Youth Sports

Our Lady of Lakes girls’ basketball makes school history

The Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic School varsity girls’ basketball team became the first girls’ team in school history to win an All Catholic Conference post-season championship. The champs are front from left, Katya Ortiz, Julian Ortiz, Alexia Bello, Alexa Gonzalez, Jaden Castro, Andrea Luna; back, Coach Alan Gonzalez, Sofia Kunkel, Cristina Roque, Sofia Mendez, Natalie Lagroue, Nicole Sedeño, and Coach Josh Mendez.
The Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic School varsity girls’ basketball team became the first girls’ team in school history to win an All Catholic Conference post-season championship. The champs are front from left, Katya Ortiz, Julian Ortiz, Alexia Bello, Alexa Gonzalez, Jaden Castro, Andrea Luna; back, Coach Alan Gonzalez, Sofia Kunkel, Cristina Roque, Sofia Mendez, Natalie Lagroue, Nicole Sedeño, and Coach Josh Mendez.

The Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic School varsity girls’ basketball team became the first girls’ team in school history to win an All Catholic Conference post-season championship.

The Cheetahs completed a stellar season by defeating Holy Rosary-St. Richards 41-35 in the finals at St. Brendan High School to capture the ACC 2A Championship.

In three of the past four years in the ACC, Our Lady of Lakes earned two North Division titles (2013, 2014), went undefeated in the regular season (2013) and made three ACC playoff appearances (2013, 2014, 2016). The teams in 2013 and 2014 did not win the semifinal playoff game. After the 2014 season, the team lost many key players to graduation, and during 2015 the Cheetahs went through some growing pains.

For the 2016 season, Our Lady of Lakes wanted to turn those pains into gains, so the quest of chasing a championship began. The Cheetahs won eight of 10 games, defeating the opposition by 20 points per game. They placed second in the ACC North Division. Our Lady of Lakes entered the playoffs without its eighth grade point guard and leader, Alexa Gonzalez, because of a left wrist injury.

Players stepped up, and Our Lady of Lakes beat No.4 seed St. Mary's Catholic School 40-24. In that victory, the team’s two youngest players -- fifth graders Sofia Mendez (17 points) and Jaden Castro (eight points) -- led the Cheetahs.

The team made history by being the first varsity girls’ team in any sport in Our Lady of the Lakes athletic history to reach the championship game, since the ACC instituted a playoff system by school classification in 2007.

In the finals against No.3 seed Holy Rosary-St. Richards, more than 100 Cheetahs supporters dressed in yellow and waving yellow rally towels attended another historic game.

Our Lady of Lakes trailed by eight points early and went into halftime behind. Even though in foul trouble, the Cheetahs regrouped and took the lead in the third quarter, a lead they never relinquished. Castro had 10 points, and seventh grader Nicole Sedeno totaled four points, seven rebounds and five blocks. They were named All-Star Players of the Game.

“With one experienced eighth grader [Alexa Gonzalez] hurt and not playing 100-percent healthy, the younger players, [fifth graders] Jaden and Sofia, [sixth graders] Andrea [Luna] and Cristina [Roque], [seventh grader] Nicole, and the rest of the players found a way to win against a tough, strong-willed and highly-skilled Holy Rosary team,” said Our Lady of Lakes coach Alan Gonzalez.

Fifth grader Sofia Mendez was named the ACC 2A Tournament Most Valuable Player.

Miami Heat Wheels Tournament

The Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department and the Leisure Access Foundation will join the City of Miami Springs Parks and Recreation Department in presenting the Miami Heat Wheels’ Division 1 Invitational Tournament on Jan. 21 and 22 at the Miami Springs Recreation Center, 1401 Westward Dr., Miami Springs.

The wheelchair basketball tournament is sanctioned by the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA). Tournament play will begin at 10 a.m., each day. Admission is free.

Competing in this tournament is Miami-Dade County Parks’ own Miami Heat Wheels adult wheelchair basketball team, who in 2015 scored their first-ever NWBA National Championship-win. This will be the first year that the team will compete in the Division 1 level.

Fans can re-live those memorable moments at the Center’s free screening of the award-winning Miami Heat Wheels documentary “The Rebound” at 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 20 and are encouraged to come out and support their local wheelchair basketball team and meet players after the games.

Tournament competitors will include the Fort Lauderdale Sharks, Charlottesville Cardinals, Houston’s TIRR Hot Wheels, Medstar National Rehab Hospital Punisher, and Tampa Bay Strong Dogs. For a tournament schedule, visit the

Miami Heat Wheels website and on Facebook.

For more information on this event, the public can contact Diana Bonet, Miami-Dade County Parks Disability Services at 305-752-4966 or dbonet@miamidade.gov.

The Miami Heat Wheels team will leverage this tournament to prepare for travel to Louisville, Ky., March 29-April 2, where it will compete in the NWBA Championships.

About the Miami Heat Wheels Team

Miami-Dade County Parks Disability Services has been running the Miami Heat Wheels wheelchair basketball program since 1998. Competing at the Division I level in the Florida Wheelchair Basketball Conference, the adult wheelchair basketball team competes in local and regional competitions associated with the NWBA.

