The historic Italian American Social Club of Southern Nevada (i.e. “the Club”) embraced the Italian American Athletic Club at the Club’s April members meeting. Club president, Angelo Cassaro, introduced Edward Bevilacqua, former IAC vice president, and board member, to talk about the specifics of the IAAC and the IAC’s role.
Last year at about this time, the Club was asked to help introduce boxing great Boom Boom Mancini into the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame. Undertaking the mission, “Las Vegas style”: we asked the Italian American clubs from Phoenix, Los Angeles, and San Francisco to join us. The event was held in July at Carmine’s NYC in the Forum Shops at Caesars. At the event, Leo Pierini, VP of the SFIAC discussed their success in retaining members and growing: athletics. Indeed, the SFIAC fields highly competitive teams and is know nationally for the quality of its athletic program.
Being primarily a social club, adding athletics isn’t a simple task. So, with the guidance and help of the SFIAC, Bevilacqua and a group of members, including IAC Board members, David Giannotti, Tony Ricevuto (also president of the local chapter of the Sons of Italy), and Pat Importuna; and other members (including Dino Marino, Andy LaRussa (UNLV football coach) and Suzy Saline), the Italian American Athletic Club was formed on Columbus Day 2016.
It is fitting and proper to choose Columbus day as the historic start of the IAAC because what Columbus did was to have a dream that virtually all others thought foolish and impossible; he pursued his dream for over 10 years until it finally launched and then the result was the discovery of The New World (NOTE: Columbus did participate in some behavior that today we consider unacceptable; however, he was a man of his times and, as such, should not be held responsible for the activities that occurred long after he was gone by virtually every people (including rival indigenous peoples).
The purpose of the IAAC is twofold: first, it is to enable all Las Vegas youth to play competitive sports. That means providing equipment, getting them on teams and transporting them to and from practices and games. Why? Because competitive sports provides skills that help prepare people to become productive members of society and, as such, reduces people who have no marketable skills and end-up in prison, addicted to drugs and homelessness. Competitive sports is expensive and demanding; most of the people who need it the most are unable to participate. Our vision is to make sure that no youth is prevented because of money or transportation.
Second, we have an obligation to do what we can to make sure that the IAC remains viable 50 years from now. Given the Club’s demographic base, unless younger people (i.e. employed people with school aged children) join the Club, it will once again teeter on the brink of irrelevance. As the SFIAC has shown, athletics is the generation-spanning key to longevity.
How does the IAAC function?
We operate on the Internet model: free to join, with incentives and opportunities for members to become active. Becoming a member is simple: sign-up and agree with our vision (i.e. to enable all Las Vegas youth to play competitive sports). Members become active in one of four ways:
- Attend IAAC events, like monthly meetings, special events and/or athletic events,
- Purchase IAAC merchandise, like the gold Membership coin, or the Roman XX black coin; the profits from these sales pays our staff and thus enables us to obtain equipment, spots on teams, etc.,
- Provide transportation to practice or games,
- Spread the word and recruit other members. 5,000 local people can ensure that every youth actually plays competitive sports and gets on the path to a well-lived life. The IAAC is not designed as a volunteer organization because volunteers can only take the organization so far; growing to 5,000 members requires a professional business structure.
It’s easy: become an active member by attending a monthly dinner meeting or buying a coin and then choose an area that interests you: athlete development, member development, sponsor development. Simply stated, “Please, help us help those who need it the most”.