a wonderful way to give something back to all they have given me.  My goal is to bring a winning tradition to Christ the King football and with the help of my talented staff and these fine student athletes, that’s exactly what we will do.”

The Christ the King won just once this past season while racking up seven losses.