Sports Scene: Miami Heat, Miami Herald honor student athletes in February


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Christian Belgrano (Pinecrest Academy), Catherine Bettridge (Gulliver Academy), Gabe Ladicani (Roblanca Academy), Ryan Mathieu (Virginia A. Boone Highland Oaks Elementary School) and Gaby Perez-Robles (Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic School) were honored as February Academic/Sportsmanship Team Players before the Miami Heat game against the Detroit Pistons at the AmericanAirlines Arena.

The three-time world champion Heat — in partnership with Gatorade and in conjunction with the Miami Herald — sponsors the Academic/Sportsmanship Team Player program in the Sunday Herald’s Neighbors sections and online at

Youth league coaches, team representatives, teachers and family members nominated South Florida recreational, travel league, elementary school, middle school and junior varsity basketball players from fall, winter, spring and 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 players Shane Battier, Udonis Haslem, Rashard Lewis, Roger Mason Jr. and Greg Oden, they were recognized on the court before the tipoff.

February honorees

Christian Belgrano, a fourth grader at Pinecrest Academy, plays on his school’s basketball team and in the All Stars recreational league.

Christian won the Sportsmanship award in the Miami Heat Summer Camp. In his camp progress report, the coach wrote: “Christian is a great all-around athlete who always works hard every time he steps onto the court. Was a pleasure to coach this week.”

Christian also has a brown belt in karate. He is an excellent student, with mostly A’s just two B’s. He earned a Student of the Month honor for September after being nominated by his teacher.

Catherine Bettridge, a sixth grader at Gulliver Academy, plays basketball for the Raiders middle school girls’ team. She not only leads Gulliver as the starting point guard, but she is also a leader in the classroom in the prestigious International Baccalaureate Academic program.

Brittney Waters, her Gulliver coach, wrote: “She displays sportsmanship with respect for her teammates, coaches, opponents and referees. Though she might be little in stature on the court, she laces up those pink Nike high tops and is a spark-plug for making plays, selfless passes and high fives. She is a true student-athlete and works hard in the classroom to earn great grades in order to earn and keep her starting position as Gulliver’s point guard.”

Catherine began the academic year on the Dean’s List, and earned all “Excellent” marks in Effort and Conduct.

Mrs. Prennar, her International Baccalaureate Geography teacher, wrote: “Catherine is a solid student. She strives to do well in Geography. She is a hard worker and very conscientious. She exemplifies so many characteristics of the International Baccalaureate learner profile of being principled, open minded, caring and balanced.”

Catherine also plays on the school’s volleyball team.

Gabe Ladicani, a fourth grader at Roblanca Academy, is overcoming academic challenges stemming from a mild dyslexia reading issue. Through basketball and a new school, his academics and self-esteem have improved.

Gabe joined a private basketball league, “The Ball Go Get It” in Hialeah. When he started, he did not know how to dribble. He improved so much that he was nominated and played in the summer all-star game for the best players or those who displayed the most improvement.

Academically, Gabe enrolled in the Roblanca Academy, where he earned an Achievement certificate, vastly improving his grades from the past two years at other schools.

Ryan Mathieu, a fifth grader at Virginia A. Boone Highland Oaks Elementary School, plays basketball for South Florida Youth Athletics, where he earned game MVP honors.

Ryan has been playing basketball since third grade. Attending the Miami Heat Summer Camp, the skills he learned at the camp helped him on the court this season with his new team.

Ryan is a good student, working hard in the Gifted program. He is a student athlete who tries his best in the classroom, at the playground with his friends and on the court.

Gaby Perez-Robles, an eighth grader at Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic School, captained the school’s volleyball and basketball teams, leading the basketball team to the All Catholic Conference championship with an undefeated 8-0 record.

Academically, Gaby has maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA while attaining first Honors in her class, consecutively, since sixth grade. Gabriela was inducted as a member of National Junior Honor Society. She also serves as secretary of the student council.

Gaby’s athletic career began in second grade with cross-country. She began her basketball career at age 10, playing nine seasons at Shula’s Athletic Center. Being the only girl on the team, she was also the tallest at 5-6. While at Shula’s, six of her nine seasons were played on a team vying for a championship. Though she excelled in basketball, Gaby developed an interest in volleyball in sixth grade.

