Sports Scene: Miami Heat, Miami Herald honor Lexander Acosta, Jake Amster, Ryan Greene, Cristina Hernandez, Noah Scheinblum

 

Lexander Acosta (Archbishop Curley Notre Dame Prep), Jake Amster (Sunset Park Elementary School), Ryan Greene (Whispering Pines Elementary School), Cristina Hernandez (Conchita Espinosa Academy) and Noah Scheinblum (South Pointe Elementary School) were honored as January Academic/Sportsmanship Team Players before the Miami Heat game against the New Orleans Pelicans at the AmericanAirlines Arena.

The three-time world champion Miami Heat in partnership with Gatorade and in conjunction with The Miami Herald sponsors the Academic/Sportsmanship Team Player program in Sunday’s youth sports pages in the Neighbors Sunday print section of the Miami Herald and online at MiamiHerald.com/sports/youth/miami_dade.

Youth league coaches, team representatives, teachers or family members nominated South Florida recreational, travel league, elementary school, middle school or junior varsity basketball players from fall, winter, spring or summer seasons who display sportsmanship and good grades or show improvement in the classroom.

Each honoree received a certificate of achievement, a Heat gift pack and two Heat tickets. After meeting Heat guard Roger Mason Jr., they were recognized on the court with Burnie, the Heat mascot.

About the January honorees

Lexander Acosta: After going to the Archbishop Curley Notre Dame sports camp for two summers, the sophomore has progressed steadily in his overall game. Nominated by his school for this honor, he is entering his second season on the ACND JV basketball roster. His cumulative GPA is 3.50, weighted at 4.29.

Lexander loves music, video games and his family.

“Lexander was extremely appreciative of the award, and above all his family was very proud of the recognition,” Archbishop Curley Athletic Director Greg Magner said. “This is the most significant aspect of the award, the joy in the parents and grandparents eyes. The assisting of a happy home life truly is priceless.

“Athletics is a vehicle that assists young people with their journey of positive development. The unique quality in directing an award to a JV or middle school student athlete is applauded. Too many times the underclassmen are lost in the shuffle of the high school experience.”

Cristina Hernandez: An 8th grader at Conchita Espinosa Academy, she is a very hard worker, dedicated and persistent with a great attitude. She has been playing basketball since she was 8. She is also an active member of the Public Relations advisory where she writes press releases, conducts interviews and maintains the school’s blog at www.ceaextraordinary@blogspot.com.

A member of Student Council, she is motivated and always willing to lend a helping hand. She is also a very important member of the school’s championship winning volleyball team. She is a good sport and a team player on and off the field.

Jake Amster: A 4th grader at Sunset Park Elementary in their Gifted S.T.E.M. program, Jake was accelerated a year in his academics, making him the youngest in his grade. He was the only student at his school to earn Principal's Honor Roll all four quarters last year, meaning he had straight A's all year. He has earned all A's and one B on his first semester report card.

He enjoys playing basketball at home and competes in 5K runs locally. Also, he excels in jump rope nationally with the Jumpin' Beinz, an elite jump rope program.

Ryan Greene: A 4th grader at Whispering Pines Elementary School, he is enrolled in the gifted student program where the students work at least one grade level above their actual school grade. He has been on either the Principal's Honor Roll (all A's) or the Blue Honor Roll for getting almost all A's and a few B's with all 1's in effort and A's in conduct.

A Tiger Green Belt in Taekwondo, Ryan competed at the state and national level. He has played basketball at Rock Crushers each summer and wants to continue pursuing his dreams of playing basketball.

Noah Scheinblum: A 2nd grader at South Pointe Elementary School, he is a straight A student making the Principal's Honor Roll and multiple Perfect Attendance awards. He was also elected Class President for his First Grade Class.

Noah competed in the Miami Beach Parks & Recreation Basketball League last season. His team was runner-up in the playoffs. He was chosen for the league all-star game. He also plays in the Miami Beach flag football and lacrosse programs and enjoys volunteering for community events which help the environment.

•  Video of the January Miami Heat-Miami Herald Honorees

YouTube Jim Varsallone (the jimmyv3 channel)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xibnpkwHArg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfA5vrd8xEw

• For Heat ticket information, call 786-777-HEAT and log on to www.HEAT.com.

Miami Dolphins Dade-Broward Game

The Miami-Dade County All-Stars defeated the Broward County All-Stars 31-20 in the fourth annual Miami Dolphins Dade-Broward All-Star Game, presented by Under Armour and hosted by the Greater Miami Athletic Conference and the Broward County Athletic Association at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens.

The event featured some of the top high school senior football players in South Florida. Miami-Dade players took home the Superintendent’s Cup for the fourth consecutive year, making them 4-0 against their Broward counterparts.

