Youth Sports

Miami Heat honors stellar student-athletes

Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers, a two-time NBA champion, congratulates from left, Bay Harbor Islands’ Evan Mendelson (Miami Country Day School), Miami’s Sal Stewart (Pinecrest Cove Preparatory Academy), Miami’s Jack Furman (Virginia A. Boone Highland Oaks Elementary School), Miami’s Julieta Martinez (Springview Elementary School) and Pembroke Pines’ Maylizze Santos (Our Lady of the Lakes School). They were honored as the Miami Heat/Miami Herald February Academic/Sportsmanship Team Players in conjunction with Gatorade, before the Heat/Philadelphia 76ers game at the AmericanAirlines Arena.
Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers, a two-time NBA champion, congratulates from left, Bay Harbor Islands’ Evan Mendelson (Miami Country Day School), Miami’s Sal Stewart (Pinecrest Cove Preparatory Academy), Miami’s Jack Furman (Virginia A. Boone Highland Oaks Elementary School), Miami’s Julieta Martinez (Springview Elementary School) and Pembroke Pines’ Maylizze Santos (Our Lady of the Lakes School). They were honored as the Miami Heat/Miami Herald February Academic/Sportsmanship Team Players in conjunction with Gatorade, before the Heat/Philadelphia 76ers game at the AmericanAirlines Arena.

Miami’s Jack Furman (Virginia A. Boone Highland Oaks Elementary School), Miami’s Julieta Martinez (Springview Elementary School), Bay Harbor Islands’ Evan Mendelson (Miami Country Day School), Pembroke Pines’ Maylizze Santos (Our Lady of the Lakes School) and Miami’s Sal Stewart (Pinecrest Cove Preparatory Academy) were honored on the court as the Miami Heat/Miami Herald February Academic/Sportsmanship Team Players in conjunction with Gatorade at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Youth league coaches, team reps, school coaches, administrators, teachers and family members nominated South Florida recreational, travel league, elementary school, middle school or junior varsity basketball players who exhibit sportsmanship and display good grades or improvement in the classroom.

The February honorees were congratulated by Heat guard Mario Chalmers, forward Luol Deng, assistant coaches Juwan Howard, Keith Smart and mascot Burnie before the game against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Each honoree received two game tickets, a Heat T-shirt, an award certificate.

About the honorees

Miami’s Jack Furman, 9, is a straight-A student in fourth grade at Virginia A. Boone Highland Oaks Elementary School in North Miami Beach.

He plays in football and basketball leagues at the Michael Ann-Russell Jewish Community Center in North Miami Beach. Jack not only possesses leadership qualities, but he is a team player, always complimenting and encouraging his teammates.

Off the court, Jack recently received an Award of Excellence at school for exhibiting exceptional student behavior and exemplifying leadership, dignity and respect. He was also selected as one of five students in fourth grade to participate in the 2016 Math Bowl.

Mrs. Diskin, his fourth grade teacher at Highland Oaks, said: “Focused, driven and successful, Jack is a student who achieves. He is a fine young man with a bright future.”

Julieta Martinez, 9, of Miami is in the fourth-grade gifted class at Springview Elementary School in Miami Springs. She earned straight-A’s in the first nine weeks of the school year and 100- percent attendance the past three years.

Springview Elementary School teacher Jill Vizcaino said: “Julieta is very inquisitive, full of spunk and has a very happy personality. She likes to analyze situations to gain understanding. You can often catch her pondering over something, and when she figures it out, she is overjoyed with her new discovery. Juli, as the kids call her, is well-liked by her peers and is the go-to person for help in class. I am very proud to have her as my student, and she certainly deserves this honor.”

Bill Hodge coached Julieta last season [Duke Blue Devils] and this season [Los Angeles Clippers] in the Miami Springs Recreational Center league. He spoke highly of her, a defensive specialist who loves to play basketball.

Bay Harbor Islands’ Evan Mendelson, 14, an eighth-grader, competes for the Miami Country Day Middle School boys’ basketball team in Miami Shores.

In the first quarter of this school year, Mendelson scored 98 in Honors integrated math, 96 in COEP, 95 in Honors physical science, 95 in Honors Spanish, 94 in English, 92 in history and 91 in physical education.

Miami Country Day School Assistant Athletic Director B.J. Teltsher said: “Evan is one of the nicest, well-rounded student-athletes we have.”

Mendelson was a member of the high school boys’ varsity cross-country team in the fall, helping the Spartans reach state. He was named Rookie of the Year.

Last season, he won the middle school lacrosse team’s Coach’s Award and the middle school JV basketball team’s MVP Award. This season he did very well again on the basketball court for MCD.

Maylizze Santos, 13, of Pembroke Pines is a seventh-grader on the middle school girls’ varsity basketball team at Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic School in Miami Lakes.

Maylizze led Our Lady of the Lakes in points, averaging eight per game. She is also a strong rebounder. Her all-around efforts helped the Cheetahs win consecutive All-Catholic Conference North Division titles. She also competes on the school’s varsity volleyball team.

Eddy Fleitas, Our Lady of the Lakes girls’ varsity basketball coach, said: “Maylizze’s overall improvement from last year to this year has been amazing. She can do a little bit of everything.”

Annette Price, Our Lady of the Lakes Middle School teacher, added: “Maylizze is a sweet and hardworking student. She is a great friend and good role model.”

Miami’s Sal Stewart, 11, is a fifth-grader at Pinecrest Cove Preparatory Academy where he earned straight-A’s in the first quarter.

Sal was a member of the Tamiami Youth Basketball Fall League. His 11-and-under team went undefeated, winning the league championship. Sal was named Most Outstanding Player in his age division.

Sal also helped Pinecrest Cove’s fifth-grade basketball team win the league championship.

Coach Daniel Perez, Pinecrest Cove Preparatory Academy, said: “Sal Stewart is an amazing young athlete. His knowledge of basketball and leadership speaks volumes of who he is as a person. We are very proud to have him on our basketball team and look forward to celebrating many more accomplishments he may receive.”

Sal is also playing for the Top Risers travel basketball team.

Barry basketball

Barry University junior Yunio Barrueta, a Hialeah Gardens High School grad, was named to All-Sunshine State Conference Men’s Basketball First Team.

Barrueta, a 6-foot-6, 215-pound guard/forward from Miami, is a two-time first team selection. He averaged 18.8 points and 9.3 rebounds this season as the Buccaneers finished second in the league in the regular season.

With 10 double-doubles and 22 games in double figures, Barrueta finished third in the league in scoring and rebounding. He is currently six rebounds and 116 points shy of becoming the fourth player in school history to reach 1,000 points and 500 rebounds. He is also on pace to become Barry’s all-time leader in rebounding average and defensive rebound average. He ranks third in school history in points per game (16.4) in his two-year career.

Teammate Deric Hill, a South Miami High School graduate, was named All-SSC Second Team for the second consecutive season. A 5-foot-9 senior point guard from Miami, Hill set the record for steals in back-to-back seasons. He is also 17 assists away from another record he set last year when he dished out 215 assists.

Hill ranks third in the nation in assists and seventh in steals. His 16 assists versus Nova Southeastern tied a school single-game record and is one shy of the most in the nation this season. Hill has averaged 10.4 points, 7.7 assists and 2.6 steals per game in his two-year Buccaneers career.

Nova Southeastern basketball

Nova Southeastern University senior Jasmine Wilkins, a Hialeah High School graduate, was named Sunshine State Conference Women’s Basketball Player of the Year and SSC Defensive Player of the Year.

Wilkins, a 5-10 forward from Miami, led the Knights to the SSC regular season title and No. 1 postseason seed. She averaged 14.6 points per game (365 points) and 6.2 rebounds (156 rebounds) with 35 blocks and 25 steals.

