Youth Sports

Special Olympics Miami-Dade gymnasts shine at State Fall Classic

Miami-Dade County was well represented during Special Olympics Florida’s 43rd annual State Fall Classic at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista. Fifteen athletes represented Special Olympics Miami-Dade County in gymnastics. They earned 76 medals, including 55 gold medals.
Miami-Dade County was well represented during Special Olympics Florida’s 43rd annual State Fall Classic at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista. Fifteen athletes represented Special Olympics Miami-Dade County in gymnastics. They earned 76 medals, including 55 gold medals. Lauren Petrick

Miami-Dade County was well represented during Special Olympics Florida’s 43rd annual State Fall Classic at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista.

Fifteen athletes represented Special Olympics Miami-Dade County in gymnastics. There were 90 athletes from across the state participating in the men’s and women’s Artistic Gymnastics competition and Rhythmic Gymnastics event.

The Special Olympics Miami-Dade County team included three men’s artistic gymnasts: Isaac Quinones (17), Christopher Hollingsworth (18) and Steven Aguilera (9); 10 women’s artistic gymnasts: Merolin Aguilera (13), Juliana Quintero (14), Nicole Gentzel (23), Dymalin Moreno (13), Sabrina Meador (18), Ava Suarez (11), Cynthia Agurto (26), Aileen Alvarez (42), Aileen Valle (30) and Breanna Roche (8); and two rhythmic gymnasts: Joanna Marcano (22) and Yasmin Abbara (19).

They earned 76 medals, including 55 gold medals. That success is a testament of the commitment Special Olympics Miami-Dade County has made to provide athletes the best possible training environment and the dedication to help grow the program.

Special Olympics Miami-Dade

http://specialolympicsflorida.org/miami-dade/

https://www.facebook.com/specialolympicsmiamidade/

https://www.instagram.com/specialo_miami/

LEAP

www.leapsouthfl.com

https://www.facebook.com/LEAPSouthFL/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

https://www.instagram.com/leapsouthfl/

Opa-locka sports

“We need to do whatever we can do to get the kids off the street,” said Felix Soto, a 10-and-older head coach at the Opa-locka Boys and Girls Booster Club workshop.

The office ribbon cutting ceremony followed at Sherbondy Village, 215 President Barack Obama (Perviz) Ave., sponsored by Opa-locka Mayor Myra Taylor and the Opa-locka City Commission, hosted by commissioners Terence K. Pinder and Joseph L. Kelley, who sought to fulfill their mission of enriching the Opa-locka athletic community with winning sports teams, productive community youth and a space to provide the club with a foundation to assemble, where mentors can help advance the organization.

“We can reach these [kids], provided that we reach-out to them during their formative years,” said Commissioner Pinder, who was able to commit the Opa-locka Flea market and Cesar Appliances to donate a washer and dryer to the Booster Club, so that the athletic uniforms the club hopes to obtain through future donations, will be laundered, dried, folded and stored at the clubhouse after each game.

Seeking support and input from the residents and the business community for the athletic programs, the Booster Club is relying on volunteers, fund raising and donations as the primary source of resources to support the youth athletic program.

“The Opa-locka Booster Club was created to, recognize the achievements and accomplishments of team and individual athletes, increase community interest and participation, promote the athletic programs and provide opportunities which will build and strengthen relationships amongthe community as a whole,” said Commissioner Kelley, who himself was a product of the youth athletic programs, as well as a former coach in the City of Opa-locka Park and Recreations Department.

“The Booster Club recognizes that athletic participation benefits the youth, parents, coaches, and everyone who touches the lives of these impressionable kids,”said Commissioner Pinder who added that he, like Kelley, is “proof of the program’s effectiveness and of its extension of training and education, because it teaches the lifelong lessons, skills and discipline received at home, in school and through other activities.”

The volunteers assist the athletic department, coaches and staff who guide these youngsters to their full potential.

The Opa-locka Booster Club strives to support and promote athletic distinction and sportsmanship, while maintaining the history, interaction, traditions of excellence with the concept of village and community, for the young participants.

