Youth Sports

Miami Marlins honor student athletes

Miami Marlins pitcher Austin Brice and lovable mascot Billy the Marlin congratulate Hayden Carson (Omni Middle School/Delray Beach Little League/West Palm Beach Vipers), Jack Sampedro (Belen Jesuit School/STC Thoroughbreds), Holden Shechtman (Manatee Elementary School/West Boynton Little League/West Boca Panthers), Alexander Smith (Dade Christian School/Tamiami Youth Baseball League/TbS Nations Baseball-USSSA/ESP Matrix) and Caroline Zamek (Palmer Trinity School softball) for being the Miami Marlins Team Player Honorees for August in conjunction with the Miami Herald. They were recognized for their academics in the classroom and sportsmanship on the field, before the Marlins/Chicago White Sox game at Marlins Park.
Miami Marlins pitcher Austin Brice and lovable mascot Billy the Marlin congratulate Hayden Carson (Omni Middle School/Delray Beach Little League/West Palm Beach Vipers), Jack Sampedro (Belen Jesuit School/STC Thoroughbreds), Holden Shechtman (Manatee Elementary School/West Boynton Little League/West Boca Panthers), Alexander Smith (Dade Christian School/Tamiami Youth Baseball League/TbS Nations Baseball-USSSA/ESP Matrix) and Caroline Zamek (Palmer Trinity School softball) for being the Miami Marlins Team Player Honorees for August in conjunction with the Miami Herald. They were recognized for their academics in the classroom and sportsmanship on the field, before the Marlins/Chicago White Sox game at Marlins Park.

Hayden Carson (Omni Middle School/Delray Beach Little League/West Palm Beach Vipers), Jack Sampedro (Belen Jesuit School/STC Thoroughbreds), Holden Shechtman (Manatee Elementary School/West Boynton Little League/West Boca Panthers), Alexander Smith (Dade Christian School/Tamiami Youth Baseball League/TbS Nations Baseball-USSSA/ESP Matrix) and Caroline Zamek (Palmer Trinity School softball) are the Miami Marlins Team Player Honorees for August in conjunction with the Miami Herald.

They were recognized for their academics in the classroom and sportsmanship on the field. Marlins pitcher Austin Brice and lovable mascot Billy the Marlin congratulated them during the ceremony, before the Marlins/Chicago White Sox game at Marlins Park.

In an effort to recognize deserving South Florida youth baseball and softball players for doing well in school and displaying sportsmanship on the diamond, the Miami Marlins have once again partnered with The Miami Herald to co-sponsor the Team Player spotlight on the Sunday Youth Sports pages in the Neighbors section of The Miami Herald in print and online.

About the honorees

Hayden Carson, 13, of Delray Beach is an eighth grader at Omni Middle School in Boca Raton. A ‘Straight A’ student, he has earned Honor Roll or Honor Society status every grading period since fourth grade.

On the diamond Hayden is also a standout. He is a perennial all-star in Delray Beach Little League and a standout player for his West Palm Beach Vipers travel team.

Hayden is humble and displays amazing examples of sportsmanship. Before each game, he introduces himself to the umpires and thanks them for working the game. At the end of each game, win or lose, he thanks the umpires again as well as his team’s coaching staff.

Coach George Lago of Delray Beach Little League said: “To me, what is most impressive about Hayden is his hard work in the classroom. He is just as proud of earning his Honor Society Certificates as he is all star or MVP Trophies. I understand he has been a straight A student all thru middle school. Hayden is also a gentlemen. He never leaves the field after practice or a game without thanking me and my assistant coaches. Very polite and respectful. a pleasure to coach.”

Jack Sampedro, 13, of Miami is an eighth grader at Belen Jesuit Preparatory School where he plays third base, second base and pitcher for the middle school baseball team. He also competes with the STC Thoroughbreds baseball team, a travel team that plays its home games at Tamiami Baseball Field.

Coach David Guevara said: “Jack is an unbelievable player with outstanding work ethic. It is easy to see how his work ethic on the field relates to his work ethic in the classroom. Jack tries to be the best that he can be at everything he does. If he runs a mile, he's mad because he didn't run it fast enough; if he hits a home run, he's mad because it didn't go far enough. That attitude is going to get him far in life and it is what has made him into the outstanding young man that he is today.”

Jack also has a GPA well over 4.0.

Holden Shechtman, 9, of Lake Worth plays for the West Boynton Little League and the West Boca Panthers 10U travel team.

He helped the West Boca Panthers 9U travel baseball team win a state tournament in Sanford. He pitched a complete game, allowing no earned runs, three hits and no walks.

