Hoops, Hope and Higher Education Reunite After Forty Years for Love Life Tournament

News Story: June 1, 2012

The year was 1968 as Frank and Mark, two freshman hopefuls, laced up their sneakers for basketball tryouts at Notre Dame High School’s new location in Fairfield. Across the street, the staff at the recently opened Sacred Heart University, on the site Notre Dame previously called home, were welcoming their second incoming class. It was a time of dreams for the two boys and hope for the new institution of higher education.

Fast forward four decades and dreams and hope still thrive for the three parties. Today, they are taking shape in the form of the First Annual Love Life Charity Basketball Tournament being staged by Frank Oleynick and Mark Appelberg at Sacred Heart University’s William H. Pitt Health and Recreation Center. The tournament will take place on June 29 – July 1 and will benefit St Vincent’s Special Needs Services, provide partial scholarships to Notre Dame High School, newly affiliated with Sacred Heart, as well as support other local causes.

The Love Life Foundation is the brainchild of Mark Appelberg, who lost his daughter Kristin to illness when she was only fifteen. The mission of the organization is to celebrate the positive message Kristin always put forward with a smile despite her challenges. She believed that no matter what hurdles you may face, you should always embrace and “Love Life.”

During her short but fruitful life, Kristin supported St. Vincent’s Special Needs Services (SVSNS), a nonprofit organization that serves approximately 400 children and adults with complex disabilities and medical conditions, such as cerebral palsy, acute brain injury and neuromuscular disorders. Kristin and her family observed that underlying the very skilled work done at SVSNS is a palpable sense of love, joy, and excitement for each individual they serve – a perfect alignment with Kristin’s philosophy on life.

Legendary local hoops star Frank Oleynick rose through the ranks of High School and College basketball all the way to the NBA as a first round draft pick by the Seattle Supersonics in 1975. Today he shares his knowledge and love of the game with area kids through his Future Stars Basketball Academy, which specializes in camps and one on one instruction. When a new student with the name Appelberg was enrolled with Future Stars the name rang a bell and soon Frank and the dad, Mark made the connection.

After a story filled reunion the two quickly realized they were basically in the same business-helping kids. From there the idea was hatched to join forces in a joint venture to assist kids’ attitudes and abilities with a youth basketball tournament and donate the proceeds to charity.

Sacred Heart University offered the perfect venue since it was the starting point of Frank and Mark’s journeys and also has the ideal location and capacity needed for the event at its Pitt Center. The event is aiming at upwards of 40 boys and girls youth teams participating.

As Mark put it, “Back when we were freshman, Frank was a better player but now after all these years I can say that we are both starting on the same winning team for this event.”

For More Information: To find out more details about submitting a team or supporting the event as a sponsor or volunteer, see contact list above or visit ones of these websites: