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Grand Island Soccer Player to attend Villanova on Scholarship

Filed under: Uncategorized


Frank Cotroneo, 17, of Grand Island on Wednesday signed a letter of intent to attend Division 1 Villanova University on a soccer scholarship that equals 70 percent of a full grant-in-aid that consists of tuition and fees, room and board, and required textbooks on loan.  Cotroneo, a defensive star in the U. S. Soccer Development Academy out of Rochester, played one year of varsity soccer at Grand Island High School before moving on to the academy.  He is the son of Frank and Deidre Cotroneo and the signing took place at West Herr’s Ford Lincoln store on Millersport Highway in Amherst where Deidre works as a billing clerk.

Photo by Tony Farina

Queen City Roller Girls Put Rookie Skaters on the Fast Track to Success

Saucies Rookie Jammer Rosi. Also on Subzero Sirens and Lake Effect Furies.

Credit: Jim Bush. Saucies Rookie Jammer Rosi. Also on Subzero Sirens and Lake Effect Furies.

For roller derby skaters life is measured in strict time from off skates, to warm ups, to halfs, to jam clocks. Trainers and coaches set strict agendas for practice and try to stick to set lines in games. Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) ranked teams obsess over scores, ratios and team weights that all determine ranking. Aspiring skaters obsess over the “27 in 5” the amount of laps a skater must pass in order to meet their mandatory WFTDA minimums. The track itself is a game of geometry, an oval that can further be broken down into specific angles – blockers typically give space on the outside lines in the turns, a space which disappears as the track moves into the straight aways. Veteran skaters are constantly trying to find ways to break this sport down in mathematic terms for aspiring skaters – just from last week Booty Quake’s “Go From Benchwarmer to MVP with the 1% secret” is just one of the most recent examples. All of these obsessions are dependent on one thing though – opportunity. 

While skaters obsess over the mathematics of the game, leagues operate on a different level. Institutional knowledge, the high or low end of a leagues skill, everything from the training committee to the in game production all play a role in the development of a skater. Does your league have any transfer skaters who can bring a new perspective? Are skaters hungry to attend boot camps and workshops outside of the region, is your league quick to host them? How many refs do you have and at what level? How many opportunities are there to practice, bout and workout – and with who? While individual skaters will have their own strengths and weaknesses, a well rounded skater is a representation of a league as a whole. This is how top leagues stay at that level for years, and why it is so hard for aspiring leagues to make the jump. It simply isn’t up to individual effort. 

Some of the biggest changes that came in the 2015 offseason for the Queen City Roller Girls were a conscious strategy to acknowledge this. The league returned the B Travel Team (Subzero Sirens), brought the home teams down to 3 and all but 2 Lake Effect Furies skaters went Furies only (Rookie Rosi and 2nd year skater Ashes t’Ashes). This move alone ensured more bout experience for young skaters, especially young jammers who were getting buried on jammer rotations behind Travel Team skaters. On top of this the league instituted mandatory league practice by Furies skaters – increasing and adding diverse skill set training for young skaters – and also doubled its bout schedule to over 30. It is only February and between home league bouts, Sirens, Queen’s Court and charity bouts – which match Furies with young skaters – some rookies have already played in 8 bouts this year, more bouts than many leagues will play in a full year. The amount of bouts and the differing level of skill and strategy, all guided by the league, puts these rookies at a huge advantage. 

With the first purpose built derby track in the world to call home at Buffalo Riverworks, and record attendance over 1,300 to open the home league season, skaters are also getting to play in front of crowds and in a facility that feels like they matter. The majority of WFTDA leagues around the world still operate in “workable” conditions and some competitive leagues still struggle to secure spaces from one year to the next. QCRG skaters don’t have to worry about this and can focus on the track. 

What is the skill ceiling for the league? The Lake Effect Furies, the travel team, made their first Division 2 WFTDA Playoff appearance in 2013, following it up with another in 2014, before making their first D1 appearance in 2015 in Omaha, NB. Their highest ranking came last year at 30th, in the world, and their slow build should keep them pushing ahead in 2016. The team features Librawlian, who also coaches the Subzero Sirens, their star jammer who was third in points in all of the 2015 WFTDA Playoffs behind only Portland’s (Rose City All Stars) Scald Eagle, and New York City’s (Gotham Roller Girls) Bonnie Thunders – both recognized as two of the best jammers in the sport. The league has seen transfers from Southern Ontario,  and from as far away as Hawaii, and Madison, Wisconsin. Throughout the history of the league they have had one Team USA skater (Addy Rawl), but also had skaters move on to Team Germany (Lethal Lorelai), Team Canada (K-Wow), and currently has a skater credited with spreading roller derby to Denmark (Ana Killingspree – Alley Kats). Those first three skaters have since moved on, but the institutional knowledge remains. Also important, the league hosted a WFTDA tournament in 2012, has turned out elite level Non-Skating Officials like Stella By Starlight (who is head NSO for the upcoming Beaver Fever Tournament in Kitchener-Waterloo) and solid referees like Senor Weiner who is a level 2 certified WFTDA ref, coach of the Devil Dollies and also a Men’s Roller Derby star in his own right with the Toronto Outrage.