Now in fifth grade at Manatee Elementary School, his academic accomplishments and demeanor are just as impressive.

Teacher Becky Benitez said: “Holden is a very sweet and sincere boy. I never doubt his honesty, and he takes his work seriously. He always puts forth his best effort on anything he is asked to do, which I imagine carries over onto the ball field. Sports are very important to Holden, so there is no doubt in my mind that he will approach his skill development with an exceptional level of dedication and enthusiasm. I have been lucky to have him in my class.”

Alexander Smith, 8, of Miami Gardens is in third grade at Dade Christian School where he is a Straight A student. Since pre-kindergarten he’s received all A's on his report card. He made the Principal’s Honor Roll three consecutive years.

From the humble beginnings of rec ball with the Tamiami Youth Baseball League, Alexander currently competes for the ESP MATRIX 9U travel baseball team. He and his teammates, most of whom began playing together since age 5, have won many championships throughout the state and are regarded as a high caliber, highly respected ball club.

In July, Alexander won the Scotts Pitch, Hit & Run Championship in the 7-8 age group during the MLB All-Star Week at Petco Park in San Diego. In June, Alexander won the Miami Marlins area competition at Marlins Park. From a pool of 30 champions in his age group (one from each of 30 MLB teams), he was one of the top three scorers, thus qualifying for the finals. It has been several years since the Marlins had an athlete represent their club in the finals.

Caroline Zamek, 11, of Miami is a seventh grader at Palmer Trinity School.

She made the Palmer Trinity School varsity softball team last season as a sixth grader, competing against high school freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors. A solid player off the bench, she occasionally played the outfield and recorded her first varsity hit.

Palmer Trinity Coach Jennifer Cerda said: “Caroline Zamek was very brave to even play softball as a 6th grader on the varsity team. Those upper school girls can be intimidating. She was a pleasure to have out there and seemed to always have a fun positive attitude. Although she didn’t play in the games much, she made the most of every at-bat and every pinch running opportunity. She steadily improved all season and always had every teammate and fan cheering for her. She was responsible, always letting me know if she had to miss practice. Caroline always offered to carry equipment or help out a teammate. The softball program will be lucky and privileged to have her with us for the next several years.”

Off the field, Caroline is an outstanding student.

Kendall Hammocks football

Julian Gallardo recovered a fumble and raced 39 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter as the Kendall Hammocks Warriors 8U tackle football team edged the Miami Springs Hawks 14-12 in Miami Xtreme action.

The victory was sealed as Charlie Becker recorded three consecutive sacks with 40 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.

In 11U, the Warriors defeated the South Miami Grey Ghosts 6-0. Tyler Sandino led the strong defense in tackles, and Zayvier Williams forced a fumble recovered by Sam Lopez. AJ Arrellano completed a touchdown pass to Jason Demetrius covering 60 yards for the winning score.

Kendall Hammocks 9U improved to 3-1 with a 19-0 victory over the North Miami Redskins. Outstanding defensive performances by Evan Arellano and Nico Perez. Cortez Mills, Elijah Peterson and Jayson Ramirez each scored.

In other action: PW: South Miami 24, KH 14. 7U: South Miami 14, KH 0. 10U: South Miami 19, KH 0. 12U: South Miami 22, KH 12. 13U: South Miami 36, KH 8.

For information on the Kendall Hammocks Warriors contact Mike Pintado at

Visit the website

Miami Dolphins (RISE) honorees

The Miami Dolphins and the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) recognize the week one youth football players, coaches and parent who have demonstrated their commitment to being leaders on and off the field:

· High School Player of the Week: Junior standout Jaquan Beaver from Booker T. Washington. He is a 6-0, 190-pound outside linebacker with a knack for rushing the passer. He is currently a 3-star recruit. In last week’s win over Monsignor Pace, Beaver recorded nine tackles, three sacks and an interception return for a touchdown.

· High School Coach of the Week: Tim “Ice” Harris from Booker T. Washington High School. He is currently 3-0 and knocked off two of the top teams in the country two weeks in a row, in beating American Heritage 27-7 and St. Thomas Aquinas 27-23. This past week Booker T. won 28-6 over Monsignor Pace. Coach Harris spends a lot of time mentoring his athletes through his character development programs year round, making sure his athletes are prepared on and off the playing field.

· Youth Player of the Week: Nick Vattiato of the Florida Youth Football League's Fort Lauderdale Hurricanes 13U. Nick was 14 of 21 for 245 yards and has four touchdowns. His team defeated the Miami Gardens Bulldogs. Vattiato also attended Dolphins Academy in the past.

