Tags Posts tagged with "Europe"

Europe

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Québec City seems like a delightfully European-styled destination that is only a nine-hour drive from here. Montreal, officially Montréal, is even closer, only six hours or so. The old cities there are filled with beautiful stone buildings that speak of some five centuries of North American history, a unique culture that is a French-Canadian and English mix, lively street scenes and shops, museums, sports and scrumptious restaurant food.

I can attest to all that because I attended a press convention that was held in Canada this fall, and a friend and I drove there and back. By the way, the road trip is a scenic joy as we traveled along the Molly Stark Trail amid the Green Mountains through Vermont and back on the Adirondack Northway. The only way it could have been better is if the leaves had been turning. As it was, the trees were at their lushest, the highways were clear and the weather was perfect — in the 70s with low humidity and azure blue sky.

I was thrilled that the local residents could understand my French and even more so that I could understand theirs. I haven’t tried to speak French since I was last in Paris, a while ago. I discovered that the French Canadians speak more slowly than the Parisians generally, so communication of at least a rudimentary nature was mildly possible. I certainly understood how much they dislike President Trump, which they told us often enough after they discovered we were visiting Americans.

Quebec City, referred to that way to distinguish it from the larger Province of Quebec, is located both above and below cliffs that line the northern bank of the wide St. Lawrence River. The Upper Town, home of the now-famous Château Frontenac, was where the elite among the early French settlers lived, including the clergy and government officials. Merchants and craftsmen lived in the Lower Town along the river. The strategic location of the city permitted the French to repel both British and American invaders for more than a century and enabled trade to flourish among New France until Wolfe and de Montcalm fought on the Plains of Abraham in 1759 and the British won. The Quebec Act of 1774 allowed the French to continue to speak French and to practice Catholicism, and by keeping the French satisfied probably kept them from joining the American Revolution. To this day, road signs are in French although children learn English from second grade on and are bilingual.

After a couple of days, we made the three-hour drive to Montreal and the location of the convention, still enjoying glorious weather. I keep marveling at the weather, knowing that of the original 28 men who accompanied Samuel de Champlain from France in 1608, 20 died from the harsh first winter.

The Island of Montreal was considered, in the early days of settlement in the mid-17th century, to be only an outpost for fur trading. Over the centuries, however, it has become one of the world’s largest primarily French-speaking cities after Paris and the second largest city in Canada — only Toronto is larger. The Port of Montreal is one of the world’s major inland ports, served by the St. Lawrence Seaway. It is a city of skyscrapers, festivals and considerable diversity, and it too has marvelous restaurants, along with the cultural and entertainment offerings one would expect. I only got a short tour of Old Montreal and some time in the art museum, where there was a good exhibit on Picasso and African art, because in Montreal I had to work. I enjoyed the meetings and learned some things there that our newspapers will be telling you about in subsequent issues, also on our website.

Our return on Sunday afternoon took us an hour to cross the border compared with fewer than three minutes on the way into Quebec on a weekday. We left our northern neighbor, however, with a strong urge to revisit soon.

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Girls hoops will rely on speed, defense to remain zealous

Former Commack star point guard Samantha Prahalis, above playing for WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, will be the head coach at Ward Melville this season. Photo from Facebook

By Desirée Keegan

Ward Melville is looking to maintain its competitive edge.

The back-to-back League I title-winning girls basketball team is readying for a new challenge following the loss of senior leaders Taylor Tripptree, Kiera Ramaliu and Hannah Lorenzen, with head coach Bruce Haller.

That’s where veteran Samantha Prahalis comes in. The former WNBA standout, who scored 2,372 points for Commack, the fifth-best total in Long Island girls basketball history, will lead her old high school’s rival team this season. After she steered Ohio State University to four straight NCAA tournaments from 2009 to 2012, she completed a two-year stint for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and played four years professionally in Europe. The 5-foot, 7-inch point guard said she was ready to return to her roots in New York, and decided it was time to give back.

Ward Melville’s Lauren Hansen moves the ball during a game last season. File photo by Bill Landon

“It’s cool because I can tell them I’ve been in their shoes and I know what they’re going through,” she said. “I’m very lucky to be with a great district, have some great support and some great kids for my first year. I think the best part about coaching for me right now is helping these kids, and its pretty unique, because I can help them in a way maybe others can’t.”

The Patriots are looking forward to learning from Prahalis’ experiences. Ward Melville senior Shannon Brazier said the team’s style of play is already changing.

“She brings a whole new level of style of play and intensity that I think we were all excited to learn,” Brazier said. “Every single one of us have been working hard since the summer to get ready for the season, because it’s a pretty new team, losing most of our starters and getting a new coach, and we’re really proud of the progress we’ve been making, working together.”

