Toms River Sports Academy Staff
Meet Our Staff
Willie Banks is a native of Jersey City NJ, drafted by the Minnesota Twins out of high school in 1987 in the 1st round (3rd pick) of the 1987 amateur draft. Willie was also Gatorade Player of the year in 1987, beating our Ken Griffey Jr. and had the highest high school batting average, again beating out Ken Griffey Jr. Willie debuted in the Major League Baseball (MLB) in 1991 with the Minnesota Twins where the Twins went on to win the 1991 World Series.
Willie continued to play in the MLB, winning another World Series with the NY Yankees in 1998. Willie finished up his MLB career with the Boston Red Sox. After Willie’s MLB career, Willie continued to play professionally as a player coach with the Newark Bears along with another one of Willie’s 1998 World Series teammates, Tim Raines and another former Yankee World Series Winner, Mike Torrez. As a key member of the Toms River Sports Academy staff, Willie now leads the baseball instructions and other programs.
James Domino a graduate of Monroe High School of Monroe, NJ, a graduated from Rutgers University Communications and a minor in Business Administration. Although James is young, he has a tremendous amount of baseball experience. At sixteen, James played with the Richmond County showcase team and at 17 he played in the New Brunswick Men’s Open League, where he competed against college athletes with a batting average of .320, On Base Percentage (OBP) was a .469, and a Slugging percentage of .360. James is a well rounded player, playing all positions throughout high school. In 2009, James was invited to play on the Unites States of America Athletes International (USAAI) representing the US in Amsterdam to play in an international tournament in July 2010 and was invited again in the summer of 2011 to play in Spain. James also played for the New Jersey Pilots of the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League, collegiate summer baseball league. James is a utility player with focus on catching, outfield, 2nd and 3rd base. In addition to James playing time, he was a bat boy at the Newark Bears where he worked out and practice with former professional MLB players that included but not limited to: Tim Raines, Edgar Alfanso, Scott Spiezio, Jay Gibbons, Willie Banks, Carl Everett, and Bobby Hill. AT the age of 15, James was invited to work out with Jimmy Johnson, who heads up the Colorado Rockies Minor League Hitting organization, and Kevin Riggs, a coach for Colorado Rockies Wyoming Casper Ghost, for a full weekend of training and playing games.
In 2013 James lead and managed TRSA 18 and older for a winning season and Championship during the summer. James is a very well rounded person and respected by all of his client young and old. James has instructed players much older then himself, and these players are now repeat customers based upon their performance on the field.
James has been working at Toms River Sports Academy for since 2010 and has been integral team member. He has become one of the lead baseball coaches and trainers. James is admired by his players and their parents. Even the umpires respect James. After one of the games the umpires commented that “James is the heart that team, without him, they would not have won.” This is after James motivated the TRSA 12U baseball team for a come back victory. Due to James’ motivation skills and inspirational tactics, he has been instrumental in assisting the TRSA coaching staff and inspiring the team players to 8 championships games in 8 years, with TRSA winning 6 out of the 8 championships.
In addition to James’ baseball coaching and instructions, he heads the TRSA strengthening and conditioning programs to the TRSA teams, other local teams, group sessions, and individuals.
Played with the South Plainfield High School as a 4 year starter, then went on to play at Middlesex County College (MCC). While at MCC Matt was named all region player of the week, and was a member of the 2011 Middlesex County matrix Camps in Johnstown PA, In 2009 Matt was selected for South Plainfield Don Mattingly team that went on to play in Albuquerque, NM.
Matt has been assisting coaching Jersey City State University baseball team and has been conducting the South Plainfield summer baseball camps since 2004 with his brother who is an assistance coach at Jersey City State University.
While at TRSA, Matt is an instrumental part of the baseball staff. He conducts individual lessons for baseball and softball, has worked with the TRSA Commotion softball girls, assist in running the TRSA weekly clinics and summer baseball camps and, as a member of the TRSA baseball coaching staff has assisted in bring 8 teams to championships and winning 6 of the 8.
Jim has been coaching and providing baseball instructions for over 20 years. Instrumental to putting the 8 TRSA teams together that went on to play in the championship games. Jim has been working with all ages from 4 years old to 50 year olds. He himself, at an age of over 50, filled in for the TRSA’s mens team playing in a league that consisted of mainly college division I, II, and minor league players, with 15 plate appearances, he went 8 for 12 and driving in 6 RBIs.
Trish Popowski Palmieri
- Star Ledger Newspaper Softball All Century Team
- Star Ledger Newspaper Top 10 Softball players of All Time
- Three time NCAA Division 1 All American: University of South Carolina (USC)
- NCAA Division 1 Career Triple Leader: Current
- USA National Team Member 1993-1995
- 2 time Star Ledger Newspaper Northern NJ Coach of the Year
- NJ ASA 2008 Hall of Fame Mem
Laura Borrelli got her D1 experience as a catcher at Monmouth university. After graduating, Borrelli remained a Hawk; this time contributing to the program as a member of the coaching staff. After leaving Monmouth county, Borrelli started the softball program at Jackson Liberty, where they earned the title of Division Champions on multiple occasions. In her time as the Lion’s Head Varsity coach, Borrelli has been named Coach of the Year and has also been named the winner of The Sportsmanship Award more times than any other coach from the country in the past decade. Laura is committed to developing softball in the Shore Conference and has been giving lessons in pitching, catching, hitting, and overall team instruction for over 15 years.
Erica Reis graduated from Central Bucks East High School in 2011. During her freshman season, she had a .471 batting average including seven homeruns and 25 RBIs. Erica was an infielder from Furlong, Pennsylvania and built her reputation playing for the 18U Sports Connection Organization out of Langhorne, PA and the 18U Tuff-N-Tuffer Gold team out of Quakertown, PA, where she was named captain of her team. She ended her season with a batting average of .383 which included three homeruns and 32 RBIs. She participated in the American Softball Association National tournament five straight years, PONY Nationals, and won the Pennsylvania State Championship in 2008. Her 18U Sports Connection Team was given the opportunity to compete in the Canada Cup in 2008 where they played against teams from all over the world.
These experiences led to her early signing at Division I Austin Peay State University in Tennessee as a junior in High School. After suffering a season-ending knee injury as a freshman, she transferred to Division II Holy Family University where she recorded five home-runs, 17 RBIs, and a fielding percentage of .992. While at Holy Family, Erica earned the CACC Honorable Mention Player of the Week. At the end of her freshmen year, Erica transferred to Division I La Salle University located in Philadelphia, PA where she completed her softball career and graduated in May of 2016 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice, minoring in Biology. Erica was named captain of her team two years in a row.