Rising Stars Founder and President Paul Savramis proudly announced the grand opening of the Rising Stars Athletic Complex, the new home of the Rising Stars Youth Foundation.
The recently completed Rising Stars Athletic Complex had a soft opening for a small group of directors, coaches, and guests on November 30. The complex, located at 63 Babylon Turnpike in Freeport, Long Island, is a complete renovation of the historical Freeport Armory.
We asked Paul Savramis how he felt about seeing a dream come true.
"This certainly has been a long time coming," said Paul Savramis. "We have had many opportunities to develop properties in the past, but this was something that we couldn't pass up." Paul Savramis continued, "Freeport provides us with a centrally located address right off the highway that all of our families have easy access to. The title ‘Athletic Complex’ is misleading as this is far from just a gymnasium. In addition to housing two state-of-the-art basketball courts, the 16,000-sq-foot renovation includes an academic center, community rooms, administrative offices, a training room, and a fitness center.”
Over the past 27 years, the Rising Stars Foundation has developed and maintained partnerships with more than 35 high schools and other youth groups to offer tutoring and other academic and community support in addition to training for their boys’ and girls’ basketball teams. The Rising Stars Athletic Complex will now be able to provide all of those activities under one roof.
"We are beyond excited," was how Executive Director Dan Gimpel put it. "This has been a dream of mine ever since I started coaching and training with Rising Stars. When Paul Savramis asked me to take over as Executive Director, he told me this would happen one day, and now that day has come!" Paul Savramis echoed Gimpel's sentiments and added, "Danny has put in an enormous amount of time and effort in seeing this project through. It would never have happened without him. The future of Rising Stars is in great hands.”
Said Paul Savramis, "there were so many dreamers in Rising Stars history that imagined this home happening one day, which makes this day all the more special.” Savramis gave special credit to Rising Stars ambassador Jay Williams and his mother, the late Althea Williams, who both had shared the dream: “Althea Williams was the spirit of our academic enrichment programs, and Jay Williams was our voice and biggest supporter over the years.” Savramis also gave credit and homage to the late Tyrone Green, who began the first Rising Stars outreach program in Long Island City, Queens, at the Long Island City YMCA.
Gimpel, Williams, and other Rising Stars alums always shared the dream of having a bridge where communities offered a union of academic and sports programs that brought families together with the common goal of helping themselves and others.
For them, it was a way of giving back what programs like this gave them. The walls of the facility will show photos that echo past Rising Stars players' achievements, which is something that Gimpel has made a focal point of Rising Stars' future. "Bringing back our past is the key to our future," emphasized Gimpel.
“Dan is not just our Executive Director; he is Rising Stars' success story,” said Savramis. He added, "every year there are new stories like his that come back to join Rising Stars, and every year they come back with families that will add stories of their own."
Gimpel explained that those stories have appealed to community partners like Orlin & Cohen, Jovia Bank, Wilson Sports, and others who want to be a part of the Rising Stars family. Jovia Bank saw Rising Stars as a family-centered organization that could offer community programs, especially a financial literacy initiative. Orlin & Cohen offered Rising Stars families free injury recovery and other medical services. Both organizations hope to see Rising Stars families and friends become a permanent part of their families.
The Rising Stars Athletic Complex offers a new journey for Rising Stars that will see a new direction. But, like anything new, that direction will work best going forward by looking back at the lessons of what's worked in the past.