The team’s season runs from September through March and culminates with the NWBA National Championships in April each year. The team is supported by the Leisure Access Foundation, a 501(c) (3) non-profit agency that supports Miami-Dade Parks Disability programs. The foundation provides opportunities for individuals with disabilities to participate in quality leisure programs, both recreational and competitive. The foundation’s goal is to provide organized sporting programs for people with disabilities, funds for adaptive equipment, and to partner with other organizations to increase recreational opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

About Miami-Dade Parks

Miami-Dade Parks is the third largest county park system in the United States, consisting of 270 parks and 13,573 acres of land. It is one of the most unique park and recreation systems in the world. The non-profit Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade supports Miami-Dade Parks’ efforts to further develop Miami-Dade County’s world-class parks system for residents and visitors.

Miami Dolphins/RISE

The Miami Dolphins and the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) recognized the winners of the end of the year youth programs awards, including the high school coach of the year, Miami-Dade County, Broward County, Palm Beach County and Southwest Florida coaches of the year as well as the high school player of the year and team mom of the year.

The award recipients have demonstrated their commitment to being leaders on and off the field this season.

Aubrey Hill of Miami Carol City Senior High School is High School Coach of the Year and Miami-Dade County High School Coach of the Year for his commitment to being a leader on and off the field. Hill led his alma mater to an 11-3 record and a Class 6A State Championship after a 14-6 decision over Lake Gibson (Lakeland). In addition to leading the Chiefs’ success on the field, Hill strives to support his players in all phases of their lives: physical, mental, social and spiritual.

Hill is now a nominee for the Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year Award, which is announced at the NFL Honors show prior to Super Bowl LI in Houston. The Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year Award honors high school football coaches that display the integrity, achievement and leadership exemplified by the winningest coach in NFL history, Don Shula.

The Miami Dolphins and RISE also announced the High School Coach of the Year for Broward County, Palm Beach County and Southwest Florida:

• Broward High School Coach of the Year: Pat Surtain from American Heritage High School. Coach Surtain – a standout cornerback for the Dolphins from 1998-2004 – led his team to the Class 5A State championship, defeating Ponte Verde 35-33. Surtain also received the Week 14 High School Coach of the Week award.

• Palm Beach High School Coach of the Year: TJ Jackson from Delray Beach-Atlantic Community High School. Jackson became Atlantic’s head coach in 2013 and in just three years, he built a program that earned an undefeated regular season, Division Championship title, Coach of the Year and Team of the Year recognitions. This season, the Eagles clinched the district runner-up title and a spot in the playoffs for the third straight year. This is the second consecutive year that Jackson has been named the Miami Dolphins Coach of the Year for Palm Beach County.

• Southwest Florida High School Coach of the Year: Interim Head Coach Matthew Holderfied from South Fort Myers High School. Holderfield, with 20 years of coaching experience in Florida and Alabama, has been the defensive coordinator for South Fort Myers the past three years.

He has been on the Wolfpack coaching staff since moving to Florida from Alabama in 2012. In August 2016, just two days before the start of the 2016 football season, Holderfield was promoted to interim head coach following an unforeseen removal of the Wolfpack’s head coach. Holderfield took over a team in disarray and guided them to a 9-1 regular season record. During the season, the Wolfpack became the first Lee County school since 2010 to defeat Collier County powerhouse Naples High School, defeating the Golden Eagles 42-35 at Naples.

Additionally, a High School Player of the Year and Team Mom of the Year received recognition for their outstanding achievements this season:

• High School Player of the Year: Nayquan Wright is a running back from Miami Carol City Senior High School and a member of the Chiefs’ 2016 Class 2A State Championship team. He received recognition as the Week 5 High School Player of the Week. Only a sophomore, Wright already has scholarship offers from Alabama, Miami, Notre Dame, Florida State and Georgia.

• Team Mom of the Year: Marisella Readon from the Boca Braves of the Gold Coast Pop Warner League, who was the Week 10 Team Mom of the Week award recipient. Readon has overcome tremendous adversity as she lost her son in early 2016, who would have been on the Tiny Mite team (7U), yet she still finds the time and energy to support her older son’s team.

She is always there when you need her and the first to take the initiative and volunteer her time. Readon never misses a practice or game and is there, not only for her son, but for all the boys on the team. This year, her Jr. Pee Wee team had an influx of new players which meant new moms to the organization. She welcomed everyone with open arms and has made them feel like family. Recently, Readon was appointed to the Braves’ board as scholastic coordinator because of her commitment to the scholastic performance of her players.

Each award recipient was presented with a plaque on the field during the Jan. 1 Dolphins home game at Hard Rock Stadium against the New England Patriots, and received acknowledgement of their accomplishment in the game program and through the Dolphins’ and RISE’s social media platforms. They also received four tickets to the Miami Dolphins home game and a Dolphins/RISE T-shirt.

Awardees are 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 RISEtoWIN.org.

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 www.RISEtoWIN.org.

FIU football

Florida International University center Michael Montero (Christopher Columbus High School/Miami) accepted an invitation to play in the FBS All Americans Tropical Bowl on Sunday, Jan. 15 in Daytona Beach.

The college all-star game will occur at the Daytona Beach Municipal Stadium and will feature the American Team versus the National Team beginning at 9 a.m. Montero has been named to the National Team.

Montero started in all 12 games on an offensive line that helped produce 4,503 yards of total offense (No. 4 all-time for yards in a season at FIU) in 2016. The Panthers rushed for 1,783 yards (third-most in school history) and produced 2,720 yards through the air.

Montero blocked for the school’s all-time leading rusher (Alex Gardner – 2,272 yards) and FIU’s all-time leader in touchdown passes (Alex McGough – 48); both marks set this past season. Under the watch of Montero, FIU’s offense gained more than 200 yards on the ground five times, including a 270-yard performance versus Florida Atlantic (Oct. 1), and gained more than 500 yards of total offense twice.

