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South Salem Golf Phenom Morales Hopes to Shine in Florida



As a sophomore, Nicole Morales of South Salem left the John Jay Cross River High School’s boys golf team to pursue her future as one of the elite junior woman golfers in the country.  Now, as a senior, she is dropping out of John Jay entirely, and for the same reason.

Morales, the only high schooler ranked among the top five junior girls in the nation, is currently playing in the U.S. Women’s Amateur in Charleston, S.C. after advancing to match play in the U.S. Girls Amateur Juniors in Fort Wayne, Ind., in late July.

In her final high school year, before embarking on a full scholarship to Alabama, and then, if all goes according to plan, a professional golf career, she will not return to her Cross River campus.

Nicole Morales, a John Jay Cross River student, is spending her senior year in Florida, for intensive golf coaching at Mike Bender Academy, before heading to a full ride at the University of Alabama. Photo courtesy Nicole Morales

She will move to Lake Mary, Fla., and finish her coursework at Lake Mary Prep.  There, she will work intensely with Cheryl Anderson, who has been her stroke coach since Morales was 8, and is part of the nearby Mike Bender Academy.

“This,” Morales said, “is the final chance to work closely with her on my skills and have my coach with me before I go to Alabama.”

The move has been planned as carefully as Morales lines up a 12-foot putt.  “The long-term plan was to make the Lake Mary area near her coach the home base,” said her father, Miguel Morales.


August 8, 2013 |

Big Round For Morales


By Chuck Slater

“I didn’t miss a fairway all day,” said a happy Nicole Morales after firing a three-under par 68 — equal to the second best round of the day — as on Aug. 6 she qualified for the match play section of the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship at the Country Club of Charleston (S.C.).

With 64 women qualifying, Morales, the 17-year-old from South Salem, stood only 38th after her 4-over 75 the day before.  But her two-round total of 143 put her in a tie for 13th and with a favorable draw for her first head-to-head match the next morning.

“Winds were 30 miles an hour that first day,” Morales said.  “Today it was just a cooling breeze.”

Morales’ key shot was a clutch 15-foot par putt from the green’s fringe on No. 6.  Thus heartened, she birdied No. 7 plus three of the next seven holes.  “My putter was really working,” she said.

August 7, 2013 |

Social Media: A Musing

Mayor, TownLink


@BrucetheBlog > “Remember, no matter how good things get, we’re all in this alone.”

What fun is Facebook or Twitter or any social media if you can’t have some fun with it, as well as at the expense of it, and of those who use it (including myself)? That helps explain, at least in part, the mischevious mood I found myself in recently when I posted several decidedly impertinent Tweets (see above and below) and Status Updates (see below) as a form of commentary on the curious transformation of human behavior into humorous behavior ever since we mutated into social media mammals.

@BrucetheBlog > “Today’s fearless #Facebook posts forecast. Same as yesterday and tomorrow: Generally insipid with a very slight chance of insight.”

Bruce Apar (FB) > “Facebook is such a great, convenient way to keep up with who’s hating which politician or idea or proposal or news story today. Whatever your prejudice or rant or slant or cant, stick it on a float and put it on parade! The crowd is on the sidelines, waiting for you to flaunt it, baby! They may cheer. They may jeer. But have no fear, for they also will leer.”

@BrucetheBlog > “Surefire method for inducing uninteresting people to unfollow you: Tweet something interesting.”

Bruce Apar (FB) > “Hi, [FILL IN NAME HERE], I want to wish you something or other, so, so very, very much, and want it to be intimate and special and all, and I want you to know, from the very, very bottomlessest part of my mushy heart, that, just ’cause it’s not necessarily anybody else’s business, or even of passing interest to them, I promise with all my might and every last sinew in my musculature and gristle in my skeletal structure, that Facebook will be the last place I do it.”

@BrucetheBlog > “The workday is weakened if you can’t approach it like a weekend: brimming with possibilities, enthusiasm, anticipation.”

