The guru behind the GAGA ball — And BYSC’s Mission GAGA 2018

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Pictured from left: Talon Athletics co-owners, Perez and Scott Blumberg
Pictured from left: Talon Athletics co-owners, Will Perez (Vice President) and Scott Blumberg (President)

When you hear the name Talon Athletics, the sport of GaGa may not spring to mind, but it should. Based on an inspiration by Scott Blumberg and Will Perez more than five years ago, Talon Athletics has grown into the largest supplier of GaGa Pits, protective gloves, as well as the premier host of GaGa events in the New York tristate area.

A large part of their success is linked to their commitment to giving back to the communities in which they serve. Backyard Sports Cares has worked with Scott and Talon Athletics for several years. And this year, through our partnership with Scott and Talon’s generosity, we have achieved key benchmarks in meeting our GaGa Mission 2018 objectives.

Back in November 2017, Backyard Sports Cares launched an ambitious mission with Talon Athletics to bring kids from all socioeconomic backgrounds in Westchester together through GaGa play. A dedicated team of BYSC’s stakeholders, advocates, parents, and volunteers along with Talon Athletics’ dedicated team, helped fund, coordinate and oversee the development and ongoing program coordination of three new gaga pits in under-served areas of Westchester County.

[GaGa is also played on Sunday mornings at Purchase College as part of the Backyard Sports Plus
program for special needs athletes]

New GaGa Pit installed at the Mt. Vernon Boys and Girls Club in January 2018
New GaGa Pit installed at the Mt. Vernon Boys and Girls Club in January 2018

Scott and his team generously provided the GaGa pits, led their construction efforts and initiated some introductory game instruction at GaGa community launch events at the Boys and Girls Club of Mount Vernon, the Slater Center in White Plains, and the Carver Center in Portchester.

“People are always curious about how a retired special education teacher became the GaGa guru,” said Scott Blumberg, President, Talon Athletics. “Working at a New Rochelle summer camp for several years, I learned about GaGa and what most intrigued me was that anyone could play — and you don’t have to be the best to win.”

“Working with Danny Bernstein and Backyard Sports Cares was a natural fit for us. Both of our organizations want kids to have fun, and have access to sports and activities that build confidence, provide physical activity and bring communities together,” added Blumberg.

Scott Blumberg, Talon Athletics, works with volunteers to construct new GaGa Pit at the Carver Center in White Plains.

Backyard Sports Cares and Talon Athletics have plans to build a fourth GaGa Pit to benefit kids from the Hamilton and Williams School in the Mount Vernon school district this fall. To get Gaga in your community, book a private GaGa event or for additional information about the services Talon Athletics provides, visit www.talonathletics.com.

Youth Soccer Participation has Fallen Sharply — Cost of Entry Among Principle Causes

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This past week, the New York Times published a story about the decline in youth soccer participation in the US. According to the report, over the past three years, the percentage of 6- to 12-year-olds playing soccer regularly has dropped nearly 14 percent, to 2.3 million players. The number of children who touched a soccer … Continue reading “Youth Soccer Participation has Fallen Sharply — Cost of Entry Among Principle Causes”

Bridging cultural differences through sport: Visiting UK coaches introduce rugby and cricket to Westchester grade schoolers

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Backyard Sports Cares “guest counselors”, Rhodrey Dafydd and Tom Finnigan of the United Kingdom, recently spent the month of May participating in our afterschool and special needs programs.  They led early morning and recess rugby and cricket programs to elementary school students in White Plains and New Rochelle. They also assisted in a physical education … Continue reading “Bridging cultural differences through sport: Visiting UK coaches introduce rugby and cricket to Westchester grade schoolers”

#MissionGaGa takes flight at Mt. Vernon Boys & Girls Club

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As part of Backyard Sports Cares’ Mission: Gaga 2018 initiative, BYSC, in conjunction with host families, will be donating a portable gaga pit to the Boys and Girls Club so they can enjoy the game all year-round. To get the kids formally introduced to gaga action, Backyard Sports Cares hosted a Gaga Day on Thursday, January … Continue reading “#MissionGaGa takes flight at Mt. Vernon Boys & Girls Club”

Productive Discussion: BYSC brings local at-risk youths together with role models from the Westchester Knicks

