Sports camps groom future stars


Football and basketball took center stage this week at Firemen’s Field and Memorial Junior High School, respectively, as the Village of Valley Stream Recreation Department’s summer sports camp continued its 14th year of operation.

Coordinators Joe Gustafeste and Mike Paolillo, both teachers and coaches in the Central High School District, have been with the camp since its inception. They run six specialized programs — soccer, flag football, basketball, lacrosse, volleyball and baseball/softball — consisting of 15 hours spread over five days. Camps are limited to kids set to enter grades 4 through 8, and the cost is $85 for village residents and $90 for high school district residents.

“It’s about developing fundamental skills,” said Gustafeste, an assistant varsity football coach at Valley Stream South. “We’re showing the kids the proper way to grip a football and throw, along with catching techniques and running patterns. Getting them to appreciate the game is the main goal.”

A typical three-hour camp day is divided into three parts with 10- or 15-minute breaks in between. “The kids work on certain skills and fundamentals for the first two hours and then play a modified game for the last 45 minutes,” Gustafeste said. “We look for them to apply what they’ve learned in the first two hours into the games.”

Directed by South boys’ varsity coach Richard Boyd, soccer kicked off this year’s camp series and drew more than 20 participants. While the turnout for football was below par, the numbers for upcoming camps for lacrosse (July 15-19, 9 a.m. to noon) and baseball/softball (July 22-26) are solid and registration remains open at Firemen’s Field.

In addition to Gustafeste, Paolillo and Boyd, others on staff include district boys’ varsity lacrosse coach Dan Achatz, North assistant varsity football coach and varsity wrestling coach Tom Maddock, South boys’ varsity basketball coach Matt Johnsen, Jessica Ricotta, and Mike Hovanac,

“We’ve had a lot of kids from our camps go on to compete at the high school varsity level and play for some of these same coaches,” Gustafeste said.

For more information or to register for camps, call the Recreation Department at (516) 825-8570.