The Bayshore Youth Athletic Association will be holding spring sign-ups for baseball, softball and soccer on Jan. 26, 27, and Feb. 2 and 3 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Croydon Hall on Leonardville Road, and on Jan. 23 and 30 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Croydon Hall. Costs are as follows: Baseball, for instructional (ages 5-6), co-ed (ages 5-6), and minors (7-8), the cost is $50 plus a $10 raffle book fee, for majors (9-10), juniors (11-12) and seniors (13-15), cost is $60 plus $10 raffle book fee; softball, for intermediate (ages 7-9), cost is $50 plus $10 raffle book fee, for juniors (10-12) and seniors (13-15) fee is $60 plus $10 raffle book fee; soccer, all ages 5-14, cost is $55 plus $10 raffle book fee; the family play for three or more in one family, the cost is $130 plus $20 raffle book fee. All late registrations will have a $15 late fee. A copy of the player’s birth certificate is needed on the day of registration. Age cutoff date is July 31. For more information, (732) 706-7372 (baseball/softball) or (732) 706-7378 (soccer). The Hazlet Youth Athletic League will be sponsoring its Ninth Annual Basketball Tournament from Feb. 22 to March 11. Entrance fee is $275, which entitles teams to a three-game minimum. Age groups are as follows: boys 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13; girls 9U, 11U and 13U. Birthday cutoff to determine eligibility is July 31, 2001. For more information, call (732) 264-3060 ext. 6. Applications can be obtained at www.hyal.org. Matawan/Aberdeen Babe Ruth Baseball League’s registration for the spring 2002 season will be held at Toomer Field House on Middlesex Road, Matawan on: Jan. 23 from 7-9 p.m., and Jan. 26 from 10 a.m. to noon. All first-time players are required to bring a photocopy of their birth certificate to be kept in the league’s permanent file. All first-time T-ball players must turn 5 years old no later then July 31, 2002 to be eligible to play. If anyone has questions, call Toomer Field House at (732) 290-1680 and one of the league directors will return the call. The St. Catherine Athletic Association will be holding sign-ups for its spring recreational basketball league. The league will have a boys and girls division and will be open to children from third through eighth grades. The association will also be featuring its first girls high school recreational league. The sign-ups will be held Saturdays mornings from 10 a.m. to noon, and Wednesday nights from 6-8 p.m. at the St. Catherine gym on Shore Acres Drive (off Bray Avenue) in Middletown through Feb. 13. Any questions, call Steve at (732) 787-9589 or Jim at (732) 495 4758. The New Jersey Devils High School Player of the Month/Year Program continues this season. Players named for December 2001 include junior goaltender Todd Stolarz (St. John Vianney, Gordon Conference) and forward Nick Paul (Red Bank Catholic, Southern Conference). Each month, December through February, six student-athletes, one from each of six different conferences, are selected as recipients of the award. An All-Tournament Team is selected in March, and an overall High School Player of the Year is chosen at the conclusion of the season. Winners are based on nominations received from varsity ice hockey coaches throughout the state. Award winners and their guests receive tickets to a Devils game, a plaque presented by a Devils player, and dinner compliments of the Devils.
