Youth Sports

Sports Scene: Daniel Alvarez, Nate Augusta, Aaron Felder, Juan Carlos Perez Jr., Gaby Santalo honored by Miami Marlins

Miami Marlins pitcher A.J. Ramos and Marlins mascot Billy the Marlin congratulate Gaby Santalo (Conchita Espinosa Academy), Juan Carlos Perez Jr. (Greater Miami Adventist Academy), Aaron Felder (Virginia A. Boone Elementary School), Nate Augusta (Fisher Island Day School) and Daniel Alvarez (King’s Christian School) for being the Miami Marlins/Miami Herald Team Player Honorees for August. They were acknowledged on the field before the Marlins/St. Louis Cardinals game at Marlins Park.
Miami Marlins pitcher A.J. Ramos and Marlins mascot Billy the Marlin congratulate Gaby Santalo (Conchita Espinosa Academy), Juan Carlos Perez Jr. (Greater Miami Adventist Academy), Aaron Felder (Virginia A. Boone Elementary School), Nate Augusta (Fisher Island Day School) and Daniel Alvarez (King’s Christian School) for being the Miami Marlins/Miami Herald Team Player Honorees for August. They were acknowledged on the field before the Marlins/St. Louis Cardinals game at Marlins Park.

Daniel Alvarez (King’s Christian School), Nate Augusta (Fisher Island Day School), Aaron Felder (Virginia A. Boone Elementary School), Juan Carlos Perez Jr. (Greater Miami Adventist Academy) and Gaby Santalo (Conchita Espinosa Academy) were awarded for being the Miami Marlins/Miami Herald Team Player Honorees for August before the Marlins/St. Louis Cardinals game at Marlins Park.

The program once again recognizes South Florida youth baseball and softball players for doing well in school and displaying sportsmanship on the diamond. Each honoree received a certificate of achievement with a Marlins autograph presented by Marlins pitcher A.J. Ramos during a recognition ceremony on the field near the backstop pre-game. They then posed for photos with Ramos and team mascot Billy the Marlin.

YouTube video of the ceremony

jim varsallone (jimmyv3 channel)

Billy the Marlin with honorees

Honorees, parents and Marlins reps were interviewed by Miami Herald Youth Sports Reporter Samantha Hahn.


Honoree Juan Carlos Perez Jr.

Honoree Nate Augusta

Honoree Aaron Felder

Honoree Daniel Alvarez

Honoree Gaby Santalo

Parent Cesar Santalo

Parent Yari Alvarez

Parent Nery Sales

Juan Garciga

Miami Marlins Coordinator of Community Outreach and Youth Baseball


About the Honorees

Daniel Alvarez, 6, of Westchester has been playing baseball since he was 3-years-old.

He currently plays shortstop for the Dream Team at Tamiami Park. They have won the championship for the past three seasons. He also helped his team win the New Year’s Eve Bash Tournament and received game MVP honors.

Away from the field, Daniel is a first grader at King’s Christian School.

King’s Christian School Principal Debbie Hew said: “Congratulations to Daniel. He is such a deserving young man. Daniel is one who will stand for what is right even when no one else will. His commitment to doing excellent work is already paying off for him. He is such a fine example. I trust that he will continue to strive for the best in the classroom, on the playing field, and everywhere he goes.”

Nate Augusta, 8, of Miami is entering fourth grade at Fisher Island Day School, where he receives high honors academically, but his proudest achievement was his acceptance onto the tournament team of the Latino Americana Baseball Academy.

Nate shares the dugout with a roster of exceptional student-athletes, who advanced to the state championship tournament earlier in the summer. His rapid progress with his baseball skills is a testament to the excellent coaching staff at Latino Americana Baseball Academy, led by Ulpiano Puente.

Puente said: “Nate has been playing in my baseball academy for almost two years now. Nate plays third base and pitcher; as a hitter he brings power and speed. As a pitcher, he is the ace of his team, throws a lot of strikes and has command of his pitches. As a person, Nate is a very well manner kid, great with his teammates.”

Nate is learning the Spanish language not only in school but on the field. He plays many positions on his team and is eager to contribute in any way.

A multi-generation Boston Red Sox fan, Nate’s loyalties have been won over by his new hometown Miami Marlins.