In addition to housing (office space), the Opa-locka Boys and Girls Booster Club Vice President Natasha Ervin said that one of the goals of the club is to ultimately provide: “a scoreboard, an on-the-field concession, uniforms (w/helmets & cleats), coolers, tents, a film room and equipment for the teams to review game play points, errors, overall performance and other important elements of the games.”

She said the teams will also need help with transportation, the cost of food and hotels when traveling to away games. Although a washing machine and dryer was donated at the ribbon cutting ceremony, because of the excessive amount of washing to keep the uniforms clean, donations of laundry detergent and supplies are always helpful.

The Booster club also hopes to create scholarships (for low income parents unable to afford the registration and other fees for the program), in addition to other miscellaneous support for ALL the sport programs to have an equal chance to perform at their level best.

Parks and Recreations Director Charles Brown said he welcomes the opportunity to work with the Booster Club volunteers who do so much for the teams.

According to Brown, “the more programs and prospects for the kids, the merrier the outcome will be for our entire community.”

Booster club volunteer and former Commissioner Steve Barrett gloated on the extension the club provides for the youth who assist off-the-field by working in areas like the concession stands.

“In addition to sports, the club teaches the kids to run a small business,” he said. “We need to save our children anyway we can,” he added. Another volunteer parent reflected on the fact that inspite of having to wear old, torn, uniforms (some too big or too small), the kids have performed quite well in football.., therefore, she said, “imagine how much more it would boost their pride and performance to look as good as the athletes on other teams.”

Booster Club President Chris Roberts concurred but was proud to reveal that despite the uniform disadvantage and other drawbacks, this year’s football teams have already won five trophies, which includes one third place at the Orange Bowl; two second and third place trophies for the 10-and-younger and 14--and-younger; 8-and-younger district football championship, and a runner up trophy for 14-and-younger.

Roberts said, “We are on our way to nationals in Orlando.”

Vice Mayor Timothy Holmes requested that the organization contact him for assistance, and Mayor Taylor, commissioners Kelley, Pinder and Luis B. Santiago have also expressed a desire to give as much support to the organization as they can. Then, as many bright young athletes watched, the ceremonial ribbon was cut by City Commission members, welcoming the Opa-locka Boys and Girls Booster Club into its new Sherbondy home office.

St. Brendan sports

Two of St. Brendan High School’s teams featured student athletes competing at the FHSAA state championships and another team held its own in a very tough district.

The girls’ cross-country team celebrated a successful season by placing second at districts and third at regionals to qualify for the state finals. Helping the team reach state were Sofia Fernandez, Ale Moros, Andrea Peterson, Ashley Campos, Gabriela Gutierrez, Nicole Martinez and Susie Gutierrez. They were 12th of 28 teams in the Class 2A state meet at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee.

The Sabres swim team also had an outstanding season with two individuals qualifying for the state meet at the Sailfish Splashpark Aquatic Athletics Center in Stuart. Sophomore Irvin Hoost won the District 12 and Region 4 titles in the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle. At the Class 2A state meet, he qualified for the finals in both events to earn a medal in each. He finished third in the 50 freestyle and seventh in the 100 freestyle.

Sophomore Chantel Peiter was second in the 50 freestyle and the 100 freestyle at districts and then placed fourth in the 50 freestyle and 13th in the 100 freestyle at regionals. At the Class 2A state meet, Chantel reached the finals, placing sixth in the 50 freestyle to earn medal.

The girls’ volleyball team had a winning season at 18-8, finishing fourth in one of the toughest districts in the state. The team recorded big wins during the regular season over Lourdes, Palmer Trinity, Florida Christian, LaSalle, Pace and Doral Academy. Natalie Perez, Marcela Fernandez, Nikki Garcia, Sophie Sires, and Caro Caram led the Sabres.

Belen baseball

Three student athletes from Belen Jesuit School signed their national letters of intent to play baseball at the collegiate level.

