Sadie Boroff – First County Bank Athlete of the Month

Sadie Boroff
Sadie Boroff

Bobby Valentine’s First County Bank Athlete of the Month for February is Sadie Boroff. Sadie just turned fourteen earlier this month and is currently an eighth grader at Saxe Middle School.

“Sadie is a very special player. She is one of our hardest working athletes. She strives to improve her craft with each lesson. She is determined to be the best she can be both on the mound and at the plate.”  – Danielle Simoneau, BVSA Director of Softball

Sadie has been playing both recreational and travel softball in New Canaan since she was six years old. She began her travel career as a catcher, and then moved on to pitching. When she is not on the mound, you can find her at one of the infield corners. 

“Sadie is easily the face I see most often around BVSA. She is either in her lesson, or in one of our clinics, or outside the cage watching her younger brother, Tyler, work on his game. Our instructors love having her in our clinics as she does an awesome job leading by example for the rest of the groups.” – Joe Wanderlingh, BVSA Instructor

When not playing softball, Sadie is either playing basketball or spending her weekends on the ski slopes. She also enjoys spending time with her pets, cooking, and hiking. 

We here at BVSA want to congratulate Sadie once more for earning this honor of First County Bank Athlete of the Month for February. Her drive to continue to learn, grow, and improve is incredible, and we cannot wait to see where she goes from here!

Jack Patterson – First County Bank Athlete of the Month

Jack Patterson
Jack Patterson

Bobby Valentine’s First County Bank Athlete of the Month for January is Jack Patterson. Jack currently plays for Stamford Little League and Stamford Travel, and spends more time at BVSA than some of our own staff.

“Jack Patterson is easily one of the most consistent and dedicated kids we have in the building. His drive to become a better player, let alone athlete, is unmatched with the amount of swings he takes, pitches he throws, and simply minutes here in the building. It is a pleasure to have Jack here on a regular basis and we are seeing the development of one of the next great baseball players from this area right in front of us!” – Justin Virgulak, BVSA Director 
Jack, who recently turned 11 years old, played over SIXTY games last season, batting over .500! As if that wasn’t impressive enough, he had more extra base hits than singles AND hit his very first home run! On the mound, he averaged over two strikeouts per inning. When he wasn’t on the mound, he also played first base and center field.
“Relentless. That’s the first word that comes to mind when I think of Jack. He simply does not stop. I feel like every day at some point he ends up in the cage next to me putting in work. I’ve seen him come in after having the flu, nothing stops him from accomplishing what he wants to accomplish.” – Joe Wanderlingh, BVSA Instructor
Jack is currently in fifth grade at Newfield Elementary School where he excels in the classroom. When he is not on the baseball diamond, he is on the football field playing for the Stamford First Down Club. Whatever spare time he has left, he loves to play wiffle ball and football which comes as such a big surprise!
We here at BVSA want to congratulate Jack once more on earning this honor of First County Bank Athlete of the Month for January. Safe to say this is just the beginning for Jack, and we cannot wait to see where he goes from here. It is an absolute joy seeing him around BVSA, and we look forward to continuing watching him grow into the baseball player that he is… congratulations Jack!

Tristan Pearl – First County Bank Athlete of the Month

Athlete of the Month
Athlete of the Month

Bobby Valentine’s First County Bank Athlete of the Month for December is Tristan Pearl. This former three year varsity pitcher at New Canaan High School is currently a member of the Choate Rosemary Hall pitching staff heading into their Spring 2023 season. This southpaw was co-captain in 2022 for the Rams alongside Zack Ramppen, as well as an All-FCIAC East selection.