BY TIM MORRISStaff Writer Holmdel resident opens Monmouth Baseball Academy in Marlboro FARRAH MAFFAI staff John Valentin looks on as Jacob Glickenhaus, 4, of Manalapan, tries to put the bat on the ball during the opening of the Monmouth Baseball Academy in Marlboro. Holmdel resident opens Monmouth Baseball Academy in Marlboro BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer In every underdog, John Valentin sees a little bit of himself. He can identify with the long shot. Even though he enjoyed an 11-year major league career (10 years with the Boston Red Sox and one with the New York Mets), professional baseball was never a sure-thing for the native of Jersey City, who now lives in Holmdel. In fact, it was a very long shot. A high school star at St. Anthony’s in Jersey City, there were no Division 1-A scholarships waiting for him. College scouts were not beating a path to his door and the phone wasn’t ringing off the hook. Nearby Seton Hall even had the boldness to tell him that he couldn’t play for them. At 5-8, he was considered too small for big-time college baseball. With no Division I takers, Valentin decided to go to Seton Hall University, South Orange, anyway, because his older brother Arnold was matriculating there. Baseball was still in Valentin’s blood and he was going to try and make the Pirates as a walk-on. One thing was for sure, he wasn’t going to be discouraged by the lack of interest colleges had shown. He, like any long shot, was going to try that much harder. “My thought process was to go to school and to be a good player,” he said. “If I developed, fine. If I didn’t, fine.” A funny thing happened, though, on the way from St. Anthony’s to Seton Hall. The John Valentin who arrived at the East Orange campus that fall wasn’t the same physically as the one who had starred at St. Anthony’s. He went through a growth spurt that summer, climbing from 5-8 to 6-0. With the height came strength. “It came at the right time,” he said of his growth spurt. “There was a significant difference.” As a freshman, Valentin got his first break. The starting shortstop had an arm injury that prevented him from playing in the field. The shortstop was assigned the role of designated hitter, and Valentin, always good with the glove, started at shortstop. He was just a glove man, batting ninth in the order. By his junior year, he was one of the major offensive weapons in the country on a team that included Mo Vaughn and Craig Biggio, earning all-American honors and getting drafted in the fifth round in 1988 by the Red Sox. The rest, as they say, is history. “I really sprouted in college,” Valentin said. “When I walked on and started as a freshman, I saw that I could compete. I decided I was just as good as everyone else, and that’s when I started to think I might get drafted.” This winter, Valentin found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time with the Baltimore Orioles and was released in March (the Orioles opted to go with a youth movement). For the first time since he can remember, he said, there would be no baseball. “I wanted to see what it was like — life without baseball,” he said. “I enjoyed the summer with my family.” With time on his hands, Valentin had an opportunity to bring a longtime goal of his to fruition: giving something back to baseball. He turned to his friend Jay Blackwell, the assistant baseball coach at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. “I had so much time (not playing major league baseball),” said Valentin. “I wanted to get involved and teach kids. “I used to work out with Jay in the off-season,” Valentin said. “We used to always talk about how we could help kids.” The result of their collaboration is the Monmouth Baseball Academy, located at 234 Building No. 3 Boundary Road, Marlboro. Valentin and Blackwell have developed their own thorough program, based on their personal experiences, that will help players ages 7 and up reach their full potential and get to the next level. Besides the basic fundamentals — hitting, fielding and throwing — Valentin will draw upon his own professional discoveries to give the students much more. “It requires the intangibles, not just skills,” Valentin explained. “There’s the mental approach to the game, how to take care of yourself, eating right, discipline and dedication. “Players are always looking for an edge and we have it,” he added. “I’m going to teach them what I know. I’ve always been a student of the game.” Valentin had himself in mind while developing the MBA’s program. He knows there are hundreds of John Valentins in the area who just need some encouragement and the edge of learning baseball from a major leaguer who has been where they are. “We came up with a program that will help kids who are like me, underdogs, learn their craft and have fun learning the right skills,” he said. The MBA offers both individual lessons, clinics, team clinics and rentals. “I’m very excited about the facility,” said Valentin. For more information on the Monmouth Baseball Academy, call (732) 577-2550. The season away from baseball, while enjoyable, reminded Valentin how much baseball means to him. At 36, he’s not going to hang up his spikes. “I think that I wanted to retire,” he said. “Now, I see no reason to retire. I really feel great. I’ve worked out all summer.” Valentin, who was bothered by nagging injuries late in his career, is healthy now. He plans to play winter ball in Puerto Rico, looking to convince major league teams that he is over his injuries and can still be an asset. He’s confident that he’ll hook up with a team in spring training next year. He didn’t quit when he was told he couldn’t play college baseball at the Division I-A level, and, true to the advice he will give to youngsters at the MBA about not giving up, he won’t quit now.