Montero, an Honorable Mention All-C-USA selection in 2016, was recognized by Athlon and Phil Steele (preseason Second-Team All-C-USA) and was named to the Rimington Trophy Watch List.

The Tropical Bowl showcases the top college football seniors to NFL scouts and general managers who travel from around the country to the event. The weekend is focused on scouting, teaching and football.

Palmer Trinity football

Palmer Trinity School offensive lineman Santiago Messmacher of Miami has been named to the 2017 U.S. Under-17 National Team for the 8th annual International Bowl at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Santiago is one of 50 high schoolers to be selected for this honor to represent Team USA in the sport’s greatest annual international competition.

The U.S. National Team program is managed by USA Football – the sport’s national governing body – and a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

International Bowl VIII will feature a series of eight games between 16 teams from the U.S., Canada and Japan. Games will kick off on Jan. 16 with Team USA against Japan. ESPN3 will stream games live on Jan. 16-17.

Chris Merritt of Miami Christopher Columbus High School is the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach for Team USA.

U.S. National Team alum include DT MALCOM BROWN (Texas/New England Patriots), WR DEVIN FUNCHESS (Michigan/Carolina Panthers), RB TODD GURLEY (Georgia/Los Angeles Rams), CB JOURDAN LEWIS (Michigan), LB GREER MARTINI (Notre Dame), RB SAMAJE PERINE (Oklahoma), QB BRYCE PETTY (Baylor/New York Jets) and QB JAMEIS WINSTON (Florida State/Tampa Bay Buccaneers).

About USA Football

USA Football designs and delivers premier educational, developmental and competitive programs to advance and grow the sport. As the sport’s national governing body and member of the U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Football partners with leaders in medicine, child advocacy and athletics to support positive football experiences for youth, high school and other amateur players.

Follow USA Football on Facebook or on Twitter.

Kendall Hammocks flag football

The Kendall Hammocks NFL Flag Football program announces the registrations dates and times for the upcoming 2017 NFL Flag Football season.

Registrations are open to boys and girls, age 5-16. Cutoff date is July 1. Copy of birth certificate is required for age verification during the registration process.

Season will include 12 regular season games, two exhibition games and single elimination playoffs. All registrations, practices and games are at Devonaire Park, 10411 SW 122 Ave., Miami, 33186.

Registrations Dates:

February registrations fee: $130.

Feb 4. - Saturday (11 a.m.-3 p.m.); Feb 11. - Saturday (11 a.m.-3 p.m.); Feb 17. - Friday (6:30-8:30 p.m.)

March Registrations fee: $140.

March 4 - Saturday (11 a.m.-3 p.m.); March 10 - Friday (6:30-8:30 p.m.); March 18 - Saturday (11 a.m.- 3 p.m.); March 25 - Saturday (11 a.m.- 3 p.m.)

New player tryouts and draft will be 1-6 p.m. April 2.

Registration fee includes: NFL Team Reversible Jersey, NFL flag belts, secondary Insurance, referee cost, participation awards, trophies for division winners/MVPs.

Discounted rates offered for coaches. All coaches require a USA football registration and a national background check.

For information or if interested in coaching, email khnflflagfootball@aol.com

Visit www.khwarriors.org

The NFL Flag football program is under the Optimist Club of Kendall Hammocks and is an all volunteer organization, serving the community in youth sports for more than 27 years.

Killian cross-country

Alyssa Quarrie was the only ninth grader on the Killian High School girls’ varsity cross-country team that competed in regionals.

Alyssa actually attends attends Young Women’s Preparatory Academy in Miami, which ranks No.44 in the Nation by US News & World Report and No.7 in Florida. Since her school does not offer sports, she tried out for her area school’s cross-country team.

Alyssa had a personal best 21:50 in 3.1 miles. At districts, she placed 23 of 123 runners.

She also participated in two AAU cross-country meets where she finished first.

Miami Country Day sports

Miami Country Day School

Upper School Female Co-Athletes of the Week: Channise Lewis/Kelsey Marshall – Basketball - were named to the All-Tournament Team at the Nike Tournament in Phoenix, and co-MVPs in the Naples Invitational.

Upper School Male Athlete of the Week - Ibrahim Doumbia – Basketball - combined for 100 points and 60 rebounds at the Joe Miller Invitational in Wilmington, N.C.

UFC GYM Kendall

UFC GYM announced that following the overwhelming success of its 2016 12-Week Body Transformation Challenge, the brand recently launched its next iteration, expanding to 16 signature gym locations throughout the United States, including Kendall in Miami-Dade County.

“Whether your objective is to train with the goal of competing on stage or just living an overall healthier lifestyle, this program is designed to accomplish both,” UFC GYM President Adam Sedlack said. “We experienced some amazing transformations at our Corona and Torrance locations and we’re excited to expand this one in a lifetime challenge to members at all of our signature gyms.”

Inspired by four-time IFBB Figure Olympia Champion Nicole Wilkins, this program consists of one-on-one personal training sessions, tailored nutritional and supplementation plans, educational seminars and group workouts. Enrollment cost is $199 ($1,200 value) for UFC GYM members and $298.99 for non-members, which includes the challenge fee and a 12 week UFC GYM membership. Also, UFC GYM has agreed to pay the participant’s individual entry fee for those that want to compete on stage.