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How do you get at-risk youths in crisis to open up and take some hard-won advice? If you’re Backyard Sports Cares, the answer is pizza…and a few local heroes from the Westchester Knicks! This past week, Danny Bernstein, executive director, Backyard Sports Cares, decided to add a unique dimension to the recreational programming that the … Continue reading “Productive Discussion: BYSC brings local at-risk youths together with role models from the Westchester Knicks”

Backyard Sports Cares Leads Art Appreciation Program at Yonkers DaySpring Center

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Following successful programs with the White Plains Youth Bureau and the Mary Blige Center, Penny Bauersfeld of Scarsdale recently completed a six-week “Learning to Look” art appreciation program with 12 elementary school-aged children from the Day Spring Center in Yonkers. The program includes five weeks of afterschool study of various periods and artists.  Children learn … Continue reading “Backyard Sports Cares Leads Art Appreciation Program at Yonkers DaySpring Center”

Game, Set and Match! — An Interview with BYSC Tennis Coach Rita

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Categories afterschool programs, under-served communities, tennis

By Arden Franklyn Although some believe tennis is an exclusive sport, it’s actually largely recognized around the world as a mainstream activity that can be played by virtually anyone.  I recently caught up with Coach Rita, who leads the Backyard Sports Cares’ afterschool tennis program every Thursday at Ridgeway Elementary. The veteran tennis coach typically … Continue reading “Game, Set and Match! — An Interview with BYSC Tennis Coach Rita”

BYSC Tennis Program Flourishes at Ridgeway Elementary

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By Arden Franklyn Every Thursday, for 90-minutes, Rita, BYSC’s Tennis Coach, leads a group of 10 kids from Ridgeway Elementary through various energizing drills that are focused on the fundamentals of tennis. But the drills themselves aren’t the only reason why improvement has been evident among these young players. Before rackets or balls take to … Continue reading “BYSC Tennis Program Flourishes at Ridgeway Elementary”

Just Keep Swimming!

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By Arden Franklyn Whether your child swims for sport, exercise or fun, nothing quite compares to the feeling of weightlessness and freedom that swimming offers. I recently caught up with Colleen Ferguson, SUNY Purchase Swim Captain and lead coach for Backyard Sports Cares’ afterschool swim program for the Slater Center. Every Tuesday, Coach Colleen instructs … Continue reading “Just Keep Swimming!”

BYSC Afterschool Swim: A Day in the Pool with Slater Center Youngsters

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By Arden Franklyn Water + Kids = Fun  — That was the winning formula last Tuesday at Backyard Sports Cares’ weekly afterschool swim program for Thomas H. Slater Center children. Hosted at the SUNY Purchase pool and led by Swim Team Captain, Colleen Ferguson, the program brings the fundamentals of swimming to seven to ten-year-olds with limited … Continue reading “BYSC Afterschool Swim: A Day in the Pool with Slater Center Youngsters”

Backyard Sports Cares Announces Sponsorship Alliance with PM Pediatrics

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Pediatric Urgent Care Provider to Help Sponsor Afterschool Recreational Programming at Mt. Vernon Elementary Schools Backyard Sports Cares (BYSC), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to providing high quality sports programming to young athletes with limited access to community programs, announced today a strategic partnership with PM Pediatrics, one of the nation’s largest providers of specialized … Continue reading “Backyard Sports Cares Announces Sponsorship Alliance with PM Pediatrics”

Cheerleaders give performance pointers to Edward Williams Elementary schoolgirls

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For the past three months, Backyard Sports Cares volunteers and Scarsdale High School Varsity Cheerleaders, Madison Doyle, Ariel Stonberg, Talia Abbe and Isobel Lloyd, have been visiting and working with young girls at Edward Williams Elementary School in Mount Vernon. Last week, the fruits of their labor came to the stage. Edward Williams Elementary students, … Continue reading “Cheerleaders give performance pointers to Edward Williams Elementary schoolgirls”

BYSC + Jefferson Elementary Build Bridges for Latchkey Kids in New Roc

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This week marks the third week of the Jefferson Elementary after-school program, known as Puentes, which means Bridges in Spanish. Located in New Rochelle, the goal of the program is to keep kids in a safe, caring and educational environment. “Many of the kids in our program at Jefferson would be going home to an … Continue reading “BYSC + Jefferson Elementary Build Bridges for Latchkey Kids in New Roc”