Nate also enjoys art, and one of his paintings was chosen as a finalist in the Fairchild Challenge Award for 2012. He is an annual volunteer in the Miami-Dade Coastal Cleanup Program, where he enjoys making a difference in preserving the environment.

Aaron Felder, 11, of North Miami Beach played baseball for two travel teams this year -- Extreme Panthers and Boca Knights. Both teams won tournaments.

Aaron was also awarded the athletic award at his fifth grade graduation from Virginia A. Boone Elementary School. He finished elementary school with an ‘A’ average, and he will be attending Highland Oaks Middle School in the 2014-15 school year.

Virginia A Boone Elementary School teacher Mauricio Cardet said: “I have been Aaron's physical education teacher at Virginia A. Boone since he was in second grade. Aaron is a great athlete and competitor. Always gave his best in everything I asked him to do. Even when he was a little afraid, he conquered that fear and participated. It was truly my pleasure to have been his teacher for four years. I will miss him as he moves on to middle school. He is a great kid, leader and student.”

Aaron is outgoing and very athletic. He loves to play sports and watch sports on TV. He knows every player in baseball, basketball and football. He watches SportsCenter every morning before he goes to school. He would love to be a major league baseball player one day.

Aaron plays shortstop and second base and is also a pitcher. If Aaron is not watching sports on TV, he is outside playing sports. He practices with his brother, Michael, who plays baseball for Krop High School and his sister, Marley, who plays travel softball for the Deerfield Beach Sharks.

Juan Carlos Perez Jr., 12, of Westchester is a seventh grader at the Greater Miami Adventist Academy. A “B” average student, he is very athletic and loves sports, playing baseball and basketball for his school.

Nicknamed Chucho, he’s passionate about baseball and has a keen understanding of the game. He’s an outstanding baseball player, excellent student and an amazing son and brother.

He’s been playing baseball since he was 3½-years-old.

The first word out of his mouth was ‘ball;’ clear and unmistakable. Soon, he showed he had a passion for baseball, playing with toy bats and breaking windows, vases, picture frames, etc. At 4, he started playing on a T-ball team at Tropical Park, where his uncle Michael was the coach. He was the only kid who knew which way to run the bases. From there, it has been a roller-coaster ride of teams and parks. For the past three years, he’s been playing for the Giants in Tamiami Park. A pitcher and first baseman, he is also a good, left-handed contact hitter.

Giants Coach Alexander Diaz said: “Chucho is an athlete with qualities and characteristics that make him a true baseball player, His abilities are equally as impressive as all the other things he does on a baseball field. He is passionate about this game and plays the game without an ounce of fear. If I could field a team full of kids just like Chucho, I would have the makings of something special. Chucho is a solid baseball player and can play at the next level.”

He enjoys going to the cabin in the mountains with his family - especially in the winter, when there is snow - and also to the beach in the summer. He plans to continue playing baseball and basketball in school and baseball at Tamiami Park.

Gaby Santalo, 12, of South Miami plays baseball for the Danny Berry JCC Baseball League. He always shows great sportsmanship and much persistence and perseverance on and off the field.

Gaby is a team player wherever he goes. He also played baseball at Red Berry’s Baseball World and Conchita Espinosa Academy. He played basketball at ThunderAthletix, and he recently began playing golf at First Tee.

Derek Miller, who coached Gaby on the Lugnuts of the Danny Berry JCC Baseball League, said: “Gaby is a a Little Leaguer I’ll never forget. He had a huge heart and cared more about contributing for the team than individual accomplishment, a trait you don’t find in many boys his age. He always gave 100 percent, had great spirit and was a great teammate.”

Gaby is in seventh grade at Conchita Espinosa Academy. A hard worker, he enjoys math and has discovered a love for programming and coding.

Chris Cabrera, Conchita Espinsoa Academy math and science teacher and STEAM mentor, said: “I was fortunate enough to be Gabriel’s math and science teacher and STEAM mentor for the 2013-14 school year at Conchita Espinosa Academy. Gabriel puts forth 100 percent effort into everything he does and shows great merit in math and computer programming.

“His hard work, persistence and focus set him apart as someone destined to succeed, but it’s how he makes others feel that is of most value. Gaby has the heart of a champion.”