In addition to her athletic and academic achievements, Gaby volunteers for community service at school and church. Her hobbies include snowboarding, mountain biking, skateboarding, ice-skating, listening to music and — her favorite — reading.

YouTube video of Miami Heat/Miami Herald Honorees for February

Jim Varsallone (the jimmyv3 channel)

Prime Time basketball

Matthew Chakin scored 8 points as the Golden Eagles edged the Blue Demons 21-19 in the Big East (3rd-4th grade) of Prime Time Sports Basketball at the Michael-Ann Russell Jewish Community Center in North Miami Beach.

Arie Assraf 3 pts, Eithan Mittler 6 pts, Jack Dillon 4 pts. For the Blue Demons, Abraham Klainbaum 7 pts, Joseph Abramowitz 11 pts, Nicolas Ludwig 1 pt.

More BIG EAST (3rd-4th grade)

Owls 34, Fighting Irish 31: Andres Sedler 13 pts, Benji Rabinowitz 4 pts, Kenny Zafrani 6 pts, Tomas Lado 11 pts. For the Irish, Noah Volel 8 pts, Maor Derhy 2 pts, Abie Wahba 19 pts, Khalil Volel 3 pts.

Bulldogs 28, Pirates 17: Abie Bonkovski 7 pts, Daniel Brown 5 pts, Ricardo Koenig 7 pts, Lauren White 1 point. For the Pirates, Joseph Talmaciu 5 pts, Eithan Yisrael 2 pts, Menachem Gelman 2 pts, Meyer Cusnir 2 pts, Alexis Mendizabal 2 pts, Nolan Senker 4 pts.

Red Storm 17, Hoyas 15: Marc Wendrow 6 pts, Lucas Korn 5 pts, Jaime Mizrahi 4 pts, Daniel Rosen 2 pts. For the Hoyas, Alex Ruah 4 pts, Dylan Wigoda 2 pts, Jake Crowder 9 pts.

Wildcats 24, Hurricanes 21: William Shaoul 12 pts (Player of the Week), Ariel Almkies 5 pts, Alejandro Martin 2 pts, Michael Abbo 3 pts, Michael Benzadon 2 pts. For the Hurricanes, Allan Strimber 9 pts, David Lalo 4 pts, Kyle Ratzker 2 pts, Ariel Eisen 4 pts, Jack Furman 2 pts.

SEC (5th-6th grade)

Wildcats 32, Crimson Tide 30: Ariel Yecutieli 8 pts, Samuel Taieb 17 pts, Daniel Roffe 4 pts, Jake Moss 4 pts. For the Crimson Tide, Joshua Schmutter 11 pts, Asher Courtney 13 pts, Jake Golan 4 pts, Benjamin Bakar 2 pts.

Rebels 56, Hurricanes 49: Player of the Week Alan Berkman 29 pts, Elan Roffe 14 pts, Lauren Hornstein 13 pts. For the Hurricanes, Benjamin Ratzker 16 pts, Saul Birmaher 20 pts, Isaac Almkies 9 pts, Joshua Terry 2 pts.

Gators 23, Bulldogs 19: Sammy Lasry 7 pts, Tatiana Wainer 3 pts, Jack Shechtman 4 pts, Menacem Rosenwasser 5 pts, Daniel Gutking 4 pts. For the Bulldogs, Liam Senker 10 pts, Micahel Braun 2 pts, Daniel Mundlak 4 pts, Ran Menshulam 3 pts, Noah Pierre 1 point.

Fighting Irish 34, Razorbacks 31: Amit Sapir 6 pts, Bradley Brown 4 pts, Jason Olofsen 2 pts, Lindsey Weingard 2 pts, Jeremy Saunders 20 pts, Oren Borax 11 pts, Aden Ben-Saadon 4 pts, J.D. McCarthy Jr. 2 pts, Michael Efroni 3 pts.

Crimson Tide 34, Volunteers 30: Asher Courtney 22 pts (Player of the Week), Benjamin Bakar 7 pts, Jack Golan 4 pts. For the Volunteers, Jack Brown 7 pts, Joel Assor 4 pts, Michael Odzer 7 pts, Joshua Finvarb 10 pts, Tal Amrussi 2 pts.

