Sunday, May 31, 2009

Back in the gym

Fly is back in his comfort zone.
After working at a bike and skateboard park in Brooklyn, Fly has moved to a gym at St. John's Center in Bedford Stuyvesant.
No more bikes. No more skateboards.
"I'm in the gym, where I belong," Fly says.
Fly, a seasonal employee for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, works at St. John's in the morning till the mid-afternoon when he clocks out.
"These are older guys here (at St. John's)," Fly says. "By the time the (younger) kids get here, I've gone back to my center."
That's the Brownsville Rec Center, the gym where Fly honed his skills as a youngster and now works with kids. He stays at Brownsville Rec Center till dark and goes home not far away. Then he starts a new day.
Fly says he just received a copy of The Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle that details the tragic death of his former coach at Austin Peay, Lake Kelly, who died from complications of gallstone or kidney stone surgery.
"You realized it was 30 days after they retired my jersey?" Fly says. "It's unbelievable. Me and coach spent a lot of time together while I was in the hospital when I was sick (the week after his Feb. 5 jersey retirement). God brought us back together after all those years. Everything that happened like it did, it's unbelievable."

Below is some info about St. John's Center, courtesy of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation:

Troy Ave, Bergen St, Prospect Pl, Schenectady Ave


Acres: 8.98

This park and recreation center, located on Prospect Place between Troy Avenue and Schenectady Avenues in Bedford-Stuyvesant, is named for Saint John, also known as John the Evangelist and Saint John the Divine. He was one of the first disciples called to follow Jesus and is traditionally known as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” St. John is the presumed author of the fourth gospel of the New Testament and, by tradition, the Book of Revelation.

There are many legends surrounding the power and holiness of John. It is said that he was sentenced to death by immersion in a cauldron of boiling oil. He was lowered into the pot and, some time later, emerged miraculously unharmed, even rejuvenated, with his hands joined in prayer. After Peter, he is the apostle most responsible for the formation of the early church in Palestine and is the patron saint of Asia Minor.

The land that became St. John’s Park was acquired by the City in 1950. Plans were made shortly thereafter to eliminate the stretch of St. Mark’s Place that ran between Schenectady and Troy Avenues in order to create more parkland with the intention of eventually building a recreation center at the site. 

Monday, May 18, 2009

13-and-under Tournament

Future stars were out this past weekend for Fly's 13-and-under boys tournament at Brownsville Recreation Center.
Don't be surprised if some of 'em end up on Division I major rosters in five years or so.
"We've got a lot of great players, man," Fly says. "Most of these kids are in junior high, and they're getting ready for high school."
Among the high schools these players are headed: Jefferson High, Lincoln, Canarsie, Sheepshead Bay and Southshore.
"These kids are going to most of the major high schools in the district," Fly says. "They're pretty tough players. This is when they really start to play."
Fly, meanwhile, went back at work Monday morning for the Parks and Recreation Department. His new job? Working at a skate park, Owl Head Park, in Bay Ridge.
"I don't know nothin' about bikes or skateboards," Fly says, "but they got me workin' in here. Not sure why, but it's a job."

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Peter Vescey

One of Fly’s coaches from way back  gave him a call the other day.
The former coach was Peter Vescey, longtime sports writer and columnist in New York City. Vescey, now a columnist for the New York Post, called Fly about possibly writing a story about him.
“We ended up talkin’ for about 45 minutes,” Fly said. “We talked about everything, like when I played for him.”
That was back in the early 1970s at Rucker Park. Vescey, working for the New York Daily News at the time, was coaching a team sponsored by his newspaper. The team was called “The Daily News All-Stars.”
“We were good, really good,” Fly said. “We won one year, and lost the second year, and then I went to play with Julius Erving the next year.”
Fly said he played for the Daily News All-Stars the summer of 1971 shortly after he graduated from Glen Springs Academy in Watkins Glen, N.Y., and rejoined the team in the summer of 1972 after his freshman year at Austin Peay State University. After his second season at Austin Peay, Fly said he joined a team that included Dr. J. playing at Rucker Park.
Vescey reminded Fly about his talents in their recent conversation.
“He said, ‘You was the best,’ ” Fly said. “I told him, ‘I’d love to have played against Michael Jordan.’ ”
Others would have liked to see it. Some would have picked Fly going one-on-one against Jordan.
As former Detroit Pistons star Vinnie Johnson once said: “There was Fly before Air.”