“This game definitely shows the supremacy of South Florida. If you look at how close these games were the last two years, it shows the two counties are very close,” Miami Dolphins Senior Director of Community Affairs Twan Russell said. “The thing I’m most proud of is these young men being able to go out on the football field, potentially for the last time ever, and play in front of South Florida. It’s just fun to watch them have a great time and be able to showcase their talents in front of the South Florida community.”

Dade County held a 24-7 advantage heading into the final six minutes of the fourth quarter, before Broward County stormed back with two touchdowns behind the rushing of Lajuan Hunt Jr., who posted back-to-back scores to get Broward within four points. However, Broward County fumbled deep in their own territory, allowing Dade County to recover and score to seal the game.

“I’m just proud to represent Dade County, and I enjoyed getting to know the young men from the different schools,” Miami-Dade County Head Coach Chevas Clements said. “This is the best talent from South Florida, and I’d really like to get the opportunity to help these kids get into school; that’s a big deal in coaching this game for me.”

Miami-Dade County quarterback Kahlil Render, who plays at South Dade High School, captured the Offensive MVP Award. Broward County’s Andrew Korakakos, a linebacker at University High School, garnered the Defensive MVP Award.

“It feels good to participate in the game; it’s the best all stars in Dade County,” Render said. “I feel good about winning the MVP. We played well as a team.”

Render scored two rushing touchdowns in leading Dade County to the victory. Korakakos led Broward County in tackles.

“What Khalil did, we watched him do all year at South Dade High. That’s one of the main reasons why they [South Dade High] were able to win a state championship,” Clements said. “We wanted him to be comfortable, and he did what he normally does and made big plays.”

All proceeds from the game were distributed between both counties to help support the funding of their football athletic programs. The Miami Dolphins donated more than $20,000 toward the Miami-Dade and Broward counties’ athletic programs through this game.

The Miami Dolphins Youth Programs’ mission is to emphasize the importance of education, physical fitness and positive choices for kids in a safe and fun environment. The Miami Dolphins Youth Programs’ vision is to prepare the next generation of leaders in staying physically active through Junior Training Camps, Youth Football Clinics and Youth Football Camps.

Sun Life Stadium, through the Miami Dolphins, continues to establish itself as the top venue in the state for high school football action by previously hosting high school football contests including St. Thomas High School vs. Christopher Columbus High School, Miami Central High School vs. Booker T. Washington High School, Miami Central High School vs. Miami Northwestern High School, and the fourth annual Miami Dolphins Dade-Broward All-Star Game.

The Miami-Dade County All Stars are Kahlil Render, South Dade QB; Nicodem Pierre, Coral Reef QB; Quinton Flowers, Miami Jackson QB; Gregory Howell, Coral Gables RB; Sean Carranza, Ferguson RB; Malik Thomas, Miami Springs RB; Lashaun Garnett, Southridge RB; Devonte Jones, Coral Reef FB; Jonathan Brown, Coral Park FB; Eric Rhome, Carol City TE; Nathaniel Terry, South Dade TE; Karoney Oliver, Jackson WR/RB; Anthony Gordon, American WR; JoJo Robinson, Northwestern WR; Jeffrey Grant, Coral Reef WR; Jamel Brown, South Miami WR; Chris Worton, South Dade WR; Keavntre Floyd, Miami Springs WR; Antiwone Johnson, Coral Gables WR; Daniel Cottle, Coral Gables OLine; Dave Montas, Hialeah OLine; Jakari Bolton, Killian OLine; Timothy Isom, Norland OLine; Devonte Marshall, Miami Springs OLine; John Wesley, Braddock OLine; William Underwood, South Dade OLine; Troy Wilkins, Northwestern OLine; Jose Salvalo, Varela OLine; Deion Cineus, Miami Beach OLine; Cliffond Taylor, Northwestern DLine; Ryan Wilcox, Southridge DLine; Sterling Shippy, Coral Reef DLine; Ponce Jones, South Dade DLine; Josh Martimer, Northwestern DLine; Osband Thompson, Jackson DLine; Trent Williams, Coral Reef DLine; Clarence Cowart, Homestead DLine; Steven Decius, North Miami DLine; James Alexander, Jackson DLine; Bennie Powell, Jackson LB; Kevon Phillips, Carol City LB; Dwayne Pruitt, Palmetto LB; Anthony Wint, Homestead LB; Treshez Ellzey, Coral Reef LB; George Schultz, Coral Reef LB; Joshua St. Louis, Hialeah LB; Kerian Brownly, Norland DB; Mark Wynn, Coral Gables DB; Jacques Bryan, North Miami DB; Niko Gonzalez, Hialeah DB; Glen Roberts, South Miami DB; Trumaine Washington, Killian DB; Bobby Stinson, Miami Springs DB; Xavier Francis, Norland DB; Brandon Wright, North Miami DB; Romell Guerrier, West Hialeah DB; Shemarke Spence, Northwestern DB; Anthony Jimeno, Coral Park Snapper; Christian Jacquemin, Coral Reef Kicker/Punter; John Contrakes, Palmetto Kicker/Punter.

