Youth Sports

Miami Country Day girls’ soccer sets school mark, reaching state semifinal

The Miami Country Day School girls’ varsity soccer team went 24-4 and reached states for the first time in program history. After the Spartans captured their third consecutive district championship, they won the school’s first regional title in girls’ soccer. They competed in the state semifinals. The stellar team features front from left, Doreen Jean Jacques, Asatta Mesa, Danielle Geathers, Sidney Thomas, Ava Hansen, Laurel Ivory, Mary Elizabeth Allen; back, Isabella Allen, Danielle Amoils, Yakira Matisonn, Sabrina Perez, Danielle Ben-David, Mallory Meyer, Carly Garazi, Mila Boano, Taylor Sennett, Laureen Jean Jacques, Amanda Martin, Giulia Bronzi, Dani Saad, and Olivia Bronzi.
The Miami Country Day School girls’ varsity soccer team went 24-4 and reached states for the first time in program history. After the Spartans captured their third consecutive district championship, they won the school’s first regional title in girls’ soccer. They competed in the state semifinals. The stellar team features front from left, Doreen Jean Jacques, Asatta Mesa, Danielle Geathers, Sidney Thomas, Ava Hansen, Laurel Ivory, Mary Elizabeth Allen; back, Isabella Allen, Danielle Amoils, Yakira Matisonn, Sabrina Perez, Danielle Ben-David, Mallory Meyer, Carly Garazi, Mila Boano, Taylor Sennett, Laureen Jean Jacques, Amanda Martin, Giulia Bronzi, Dani Saad, and Olivia Bronzi.

The Miami Country Day School girls’ varsity soccer team (24-4) reached states for the first time in program history.

The Spartans captured their third consecutive district championship and beat Palmer Trinity in the regional quarterfinals en route to winning the school’s first regional title in girls’ soccer by defeating South Florida Heat. They competed in the state semifinals where they were edged by Lakeland Christian 2-1.

Miami Country Day was led by freshmen Laurel Ivory, Ava Hansen, Yakira Matisonn and Amanda Martin. The nucleus of the team is formed by freshmen and sophomores, but seniors Jackie Lash, Dani Saad, Sidney Thomas and Mila Boano did a good job. With 18 players returning, the Spartans are poised to make a run at states again.

Riviera Prep tennis

The Riviera Preparatory School Bulldogs’ girls’ tennis team earned the runner-up trophy during the South Florida Middle School Conference Championships at the Miami Shores Country Club.

Francesca Basile finished first at No.2 singles, and Isabella Siu and Daniela Gutierrez teamed to take the conference title at No.2 doubles.

Nautilus tennis

The Nautilus Middle School tennis team was second of 19 teams (schools) at the Miami-Dade County Fair Middle School Tennis Invitational Tournament at Tropical Park.

The Sharks earned medals and a runner-up team trophy.

Roberto Campoverde placed second in boys’ singles, and Yosue Noa and Santiago Sosa were second in boys’ doubles. Gonka Echevaarria and Anastasija Demetriades finished fourth in mixed doubles, and Fernanda Sazo and Yusledi Ubri were fourth in girls’ doubles. The coach is Jorge Suarez.

Archbishop Curley track

The Archbishop Curley Notre Dame Prep girls’ and boys’ track & field teams concluded productive seasons.

The Lady Knights defeated six teams in the final home meet to end the regular season 16-4. The boys’ team bested five teams to finish 14-6.

At the District 16-1A Championships, the Lady Knights placed third, and the boys were fifth of 10 teams.

For the girls, sophomore Cassie Poulard captured district titles in the long jump and 100-meter hurdles. She also advanced to the regional championships in the 400 relay and the 300 hurdles.

Senior Carmen Pierre and freshman Tajmara Antoine qualified for regionals in multiple events. Sophomores Keyla Jean Baptiste, Jeanetta Joseph, Carmita Lucien and Weslene Sylvestre and senior Katiana Desarmes also advanced to regionals.

For the boys, sophomore Enzo Bruno won a district title in the high jump. He also qualified for regionals in the 110 and 300 hurdles. Junior Chris Walker advanced to regionals in multiple events.

Sophomores Miguel Augustin and Byran Pierre, freshmen Eudens Antoine and Elvins Desarmes and senior Beethoven Moise also reached regionals.

Opa-locka Hurricanes track

The Opa-locka Hurricanes track & field team participated in the Tacolcy Invitational at Curtis Park in Miami.

Gregorianna Fraser continued her dominance by winning gold in the 100 meters, 200 meters and 400 meters, posting some of the fastest times in the nation in the girls’ 7-8 age group.