ACC (7th-8th grade)

Blue Devils 54, Yellow Jackets 31: Player of the Week Enzo Collomba 25 pts, Luis Ruah 13 pts, Benjamin Wolf 5 pts, Lee Friedman 2 pts, Matheus Maia 2 pts. For the Yellow Jackets, Avi Weisskoff 15 pts, Bradley Cusnier 2 pts, Leonardo Ponte 5 pts, Max Weisinger 3 pts, Shaul Levy 6 pts.

Cavaliers 58, Panthers 41: Josh Klein 8 pts, Benjamin Brener 25 pts, Francisco Escolar 11 pts, Daniel Hassoun 4 pts, Dylan Hopen 2 pts, Jonas Senker 3 pts. For the Panthers, Daniel Shaferman 10 pts, Jonathan Woldenberg 15 pts, Josh Silverman 3 pts, Chase Pordes 5 pts, Issie Stiefel 2 pts, Elan Roffe 6 pts.

NBA (7th-9th grade)

Lakers 33, Knicks 30: Daniel Berkman 13 pts, Eli Broides 2 pts, Mark Hanz 10 pts, Nicholas Mufson 7 pts. For the Knicks, Alex Bitchatchi, Jonthan Weiss 4 pts, Sion Cherem 6 pts, Tommy Korn 4 pts.

Heat 52, Thunder 50: Cristian Yol 4 pts, Joshua Bonwitt 6 pts, Moises Franco 12 pts, Christian Zorzi 7 pts, Simon Assouline 4 pts, Yomtov Bejar 16 pts, Alex Fraynd 2 pts. For the Thunder Brandon Elyakim 20 pts, Simon Elharrar 14 pts, Daniel Berflein 7 pts, Avi Parrino 7pts, Adam Oliel 2 pts.


Miami Country Day basketball

The Miami Country Day School boys’ varsity basketball team went 20-7.

Highlights include senior Brandon Parizo scoring his 1,000th career point against rival Archbishop Curley on Jan. 10 and breaking the school’s all-time steals mark. He also tied fellow senior Henry Clements for most 3-point baskets in a game. Senior Tyler Sherwood had a solid season, setting the school’s all-time assists record.

Parizo averaged a team high 20.4 points per game along with 3.6 rebounds, 3.0 steals and 2.9 assists per game. Clements averaged 10.4 points, 2.4 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game, and Sherwood averaged 4.1 points, 3.6 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game.

Junior Ryan Gomez was one of the most improved players, averaging seven rebounds a game to go along with 7.3 points per game.

Miami Country Day basketball

The Miami Country Day School JV boys’ basketball team went 9-9. Four of the nine victories were on the road, with key wins over Hillel, Hebrew Academy, Archbishop Curley and Palmer Trinity.

The team was led by sophomores Ian Spence, Chris Haefner, Robert Woolfson, Corey Friedman and Arman Singh. Freshmen Arthur Cohen, Luis Felipe Guarita, Jordan Sale and Phillip Kassab were instrumental in the team’s success. Eighth grader Julius Delgado started games, and freshman Jesse Grosman earned playing time.

Riviera Prep wrestling

In its first year of FHSAA varsity sports eligibility, Riviera Preparatory School celebrated its first state qualifier .

Sophomore George Giampetro III qualified for the FHSAA Class 1A State Wrestling Championship in Lakeland by placing second at districts in Key West and then fourth at regionals in Fort Lauderdale. He finished the season 16-9.

Palmer Trinity track & field

The Palmer Trinity School track and field record board has two new entries after the Panther Relays at Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale.

Freshman Sofia Iglesias broke her own school record in the discus with a throw of 95 feet 6 inches, good for third overall. The girls’ 800 relay team (Alexa Copeland, Jenna Martinez, Hannah Domit, Stephanie Chao) also set a school record with 2 minutes 6.10 seconds.

Our Lady of Lakes sports

The Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic School Primary Gold basketball team finished the season undefeated at 8-0 to capture the All Catholic Conference North Division Championship for a second consecutive year. In two years, the stellar team is 15-2.

• The JV baseball team also finished undefeated at 10-0 to clinch the ACC North Division Championship. This outstanding team has not lost a game in two years.

• The Cheetahs have four teams that are North Division champions in the 2013-14 school year.

Prime Time flag football

Jack Shechtman threw a winning touchdown pass to Rafael Andrusier as the Dolphins edged the Giants 6-0 in the Varsity (5th-6th grade) Division of Prime Times Sports Flag Football at the Michael-Ann Russell Jewish Community Center in North Miami Beach.