Kendall Hammocks football

The Kendall Hammocks Warriors 100s tackle football team improved to 4-0 with a 21-14 victory over the visiting North Miami Beach Sundevils in Miami Xtreme Youth Football.

The Warriors offense rushed for 146 yards with Keylon Leno leading the way with 61 yards and the game-clinching touchdown in the fourth quarter. Leno also made a game-saving tackle late in the game.

Sebastian Borges added 42 yards and two touchdowns, and quarterback Angelo Ipparraguire was 2 of 2 passing including a 31-yard completion to Dylan Puentes. On defense, the Warriors were led by Damon Trend with eight tackles and Eddie Watson with five tackles (two for losses). Roland Diaz recorded a sack. Leno totaled four tackles.

Other results: 85: NMB 31, KH 7. 115: NMB 34, KH 6. 145: NMB 24, KH 14.

Miami Country Day

Miami Country Day School Athletes of the Week

Middle School Male Athlete of the Week: Griffin Steutel (golf) led the team with 82 at the Westminster Christian Invitational and shot 40 against Westminster Christian.

Middle School Female Athlete of the Week: Eva Sirlin (volleyball) led the team to a 2-set win against Florida Christian with 16 service points, five aces and three kills.

Upper School Female Athlete of the Week: Brooke Pumo (volleyball) led the Spartans with 31 kills, 12 digs and five aces in matches against Carrollton, Doctors Charter and Palm Beach Benjamin.

Upper School Male Athlete of the Week: Blake Thomas (football) had four receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown against Scheck Hillel.

Spartan Super Fan: Fredi Rosenfeld (Alumni Association).

Scheck Hillel

Scheck Hillel Community School Student-Athletes of the Week

Scheck Hillel Community School named standout athletes Bram Osman, Bradley Moskovitz, Nikki Scheck and Dani Scheck as this week’s Student-Athletes of the Week.

Osman, a junior, had an amazing performance for the varsity football team against Miami Country Day where he had four receptions for 94 yards and two touchdowns.

Moskovitz, a junior, thrown eight touchdown passes and ran for one in the first two football games.

N. Scheck, a senior, not only displayed leadership on offense with strong serves and three kills for the varsity volleyball team but also excelled defensively against Hebrew Academy.

D. Scheck, a sophomore, is recognized for her all around hustle, strong serves, defense and digs that she displayed for the varsity volleyball team against Yeshiva and Doctors Charter School.


Tomás Nieves of Coconut Grove won the 35th Annual Palmetto Open at the Palmetto Golf Course.

Tomás shot 1-over par for the three day tournament with scores of 67-70–72. He qualified for the annual Junior Orange Bowl International Championship at the Biltmore Golf Course in December.

Palm Beach Atlantic volleyball

Palm Beach Atlantic University senior setter Becca Acevedo of Miami was named MVP of the Hyatt Place Sunshine Classic Volleyball Tournament, hosted by Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach.

Acevedo, a Westminster Christian School graduate, led the Sailfish to victories over Barton College, Bridgeport University, Kentucky State University and Quincy University. She averaged 12.23 assists per set for the tournament’s only undefeated team. Barry University and Eckerd College also participated in the two-day event.

Acevedo was honored by the Independents Collegiate Athletic Association, too, as a co-Player of the Week. A four-year starter for PBA, an NCAA Division II affiliate, she is majoring in psychology.

For head coach Julie Doan at Westminster Christian, Acevedo was a Miami Herald All-Dade first team selection, a Wendy's High School Heisman nominee, the Warrior Female Most Athletic, an AVCA Player of the Week, a Radio Caracol Copa Dorada Volleyball Sports Award winner and a's Andi Collins Award finalist. She was also a Miami Herald Silver Knight nominee, National Honor Society vice president, Mu Alpha Theta vice president and Executive Student Council chaplain.

Barry soccer

Doral’s Pablo Georgakopoulos had an assist to help the visiting Barry University men’s soccer team open the season by defeating North Georgia 3-1 in Dahlonega, Ga.

Pablo’s well-placed cross led to the Bucs’ second goal in the 55th minute for a 2-0 advantage. A 6-0, 157-pound sophomore midfielder, he is a Ronald Reagan High School graduate.

An NCAA Division II affiliate, Barry plays its home games on campus in Miami Shores. Visit


The new 14,220-square-foot Arcola Lakes Park Senior Center in Miami recently hosted a Masters Tennis Demonstration Day for players 55 and older. The event featured the Masters Tennis format with smaller courts, racquets and lower-bouncing balls, all designed to make tennis easy to master.

The demonstration day was led by USTA Florida Masters Tennis Coordinator Christine Murphy, and Miami-area USTA Florida Tennis Program Coordinator Cathy Nordlund.

“You could see the faces on the participants when listening to Christine that they were not sure whether they could do this or not,” said Nordlund about the 20 participating seniors, most who had never played tennis. “One lady asked if she gets tired in the middle of the point, could she rest. We assured her that she would be just fine. Once we had her on the courts, we could not get her off, and she never took a break.”

Masters Tennis is the new 60-foot fun short-court option played within a full-size 78-foot tennis court, or set up as a court on its own, indoors or outdoors. Masters Tennis is for a wide variety of players from veterans looking to get back in the game after injuries to adults newer to the game looking for a fun challenge. Players can use their regular tennis racquets, or smaller racquets which provide more control.

“Before we were even finished they were all asking where they could sign up, they definitely wanted to keep doing this, and said this was the most fun they have had in a long time,” Nordlund said. “The laughter echoed in the room from all of them.”

The Arcola Lakes Park Senior Center is Miami-Dade County Parks' first recreational facility specifically built for seniors. Miami-Dade County Parks & Recreation Active Adults 55 Program Coordinator Allan Tayss is working with USTA Florida to further organize Masters Tennis in their senior programs at parks across Miami. Also assisting at the Arcola Lakes event were park manager Treneise Henderson, coach Bille, and senior center manager Linda Baker.

To learn more about starting a Masters Tennis program, or available Masters Tennis grants, e-mail USTA Florida Masters Tennis Coordinator Christine Murphy at

To learn more about the Masters Tennis format or current program sites,

go to

Tennis tournament

The Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department in partnership with USTA Florida announce the Miami Junior Tennis Cup is Sept. 20-22 at the prestigious Crandon Park Tennis Center, 7300 Crandon Blvd. on Key Biscayne.

Youth tennis players, age 12-14, from throughout Miami-Dade County are invited to register for the tennis championship. Entries will be accepted through Wednesday, Sept. 17.

The tournament registration cost is $43.50 per player. Mayor’s Cup trophies will be awarded to top finishers in the boys’ and girls’ divisions.

Register online at

For information contact Tournament Director Jason Pardon at 786-543-2607 or

The Miami Junior Tennis Cup is sponsored by the Youth Sports Championship Series, an initiative created by Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez that aims to increase participation in youth athletics for kids age 14 and younger. As a father, grandfather and lifetime advocate of the long-term health benefits of regular exercise for children, Mayor Gimenez knows first-hand the esteemed values developed from continuous involvement in athletics.

“The Miami Junior Tennis Cup provides kids who love tennis with an extra incentive to compete and play their very best,” said Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez. “Thanks to Miami-Dade County Parks’ long-time partnership with USTA Florida, youth tennis is flourishing in our community. Through a sport like tennis, kids have fun staying active, improve their self-esteem and learn such life skills as good sportsmanship, fair play and respect for one another.”

More events, leagues, programs


The Miami-Dade County Youth Fair’s Cross-Country Race, open to middle school and high school athletes, will occur Thursday, Sept. 18 at Larry and Penny Thompson Park, 12451 SW 194th St., Miami.

Junior varsity races begin promptly at 3 p.m. followed by varsity races at 4:45 p.m. The final race of the day starts at 5:20 p.m. Winners will receive their awards, including the new Miami-Dade Mayor's Cup, at an awards ceremony following the races.

The Youth Fair's annual Cross-Country Race draws more than 1,500 high school and middle school students from Miami-Dade County public and private schools to compete at the park's cross-country track. The race has become part of the Youth Sports Championship Series, which is the premier sponsor of the event.

The Youth Sports Championship Series aims to build and support a strong foundation of organized sports through a series of sport championships coordinated by the Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department and the local governing body of the individual youth sport.

Champions will be crowned in 10 sports at 15 events, predominantly at Miami-Dade County-owned parks and facilities. Winners of championships in tennis, track and field, basketball, baseball, flag football, golf, swimming, wrestling, cross country, cheer and dance, and soccer will be crowned with the Mayor's Cup.