It all started for Tristan in the Federal Little League in Stamford, where he played from T-ball all the way up to Majors. From there, he played in the New Canaan Cal Ripken League and New Canaan Travel for three years. Following that was stints with our very own BVSA Fury, the Westchester/Long Island Junior Ducks, the Greenwich Cannons, and Baseball U CT. This upcoming summer, he’ll play for Ridgefield American Legion.
"I remember the first time I noticed Tristan on a baseball field. He was pitching in a Fury game he had to be around 11 years old. I thought to myself man this kid has potential! Potential is one of those strange things… it could mean the ceiling is extremely high and that player with the right coaching can play at a higher level. It also means that the player is still not where he should be. In Tristan’s case at 11 years old who really is? Tristan and I went to work! We worked together for the past 6 years. T was dedicated to the “process” day in and day out. I’ve seen him grow not only physically but mentally and emotionally. Both on and off the field. Tristan's character and work ethic is what channeled him to play at the college level. I’m extremely proud of all he has accomplished in his short journey thus far. There is so much more he’s going to accomplish in this game over time. Babson college is not only receiving a great LHP , but more importantly a great young man who comes from a great family!
Tristan is a 2022 graduate of New Canaan High School, and is currently pursuing a post-graduate year at Choate Rosemary Hall, where he expects to graduate from in May.  After graduation, he will be pitching for Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts as a Fall 2023 commit. He plans to study International Business & Entrepreneurship at Babson.
We here at BVSA want to congratulate Tristan on earning this honor of First County Bank Athlete of the Month for December. It has been a pleasure watching him train, following his career, and watching him succeed in all aspects of life. We cannot wait to see where he goes from here. Congratulations and good luck at Babson, Tristan!

Brian Balkun – First County Bank Athlete of the Month

Athlete of the Month


Brian Balkun

Bobby Valentine’s First County Bank Athlete of the Month for November is seventeen year old Brian Balkun. A senior at New Canaan High School, Brian was just recently selected to be tri-captain for the upcoming varsity baseball season, which deserves a huge congratulations in itself!

Brian has been playing for New Canaan Baseball ever since he was five years old. He spent the last eight years playing both recreational and travel baseball, and has been pitching ever since the switch from coach pitch to kid pitch. When not pitching, he has played a ton of third base as well.

“Brian was one of our most reliable pitchers last year.  He is unflappable when things get tough, and his quiet confidence is contagious.  I look forward to him doing big things this coming year and being one of our leaders.” – Coach Anthony Bloss

You may very well know Brian around BVSA as Coach Brian, as he spends a ton of time here both with his New Canaan team but also coaching many of our clinics. He has been a tremendous part of our BAPs, TPTs, and pitching clinics, and we cannot thank him enough for the contributions and value he brings to our BVSA team.

“Brian is simply awesome. It’s so easy to be just an extra set of hands, but Brian goes above and beyond what is asked of him. He does an amazing job working with our kids, developing relationships with them, and having fun while doing it. It’s pretty cool to hear kids come back and ask for Coach Brian.” – Joe Wanderlingh, BVSA Instructor

Brian has been an honor roll student all throughout high school and just recently submitted his college applications. As far as baseball goes, he would love to play club baseball in college.

In his free time, Brian enjoys hanging out with his friends and family. He plays a lot of pickup basketball with his friends. Apparently, they invented a game called “tennis baseball”.  So next time you see Coach Brian at BVSA, make sure to ask him how to play!

BVSA wants to congratulate Brian once more for earning the First County Bank Athlete of the Month honor for November. The ability to lead so well while also being so humble and modest is not something you see every day.  We are so excited to continue to watch Brian grow both on and off the field!

Christina Zinicola – First County Bank Athlete of the Month


Bobby Valentine’s First County Bank Athlete of the Month for October is Christina Zinicola. Christina made the switch from baseball to softball when she was seven years old, and made her first travel team two years later. In her first travel year, she helped lead her Stamford Stars team to a state championship! This was only the beginning for Christina.

After a couple of years with the Stars, Christina made the switch to the Darien Angels. She went on to BVSA and the Lady Titans, where she is now in her fourth season with the team. Christina plays middle infield and pitches for both the Lady Titans 18u team as well as Stamford High School, where she received all-FCIAC honors this year!

“Christina is one of the best players I’ve ever coached. She is the definition of a gamer and a treat to watch on the field. She’ll make plays that could be on SportsCenter highlight reels and has a college level softball IQ. It’s been such a pleasure to both teach and learn from her.” – Ashley Simoneau, Lady Titans Coach

At Stamford HS, Christina is in her senior year and is currently taking all AP classes. She has also taken additional college classes at Norwalk Community College throughout high school, specifically studying software engineering. Last year, Christina was awarded a 2021-2022 College Board National Hispanic Recognition Scholar!