Andrusier finished with seven receptions. Joel Assor caught six passes. Daniel Roffe and Zoe Levy each made two receptions, and Noah Givner recorded a sack. For the Giants, Carmelo Billisi caught a pass, and Ilan Koenig had two receptions. Robert Bejar totaled one sack and three receptions, and Yossi Stiefel had two sacks and one reception. Joshua Bejar made five receptions and intercepted a pass.

More Varsity (5th-6th grade)

Vikings 13, Steelers 12: Eli Silverman one sack, five receptions (one for a touchdown); Arturo Jena one touchdown pass, one reception, two interceptions; Levi Rosenber two interceptions, one touchdown reception; Michael Ackerman two receptions; Aiden Singer one touchdown pass.

For the Steelers, Aidan Gold one reception, Adam Weinberg two receptions, two sacks; Daniel Broides four receptions (one a touchdown), one interception; Eli Lipskar one touchdown pass; Jaime Meller touchdown run.

NCAA (7th-9th grade)

Steelers 13, Giants 12: James Brinker five receptions (one a touchdown); Daren Hirsch four receptions, one touchdown run; Jordan Weinstein one touchdown pass, one interception; Amit Yaari two receptions; Benjamin Wolf one reception.

For the Giants, Menachem Balkany two receptions , one interception; Jake Singer three receptions, one sack; Ernesto Yogev one reception; Joel Shapiro two (one a touchdown), two interceptions; Bailey Finkelberg four receptions (one a touchdown).

Vikings 26, Dolphins 20: Josef Gad 11 receptions (with three touchdown catches), two interceptions; Ariel Golan seven receptions; Kevin Ordet one reception, one reception; Alex Fraynd four touchdown passes, one reception; Eytan Namiech eight receptions (one a touchdown); Jonas Senker two receptions, one interception, two sacks.

For the Dolphins, Josh Silverman three touchdown passes; Brandon Weinstein one interception, two receptions; Robert Behar four receptions; Jonathan Yaari eight receptions (one a touchdown); Josh Exposito one sack; Tomas Korn eight receptions (one a touchdown); Moises Lencovski two receptions (one a touchdown).

Junior Varsity (3rd-4th grade)

Vikings 18, Saints 0: Nicolas Amunategui one reception; Daniel Solomiany one touchdown run, one reception; Ari Bakar one reception; Tomer Spivak one reception. For the Saints, Carlos Romano two receptions.

Steelers 18, Jets 12: Adam Sananes one reception, one interception; Ricardo Koenig one interception; Dylan Morningstar one touchdown pass, two touchdown run; Yoni Bugay one touchdown reception.

For the Jets, Max Wagenberg one touchdown run, one touchdown pass; Jackson Gold two receptions (one a touchdown); Benjamin Bronstein one reception; Jason Benezra one reception; Lucas Korn one reception; Simon Kleiner one reception, one interception.

Raiders 13, Cardinals 6: Abraham Klainbaum six receptions (three touchdown catches), two interceptions; Samuel Attias four receptions, three sacks; Hank Klein one interception, one sack. Allan Strimber one touchdown run; Jacob Shaked two receptions; Alan Kritzler two touchdown passes.

For the Cardinals, Jaime Mizrahi one touchdown pass, Ben Ashkenazi one sack; Parker Alhadef one interception, one reception; Adam Cohen two receptions, one sack; Samuel Courtney six receptions (one a touchdown)

Dolphins 24, Giants 7: Alex Moltmann two sacks, Ari Schottenstein one touchdown pass, six receptions (one a touchdown); Andres Ruah three receptions (with two touchdown catches); Michael Stiberman one interception; three receptions; Samuel Drimmer one touchdown pass.

For the Giants, Daniel Rosen three receptions, one interception; Dovie Shapiro one reception, one touchdown run; Mason Weisfisch five receptions; Moises Salama one reception.

Vikings 18, Jets 15: Nicolas Amunategui one touchdown run, one reception; Daniel Solomiany one touchdown pass, one reception; Ari Bakar one touchdown run; Tomer Spivak one interception; Jack Harris one interception, one touchdown reception; Jack Furman one reception, one sack.

