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Game

TriCrosse creators Bill Kidd and Andy Matthews demonstrate how their game works at Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai. Photo by Kevin Redding

By Kevin Redding

Back in the 1980s, Setauket natives Bill Kidd and Andy Matthews would often spend their summer days fishing and clamming on the Long Island Sound.

But when they returned to shore, the best friends were the only ones playing TriCrosse — a then-brand new toss-and-catch game in which two players with scoop rackets throw a ball back and forth trying to score into goal nets set up in front of their opponent.

That’s because Kidd and Matthews made it up in their backyards.

A man plays TriCrosse during Town of Brookhaven Tournament Aug. 12. Photo by Kevin Redding

“We started off tossing and catching a ball with some lacrosse-like rackets, and then got some fishing and crab nets from the shed to stick in the ground so we could be a little competitive with each other,” said Kidd, 48, laughing. “We thought, ‘This is kind of fun, it’s neat to aim this thing and try to get a goal.’ It kind of grew from there.”

On Aug. 12, more than 30 years after its creation, TriCrosse was played by kids, teens, moms, dads, uncles, aunts and grandparents along Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai during the first Town of Brookhaven-sponsored Fight Breast Cancer TriCrosse Tournament.

The fun-filled event, made up of 28 registered locals and dozens of spectators, pit players against each other in a double-elimination style and marked the game’s first public tournament since it was officially rolled out into several small stores and made available online in April.

Even though most of the tournament participants had never played TriCrosse before, it didn’t take long for them to get into it.

“It’s borderline addicting,” said Kevin McElhone, 25, of Huntington. “As soon as you get the racket in your hand, you can stand out here and do this for hours.”

So far, the portable game — which contains two goals with three different sized nets on each, two bases for indoor and outdoor play, two plastic rackets, two balls and a large carry bag — is on shelves at Amity Harbor Sports in Amityville as well as toy stores in Lake Placid and Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

“It’s very fun, it’s great exercise, just a great outdoor game,” said Richard Kryjak, 13, of East Setauket. “It’s definitely perfect to play on the beach.”

A girls tosses her TriCrosse ball during a Town of Brookhaven Tournament Aug. 12. Photo by Kevin Redding

The TriCrosse team, which consists of Kidd, Matthews and Bill Strobel of Setauket, said they plan to meet with multiple retailers in the fall, as well as many physical education and camp conferences later this year to discuss expanding the game’s reach.

“I think I’m going to be a TriCrosse person in retirement,” said John Gentilcore, the former principal at Mount Sinai Elementary School. “It’s important I have a good self-esteem
because I’m probably going to be beaten by a 10-year-old. That’s OK, though.”

Matthews, the director of math, science and technology in the Mount Sinai School District, said the school recently bought four TriCrosse sets to bring into the gym curriculum.

“We want to be the ultimate outdoor game for people at beaches, in parking lots, tailgating, gymnasiums,” Matthews said.

Kidd said he likes to also think it can work in a variety of settings.

“The best part about it is it’s like old school baseball and mitts with the family, but in an environment where it can be very competitive or as leisurely as just hanging out in the backyard and having some fun,” Kidd said.

Although it has been a popular game in Kidd and Matthews’ close circles for years, TriCrosse was tucked away as jobs and families took priority.

That was until recently, when backyard games like Spikeball and KanJam made a splash on the market, encouraging the team to turn TriCrosse into a family-friendly product.

TriCrosse team of Bill Kidd, Andy Matthews and Bill Strobel take their game TriCrosse to Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai. Photo by Kevin Redding

“The three things we’ve always heard from people is ‘What is that?’ ‘Where can I get it?’ and ‘You should be on Shark Tank’,” Strobel said. “It’s such a great family activity, which people really enjoy. Our big thing is also getting kids off the couch, getting them off of their phones and getting them out playing. I know there’s a bunch of backyard games out there, but there’s nothing like this, which is cool.”

After it was released in April, Strobel brought TriCrosse and videos of game play to Brookhaven’s superintendent of recreation Kurt Leuffen in an effort to bring it to residents in a friendly, competitive setting.

Fifty percent of the proceeds that were raised during the event, $200 total, will be donated to the Stony Brook Foundation, which supports research, prevention and treatment of breast cancer.

“We’re not trying to make any money at this tournament,” Matthews said. “We just want to show people what it is and try to get the word out.”

Not much of the game has changed since Kidd and Matthews developed it, they said. The rule is that each player stands behind the goals, which are about 50 feet apart, while throwing and receiving a foam ball with plastic rackets to try and score into any of the three nets for varying points. The first player to reach seven points in 10 minutes wins.

Fittingly, one of the last matches of the  night was between the game’s two creators. Kidd and Matthews struck the ball back and forth with glee as if they were teenagers in the backyard again.

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A golfer lines up his shot at Simplay in Hauppauge. Photo from Paul Muto

The sports are simulated, but the uniqueness of this new Hauppauge business is very much real.

Simplay, located at 180 Commerce Drive, opened its doors back in November in the heart of the Hauppauge Industrial Park as Long Island’s largest simulated sports arena, but its offerings go much further than just virtual driving ranges. Former U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Wyllie, who opened Simplay alongside co-owner Chuck Merritt, said his business has wide appeal to the full gamut of people in the greater Smithtown community, acting as place to blow off steam in a variety of ways including, but not limited to, kids’ birthday parties, baby showers, corporate events and more.

“Chuck and I shared a vision of bringing an unprecedented simulated sports and indoor country club offering to the Long Island community,” Wyllie said. “We’ve worked hard and built the stadium, so to speak, and are confident the players will want to come.”

Simplay is a 15,000-square-foot space filled with simulators that customers can rent on an hourly basis either in-store or online. But when they are not golfing, patrons can also kick back in front of any of the 14 high definition televisions throughout the facility, or hit the fully stocked bar near the front entrance.

Chris Wyllie plays hockey at Simplay in Hauppauge. Photo by Phil Corso
Chris Wyllie plays hockey at Simplay in Hauppauge. Photo by Phil Corso

For the average businessperson spending their time at the industrial park, Simplay serves as a place to blend work and play, Wyllie said. Deals could virtually be brokered over a leisurely game of virtual golf, or over the facility’s indoor putting green.

For the recreational golfer, Simplay boasts its array of 87 different Professional Golfers’ Association courses to hone skills on, whether it’s during a lunch hour or after hours.

“There are only a few places on Long Island with golf simulators, but nobody has the multi-sport applications that we do,” Merritt said. “We hope to be that go-to destination on Long Island.”

For the family, there is even more up for grabs, Wyllie said. In an attempt to keep the young ones occupied while the “grown-ups” work on their strokes, simulators could be transformed into virtual hockey arenas, football games or even zombie dodgeball bouts.

“It’s a big deal to people to know that we are very serious about golfing,” Wyllie said. “But all these others things we offer are important because they take this out of seasonality and allow anyone to let loose.”

In the back of Simplay, Wyllie and his partner Merritt crafted two VIP rooms and a 4,000-square-foot venue room they said was ideal for business meetings and corporate functions. It’s enough options to make someone’s head spin, but the co-owners said that was the goal, because their facility was multifaceted for different uses.

And to keep the community ties strong, Simplay has already reached out to various golf teams based out of Smithtown schools as a potential place to host practices and team events, Wyllie said. Such things, he said, could lead to more collaborative plans like golf leagues and more to attract patrons from not only Smithtown, but greater Long Island.

“There is a tremendous need for something like this in this community, we believe,” he said. “We haven’t even tapped into 50 percent of what we can offer since opening yet. There’s more to come.”