They are seniors Christian Del Castillo (NCAA Division I Seton Hall University Pirates in South Orange, N.J.), Albert Maury (NCAA Division I Tulane University Green Wave in New Orleans) and Pablo Arevalo (NCAA Division II Barry University Buccaneers in Miami Shores).

“It is always special to join in a celebration of this magnitude with the young men we coach and their families,” said Belen baseball coach Jerry Albert. “These players have all excelled in the classroom as well as on the baseball field for the past four years.

“Their commitment to the game of baseball has been displayed through the consistency they have shown in their respective workout routines, both in-season and during the off-season. All three have taken unique paths to get to where they are, and we are expecting fantastic senior seasons out of each of them.”

Miami Country Day sports

Miami Country Day School: Middle School Female Athlete of the Week: Milani McCormick (basketball) combined for 45 points, 31 rebounds and 21 steals against Cushman and Florida Christian to help the Spartans win the Spartan Invitational.

Middle School Male Athlete of the Week: Frantz Blanc (basketball) led the Spartans with 14 points and nine rebounds in a win against Florida Christian.

Upper School Female Athlete of the Week: Ava Hansen (soccer) scored four goals in wins against Florida Christian, Palmer-Trinity and Mater Lakes Academy.

Upper School Male Athlete of the Week: Dre Medici (soccer) scored three goals in the Spartans’ 3-0 victory against Hialeah Educational Academy.

Seahorse wrestling

Dante Jiovenetta of Coral Shores High School won the 285-pound weight class in the state varsity division during the 41st Seahorse Open Wrestling Tournament at Cypress Bay High School in Weston.

More Miami winners: Intermediate 80: Danny Martinez of Coral Gables. Novice 65: Aaron Lanster of Coral Gables. Novice 95: Danil Korochenskiy of North Miami. Cadet Varsity 285: Rodriguez Bichotte of North Miami. State Varsity 120: Randy McCray of Southridge. State Varsity 152: Marcos Perez of Southridge. State Varsity 220: Darius Hamilton of Southridge. Varsity JR: 285: Lazaro Diaz of Miami Springs. Varsity JR 182: Jonathan Lavient of North Miami. Varsity JR 152: Raul Gonzalez of Columbus.

More events, leagues, programs

Miami soccer park

Thanks to the efforts of the Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department a newly completed soccer complex is at Amelia Earhart Park, 401 E. 65 St. in Hialeah.

The state-of-the-art public soccer facility creates a venue for youth and adult soccer tournaments, with premium amenities that are guaranteed to enhance the experience for soccer players and spectators. It includes 225- by 360-foot regulation soccer fields with irrigation; connecting walkways; shaded-bleacher seating for 300 patrons; a 2,465-square-foot field center building with a concession area and restrooms; a 1,346- square-foot plaza; a 20- by 20-foot picnic shelter; two 20- by 20-foot soil mixing areas; and a two-rail perimeter wood fence.

The project cost was approximately $4 million and funding was provided by the “Building Better Communities” General Obligation Bond and Quality Neighborhood Improvement Program.

“My thanks to the Parks Department for their great work in making this new soccer complex at Amelia Earhart Park a reality. Investments in our parks and open spaces is helping to keep Miami-Dade strong and makes it a great place to live and play,“ said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos. A. Gimenez.

Miami-Dade County District 13 Commissioner Esteban L. Bovo Jr. said: “I am thrilled to see this project completed. This soccer complex is a huge deal for Amelia Earhart Park and the large numbers of soccer enthusiasts in this community. Sports like soccer encourage people to be active outdoors and promote healthy living for life.”

Miami-Dade County Parks Director Jack Kardys said: “This premier soccer complex ups the gold-standard for public soccer facilities, accommodating everything from recreational pick-up games with friends to competitive club soccer activities and tournaments. It is going to keep this park competitive to the needs of youth and adult soccer players and fans for many years to come.”