For the Jets, Max Wagenberg one touchdown pass, two receptions, one interception for touchdown; Jackson Gold two receptions; Benjamin Bronstein five receptions (one a touchdown); Jason Benezra one reception; Lucas Korn one reception, one sack; Simon Kleiner three receptions, one interception.

Steelers 20, Giants 9: Player of the Week Avi Lalo eight receptions (one a touchdown), one interception; David Lalo three receptions; Ricardo Koenig one touchdown run; Dylan Morningstar one touchdown pass, two touchdown run; Yoni Bugay one touchdown reception.

For the Giants, Daniel Rosen two receptions, two interceptions; Leonardo Simon two receptions; Mason Weisfisch five receptions; Moises Salama two receptions; Levi Gans one reception, one sack.

Future Stars K (1st-2nd grade)

Steelers 25, Jets 0: Jake Manasse one touchdown run, one interception, three receptions; Max Jacobs three receptions; Michael Kiblisky one touchdown run, one reception, one sack; David Dimarcobeardino one reception, one sack; Zach Moss one reception.

For the Jets, Ari Dejman two rushing touchdowns, 14 receptions; Albert Ruah five receptions, one interception; Alexander Schpilberg two receptions; Benjamin Rosengarten one reception; Eli Tamir two receptions; Daniel Wengrowsky one reception.

Dolphins 40, Giants 31: Itty Pomeranc one touchdown run, three receptions, one interception; Avi Rosenberg two receptions (one a touchdown); Noam Vainstein three receptions (one a touchdown), one interception; Andre Bentes one touchdown run, four receptions; Emilio Homsany three receptions, Aquiba Serfati two touchdown runs, five receptions, Alex Hausmann three receptions.

For the Giants, Mark Szomstein seven receptions (one a touchdown); Ryder Rosenberg three touchdown runs, 10 receptions (one a touchdown); Michael Benzadon two touchdown passes, one reception; Ethan Hornstein six receptions (one a touchdown); Andres Novodzelskey two receptions, Aaron Mas four receptions.

Saints 19, Vikings 13: Player of the Week Nolan Senker eight receptions, three touchdown runs, one sack; Joshua Wolf one reception; Gabriel Attias two receptions, Isaac Feldman one reception; Matthew Zeer one reception.

For the Vikings, Alejandro Berkman four rushing touchdowns; four receptions; Zachary Banin one sack, one reception; Isodoro Waich three receptions; T.J. Feeley seven receptions.

Visit online at

Red Zone flag football

Red Zone Sports presents NFL Flag at Tropical Estates Park, 10201 SW 48th St.

Red Zone Sports offers NFL jerseys, NFL flags, scoreboards for all games, weekly MVPs for top performers. With help from USA Football and Dick’s Sporting Goods, this will be an outstanding youth flag football league.

The season begins April 5. Register from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays at Tropical Estates Park or online. Deadline is March 27.

Boys and girls ages 5 to 17, are welcome. Coaches’ discount available. For information call Luis at 786-344-1855 or visit

Miami Country Day sports

Miami Country Day School Athletes of the Week

Middle School Female Athlete of the Week: Gabby Palmisano (water polo) made 10 saves in the Spartans’ 19-1 win against Miami High.

Middle School Male Athlete of the Week: Juan Martin Caro (water polo) scored nine goals in the Spartans’ 21-10 win against Gulliver.

Upper School Female Athlete of the Week: Taylor Sennett (softball) had two hits, scored twice and was the winning pitcher in the Spartans’ 12-5 win against Archbishop Carroll.

Upper School Male Athlete of the Week: Shaun Berman (tennis) won his singles match against Gulliver, and his singles and doubles matches against LaSalle and Westminster Christian.

Spartan Super Fan: Ricardo Gonzalez (senior).

Barry rowing

Barry University’s rowing crew participated in a Breakaway to Key Largo bike ride to support the fight against multiple sclerosis.

Barry biked from Florida International University’s Modesto Maidique campus to Key Largo as part of a 100-mile route that ended in Key Largo.

The Buccaneers volunteered to support the cause and raise funds. Kelly McKenzie, the mother of Barry rower Samantha McKenzie, was diagnosed with aggressive multiple sclerosis in August 2012.