A grand prize of $5,000 will be awarded to the member who wins the “overall weight-loss” portion of the challenge, while both a male and female winner of the “overall muscle gain” portion will each win $1,000. Additional awards and prizes will be awarded at each participating location.

Contact UFC GYM - Kendall

8851 SW 107th Ave., Miami, 33176.

Phone: 305-680-5990

Contact: General Manager Jason Figorski; jason.figorski@ufcgym.com

https://ufcgym.com/kendall

Those who register for the Challenge are encouraged to stay connected at

https://www.facebook.com/groups/ufcgymtransformationteam/

Since debuting in 2009, UFC GYM has opened more than 135 locations throughout the United States, Australia, Canada, South America and the United Arab Emirates. The fitness franchise has continued to grow at a rapid pace with more than 50 locations opening in the past two years and more than 50 gyms expected to open in the next year.

For more information about UFC GYM, visit UFC GYM.com, or follow on Facebook.com/UFCgym, Twitter or Instagram: @UFCGYM. Subscribe on YouTube at UFCGYM.

More events, leagues, programs

Dan Marino WalkAbout Autism

Momentum is building in the autism community for the much-anticipated 7th annual Dan Marino Foundation WalkAbout Autism & Expo, brought to you by Walgreens and presented by Badia Spices from 8 a.m.-Noon on Saturday, Jan. 21.

Dan Marino, the Marino Family and The Dan Marino Foundation will once again transform Hard Rock Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins in Miami Gardens, into a magical place where family, friends and loved ones will create memories that will last a lifetime.

The annual DMF WalkAbout Autism & Expo started in 2010 by The Dan Marino Foundation provides a powerful and inspiring platform for South Floridians to come together as a community in an effort to promote awareness, raise funds for innovative initiatives and advocate for the needs of people living with autism. Each year this epic event gathers close to 20,000 participants who walk together with an ultimate pursuit of inspiring the world to embrace autism acceptance.

The event has raised more than $3 million through the generous support of participants, donors, school, corporate and non-profit teams, as well as corporate sponsors. This year's participating corporate sponsors include: Walgreens, Badia Spices, the Miami Dolphins, Hard Rock Stadium, CenterPlate, Publix Super Markets, South Florida Ford,Greenspoon Marder, Chase, Panera Bread, Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza, UPS, Nova Southeastern University andPepsiCo to name a few. As well as the Foundation’s media partners Comcast, Clear Channel Outdoor, iHeartMedia,Sun Sentinel Society Scene, Autism Notebook and Lifestyle Magazine.

Each year the Foundation strives to create an exceptional experience for the whole family to enjoy. Current and alumni Miami Dolphins players, cheerleaders, celebrities, elected officials, schools and families all come together for a day of family fun for everyone. The DMF WalkAbout starts with a community friendly carnival-like celebration, followed by a walk that is led by Marino Campus students and members of the autism community who rally together to encourage awareness.

After the walk participants will enjoy a resource Expo, compliments of South Florida Ford with more than thirty exhibitors and vendors, as well as musical entertainment from local school bands. Kids will have the opportunity to enjoy countless interactive activities in the children’s corner. There will be several booths focused on health and fitness compliments of Walgreens. Festivities also include the Publix Hospitality Village featuring a delicious food and beverage sampling extravaganza compliments of Badia Spices, PepsiCo, CenterPlate and The Produce Connection.

“Claire and I look forward to the walk every year, coming together to celebrate with our community. Everyone from the sponsors to the walk teams made up of schools, companies and individuals make this event one of a kind. By working together to raise awareness, the WalkAbout Autism creates a fun day at Hard Rock Stadium for everyone to enjoy,” said Dan Marino, Chairman of The Dan Marino Foundation.

The Dan Marino Foundation is grateful to all who support this special day. Proceeds raised through the DMF WalkAbout Autism & Expo stay in our local community and help fund The Dan Marino Foundation’s initiatives such as Marino Campus in Fort Lauderdale, and at FIU in Miami-Dade. The event also benefits autism programs and services in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach County Schools, as well as non-profit autism service providers who participate with WalkAbout Teams. Last year its Top Three Fundraising School Teams included Cypress Bay High School, Blue Lake K-8, and Sandpiper Shores Elementary.

There are many ways to participate in the 7th Annual #DMFWalk and become an autism champion. You can start a walk team in honor of a loved one living with autism, fundraise for your school or non-profit autism program, become a corporate sponsor, or register for the Expo. In addition, there are volunteer opportunities available for anyone who is interested in getting involved. For more information on ways to participate, please visit dmfwalkaboutautism.org.

ABOUT THE DAN MARINO FOUNDATION: The Dan Marino Foundation, Inc., a 501(c) 3 organization was established by Dan and Claire Marino, motivated by their experiences in raising their son, Michael, who is diagnosed with autism. For over 25years, the Foundation has been a leader in innovation and change, "empowering individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities.” The Foundation has raised more than $53 million to create unique and impactful initiatives in the community.

Among these first-of-their-kind initiatives are the Nicklaus Children's Hospital Dan Marino Outpatient Center, the Marino Autism Research Institute, Marino Adapted Aquatics, Summer STEPS Employment Programs, Virtual Interactive Training Agent Program (ViTA DMF), and now post-secondary programs at both Marino Campus in Broward and at FIU in Miami-Dade.

For more information, visit danmarinofoundation.org or marinocampus.org or vitadmf.org.

Miami Marathhon

Fifteen years ago, the Miami Marathon was born almost by accident.

