Softball coach receives $20,000 on Ellen Show

Chris Astacio, head coach of the Jordan L. Mott Lady Tigers softball team, was recently presented a check from Walmart for $20,000 for his commitment to his players at the Morrisania middle school.

He received the check from Ellen Degeneres, a partner in community service with Walmart, during the March 20th episode of the Ellen Show.

Astacio, a Physical Education teacher at the school and a cancer survivor, started the program in 2013 to create a sense of community among troubled pre-teen girls.

During the Ellen Show, Astacio and three of his star players – Bryana Francisco, Kylie Montalvo, and Carolyn Rosario – sat across from the host as she praised him for his work.

“What you are doing is so important because these girls are telling us what they’re lives would have been like without you,” Degeneres told Astacio during the segment.

For Astacio, the appearance on the daytime talk show exhibits just how far the softball program has come.

Astacio joined J.H.S. 22 as a P.E. teacher in 2013 and immediately noticed the school had its share of fights, especially among the female population.

Astacio, who played baseball at John F. Kennedy High School, decided a softball team might be an easy answer to the school’s problem.

“I was mistaken,” he said with a laugh.

During the 2013-2014 school year, only seven girls stepped up to join the team.

To make matters worse, some of the girls didn’t even like each other and the team had no real equipment.

“All we had was a cracked wiffle ball bat and a few plastic balls,” said Astacio.

After going into his own pocket to buy some more equipment, he was able to convince a few more girls to join.

He said the team dealt with a lot of dysfunction for the first seven months, losing all but one of the ten games they played.

For the 2014-2015 school year, Astacio was much more prepared.

During the previous school year, he had enlisted a fundraising website called to outfit the team.

By the second year, he raised enough money through the site to fully equip the team.

In addition, the team roster had grown to 20 girls and he was able to keep all of them.

That year they went undefeated for most of the season, losing only their last two games.

Unfortunately for Astacio, while things were going well on the field, he was suffering off the field.

Doctors found cancer cells in his stomach during the 2014-2015 school year.

He eventually had to share his diagnosis with the team.

“That was the hardest day of my life,” said Astacio, who had become like a father to many of the girls.

According to the coach, many of his players had fathers with whom they were not close to or who had passed away.

Many of the girls told him he couldn’t die because he was the only father they had, he recountered.

Thankfully, in June 2015, Astacio received good news that the tests revealed he was cancer free.

Now things are full speed ahead for the Lady Tigers.

Astacio said this year, he had 60 girls try out for the team.

“I felt so conflicted,” he said. “I wanted to keep everyone but I couldn’t.”

The softball coach plans to give the entire $20,000 to the Lady Tigers program.

“I knew as soon as Ellen handed me that big check that day, it was meant for my daughters in softball,” he said.

Reach Reporter Robert Christie at (718) 260-4591. E-mail him at

Source: Bronx Times Reporter

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Bronx Times - April 7, 2017 at 7:30 pm

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Hispanic Heritage Foundation’s STEM Symposium

Over the course of Monday, March 20 and Tuesday, March 21, more than 350 students from local high schools in NYC participated in the Hispanic Heritage Foundation’s Latinos on Fast Track STEM Leadership Symposium, sponsored by the U.S. Army, at Lehman College.

The students participated in an interactive leadership workshop designed to help them achieve success in school and post-secondary endeavors.

They also heard from a panel of STEM professionals who shared their experience in various STEM fields and encouraged the students to pursue their educational and career aspirations.

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By Robert Wirsing

Source: Bronx Times Reporter

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Salamanca Celebrates Garifuna Heritage

Councilman Rafael Salamanca joined other local leaders in hosting the annual Abrazo Garifuna in New York on Friday, March 17 where the community ate, drank and danced in honor of the contributions the Garifuna culture and heritage has had on the south Bronx community.

Salamanca has introduced a resolution to name April as Garifuna Heritage Month in NYC.

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By Robert Wirsing

Source: Bronx Times Reporter

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East Tremont businesses eye possible grants


East Tremont property and business owners will meet Monday to discuss options aimed at helping the neighborhood business community through city and state programs.

Community Board 6 will host the meeting with representatives of the NYC Small Business Services office on Monday, March 27 at Roy’s restaurant located at 880 E. Tremont Avenue.

The main topic will be the application being submitted by SBS for a grant from the state’s New York Main Street program, explained CB 6 district manager John Sanchez

“This program allows the Small Business Services to reimburse businesses for improvements to their storefront facades and their commercial space for up to $50,000,” Sanchez said.

The program, funded by NYS Office of Community Renewal, is aimed at revitalizing downtown areas through improvements such as façade renovations, interior building upgrades and streetscape enhancements.

The program offers matching grants to non-profit organizations and units of local government to work with local business and property owners to complete the improvements.

The program matches investments at a 3:1 ratio, meaning business and property owners will be reimbursed three dollars for every one spent.

The amount available could be as much as a half million dollars and if awarded to East Tremont, would be the only neighborhood in the city to be awarded by the state under the Main Street program this year.

The stretch of East Tremont Avenue impacted runs from Webster Avenue to the west to Southern Boulevard to the east, and is home to numerous locally owned businesses of all kinds: retail, barber shops, discount stores, restaurants and even some clothing and footwear stores.

The wide array of establishments has left the avenue with a somewhat disjointed appearance, Sanchez said.

“When you walk through the strip, a lot of the storefront facades are a little too bulky and big,” he said. “What SBS has been great in doing is using the programs to make the stores more understated, showing the architectural detail of the buildings and the history. It makes for a cleaner (looking) block.”

Sanchez pointed to Arthur Avenue as a business district that is worth emulating.

“There are very few big awnings on Arthur Avenue, but it was just named one of America’s greatest streets. The hope is that in a few years, East Tremont can be similar”

The SBS will also discuss other services available to East Tremont businesses about avoiding environmental and sanitation and health code violations, including free walkthroughs for businesses to help identify potential problems.

“Attractive, well-designed storefronts help make neighborhoods vibrant places to live, work, and play,” said Gregg Bishop, commissioner of SBS. “We offer free resources to help community organizations undertake local storefront improvement work to benefit area residents and small businesses alike.”

Sanchez said the meeting will hopefully help build momentum towards the eventual creation of a business improvement district, or BID, in which members pool resources to help beautify and promote their area to encourage commerce.

“Eventually we want more plantings, more sanitation, more lighting and all of that, but this (grant) is step one,” Sanchez said.

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By Arthur Cusano

Reach Reporter Arthur Cusano at (718) 742?4584. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @arthurcusano.

Source: Bronx Times Reporter

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Bronx Times - March 29, 2017 at 12:40 am

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BronxNet’s ‘In The District’ Premieres


BronxNet’s newest program, ‘In the District’, recorded its premiere episode on Friday, March 17 inside BronxNet East TV studio at Mercy College.

Each episode of ‘In the District’ features highlights and important discussion on issues and activities in our borough’s legislative and community districts.

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By Robert Wirsing

Source: Bronx Times Reporter

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