The Youth Fair and the Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department work together to promote a year round athletic program. Annually, there are more than 6,000 public and private school students who participate in the various sporting events: swimming and diving, cross country, tennis, track, golf, bowling, wrestling and badminton. These events are open to middle and high school students.

All athletic events are held in accordance with the official rules of the National Federation of State High School Association, Florida High School Activities Association and the Greater Miami Athletic Conference (GMAC).

The Youth Fair is a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization that awards more than $300,000 annually in college scholarships, cash premiums and awards to local public, private, charter and home school students. To date, The Youth Fair has awarded well over $10 million to Miami-Dade students to help them achieve higher education. In 2014, it awarded $90,000 in college scholarships, including $7,000 to winners of Miami-Dade County Public School's inaugural Elie Wiesel Foundation Prize in Ethics Essay Contest.

The Youth Fair is the only venue where students can showcase their educational, art and science achievements all in one place and be rewarded for their efforts. More than 40,000 student projects are exhibited annually to more than half a million families, friends and fairgoers.



The FBU National Championship kicks off Dec. 6 at 16 venues across America, with the winners advancing to round 2 on Dec. 7.

The structure of the Football University National Championship is a combination of the Little League World Series and the NCAA March Madness. The single-elimination tournament, features 192-region-based teams (64-teams in each age bracket – 6th, 7th and 8th grade) comprised of the top 30 all-star athletes from their area who had to try out to earn a roster spot.

The first four rounds will occur at regional sites, with the semifinals and championship weekend Dec. 20-21 in Naples for the final four teams in each age bracket.

Miami-Dade County youth athletes have been given the extraordinary honor of participating in the tournament beginning Dec. 6. Sixth graders, seventh graders, and eighth graders were selected to play for the FBU Miami-Dade County Team in each of their grade levels. Each team, comprised of top football players from through the county, will be competing in full contact football games with the ultimate goal of advancing to the championship in Naples.

The Miami-Dade County team, led by State Director Damian Sosa, will begin the tournament on Dec. 6 in West Palm Beach.

This year’s tournament marks the fourth year of the biggest youth football event to date, with 192 teams nationwide, including more than 250 games, 6,000 athletes and 1,200 coaches. The tournament will showcase 250 games through a three-week period, resulting in more than 1,000 hours of play.



The fifth annual National Bowl, featuring some of the best FCS (NCAA Division I-AA) players in the country, is Dec 5-7 at Florida International University at Alfonso Field at FIU Stadium in Miami.

Representatives from 10 NFL teams attended in 2013, and NFL Films distributed game film to teams. Fifteen players in the past two years participated in NFL camps, seven in 2013.



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 — NFL Ambassador for Heads Up Football.

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

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

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

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

Miami-Dade County sports series

The Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department, as host of the county’s year round Mayor’s Cup Youth Sports Championship Series, congratulates all Miami-Dade youth who participated in the series of athletic events that occured at Miami-Dade parks, golf courses and pools this summer.

The summer events ended with a splash, as more than 175 participants from Miami-Dade County Parks swim programs, summer camps and disability services sites competed for awards in the Mayor’s Cup Swimming Championship at the Tamiami Park Aquatics Center. The event provided children with the opportunity to compete against other youth swimmers from across the county, and for most it was their first time competing in a swim meet.

The Youth Sports Championship Series is an initiative created by Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez that aims to increase participation in youth athletics for kids ages 14 and younger. The series has been touted with the 2014 National Association of Counties Achievement Award and is a finalist for the National Youth Sports Alliance Excellence Award. The winner will be announced November.

As a father, grandfather and lifetime advocate of the long-term health benefits of regular exercise for children, Mayor Gimenez knows first-hand the esteemed values developed from continuous involvement in athletics.

“We are very proud of all the youth that participated in the Mayor’s Youth Sports Championship Series sporting events this summer,” said Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez. “Thanks to Miami-Dade County Parks’ partnership with the Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade, more and more children are learning how to swim, a critical life skill that will help keep them safe and physically fit. Through organized sports, such as swimming, they can also learn good sportsmanship, leadership, fair play and respect for others, lessons which will help them be champions for life.”