“Christina is a tough, tenacious softball player who consistently demonstrates her true passion for the game. Her drive and wanting-to-win attitude are remarkable. Christina is never afraid of getting dirty and is always thinking about taking the extra base. Christina’s an extremely hard worker in the classroom as well. She takes multiple AP classes and already has an associate’s degree. Christina is the true definition of a student-athlete.” – Coach Beezer

The hope and plan for Christina is to continue playing softball in college, while majoring in Civil Engineering. She has always been passionate about helping and giving back to the community, dating back to when she was nine years old. For the last nine years Christina has collected items to donate to local homeless shelters and food pantries in place of birthday gifts. Last year, she was a part of the Stamford Answer to Cancer team, contributing to raising over $25,000 towards the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

We here at BVSA want to congratulate Christina once more for earning this honor of First County Bank Athlete of the Month for October. She definitely has made her presence felt here at the facility, whether she is training with her team, or volunteer coaching for our softball clinics, or walking around in her inflatable dinosaur costume on Halloween. We cannot wait to see where Christina goes from here! Congratulations!

BVSA Sports Show: Episode 1

BVSA Sports Show: Episode 1

Connor Kelly– First County Bank Athlete of the Month


Bobby Valentine’s First County Bank Athlete of the Month for September is Connor Kelly. You very well may have heard the name before as Kelly is currently playing in the PLL for the WaterDogs, where he is already a two time All-Star and two time champion.

Kelly started playing at Wakeman Boys & Girls Club in Southport when he was seven years old. He attended Fairfield Prep and then Avon Old Farms where he played both football and lacrosse. He was a two time captain in both sports and won a MVP award in both sports as well. From there, he went on to the University of Maryland and won a national championship. He currently holds the record for most goals by a midfielder in Maryland history.

Outside of football and lacrosse, Kelly loves competing and playing all sports. He is a part of a family of six, and grew up in Fairfield. He is an avid New York Jets fan and UConn basketball fan. To this day, Kelly still lives in CT and continues to coach lacrosse in the area.

Kelly’s awards and accomplishments include…

  • 2017 Big Ten Tournament MVP
  • 2018 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year
  • 2016, 2017, 2018 First Team All Big Ten
  • 2016, 2017, 2018 NCAA All Tournament Team
  • 2017, 2018 First Team All America

We here at BVSA want to congratulate Connor once more for earning this honor of First County Bank Athlete of the Month for September. It has been a pleasure having Connor around our facility as we get to witness him continue to live out his dream! We wish him all the best moving forward in his career!

BVSA Sports Show: Episode 2

BVSA Sports Show: Episode 2

Joe: Let’s start with our first video.

Ant: Boys, who’s winning the World Series?

Virg: Dodgers.

Joe: Can you be any less creative? You didn’t even finish your sentence and he goes “Dodgers”. Right, gone. I hate that it was the Padres that knocked them out. The fact that the Mets, Braves and the Dodgers are all out is absolutely insane.

Virg: I love the chaos.

Joe: Now we got chaos right so Dodgers are out, I’m sorry. Mariners are out, I’m sorry. Tonight’s game or today’s game in a way doesn’t matter I think Yankees or Guardians I think they’re both gonna get there they’re butts whooped by Houston as a anti-yankees fan I am almost rooting for them today because I would love to watch them lose to the Astros yet again. If they lose today it’ll be great, but if they win today and they got all their hopes up again, “this is the year we’re gonna take down the big bad Houston Astros” and then they’re gonna lose in five, so part of me is rooting for them.

Virg: That’s really cute. Honestly I think Boone is slightly over managing with Taillon being scheduled to pitch yesterday, he should just be pitching he’s on normal rest, why are we pitching Cortes on three games? I don’t want to see a heavy righty Indians lineup. Like they have guys coming out of nowhere Gabriel Arias is going to hit for them, he’s now seen Cortez in the series, it takes them that quick to figure it out. I love Cortes but I’m a little worried. I thought Taillon was going to give us basically a quality start, like look good for the Yankees. I thought Civale might throw a couple hanging curve balls, get hit around the park a little. He was either going to completely go out and shove or get shelled and only go forward.