The new complex comes on the heels of a renovation of two new lighted Soccer 5 soccer fields designed and funded by Soccer 5 Miami, the facility’s operator. Each field is 135- by 90-feet, comprised of 4G synthetic turf and can accommodate 6-v-6 through 8-v-8 matches. Over time, Miami-Dade Parks in partnership with the Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade and Soccer5 plan to build up to six new fields.

Miami Soccer5 also operates Miami-Dade Parks’ soccer facilities at Kendall Soccer Park and Tropical Park.

For information about Miami Soccer5 leagues and clubs, visit the web page or call 305-873-8765, email info@soccer5usa.com.

For directions and information about recreational activities at this park, visit the Amelia Earhart Park web page or call 305-685-8389.

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

SSAC sports

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

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

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

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

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

Visit the SSAC website at

www.sunshinestateathletics.com.

NCSAA academics honors

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

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

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

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

NSCAA.com.

Pitch, Hit & Run

Scotts Major League Baseball Pitch Hit & Run is a free, exciting skills event providing boys and girls the opportunity to compete in four levels of competition including Team Championship events at all 30 Major League ballparks and the National Finals at the MLB All-Star Game.

To host a local competition for your community and be involved in the official skills competition of Major League Baseball, go to

https://secure.mlb.com/mlb/kids/mlb_pitch_hit_run_form.jsp

North Miami Beach baseball

North Miami Beach Little League is a sound organization run by volunteers to help keep children off the streets and on the fields.

Registration is open for boys and girls, age 4-14. Scholarships are available.

For information go to www.NMBLL.org.

Gifts in Golf

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tennis

USTA Florida is bringing tennis to Miami parks through a partnership with the City of Miami as part of the USTA Florida Section’s Diversity Outreach initiative in 2015. The initiative is designed to bring programming to diverse populations and provide the opportunity to learn and play the sport of tennis for a lifetime.

As part of the partnership, the USTA Florida Foundation has provided an equipment grant to the city for $5,606 to be distributed among 16 parks. The equipment will allow children to learn the sport of tennis with right-sized equipment for their age and ability, including smaller racquets, reduced-bounce balls, mini nets, and Tennis Skillastics games.

“Tennis is a great way for folks of all ages to stay fit, socialize and have fun,” Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Miami Kevin Kirwin said in a release. “The Parks and Recreation Department with the help of a generous grant from the USTA Florida Foundation has embraced tennis as a lifetime sport that will be incorporated into their summer and after-school program curriculum.”

USTA Florida Diversity Outreach efforts are specifically targeting Henderson and Armbrister parks in Miami for 2015 — facilities do not currently offer tennis, but will be introducing tennis basics this summer as part of their program activities, including an after-school program to be launched in September. Along with these two parks, 14 other City of Miami parks will also include an after-school program that will serve more than 500 children. City of Miami staff attended Kids Tennis Clubs training offered by USTA Florida earlier this year to learn the skills and tools necessary.

“I am excited about this new partnership and the City of Miami dedication to bring this lifetime sport to the community,” said Cathy Nordlund, USTA Florida tennis program coordinator. “Most tennis is played on public park courts, and this is giving so many children a chance to be introduced to this amazing sport.”

Armbrister and Henderson parks are part of the target markets USTA Florida is working with to grow tennis participation among diverse populations in Central and South Florida. As part these efforts, USTA Florida will be hosting events throughout the year, including free festivals, USTA Play Days, round robins, and USTA Florida will also offer scholarships for tennis providers to attend PTR Ace workshops and obtain teaching certifications.

A full list of events is posted at

www.ustaflorida.com/events.

For information about programs and places to play, visit

www.ustaflorida.com.

Tennis

Florida continues a new era of tennis development for tournament players, age 10 and younger, with the introduction of the USTA Florida 10 and Under Tennis Youth Tournament Pathway, a graduated development path with established benchmarks at each level to guide parents and coaches through junior tennis.

From beginning “red ball” play on 36-foot courts, youth progress through “orange ball” and “green ball” at various tournament levels before graduating to full-court “yellow ball” tennis. Each level contains appropriate kids-sized racquets, balls and court sizes, along with participation or achievement benchmarks to progress between age groups or tournament levels.

