Sportime Is a Hive of Activity

Trying to keep two undermanned sports going
Elizabeth Bistrian, who hopes to play field hockey in college, is, with her cousin, Lina Bistrian, overseeing girls lacrosse clinics at the Sportime Arena Saturday mornings through Feb. 17. Jack Graves

The Sportime Arena in Amagansett was a hive of activity Saturday morning as about a dozen pickleballers were playing that bang-bang game at the rear of the building, behind a scrim, while more than 30 girls were taking part in lacrosse clinics put on by Elizabeth and Lina Bistrian, cousins who have been East Hampton High School field hockey and lacrosse teammates these past four years.

Pickleball — Sportime has two courts, open for play to the public on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday mornings — is a pared-down paddle cousin to tennis, though one needn’t be a tennis player, or old, to enjoy it. It is said to be popular with all ages. 

Points are generally decided in battles at the net (though one is forbidden when volleying to step within a seven-foot no-volley zone, commonly known as “the kitchen”). The scoring is a bit puzzling at first, though there are a number of experienced players at Sportime ready and willing to serve as guides to the perplexed.

A pickleball membership through mid-June costs $125. The drop-in fee is $15.

Back to girls lacrosse, the Bistrians in a letter not long ago to “fellow community members” said they’d been inspired to put on field hockey and lacrosse clinics “because we’ve seen that the number of students participating in these sports at the high school level has declined dramatically. . . . Our aim is to see that every girl in our community is given the opportunity to play, compete, and enjoy field hockey and lacrosse through equal access to all the necessary equipment and instruction.”

The Bonac seniors were especially interested in spreading the word in the Latino community here, and thus asked Claudia Quintana, a teacher and member of the Amagansett School Board, if she would translate their letter into Spanish, which she did. Jennifer Fowkes of the Bonac Booster Club, who has been collecting earmarked donations, had also been very helpful, Lina said, as, of course, Sportime had been too.

Sue De Lara and Tyler Jarvis saw to it that Sportime donated its space, Robyn Bramoff Mott, a field hockey and lacrosse (and girls basketball) coach at East Hampton High School, has volunteered her time, and equipment swaps and donations of equipment have enabled everyone to be outfitted.

The low-cost lacrosse clinics (the drop-in fee is $10), which the Bistrians, with some of their teammates, oversee, have attracted girls spanning kindergarten through the eighth grade.

“There was our group who always played, but we were seeing the numbers of younger players coming up dwindle,” Lina said in answer to a question. “In field hockey and lacrosse. That’s why we did this. Long Island is known for lacrosse, but not so many know about it on the East End.”

Moreover, she said, travel time to practice and play with travel teams up the Island — the Bistrians have played lacrosse for Team Elevate, based in Syosset — could be daunting, which is why she and Elizabeth would be happy, she said, if their clinics were to lead to the formation of a Police Athletic League girls lacrosse team here in the near future.

Their hope too is that community spirit here can continue to be nurtured generationally. “We watched our cousins play and cheered them on as we were growing up, and then it came to be our turn. We’d like to continue that — it’s the kind of thing that keeps a community together.”

“I’m letting the girls do it,” Coach Mott, whose 4-year-old daughter, Teagan, was one of the clinic-takers, said. “It was the same with the [Nov. 11 to Dec. 16] field hockey clinics. It’s exciting.”