In boys’ 9-10, Ivory Aikens won gold in the 100 meters at 13.4 seconds. In boys’ 13-14, Jordan Taylor ran a personal best 11.7 seconds in the 100 meter dash.

Deondre Napper topped the Hurricanes winnings in the Young Men Division (age 17-18) by winning the 100 meters, 200 meters and long jump events and taking runner-up in the 200 meters.

More Hurricanes highlights

Girls: 6U: 400-meter relay (Deonna Therancy, Aleya Herron, Destiny Allen, Tamara Ray) bronze medalist. 7-8: Markayla Brown, shot-put bronze medalist. 9-10: 1,600-meter relay (Anaya Dukes, Joanna Edwards, Akira Mendez, Jasimem Thomas) silver medalist. 11-12: Mikiyah Moore, 80-meter hurdles silver medalist; 1,600-meter relay (Aniya Aikens, Yasimen Thomas, Keshay Davis, Makiyah Moorer) gold medal champions; 400-meter relay (Aniya Aikens, Yasimen Thomas, Keshay Davis, Mikiyah Moorer) bronze medalist. 15-16: Jessica Newell, 400-meter gold medal champion, 200-meter silver medalist; Timara Joseph, 800-meter gold medal champion. 17-18: Dione Alexander, 100-meter gold medal champion, 200 meter gold medal champion, 400 meter gold medal champion.

Boys: 9-10: 400-meter relay (Ivory Aikens, Dylan Taylor, Mark William, Mekhi Marshall) silver medalist; 1,600-meter relay (Ivory Aikens, Dylan Taylor, Mekhi Marshall, Nestor Genao) silver medalist. 11-12: 1,600-meter relay (Tahari Singleton, Corleone Kemp, Javari Thomas, Toury Brown) silver medalist. 13-14: Jordan Taylor, 100-meter dash gold medal champion.

Miami Country Day sports

Miami Country Day School: Middle School Female Athlete of the Week: Maria Salazar (tennis) won her singles and doubles matches against Doral Academy to help the Spartans improve to 12-0.

Middle School Male Athlete of the Week: Noah Markofsky (lacrosse) scored the winner against Ransom Everglades in the semifinal of the South Florida Middle School Championships.

Upper School Female Athlete of the Week: Gaby Palmisano (water polo) made 23 saves with five steals in a win over Miami Beach 6-5 in overtime in the district semifinal.

Upper School Male Athlete of the Week: Christian Claramonte (water polo) helped lead his team to a district championship by combining for 40 saves and eight steals against Mast Academy and Miami Beach High.

Florida Christian School

Florida Christian School announced that Lamont Green will be joining Florida Christian’s staff as a full-time teacher and coach for the 2015-16 school term.

He will work with FCS Head Football Coach Chris Rivera and the staff as they prepare for spring football practices in May.

Green is a former NFL linebacker and played briefly for the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers. He received his bachelor’s degree from Florida State University where he also played football and was team captain his senior year. He earned his master’s degree in Education from Nova Southeastern University in Davie.

Green, a native of Miami, attended Miami Southridge High School. In 1993, he was voted Football Player of the Year. Also, he was named an All-American and Defensive Player of the Year by USA Today and received Florida’s Gatorade Player of the Year honors. He was considered the No.1 high school football recruit in the nation in 1994 and chose Florida State over Southern California, Michigan, Alabama, Penn State and Miami. Lamont is the only athlete from Miami-Dade County to be voted Football Player of the Year (1993) and Coach of the Year (2011).

Florida Christian welcomes Green and his wife, Latonya, and their children.

Tennis

A former Olympic athlete in Greece who came to become an integral part of the Miami tennis community, Theodosios “Saki” Balafas died on April 6, following a brief illness at age 91.

Born in Greece, Balafas served in the equivalent of the Greek secret service and was a track and field athlete for Greece in the 1948 Olympic Games in London and at the 1952 games in Helsinki. He came to the United States upon an invitation from the University of California-Los Angeles campus to demonstrate his training regimen, and ended up settling in Miami where he had relatives.

Balafas took up tennis as a self-taught player then coach, dedicating himself to helping youngsters at Moore Park in Miami. According to a USTA Florida post, Saki would convince inner-city children who had never seen a tennis racquet to try the game on his court. One of his prized pupils was Kim Sands, who later starred at the University of Miami and then the pro tour, where she competed in Grand Slam events.

David Schull, a friend of Saki, told USTA Florida: “In his years of teaching, well before the popularity of cross-training, Saki required his students to exercise off the court. He would require students to sprint as well as run long distances, take ballet classes, exercise on the beach, swim and lift weights. Most importantly, Saki taught his students to be champions off the court. He taught them about patience, understanding, love, family and religion. Saki always demanded perfection no matter a student’s abilities.”