Tennis

South Miami-Dade County, represented by the Crandon Park Tennis Center team in Key Biscayne, won the 8.5 women’s title for the second consecutive year during the USTA Florida Combo 18 & Over (6.5/8.5) League Tennis Championships at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach.

In the finals, South Miami-Dade defeated Pinellas County (Innisbrook Golf & Spa, Palm Harbor) 2-1.

Alaina Fotiu-Wojtowicz/Nastasha Rodriguez (South Miami-Dade) beat Lori Burdell/Rena Khawam 6-0, 6-3 at No.2 doubles, and Josefina Gorostiaga/Tine Hesbaek (South Miami-Dade) defeated Stephanie Means/Darla Gatesman 6-4, 6-1 at No.3 doubles.

The champs are Team Captain Josefina Gorostiaga, Marilu Becerra, Rose Haney, Yuki Denmark, Alaina Fotiu-Wojtowicz, Catherine McManus, Claire Novy, Tara Hammack, Karla Mihm, Tine Hesbaek, Nastasha Rodriguez, and Carin Blanchard.

Westwood Christian

Westwood Christian School named Sherer Desinor its Player of the Month for December.

Sherer, who has a 3.2 GPA, leads the boys’ varsity basketball team with 19 points per game and nine rebounds per game. His maturity and dedication to excellence have propelled him to the honor.

• Westwood Christian named Joseph Jou its Player of the Month for January.

Joey, who has a 3.2 GPA, is captain of the regional champion boys’ varsity basketball team.

Students are selected based on character, grades, school spirit and leadership qualities.

Miami Country Day School sports

Miami Country Day School: Middle School Female Athlete of the Week: Maria Alvarez: As a seventh grader on the girls’ varsity basketball team, Maria combined for 40 points, 12 assists and 10 steals in wins against (Orlando) Colonial High School, Archbishop Curley, Sagemont and Hialeah Educational Academy.

Middle School Male Athlete of the Week: Evan Mendelson: He led the MCDS White team to the championship game by combining for 24 points against Red, Blue and Cushman.

Upper School Female Athlete of the Week: Stephanie Mackenzie: For the girls’ varsity basketball team, she scored the winner in a 64-63 overtime victory over Class 8A state contender Colonial High School in Orlando.

Upper School Male Athlete of the Week: Brandon Parizo: He combined for 54 points against Sagemont, Archbishop Curley and Hialeah Educational Academy, including his 1,000th career point on Jan. 14 against Curley.

Spartans Super Fan: Marnie B. Allen (Director of College Counseling).

Scheck Hillel sports

Scheck Hillel Community School named two female Athletes of the Week.

Eighth-grader Vanessa Gonik is the starting center for the girls’ varsity basketball team. Despite being matched up against older, more seasoned players, she’s consistently a standout.

During last week’s win vs. Posnack, she recorded five steals and 11 rebounds. Also, her hustle and positioning was a catalyst in a second half comeback where defensively Hillel prevented Posnak from scoring in the third quarter.

Junior Tali Zighelboim is a leader on the field for Hillel’s girls’ varsity soccer team. Starting on defense, she excelled in a district game against Dade Christian. A stopper and sweeper, she helped clear the ball from the defensive zone to key a solid effort.

Highland Oaks track & field

The Highland Oaks Middle School girls’ track & field team was second of 11 teams at the West Kendall Invitational at Ferguson Sr. High School.

Tianna Jackson won the long jump and the 100-meter dash. She also took second in the 200. Ayoolah Gbolade won the 400 and placed fifth in the 800. Maryann Jadotte was third in 100 and fourth in the discus and shot put.

Vashti Claybrook was fourth in the 200 and the 400. Jadae Barrett finished third in the long jump and seventh in the 800. Zahria Allers placed fifth in the 100. Tramese Pierre and Latavia Brown were fifth and sixth, respectively, in the discus. Kaila Maman was seventh in the long jump. The 1,600 relay (Allers, Barrett, Kyara Walters, Claybrook) won, and the 3,200 relay (Kathy Elizabeth, Maman, Hayley Piper, Barrett) was fourth.

The Highland Oaks boys’ team also finished second of 11 teams. Derrick Spicer took second in the 800 and 1,600. Jordan Anderson was second in the high jump, with Neil Fagan and Kemoni Brown placing fifth and seventh, respectively.