Wilkins is the third NSU woman to be named SSC Player of the Year and second to garner Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors the same season.

She was also named All-SSC First Team.

Miami Beach 13.1 Marathon

There are vacations to South Beach, and then there is the vacation that newlyweds Ian and Amanda Nurse experienced as they escaped the snow in Boston. Along the way, they became the first couple to win the seventh annual Michelob ULTRA Miami Beach 13.1 Marathon, produced and presented by Life Time - The Healthy Way of Life Company (NYSE: LTM).

After training indoors on a treadmill, the Nurses found the race-time, 74-degree temperature conducive to break-out winning performances as Ian Nurse (1 hour 14 minutes 40 seconds) held off Miami’s Bryan Sharkey (1:14:52) as the overall winner, and Amanda Nurse won the women’s title (1:24:28).

With sunrise still 30 minutes away, the fast, flat and highly scenic 13.1 race began in front of Miami Beach’s Carlyle Hotel on Ocean Drive. Heading north, runners made their way over the Julia Tuttle Causeway to the Wynwood Art District and the Miami Mid-town area.

Runners then weaved their way back to Miami Beach via the MacArthur Causeway, passing the cruise ships in port and heading back to Ocean Drive for the final leg of the race, finishing at Lummus Park.

Ian Nurse was in the thick of the race early along with defending champion Dan Smith of Miami Beach, Elliott Mason of Miami, and Sharkey. As Mason and Smith faded, Nurse and Sharkey made it a two-man race.

The 27-year-old Sharkey, who won his first career half marathon at this race in 2010 and finished fourth last year, was pleased with his effort as he trains for the Boston Marathon while rehabbing a hamstring injury.

“It was good,” Sharkey said. “The course is always competitive, the bridges are tough, but it’s a real race. I think I’m ahead of schedule in my training.

“At mile 10, I thought I could catch [Nurse], but those last two miles it was wet because it had just rained. I was close, and if it were a straightaway or maybe if I had another quarter of a mile, I could have caught him.”

Mason (1:17:32) finished third for the second straight year, and Smith (1:19:29) was fourth.

In the women’s race, Amanda Nurse led from the start, and Elizabeth Brookins of Homestead was second (1:26:58). Jolee VanLeuven of Miami placed third (1:27:32).

While it’s not the first time the Nurses were first in the same race, it is the first time they have won while sharing the same last name. Ian won the Cape Cod’s Hyannis Half Marathon in February 2014, with Amanda Allen, his fiancée at the time, winning the women’s race in a 1:22:05 PR.

Miami Beach’s Jacquelyn Fernandez, 30, was surprised to win the women’s 5K in her hometown, edging Holllywood’s Heather Carey at the finish (22:23:47 to 22:25.33).

“I had no idea,” said Fernandez, a Walgreens pharmacist. “I totally missed the tape, and someone came up to me and told me, ‘You’re the first female overall.’

“I passed [Carey] in the last tenth of the race just to pass, but I didn’t know I was running to win the race.”

Entries for the 2015 Michelob Ultra Miami Beach 13.1 Marathon grew by 25 percent to 4,000 runners. Included in the race-day total were nearly 3,700 half-marathon participants, 300 5K runners and a handful of disabled competitors from Achilles International. It marked the fourth leg of a five-race Florida “Storm Series” that challenges runners to participate in multiple events.

Other top Miami finishers: 13.1 Marathon: Men: 5. Jose Gonzalez, Miami, 1:19:40; 6. Robert Martinez, Miami, 1:20:15; 7. Timothy Reimink, Miami, 1:20:47; 10. Matthew Marques, Miami, 1:22:50; 11. Wilson Shearin, Miami, 1:22:52; 12. James Buchanan, Miami, 1:24:21. Women: 8. Brogan Abernethy, Miami, 1:35:45; 10. Wendy Bonilla Sarmiento, Miami, 1:37:11; 11. Ana Cadreche, Miami, 1:37:26; 12. Caryn Lubetsky, Miami, 1:37:32; 13. Ana Villegas, Miami, 1:37:38

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Archbishop Curley sports

Coach Greg Magner, athletic director at Archbishop Curley Notre Dame Prep, announced the school’s Athletes of the Week.