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Newfield junior Dalia Perez digs one out during the Wolverines' 3-1 victory over Centereach on Oct. 23. Photo by Bill Landon
Newfield junior Dalia Perez digs one out during the Wolverines' 3-1 victory over Centereach on Oct. 23. Photo by Bill Landon
Newfield junior Dalia Perez digs one out during the Wolverines’ 3-1 victory over Centereach on Oct. 23. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

After dropping the first set to the Centereach, Newfield won the next three on the road, defeating their crosstown rival 3-1 in League III volleyball action Friday afternoon.

The Wolverines looked to put the first set away, leading 20-15 at the first time out, but the Cougars battled back to tie it at 24-24, ultimately winning 26-24.

Newfield head coach Christy Innes said her team came out flat.

“The girls did not come out with a lot of energy, but they turned it around in game two,” she coach.

The second set was very different from the first.

The Wolverines turned up the intensity, and in convincing fashion, claimed the second set 25-16, to tie the match.

Centereach senior Lauren Meigel makes contact with the ball during the Cougars' 3-1 loss to Newfield on Oct. 23. Photo by Bill Landon
Centereach senior Lauren Meigel makes contact with the ball during the Cougars’ 3-1 loss to Newfield on Oct. 23. Photo by Bill Landon

Centereach senior co-captain Lauren Meigel said she wasn’t surprised at the margin of victory in set two.

“That was to be expected as they were angry and wanted to get back [at us],” Centereach senior co-captain Nicole Fellone said. “Today we had great communication, where we had problems [with that] before.”

Trailing by six, Centereach battled back in the third set to tie the game at 21-21, and took a 24-22 advantage, but Newfield refused to lose, rallied back to tie it at 25-25, and neither team would give way, as the rivals retied the game at 26-26.

“Our attacking was a lot better in the later matches,” Newfield junior Rachel Mennonna said. “We talked a lot more and we moved our feet better.”

Newfield senior Gabby Darnaby sets up the ball during the Wolverines' 3-1 win over crosstown rival Centereach on Oct. 23. Photo by Bill Landon
Newfield senior Gabby Darnaby sets up the ball during the Wolverines’ 3-1 win over crosstown rival Centereach on Oct. 23. Photo by Bill Landon

With a 27-26 lead, Newfield finished the third set, to go up 2-1 in the match.

“We played a team that was better than us,” Centereach head coach Mike Weaver said. “We’ve had a number of injuries over the season. We’re down three starters.”

Newfield showed why they took third place in league play this season, by stretching their legs in the fourth set to break out to a 19-11 lead, thanks to the senior captain Gabby Darnaby. On a service tear, rattling off eight consecutive points, Darnaby propelled her team to a 22-11 lead with a pair of service aces along the way.

“We had better energy after that first set — we had better communication and we played better defense,” Darnaby said. “We set up the blocks where they were supposed to be, and that helped a lot.”

Centereach junior Rachel Masullo leaps up to spike the ball in the Cougars' 3-1 loss to Newfield on Oct. 23. Photo by Bill Landon
Centereach junior Rachel Masullo leaps up to spike the ball in the Cougars’ 3-1 loss to Newfield on Oct. 23. Photo by Bill Landon

Newfield junior Dayna Hunter brought her team to the brink with her kill shot for a 24-11 advantage. Coping with an injury-riddled lineup, Weaver had to make adjustments — rotating players to fill the holes.

“Emily Timarky, who is a freshman who was thrown into a spot she’s never played, she stepped up and had nine kills, so I was very happy,” Weaver said.

But it was too much for Centereach, as Newfield put the fourth set away, 25-11, to win the match.

“I think we worked as hard as we possibly could everyone gave 100 percent,” Meigel said. “We hustled the whole way, and on offense, we just kept swinging away; we swung hard and we were not going down without a fight.”

With the loss, Centereach fell to 5-8, and with a win to finish off the regular season, Newfield improved to 10-4, which places them solidly in the playoff picture, which gets underway Monday Nov. 2.