“The bike MS breakaway to Key Largo was a special event for me,” Samantha McKenzie said. “She has run through medicine after medicine with no good results yielded so far. Being able to volunteer with my teammates and coaches, while having a friend ride to fund-raise for research, meant a lot to me. It proved that I have a great support group, and that the best way to fight something is to do it together.

“At the finish line of the event, when I saw so many people rallied together for the same cause and finishing the 100-mile bike ride was inspiring. People were sharing personal experiences and bonding over such an athletic accomplishment. I can’t thank everyone enough for the effort they put into the event and share with them how grateful I am for their support.”

More events, leagues, programs

Tennis Play Days

Miami-area tennis facilities will host Tennis Play Days in March and April in an extended celebration of World Tennis Day.

The events introduce children to the excitement of tennis competition in a low-pressure setting of organized play, with rotation of opponents and short continuous matches over a two- to three-hour period.

“Play Days are a great transition for kids to team tennis and tournaments as they provide them with the opportunity to improve their game in a competitive environment with players of their same level, and where results are not reported,” Cathy Nordlund, USTA Florida Tennis Program Coordinator for the Miami area, said in a release. “Kids new to the game can pick up tennis right away with the youth tennis equipment designed to ease them into the game, including smaller racquets, lower-bouncing balls and smaller court sizes.”

For more information about the new way for kids to learn tennis, go to

Kids of all skill levels and ages are welcome to the events that will showcase the “red” and “orange” lower-bouncing balls on 36-foot and 60-foot courts for children age 10 and younger. Both members and nonmembers of the USTA can participate, but USTA members will receive a discount on the registration fee.

World Tennis Day on March 3 is the international effort to get kids excited about and active in tennis. It is a celebration of tennis around the world that includes professional tennis matches in New York City, Hong Kong and London. The televised World Tennis Day celebration at New York’s Madison Square Garden featured Novak Djokovic squaring off against Andy Murray, and Bob and Mike Bryan taking on John and Patrick McEnroe.

More than a thousand facilities will host USTA Tennis Play Events this month, each showcasing how fun and easy it is for families to get into the sport. These events will also allow parents to sign up their children for spring and summer tennis programs.

Sunday, March 9

11:30 a.m., Williams Island, 5500 Island Blvd., Aventura 33160

Martin Carenko, 561-856-1478

Saturday, March 15

2 to 4 p.m., Goodlet Park, 4200 West Eighth Ave., Hialeah 33012

Ricky Martinez, 305-298-5176

Sunday, March 16

3 p.m., Diplomat Golf and Tennis Club, 501 Diplomat Pkwy., Hallandale Beach 33009

Ivan Kostic, 954-258-0590

Sunday, April 6

11 a.m., Michael-Ann Russell JCC, 18900 NE 25th Ave., North Miami Beach 33180

Donna Toleffsen, 305-932-4200, Ext. 160

Saturday, April 27

Turnberry Isle Tennis, 19735 Turnberry Way, Aventura 33180

Eduardo Gomez, 786-312-0128

For information visit or email Cathy Nordlund at


USTA Florida and the USTA Florida Section Foundation announced a landmark three-way agreement with Special Olympics Florida to provide more tennis playing opportunities to athletes in Florida.

The formal agreement builds on the existing support that USTA Florida and its charitable arm have provided to local Special Olympics programs by offering free 10 and Under Tennis workshops, grants and other resources to providers that offer tennis programs to Special Olympics athletes.

Likewise, Special Olympics Florida will encourage their athletes to participate in USTA Florida programs and events.

“We are absolutely committed to changing lives through tennis,” said Linda Curtis, executive director of the USTA Florida Section Foundation. “This agreement is a prime example of how USTA Florida and our Foundation work together to impact communities each and every day. These athletes play tennis for the pure joy of the sport. It’s inspiring to see, and I’m proud to know that we will be able to provide even more opportunities for them to play through this partnership.”

Sherry Wheelock, president and chief executive officer of Special Olympics Florida, said: “At Special Olympics Florida, we embrace the transformative power of sports. USTA Florida and the USTA Florida Section Foundation will help us bring first-rate trainings and competitive experiences to our athletes throughout the state. We are excited for this new partnership and are confident that it will further ignite a passion in our athletes for tennis.”

