American Softball hosts annual All-Star Game and Home Run Derby

Under the early morning Saturday sun, the American Softball League gathered together — as they do every Saturday — at Vito Locascio Field in Ozone Park. However, unlike previous weeks, the July 16 game was the league’s annual All-Star game and Home Run Derby. Before the event, an awards ceremony was held honoring two instrumental members of the organization.

Elected officials from both the local and state level gathered together to recognize Founder and CEO Randy Novick and Coach Tina Roseman, as well as enjoy the warm weather and the yearly game.

The American Softball League is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization with several organizations for people with special needs. Meeting weekly, the organization holds games from May through August. This year, the league’s opening day was on May 14, and the season is a 16-week long program.

Among the elected officials who were present at the All-Star Game and awards ceremony included Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato, Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue, Queens Deputy Borough President Ebony Young, and Councilwoman Joann Ariola.

Together, they — among the numerous players and their families who had gathered together on that bright Saturday morning — recognized the philanthropy of Novick and Roseman and their devotion to the players.

“They worked tirelessly to make sure that this league is up and running every year,” Amato told the crowd. “Through [COVID-19], by recruiting the top players from every part of our borough and happily bringing it here in our hometown of Howard Beach to make it more convenient for a lot of families to get here.”

This season has participants from various group homes such as Bernard Fineson Developmental Disabilities Services, Unique People, Little Flowers, Lifespire, YAI, Life’s WORC, and Services for the Underserved, as well as people from New York Families for Autistic Children and the NYC Board of Education in District 75.

“While some people may think their challenges might inhibit them from playing a sport they dreamed of, we prove to them that they can do it and make their dream of playing softball a reality,” their website states.

Every player gets the chance to hit, run the bases and play the field. As before every game, the team sang “The Star Spangled Banner,” which was then followed by a player-led “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”

Randy Novick is the founder and CEO of American Softball. He serves as one of the coaches as well, involved with each and every game.

“As the founder of American Softball, I have created a sports league unlike any other,” Novick wrote on the organization’s website. “We have given challenged people a chance to play softball just when they thought it could never be a possibility. Knowing there are thousands of challenged people in the United States, I wanted to provide an opportunity where they felt unstoppable.”

Novick and Roseman were given citations from Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, the city council — which are citations given “only to people who are great as persons who give complimentary service to their communities” — and New York State. Both were also sent a congressional proclamation from U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries.

Joann Ariola gives a speech at the game

Ariola, who threw the honorary first pitch of the game, expressed her passion for the organization, stating that “there’s no better investment than in our youth.”

“What you are learning here is not just how to play ball,” she said. “It’s how to be a member of a team. It’s respect. It’s working together. It’s getting a job done. And that’s going to take you all the way through your life.”

Ariola ensures that American Softball gets $5,000 a year from the New York City Council budget. The non-profit also receives $10,000 a year from the New York State Assembly, Amato stated.

“It’s the only one I truly fight for and to make sure [of],” she said.

The future of American Softball, their website states, is to hopefully expand membership and open additional locations both within New York City and across the country. Any interested fans who may wish to watch the weekly game, are always welcome.

“These players are truly special and giving them this opportunity, to play the great American sport of softball, is priceless! Please come down to cheer the players on.” Novack states on the website.

Games will be held every Saturday from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. throughout the summer at Vito Locascio Field, 149th Avenue, and Cross Bay Blvd in Ozone Park.

For more information on the American Softball League, visit

Food Bank’s mobile pantry to serve Ozone Park

The Food Bank for New York City brought its Mobile Food Pantry Program to Ozone Park last week, along with an $80,000 donation from Stop & Shop to help keep the pantry stocked for weekly distributions through the summer.

Director of Special Projects for the nonprofit food bank Chantel Peters helped oversee the Mobile Food Pantry Program, situated at the corner where 101st Avenue and Liberty Avenue meet in southeast Queens, which is expected to feed 200-to-300 families each week between June 24th and August 26th.

“The Food Bank is here because our communities are struggling during this time and we want to ensure that folks don’t have to make a choice between their normal household responsibilities and food,” Peters said. “We’ve had some hardships throughout the Queens neighborhoods.”

Before the COVID-19 pandemic struck in early 2020, approximately 9.7 percent of Queens residents were food insecure. Today, the Food Bank for New York City projects that number to be nearly 16 percent of the borough, or 360,000 residents, having difficulty putting food on the table.

In 2021, the nonprofit distributed more than 121 million meals.

It’s a “360 degree” approach to tackling food insecurity according to Peters, who said that the Food Bank for New York City is equipped to try and end the cycle of poverty. With tax programs, community kitchens and pantries, along with nutrition programs promoting healthy cooking, the nonprofit aims to get to the root of food insecurity.

Peters said that instead of utilizing large-scale pop-up distributions, the nonprofit decided to do smaller and more dependable distributions in communities throughout the borough.

At the weekly pantries, food including proteins, whole grains, and dairy, as well as culturally relevant Halal food items will be distributed. Fresh fruit, produce and leafy greens will also be available in a farmer’s market style distribution. No identification or personal information is needed for food distribution, all that is asked is the size of the household.

Mohammad Khan, executive director of nonprofit Cityline Ozone Park Civilian Patrol (COPCP), can attest to the rising need of his own diverse neighborhood.

“Ozone Park… where nearly everyone is an immigrant,” Khan said.

The neighborhood of Ozone Park is nestled just to the east of Brooklyn neighborhoods Cypress Hills and East New York, and surrounded by Queens neighborhoods South Richmond Hill, Woodhaven and Howard Beach.

“The needs in this community are not just Ozone Park’s needs,” Khan said. “It’s also the needs of the areas around Ozone Park.

In COPCP’s own weekly and monthly food pantries, Khan has seen the lines grow over the past two years.

“The need has grown and we’re here to fulfill that gap,” he said. “We’re here to make sure that our community is taken care of by us.”

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