Yorkville Sports Association has been an invaluable resource to the New York City Parks Department, the citizens and corporations of New York City since 1978 when Adolfo Al Morales and Yorkville Sports Association began facilitating corporate leagues with eight softball teams. An ad in the paper for more teams brought recreational softball players out of the woodwork and Al realized there was a huge need for someone to organize sports teams in the city. By 1994, Yorkville Sports Association had 159 softball teams, 43 football teams, 40 basketball teams and over 40 volleyball teams. What made Yorkville so special was the need to be all-inclusive. They were the first sports organization to have an open scrimmage that allows individuals an opportunity to organize a team and participate. Al and Yorkville were off to a great start, and everyone took notice.
Soon after the inception of YSA, Al began scheduling games at parks that were underutilized and in need of repair. YSA made them viable and they became a source of revenue for the city. Throughout the years, many sport organizations and corporations came to YSA for help with their events. Al was known for cutting through the red tape in order to get things done. Volley Across America turned to YSA for help securing full management of event sites, volunteers and participants for their Centennial of Volleyball Celebration in New York. Hundreds participated, utilizing the five courts in Central Park for a fun day of clinics, contests, fun rallies and mini matches, which were led by Holly McPeak and Mike Dobb, two future Olympians and professional volleyball players. In the end, Volley Across America thanked Al and YSA for helping to make the Centennial of Volleyball Celebration a huge success. Shortly thereafter Evian contacted Al and sponsored the volleyball league.
YSA was given a booth at the Evian Beach Pro Volleyball Tournament at Madison Square Garden, rubbing elbows with Kach Karei and all the top world volleyball pros and Olympians. Not long after, the New York City Sports Commission Mayor’s office came calling, looking for help with the Inaugural Mayor’s Cup. After a very successful first run in 1996, YSA and the Mayor’s Cup Softball Tournament (a five-borough softball tournament) would crown an NYC champion in softball. YSA and the New York City Sports Commission went on to have a long and prosperous partnership. In 1999, the Amateur Softball Association of America (ASA), the governing body of United States Softball, sent Al a letter of thanks for his devotion to softball. They complemented the quality of work, saying the fields were in excellent shape, the surroundings were perfect, the games were exciting and every player had a “glad I participated feeling.” That year, all the proceeds from the event were donated to the City Parks Foundation. The ultimate recognition of the tournament’s quality came when the Mayor’s Cup became an ASA sanctioned event.
Moreover, Al aided Lorelei Enterprises when they presented the Randall’s Island Softball Tournament, a three-day corporate tournament. 40-50 teams were entered by New York City businesses and corporations with the goal of increasing public awareness of Randall and Ward’s Island recreational possibilities. The tournament raised funds to improve and restore recreational facilities so there would be a place for all to play. Al and YSA also sponsored the CUNY Athletic Conference Basketball tournaments. The expertise and proficiency of YSA makes them the premiere destination for groups who need help with the management of their sports tournaments and leagues.
The success of YSA’s events encouraged other cities, companies and new businesses to increase public awareness and grow. New corporate leagues started popping up around New York and larger cities across the country like the Chicago Sports Club.
During the mid-90’s Al was a paid consultant for LeagueLink, which later became Active.com, one of, if not the largest sports software companies in the U.S. When LeagueLink/Active was created it took league and tournament management to a whole new level. They were first to create a customized scheduling program and it couldn’t have happened without Al’s input.
Al and YSA honed their league management skills in their dealings with the City Parks and Recreation department. When the NYC parks department asked Al for help with permit procedures, he provided the outline for their current system. When they needed help updating their website, Al recommended Active.com to take a look at their current system. They effectively became partners, teaming up with others to benefit the lives of those who participate in recreational sports while enhancing the quality of life and NYC’s parks. In 2003 YSA became a New York City vendor, administering softball leagues with the Parks Department. In three seasons YSA made half a million dollars for the city.
Al grew up playing baseball at the North Meadow fields. At at the age of six Al was playing baseball on the very fields he now schedules YSA softball teams on. Since Al was so knowledgeable about the city’s parks and about scheduling games, the city asked him to be a part of the advisory council that took on the daunting task of renovating Central Park’s Great Lawn and North Meadow. The group offered suggestions about what improvements should be made to improve fields and open space to make them the best in the city to play sports as well as take a stroll. YSA suggested, and it was approved, that teams that normally play on those fields should be allocated replacement fields throughout the city during the construction. The goal was to make the renovations appear seamless to teams, and the city took recommendations from those with the most experience in league management, which brought them to Al.
Al’s contributions to the City Parks Foundations did not end with advice and cooperation. He was a firm believer in increasing funding and donating to make the parks better for everyone. In the 80’s and 90’s a portion of all YSA’s league fees were allocated to the Parks Department and proceeds from the Mayor’s Cup were donated to the City Parks Foundation. In the early 90’s, when the parks department was facing a huge fiscal crisis due to budget cuts, YSA organized a letter writing campaign asking the city to increase funding to the parks department. He also encouraged the businesses that participated in league sports to donate to parks. The response was overwhelming, with many businesses writing to say how much recreational sports meant to their company and many of them donating. In 2001, $15,000 was donated to help provide uniforms and equipment for youth leagues in all five boroughs and to help fund the Fourth Annual City Wide Youth Softball Tournament. Ten years later, the Parks Department was facing a similar crisis and Al went to bat for the city parks again. Not only did he offer suggestions to increase funds for the parks and how they can utilize the areas surrounding them to boost revenue he was also asked by Commissioner Stern to testify at City Hall Council on behalf of the parks. Al testified that donations to the City Parks Foundation should not be pooled into the city’s general fund, but should go directly to beautifying and benefiting the city parks, just as it was intended.