Eddie Gabriel was fourth in the 200. Bryce Coq was second in the discus, and Levensky Laguerre took third. Euniel Fortunato was seventh in the 1,600. The 400 relay (Javas Jackson, Fagan, Anderson, Gabriel) won. The 1,600 relay (Zechanus Jackson, Brown, Xavier Richemond, Javas Jackson) was fourth. The 3,200 relay (Darryl Dunn, Jack Gottlieb, Kemoni Brown, Fortunato) placed sixth.

Bay Harbor Islands runs

Israel Zion, 65, of Bay Harbor Islands won the men’s 65-69 age group during the eighth annual Bay Harbor Islands 5K at Town Hall at Bay Harbor Islands.

Zion canvased the 3.1-mile course in 29 minutes 48 seconds. In the 10K race, Marsha Feldman, 40, of Aventura covered 6.2 miles in 55:29 to win the women’s 40-44 division.

Other local 5K winners: Female: 30-34: 1. Aimee Jurgaitis, Miami Beach, 25:16. 35-39: 1. Sharon Khalil, Miami, 24:11. 45-49: 1. Cristina Escobar, Miami, 30:20. Male: 10-14: 1. Tzvika Salzhauer, Bay Harbor, 28:01. 25-29: 1. John Berrios, Miami, 42:47. 30-34: 1. Jose Curbeira, Miami, 22:18. 35-39: 1. Max Boubee, Bay Harbor Islands, 23:34. 45-49: 1. Diego Del Sol, Miami, 22:19. Overall: 1. Jon Williams, Miami, 18:25.

Other local 10K winners: Female: 15-19: 1. Yulissa Arancibia, Miami, 1:05:59. Masters: 1. Maggie Carmona, Miami Beach, 48:47. Overall: 1. Caryn Lubetsky, Miami Shores, 43:57. Male: 40-44: 1. Juan Velasquez, Bay Harbor Islands, 48:10. 45-49: 1. Jose Carlo, Miami Beach, 52:01. 55-59: 1. Israel Sosa, Miami Beach, 44:34. Masters: 1. Manuel Prieguez, Miami, 42:54.

Barry basketball

Yunio Barrueta, a Hialeah Gardens High School graduate, had a career-high 23 points and seven rebounds as the Barry University men’s basketball team beat (Boca Raton) Lynn University 77-55 in Miami Shores.

Teammate Deric Hill, a South Miami High School graduate, had seven assists for the Buccaneers (12-3, 3-3 Sunshine State Conference).

South Miami baseball

The South Miami Youth Baseball League at Palmer Park has openings in the 8-12-year-old divisions.

Call Coach Nick at 305-878-5087 or email brisuela44@gmail.com.

More events, leagues, programs

Kendall Hammocks flag football

The Kendall Hammocks NFL Flag Football program announces registrations dates and times for the 2014 season.

Registration is open to boys and girls, age 5-16 (cannot turn 17 in 2014) . Copy of birth certificate is requested for age verification only during the registration process. Teams are based by age.

The opening exhibition games will be on May 3. The regular season is 12 games.

Registrations, practices and games are at Devonaire Park, 10411 SW 122 Ave.

Registrations Dates: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Feb. 22 and March 15, 22 and 29

6:30-8:30 p.m. Feb 27, March 5, March 14

Final registration: 6:30-8:30 p.m. April 4

Registration fee $115. Fee includes NFL team reversible jersey, NFL flag belts with flags, secondary Insurance, referees, and participation awards. Discounted rates for head coaches.

Tryouts and draft are April 19. Time chart by division can be found at www.khwarriors.org

For information or to coach, email khwfootball@aol.com or visit www.khwarriors.org.

The NFL Flag Football program is under the Optimist Club of Kendall Hammocks and is an all volunteer organization.

Copa Coca-Cola Miami soccer

As World Cup fever grips soccer fans across the globe, Coca-Cola and their official restaurant partner McDonald’s, brings Copa Coca-Cola to Miami, giving young players in the community the opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to win a trip to the Copa Coca-Cola Soccer Camp in Brazil during the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

The tournament will kick off Feb. 22-23 at Kendall Soccer Park, 8011 SW 127th Ave., giving more then 400 teens, age 13-15, the opportunity to get active and participate in the excitement leading to the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

In addition to Miami, Copa Coca-Cola will also occur in 10 cities across America including San Jose, Los Angeles, Seattle, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Chicago, Atlanta and New York.

Winning teams will travel to Los Angeles to compete in a national tournament from April 18-20 along with other winning teams from each participating city. Four players from the national championship teams (two boys and two girls) will have the opportunity to attend the Copa Coca-Cola Soccer Camp in Brazil, a unique experience with more than 150 other young players from around the world, all of whom are Copa Coca-Cola participants of their country’s national tournament.