A 12-year-old double amputee from California named Rudy Garcia Tolson, in town visiting Co-Founder Frankie Ruiz and his high school cross country team in 2002, said something to former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz about wanting to return to Miami to run in a marathon.

There was just one problem. There wasn't a marathon in Miami.

So the Mayor's office urged Ruiz to start one, which led Ruiz to contact future partner Robert Pozo, who had been trying to get an elite South Florida distance race off the ground. The Mayor’s office helped them work through all the red tape and civic cooperation they needed and the Miami Marathon And Half Marathon was born.

The race that began with 3,400 runners in 2003 will now celebrate its 15th anniversary with an entirely different look as it returns to the streets of downtown Miami, Miami Beach and Coconut Grove on Jan. 29, 2017.

An International field of around 25,000 runners will be at the start line and about 65-percent of them will be from outside Miami-Dade County, 22-percent from outside the United States. All 50 states will be represented along with 80 countries.

And Rudy Garcia Tolson will return to Miami to participate for his first time in the race that was his grand idea discussed with the Mayor when he was just a kid and now is a reality for so many people who dream of athletic accomplishments.

“I had a vision of it growing to more than 20,000 runners, and I believed it,” Ruiz said as he reflected on the birth of the race. “It’s going to keep becoming even more of an International event with eventually more than 50-percent of the field coming from outside the United States. It will reflect the city itself. This is a city of immigrants and visitors alike.”

Ruiz doesn't own the race anymore. He and Pozo sold it to a company named U.S. Road Sports in 2008 so they could get more marketing support to grow the event. U.S. Road Sports took it to the current level and sold it in 2014 to Life Time Fitness, a health and lifestyle company which owns 124 fitness centers around the country, including one in Boca Raton, and produces several distance races and triathlons.

The 15-year anniversary milestone is special and the event has identified about 60 runners who have participated in every one of the 15 races. They will receive a commemorative jacket, attend a VIP event and receive other special acknowledgements.

The marathon will begin at 6 a.m. outside the AmericanAirlines Arena and wind through Miami Beach, Downtown Miami, Coconut Grove and Brickell Avenue before it finishes at Bayfront Park with an always jubilant post-event celebration.

More than 5,000 South Florida middle school students will again participate in Kids Run Miami at 11 a.m. on Marathon Sunday. The 1.2-mile run from the county courthouse on Flagler Street to the Marathon finish line culminates a 15-week program designed to promote fitness to kids. Another 2,500 participants will be in the annual Tropical 5K, a great family event held Saturday, Jan. 28, at 7:30 a.m. along 3.1-miles of the Miami Marathon And Half Marathon course.

The Miami Marathon & Half Marathon is the fourth event of the six-race Florida Storm Series, which challenges runners to participate in three to five racing events in Florida during the 2016-17 season. Other events include the recent Michelob ULTRA Fort Lauderdale 13.1 and Turkey Day Run Miami, the Tropical 5K, the Michelob ULTRA Miami Beach 13.1 on March 5, 2017 and the First Watch Sarasota Half Marathon on March 19, 2017.

For more information or to register for the Miami Marathon, visit themiamimarathon.com or facebook.com/MiamiMarathon. More information about Life Time Athletic Events is available at EventsByLifeTime.com, on Twitter @lifetimefitness and the Life Time Athletic Events Facebook page.

Skateboard Supercross

The Michael-Ann Russell JCC reported the first Skateboard Supercross Academy in the country at its facility in North Miami Beach.

The academy is a place to go after-school for a 40-minute lesson in a group setting with friends.

Students participate once or twice a week to take a lesson and may return on Sundays for Race Day.

Race Day provides some extra practice while learning the more competitive side of skateboarding. Learning to race on the pumptracks is a necessary skill, as competition helps to stimulate the sport.

Many young riders want more time on the pumptracks to be ready for the end of the semester Head to Head Races. That event is the grand finale of the semester curriculum, and it is the showcase for parents, family and friends.

The Head to Head Race brackets system determines who is the fastest racer to date and logs their time. Basically, two riders are paired to race and whoever wins goes against the winner of the other head to head race, until the remaining two compete in the finals.

Option #1 - Curriculum Based Learning

Monday: 15 classes (Member $375, Non-Member $565)

Tuesday: 16 classes (Member $400, Non-Member $600)

Wednesday: 19 classes (Member $475, Non-Member $715)

Thursday: 20 classes (Member $500, Non-Member $750)

Sunday: 17 classes (Member $425, Non-Member $640)

Option #2 - Race Packs (Open Ride Sessions)

(Reservations required. Bring a bicycle, scooter or inline skates)

One Class: Member $30, Non-Member $45, Curriculum Special! $15

10 Pack: Member $250, Non-Member $375, Curriculum Special! $125

20 Pack: Member $475, Non-Member $710, Curriculum Special! $240

Call 305-932-4200, ext. 145/146 to register.

For questions, text or call 786-529-8187.

Orange Bowl Leadership Academy

The Orange Bowl Committee launched the Orange Bowl Leadership Academy, designed to engage and inspire middle school youth to maximize their potential to become future successful community leaders through access and exposure to career development, personal leadership and life skills.

Previously, the Orange Bowl conducted a pilot program that has now become the basis for the Orange Bowl Leadership Academy, with classes of approximately 20 sixth-graders from both Bair Middle School in Sunrise and North Miami Middle School. Those students will continue as seventh-graders this year with a new curriculum, and two new schools will be added with sixth-graders at both Sunrise Middle School in Fort Lauderdale and Georgia Jones-Ayers Middle School in Miami.