· Team Mom of the Week: Marchelle Greene. She is from the Florida Youth Football League and is the Team Mom for the 12U Fort Lauderdale Hurricanes. Greene’s son, Tedarien Jackson, committed suicide last year. He was on the Hurricanes 11U. Greene adopted the Hurricanes as if they were her own, and she has moved up with the team to 12U this season.

Each award recipient will be presented with a plaque on the field during the Sept. 25 Dolphins home game at Hard Rock Stadium against the Cleveland Browns, and receive acknowledgement of their accomplishment in the game program and through the Dolphins’ and RISE’s social media platforms. They also will receive a pair of tickets to a Miami Dolphins home game and a Dolphins/RISE T-shirt.

As a newly added component of the program and part of the Dolphins/RISE partnership, winners will be empowered to make a difference by participating in a RISE training program where they will learn how to use the unifying power of sport to promote the importance and benefits of unity, equality and inclusiveness as well as address racial tensions their teams, schools and communities might experience.

Awardees also will be encouraged to take a pledge, committing to stand up to racial inequality and share how they plan to affect change by creating a “How I RISE” video message, which will be posted on

About Miami Dolphins Youth Programs

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 our Junior Training Camps (JTC), Youth Football Clinics and Youth Football Camps. The goal is to promote Youth Football in the South Florida community.

About the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE)

Founded in 2015 by Stephen M. Ross, the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to harnessing the unifying power of sport to advance race relations and drive social progress. Supported by an unprecedented alliance of sports leagues, organizations, educators, media networks, sports professionals and athletes, RISE uses sport as a vehicle to promote understanding, respect and equality. Through public awareness campaigns and educational programming, RISE aims to spark enduring action. To learn more, visit

Barry volleyball

The Barry University women’s volleyball team put together a perfect weekend at the Barry University Classic -- the first home tournament since 2002. The Buccaneers won two matches on day two to go 3-0 in the home tournament.

Barry beat Southern Connecticut State, 25-18, 23-25, 25-15, 25-17 in its first match on day two. In the fourth set, freshman setter Maegan Cuesta (Miami/Our Lady of Lourdes HS) sealed the victory with a winning set, one of her three assists. Kat Espinosa (Miami/Sunset HS) added four digs.

The Bucs (6-1) wrapped up the weekend with a 25-15, 20-25, 25-16, 25-23 win over (North Carolina) Lees-McRae. Barry went ahead 24-14 in the opening set on three straight service points by Cuesta. Lees-McRae jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the second set and remained in control throughout, until Cuesta came on to serve with the Bucs trailing by seven late, ripping off four straight service points to pull within 23-20. Barry took a 20-12 lead in the third set when Filimonova converted a set from Cuesta, who ended with nine assists. Espinosa had three digs.

Barry, based in Miami Shores, is an NCAA Division II affiliate.

Coral Reef tennis

The Coral Reef women’s tennis team, consisting of 14 women (eight 3.0 level and six 2.5 level players), won its league title with a 7-1 record and will represent Miami-Dade South at the USTA Florida Women’s 5.5 State Combo League Tournament in Altamonte Springs.

The talented team from Coral Reef Park in Palmetto Bay features Captain Velyne Genece-Oloye, Anita Dyches, Audrey Marchesini, Chie-Mie Chyung, Claudia Gomes, Caroline Humphrey, Leah Carpenter, Martine Charles, Beth Lang, Helen Wheeler, Nancy Foster, Nancy Levy, Noelia Corominas and Trisha Fuerst.

Nautilus soccer

The Nautilus Middle School boys’ soccer team won its first match of the season by edging Georgia Jones Ayers Middle School 3-2.

Giovanni Sanna-Lenzi, Alejandro Perez and Lucas Turano each scored for the Sharks. An intense game, the Nautilus defense held off a late push by opposition.

FIU soccer

Keeper Sophia Trujillo (Miami/Gulliver Prep HS) made four saves en route to the shutout as FIU defeated host University of Miami 1-0 in Coral Gables.

Alyssa Robinson (Pembroke Pines/American Heritage HS) scored the winner. An NCAA Division I affiliate, FIU, based in Kendall, is 1-5-1. Miami is 5-3.

More events, leagues, programs

Skyforce tryouts

The Sioux Falls Skyforce announced the team will hold open tryouts for the 2016-17 season on Sunday, Oct. 9 in Miami. The Skyforce, an NBA Developmental League affiliate in South Dakota, is associated with the three-time NBA champion Miami HEAT.