“Copa Coca-Cola is more than a game. It is an opportunity for teens to be active while playing the sport they love,” Alba Adamo, Group Director of Hispanic Marketing at The Coca-Cola Company, said in a release. “We want to keep inspiring teens to lead active healthy lives, form lasting friendships and follow their dreams. Through Copa Coca-Cola, participants truly become part of the FIFA World Cup fervor. It’s an amazing experience that brings people together from all over the world.”

To participate in this local tournament, teens must sign up as part of a five to seven-player team at www.copa.coca-cola.com now through Feb. 16. The first 30 boys’ teams and 30 girls’ teams to register in Miami will get the opportunity to be part of Copa Coca-Cola.

“I am proud to join Coca-Cola in promoting physical activity through soccer,” said Alex Morgan, U.S. Women’s Soccer Olympic Gold Medalist. “Soccer has had a huge impact on my life, and Copa Coca-Cola will allow me to share my love and passion for the game with a whole new generation of players.”

For information about Copa Coca-Cola, including all official rules, visit www.copa.coca-cola.com.

FIU baseball with Jim Kaat

Season tickets for the upcoming Florida International University baseball season are on sale.

Tickets for the 2014 campaign cost just $50 per season ticket. Fans can purchase tickets online, over the phone by calling 305-FIU-GAME, or in person at the R. Kirk Landon Fieldhouse Box Office. FIU student admission is free to all FIU baseball home games.

The 55-game slate will include 34 home games with teams from nine different conferences, two NCAA Tournament teams from 2013 and a 2012 College World Series participant.

FIU will open the 2014 campaign with a three-game set against American Athletic Conference opponent Rutgers, beginning Feb. 14 at 6 p.m. An 11-game homestand to open the season will continue on Feb. 19 as the Panthers host Stetson from the Atlantic Sun Conference.

FIU will close out the seven-game stretch with a three-game series against a 2012 College World Series opponent in Stony Brook from Feb. 21-23. This will be the second consecutive year the Panthers play host to the Seawolves.

Fans are encouraged to follow the Panthers on Twitter (@FIUBaseball) and become a fan on Facebook (Facebook.com/FIUBaseball) for all the latest FIU baseball news. Follow all of FIU’s 18 athletic teams on Twitter (@FIUAthletics), Facebook (Facebook.com/FIUSports), YouTube (FIUPanthers), and Instagram (FIUathletics).

• Tickets for the 2014 Diamond Dinner are now available for purchase. The 2014 Diamond Dinner, benefitting the FIU baseball and softball programs occurs on Feb. 8 in the Graham Center Ballroom.

Tickets to the Diamond Dinner cost $120 for an individual and $1,200 for a table of 10. Tickets are on sale. Anybody interested in opportunities to give to the Diamond Dinner fund or to purchase tickets, contact Alyssa Meyer at 305-348-7297 or email alymeyer@fiu.edu.

Former Major League Baseball great and current broadcaster Jim Kaat will speak at the Diamond Dinner. Kaat was a pitcher for five different teams in a stellar 25-year career. He currently broadcasts games on the MLB Network. Additionally, 15 items will be up for live auction while 100 items will be featured in a silent auction.

Marlins golf tournament

The Marlins Foundation announces the inaugural Jack McKeon Marlins Celebrity Golf Classic which is Feb. 12 at Crandon Golf Course Key Biscayne. Previously known as the Marlins Celebrity Golf Classic, the Marlins will pay tribute to former Marlins Manager John “Jack” McKeon, a two-time National League Manager of the Year and 2003 World Series Champion.

Marlins personalities scheduled to attend include: President David Samson, President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill, Vice President and General Manager Dan Jennings, Marlins Manager Mike Redmond, along with Marlins players and other community leaders.

Proceeds from the golf tournament will benefit the Miracle League of Miami-Dade County; a Marlins Charity Partner. The Miracle League is a nationally recognized baseball program for children with special needs. The mission is to provide children with developmental, intellectual, mental and/or physical challenges the opportunity to play baseball on special custom designed rubber turf fields that accommodate wheelchairs and walkers.

"We look forward to honoring Jack for his contributions to baseball in South Florida. Thanks to the generous donations of individuals and organizations, we can continue to impact the lives of children through baseball,” said Mike Redmond, Marlins Manager and Event Chair. “This event will give participants the opportunity to play alongside Marlins players as well as donate to a worthy cause.”

The daylong event will follow the below agenda:

Registration: 9-10:30 a.m.; Shot Gun Start: 11 a.m.; Awards Dinner: 4 p.m.