Miami-Dade County Parks, through its longtime Learn-to-Swim Program, holds beginning swimming classes at pools county-wide during the summer months. Together with the Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade, they advocate the urgency for all youth to receive swimming lessons and water safety instruction to prevent drowning and seek to provide as many children as possible with Learn-to-Swim opportunities, no matter what their income. Since 2012, the Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade has provided 2,269 Learn-to-Swim scholarships.


Children, adults and veterans with disabilities will have an opportunity to escape gravity for a brief time and discover the weightless world of scuba diving, as part of the free “Diveheart Scuba Experience” on Oct. 4 and 25 at AD Barnes Pool, 3401 SW 72 Ave., Miami.

The event is being presented by the Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department’s Disability Services Division in partnership with the Diveheart Foundation and Ortho Pro Associates. The event will include scuba demonstrations, rides on a mechanical dolphin and on-site registration for the Diveheart Scuba Experience scuba diving classes.

Individuals must be at least 10-years-old to participate in the scuba diving sessions. Participants will receive an introduction to scuba diving and scuba equipment. All scuba gear will be provided. Pre-registration is required, as each participant is paired with a certified dive instructor and volunteer.

For information, contact Terri Bukacheski at 305-598-9688 or


The Maccabi Haifa professional basketball team, the 2013-14 Israeli Super League runner-up, announced the team will participate in a four-team NBA exhibition tour in North America, becoming only the second international team ever to play four NBA teams in the same trip.

Maccabi Haifa will face the Washington Wizards on Oct. 15 at the Verizon Center, the Portland Trail Blazers on Oct. 17 at the Moda Center, the Sacramento Kings on Oct. 18 at the Sleep Train Arena, and the Toronto Raptors on Oct. 22 at the Air Canada Centre.

Maccabi Haifa’s trip to the United States will mark the fourth time in five years the team will travel to North America to play against NBA competition. In three trips to the United States, Maccabi Haifa has faced six NBA opponents (New Jersey Nets, Golden State Warriors, Minnesota Timberwolves, Phoenix Suns, Detroit Pistons, Memphis Grizzlies). At the conclusion of the North American tour, Maccabi Haifa will rank second all-time among international basketball teams in games played (10) against NBA opponents.

Maccabi Haifa has a long and storied legacy as it was one of the original eight teams to form the Israeli Premier League for the 1954 season. Under the ownership of Aventura businessman Jeffrey Rosen, Maccabi Haifa won its first Israeli League championship in the franchise’s 60-year history during the 2012-13 season and were an Israeli League Finalist in the 2013-14 season.

Maccabi Haifa’s charity program, “Haifa Hoops for Kids”, a joint initiative between Maccabi Haifa and the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest New Jersey, has hosted more than 20,000 underprivileged and special needs children in Israel at Maccabi Haifa home games. The team will hold charity basketball clinics for children in each city during the NBA preseason tour.

“Maccabi Haifa is proud to continue our tradition of playing against NBA opponents, as our fan base in North America is one of the largest among all international basketball teams,” said Maccabi Haifa Owner Jeff Rosen. “We are thrilled to be competing against the Washington Wizards, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings and the Toronto Raptors.”

For information about Maccabi Haifa, visit


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 ; or call 786-505-5585.

For information on Brain Gymnasium, visit 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

Registration is open.

Email or call 786-505-5585.

Miami Lady Express basketball

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

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

Tamiami basketball

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

Email or call 305 -273-1145.

Park upgrade

The Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department and Miami-Dade County District 13 Commissioner Esteban Bovo, Jr., announce the completion of new amenities at the 20-acre Norman and Jean Reach Park, 7901 NW 176 St., Miami.

The improvements include a new six-foot perimeter asphalt walkway with wayside shaded benches, expanded concrete patio space around the recreation center and concession building, and a new portable bleacher.

Miami-Dade County and The School Board of Miami-Dade County have entered into agreements to provide for the joint use of their respectively owned public properties for recreational purposes. Palm Springs North Elementary School is adjacent to the park, and the walking path will be built on both properties to provide a safe route for walking activities. This project was made possible with the assistance of Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, the School Board and the School Board Chair, Perla Taberas Hantman, District 4, where Palm Springs North Elementary School is located.

“Amenities such as these will provide residents and visitors with more opportunities to enjoy nature and recreation at Norman and Jean Reach Park,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez. “I want to thank the Parks Department for its great work in helping us build a healthier and more livable community.”