The Pathway contains a “Grandfather Clause” for players that turn age 11 during 2015 who currently have the skill set to play full-court yellow ball tournaments.

The USTA Florida 10 and Under Tennis Youth Tournament Pathway roll-out is in partnership with the USPTA-Florida Division (United States Professional Teaching Association) and PTR (Professional Tennis Registry), the two largest tennis teaching professional certifying organizations in the U.S.

The USTA Florida 10 and Under Tennis Youth Tournament Pathway was also developed with solicited input from coaches and parents throughout Florida.

The red, orange and green ball levels correspond on the USTA Florida 10 and Under Tennis Youth Tournament Pathway with tournaments beginning at Level 9 (beginner) up to the start of advanced tournaments at Level 6 and higher.

The USTA Florida 10 and Under Tennis Youth Tournament Pathway was recently implemented in Florida tournaments.

For information on the Pathway, go to www.USTAFlorida.com/10UPathway

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.

Miami Dolphins

USA Football, the sport’s national governing body in the United States, and the Miami Dolphins recently awarded football equipment and uniform grants to youth and high school football programs throughout South Florida based on merit and need.

USA Football partners with the Dolphins and all NFL clubs to annually distribute more than $2 million in equipment and uniform grants to youth and high school football programs across the United States. The grant program has supported youth organizations and high schools in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., since 2006. USA Football equipment and uniform grants are made possible through support from the NFL Foundation.

Grants are valued up to $1,500 for youth organizations and $2,500 for high school programs, offering new equipment, uniforms, equipment reconditioning and flag football equipment to provide young athletes greater access as well as the fun and fitness benefits of the sport. Grants are fulfilled by USA Football and its equipment and uniform partner Riddell.

USA Football is the official youth football development partner of the Dolphins, the NFL and each of the league’s other 31 teams.

“We are pleased to work with USA Football and our teams to donate much-needed equipment to youth football leagues and high school football programs nationwide,” said Alexia Gallagher, director of the NFL Foundation. “These equipment grants will help ensure that youngsters who share our love of the game are able to play it safely.”

“The health and safety of every young football player is our No. 1 priority,” USA Football Executive Director Scott Hallenbeck said. “Having proper equipment is an important step toward that goal. Even with fundraising and strict attention to budgets, many leagues and school districts need help to properly outfit their young athletes who love to play football and enjoy the fun and fitness that comes with it. We are proud to lead this important program with support from the NFL Foundation and Riddell.”

South Florida youth and high school programs awarded a 2015 USA Football Equipment Grant:

Abundant Living Citi Church, Boyd H. Anderson High School, Daytona Falcons, Kendall Boys & Girls Club, Liberty City Optimist Club, Miami Beach Senior High School, Miami Dade County Public Schools, Miami Police Athletic League, PAL of Hallandale Beach, Palm Beach County Youth Football League, Somerset Academy Canyons, Tamiami Colts, The Optimist Foundation of Greater Goulds Florida, West Boca Tackle Football, and West Palm Beach Police Athletic League.

About USA Football: Indianapolis-based USA Football www.usafootball.com is the sport’s national governing body, leading the game’s development for youth, high school and other amateur players. The independent nonprofit partners with leaders in medicine, child advocacy and sport to establish important standards rooted in education. USA Football advances coaching education and player skill development for safer play and positive experiences through athletics.

Follow USA Football at

www.facebook.com/usafootball or on Twitter

@USAFootball.

About NFL Foundation: The National Football League Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of those touched by the game of football – from players at all levels to communities across the country. The NFL Foundation represents the 32 NFL clubs and supports the health and safety of athletes, youth football, and the communities which support our game. For more information on The NFL Foundation, visit:

www.NFLFoundation.org.

Team Moms

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

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

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

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

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

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

ABOUT OLIVE GARDEN

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

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

Connect with us on Facebook.com/OliveGarden, Twitter.com/OliveGarden and Instagram.com/OliveGarden.