Coming soon to a smart duh!vice near you: The 1st Anal Facebook Acne Awards. Thrill to hear the winners announced of such crowd-puking categories as “Best WTF?! Post by Someone with More Time on his Hands than Thoughts in his Head.”

And let you leave me with this germ: @BrucetheBlog > “If every day is the first day of the rest of your life, then every day is the last day of the best of your life.”

To read all Bruce the Blogs, go to Follow him @BruceTheBlog on Twitter and Facebook.


August 5, 2013 |

Young, of Scarborough, Finishes Strong in PGA Junior Championship


By Chuck Slater

Sixteen-year-old Cameron Young continued his summer of superior golf  last week. He closed with a four-under-par 67 — equal to the day’s best-round – on Aug. 1 to climb up to a share of fifth place in the PGA Junior Championship at Trump National Golf Club in Washington, D.C.

The long-driving Scarborough youngster, who plays out of Sleepy Hollow where his father David is the head pro, finished with a 277 for four rounds, seven under par and three strokes behind the winner.  He also had a two-under 69 in the third round.

“I hit the ball really well all week,” Young said.  “I struggled on the greens the first few rounds but was able to hit my putts in the final round.”

Young’s next major competition is an even tougher one.  On Monday, Aug. 12, he will begin participating in the stroke play of the United States Men’s Amateur at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., hoping to advance to medal play.

August 5, 2013 |

Life Upon the Stage



There are a lot of fun, unusual stage works to enjoy in these parts, and this week’s space focuses on three local productions with which I have personal connections.


Michael Muldoon of Yorktown becomes legendary actor John Barrymore in one-man show at Lyndhurst, “Barrymore,” now through Aug. 11.

The internationally acclaimed play about John Barrymore, the “Black Sheep” of America’s most illustrious acting family, received a bunch of prestigious honors during its successful Broadway run. The legendary star was dubbed “The Great Profile” for his striking features. Mr. Muldoon is half of theatrical company M&M Productions Acting Company (, with spouse Melinda O’Brien, who directed this show. My former castmate Jim Petrillo is the Prompter.

I was privileged to be cast by Ms. O’Brien in a Fort Hill Players (White Plains) original comedy she directed in 2012 titled “National Pastime,” in which I played a 1930s radio station owner.

The venerable Hand-to-Mouth Players presents its 22nd annual Playwright/Directors Workshop of original one-acts Aug. 23-25 at Hendrick Hudson Library in Montrose (Westchester).  For more information: Artistic Director Gary Simon at (914) 734-8486;; or Artistic Director Anne Rodgers Pearl at (914) 528-8704;  Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for seniors and students. 

I had a ton of fun appearing in this workshop last year with Karen Muendell in a 10-minute piece titled “Wingless Angel on a Suicide Mission,” with a delicious surprise ending that elicited a sharp audience reaction. She was a forlorn party girl and I was Clarence the Angel. Plays are submitted by non-professionals hoping their work is selected by the H2M board of directors. It’s worth a trip for something completely different you don’t see at conventional theaters.

That same weekend, Howard Meyer’s Axial Theater presents its annual Performance Workshop, themed “Summer Stories.” Workshop director is great acting teacher Rachel Jones (I am among her students), assisted by co-directors Aisling Mulhern and Jess Erick. It’s at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Pleasantville. Suggested donation is $15. For more info: (914) 286-7680;

I’m excited to appear in two of the workshop pieces: In Starry Night, a series of thematically connected scenes featuring different students in each, Lori Sachare is my girlfriend of 11 years, still waiting for an engagement ring. In “The Contract,” I’m an actor desperate to be signed by a tough-talking talent agent played by Joe Ruggiero. Will he or won’t he? Only those in the audience will know for sure!

To read all Bruce the Blogs, go to Follow him @BruceTheBlog on Twitter and Facebook.