Commissioner Bovo said: “I am very pleased to see this completed development at Norman and Jean Reach Park. I highly encourage neighbors to come out for a walk in the park and to take full advantage of these improved recreational spaces.”

Miami-Dade County Parks Director Jack Kardys added: “Norman and Jean Reach Park offers active recreation for people of all ages. These new amenities have enhanced this beautiful park and all that it has to offer.”

Miami-Dade County Parks completed this project together with Sagua Construction Inc. Funding of $154,000 was provided by the Quality Neighborhood Improvement Program (QNIP), Capital Outlay Reserve Funds (CORF), Impact Fees, and the Miami-Dade County District 13 Commission Office.

Norman and Jean Reach Park also contains two-lighted basketball courts, four-lighted softball fields, two-tennis courts, a swimming pool, and a picnic shelter.

For directions and information about the recreational facilities and programs offered at this park

visit or call 305-823-2414.

Crandon Park

Crandon Park Marina at 4000 Crandon Boulevard in Key Biscayne has undergone a major facelift, which includes new charter boat docks, a new seawall and new state-of-the-art marina amenities that offer better access and security for boaters.

The new development is the result of an extensive shoreline restoration effort led by the Florida Inland Navigation District, the state’s sponsor of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.

“The improvements to Crandon Marina have preserved a vital Miami-Dade County waterfront treasure and served to enhance the Marina as a world-class boating destination for visitors and residents,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez. “We commend the Parks Department for their collaborations and shared vision, which is helping us to restore and beautify the recreational treasures of our community.”

As part of the marina restoration project, a total of 515 linear feet of existing concrete seawall (built circa 1950) was replaced with a newly designed ‘sheet pile seawall’ that consists of deep in ground galvanized steel piles encased in concrete. A new five-foot-wide cap was installed atop the new seawall, which added three more feet of boardwalk.

The charter boat area received new fender and mooring piles, a new concrete walk with integrated light bollards and planters, and 10 new boat slips, each with its own new power/water pedestal and fish-cleaning station. The two original scales used for weighing-in fish were renovated and reinstalled on the docks, for a touch of nostalgia. There is also a new transient boat slip just south of the site.

The marina restorations were completed through the collaborative efforts of FIND, working with Neville/Steffens Architects LLP; Ports and Coastal Engineering Practice - Atkins; SDM Consulting Engineers, Inc.; and Construction Contractors - Shoreline Foundation, Inc.

Miami-Dade County District 7 Commissioner Xavier Suarez said: “We are happy to provide this boating community with a fresher and new looking marina. This renewed facility is more accessible than ever, easier to use and will continue to meet the recreational needs of boaters for many years to come.”

The marina has also added a new entrance and several new security features, such as eight-foot-high fencing around the perimeter and dry boat storage and wet slip areas, electronic gates that open and close via a key card, and non-motorized pedestrian gates that allow for emergency or occasional egress. The dry boat storage area also has new inside lighting fixtures and new HD security cameras and lamp posts for its parking lot.

All parking areas were re-surfaced and re-striped and have new wheel stops and traffic signage. The grounds have a new automatic irrigation system and new landscaping throughout that includes Emerald sod (a top golf course turf known as Zoysia) and an assortment of native trees, such as Palms, Oaks, Royal Poincianas, and Gumbo Limbos. There are also new concrete walkways throughout the site, creating a seamless connection to marina facilities.

Miami-Dade County Parks worked in conjunction with KVH Architects, Laura Llerena and Associates, Inc., and ABC Construction, Inc. to complete the improvements.

Miami-Dade County Parks Department Director Jack Kardys added: “Miami-Dade Parks is committed to meeting the needs of the boaters that use our marina facilities. These enhancements will enable us to provide the boating public with a better overall boating experience.”

The total cost for the marina restorations and improvements was $8,060,000. Funding was provided by the Building Better Communities General Obligation Bond Program, Capital Outlay Reserve Funds, FIND, and the Marina Capital Improvements Fund.

Crandon Park Marina is near some of the most spectacular fishing and diving opportunities in the United States. The marina features a dock master complex with a bait-and-tackle and shower and laundry facilities, 425 wet slips, 10 commercial slips, moorings, and dry dock storage. Boat rentals and charter fishing excursions are available.

