Written by Steven Culhane, firstname.lastname@example.org Thursday, 16 January 2014 11:01
Last week the unthinkable happened to the Hicksville Crusaders Football and Cheerleading program. Mike Torrellas, the organization’s founder and leader passed away suddenly at the age of 53. Family and friends filled the pews of St. Ignatius Church to pay homage to a person who made Hicksville a better place for our kids.
Everything about Mike was unassuming. With his sunglasses and hooded sweatshirt, Mike could have easily been mistaken for a truck driver who took a wrong turn down Andrews Road; but make no mistake, he was the face and lifeblood of the Hicksville Crusaders.
Anyone who was familiar with Mike knew a discussion with him would always eventually circle back to topic of football. It was the place where Mike was most comfortable. However, Mike didn’t always talk about the X’s and O’s of football but rather on the finer aspects of the game that can help mold a young person’s life. He would reflect on the more important elements of football that can assist in someone’s life such as discipline, accountability, commitment and of course, teamwork.
Torrellas was a star linebacker for Hicksville High School and his personal experiences playing football were so overwhelmingly positive that it compelled him to find a way to allow Hicksville kids to have the same opportunity. “What other sport offers all the dynamics like football does?” Mike would say. Mike’s love of the sport was undeniable just as much as his enduring impact on the kids of Hicksville was. In a way, Torrellas’ infatuation with football became Hicksville’s gain. Most people would have stopped after donating so much of their time towards getting a program off the ground. Not Mike. He always did more, as he selflessly took it upon himself to lobby hard for politicians to construct the field known today as Walker Field. Mike took care of everyone. His motives were always genuine, pure and he never sought accolades or recognition for his constant generosity. However, people who were involved with the Crusader organization knew of his anonymous acts of kindness. They saw a man who reached into his own pocket when new equipment was needed and the money was not in the organization’s budget. They witnessed the countless registration fees that were waived by Mike in order to allow kids from less fortunate families to participate in youth football in Hicksville; or, they saw the way he went out and welcomed kids from neighboring towns that did not offer a youth program to join the “Hicksville Family” of football. “Bring them down, we will suit them up tomorrow” was all he would say.
When Mike embarked on his dream to establish the Crusaders in the summer of 2002, some thought he was crazy. He knew there would be several struggles along the way but his passion for the sport fueled him to move forward. As long as it involved football the obstacles always seemed to be invisible to Mike. Although Hicksville was a town known more for embracing other sports such as soccer or lacrosse, Mike never wavered from his drive to resurrect a program that was dormant in Hicksville for nearly two decades. “If they play it once they will come back.” His prophecy rings true today as the Crusaders now field eight teams in the Nassau County Youth Football League, as well as a cheeerleading team.
While Mike’s death has been a heavy blow to this community his legacy of goodwill will always carry on. Mike Torrellas’ contributions to Hicksville carried much further than just being someone who ran a league; he was in the business of pointing young people in the right direction.
Wednesday, 12 March 2014 00:00
In today’s ever diversifying world, knowing another language can be a huge asset. Lupe Beatriz Urquizo has been teaching Spanish to children at the Hicksville Public Library for the past 14 years. The library offers these free lessons to youngsters ages five to 14 most Saturdays throughout the year.
“I believe all of us remember our good teachers and our bad teachers," said Urquizo. “There have been teachers in my life that have touched my soul. They were an inspiration to me and I want to give that same motivation to the children I teach."
Saturday, 08 March 2014 00:00
Typically Asian cuisine is not associated with dessert and pastries so I was delighted by the deliciousness of the breads and pastries I found at Canaan Bakery and Cafe in Hicksville. Savory and sweet buns, Danish and Korean pastries, cookies and very good coffee can be enjoyed at the café, which is located at the entrance of the H&Y Supermarket. This is the Nassau County outpost of the four Canaan bakeries—the other three are in Flushing.
Thursday, 06 March 2014 09:40
Hicksville’s Matthew Sloan faced off against the best young soccer players in the world recently, as he traveled to Turkey with the Olympic Developmental Program.
The Hicksville High School freshman started playing soccer when he was three and advanced his game to a more competitive level at age 10, when he was chosen to play with the Long Island Rough Riders. Sloan plays other sports and is on the boys basketball team, but says that he loves soccer because of the fast pace, and because of the coaches who have had a great influence on him throughout his training.
Thursday, 06 March 2014 09:45
The Hicksville Middle School Kickline claimed victory again recently at the Scholastic Kickline Competition held at Nassau Community College. The team competed against top kickline teams and placed second in hip hop, third in pom and third in kick. County legislator Rose Walker, an honorary Hicksville Kickline team member, supported the girls at the competition. The middle school kickline team’s season began in September, and includes dancing at football and basketball games and competing in three tourneys. Their last competition of the season was March 2 at Nassau Community College. The girls are coached by Hicksville kickline alumni Katelyn Heuser, Victoria Shannon and Laura Bueche.