At State Group cross-country championships BY TIM MORRISStaff Writer One race remains before Christian Brothers Academy can make a return trip to the Nike Team Nationals. The Colts won their final preparation for Saturday’s NJSIAA Meet of Champions by winning the State Parochial A championship for the 11th straight year at Holmdel Park. CBA, ranked No. 2 in the Northeast Regional, can clinch a trip to Portland, Ore., on Dec. 3 by repeating as the MOC winner. CBA was as impressive as ever Saturday, packing its first five runners in the top 10 and scoring 24 points to runner-up Pope John XXIII’s 82. It was a repeat championship for Chris Horel, who clocked 16:08 in winning his second straight Parochial A state title. Kevin Rogers (16:21) and Greg Leach (16:25) followed him in third and fourth. Chris Lombardi was sixth (16:34) and Anthony Pellegrino rounded out the scoring in 10th (16:49). CBA’s team average of 16:27.4 was the best of the day, better than Morris Hills, the Group III champion and ranked third right behind CBA in the Northeast, which had a team average of 16:34.4. Morris Hills is CBA’s prime competition this Saturday. The Scarlet Knights stamped themselves as a serious contender back on Oct. 1 when they had a better team average than CBA at the Shore Coaches Invitational. That startling result woke the Colts up. The next week they beat Morris Hills at Van Cortlandt Park and have been getting better with each race. But Morris Hills has held onto its form, as evidenced by their win Saturday in the Group III race. CBA is going to have to run well on Saturday. The Scarlet Knights are going to make them earn the MOC crown. Horel and CBA weren’t the only locals to claim a state title Saturday. Mater Dei freshman Marie Walsh has slipped under the radar screen this year because of all of the superb talent in the Shore Conference. Saturday was her chance to shine and she made the most of it, winning the State Parochial B title in 19:43. She was the only runner in her group under 20:00. Thanks to her win, and Meg Corless’ 23rd place (22:13), the Seraph girls were fourth (157). Mater Dei’s Patrick O’Boyle qualified for the MOC by finishing sixth in the boy’s race. He turned in a 17:28. Pingry’s Chris Savone won the B state crown in 16:30 and Pingry won the team title as well (59). Mater Dei was fourth (134). The top 10 individuals and top three teams from the Group championships qualified for the MOC. The 10 fastest times run among the nonqualifiers earned “wild card” entries to the MOC along with the two teams that had the best team averages. Raritan’s Jennifer Curran earned a trip to the MOC by finishing ninth at the Group II championships. The Rocket sophomore clocked 20:45. Teammate Christina Altland was 20th (20:59) as Raritan finished 10th (265). Haddonfield swept both honors, individual (Vanessa Wright in 18:30) and team (33) in this Group. Holmdel’s boys were sixth in Group III (177) led by the 20th place of Andrew Mundy (17:08). Saturday’s MOC gets underway at 10 a.m. BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer
Frosh was SC all around Champion Holmdel High School freshman Kendall Valentin has risen onto the high school gymnastics scene this year, winning the all-around title at the Shore Conference championships. BY MATTHEW ROCCO Correspondent Middletown South’s Tim McCardle looks to run to daylight during the Nov. 12 Central Jersey Group III game against Steiner played in Middletown. The Eagles advanced to the semifinals with a 35-8 victory. ERIC SUCAR staff “She was kind of an unknown, and she quietly took everybody by surprise,” Holmdel head coach Liz Porter said. “If they didn’t know her then, they know her now.”Valentin scored a total of 37.55 points at the championship meet, which was held at Brick Memorial High School on Oct. 30. She also took first place on the uneven bars.“Kendall works well under pressure. She definitely rose to the occasion,” Porter said.At the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group I meet on Nov. 6, Valentin finished in a third-place tie with Freehold Borough’s Jenna Crisalli for the allaround title.The NJSIAA state championship meets were held last week at Montgomery High School. Valentin’s best performance at the individual event on Nov. 13 came on the uneven bars, where she scored a 9.575, which put her in a three-way tie for second place.“I am definitely going to go all-out, but it would be nice to win or be in the top three,” Valentin said prior to the individual event.Valentin has had the support of her older teammates who have helped her along the way.“The older girls definitely support me. They are all coming [to the state individual championships] even though they didn’t make it,” she said.When asked about her objectives before the school year began, Valentin explained that she did not expect to find success in her first year.