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The Gym Bag: Arnold Obey street renaming, 6th flag football crown for S.I. Giants’ 14U squad and 3rd annual fundraiser for the late Vito DeRenzis

Family and friends gathered on the North Shore on Juneteenth Day (June 19) to celebrate the life and memory of longtime Island educator and athlete Arnold Obey during a street renaming ceremony.

A street sign named “Arnold Obey Way” oversees the the northeast corner of Jersey Street and Crescent Avenue in Tompkinsville.

“I had the distinct pleasure on Juneteenth to proclaim the northeast corner of Jersey Street and Crescent Avenue as Arnold Obey Way as a tribute to educator, coach and athlete Arnold Obey, who passed away suddenly in March 2020,” said Councilwoman Debi Rose (D-North Shore). “Mr. Obey’s extensive resume featured an educational career that included stints as a teacher, assistant principal and principal; a basketball career that ranged from player, coach and referee; and a devotion to long-distance running that included nearly four decades of running the New York City Marathon.”

Island road runners Tommy Hart and Jeff Benjamin, who is a board member of the Staten Island Running Association (SIRA), were on hand at the street renaming.

“Perhaps Arnold’s greatest legacy was the effect he had on helping out generations of kids,” said Benjamin, who was brought to his first off-Island road race by Obey back in 1981. ”That spirit will always be with many of us.”

Another friend, Harold Bumbrey, said the honor “was well deserved.”

Obey starred on Wagner College’s basketball team in the mid-1960s. He would go on to be inducted into the Hall of Fame at Wagner, he started for three years lead them to a 54-29 record during his tenure. Obey coached basketball at Staten Island Academy in Dongan Hills. He also was a drug awareness teacher and would go on to become an assistant principal and then the principal of PS 31 in New Brighton.

The Brighton Kiwanis Club honored Obey by naming a race after him in 2017 when the club held the Arnold Obey/Armed Forces Day 5K Run. The fundraiser helped collect funds for Staten Island’s high school track & field teams.

The Richmond University Medical Center also named its annual run after Obey just recently.

Staten Island Giants 14U

The Staten Island Giants 14U team pose after claiming their sixth tournament of the year. (Photo courtesy of Mike Colt)

Champs again!

The Staten Island Giants 14U girls’ flag football team captured the Summer Showdown in Epping, New Hampshire, last weekend as they posted a 5-0 mark in the event.

It was the team’s sixth tournament championship of the year and improved there overall 2021 National record to 31-2. The team is currently ranked No. 1 among the 14U girls’ team in the country, according to the NFL Flag National rankings.

The offense was led by the quarterbacks Kristen Sarnicola and Jillian Molfetta and wide receivers Jaclyn Molinini, Sarah Litman, Valerie Gandlin, Annabella Baez, Bella Castro, Sarah Colchamiro, Josephine Borgognone and Madison Mayas. The wideouts combined for 15 touchdowns.

The defense did not give up a point until the championship game.

“Our defense played lights out,” said S.I. Giants 14U head coach Mike Colt, who doubles as the organization’s president. “(Defensive) coach Vinny Baccale had them flying all over the field.”

Rushers Colchamiro, Gandlin and Baez combined for 21 sacks and defensive backs Mayas, Molinini, Castro and MVP linebacker Borgognone combine for four defensive TDs and 10 interceptions.

“We came into this tournament missing one of our captains, Olivia Rijo, and wide receiver Angelia Ruggiero, but that wasn’t gonna stop the S.I. Giants on our quest to be called champions one more time,” said Colt. “This is a special group of girls. We play football the team way. Everyone has a part and plays their part.

“This tournament we dedicated to one of our 14U coaches, William Baez, that has been in the hospital battling Covid since late February and is now in rehab building his strength up to come home. This one is for you Coach Will. A speedy recovery.”

Playing for a good cause

Friends, family and league members of the Mid-Island Men’s Baseball League will gather for the third annual Vito “Butchy” DeRenzis Lung Cancer Awareness Fundraiser Game on July 24 at Mid-Island Babe Ruth League complex.

DeRenzis died from the terrible disease in 2019.

He was the coach of Butchy’s Heat, which plays in the Mid-Island Men’s loop. He was known simply as “Coach V.”

A 2 p.m. ceremony will be followed by a game between Butchy’s Heat and the Gators.

Do you have any good sports news? Send it our way

The Gym Bag publishes every Wednesday on the web and will appear in the Staten Island Advance shortly after. This is where we will feature short stories, tidbits and morsels about your players or teams going forward in place of the daily game results we used to take.

You can send us interesting information about your team after a strong start to the season, a championship season, a first win, a player who did something extraordinary in a particular game or event, etc.

If you have any news or tidbits like that, please email the sports desk at sports2@siadvance.com where we will evaluate the message and see if the content qualifies for our notebook.

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Travis Burnett

Travis Burnett

A pioneer in the flag football community, Travis helped co-found the Flag Football World Championship Tour, FlagSpin and USA Flag. Featuring 15+ years of content creation for the sport of flag football, creating and managing the largest flag football tournaments on the planet, coaching experience at the youth and adult level as well as an active player with National and World Championship level experience.

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