OCEAN BEACH AREA: “Only Footprints”

by FIN |

OCEAN BEACH AREA: “Only Footprints”
Theresa and Patrick Macri

Well, August is definitely upon us as the first real heat wave hit Ocean Beach with temperatures exceeding the 90-degree mark for five days in a row. Beachgoers were delighted but it put extra pressure on the OB lifeguards to protect the throngs of people seeking relief in the water.

“The two full moons this past month, coupled with the high tides caused some serious shifting of the sand on the ocean bottom, resulting in a higher frequency of rip tide effects,” stated Chief Lifeguard Nick Stertz.

Stertz also said that as the wind direction changes from the west to east, the situation would improve, as the sand will shift to fill in the troughs that formed offshore. Although summer is still far from over, we would like to thank Nick and all of the OB lifeguards for helping to keep us all safe. In addition, a special shout out to his team for bringing home the Golden Torp once again to OB, in their recent victory over Saltaire and the Town of Islip in the annual lifeguard competition.

We had the pleasure of attending the opening reception of the OB Historical Society’s recent installation “Greeting’s from Fire Island … Postcards and Messages from the Past.” This exhibition was curated by Carol Kushner and Linna Salamone and dedicated to honor the 50th anniversary of the National Seashore. The exhibit featured personal keepsakes from many of our island’s longstanding residents, namely, Dorothy Meyer, Betty Adie, Maria Silsdorf, Ian Levine, The Dunne Family, Jimmy Engle, Steven Wachlin and Patty and Chris Brahe. The exhibit runs through Labor Day, so come out and experience Fire Island memories from these historic recollections of the past.

In the past few issues we have spotlighted various sporting activities that are played in and around Ocean Beach. This issue we will focus on an institution that has been part of the scene for several decades — the Fire Island Basketball League.
We recently caught up with the founding father and “Commissioner” of the league, Rick Kushner, as well the “Assistant Commissioner,” Josh Schure, to find out what makes this so much more than just a game to our community.

It started back in 1989, when Rick decided to organize a more competitive game played on a weekly basis at the Woodhull School courts. Raising the ante, he showed his personal commitment to the fledging idea by shelling out $600 of his own money for league shirts, prompting his wife, Carol, to call him “crazy.” Undaunted, Rick asked each player to pay a $5 entry fee as their “buy-in.” And commit they did, as the league began organized play with a group of 32 players comprising four teams.

Twenty-six years later, this group has expanded to 80 participants making up 10 teams with players coming from Loneyville through Ocean Bay Park, including former residents and visitors who come back year after year. Anyone can play if you are between the ages of 15 (for insurance reasons) through 64. When we visited the courts, there was a cross-section of players of varying ages, with several sporting gray locks but the look of youth beaming from their faces. “It keeps us young at heart,” noted Marc Millman, a regular who’s been playing for many years.

Pick up games are played early weekend mornings all summer at the outdoor courts. Over the years, a few women have joined in, and in recent years, David Duchovny made a cameo appearance. But as the summer winds down the league belongs to the hardcore players, readying themselves for the playoff tournament.

During this stretch of games — the last three weekends in August and the Labor Day weekend — a special atmosphere replete with playoff jerseys, real referees, a digital score board and increased game times, signals the start of this league’s fall classic. “Everything is turned up a notch. We switch to a college game clock for the preliminary games and an NBA-length game clock for the finals,” added Schure. To the second place team, a trophy awaits. To the victors, the coveted purple jerseys and with that, bragging rights for the year. With the league’s talent pool featuring a gamut of schoolyard stars as well as high school and even college players, each playoff game will have an intensity level that is worth coming out and watching.

A quick reminder that a fundraiser for the OBFD will be held at Maguire’s on Friday, Aug. 28, at 9 p.m., featuring New Orleans’ legendary Big Sam’s Funky Nation. Tickets are $60 and are available at Maguire’s or call 631-583-8800.

Also, on Saturday, Aug. 15, at 2 p.m., the annual Sandpiper Run for Kids (ages 4-14) will be held on the beach. The race is limited to the first 130 applicants. So get yours today online at the OB website, or at the back of the village office’s north facing sliding doors on the bay. There is a $15 CASH ONLY registration fee. There will be T-shirts for all that register, medals to all finishers, trophies to those who place and Kenny Goodman necklaces to all first place winners!

And on a final note, we would be remiss if we didn’t send a big thank you to all involved in making the Dreaming of Windswept gala a huge success, especially John Schaffner, Rita Silver and Cami Meyer of the OB Community Fund as well as Jen Morano (Matthew’s) who coordinated all the food/beverages donated by each of the village’s restaurants.

With summer fading, we hope to see you all on the beach, where we encourage you to live, smile and leave… Only Footprints.

Do you have Ocean Beach Area news for Theresa and Pat? Email them at oceanbeach@fireisland-news.com

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