Event registration is available online at www.marlins.com/golf. For information contact the Marlins Foundation at 305-480-2550 or email foundation@marlins.com.

Marlins Tours

The Miami Marlins offer behind the scenes tours of Marlins Park. The tours are open to the public on non-event days for $10 a person.

The tour includes visits to the field (behind home plate), home clubhouse, home batting cage area and Diamond Club, Promenade Level featuring the art in the facility, the bobblehead museum and the premium areas including the Suites.

Tours operate from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday, except when the Marlins play at home or when other major events are scheduled at Marlins Park. Group tours, accommodating between 10 and 25 people, are available by appointment.

For information, fans can call 1-877-MARLINS or e-mail tours@marlins.com. Tickets can be purchased at the ticket windows on Felo Ramirez Drive (NW 6 Street between NW 14 Avenue and NW 15 Avenue) and are for the time and date specified.

Tickets are non-exchangeable and non-refundable.

HOF baseball

Hall Of Fame Baseball is sponsoring travel baseball teams for 11-12, 13-14, 15-18 (high school).

Hall Of Fame Coach Rich Hofman and his staff will coach the teams which will practice and play in tournaments and leagues. Register for a tryout at www.hofball.net or call David Hofman at 954-804-5600 or Ed Tisdale at 803-463-2591.

NIAF Scholarship Program

The National Italian American Foundation celebrates its 39th anniversary this year.

The Foundation’s scholarship program has grown from four scholarships of $250 each to dozens of annual scholarships ranging in value from $2,000 to $10,000 each in the humanities, medicine, engineering, business, music, Italian language and culture, and other specialized fields.

“NIAF has awarded millions of dollars in merit-based scholarships and cultural grants across the country since its inception. NIAF’s leadership is extremely proud of the high caliber of our scholarship students and their outstanding achievements,” said NIAF President and COO John M. Viola.

NIAF scholarship winners are selected based on academic merit and are academically outstanding with an average GPA of 3.95. The average scholarship in the United States was more than $3,000.

In addition to NIAF’s scholarship program, NIAF sent college students to Italy’s Calabria Region to participate in the Ambassador Peter F. Secchia Voyage of Discovery program, an educational and cultural initiative.

Contributors to the NIAF scholarship program include individuals, corporations and organizations across the United States.

Apply online for a 2014-2015 NIAF scholarship at www.niaf.org/scholarships. Application deadline is March 1. NIAF scholarship winners will be announced on May 16 online.

For information on establishing a NIAF scholarship, contact Gabriella Mileti at gmileti@niaf.org.

The National Italian American Foundation is a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. and dedicated to preserving the heritage of Italian Americans. Visit www.niaf.org.

Youth Rugby South Miami

The Miami Rugby Youth Division, boys age 6-18, practices 6-8 p.m. Mondays at Murray Park and Wednesdays at Palmer Park, 6120 SW 67th Ave., South Miami. Call 305-400-0134, ext. 101.

Visit www.miamirugbykids.com.

Tennis

It will be Tennis for Everyone (Tenis para Todos) when JD Redd Park, 550 N. Homestead Blvd. in Homestead, hosts the JD Redd Tenis Para Todos Festival from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Feb. 22.

The free event will feature games and prizes, on-court games and competitions for the whole family and more.

“Bring the whole family for a fun afternoon of tennis, games and prizes,” USTA Florida Tennis Program Coordinator Cathy Nordlund said in a release. “See what everyone is talking about with 10 and Under Tennis for smaller children and information on area junior tennis programs, after-school clinics, home school tennis, wheelchair tennis and special-needs tennis, and for adults we have round robins, league information, ladders, Cardio Tennis, mixed doubles, senior tennis and socials for all levels.”

The USTA 10 and Under Tennis format allows smaller children to emulate adult play on smaller court sizes, with racquet sizes that fit their hands, foam and low-compression balls, a simple scoring system, all adjusted to ease kids into the sport. Similar mini-tennis formats have been popular in Europe, where stars such as Roger Federer and Kim Clijsters first learned the game with age-adjusted racquets, balls and court sizes.

To register for the event go to https://jdreddtennisfestival.eventbrite.com.

The event is organized through USTA Florida and Friends of Miami Tennis, a 501c(3) not-for-profit community tennis association committed to enhancing the diverse Miami-area community through the healthy lifestyle of tennis. Friends of Miami Tennis, Inc. is a recognized Community Tennis Association of the United States Tennis Association.

Tennis

The new 2013-14 Century Doubles Men’s Tournament series, presented by Cliff Drysdale Tennis and an official USTA Florida Pilot Event Series, will conclude in Miami.

The five-event Century Doubles Men’s Tournament series is open to men’s doubles teams with a combined age of 100 years or over, featuring a Club Division and an Open Division. Players must be age 35 or older to compete.