He is survived by Lois, his wife of 32 years, and son, George. A memorial service is 2 p.m. Saturday, May 2 at the Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom Hall, 9501 SW 117 Street, Miami. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to Lois Balafas for development of a Miami tennis tournament named for Saki. The mailing address is 6723 SW 113 Place, Miami, Fla. 33173.

Miami Midnites basketball

The American Basketball Association named Miami Midnites’ Raymond Taylor and George Gray to the 2014-15 ABA All-Star team.

Taylor, 24, was named to the First Team. In 19 regular season games, Taylor posted averages of 15.4 points, 7.2 assists and 2.3 steals per game. The former Florida International University guard tallied 36 points with six assists in the second game of the ABA Finals against the Shreveport Bossier Mavericks.

Gray, 26, was named to the Second Team. In 19 regular season games, Gray led all Midnites’ scorers with 23.1 points, 4.2 assists and 2.2 steals per game.

*The Midnites (3-0) recorded their third straight victory to start the FBA season with a 108-102 win over the Palm Beach Knights in the Midnites’ home opener at the David Posnack Jewish Community Center in Davie.

Gray scored 26 points (10-19 FG) and made six 6 steals. Will Frisby registered a double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds, and Taylor had 16 points and seven assists.

Miami’s next home game is against the Marion County Showtime Stallions at 7 p.m. May 17 at the David Posnack JCC.

Nova Southeastern sports

Nova Southeastern University senior basketball player Jasmine Wilkins of Miami was among the featured celebrities to participate in Cliff Floyd’s third annual Celebrity Bowling Tournament at SpareZ in Davie.

Wilkins, the reigning Sunshine State Conference Women’s Player of the Year, became the first female celebrity in the history of the event. A Hialeah High School grad, she joined many former Major League Baseball and National Football League stars on the bowling lanes.

The annual extravaganza is hosted by the Cliff Floyd Foundation, the charity of the former major leaguer. The tournament chair is Nancy Olson, a faculty member at NSU’s H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship. The event supports RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities), and a portion of the proceeds help fund two Cliff Floyd Foundation scholarships, benefiting NSU Sport and Recreation Management students.

Wilkins, who graduated with a degree is business administration, is currently pursuing her Master's of Science in education with a specialization in athletic administration.

Kendall Hammocks cheer, football

The Kendall Hammocks Warriors Tackle program announces the registrations dates and times for the 2015 football and cheerleading season.

Tackle fee $185 which includes home game jersey that players keep, secondary insurance, participation awards, and the rental of helmet, shoulder pads, game pants. Issued equipment to be returned at season’s end. Also, the NFL’s Stephen Tulloch Football Camp as well as the Rookie Camp.

Cheer registration fee $385 which includes $185 initial deposit for practice T-shirt, shorts, game day socks, hair bow, cheer brief, and shoes, secondary insurance, and participation awards. The remaining $200 is for competition, body liner, shoes, socks, warm up, cheer bag, and uniform rental.

Register 11 a.m.-3 p.m. May 9 and 30 and June 6 and 13; and 6:30-8:30 p.m. May 15.

Registrations and practices are at Devonaire Park, 10411 SW 122 Ave. Tackle season starts July 6.

For information email Football Commissioner Mike Pintado at khwfootball@aol.com

or visit the web site at www.khwarriors.org

The Warriors Football program, under the Optimist Club of Kendall Hammocks, is an all volunteer organization, serving the community in sports for more than 28 years. The Warriors compete in the Miami Xtreme Football League.

Play Action Sports cheer, football

Play Action Sports bought the Coral Gables Cavaliers Youth Football & Cheer Program and is re-rebuilding it.

The group seeks a cheer director and cheer coaches as well as football coaches, volunteers and team moms and dads to assist with the 2015 season in the Miami Xtreme Youth Football League. Home games will be played at Coral Gables High School.

Contact:

Ozzie@playactionsports.org

305-796-6642

Jon@playactionsports.org

305-923-7656

www.playactionsports.org

Suniland flag football

Registration for the Suniland 5-on-5 Flag Football Summer Season is open until June for boys and girls, age 5-15.

Registration is at Suniland Park, 12855 S. Dixie Hwy., Pinecrest, every weeknight 6 to 8 and every Sunday from 10 a.m. to noon. Fee is $125 and covers reversible shirt, shorts, flags, secondary insurance and high school certified referees. Full Teams accepted at a discounted rate. Every team makes playoffs. Coaches and team sponsors needed.

For information, contact Flag Commissioner Ken Hanna 305-992-2991 or Club President Jose Regalado 305-458-1966 or josearegalado@att.net.

