By Joseph Staszewski
Kapreme Irving waited his turn to be the leader of the Beach Channel boys’ basketball team, only to have his home and final year washed away by Hurricane Sandy.
“Everything I worked for and was looking forward to doing, it just went down the drain,” said Irving, who transferred in from August Martin as a sophomore.
Beach Channel, which sustained flooding and damage from spilled oil tanks, has not reopened since the storm hit. The team’s players have gone their separate ways, including Irving, who moved to Schenectady to live with his sister Kashay. He is currently playing on the Schenectady High School varsity team, where he is beginning anew.
“[I’m] not able to start because I don’t know the plays as well as the senior guard that will,” Irving said.
He doesn’t plan on returning to Beach Channel when it is scheduled to reopen Jan. 2, according to a city Department of Education representative. Even if he did there won’t be a team waiting for him, according to head Coach Jim Malone.
“First time in 33 years I’m not coaching,” Malone said. “I’ve got no team.”
He was still in the process of making cuts when the storm hit and the Dolphins, who play in Queens AA, have not practiced since. The players, the majority of whom were up from the junior varsity, are attending other schools such as Franklin K. Lane. Sophomore Demonie Morris transferred to John Bowne and is on the Wildcats roster. Some of the players did not have to try out at Lane, a Class A school.
DOE spokeswoman Margie Feinberg confirmed that if students in relocated schools try out and make the teams at the new schools, then they could play immediately. The students will not have to sit out a season.
“Everyone went their separate ways,” Irving said. “Everyone was really devastated because Beach Channel is our home.”
Malone said he has had little contact with the players since the storm and even less since the middle of November. Malone said he told them he did not know the status of his team when recently contacted by a Public School Athletic League official last week.
Feinberg said she is looking into whether the PSAL still expects the Dolphins to put a team on the court and if it has been officially notified of the season cancellation.
“I’m sure they don’t anticipate us fielding a team after this,” Malone said.
The Dolphins, like most school teams in the Rockaways, had their first seven league games postponed. They aren’t scheduled to begin league play until Jan. 3 against Van Buren, a day after the school is expected to open.
Malone said he has no plans to try to scrape together a team and cram 14 games into two months after not having held any practices or scrimmages. Some teams in Beach Channel’s league have already played three games.
Still, Malone said he doesn’t want basketball to end all together for those who return to Beach Channel.
“As soon as they get back in the building, I was anticipating, if nothing else, working out with them throughout the winter so they don’t lose complete basketball time,” Malone said. “There is no way we can play in a league now.”