To get a program started, Special Olympics coaches may apply for a USTA Florida Section Foundation equipment grant for adaptive tennis equipment and other program needs by contacting Jessica Flynn at Special Olympics Florida. For additional training opportunities and training resources, contact Linda Curtis at the USTA Florida Section Foundation at


USTA Serves, the national charitable foundation of the United States Tennis Association, announced awards of $450,000 in grants to 40 organizations that provide tennis and education to underserved youth and people with disabilities. This brings the total awarded during the 2013 grant funding cycle to more than $1.2 million. Combined with scholarships, USTA Serves awarded a total of $1.6 million in 2013.

Special Olympics Florida of Miami-Dade County is a grant recipient. It incorporates tennis in providing year-round sports training and competition to children and adults age 8 and older with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It currently serves 2,848 athletes throughout Miami-Dade County.

The biannual grant process, a national initiative of USTA Serves, was established to award organizations that successfully combine tennis and education for underserved youth as well as people with disabilities to gain an opportunity to play tennis and improve their academic skills in a structured format. These programs also strive to help combat childhood obesity by promoting healthy lifestyles.

“USTA Serves is proud to end the year by awarding and recognizing some of the country’s most phenomenal programs for their efforts toward impacting the lives of youth through tennis and education,” Dan Faber, USTA Serves executive director, said in a release. “These programs have a solid foundation and exhibit tremendous dedication to serving children who deserve a life filled with education and physical activities. For this, we thank them for leading the way in designing a nurturing environment where students can thrive and succeed on and off the tennis court.”

USTA Serves has awarded more than $17 million in grants and scholarships to standout players and programs throughout the country in order to provide at-risk and underserved youth with greater opportunities to achieve success.

For more information about USTA Serves, visit

Kendall Hammocks flag football

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

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

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

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

Registrations Dates: 6:30-8:30 p.m. March 14, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 15, 22 and 29, final registration: 6:30-8:30 p.m. April 4

Registration fee $115, which 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

For information or to coach, email or visit

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

South Miami baseball

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

Call Coach Nick at 305-878-5087 or email

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 per 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 of 10 to 25 people are available by appointment.

For more information, fans can call 1-877-MARLINS or e-mail Tickets can be purchased at the ticket windows on Felo Ramirez Drive (Northwest Sixth Street between 14th and 15th avenues) 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) players.

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 or call David Hofman at 954-804-5600 or Ed Tisdale at 803-463-2591.

Youth Rugby South Miami

The Miami Rugby Youth Division, for boys ages 6-18, practices from 6 to 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 .


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 more, featuring a Club Division and an Open Division. Players must be 35 or older to compete.

For each tournament, players will earn points on a sliding scale toward qualification in the end-of-series Grand Finals at The Ritz-Carlton 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,” series coordinator Bertan Cikigil said in a release. “All participants are guaranteed at least two matches, with a maximum of three per day at each event.”

Series schedule:

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 email Bertan Cikigil at or call 914-815-4093, or to register online go to

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 Bird Rd.), Kendall Soccer Park (8011 SW 127th Ave.) and Amelia Earhart Park (401 E. 65th St., 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 3 to 12 years old will learn the history of mini soccer, the basics of how to play, reasons why mini soccer is the preferred form of soccer for kids, youth and even adults, and will have the opportunity to play in “3v3” to “7v7” matches.

The three locations make mini/small-sided soccer 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 competition among teams with fewer 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. to midnight Mondays through Fridays and 9 a.m. to 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 more information or to register, visit


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

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

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

Club Atletico de Miami ( at Kendall Soccer Park, 8011 SW 127th Ave. (305-764-5783).

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

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

Optimist Club of Westchester ( at Tropical Park, 7900 Bird Rd., (786-370-4222).

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

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

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

Thunder basketball

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

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

Thunder also encourages players to succeed in the classroom and all aspects of life. For more information visit Registration is now open. Email 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 raising funds.

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 ages 5 to 16. Email 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 résumé — 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 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: The use of the Heads Up Tackling model; coaching certification; Player Safety Coaches; concussion education; and proper equipment-fitting.

The program was launched in three test markets last year. This year, it will expand to more than 600 youth leagues in all 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 Second 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 the Alonzo & Tracy Mourning Senior High School Biscayne Bay Campus.

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 .


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. Call 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, women can play it in South Florida at the 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 are used with free lessons by former pros. Cestas and balls are also provided free with a nominal court fee. Open every day. Email 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 or 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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