For each individual tournament, players will earn points on a sliding scale toward qualification in the end-of-series Grand Finals at The Ritz-Carlton, (Miami) Key Biscayne in April. A minimum of 60 total points will be required to participate in the Grand Finals.

"Trophies and cash prizes will be awarded for each tournament’s division winners and runners-up, with the addition of luxury hotel getaways awarded to the series winners," said series coordinator Bertan Cikigil. "All participants are guaranteed at least two matches, with a maximum of three per day at each event."

Series schedule:

March 1-2: Omni Amelia Island Plantation, Amelia Island.

April 5-6: Miami Grand Finals & Awards hosted by The Ritz-Carlton Tennis Garden, Key Biscayne.

The Club Division and Open Division at each event will be limited to 16 teams each. Scoring is best of three sets, with a 10-point tiebreak in lieu of a third set. USTA rules and regulations apply, including the point penalty system and 15 minute default rule. Teams must be available to start at 9 a.m. each Saturday and Sunday.

"USTA Florida is excited about partnering with Cliff Drysdale Tennis to offer alternative events that will offer different play opportunities compared to our traditional events," said USTA Florida President Bob Pfeander.

Event entry fee is $100 per team, and players must be active USTA members.

For information contact Bertan Cikigil at b.cikigil@cliffdrysdale.com or call 914-815-4093, or to register online go to www.CenturyDoublesTennis.com.

Tennis classes, programs

Tennis classes and programs for all ages are at the Penny Sugarman Tennis Center at Sans Souci, 1795 Sans Souci Blvd., North Miami. Call for information on group lessons, annual passes, court rates and private lessons. Tennis pro is Ross Dubins. Call 305-893-7130.

Soccer 5 Academy

Soccer 5 Academy Mini Soccer Program, also referred to as small-sided soccer, makes its South Florida debut at three Miami-Dade County-owned parks – Tropical Park (7900 SW 40 St. in Miami), Kendall Soccer Park (8011 SW 127 Ave.) and Amelia Earhart Park (401 E. 65th St in Hialeah).

Headed by Soccer 5’s Director of Coaching Development Alan Georgeson, who has more than 15 years of experience in Europe in mini/small-sided soccer, kids, age 3-12, will learn the history of mini soccer, the basics of how to play, reasons why mini soccer is the preferred form of soccer play for kids, youth and even adults, and will have the opportunity to play in 3v3 to 7v7 matches.

With Kendall Park, ts recent grand opening of Soccer 5 Tropical Park and its third location at Amelia Earhart Park, mini/small-sided soccer will be available across the county, providing a greater opportunity for children and families to access the proper 4G turf game fields specifically designed for "5v5," "6v6" and "7v7" games.

With smaller fields, mini soccer is much easier for young children or children who have never played. In addition, mini soccer is designed for competitive play against less number of players, providing more opportunity for pick-up games, as well as more opportunity to play the ball making mini soccer popular with older players, too.

Soccer 5 Tropical Park is open 3 p.m.-midnight Mondays through Fridays and 9 a.m.-midnight Saturdays and Sundays.

"I cannot thank Miami Dade Parks and our Soccer 5 coaching staff enough for making our dream of developing small-sided soccer for kids in the Greater Miami area a reality," Georgeson said. "It is an exciting time for us at Soccer 5 as we continue to expand our Kids Academy in South Florida built on the success of our public/private partnership with Miami Dade Parks and the Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade."

Allison Diego, Director of Business Development, Fundraising and Advocacy for Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department, added: "The Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade is delighted to partner with The Soccer 5 vision to provide an outstanding experience for this community through soccer. We are happy to be a part of this important child sports development."

For information or to register, visit www.miamisoccer5.com.

Soccer

South Kendall Sun Blazers (sksoccer.org) at Kendall Indian Hammocks Park, 11395 SW 79 St. (305-630-3314).

Miami Dade Soccer League (miami-dadesoccer.com) at Three Lakes Park, 13375 SW 136 St. (786-488-5216).

Soccer 5 (ussoccer5.com) at Kendall Soccer Park, 8011 SW 127 Ave. (1-888-575-2976).

Club Atletico De Miami (camsoccer.com) at Kendall Soccer Park, 8011 SW 127 Ave. (305-764-5783).

Soccer Academy of the Americas (socceraa.com) at Tamiami Park, 11201 SW 24 St. (786-486-3804)

Pinecrest Premier Soccer (pinecrestpremier.com) at Deerwood Bonita Lakes, 11511 S. Dixie Hwy. (305-255-3422).

Optimist Club of Westchester (tropicalsoccer.org) at Tropical Park, 7900 SW 40 St. (786-370-4222).