Joe: Does it matter for the next series?

Virg: I think it does, I think the Yankees give Houston a tougher time because Houston has to come into New York, than Houston having to go into Cleveland.

Joe: True, but now with the rain out they’re starting tomorrow. So now whichever team empties whatever they have to empty today I feel like the team’s automatically starting down 1-0, 2-0.

Virg: Easily. You have to go into Houston, into the juice box and try to take even a game… IF either team takes a game, Yankees or Cleveland, I think you find a much more interesting series that goes six or seven. If they go down 2-0, the Yankees or Cleveland would be lucky to come away with five and not get swept.

Joe: Philly or San Diego?

Virg: I like Philly. I think Philly’s pitching is more lined up, more timed right, their bullpens more rested. I think their bats caught fire at the right time, which, that was all you could hope for out of Philly is that every one of their investments from this off season is paying off. Castellanos got hot at the right time after a disappointing season. Schwarber more or less continued, didn’t have the power threat, I think he hit one home run in the division series. I think Wheeler and Nola are gonna go shove. I think Suarez is going to give San Diego fits.

Joe: Houston, Philly, World Series.

Virg: New York, Philly, write it down.

BVSA Sports Show: Episode 2

Jack Nolan – First County Bank Athlete of the Month


Bobby Valentine’s First County Bank Athlete of the Month for August is Jack Nolan. Jack is currently in eighth grade and playing for Mitch Hoffman and the Connecticut Baseball Club.

“Getting to coach Jack this year was an absolute pleasure. I have never come across a player with a better mindset than Jack. He was a leader on and off of the field and the definition of a true teammate. I am looking forward to years ahead with him!!” – Mitch Hoffman, CTBC Coach

You can find Jack all over the infield, from the pitcher’s mound to behind the dish to the hot corner. His summer was highlighted by playing tournaments with his team in Omaha, Nebraska and Hoover, Alabama, and winning the Perfect Game Northeast Tournament in Newark, New Jersey.

When not on the baseball diamond, Jack is at BVSA training either with the bat in his hands or working out in the gym.

“Jack and I have been working together for the past year and it has been an absolute pleasure. He is an incredibly talented baseball player with a serious power factor but what really makes him special is the person he is. He comes to every session in a great mood, with a positive attitude and enthusiasm to continue to improving. The combination of that attitude and his skill set is going to take him a very long way and I look forward to being a part of it! Congratulations Jack, well deserved!” Frank Ramppen, BVSA Managing Partner

In addition to baseball, Jack plays basketball in the fall and winter for High Rise and Darien Y Travel. During his downtime, chances are he’s either playing MLB The Show or watching some combination of the New York Yankees, Cleveland Browns, and Cleveland Cavaliers.

We here at BVSA want to congratulate Jack once more for earning this honor of First County Bank Athlete of the Month for August. We know Jack has big goals to play at the highest levels through high school and college, and we admire his dedication to the process of always looking to get even bigger and better. We can’t wait to see where Jack goes from here, congratulations again Jack!

BVSA Teaches: Balance Beam Drill

BVSA Teaches: Balance Beam Drill

Okay, another good drill for teaching the kids the proper stance and balance are the balance beams that we have throughout the academy. Just have the kid get on to the balance beam, slightly wider than shoulder length or about shoulder length, and again, it forces the student to get their weight in here in that pyramid position.

Some kids could just easily hop up here and just be balanced, but we want them to bend their knees a little bit and feel that weight in here. Some of them are going to really struggle at first, some it will be easy, but once you get it, you have them hold the bat up in their stance, maybe have them look at the pitcher and just get the feel of their head being over their bellybutton and their weight being in here. It’s a simple little drill, again, for the BAP’s, maybe it’s a station at the very beginning, or maybe when you’re rotating through and the kids are doing their tee work and their front toss, you can have them standing on the balance beam. And for your private clients, maybe every lesson starts with this until they really get that good stance that they and you are happy with.

BVSA Teaches: Balance Beam Drill