Male Athlete of the Week: Senior wrestler Scott Pomare captured the District 15-1A Championship in the 145-pound weight class at Jackson High School. He also did well at regionals to qualify for states for the third time in his high school career.

Female Athlete of the Week: Sophomore Cassie Poulard won the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles at a track & field meet at Coral Shores High School.

Miami Country Day sports

Miami Country Day: Middle School Female Athlete of the Week: Elizabeth Stone (tennis) won all her singles and doubles matches in wins against Ransom Everglades, Gulliver Prep, Palmer Trinity and Westminster Christian.

Middle School Male Athlete of the Week: Richard Lovelace (tennis) won all his singles matches against Ransom Everglades, Gulliver Prep and Westminster Christian.

Upper School Female Athlete of the Week: Gaby Palmisano (water polo) made 73 saves combined against Mast Academy, South Broward High School, ATM and Coral Gables High School.

Upper School Male Athlete of the Week: Milan Bass (tennis) won all his singles and doubles matches against Archbishop Curley and Scheck Hillel.

Palmetto Bay flag football

Palmetto Bay Broncos Flag Football is at Coral Reef Park.

Open to boys and girls, age 4-18. Register as an individual for $100 or register as a team of 10 with a coach for $800

Practice starts April 20. Practices and games are weekdays either Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday.

In its 39 years, the Broncos have provided more than 7,000 children the opportunity to participate in an organized football and cheerleading program. Tackle football and cheerleading are under the Greater Miami South Florida Pop Warner League banner.

Visit Palmetto Bay Broncos

Email info@palmettobaybroncos.org

Cavaliers football, cheerleading

Registration is open for the Cavaliers Tackle Football and Cheerleading program for boys and girls, age 4-14, at Coral Gables High School. For information contact Jon at 305-923-7656 or visit www.playactionsports.org.

Suniland conditioning

Optimist Club of Suniland Sports Conditioning is now-May 31 at Suniland Park, 12855 S. Dixie Hwy., Pinecrest.

Registration is 6-8 p.m. weeknights for boys and girls, age 5-15. Fee is $20 which covers T-shirt, insurance and awards. Contact Jose Regalado 305-458-1966 or josearegalado@att.net.

More events, leagues, programs

Kendall Hammocks flag football

The Kendall Hammocks NFL Flag Football program announces the registrations dates and times for the 2015 NFL Flag season.

Registration is open to boys and girls, age 5-16. Can’t turn 17 in 2015. Copy of birth certificate is requested for age verification only, during the registration process.

Teams are based by age only. Regular season is 12 games, and the season starts May 4.

NFL Flag Registration Dates:

April Registration fee: $125 -- Friday, April 10 and 24 (6:30-8:30 p.m.)

Registration fee includes: NFL team reversible jersey, NFL flag belts with flags, secondary insurance, referee cost, and participation awards.

Discounted rates for head coaches. If interested in coaching, email khwfootball@aol.com.

Tryouts and draft will be Saturday, May 2. Time chart by division can be found at the web site www.khwarriors.org

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

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

The NFL Flag Football program is under the Optimist Club of Kendall Hammocks and is an all volunteer organization, serving the community in sports for more than 26 years.

Pitch, Hit & Run

Pitch, Hit & Run allows boys and girls, age 7-14, to showcase their baseball and softball skills, while also providing them the opportunity to advance through four levels of competition, including Team Championships at every Major League stadium or ballpark and the National Finals at the 2015 MLB All-Star Game.

Hosting a local competition is fun and free. Upon registering, an administrative kit is provided to each host including a handbook, strike zone banner, posters, awards and other materials needed to host the event.

