History of Rising Stars

Rising Stars was founded by Paul Savramis in the early 1980’s as a series of summer camps but has since been on a 20-year journey of changing the lives of countless youths and their families.

Mr. Savramis created Rising Stars in response to the need for a yearly program that mirrored the philosophy of his previously accomplished summer camp series. In 1996, the program became a non-for-profit youth foundation with the summer camps and clinics as mainstay programs.

rising stars today

In 1999, Daniel Gimpel, a product of Rising Stars and pupil of Mr. Savramis, became the program’s full time Program Director. Mr. Gimpel worked closely with Mr. Savramis to maintain the essence of the program’s core values and mission, while also establishing a broader identity of using basketball as a medium to promote education.

In 2007, Mr. Gimpel became the Executive Director and was joined in his efforts by ESPN’s Jay Williams, another former Rising Star alumnus and Mr. Savramis’s pupil, and Althea Williams, a school administrator and staunch advocate of innovative educational methods of Rising Stars.

The three joined Mr. Savramis to help expand the organization. The expansion included a girls program, a full time Educational Director, and an all encapsulating approach to the overall personal growth of the children involved. Rising Stars work has since been cited by the governor of New York and the President of the United States for its accomplishments.

Today, Rising Stars is staffed with dozens of dedicated professionals and is considered of the elite, educationally-centered youth programs in the country. Additionally, The Rising Stars Athletic Complex located in Freeport, NY, opened in December2024, bringing the dream to life. Our new 16,000 sq/ft state-of-the-art facility features two regulation high school basketball courts, dedicated strength/fitness training rooms, and a community/academic space. Conveniently located off the Meadowbrook Pkwy exit for Babylon Turnpike, the RS Athletic Center will host a variety of activities, including basketball, volleyball, pickleball, and more.

For a deeper look into Rising Stars, click here.

Rising Stars Leadership Team

Dan Gimpel – Executive Director

Dan Gimpel brings both experience and a personal understanding to the executive helm of Rising Stars in 2007. A former Rising Star himself since grade school, Mr. Gimpel returned as program director of the organization in 1999. Dan was inducted into the hall of fame at Adelphi University in 2006, scoring over 1400 points and holds records in career assists and steals. In addition to his duties as Executive Director, Dan is recognized as one of the best coaches and trainers in youth sports.

Paul Savramis – Founder

Paul Savramis is a pioneer in instructional basketball and innovative youth programming. He began his journey with youth camps and after school programs in 1980 with the development of the Eastern Invitational Camps. Mr. Savramis developed a reputation as one of America’s finest basketball instructors and was among the first to offer yearly programs of specialized instruction and training. His camps took on a national and international identity as they were the featured instructional programs at the Michael Jordan camp as well as NBA and college camps. His interactive clinics have been a staple of basketball camps in 27 states, Europe and Canada. Notable stars to work at his camps included Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and along with coaches staff that included NBA names Tom Thibedeau, Stan and Jeff Van Gundy and many others.

Bethany LeSueur – Girl’s Director

Bethany LeSueur is a widely recognized expert and leader in basketball coaching and training. Bethany holds the Long Island scoring record with 3,167 points and played in the Nike-WBCA High School All-America game. Bethany started every game of her career at Georgetown University as well as a two-year team captain. In three years for the Hoyas, she is one of only seven players in Georgetown history to record over 800 points, 200 assists and 400 rebounds!
Bethany was twice named Gatorade Player of the Year for New York as well as Miss New York Basketball. She was a Street & Smith All-American as well as a USA Today All-American. Bethany’s accomplishments are so vast that is the only athlete in the history of Garden City to have their number retired.

Tom Hughes – Director of Operations

Tom Hughes has worked with Rising Stars as a clinician and trainer for over 14 years. Tom serves as the Director of Operations as well as coach for several of our youth teams. In 2015, Tom received distinct recognition when he was inducted onto The University of Scranton’s Athletic Wall of Fame. Tom is a 5th grade teacher in the Great Neck School District which gives him a good perspective of the young student athlete’s ability to understand and internalize all phases of the game.