The design of the program is eventually to have students follow a three-year curriculum through middle school and expand to other schools in both Miami-Dade and Broward Counties.

“Our vision is to nurture and cultivate the next generation of South Florida community and business leaders,” said Judge Michael Chavies, president and chair of the Orange Bowl Committee.

Marlon A. Hill Esq, chair of the of the Orange Bowl Leadership Academy committee, added: “The Orange Bowl Leadership Academy will provide South Florida youth the opportunity to dream and develop a plan to achieve those dreams, to set and achieve personal goals and objectives, and to understand their options in life for success at home, their careers and in the community.”

From October through May, students in the program meet twice a month after school with teachers and mentors, who are Orange Bowl Committee members. The curriculum is specifically designed toward fostering character development and responsibility geared to elevating individual empowerment, efficacy and self-esteem.

The students are also exposed to guest speakers, many of whom are Orange Bowl Committee members, and occasional field trips for behind-the-scenes tours of locations such as the Southern District Court of Florida. These sessions are designed to inspire and unleash individual youth potential and leadership, while also creating career development awareness, knowledge and opportunities.

Support for the Orange Bowl Leadership Academy is being provided by the College Football Playoff Foundation, whose philanthropic initiatives are directed toward education generally and more specifically teachers, through its Extra Yard for Teachers program.

The Orange Bowl Leadership Academy receives additional support from sponsors Bank of America, Comcast, Deloitte and Florida Blue.

The curriculum for the Orange Bowl Leadership Academy was created by the Pacific Institute specifically for the Orange Bowl Committee.

Visit www.orangebowl.org.

Orange Bowl Showcase

The Orange Bowl Committee will host the inaugural Orange Bowl Florida High School Football Showcase, a free one day event in association with the National Football Foundation and its local chapters. It will bring together academically qualified high school seniors from Florida and football coaches from NCAA Division II, III and NAIA programs across the country.

The Orange Bowl Florida High School Football Showcase will provide an unprecedented opportunity for young student-athletes to use their athletic and academic skills to earn collegiate scholarships, and ultimately a college degree.

The Showcase will occur 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Feb. 25 at Nova Southeastern University in Davie. All NCAA Division II, III, and NAIA athletic directors and head football coaches have been invited to attend the Orange Bowl Florida High School Football Showcase. Student-athletes eligible for participation must be graduating high school seniors who have not accepted a scholarship offer from a NCAA Division I (Football Bowl Subdivision and Football Championship Subdivision) program. In addition, they must meet one of the three following academic qualifications:

· Earn a 2.3 GPA or higher in 16 Core Courses (please visit www.ncaa.org/student-athletes/future/core-courses for a description of NCAA Eligible Core Courses)

· Earn an SAT score of 820 (math and verbal only) or higher on the old format (SAT exams taken prior to March 2016)

· Earn an ACT sum score of 68 or higher

“Everyone knows Florida is a hotbed of football talent for Division I players, but there are hundreds of academically qualified student-athletes beyond Division I signees who are excellent football players and looking to continue both their academic and athletic careers,” said Judge Michael B. Chavies, president and chair of the Orange Bowl Committee. “The Orange Bowl is excited to provide this opportunity for student-athletes so that coaches from around the country, who may have limited recruiting budgets, can evaluate these football players all in one location.”

The Showcase will consist of a series of tests and drills to best display each player’s various talents at their respective position. The program will allow ample time for coaches to view student-athletes in drills and talk to them individually about their respective football programs. Staffs from university admissions and financial aid departments are also being encouraged to attend the Showcase.

Following the day’s activities, players and university representatives will meet to discuss scholarship opportunities for the participating student-athletes. The Orange Bowl is providing lodging for the first 50 colleges to register, in addition to meals for all coaches and administrators.

The Orange Bowl Florida High School Football Showcase is the third Showcase being conducted nationally in association with the NFF. The original showcase was launched eight years ago behind the leadership of former Milby High School coach Phil Camp of the NFF Touchdown Club of Houston Chapter, and it was later followed by the showcase led by College Football Hall of Fame and former UCLA coach Terry Donahue of the NFF Newport Beach Chapter in Los Angeles.

“We are extremely excited that the Orange Bowl is staging a High School Showcase in South Florida, and I specifically want to thank Bob Epling, who serves on the NFF Board and is a past president of the Orange Bowl Committee, as well as Orange Bowl CEO Eric Poms for their leadership in making this happen,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “The High School Showcases are an extremely powerful way for student-athletes to pursue their dream of attending college, and they result in millions of dollars in academic and participation scholarships each year. I had the privilege to serve as the Executive Director of the Orange Bowl from 1987 to 1993, and I know that the Showcase will make a real difference for high school players in South Florida. It’s really great that this is happening.”

The Showcase is a further commitment by Orange Bowl to youth sports, one of the four pillars of its community outreach, which also includes fundraising and community events, academic programs and scholarships, and legacy gifts. For more than 80 years, the Orange Bowl has been one of South Florida’s leading civic organizations, promoting championship sporting events, related premier entertainment and other year-round activities to inspire youth, engage our community and enhance the South Florida economy.

For more information about the Orange Bowl Florida High School Football Showcase and to register, visit

community.orangebowl.org/highschoolfootballshowcase/.

About the Orange Bowl

The Orange Bowl is a 360-member, primarily-volunteer non-profit sports organization that promotes and serves the South Florida community. With its primary mission since being created in 1935 to bring tourism to South Florida through an annual football game and events, it has also maintained a legacy of charitable contributions and community outreach. Orange Bowl community outreach efforts are comprised of four pillars: youth sports, fundraising and community events, academic programs and scholarships, and legacy gifts.