“I hear from a lot of people who weren’t successful at first,” Valentin said. “I was a little surprised.”Although she is new to high school gymnastics, Valentin has competed at USA Gymnastics meets, gaining some experience before entering high school.“It’s definitely an adjustment,” Valentin said of the transition from USAG to high school gymnastics. She added that the high school rulebook presented a challenge because it differs from USAG rules.Valentin has made an impression on high school gymnastics and her team. In addition to her success at individual meets, Valentin has been an important part of Holmdel’s squad.“Kendall has been a great asset to our team. She comes to every practice and every meet. She got better as the season went on by working harder. In addition to being a great gymnast, she is a great team player,” Porter said.“I was pretty sure Kendall would be one of the top gymnasts in the area,” Porter added. “She has a great work ethic. She’s there for her team. Kendall is a nice kid, down to earth, and loved by her teammates.”Valentin, the daughter of former Boston Red Sox and New York Mets infielder John Valentin, has gained a remarkable amount of experience as a freshman, putting herself ahead of future competitors.“I have definitely gained a lot of insight. It gives me self-confidence,” Valentin said. “Having experience is always good.”
Above: Matawan High School’s Tommy Dillon (top) pinned Bishop Ahr’s Matt Hurst during their 145-pound match at the Bear Invitational Wrestling Tournament held at Churchill Junior High School in East Brunswick on Dec. 29. Left: Matawan’s Pat O’Donnell (top) has a firm hold on Spotswood’s Nick Mangano during their 135-poundmatch. More photos at gmnews.com. PHOTOS BY JEFF GRANIT staff
MATT DENTON Christian Brothers Academy’s Jack Laffey goes up for a basket against Toms River High School North during the Shore Conference Tournament semifinals at Brookdale Community College. The Colts won handily to advance to the conference tournament finals on Feb. 27 at Monmouth University, where the Colts were stunned by Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School, 50-24.
GROUP A Game PreviewCAMEROON vs CROATIABy Zoran MilosavljevicCameroon’s Indomitable Lions must improve on a toothless display in their opening match when they face Croatia in the hot and humid Amazon city of Manaus in Group A on Wednesday while having to cope with the loss of pack leader Samuel Eto’o.The four-time African Footballer of the Year has been ruled out of the clash due to a knee injury.Cameroon, who lost 1-0 against Mexico in their opener, are seeking their first World Cup win since 2002.Their next opponents Croatia, who have failed to reach the knockout stage since an impressive third-place finish in 1998, are also fighting for survival after losing their opener 3-1 against Brazil.Croatia have their own problems as inspirational playmaker Luka Modric faces a race against time to recover from a foot injury he sustained in that match.Coach Niko Kovac was confident he would have Modric available and welcomed the return of suspended striker Mario Madzukic, who will reclaim his spot from Nikica Jelavic to lead the line in a 4-2-3-1 formation.“Modric is getting better and I think he will be fit to play while having Mandzukic back is a real bonus because he is aggressive and able to pull the whole team forward,” Kovac told reporters in the team’s Praia do Forte base.“His approach can scare Cameroon and help Croatia.”LOWER EXPECTATIONSInitial outbursts over a contentious penalty to Brazil with the score 1-1 quickly gave way to pundits’ criticism of Kovac’s tactics as Croatia sat back after taking an early lead and the 42-year old coach promised a more adventurous strategy against the Cameroonians.“It was hard to come forward against Brazil but this game will be a different story because I expect us to have more possession and dominate,” he said.“Purposeful running will be the key because of the weather. As we saw in a high-tempo England v Italy game and one of superb quality, both sides wilted after 70 minutes in the unbearable heat.“It won’t be the end of the world if we don’t get past the group stage but I want to think positively and believe that we can make an impact.“We have to remember that we are a small nation that scraped through to the finals, but I can still see the light at the end of the tunnel.Cameroon’s German coach Volker Finke was tight-lipped about his team’s prospects of rekindling some of the past glory, by the looks of things a big ask from a modest outfit lacking the guile and creativity of the side that stormed into the last eight in 1990.Instead, he heaped praise on his rivals.“Croatia is a team that has good players. There are players who play at clubs in Spain, at Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, in the Bundesliga … it is clear that this is a good team,” he said.“They are in the same situation as us, they lost their opener. If you have zero points after the first game, you do not talk too much, you just have to win at all costs.”