The city eventually took a larger role in allocating field permits and management of recreational sports. Corporations that had worked with YSA for years offered glowing reviews to the city about Al’s management of their leagues and his ability to schedule and solve team issues, in the hopes that YSA could be the city’s resource for league management. Although they ultimately decided to keep all responsibilities in-house, Al continues to advocate for his league and other leagues and be the person solving issues from malfunctioning field lights to double bookings at a location. He fought to get the best fields for his clients and continues to do his best to improve the conditions of parks for others. He also made sure his league’s players treated the parks with care and respect from the beginning, instead of waiting for the city coming to him with a complaint about teams not following rules or misusing a park. Any issues were promptly taken care of by Al. He realized that the best way to get things done was to have a positive relationship with the City Parks Department and do his best to make sure that everyone gets what they need.
It was in the spirit of cooperation that Al founded the United Athletic Association (UAA) in 1998. This group brought together sports organizations and leagues from all over the city, working with City Parks Foundation and the Department of Parks and Recreation to properly utilize all the public resources for adult and youth sport organizations as well as promote recreational sports in the city. In 2001, Al made a plea to the Parks Commissioner on behalf of UAA members about deteriorating conditions. Many fields were being double booked and the field conditions were becoming a problem. He suggested that they create additional time slots. Always looking to solve the problem, not just complain about it, Al offers concrete solutions. For years Dewitt Fields maintenance was lacking. UAA offered to help maintain the fields and did just that. Al’s big black truck dragged the field and made them playable for all to use. To solve the issue with double booked fields, he offered to help set up a reliable online registration and management system. When he saw little movement from the Parks Department, Al and UAA went up through he chain of command and met with a city council member. This got the ball rolling, and the Parks Commissioner finally had to take notice. UAA did an analysis of the problems with the Parks Department and presented it to the commissioner. Parks requested to see the future plans for the department and offered to assist in developing one. They felt there had to be a shift in focus to include other sports and make equal time for all sports. UAA applauded their willingness to accept help from organizations that actually use the fields. All the hard work made a difference and though UAA began to see improvements, UAA members didn’t stop pushing for perfect field conditions. Al wanted to see football return to the North Meadow, which was displaced and moved to Randall’s Island. This destroyed his league of 64 teams to the point of struggling to get just eight teams. The UAA has become the go-to organization for advocating for excellent playing conditions and additional time slots throughout the city. He hopes to improve cooperation for the Mayor’s Cup.
Al worked through his business to provide valuable service and a positive influence to the adult and youth community. Al once said, “I have a particular place in my heart for young people who are having a difficult time, and feel strongly that involvement in sports builds unity, trust and serves to promote good mental and physical health.” In this spirit, Al, YSA and UAA donate time and money to many youth organizations, including the Police Athletic Association (PAL), Youth Service Leagues, Harlem RBI, Talbot Perkins Children’s Services Mentoring Program and the Yorktown Athletic Club (YAC).
In 1994, Al began his own youth sports programs, The Recreational and Cultural Society (TRACS) for youth. It provided NYC’s underprivileged children the opportunity to participate in team sports at no cost, in exchange for volunteer hours at community programs. YSA League fees helped fund and support TRACS. The program, which was featured in ParentGuide magazine, started with a 16-team softball league and sponsored a little league baseball team. When local community programs were able to, they took over the running of the leagues.
In the early 90’s, Al was contacted by Graham-Windham, who hoped he could help set up a volleyball clinic for young women in a group home who were interested in volleyball. He came through, not only providing court time, but also a coach. Graham-Windham was very grateful, and thanked Al and YSA for their help, saying the clinic created a greater sense of pride and self-esteem in the girls and they had a more positive outlook on life.
Throughout the years, Al has donated tens of thousands of dollars and equipment to youth teams and organizations. He has a strong sense of community and a deep commitment to helping those in need anyway he can and he uses sports as his tool.
Al has brought his sense of community and his business to Yorktown Heights since 1994. He has played, donated and sponsored adult and youth basketball and softball teams since 1999. He has participated and volunteered in numerous Yorktown community events and donated over one thousand shirts to the D.A.R.E. program in 2012. He is also a member of the Yorktown Chamber of Commerce, a former member of the Yorktown Lions, and a current member of Yorktown Community Emergency Response Team (C.E.R.T.) which is activated in emergencies, like Hurricane Sandy. All while continuing his work in NYC with corporate leagues and community sports, as well as advocating for more fields and healthier conditions.
Over the years, Al and YSA have made many connections that are beneficial to the teams, leagues and communities he works with. He is well-versed in the politics of league management, constantly cutting through the red tape to get things done, while maintaining an open heart and mind to the underprivileged and underserved. Through his unyielding persistence, Al’s caring for the community, advocacy and love for sports has made him the MVP of his field.