Brazier said her coach wants her new team to have a defense that matches its offense.

“It’s no question that in the past we have had really strong shooters and a strong offense in general, but this year she’s been teaching us a lot more about defense and really focusing on this aspect of the game,” Brazier said. “Her emphasis on this side of the game has already started to greatly improve our skills. With a great number of our team graduating a lot of us had to step up and fill in those holes, and I think we’re all doing a good job at that.”

Prahalis agreed, adding she’ll be leaning on Brazier to command the Patriots this season.

“She’s vocal, and probably our best defensive player,” the coach said of one of her two remaining seniors. “She knows where to be, she has really good instincts.”

Ward Melville’s Shannon Brazier shoots from the free-throw line during a game last season. File photo by Bill Landon

The team will continue to rely on its speed and hustle in grabbing rebounds and forcing turnovers. With work on the defensive side of the ball, more offense should come.

The other two captains this season will be juniors Noelle Richardson and Lauren Hansen. Rounding out the roster will be juniors Bre Cohn and Lauren Walters, and underclassmen Molly Cronin, Jamie Agostino and Sarah Bucher.

“Lauren is not the most vocal person, but she leads by example,” Prahalis said of Hansen. “I’m asking a lot of her on all sides of the ball and, so far, she’s responded. She’s special — I don’t think a player like her comes around too often. The way she dribbles a ball, her shot, you have to see it to believe it.”

Hansen was one of Ward Melville’s leading scorers last season, Prahalis said, with 22.7 points and 3.4 assists per game as a sophomore and will be big for the team this season if she can repeat these statistics. Prahalis added the now-junior standout has more than just a natural ability.

“She’s skillful, and I think that’s a testament to her work ethic,” the coach said. “You don’t wake up that way. You get that way by being in the gym and working hard.”

Hansen said she’s looking forward to seeing what she can take away from her coach.

“Coach has done everything that I aspire to do, so for me I hang on every word that she says,” said Hansen, who has received offers from Ohio State and the universities of Miami, Georgia and Pittsburgh. “Her experience is something we all look up to and her ability to relate to us as players I think is extremely beneficial to our relationship with her. We all really understand that if we’re going to do any damage this year it’s going to start on the defensive end. I think the girls, myself included, definitely have to step up big this year and mature quickly on the court, but so far they’ve done a great job of that and I think we can hold our own and make a statement this year against top talents on Long Island.”


Samantha Prahalis brings experience

A six-year varsity starter for Commack is calling Division I rival Ward Melville her new home court.

Samantha Prahalis, 27, accepted the coaching job for the Patriots in September after an extended basketball career that included playing for four years at Ohio State University, two years for WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury — as the sixth overall pick in the 2012 WNBA Draft — and four years professionally in Europe.

“The professional experience was good — I got to play at every level, which is pretty rare, so I’m grateful for that,” said Prahalis, who averaged 15.1 points and 6.8 assists per game over four years at Ohio State, and holds the Big Ten’s career record with 901 assists. “But I’ve been traveling my whole life. I’m a big family person, and I don’t like being overseas for seven months out of the year.”

Previous head coach Bruce Haller stepped down citing scheduling conflicts as a professor at Molloy College.

“I just felt like I’d been through a ton in my career on and off the court that I can help other players who are coming up,” Prahalis said of throwing her hat in the ring. “I didn’t think I would want to coach when I was younger, but while I was overseas I realized I wanted to give it a try. I’m just as determined as I was as a player, but this time around its teaching my kids and helping them and the team succeed. This new chapter of coaching is special to me.”

Ward Melville athletic director Pete Melore said more than just Prahalis’ résumé stood out to him during the interview.

“She never talked about how good she was at basketball,” he said. “What impressed me the most is her humility. It was all about paying it forward.”

He said while Haller was outstanding, he’s hoping Prahalis’ experience playing for multiple coaches at different levels will help her be successful at the helm.

“I think she’s patient, she runs a good practice, but you can see that competitive fire there from when she was a player,” Melore said. “There’s a good knowledge base and she learned a lot overseas. Her goal getting into coaching is all about her giving back to the kids the same positive experience she had as a player.”

Two German shepherds are joining the force.

15-month-old Dallas V and 19-month-old Maverick, who were bred in Europe, have been training with the Suffolk County Police Department for one month and are close to graduation.

The two new patrol dogs are expected to complete training in November, which covers criminal apprehension, evidence recovery, obedience and tracking. These new additions to the team were announced recently at a press conference held at the Suffolk County Police Department Headquarters in Yaphank.