Credit: Rene T. van Ee

Credit: Rene T. van Ee. Coaches Librawlian and Vile Love It with B Team Subzero Sirens. 7 skaters are league Rookies.

One of the most important numbers for a skater is age. Although many skaters play a high level of derby well into their 40’s, most skaters know that they have a “window” where they will be able to focus on the sport. Planning around careers, injuries, families and “life” can be tough. A lot of skaters make the decision to move from smaller leagues to more established leagues in order to maximize their time. If you are willing to relocate, carpool or commute some can immediately go from a new league to an established and certified WFTDA league and the chance to compete in Playoffs. For Niagara Roller Girls transfer last year, and my wife, Murphy, this meant going from a Non-WFTDA league to jamming against Bonnie Thunders in the span of a year. That is rare, but opportunity exists for many skaters willing to seek them out and commit. 

QCRG prepares for a new intake of skaters this coming Sunday with their first intake boot camp of the year. For most new skaters the trajectory will be longer, but already 1 Queen’s Court skater from last year is on the Furies roster and 7 are on the B Travel Team the Subzero Sirens. For all young and rookie skaters on home league teams they get to play on teams anchored and mentored by former Furies and Travel Team skaters, all the while being trained and coached by skilled skaters and veteran coaches. With 30 games in a season some skaters will plateau, but others will experience multiple seasons in one. For skaters who want to progress, who want to challenge themselves, and who are mindful of their “window,” QCRG is offering the one intangible a lot of other leagues struggle with – opportunity. The fast track is there for those who want it. 

This Modern World: The Election News Network


So You Think Traffic is Bad on the Peace Bridge?

Check out the traffic on the G4 Beijing-Hong Kong-Macau Expressway.

Ranking NFL venues, the Stadium Journey way

From time to time, you can find in your news feed some article trumping out “the best NFL stadium” or “Ranking the best and worst”. If you’re a stadium enthusiast, these will always make for interesting reads.

But in many cases, they’re also nonsense. And downright embarrassing at times, none more so than an article of this type that actually made it to the pages of USA Today this past October. Look closely and you’ll find that the misinformed writer assigned no actual scoring or metrics to his choices of what he deems to be the best, and the worst, stadium in the NFL, and everything in between. For example, NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, came in at 17th. Why, you wonder? The writer states, “My goodness is that a horrible name for a stadium, though I guess coming from a city that once had Enron Field, it could be worse.” That’s it. That’s all. So there you go.

Then there’s Stadium Journey.

If you haven’t heard of this media entity, you’re missing out. With a phalanx of writers scattered throughout North America and even beyond, the site is an aggregate of helpful and interesting information about sports venues everywhere. I have been affiliated with Stadium Journey for a number of years, keeping tabs on our sports palaces close to home, and from time to time, submitting profiles gleaned from our Ultimate Sports Road Trip travels.

stadiumjourney-193x67Stadium Journey has just released its annual rankings of the 31 NFL Stadiums and the experiences they offer. But unlike some of the write ups you stumble across, these rankings come to you thanks to the painstaking evaluation and review of writers from each of the cities that are profiled. Most of them have stellar credentials as accomplished sports travel enthusiasts, possess superior writing skills, and take the business of scoring and presenting their venue very seriously. Additionally, all the stadiums are re visited and re scored at the minimum of once every two years, so that information and data is fresh and relevant.

My contribution to this year’s roster of NFL venues and their scores is our very own Ralph Wilson Stadium. The longtime home of the Buffalo Bills landed at 19th of 31 once the scores were tallied. What places The Ralph at this level, being an aging though still (barely) functional stadium is the incredible tailgating scene, one of the absolute best in the NFL. Secondly, Buffalo’s unofficial anthem, the beloved Shout song, has endured for three decades and is as much a part of Buffalo as the chicken wing. What sunk Buffalo’s score is the location, sitting amidst 200 acres of asphalt in a manicured suburb, and the lack of access by anything other than private transportation.

And this year’s (returning) champ? Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium. And why not! With a superb location on the edge of a bustling downtown core, endless pre and post game food, drink and entertainment options, a building with a retractable roof and retractable end zone wall, abundant space for tailgating, and suitable for a myriad of events far beyond 10 days of football. Indianapolis’ gleaming playpen offers exactly the template for Buffalo’s future stadium plans, and they managed to fund and build it at a comparatively reasonable cost.

So there you have it. Click on the rankings, then click through to your favorite stadium and check out everything from the food to the tailgating to the prices to the extras. It’s a fun site to visit again and again.