Open tryouts offer players an opportunity to showcase their talents in front of Skyforce coaches and Miami HEAT personnel while they compete to earn an invitation to the NBA D-League team’s training camp in November.

Miami Tryout

Sunday, Oct. 9 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. (8 a.m. check-in)

$150 pre-registration fee.

Registration deadline: Friday, Oct. 7.

Ransom Everglades High School, 3575 Main Hwy., Miami 33133.

Applicants must be eligible to play in the NBA D-League and are required to pre-register by submitting the registration, release and health information authorization forms along with a $150 nonrefundable fee. Tryout forms are available online For information, contact the Skyforce at 605-332-0605 or

Florida Panthers Learn to Play

The Florida Panthers in conjunction with the NHL, NHLPA and USA Hockey will be hosting “Florida Panthers Learn To Play” for boys and girls, age 4-8, who are new, first time ice hockey participants who have never registered with USA Hockey.

The program was developed in an effort to reduce cost barriers to ice hockey participation by providing free equipment. The Learn To Play program primary goal is to create the next generation of hockey players and fans who will remain engaged with the game throughout the rest of their lives.

Cost of entry is $100. Every participant will receive six weeks of on-ice training with Florida Panthers Alumni and USA Hockey Certified Coaches, as well as free registration into USA Hockey for the 2016-17 season. Each participant will also be custom fitted for a full set of brand new Florida Panthers branded CCM hockey equipment, including skates that they will use during the program and keep at the conclusion of the six weeks.

Finally, each participant will receive a voucher for two free tickets to a select Florida Panthers weekend home game with the opportunity to purchase additional tickets at a discounted rate.

The Florida Panthers Learn To Play curriculum is designed in conjunction with USA Hockey’s “Gold Standard” which utilizes an age appropriate Long Term Athlete Development structure known as the American Development Model. This model ensures that the program structure is both fun AND effective.


Ali Boxing Center

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Javier D. Souto and the Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department celebrated the renaming of Tropical Park’s Boxing Center to the “Muhammad Ali Boxing Center” at Tropical Park Boxing Center, 7900 SW 40 St., Miami.

“Back in September 2015, the Board of County Commissioners adopted my resolution for the Tropical Park Boxing Center to be named after the great Muhammad Ali, since I was privileged to have met the man in person and behold his many boxing victories,” said Commissioner Souto. “He was bigger than life and an inspiration to all. His memory will live on at this center as it grooms future generations of boxers.”

In honor of Ali – the late three-time heavyweight boxing champ - dignitaries joined members of the local boxing community.

Ali, born Cassius Clay, died on June 3 at age 74, following a 30-year battle with Parkinson’s disease. Considered one of the greatest boxing legends of all-time, Ali was famous in and out of the ring for his strength, power, speed, stamina, flamboyant personality and global presence.

Miami Midnites basketball

The Miami Midnites men’s professional basketball team announced it will host parent club Maccabi Haifa of the Israeli Basketball Super league in a charity game on Thursday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. at Scheck Hillel Community School in North Miami.

The proceeds from the game will go toward Maccabi Haifa’s charity program, “Haifa Hoops for Kids,” a joint initiative between Maccabi Haifa and the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest New Jersey, which has hosted more than 27,000 underprivileged and special needs children in Israel at Maccabi Haifa home games.

Maccabi Haifa’s trip to the United States will mark the sixth time in seven years the team will travel to North America to play against NBA competition. After Maccabi Haifa’s game against the Miami MIdnites, it will travel to Sacramento to face the NBA's Sacramento Kings and Israeli native Omri Casspi at the brand new Golden 1 Center on Monday, Oct. 10 at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time. Maccabi Haifa will be the Kings’ first opponent in the new Golden 1 Center. Maccabi Haifa played against the Kings on Oct. 18, 2014, falling 91-59 at Sleep Train Arena.

In five tours to North America, Maccabi Haifa has faced 11 NBA opponents (New Jersey Nets, Golden State Warriors, Minnesota Timberwolves, Phoenix Suns, Detroit Pistons, Memphis Grizzlies, Washington Wizards, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, Toronto Raptors and Los Angeles Lakers). Maccabi Haifa ranks second all-time among international basketball teams in games played against NBA opponents (12).

“We're looking forward to playing against the Sacramento Kings and Israeli star Omri Casspi again, and it’s even more special that we'll be the opening act at their brand new arena,” said Maccabi Haifa and Miami Midnites team owner Jeffrey Rosen. “Our charity game in South Florida against our own Miami Midnites team is going to be a lot of fun, and it will be for a great cause.”