The Orange Bowl features a year-round schedule of events culminating with the Capital One Orange Bowl on December 30, 2016. For more information on the 2016-17 Orange Bowl events, including promotional and volunteer opportunities through the Ambassador Program presented by Panera Bread, log on to www.orangebowl.org. Follow Orange Bowl: @OrangeBowl, Facebook and Instagram.

About The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame

Founded in 1947 with early leadership from General Douglas MacArthur, legendary Army coach Earl "Red" Blaik and immortal journalist Grantland Rice, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame is a non-profit educational organization that runs programs designed to use the power of amateur football in developing scholarship, citizenship and athletic achievement in young people.

With 120 chapters and 12,000 members nationwide, NFF programs include FootballMatters.org, the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, The William V. Campbell Trophy presented by Fidelity Investments, annual scholarships of more than $1.3 million and a series of initiatives to honor the legends of the past and inspire the leaders of the future. NFF corporate partners include Delta Air Lines, Fidelity Investments, Herff Jones, New York Athletic Club, Pasadena Tournament of Roses, PrimeSport, the Sports Business Journal, Under Armour and VICIS. Learn more at

www.footballfoundation.org.

Miami Dolphins/Bank United

Miami Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry and BankUnited, a proud corporate partner of the Miami Dolphins, are giving full-time Florida students, age 13-18, a chance to kick-start their own personal savings with a $1,000 grand prize for submitting the winning essay in the 4 Downs for Finance financial literacy contest, open now.

Full-time Florida high school students are encouraged to register online at

www.4downsforfinance.com now through Dec. 19 to access age-appropriate money tips throughout the football season, and submit an essay on a financial literacy topic. Everyone who enters will have a chance to win a football autographed by Landry and have his or her name read live on the radio during a game broadcast. One student will win a $1,000 cash prize and a visit with Landry.

“Together with Jarvis and the Miami Dolphins, it is our goal to inspire young people to take an interest in learning about finances early on,” said BankUnited President, Florida Region Thomas M. Cornish. “At an age when many students are beginning to earn their first paychecks, 4 Downs for Finance teaches them the importance of getting a head start on learning about money.”

For more money tips or to register for 4 Downs for Finance visit

www.4downsforfinance.com.

South Florida Swim Series

The South Florida Swim Series will be hitting the waters of Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Miami Beach in 2017.

The three-part series will serve as the premier open water swim circuit in Florida. Consisting of Swim Fort Lauderdale, Swim Miami and Swim Miami Beach, these events will provide picturesque views, extreme competition and family friendly fun for all ages.

The inaugural Swim Fort Lauderdale will be headquartered at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park and consist of a one-mile swim on Jan. 22. This will kick off the South Florida swim series and provide swimmers with an opportunity to swim in rough and cold conditions and prepare them for the start of the 2017 open water swim season.

Swim Miami will be returning to Miami Marine stadium on May 7 and will have an 800M, Miami Mile, 5K and 10K swims along with the return of the K-9 Krawl (teaming with your dog).

Swim Miami Beach will be heading back to the North Beach Bandshell on Aug. 13 for the third annual race.This dynamite swim series is what everyone is talking about and is great for all ages and abilities.

All events will have sponsor expos and benefit the H2Os Foundation, a non-profit organization founded to provide aquatic opportunities to underprivileged individuals. The H2Os Foundation has a mission to eradicate drowning in the South Florida Community, to promote an active and healthy lifestyle through aquatics, and offer the potential for career enhancing opportunities. The H2Os Foundation through grants, generous donations, events, and strategic corporate partnerships offers children and youth a unique opportunity to learn a lifesaving skill and more importantly a life-long commitment to a healthy lifestyle.

For information, visit http://www.swimmiami.net/.

MaxPreps Top Athletes

Each month of the school year, MaxPreps will name a Male and Female Athlete of the Month, culminating with the Male and Female Athletes of the Year in June. The program is presented by the United States Marines Corps.

“The United States Marine Corps, through the MaxPreps High School Athlete of the Month program, is committed to recognizing students that embody the fighting spirit which enables them to win battles and overcome challenges they face, both on and off the field,” said Captain Sean Pangia. “We’re proud to partner with MaxPreps in this powerful program showcasing student athletes that have a positive influence in their community.”

The program has received more than 7,700 nominations and counting for the year so far. To nominate an athlete, click:

www.maxpreps.com/marines.

Youth Sports Safety

The National Athletic Trainers’ Association announced that nominations are open now through Dec. 2 for the third annual Youth Sports Safety Ambassador Awards.

The awards recognize individuals and/or entities that have made a significant contribution to advancing athlete safety based on one of two criteria:

· By providing exemplary youth sports safety protocols and care that set a precedent and/or model that others can follow.

· By advancing youth sports safety in one of the following areas: provision of appropriate medical care, research, policy change and/or resource allocation.

“NATA champions the significant contributions of leaders in youth sports safety research, education and legislation,” said NATA president Scott Sailor, EdD, ATC. “We are proud to honor some of the best in their field with the Youth Sports Safety Ambassador Awards and know their advances can help save lives.”

The awards will be presented at the eighth Youth Sports Safety Summit on March 7, 2017, in Indianapolis. The Summit is hosted annually by NATA and the Youth Sports Safety Alliance, which comprises more than 270 organizations committed to keeping young athletes safe.

