The held its annual little league parade Saturday morning, marching not only the baseball teams but also the soccer, softball and a few cheerleading squads for the opening ceremonies at the MAA field.
Leading the way from up Roslyn Road to Jericho Turnpike then Down Mineola Boulevard and back up Willis Avenue was the marching band and members of the while a battalion of fire trucks brought up the rear.
The entire parade lasted a little over an hour as parents marched with – and carried – their young children as traffic stopped along the major roads in Mineola.
“A lot goes into starting a new season,” first year MAA President Frank Giordano said during the opening ceremonies on the large ball field at the MAA headquarters. “This is a complex piece of machinery, there are many different components which enable us to provide our children with a phenomenal program.”
Giordano then thanked the village board as well as the parks and recreation department, saying “these men and women are on our team and perform an outstanding job, enabling us to prepare for each season” and heaping praise on those who worked on the MAA board, baseball and soccer boards and the coaches “just to make a difference in a child’s life.”
New Mineola , himself a former MAA coach, said that “without the coaches, without the president and the executive board of the MAA, the managers, this program wouldn’t happen.”
With the entirety of the league sitting in the outfield, Strauss added that “all of us that sit on the board either played on these fields and or coached on these fields. We know the rewards that it gives our kids and your kids. Teach sportsmanship but more importantly, have fun.”
That sportsmanship has been handed down across many generations, with children playing on the same dirt, grass and running along the same baselines that their parents once did.
Pastor Chester Easton’s oldest daughter, now 24, was one of those children who played soccer and softball.
“It seems like every year its a great great group of parents, kids, coaches, staff and I think that that deserves calling upon God and asking a blessing,” Rev. Easton remarked in an invocation.
Kicking out the ceremonial first soccer ball was Dolores Jose, while former MAA president Tippy Overton threw out the first pitch.
The opening day ceremonies are also a time to bestow awards upon those who contribute to the league.
Each year the Mayor’s Trophy award is handed out for effort above and beyond on behalf of the little league program. This year the award was bestowed upon three individuals: Bill Hashowitz, Ted Nambrastic and Sal Raziano.
Despite having no children of his own, Hashowitz is “a volunteer who worked all year long,” Baseball co-president Larry Dieghan said, “coaching multiple baseball teams, spending countless hours with the children on one-on-one sessions on the batting cage or even an extra session on a Saturday morning and who works with these kids to develop their skills.”
Nambrastic was chosen as a recipient “for a lot of the work that he does unseen” including rescheduling at the drop of a hat, all unpaid Dieghan said. “He felt it was his way of giving back to the program.”
Of Raziano, who is in charge of the fields, Dieghan said that “there are many times he’ll get up at five or six in the morning and work on the fields for an hour or two before he even goes to work.”
On the soccer side, co-president Frank Pizzardi presented awards to two gentlemen who “really embody what volunteering and being part of an organization is about and for the work they do” – Joe Basel and Rich Macchietto.
Giordano and Jose presented the 25th annual Sandy Byrne award to Danny Russelman who has held many hats including soccer president and a member of various MAA boards and a coach or both soccer and baseball.
“As a coach, his knowledge of the game, highly organized approach and kind demeanor make him a favorite among parents and children,” Giordano said.
The 45th annual Joe Bruno award was given to Jerry DeStefano, who has coached at every level of the baseball program and “has been a major asset to every part of our program” Giordano said, and a “one man baseball sponsor committee” rounding up the 30 local merchants needed to sponsor the teams.