As one of the original eight teams to form the Israeli Premier League for the 1954 season, Maccabi Haifa has a long and storied legacy in Israeli basketball. Under the ownership of American businessman Jeffrey Rosen, Maccabi Haifa won its first Israeli League championship in franchise history during the 2012-13 season and were an Israeli League Finalist in the 2013-14 season.

About Miami Midnites

The Miami Midnites, established in 2014, are the official Minor League affiliate of the 2012-13 Israeli Super League champions Maccabi Haifa basketball team. In their first season of existence, the Miami Midnites won the 2014 Florida Basketball Association (FBA) championship, and followed up with back-to-back FBA titles after winning the 2015 FBA title.

The Midnites joined the American Basketball Association for the 2014-15 season and finished runner-up out of 90+ teams across the country. The Midnites compete year-round, playing their home games at the David Posnack Jewish Community Center in Davie. For information on the Miami Midnites, visit the team’s official website at

Beyond The Game

Sports and history intertwine in HistoryMiami Museum’s new exhibition Beyond the Game: Sports and the Evolution of South Florida.

The exhibition -- open now thru Jan. 15, 2017 -- highlights the way South Florida sports have shaped and reflected the cultural growth of South Florida.

Since the 1920s, sports events and teams have both mirrored and molded the development of the area. Miami Jai-Alai, featuring the “world’s fastest” ballgame, and Hialeah Park, showcasing horse racing, were two early sporting attractions that lured northern tourists and fueled the public’s growing fascination with the area.

By the early 1960s, the Fifth Street Gym in Miami Beach, home to champion boxers like Muhammad Ali, emerged as an island of democracy amid the realities of Jim Crow segregation. Meanwhile, the newly opened Miami Marine Stadium was gaining popularity, and the sport of powerboat racing symbolized “sun and fun.” The Professional sports franchises followed, as did the rise of the University of Miami’s football program, confirming Miami’s status as a modern metropolis.

“From a historical perspective, the thing that is most striking is how central South Florida’s sporting scene has been to its identity almost from the very beginning. Hialeah Park and Miami Jai-Alai date to the mid-1920s, and both were not only important tourist destinations, but really shaped the way that people understood South Florida,” said exhibition curator Gaspar Gonzalez. “These kinds of attractions conveyed a sense of South Florida as a unique place.”

Curated by HistoryMiami and Gaspar González, a Yale-trained historian known for creating Emmy-winning documentary programming that has been featured on PBS, ESPN and others, the exhibition tells this story of evolution through photographs, trophies, uniforms, and never before seen items related to South Florida’s sport scene. In addition, two short films -- one on Hialeah Park, the other on the Marine Stadium, as well as a series of short video interviews with some of South Florida's most iconic former athletes -- will be played throughout the exhibition.

Presented by Hialeah Park and HistoryMiami, the exhibition will be displayed in more than 5,000 square feet of space in the Museum’s third floor gallery and will showcase artifacts from HistoryMiami's own collection, individuals in the community, as well as the area's professional sports teams and venues.

Notable items include:

Original Miami Heat floor from the Miami Arena; Dan Marino’s contract; Don Shula Play Sheet; Footage Muhammad Ali at 5th Street Gym; Orange Bowl trophy from University of Miami; Memorabilia from Marlins’ inaugural year; Hialeah Park infield sign; Video interviews with local sports icons Mike Lowell, Mercury Morris, Randal Hill

“The exhibition appeals to a diverse audience,” said Stuart Chase, President and CEO of HistoryMiami. “From the days of horseracing to the players who graced the grid iron Beyond the Game not only celebrates sports history, but offers a fresh perspective on the impact it had on Miami becoming the world-class city it is today.”

For information on becoming a member of HistoryMiami Museum contact Hilda Masip at 305-675-1618 or visit

About HistoryMiami Museum

HistoryMiami Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate, is the premier cultural institution committed to gathering, organizing, preserving and celebrating Miami’s history as the unique crossroads of the Americas. It accomplishes this through education, collections, research, exhibitions, publications and city tours.

Located in the heart of downtown Miami, HistoryMiami Museum is a 70,000 square foot facility and home to more than one million historic images and 30,000 three-dimensional artifacts, including a 1920’s trolley car, artifacts from Pan American World Airways, and rafts that brought refugees to Miami.