Mikaela Kelly – Director of Education

Mikaela Kelly knows mentoring successful students yields successful adults. Mikaela is a full time Guidance Assistant at The Sacred Heart Academy in Hempstead NY where she is a liaison between the school administration, guidance counselors and the Sacred Heart Student Families. She is a graduate of Kellenberg Memorial High School Class of 2016. Mikaela also holds a BS of Psychology from Molloy College, Class of 2020 and is currently obtaining her master’s degree at St. John’s University in School Counseling.

Mikaela will bring competence and enthusiasm to Rising Stars while being a resource for the Rising Stars Scholars. She is very well acquainted with all high school testing landscape and their administrational practices. Prior to joining Rising Stars Mikaela tutored students at the St. Martin de Poors School in Hempstead, NY. It was at St. Martin de Poors where Mikaela knew she wanted to dedicate her professional life to mentoring the developing student. Mikaela also worked summers at Mineola Summer Recreation Camp for Kids where she ran summer reading groups for students in the 3rd to 5th grade.

Mikaela Kelly is the daughter of Susan and Owen Kelly and lives in Mineola NY. She loves working with students and understands the importance of a student’s individual circumstances, while keeping the student’s scholastic goals in her view.

Mikaela is extremely excited to be a member of the Rising Stars Youth Foundation team!

Jay Williams

Jay was a product of the Rising Stars youth foundation since 5th grade and credits the program with helping him stay on course. “I have come back to work with Rising Stars because I see the need for positive programs to help guide children through life. Rising Stars is a special program for me and for every child that needs guidance in life. I have a story to tell that can help every child and Rising Stars provides the best vehicle I know for me to tell that story.”
As a starter for three years at Duke, Williams won the Naismith College Player of the Year award, the John R. Wooden Award, Oscar Robertson Trophy, first team All-American, and led Duke to 2001 NCAA National Championship. In 2002, Williams graduated from Duke with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and business, becoming the first athlete at the university to earn a degree in just three years. At the final game in his junior year, Williams’ No. 22 jersey was retired at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Williams was drafted second by Chicago in the 2002 NBA Draft. Jay joined ESPN as a full-time analyst in 2008.



Board of Directors


Steve H. Cytryn, Esq.

Chairman of the Board

Director of Leasing & Management, Crystal Properties LLC

Tim Thornton

Senior Vice President, First Verizon

Alex Carter

Assistant Head of Schools, East Woods School

Thomas Hopke


Leila Noor Lewis

Director of Development, Parent Resource Center

Wendy Parr
Owner, Creative Advertising Concepts


Advisory Board

Tom Quinlan

Chief Executive Officer, LSC Communications Inc.

Nora Jabbour

Vice President, Investment Management Division at Goldman Sachs

Ted Virtue

Chief Executive Officer, MidOcean Partners

Mark Clouse

Chief Executive Officer, Campbell Soup Company

Joseph Feshbach

Chief Executive Officer, Joe Feshbach Partners

Jay Williams

Chairman, Clandestine Ventures and ESPN On-Air Talent

Seth Waugh

Chief Executive Officer, PGA of America

William A. Ampofo II

VP, Supply Chain Boeing Global Services 


Rising Stars Coaches


Matt Colicino, Syd Barrington, Jamal Wilson, Dan Gimpel, Nikko Callender, John Fischetti, Brandon Williams, James McCullough, Omar Atkinson, John Cantwell, Dan Bailey, Willis Perry, Donald Francois, Raymon Charlton, Hank Williams, Nihad Musovic, Evan Conti



Mary Beth Kane, Suzanne Kenney, Bethany Lesueur, Tom Hughes, Meghan O’Neill, Loreen Lawrence, Ray Anderson, Kristen Haggerty, Ray Paprocky, Theresa Cantwell, Caitlin Wheeler, Veronica Peck, Karin Leary, Danielle Wilson, Tara Lonergan, Meaghan Smith