♦ Free to the local host and local competitors

♦ Any coach, parent or adult volunteer can host a competition

♦ Local competitions can be offered in March, April or early May

♦ An exciting one-day community event that can take as little as 2-3 hours

Go to

PitchHitRun

Questions, contact pitchhitrun@mlb.com.

Jose’s Heroes

To support Miami Marlins star pitcher José Fernández on his road to recovery, the Marlins announce the return of the José’s Heroes season ticket package for the 2015 season.

For $499, José’s Heroes receive:

-A ticket to all 81 Marlins regular season home games. That’s about $6 a seat.

-A special edition José’s Heroes T-shirt each month.

-A complimentary ‘K’ Card!

-A meet-and-greet event with the man himself, José Fernández.

-Purchase the José’s Heroes season ticket package and travel to Marlins Park to support the Fish, 25 men strong.

For information, visit marlins.com/josesheroes, email SeasonTickets@marlins.com or call 305-480-2521.

Marlins Tours

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

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

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

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

Tickets are non-exchangeable and non-refundable.

HOF baseball

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

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

Tennis

USTA Florida will bring its Team Tennis Challenge series to South Florida on April 25-26 at Crandon Park Tennis Facility, 7300 Crandon Park in Key Biscayne.

The event -- open to boys and girls, age 7-18 -- is “BYOT” (bring your own team). Teams do not need to have prior participation in a local league to participate. USTA members and non-members are invited to participate, and all players will receive a complimentary lunch during the event.

“USTA Florida Team Tennis Challenges offer fewer restrictions, allowing more teams to participate,” said USTA Florida Associate Executive Director Andy McFarland. “They also give players who are not yet USTA members the opportunity to experience our events and programs, while offering a clear value proposition for our junior members.”

The two-day tournament will host divisions that will include 10-under advanced, 11-14, 14-18, with three skill divisions: novice, intermediate, advanced. All age 11 to 18 intermediate/advanced teams need a minimum of two boys and two girls. 10-and-under advanced and all novice teams are gender-blind with a minimum of four players and a maximum of eight players.

The 10-under age advanced and all novice divisions will play with the green-dot ball on a full-size court. Players ages 10 or younger must play in their natural age division. The green-dot ball will also be used in the older novice age divisions.

Registration is open, and coaches are encouraged to register teams early. The cost for early registration is just $25 for USTA members and $35 for non-members. Prices will increase two weeks prior to the event. Facilities and coaches who bring teams to the event will receive special incentives.

For information about Team Tennis Challenges, the facility/coach incentive program and a list of upcoming events visit:

www.USTAFlorida.com/TeamTennisChallenges

Tennis

USTA Florida announced its new series of Team Tennis Challenges for youth players, age 7-18, across the state. In 2015, these fun team events will be hosted as two independent series: with four events scheduled in South Florida this spring and four more events scheduled for the fall in North Florida.

The events are ‘BYOT’ (bring your own team), and teams do not have to have prior participation in a local league to participate. USTA members and non-members can participate. All participants will receive lunch on Saturday during the event. Facilities and coaches who bring teams to these events will receive special incentives.

“The new USTA Florida Team Tennis Challenges offer fewer restrictions, allowing more teams to participate,” said USTA Florida Associate Executive Director Andy McFarland. “They also give players who are not yet USTA members the opportunity to experience our events and programs, while offering a clear value proposition for our junior members.”

Registration is now open for the four Spring Team Tennis Challenge Series events. The cost for early registration for each event is just $25 for USTA members and $35 for non-members. Prices will increase two weeks prior to each event.

Spring Series

April 25-26 – Crandon Tennis Facility, Key Biscayne

May 16-17 -- BallenIsles Country Club, Palm Beach Gardens

May 30-31 -- Tampa Tennis Club at Hillsborough Community College, Tampa

The competition is divided into age groups 10-under, 12-under, 14-under, and 18-under. There are novice, intermediate and advanced divisions within each age group.