For more information, call 305-375-1492 or visit

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USTA Florida will be hosting four Development Camps for Diverse Backgrounds in 2016 in different areas of the state, for junior tennis players, age 12-18, who are currently participating in USTA tournaments, are looking to improve their game and learn about college scholarship opportunities and the latest in sports science and physical training.

“This will be the second year we are hosting more than one Diversity Camp to give more players around the state the opportunity to participate in this great learning experience,” said USTA Florida Player Development Coordinator Andy Gladstone. “The more players we can impact through the camps, the better it is for our sport and for the participants to improve in areas such as match play, strategy, and learning the amazing experiences they can have as college players.”

Pros and college stand-outs that have attended USTA Florida Diversity Camps in the past include Sloane Stephens, Victoria Duval, Sachia Vickery, and former University of Florida star Sekou Bangoura.

The cost for the one-day camp is $50. The fee includes drills, match play, a camp t-shirt, classroom improvement sessions for parents and players, and lunch.

South Florida - Oct. 29

9 a.m.-4 p.m.

William H. Kerdyk Biltmore Tennis Center

1150 Anastasia Ave.

Coral Gables 33134

To register visit:


For more information visit:

Warrior Basketball

The Warrior Basketball Pre-Travel Team Program in Miami is intense training for boys and girls, age 8-15, to prepare athletes for a travel team level.

The athletes will train two times a week in a two-hour practice. To gain experience, scrimmages will be set up, and tournament like situations will slowly be introduced to the team.

Practice days are Wednesdays, Fridays and/or Sundays. Kids will receive a Warrior basketball jersey and shorts.

Call 305-777-7077.

SSAC sports

The Sunshine State Athletic Conference, a multiple sport athletic organization made up of 35 private and charter schools created in 2008, announced that two additional sporting opportunities are being introduced for the 2016-17 school year.

SSAC currently offers four sports, including football and basketball at the middle and high school levels, but in keeping with its pledge to student-athletes and their families, the conference will grow to offer a second football classification and the formation of girls’ beach volleyball.

The second football classification of a Developmental Football League, debuting next fall, will provide member schools that are starting, growing or rebuilding programs with a competitive, but level, playing field in which to compete. This will not replace nor negate the highly successful championship Florida Bowl Series but will instead compliment all football programs and schools in the SSAC. The only criteria for schools to participate in the new Developmental Football League is for teams to have less than 23 players, and the championship Florida Bowl Series will be open to them, if they desire to participate.

The second addition to SSAC athletics is an exciting opportunity that perfectly captures the spirit of Florida’s athletic environment. Starting in spring of 2017, the SSAC will debut girls’ beach volleyball. This up-and-coming sport is quickly spreading around the nation and will undoubtedly be a natural fit for Florida student-athletes. This addition will help build exposure and opportunity for female student-athletes and will add value to SSAC’s independent athletic conference.

“Including girls’ beach volleyball was a decision that just made sense; it only requires a few players and we are blessed with an abundance of sun and sand,” said Stuart Weiss, president of Sunshine State Athletics Conference. “We believe that by adding these two new opportunities for Florida high schools, we are continuing to provide more choice and control to our partner schools addressing the need for a level playing field in high school athletics.”

Visit the SSAC website at

NCSAA academics honors

The NSCAA annually recognizes high school soccer programs that have excelled in the classroom, in addition to their work on the field.

Three hundred and eight nine soccer teams (243 girls, 146 boys) from throughout the United States have earned the NSCAA Team Academic Award for exemplary performance in the classroom as a team during the 2014-15 academic year.

To qualify for the award, the team must have a minimum grade point average of 3.25 for the entire academic year. The team GPA is determined by adding every player's GPA, then dividing by the number of players.

For information about the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, visit

Gifts in Golf

PGA Certified Pro Philip Argianas, program director of GIG-Gifts In Golf, is proud to bring his expertise to special people with special needs to Coral Gables.

GIG programing -- like Golfing with Autism and Kids Swing Into Golf -- enrich the quality of life for families in the community.

Coach Phil said in a release: “Our fun programing impacts kids by teaching them life skills while providing physical and mental training through learning the game of golf.”

For information about registration including schedules and release forms, go to GIG’s website

To volunteer or for any other questions on the Autism and Down syndrome golf programs, call Coach Phil at 888-909-5709, check the website and Facebook page for updates.

GIG was founded in 2009 and has been serving several communities in Miami-Dade County. The organization provides fun instruction and mentoring while empowering special people with special needs. Integrating families and community, it provides all the benefits that golfing delivers with a focus on a person’s ability.