Anyone can submit a nomination for the Youth Sports Safety Ambassador Awards. For additional information including award eligibility and the online application, visit

www.nata.org/ambassador-awards.

Tennis

The Tennis Committee of the USA Deaf Sports Federation is currently recruiting players with hearing disability to represent the U.S. at the 23rd Summer Deaflympics in Samsun, Turkey on July 18-30, 2017.

As United States citizens, players may be deaf, hard of hearing, hearing impaired, cochlear implanted, late deafened, hearing challenged, or hearing disabled to qualify. However, to be eligible a player must have a hearing loss of 55 decibels (dBs) or greater in the better ear over an average of 500/1000/2000 Hertz.

Participants can be either orally oriented or sign language users.

Tennis players looking to qualify can e-mail karlpatreddy@gmail.com and HowardGorrell@aol.com no later than Sept. 30, 2016.

For more information, go to

http://bit.ly/2cNXKKW.

For information about USA Deaf Sports Federation, visit

www.usdeafsports.org. For information about the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf and the Deaflympics, visit

www.deaflympics.com.

Backgammon

The Miami Backgammon Club plays 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays at The 19th Hole Bar & Grill, Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables, 33134.

The Miami Backgammon Club is a friendly group of South Florida Backgammon players. Players of all levels welcome. No membership fees.

Tournaments start promptly at 7 p.m.

Free live play. Tournament entry fee $10.

Contact Leo at 305-669-5260 or Leo@MiamiBackgammon.com.

www.MiamiBackgammon.com.

Miracle League Ballpark

The Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department and the Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade in partnership with the Miracle League of Miami-Dade County (MLOMD) and the Marlins Foundation are making way to bring a new Miracle League ballpark complex to Miami-Dade County.

The new development broke ground at Tamiami Park, 11201 SW 24th St., Miami. It will be the first ballpark of its kind for the county -- specifically designed for use by youth with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

The facility will consist of an outdoor ballpark complex with specialized rubber fields, dugouts, a playground, a concession building, restrooms, and “quiet rooms” for parents and children. The entire site, including recessed drop-off and pick-up areas will be 100 percent accessible with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Funding for this project will be provided by the Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade, together with the Marlins Foundation.

“I want to thank the Miracle League of Miami-Dade and the Marlins Foundation for coming together to expand athletic opportunities for our community’s children with disabilities,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez. “This new ballpark will give even more children and families in Miami-Dade County a place to enjoy America’s favorite pastime. I look forward to seeing this project come to life and watching our youngest residents play ball.”

Miracle League of Miami-Dade Co-Chairman Ray Rocha said: “There are over 276 specialized Miracle League parks across the nation and in Puerto Rico. This field at Tamiami Park would never have been possible without the unwavering support from the Miami Marlins organization along with the Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department. This first of its kind field in Miami-Dade County will provide the over 69,000 special needs children and young adults residing in our area, a safe and obstacle free environment to participate in America's favorite pass time. Every child deserves a chance to play baseball.”

Alfredo Mesa, Executive Director of the Marlins Foundation, added: “The Marlins Foundation proudly supports our charity sponsor the Miracle League of Miami-Dade in building this one-of-a-kind all-inclusive ballpark complex. The funds we have raised together with the Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade are aligned with the mission of bettering the lives of our youth through recreational sports like baseball.”

Miami-Dade Parks Director Jack Kardys said: “Miami-Dade Parks has long been committed to providing accessible sports and recreation opportunities for children and young adults with disabilities. A ballpark like this will further encourage them to get outdoors and be active.”

MLOMD was founded in 2010 by Sturge and his partner Keith Reilly in 2010, marking it as the county’s first Miracle League and the 236th member joining the nationwide initiative that enables children with disabilities, such as Autism, Down syndrome, Cancer and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), to play the game of baseball and be part of a team.

In 2012, the MLOMD approached the County with plans for constructing a custom-designed accessible ballpark at a Miami-Dade Parks facility. Tamiami Park was selected for as the ballpark site because of its central location, accessibility and large youth baseball program.

To date, the League has been busy planning, preparing and fund-raising on behalf of the MLOMD ballpark development plan. A rendering of the ballpark and more information can be found at the MLOMD website.

For directions to Tamiami Park visit the web page or call 786-315-5295.

Miami-Dade Parks is a world-class parks system supported by the Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade and focused on Placemaking, Health and Fitness, and Conservation and Stewardship.

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.

Visit https://learntoplay.nhl.com/panthers

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.

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

www.sunshinestateathletics.com.

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

NSCAA.com.

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

http://giftsingolf.org/schedules-and-forms/

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 http://www.giftsingolf.org 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.

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 www.facebook.com/usafootball

or on Twitter @USAFootball

NFL Football Matters

The National Football Foundation announced the launch of FootballMatters.org, 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. “FootballMatters.org 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. FootballMatters.org 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.

Visit www.footballfoundation.org.

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/NFFNetwork

Twitter https://twitter.com/NFFNetwork

YouTube https://www.youtube.com/user/NFFOnDemand

Footgolf

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.

Tennis

USTA Florida and the USTA Florida Section Foundation has a 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 www.USTAFloridaFoundation.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.

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.

Email sportsscene@MiamiHerald.com.

Youth sports online

For more area sports photos, go to

www.miamiherald.com/sports/youth/miami-dade

YouTube youth sports and more

YouTube at the Jim Varsallone (the jimmyv3 channel)

www.youtube.com/user/jvarsallone/videos

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