Jul 27, 2012
By Natalia Kozikowska
On a warm sunny day seven years ago, two valet parkers and a cabana boy at Catalina Beach Club were leaving to go home when an idea dawned on them. Daniel Nelson, Jason Rothman and John Miller were eager to form a softball league for the beach clubs in Atlantic Beach. Today, although Rothman and Miller no longer work at Catalina, the friendly league incorporates five different beach clubs where cabana boys, locker boys, parkers and chair boys can all play with one another after work. Among the beach clubs with teams are Catalina, Silver Point, Sun & Surf, Sands, and Clearwater.
“We just went around from beach club to beach club and asked the employees if they were interested in playing softball,” says Daniel Nelson, Catalina Beach Club’s head valet parker and captain of their team. “It was never really an official league,” says Nelson. “We all just like to play for fun.” The games, which are generally held on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. in Oceanside Park, are seven innings long and consist of 12 players – 10 players on the field at a time. The teams usually umpire themselves and try to make it as fair as possible says Nelson.
All the players feel as though the games bring all the employees closer together. Nelson, who plays as catcher, says that his favorite part about playing for the team is just being with everyone in a different setting outside of work. “We always enjoy our time together,” he says. “We always look forward to game days,” he adds. Jason Bauman, also a valet parker at Catalina says that the league is a great way to blow off some steam. “Sometimes it can get stressful after a long day at work so it’s nice to be able to have fun,” he says.
Scott Appelbaum, a valet parker at Catalina, says he’s been playing ever since he began working there five years ago. “It’s a lot of fun,” he says. I love the atmosphere. We are all out there for the same thing and it lifts our spirits.” He feels that playing with the people he works with develops strong friendships. “These games show that we are not just a beach club, we are more than that – we are a group of friends, even family, and we like to do everything together.” Appelbaum even says that they play better in games because they know each other so well. “We work well together and I think it’s because we are so close that we are able to read each other on the field.”
Robert Addona, a locker boy at Sun & Surf has been playing on their team for two summers. He agrees that the league brings closeness between all the workers. “When you meet a person outside of work you see different colors of their personality.”
Vincent MacDougall, assistant manager at Silver Point Beach Club and first baseman for their team, has been playing on Silver Point’s team for six years. MacDougall says that the league has helped him get to know his employees. “Since we started playing together, a lot of us hang out now. We built good friendships.” MacDougall says that the games bring the entire staff together. “A lot of the gate girls come to our games. The lifeguards also come to our games,” he adds.
While this unorganized league brings employees from the same beach clubs together it also instills rivalry within the different clubs in Atlantic Beach. “We used to have a friendly rivalry with Westbury but they are no longer in business here,” says Nelson. Westbury had a team but last year’s famous Hurricane Irene took the club down. “Now Silver Point is our main competition,” he says. “We have a friendly rivalry with them. It’s a love hate thing. We always go and we always have fun but sometimes it gets serious.” Nelson also adds that the competition get can hot because all the employees want to make their bosses happy. “Everyone wants to win and go home to tell the owners that we won,” he adds.
MacDougall of Silver Point agrees that the games can get very competitive. “I like the competition with all the beach clubs,” he says. “The competition is fun but sometimes can get intense.” Silver Point team members agree that Catalina and Silver Point have a very special type of rivalry. “Catalina is definitely our biggest competition. They took our first baseman out so we had to retaliate and take out their first baseman,” he says. “I was surprised a fight didn’t break out,” he said.
Appelbaum of Catalina says that generally most games within the beach clubs are friendly. “When we play Silver Point it gets a little hectic, but it’s all in good spirit and it keeps things interesting,” he adds. Nelson says there is always a handshake at the ends of the game. “At the end of the day there is always that camaraderie and a shake of the hand that is a sign on respect.”
Nelson says that the managers and owners at Catalina are very supportive of the team. According to Nelson, owner Sandy Wein bought jerseys for the entire team. “Sandy and her husband are extremely supportive,” he says. “They come and watch us play. Larry has even played with us.” Nelson also says that the managers work with the players on the team so that their work schedules do not interfere with games. “Sometimes we get to leave work a little early,” he says. “They understand we need to be at the park on time.”
As of right now there are no championship games but when approached with the idea, members of Catalina, Silver Point and Sun & Surf feel as though it could be a great idea. Nelson even says that he has been trying to set up some sort of softball tournament. “It’s just a little difficult with the differences we have between closings,” he says. “I am going to talk to a few people to see if we can try a championship game this year,” he adds. “It will be in discussion.”
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