Clarkstown Senior Recreation Supervisor Elaine Apfelbaum prides herself on her planning skills.
She certainly put them to the test over the last year and a half, adding the duties of Director of Athletics for the 2012 Maccabi Games in Rockland County to her list of duties.
"I didn't take any vacations," Apfelbaum joked about this summer, which is normally a busy time for her even without the extra project. "I'm a very organized person beyond the normal scope. That's important for a position like this. I looked at it as a challenge. I was humbled that out of anybody in the county, they would choose me."
Apfelbaum knows all her work will come to fruition when the Maccabi Games begin with the opening ceremonies 7 p.m. Sunday at the RCC's Levy Fieldhouse, to be followed by four days of competition at eight venues around Rockland County.
Apfelbaum said her goal was to be have things well organized enough ahead of time that she could focus on bouncing among the sites and troubleshooting once the games start. Her primary concern now? A four-letter word, but not one of the ones George Carlin would have listed.
"We're seeing some people in panic mode. I don't think I'm too panicked," Apfelbaum said. "I like to do things in advance. I have to be able to bounce from venue to venue to make sure things run smoothly. As long as the big, four-letter word cooperates. And that's rain. As long as we don't see any of that, everything should be going fine. I do have backup plans for inclement weather. I'll just get a little less sleep while I'm remaking schedules."
She saw that lesson in action when she went to Philadelphia to observe the 2011 games, during which the first two days were rained out. The games must begin Monday and end by 5 p.m. Thursday no matter what happens with the weather.
She noted that those games used more venues, while she focused on keeping things to as few locations as possible by using sites that had multiple playing fields and facilities such as Suffern High School and RCC. For example, RCC will host swimming, lacrosse, baseball and basketball.
"We kept it close, which is easier for the transportation person," Apfelbaum said. "I tried to get venues where I had multiple resources."
Not that it has been easy, with over 1,200 athletes coming to compete. In basketball alone, there will be 40 teams.
"It's a huge, huge undertaking," Apfelbaum said. "I run events for thousands of people with the town and for charity, but this is my first international event."
She said one of the biggest challenges was finding people to help her run the events. That includes a commissioner for every sport and a director for each venue.
"You are only as good as the people you work with," Apfelbaum said. "Some people I brought in, I knew they could handle certain tasks. I found it challenging, but fun, because I met a lot of great people."
She also knew quite a few going in, which is what made her a natural choice as director of athletics. She has worked in Clarkstown organizing athletic events for over 30 years.
"I’m assuming one reason they targeted me is my position and my contacts throughout the county," Apfelbaum said. "I’ve been here 30 years. I run the ball fields in Clarkstown. I do the scheduling. I have a great working relationship with the other municipalities in the area. It was much easier for me to communicate with them to get access to the venues. I can tell you that everybody has been amazing and wonderful from private to municipal to school districts. They’ve all stepped up big time."
Additional security is also a key part of the planning of the event, an area where the Clarkstown Police will be helping.
"There's definitely going to be an increased law enforcement presence in and around the games," said Clarkstown Police Sgt. Jo Anne Fratianni.
Clarkstown Lt. Glenn Dietrich will be handling the detail for the Maccabi Games. He said there are no road closures planned as part of the event, but the police will be taking extra precautions.
"We're going to take care of what's in our jurisdiction," Dietrich said. "We have additional officers assigned to some of the events."