Coral Estates Soccer Club (coralestatessoccer.org) at Coral Estates Park, 1411 SW 97 Ave. (305-279-2328)

South Kendall Soccer Club (sksoccer.org) at Kendall Indian Hammocks Park, 11395 SW 79 St. (305-630-3314).

Southern Soccer Coalition-AYSO (kendallsoccer.com) at Millers Pond Park, 13350 SW 47 St. and Westwind Lakes Park, 6805 SW 152 Ave. (305-965-0083).

Thunder basketball

Thunder Basketball opened its new year-round facility at ThunderPleX, 1440 NW 82 Ave., Miami.

Thunder Basketball is currently running a day camp and summer league, open to boys and girls, age 5-17. Thunder Basketball’s mission is to teach the principles, fundamentals and basic skills of the game. They stress the importance of team and sportsmanship.

Thunder also encourages players to succeed in the classroom and all aspects of life. For information visit www.jointhunder.com Registration is now open. Contact contact@jointhunder.com or call 786-505-5585.

Miami Lady Express basketball

The Miami Lady Express girls’ basketball team needs funding to continue competing in tournaments throughout the United States. The coaches volunteered to train the girls, giving them something positive to do, and the parents have been fundraising.

Travel costs, food, tournament fees and lodging are very expensive for these girls. They practice at the Keys Gate Gym in Florida City and South Dade High School where their coaches teach. Contact Coach Larry Hicks at 786-301-2577.

Tamiami basketball

Tamiami youth basketball registration is open for girls and boys, age 5-16. Email Tamiamibasketball@gmail.com or call 305 -273-1145.

Heads Up

Former tight end Troy Drayton played nine seasons in the NFL, including 1996-99 with the Miami Dolphins, and he is now the Dolphins’ youth program coordinator.

Drayton is adding a new title to his listing – NFL Ambassador for Heads Up Football.

The NFL and USA Football jointly announced the national launch of Heads Up Football, a youth football program aimed at making the game of football better and safer for all who play it. The program is being supported with a $1.5 million grant from the NFL Foundation.

Three million kids already play tackle football and the game can be even safer. Heads Up Football includes a tackling model that removes the head from the game.

Heads Up Football has five core elements: 1) The use of the Heads Up Tackling model, 2) coaching certification, 3) Player Safety Coaches, 4) concussion education, and 5) proper equipment fitting.

The program was launched in three pilot markets last year. This year, it will expand to more than 600 youth leagues throughout 50 states. Of these leagues, 100 will be assigned a former NFL player mentor. Drayton will serve as a mentor to a local Heads Up League – the Tamiami Colts of the Miami Xtreme Youth Football League.

Rebelle volleyball

Rebelle Athletics Club offers girls’ volleyball tryouts at Archbishop Curley Notre Dame High School, 4949 NE 2nd Ave.

The volleyball club, a member of the United States Volleyball Association, is under the direction of Mandi Tate, Dee Rey and former Barry University player Kelly Dantas. They are former coaches with South Florida Volleyball Club and currently coach at Alonzo & Tracy Mourning Senior High School in Biscayne Bay.

Rebelle Athletics is dedicated to providing developmental and participatory athletic sports programs beginning at the youth development level. It offers a progression of sports activities for persons of all ages, races and creeds. It strives to enhance the physical, mental and moral development of amateur athletes at all levels, promoting sportsmanship and active citizenship.

Visit www.rebelleathletics.com.

Jai-Alai

Jai-alai is open to anyone, age 10 to 80.

With a rubber ball and cestas, the amateur jai-alai facility is at 1935 NE 150th St. in North Miami, near FIU’s north campus.

It is indoors, air-conditioned and open to all. Contact Luis at 305-389-2313 or Bob at 786-556-3574.

Jai-Alai for women

Who said you have to be a male to play jai-alai? Just as females play the sport in Spain, France and Mexico, and gals can play it in South Florida at an amateur indoor air-conditioned fronton at 1935 NE 150 St., North Miami, near FIU’s north campus.

There are also leagues for males and children. Rubber or plastic balls used with free lessons by former pros. Cestas and balls also provided free with a nominal court fee. Open everyday. Email admanUSA@aol.com or call Brucio 786-629-5428. The American Amateur Jai-Alai Academy is a not-for-profit organization.

CB Sports Leagues

CB Sports Club offers Youth Basketball, Flag Football, Youth Soccer, Adult Soccer and Adult Basketball. Visit cbsportsclub.com. Call 786-273-5639.

Physically Challenged

Miami-Dade Parks welcomes children with disabilities in its youth leagues. If you need accommodations to participate, call 305-735-7847 (V/TDD).

Read more Miami-Dade Youth Sports stories from the Miami Herald

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