By Simon EvansSecond-half strikes from Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard earned Manchester United a morale boosting 3-1 win over Premier League rivals Liverpool in the final of the pre-season International Champions Cup in Miami on Monday night.United end their U.S. tour unbeaten under new manager Louis van Gaal and a victory over their old rivals was perhaps the sweetest way to sign off. They will now return to England to finish off preparations for the new Premier League season, which starts on August 16.Despite the win, Dutchman Van Gaal was in no mood to go overboard about his team’s pre-season, which also included a 3-1 victory over European champions Real Madrid on Saturday.Asked what the value of the tournament win was, Van Gaal said: “Nothing. It’s nice, nice for the fans in the U.S. and also at home, that we have beaten Liverpool, not our favourite opponents for United fans, and I think we have given a lot of pleasure to these fans and that is important.“Of course it is better to win preparation games than to lose but the most important game is against Swansea City, our first game, at home, in the Premier League – that we have to win,” he added.Both managers went with their strongest possible teams for the game, played in front of 51,000 fans at a rainy Sun Life stadium in Miami.Liverpool began brightly and took the lead in the 14th minute when the lively Raheem Sterling was brought down in the area by United defender Phil Jones and skipper Steven Gerrard drilled home the penalty.The Merseyside team should have doubled their advantage shortly after half-time but Rickie Lambert fluffed his shot after finding space inside the area.United equalised in the 55th minute when Mexican forward Javier Hernandez delivered a cross deep to the back post and Rooney coolly side-footed home a cushioned volley from a tight angle.Two minutes later, Mata’s well-struck effort from the edge of the box took a slight deflection off Mamadou Sakho and beat Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.Manchester United had the ball in the net again after a high cross from Ashley Young looped over Mignolet and appeared to bounce back off the woodwork to Rooney, who side-footed home.American referee Mark Geiger signalled a goal but images on the stadium’s giant screen showed the ball had gone over the bar and bounced back off the stanchion.After consulting with his linesman, Geiger changed his decision and ruled out the goal.United did get a third two minutes from time, substitute Lingard blasting home from 18 yards to seal the win and wrap up the eight-team tournament victory.Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers felt the scoreline was unfair on his team, who could have had a second penalty in the first half after Ander Herrera’s challenge on Sterling.“Overall I am delighted with the whole tournament what it has done for us,” he added. “We have been away a long time, we have worked very, very hard … we have some positives and we look forward to the new season.”
