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Rowing Gives Assist To World Police & Fire Games

Courtesy: Mike Ritz -
          Release: 09/22/2011
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Mike Ritz is currently a junior journalism major at Iona College. He is from Yorktown, New York and is a sports writer for the school newspaper, The Ionian. Mike has been the manager for the Iona women's basketball team since his freshman year. A lover of sports, he played four years of basketball in high school as well as four years of golf. Mike comes from an Iona family, both of his parents, Ron and Michelle, graduated from Iona as well as his sister, Jen, played basketball for the Gaels for four years and graduated in 2008. Mike loves to be a part of the Iona family and aspires to be a successful sports writer when he graduates.

NEW ROCHELLE, NY - The bi-annual World Fire and Police Games were held in all areas of New York City this Aug. 26 through Sep. 5. The event brought in over 15,000 athletes and had over 65 sporting events. The Jacob Javits Convention Center, the event’s main venue, held over 15 sports, including badminton, basketball, boxing, darts, soccer, volleyball, and rowing. 

Iona College men’s and women’s rowing head coach Thomas Scifres was able to lend equipment to the event so the athletes were able to participate in the Indoor Rowing Competition. 

"I am happy to be able to help our police and firemen who risk their lives for the benefit of the community." Scifres said. "Helping the games to run an indoor rowing competition is the least Iona rowing can do."

An Iona alum, former 13-year Iona Rowing Head Coach and current FDNY fireman Steven Blancato, organized the rowing part of the games. The equipment came in handy and helped the Indoor Rowing Competition immensely. 

"Tom was able to give us access to some ergs from Iona so the athletes could warm up," Blancato explains. "We only had eight machines to use for the event so the warm-up ergs were a huge help."

It was Blancato’s first time participating at the games, as he served as a volunteer to help with the rowing event. To Blancato, it was great experience overall as he loves the value of the event. 

"The importance of the event is sharing the field of competition with your brother police and firemen from around the world," Blancato stated. "The competition is fierce but makes the friendships made after that more sweet."

The event hit a speed bump though, when Hurricane Irene rolled through New York. Many events were cancelled, including the triathlon. The indoor rowing competition became open to any athlete that wanted to participate. Even with added participants, with the help of Iona College Rowing, the event went smoothly. 

Despite Hurricane Irene putting an abrupt halt on some of the events, it did not take away the value and importance of the games. Blancato, who is looking to participate in the 2013 World Fire and Police Games in Belfast, Ireland, says, "I had a great time, made some friends and the athletes left smiling. You can’t ask for more. My thanks to Iona for their help."

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