10-under age advanced division teams will play with the green-dot ball on a full-size court. Players age 10 or younger must play in their natural age division. The green-dot ball will also be used in the older other novice age divisions.

Novice divisions will offer gender-blind teams (example: a team can enter a novice division with 3 boys and 1 girl, or a team can include all of one gender). Players are allowed to “play up” a maximum of one age division, except for participants age 10-under. Teams can participate in multiple USTA Florida Regional Team Tennis Challenge events.

USTA Florida is offering tennis balls, lines and cash incentives for facilities and/or coaches who bring multiple teams to a single event:

Bring two teams and receive one case of tennis balls or $75;

Bring three teams and receive two cases of tennis balls or one set of clay court tack-down lines (red or orange) or $100;

Bring four teams or more and receive three cases of tennis balls or two sets of clay court tack-down lines (red or orange) or $125.

For information and to register visit

www.USTAFlorida.com/TeamTennisChallenges

Tennis

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 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.

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 in 2015.

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

Heads Up

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

Drayton added a new title to his résumé — NAmbassador for Heads Up Football.

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

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

Heads Up Football has five core elements: The use of the Heads Up Tackling model; coaching certification; Player Safety Coaches; concussion education; and proper equipment-fitting.

The program was launched in three test markets last year. This year, it expanded to more than 600 youth leagues in 50 states. Of these leagues, 100 were assigned a former Nplayer mentor. Drayton served as a mentor to a local Heads Up League — the Tamiami Colts of the Miami Xtreme Youth Football League.

Florida Christian lacrosse

Florida Christian School Athletic Director Ed Riggan, announced that FCS Athletics will offer lacrosse at the JV level for the spring of the 2014-15 school year. For information call 305-226-8152 or visit www.floridachristian.org.

ThunderPlex

Thunder Athletix and Brain Gymnasium LLC teamed to offer a complete fitness program of body and mind at the new ThunderPlex, 1440 NW 82 Ave. in Doral.

Students can improve their basketball skills and physical fitness, as well as strengthen their academic skills through specialized tutoring programs. They can have fun and finish their homework.

The mission is to teach the principles, fundamentals and basic skills of the game to children age 5-17.

Brain Gymnasium offers specialized tutoring, homework help, FCAT Prep, SAT/ACT Prep, and Entrance Exam Prep. Their degreed, professional and experienced teachers provide a simple and exciting approach to learning.

For information on special packages, after school programs and summer programs,

visit www.jointhunder.com ; contact@jointhunder.com or call 786-505-5585.

For information on Brain Gymnasium, visit www.braingymnasium.org or call 305-788-7339.

Thunder basketball

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

The mission is to teach the principles, fundamentals and basic skills of the game. It stresses the importance of team and sportsmanship.

Thunder also encourages players to succeed in the classroom and all aspects of life.

For information visit www.jointhunder.com

Registration is open.

Email contact@jointhunder.com or call 786-505-5585.

Miami Lady Express basketball

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

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

Tamiami basketball

Tamiami youth basketball registration is open for girls and boys ages 5 to 16.

Email Tamiamibasketball@gmail.com or call 305 -273-1145.

Youth Rugby South Miami

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

Visit www.miamirugbykids.com.

Soccer 5 Academy

Soccer 5 Academy Mini Soccer Program, also referred to as small-sided soccer, is at three Miami-Dade County-owned parks — Tropical Park (7900 Bird Rd.), Kendall Soccer Park (8011 SW 127th Ave.) and Amelia Earhart Park (401 E. 65th St., Hialeah).

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

The three locations make mini/small-sided soccer available across the county, providing a greater opportunity for children and families to access the proper 4G turf game fields specifically designed for “5v5,” “6v6” and “7v7” games.

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

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

Rebelle volleyball

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

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

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

Visit www.rebelleathletics.com.

Jai-Alai

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

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

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

Jai-Alai for women

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

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

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).

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