Mike DiFilippo has always been attached to sports, whether from coaching his children in the Connetquot Youth Association, or playing for Sachem in the early 1980s.
So when he was thrust onto the unemployment line after JPMorgan Chase & Co. laid him off in February, it was a no brainer to create his new business opportunity around the sports world.
Give It Your All Sports opened in September and is a 3,500 square foot indoor training facility located on Lakeland Avenue in Ronkonkoma.
"On the heals of coaching, I saw an opportunity for an indoor sporting facility," said DiFilippo, who graduated from Sachem in 1984. "The sporting industry is year round and this is a viable opportunity."
DiFilippo is no stranger to running a business. He is the former owner of White Pine Landscaping and Island Bookstore. With the new facility, minutes away from his Ronkonkoma home, he's able to see his family more and has drastically improved his quality of life.
"I had to make a quick decision when I was laid off," he said. "It's a great feeling though."
His children, Michael, Samantha and Nicole, and wife Linda, stop by all the time. There's no more train commute into Manhattan. Plus, the benefit of helping children better their lives with sports is the key cherry on his pie.
"We're in the heart of a sporting community," said DiFilippo, referring to Sachem, Connetquot and the many surrounding school districts that have more than 25,000 students in close proximity to his shop.
At Sachem, he ran track and played lacrosse at the JV levels and is fond of his days as a gymnast for legendary coach Ken Friedheim. He wrote for the Harbinger, the now defunct school paper from Sachem's heyday, and was class vice president throughout his entire high school career.
"When you're a Sachem alum you understand it's a special place," he said. "The sports, the school, the team work. There is no other school district on this Island that has as much passion."
Give It Your All Sports is a fully-turfed, climate-controlled, year-round indoor facility, featuring practice cages and open fields for almost every sport. They host birthday parties and special night events like dodgeball, Wiffleball and movies.
There are five hitting tunnels, pitching machines, open field space for fielding/hitting with portable mounds and they offer instruction for baseball, soccer and softball. Golf is coming soon.
Where does the company name come from?
"If it's worth doing, it's worth over doing," DiFilippo said. "I always want to give it my all. I expected nothing short of athletes than giving it their all. Whatever I attempted to do, I always tried to give it my all."
Coupled with the adversity of losing his job, his mother in April and his best friend, Sachem alum Bill Bulinski, shortly after, DiFilippo's life is a model of rejuvenation for 2010.
"Life changes," he said," so I wanted to make something of it."