Team Moms

Olive Garden and the NFHS Network, the nation’s leading high school sports media company, are teaming up to recognize Team Moms and the high school athletes they support. This partnership includes the launch of, which will serve as a resource and destination to recognize Team Moms.

Team Moms volunteer to assist coaches and often lead team communications, fundraising, travel coordination and more. The website will feature Team Mom’s Best-Kept Secrets and game day highlights from high schools around the nation. In addition, coaches, athletes, family members and the community are invited to contribute shout-outs or photos of their favorite Team Mom using #GoTeamMoms on Twitter and Instagram to be featured on the website.

“The goal of the NFHS Network is to serve and support both the athletes and their fans,” said Christopher Young, senior vice president of sales for the NFHS Network. “There’s no bigger fan than a Team Mom and no better partner for the NFHS Network than Olive Garden, which resonates so deeply with our audience and shares our same commitment to families and the local community.”

To further assist Team Moms, each Olive Garden restaurant in the U.S. will be paired with a local high school to support through two national fundraising nights and Olive Garden VIP Passes that give teams access to exclusive discounts. With dining options that include ToGo and catering, Olive Garden is often the choice for feeding an entire team.

"Our restaurants are excited to support their hometown high schools and give back to their communities," said Jose Duenas, executive vice president of marketing for Olive Garden. “This partnership allows us to thank Team Moms nationwide as well as give families and teams chances to connect over meals and create memories during the busy sports season.”

Visit to view photos, videos and Team Mom tips and tricks. Visit for live streaming of high school events.


Olive Garden is the leading restaurant in the Italian dining segment with more than 800 restaurants, more than 96,000 employees and more than $3.8 billion in annual sales. Olive Garden is a division of Darden Restaurants, Inc., (NYSE: DRI), which owns and operates more than 1,500 restaurants that generate over $6.8 billion in annual sales.

Headquartered in Orlando, and employing more than 150,000 people, Darden is recognized for a culture that rewards caring for and responding to people. Olive Garden is committed to making a difference in the lives of others in the local community. As part of this commitment, Olive Garden restaurants have donated more than 33 million pounds of food to local community food banks across the country. For more information, visit

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The NFHS Network ( captures the passion, pride, and energy of the high school experience by delivering live high school sports and events to family members and fans whenever they want, wherever they are.

The NFHS Network celebrates and showcases the unique accomplishments of high schools students, including the student-athletes participating in 27 different sporting events and the student broadcasters from schools around the country that produce events through the School Broadcast Program. The NFHS Network also broadcasts state playoff and championship events in 46 states.

The NFHS Network is a joint venture among the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), its member state associations and PlayOn! Sports. The NFHS is located in Indianapolis, Indiana and is the national leadership organization for high school sports and performing arts activities. PlayOn! Sports is based in Atlanta, Georgia and is the nation’s largest high school sports media company.

Follow the NFHS Network on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram at @NFHSnetwork for the latest news and event information.

Heads Up Football

USA Football’s Heads Up Football program for high schools and youth organizations will include sudden cardiac arrest protocols andHeads Up Blocking fundamentals.

Both topics are now included in USA Football’s Level 1 coaching education course and its high school certification course.

USA Football is the national governing body of the sport and educates more high school and youth football coaches combined than any organization in the United States.

USA Football’s Heads Up Football program is supported by more than two dozen medical and football partners.

“Coaches should be prepared to respond to a life-threatening emergency if needed,” said Dr. Jonathan Drezner, past president of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine and a member of USA Football’s Medical Advisory Committee.

“With prompt recognition, early CPR and use of an AED, sudden cardiac arrest is largely a survivable event if treated quickly. USA Football is committed to the safety of young athletes, and I am proud that a sudden cardiac arrest training module is being added to the Heads Up Football program. The module provides coaches the information they need to be prepared for sudden cardiac arrest.”

“Blocking is one of football’s basic skills that every player needs to be taught,” said Jeff Saturday, a former NFL All-Pro center and ESPN analyst. Saturday is a member of USA Football’s Football Advisory Committee.

“USA Football’s Heads Up Blocking technique helps coaches teach this fundamental – properly engaging with a defender, driving with the legs and maintaining the correct body position for effective and safer play. This is how blocking should be taught.”

Heads Up Football is a comprehensive collection of resources and medically approved protocols to establish important standards rooted in education to change behavior for the better.

In addition to sudden cardiac arrest and Heads Up Blocking, the program covers concussion awareness and recognition, heat and hydration protocols, proper tackling fundamentals and equipment fitting. More than 5,500 youth leagues and 750 high schools in 2014 participated in the program this past fall, benefiting nearly 1-million players.

