Eli Ruiz | Democrat
Mike Greco is hoping to tip off a new era of sports programs and activities for the youth of Monticello with his infant business, Greco Sports and Activities. Here, he gets a game started during his Youth Basketball League with a jump ball between Daquan Maxwell, 12, and Treyvon Gray, 11, both of Monticello.
Story by Eli Ruiz
MONTICELLO December 13, 2013 Having a hand in organizing various youth and adult athletic leagues for more than two decades, former Village of Monticello recreation head Mike Greco has decided to make a business of it.
For the last two-and-a-half-years, Greco has been the go-to-guy for all things recreation in the village. Officially titled a “recreation attendant,” the modest-to-a- fault Greco has essentially been running what many have called “a department of one.”
That “one” being Greco himself.
Indeed, during his time with the village, Greco handled everything from organizing village parades, events in the village’s various parks, recreation hall events at the Ted Stroeble Center where his old office was situated to being in charge of the village pool, tennis courts and running various youth and adult activities and programs. Lest he forget the area’s seniors, Greco also helped put on the annual village staple: The Senior Games.
In early November, though, Greco, wanting to have more time with his family, decided to tender his resignation to the village. His official last day in the office was November 15.
Greco explains, “Contrary to what people may think, I did not leave the village due to any of the issues currently going on there. I saw how many hours I was working and the toll it was taking on my family and the time I had with them. It was just my time to go.”
Soon after leaving the village, Greco decided to pursue a dream he’s held close for years, and by late November, Greco Sports and Activities, LLC was born.
“It’s just something I’ve always wanted to do,” said Greco. “ It’s always been at the back of my mind. I figured, since I’m stepping down from my nine-to-five, why not give it a shot now.”
Passionate about area youth, Greco’s early work centered around mostly adult leagues. “I’ve been involved in organizing the softball leagues since 1990 and it’s sort of snowballed from there,” says Greco.
“One year someone asked me to do the flag football league, and I did; then I was asked to take over the basketball league, and I did. I’ve always had a passion for just helping out in the community, especially the youth in our community, and sports have provided me with an amazing avenue to work with our youth.”
Just a few weeks into business, Greco Sports and Activities already has several programs this season:
Adult Soccer is held on Wednesday’s at the Robert J. Kaiser (RJK) Middle School from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The cost for adult soccer is $250 for 10-weeks of play.
On Saturdays, it’s Greco’s Youth Basketball League, also at RJK, from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. The 8 to14-year-olds pay just $20 for 11 weeks of action and get to keep their reversible league jersey, to boot. From 10 a.m. to noon on Saturdays, and for free, Greco hosts what he calls his “Special Team for Our Unique Kids” for learning and otherwise disabled youth 8 to 18 years old. Greco’s Special Team members also get to keep their jerseys.
On Sunday, its the Adult Basketball League at RJK from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., during which Greco says he regularly hosts up to 12 games a day. The cost for adult basketball is $300 for 10 weeks of play.
Greco has some more planned leagues for the future as well, and says he’s dedicated to bringing flag football, currently offered only to adults, to the youngsters with a planned youth flag football league.
In the Summer months, Greco talks about starting what he calls “a summer camp situation,” where he says, “kids can come for weeks at a time, and depending on the week, get instruction on various sports. And it’s going to be very affordable.
Greco manages to keep costs down for his youth programs by using parts of the monies from his adult leagues to subsidize his youth programs.
“I also pick up a lot of youth league volunteers through my adult leagues,” he offers.
And speaking of volunteers, Greco is always looking for dependable individuals to help out with his youth sports leagues and asks anyone interested to give him a call on his office line at 845-513-5343, or his cellphone at 845-707-2826. Greco is also looking for sponsors for the disadvantaged youth who cannot afford the $20 fee. “For every kid I can get sponsored I will match that and sponsor a kid myself,” he says.
A volunteer with the Monticello varsity baseball program since 1987, Greco was named the team’s head coach last season. He’s also an assistant coach with the school’s varsity football program.
Greco, though, says his passion for youth extends beyond school age children: “What I believe is missed a lot when people talk about our youth are the 17 to 22 year-olds out there,” he explains. “I call the 17-22 year-olds the forgotten demographic, and it’s just a shame because I think those youth are our problem demographic.
“If you don’t have an athletic scholarship out of high school then your athletic career is over and done with at 17. Think about what a positive outlet sports are for a lot of these young men. By losing that positive outlet, a lot of these youth turn to negativity and the streets.
“I want to be here to offer that sports option back to these kids and young men. That’s a big reason I’m doing this.”
Those seeking more information on Greco Sports and Activities and its programs and services, are encouraged to e-mail Mike Greco at firstname.lastname@example.org.