Andrew Kulyk and Peter Farrell cover the NHL Buffalo Sabres and AAA Buffalo Bisons for Artvoice

Essential Winter Fashion Accessories – Fur

Filed under: Uncategorized

Anna Sui cheryl gorski 53

BRRRR… It’s Time For Fur

Snow isn’t just for winter sports… It’s time to sport your fur! If you are experiencing an uncannily warm winter and have given up on wearing your fur for the holidays, now is your chance! Fur trends have evolved from traditional coats, gloves, scarves and hats to the now-trending fur purse accessories, shoes, and purses. Dennis Basso, a renown designers, is best known for his luxurious fur coats and hand bags. Creations from the likes of Tadashi Shoji, Nicole Miller, Reem Acra, Carmen Marc Valvo, and Mongol, also shined brightly. Custo Barcelona and Veronica Beard created fun, hip-inspired fur pieces. Lest we forget, fur isn’t only for women. Landeros demonstrated several men’s pieces.

Photographed by the www.fashionmaniac team: Cheryl Gorski & Francis Son

Contributing Photographers

Michael Seely, Zeduce, Mike Coppola, Simon Gentry, Rudy K


A Look at Our Neighbors of the Future

Last night, about 400 people attended a public forum at Kleinhans Music Hall to get a peek at four proposed plans to redevelop the area where the soon to be former Women & Children’s Hospital currently stands.

If you’d like to get a play-by-play of what went down, you can visit Buffalo Rising and The Buffalo News to get the gist and read the comments and so on.

It’s been said that writing about music is like dancing about architecture. And writing like an architect is simply precious, as this video demonstrates.

Me, I’m more of a people-person. So I say let’s get to know some of the individuals who will be populating our streets in just a few short years—starting with these two millenials in the lower left hand corner of a Ciminelli rendering, chatting away on Elmwood…

(Click on the images for a better view.)

"He was all like 'I'm not ready to make that kind commitment' and I'm like 'splitting the check with me is not much of a commitment.'"

“He was all like ‘I’m not ready to make that kind commitment’ and I’m like ‘Splitting the check with me is not much of a commitment.'”

Your heart really goes out to her, because you know that her non-committal boyfriend is in fact the hipster fixie bicycle dude bro captured here, one-hour earlier, checking out a young woman walking her dogs at the very same intersection in a Uniland rendering…

"Awesome. If I could hook up with her, I her dogs and use them to meet more women."

“Awesome. If I could hook up with her, I could…like…walk her dogs and use them to meet more women.”

You want to tell her she deserves so much better, but you can’t because she exists in the future and you are forever separated by time. Luckily, it seems her friend has the patience of a saint, walking all over the Elmwood Village, listening to her vent about this douchebag…

"He says he wants to get a dog, and I'm like 'Why don't you get a job, first?'"

“He says he wants to get a dog, and I’m like ‘Why don’t you get a job, first?'”

Que sera, sera.

I’m also a little suspicious of this pack of hoodlums, always loitering around on Elmwood…

ciminelli-elmwood-and-bryant-north photoshop 2

And by the soccer field…

ciminelli-west-utica-south-view photoshop2

They just seem so unwholesome next to the kids playing soccer and giving themselves high-fives for no apparent reason. I hope they eventually work out their issues and manage to stay out of prison and go on to lead somewhat normal lives. I could be over reacting. Teenagers will be teenagers.

What’s even more disconcerting than a few hoodlums may be the strange dystopia envisioned by Ellicott Development, where people do not interact with one another, and seem to walk alone at regularly spaced intervals under a darkening sky…



Then there’s the plan that’ll turn Elmwood and Bryant into a hopping destination at dusk, complete with people hanging out on their balconies, bicyclists of all ages, jaywalking dog-walkers, a line of people on the sidewalk waiting to get into a restaurant, street musicians…

sinantra-elmwood-and-bryantThis vision of the future seems to be getting positive reviews, but I can tell you right now that it’s a pipe dream. There is absolutely no way that street musicians will be tolerated anywhere near popular restaurants in Buffalo. They’re barely tolerated anywhere now. I’m willing to bet that a banjo player picking “Orange Blossom Special” on the sidewalk near Rue Franklin might quickly find out that bluegrass and foie gras do not mix.

sinantra-elmwood-and-bryant 2

And what’s with this poor musician who’s forced to sit on the curb, strumming a ukulele? That’s just pathetic.


Read more about the secret lives of the tiny people in architectural renderings and how they’ve been used through the years to sell architectural plans to the public.




Simon & Garfunkel for Bernie Sanders

Filed under: National Politics

SimonandGarfunkelIn 1984, the Reagan presidential campaign wanted to use Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” at various events. Springsteen politely denied their request.

This year, the Bernie Sanders campaign asked permission to use the Simon and Garfunkel song “America” as the background for a TV ad.



Here’s Art Garfunkel explaining why Bernie’s request was granted

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