Follow USA Football at

or on Twitter @USAFootball

NFL Football Matters

The National Football Foundation announced the launch of, a powerful new addition to the organization’s campaign to highlight the good in the game and the lifelong benefits to those who play it.

“Football makes a positive impact on so many levels, and we realized that we needed a centralized resource for capturing and subsequently promoting all the great football stories out there,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “ provides us a potent platform for addressing that void and delivering compelling content directly to audiences who can help us amplify our messages about the value of football in producing leaders and creating educational opportunities.”

NFF Chairman Archie Manning added: “It’s just gratifying to be part of something that does so much good for our young people. The stories are out there, including the thousands of young kids who could not have gone to college but got some aid because of football, and their lives have been changed for the better. will enable us to directly capture those stories and inspire the next generation to further their educations.”

The NFF has linked with Arkleus Broadcasting, a Dallas-based full-service media company, to create the platform, which also encompasses a strong social media component to gain traction for the campaign.

“Arkleus is honored and thrilled to be chosen by such a prestigious American institution as the NFF to build and market an exciting new sports media property,” said Arkleus Broadcasting President Joe Shults. “We are passionately committed to helping the NFF in every way to protect, enhance, and ensure the future of football for generations to come.”

The site focuses on stories, videos, and franchises highlighting the very best in high school and college football, such as: Football Moms, Special Teams, Hook & Corporate Ladder, Man-to-Man, the Quote of the Day and many more. The site will also be the home to exclusive profiles of Campbell Trophy finalists, Leadership Award Winners, Courage Award Winners and all the honors associated with the NFF.

“We are really excited about the Football Matters initiative,” said Hatchell. “I want to thank everybody at Arkleus for their passion for the project. They have done a marvelous job of getting it up and running in a short amount of time, and we have already received great feedback.”

The site focuses on the stories that evoke the qualities of leadership, sportsmanship, competitive zeal, character building and the drive for academic excellence that exemplifies many of the young men who play football and the families who support them.

You can learn more about the site and watch a video featuring NFF Chairman Archie Manning and NFF Board Members Jack Ford, Archie Griffin, Kevin Plank and Rod West by clicking here.






The international sport Footgolf is being introduced to the South Miami-Dade community at Killian Greens Golf Club, 9980 SW 104th St.

Footgolf (18 holes) can be played in two hours and is a great source of exercise for those who enjoy kicking a soccer ball. Times are available everyday of the week after 4:30 p.m. to players of all skill levels, families and groups. Balls are available for rent for $5 to those who do not already own one.

Killian Greens is an accredited Footgolf course with the American Footgolf League. Call 305-271-0917.


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.

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

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.

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).

Submit info to Sports Scene

Sports Scene spotlights news and notes from youth sports activities in your neighborhood. The aim is to feature game notes and the accomplishments of athletes from Miami-Dade County.

We rely on the directors and coaches of each league, as well as community members, parents and schools to submit information. We accept photos but ask that everyone pictured be identified with a first and last name and the name of the team or park they represent.


Youth sports online

For more area sports photos, go to

YouTube youth sports and more

YouTube at the Jim Varsallone (the jimmyv3 channel)

Be honored at Miami Heat game

The Miami Herald and the three-time world champion Miami Heat in partnership with Gatorade are sponsoring the Academic/Sportsmanship Team Player spotlight in Sunday’s youth sports pages in the Miami-Dade Sunday Neighbors print section of the Miami Herald and online at

Youth league coaches, team reps, school coaches, administrators, teachers or family members can nominate any South Florida recreational, travel league, elementary school, middle school or junior varsity basketball player -- from fall, winter, spring or summer seasons -- who displays sportsmanship and good grades or shows improvement in the classroom.

Include school, grade level and grades or interim report. Each selected academic team player will receive a certificate of achievement, a Heat gift pack, two Heat tickets and will be recognized on the court at one Heat game. Plan accordingly as there are three designated ceremony dates during the regular season at the AmericanAirlines Arena, and no make-up dates.

Jan. 19 (Thursday) vs. Dallas Mavericks

Feb. 13 (Monday) vs. Orlando Magic

March 1 (Wednesday) vs. Philadelphia 76ers

To nominate a Team Player, e-mail Miami Herald Youth Sports Editor Jim Varsallone at or call 305-376-3621.

Winners will be selected by random drawing from nominees who meet the above requirements.

Be sure to include a contact telephone number and complete mailing address in your correspondence and mail or e-mail.

For Heat ticket information, call 786-777-HEAT and log on to