Frank Lampard could make an emotional appearance against former club Chelsea this weekend as his new employers Manchester City host Jose Mourinho’s side in an early showdown between the Premier League’s heavyweights.Lampard, who became a talismanic figure at Stamford Bridge before leaving in the close-season after 10 successful years, is in contention for a place in City’s midfield for Sunday’s game (6pm) despite earlier reports that he had asked not to play.Chelsea have a 100 per cent record so far this season, with four wins from four, and lead the table with 12 points, five ahead of fifth-placed City.Both suffered disappointing nights in the Champions League on Wednesday, however, Chelsea drawing at home to Schalke 04 and City losing 1-0 at Bayern Munich.In between them are three unfancied teams who will be aiming to maintain their surprisingly strong starts to the season.Aston Villa, regular under-achievers in recent years, are second but face a major test with a visit by Arsenal on Saturday (5pm) while Swansea City and Southampton, fourth and fifth respectively, meet at the Liberty Stadium, also on Saturday (5pm).Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United, who kick-started their campaign with a 4-0 win over QPR inspired by new signings Angel Di Maria, Ander Herrera and Daley Blind, travel to Leicester City on Sunday (3.30pm).Lampard, 36, might have presumed he would never have to face his former Chelsea team mates when he signed for New York City in the summer.But with the new franchise not entering MLS until next year, the midfielder was given the chance to make a quick return to English football with a loan deal to City.The ex-England international made his competitive debut for the champions last weekend but he was withdrawn by Chilean boss Manuel Pellegrini at half-time after an unimpressive display.EARLY BLOWYaya Toure’s possible return to the City midfield means Lampard might have to settle for a bit-part role as Pellegrini and Mourinho seek to register an early blow in the title race they are expected to dominate.Diego Costa, the Spain striker with seven goals in four games so far for his new club, will likely be instrumental again in Chelsea’s chances of success.At Villa Park, a Villa team galvanised by Roy Keane’s appointment as Paul Lambert’s number two – and full of confidence after a 1-0 win at Liverpool last weekend – face an Arsenal side outplayed by Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League in midweek.Danny Welbeck is still looking for his first goal for the Gunners since his 16 million pounds move from Manchester United, and manager Arsene Wenger has to contend with more injury problems after Jack Wilshere turned his ankle against Dortmund.Saturday’s game at St James’ Park between Newcastle United and Hull City (5pm) could be pivotal for both teams.Newcastle manager Alan Pardew is fighting for his job, according to reports, with his team bottom of the table with two points from a possible 12.Owner Mike Ashley has given Pardew his support for now, but if 10th-placed Hull inflict another defeat on the Magpies, it could signal the end of the manager’s reign – especially as Hull boss Steve Bruce has been tipped by some in the British media as Pardew’s potential successor.In other games this weekend, Liverpool travel to West Ham United on Saturday (7.30pm), Tottenham host West Bromwich Albion on Sunday (3.30pm), and Everton and Crystal Palace meet at Goodison Park on Sunday (6pm).
Britain’s Andy Murray won the Aegon Championships at Queen’s Club by dismantling big-serving South African Kevin Anderson 6-3 6-4 in a one-sided final on Sunday.To the delight of the home crowd, the world number three showed no sign of weariness when returning to court two hours after completing his semi-final against Viktor Troicki which had been held up by rain the previous evening.He had resumed at 3-3 in the first set against the Serb and quickly established control to come through 6-3 7-6(4).Murray was confident his return of serve would enable him to cope against the lanky Anderson, who went into the final having thundered down 96 aces in his three previous matches.So it proved, even though Anderson fired down two more aces in his first service game and soon reached three figures for the week.The top seed’s returning nevertheless enabled him to make a crucial breakthrough once in each set and his own serve never let him down.A range of drop shots and lobs also proved too subtle for Anderson, as well as suggesting that Murray is in fine fettle ahead of Wimbledon which starts a week on Monday.The first break came in the fourth game, when Murray confidently returned a 141 mile-per-hour serve, forcing his unseeded opponent to net a volley.The first set was over in just under half an hour and although Anderson again proved capable of holding his serve to love in the second, he was broken with a series of superb shots to fall 3-2 behind and was unable to recover.Murray sealed victory when the South African went wide on a service return, allowing the Briton to join John McEnroe, Boris Becker, Lleyton Hewitt and Andy Roddick from the modern era as four-times winners at Queen’s.