The facility is conveniently situated on the Intercoastal Waterway (at Mile Marker 73) and nearby Miami-Dade Parks’ Crandon Park Beach, Crandon Park Golf Course and the Crandon Park Tennis Center.

For information about Crandon Park Marina, call 305-361-1281, or visit


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

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

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

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

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

To get a program started, Special Olympics coaches may apply for a USTA Florida Section Foundation equipment grant for adaptive tennis equipment and other program needs by contacting Jessica Flynn at Special Olympics Florida.

For additional training opportunities and training resources, contact Linda Curtis at the USTA Florida Section Foundation at

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 Jose’s Heroes

Tickets to the José's Heroes Fan Zone are available each time Miami Marlins star pitcher José Fernandez takes the mound at Marlins Park.

For $16, fans receive:

A ticket in the José's Heroes Fan Zone (Left Field Bullpen Reserved)

A José's Heroes T-shirt

A 'K' Card to wave when José records a strikeout

Go to

Marlins Tours

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

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

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

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

Tickets are non-exchangeable and non-refundable.

HOF baseball

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

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

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

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.



The Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department, as host of Miami-Dade County’s year round Mayor’s Cup Youth Sports Championship Series fostering sports development activities for local youth, announces sponsorship, partnership and volunteer opportunities for the popular Miami Soccer Festival returning to Kendall Soccer Park, Nov. 1-2.

This is the fourth year for this two-day signature event, which features consecutive FYSA-sanctioned tournaments for boys and girls, age 12 and younger, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., and free admission for spectators. More than 2,000 people of all ages are expected to watch the tournaments and enjoy the festivities that include entertainment, music, food vendors, a soccer retail village, soccer tricks, juggling demonstrations.

As a father, grandfather and lifetime advocate of the long-term health benefits of regular exercise for children, Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez knows first-hand the esteemed values developed from continuous involvement in athletics.

“The Mayor’s Youth Sports Championship Series allows our youth to learn the value of how working together can build character through organized sporting events,” Mayor Gimenez said in a release. “These lessons on the field, the resilience and leadership skills, combined with teamwork can then be used off the field for future success in life. This is why I ask local businesses and organizations to join us in our commitment to make youth sports available for all children in our community.”

Teams will participate in three elimination games – two on Nov. 1 and one Nov. 2. The finals will follow. Team registration costs are between $70 for younger teams (U5) and $170 for older teams (U12).

For information on the Miami Soccer Festival, visit

or contact Scott Georgeson at 305-965-9855 or

To become a sponsor, partner or volunteer, contact Alan Georgeson at 305-393-5230 or

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.

Soccer 5 Tropical Park is open 3 p.m. to midnight Mondays through Fridays and 9 a.m. to midnight Saturdays and Sundays.

“I cannot thank Miami-Dade Parks and our Soccer 5 coaching staff enough for making our dream of developing small-sided soccer for kids in the Greater Miami area a reality,” Georgeson said. “It is an exciting time for us at Soccer 5 as we continue to expand our Kids Academy in South Florida built on the success of our public/private partnership with Miami-Dade Parks and the Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade.”

Allison Diego, director of business development, fundraising and advocacy for Miami-Dade Parks’ Recreation and Open Spaces Department, added: “The Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade is delighted to partner with The Soccer 5 vision to provide an outstanding experience for this community through soccer. We are happy to be a part of this important child sports development.”

For more information or to register, visit


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 is adding a new title to his résumé — NFL Ambassador for Heads Up Football.

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

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

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

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

Rebelle volleyball

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

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

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



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

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

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

Jai-Alai for women

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

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

CB Sports Leagues

CB Sports Club offers youth basketball, flag football, youth soccer, adult soccer and adult basketball. Visit or call 786-273-5639.

Physically Challenged

Miami-Dade Parks welcomes children with disabilities in its youth leagues. If you need accommodations to participate, call 305-735-7847 (V/TDD).

How to recognize someone or team in Sports Scene

Sports Scene spotlights news and notes from youth sports and adult league activities with the aim to feature game notes and the accomplishments of athletes from Miami-Dade County.

We rely on league directors and coaches, 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.

All sports are welcome as long as the team, individual or league is Miami-based.