The Optimist Club of Suniland is an organization entirely made up of volunteers who have been providing community service thru sports in South Florida since 1968.

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 as a team of 10 with a coach for $800.

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

Richmond-Perrine flag football

Register for the Richmond-Perrine Optimist Club Flag Football League.

The league is open to boys and girls, age 5-15. Fee is $50 (nonrefundable).

The season starts April 27. Contact Dwight Crews at 786-671-9713.

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.

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

Orange Bowl Paddle Championships

The fifth annual Windhaven Insurance Orange Bowl Paddle Championship, presented by Blue World Paddle, Surf & Skate and benefiting Big Brothers Big Sisters Miami, will occur May 9 at the Miami Rowing Club, 3601 Rickenbacker Causeway, adjacent to the historic Miami Marine Stadium.

The Orange Bowl Paddle Championship is one of the largest Stand Up Paddle events on the East Coast. The Championship welcomes paddle boarders of all levels from all over to the waters of Biscayne Bay.

The event will feature several races throughout the day. The Elite Course is a challenging 8.6-mile race rounding the historic Virginia Key. Elite Course paddle boarders will compete for cash and prizes totaling $4,000. The Recreational Course is a 2.5-mile, family-friendly loop in protected waters on the southwest side of the key. The Corporate Challenge will follow in the same location. There will also be a 100-yard sprint course and additional water activities for the entire family.

Milla Navarro, the No.1 nationally-ranked, 16 year-old competitive SUP professional, will lead a youth paddle clinic. The Miami native will teach young novices paddle board basics.

Registration starts at 7:30 a.m., and the first race (Elite) will start at 9 a.m.

To pre-register, go to

http://game.orangebowl.org/paddle/.

Sunshine State Games

Florida’s Sunshine State Games online registration is open for select sports of its 2015 Calendar of Events.

Now in its 36th year, the Sunshine State Games has become an amateur sports tradition in Florida and nationwide. All Floridians are welcome to compete in any of the more than 25 sports offered in 10 different Florida communities between April and November.

SSG strives to provide first-class facilities, a family-friendly atmosphere and professionally organized, yet affordable competition, for more than 10,000 athletes of all ages.

Online registration is open for select events, including three multi-sport festivals in Broward, Sarasota and Palm Beach counties at

www.flasports.com.

Since making its debut in 1980, Florida’s Sunshine State Games has established itself as the Nation’s Longest-Running State Games.

SSG Basketball Championships, May 8-10, Alachua County

SSG Spring Festival, May 15-17, Broward County

SSG Sarasota County Festival, June 6-8

SSG Palm Beach County Festival, June 13-14

SSG Table Tennis Championships, June 20-21, Lakeland

SSG Water Polo Championships, June 26-28, Coral Springs

Entry fees vary by sport and registration deadlines are approximately two weeks prior to the competition date.

The Broward County Festival includes three sports: Figure Skating, Lacrosse, rugby.

The Sarasota County Festival features competition in seven sports; Archery, Canoe/Kayak, Disc Golf, Racquetball, Rowing, Synchronized Swimming and Ultimate.

The Sunshine State Games returns to West Palm Beach for the first time since 2002 when the Palm Beach County Festival offers eight sports; BMX Cycling, Fencing, Judo, Karate, Powerlifting, Taekwondo, Weightlifting and Wrestling.

“We look forward to working with the Palm Beach County Sports Commission to present the eight sports of the Palm Beach County Festival,” said Florida Sports Foundation Senior Vice President, Stephen Rodriguez. “The Palm Beach Convention Center will come alive the weekend of June 13-14 with seven sports being held in the building and over 1,000 athletes competing.”

Look for upcoming information about the 2015 Sunshine State Games events at

www.flasports.com.

MLB Bat Girl contest

Nominate someone who is Going to Bat Against breast cancer.

Winners will receive MLB game tickets and the opportunity to be recognized on-field during the game. Vote for nominees affected by the disease.

Nominate at

BatGirl

Visit mlb.com.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

Nominate youth baseball, softball players to be honored for academics, sportsmanship at Miami Marlins game

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

Youth league coaches, team representatives, teachers, friends or family members can nominate youth baseball or softball players, who display sportsmanship and good grades or academic improvements. Eligible nominees are from the recreational in-house league or travel league or school league (elementary school or middle school aged) for any season of the year.

Honored players – selected by random drawing – will be invited to a Marlins game where they will receive a certificate of achievement and a Marlins item during a recognition ceremony at Marlins Park.

To nominate someone, e-mail Miami Herald Youth Sports Editor Jim Varsallone at

jvarsallone@miamiherald.com or call 954-538-7153.

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