August 2, 2013 |

Happy Hour Around the Hudson Valley 8/1/2013


Looking to head to happy this evening? From Peekskill, to White Plains & all the way up to Poughkeepsie, here are some of the best happy hour specials in the area!


August 1, 2013 |

Kennedy Catholic Taps Man of Letters (4) to Lead Athletics



“I’ve had a love of athletics my entire life,” says Frank Tolan.  Indeed, in high school at Manhattan Prep, he not only played sports for four years in all three seasons — cross-country, basketball, outdoor track — but even managed to double up with swimming for two years.

Last term, after a lifetime in education, the 61-year-old was teaching part-time at Kennedy Catholic (public speaking) and Mt. St. Mary’s College when Father Mark Vaillancourt, JFK’s president/principal, approached him.  The school’s current athletic director, Father Newcomb, was moving up to Dean of Academics; would Tolan be willing to be the athletic director?

“I was open to the idea,” Tolan said.  “When I was the principal of Pawling High School for 23 years (1989-2012), we only had a teacher working as athletic director part-time so I was very involved.”

Frank Tolan

New Kennedy Catholic Athletic Director Frank Tolan brings a wealth of athletic and administrative experience to the private school in Somers. Photo courtesy Kennedy Catholic High School

And, as he said, he loved athletics.  So he said yes.

He started on July 1.  It’s doubtful any area athletic director in recent years ever stepped into a more difficult and uncertain situation.

Scheduling is, of course, as crucial as anything an AD does. And at JFK it was then as confused as a basketball player shooting at the wrong basket.

Kennedy, after almost 40 years as a member of Section 1, had just switched to the Catholic High School Athletic Association. Section 1 was not pleased.  It said some of its member schools had complained that Kennedy was recruiting its athletes, which the Catholic school denied.  Section 1 then prohibited its schools from playing JFK teams in the future.

Of course, Kennedy was counting on continuing with some of its traditional Section 1 rivals to augment its games with Catholic schools.  In two girls sports, field hockey and lacrosse, the nearby Catholic schools did not even field teams.

Kennedy protested the ban and a hearing was set up with the New York Public High Schools Athletic Association ruling on the barring. But Tolan had to substantially put together team schedules, especially for the fall sports, before knowing if Section 1 opponents were available and, even if they were, would they have schedule openings at this late date.

“”It was already going to be a big transition year,” Tolan said, “going into the Catholic league.  I had to make as smooth a transition as possible for all our boys and girls teams.”

And the undecided Section 1 issue?

“That added a wrinkle to it,” Tolan said.  “Hopefully, we would include our Section 1 rivals in the future, but whatever, this year our schedules had to be full.”

Working diligently with the private schools, he even put together a respectable field hockey schedule for the girls.

“He’s done a great job,” praised Father Vaillancourt, pointing out there was even a full 10-game schedule in place in field hockey.

“He was the right guy at the right time,” the Kennedy president explained.  “He’s a seasoned administrator and he’s done athletic directing before. All of our teams were scheduled despite the differences with Section 1.

“Plus he had two daughters go through Kennedy.  He knows our culture.”

Tolan had most of his immediate scheduling in place even before the late-July hearing which resulted in the ban being lifted; it was ruled the recruiting issue was not relevant either way since Section 1 tried to initiate a ban after Kennedy was no longer one of its members.

“Now we can scheduled crossover games as we always planned,” Father Vaillancourt said.  “A ban would have hurt our program.”

“I’m trying to fill in our field hockey schedule with some Section 1 opponents,” Tolan said.

It is, of course, up to Section 1 teams whether they wish to face JFK and doubtless some traditional rivals will.  But there probably isn‘t much leeway on the already-in-place fall slates.

Incidentally, Tolan himself has seven children, all of whom were active in athletics.  His youngest, Moira, played varsity lacrosse, soccer, track and volleyball before graduation from Kennedy.

Yes, Frank Tolan knows how to guide a team of athletes.

July 31, 2013 |
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