ABOUT THE NFHS NETWORK

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

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

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

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

Boys & Girls Club Football

Miami area kids, age 5-15, can “get ready for football season,” thanks to Boys & Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade’s tackle football and cheerleading programs. Registration for the fall 2015 season (August-December) will remain open until all teams are filled.

The sports programs at Boys & Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade are designed to provide a safe and healthy environment so that children can learn team skills, increase self-esteem, build character, become positive role models, and increase motivation as well as specific skills related to the sport. With training provided by volunteer coaches, sport programs are available during the afternoon to the early hours of the night, and are offered Monday through Friday. This is the time of day when children, especially teens, are more likely to engage in harmful activities.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade’s Gwen Cherry, Northwest, and Kendall clubs are conducting registration for the tackle football and cheerleading season.

Register 2-7 p.m. Monday-Friday at either:

Gwen Cherry Club, 7090 NW 22 Ave., Miami, 33147

Northwest Club, 10915 NW 14 Ave., Miami, 33167

Kendall Club, 9475 N Kendall Dr., Miami, 33176

Cost: Gwen Cherry Club: $70 for football; $50 for cheerleading. Fee includes equipment and uniform.

Northwest Club: $90 for football; $60 for cheerleading. Fee includes equipment and uniform.

Kendall Club: $140 for football; $130 for cheerleading. Fee includes equipment and uniform.

Visit your nearest club to complete a membership application. With questions or to inquire about coaching, contact the Gwen Cherry Club at 304-694-4889 ext. 227, the Kendall Club at 305-279-3019, or the Northwest Club at 305-758-5753.

About Boys & Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade

Boys & Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade has been serving youth in the community since 1940. What once was a single building and site for boys has grown to five Clubs serving thousands of boys and girls year round, providing programs in the areas of character and leadership development, educational enhancement, career preparation, health and life skills, cultural arts and sports, fitness and recreation. Club staffing, initiatives, and programs are designed to inspire and enable young people and provide them with the resources to succeed and share in the American Dream.

For information, visit

www.bgcmia.org.

NFL, USA Football, GENYOUth

NFL, USA Football, GENYOUth and Fuel Up to Play 60 today announced the expansion of their commitment to youth health and wellness by giving NFL FLAG Essentials Kits to one million students across 2,500 schools nationwide, including 10 focus cities: Atlanta, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Jacksonville, Miami, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Pittsburgh and San Francisco. The expansion is made possible by a $1 million commitment from NFL Foundation.

The announcement was made by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, CEO of GENYOUth Alexis Glick and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell at the 2015 NFL Draft Youth Football Clinic in Chicago’s Grant Park.

During 2014 Kickoff, NFL, USA Football, GENYOUth and Fuel Up to Play 60 announced a commitment to providing children in elementary schools and after-school programs nationwide with NFL FLAG Essentials Kits enabling kids and communities to “Play 60.” The kits which include footballs, flag belts, posters and a PE curriculum designed for elementary and middle school students, garnered enthusiasm, reaching 1,800 schools nationwide, resulting in 500,000 kids getting more active, and the demand for NFL FLAG powered by USA Football to be played before, during and after school.

The goal of the partnership between the NFL and Fuel Up to Play 60 is to give children more opportunities to be physically active and to "Play 60" by offering PE teachers and school administrators the equipment, curriculum, training and recognition they need to uplift and support physical education. This extension of the program provides a million more students across the country with the tools to play NFL FLAG, which combines the strategy of football with the lessons of teamwork, resiliency and respect.

“We want all kids to have the chance to get active and flag football is a fun way to play 60 and learn the fundamentals of football,” said Commissioner Goodell. “We know many children are physically inactive and the critical need in schools and communities for equipment and ways to increase participation in physical education. We want to make this a positive experience by offering NFL FLAG Kits to inspire kids to play football and be active today and in years to come.”

Results from the program’s first year include:

· 98% of teachers reporting using the Kits in PE class for more than one semester

· 47% using Kits after school

· 28% using Kits during recess

· 21% using Kits weekend activity and/or sporting activities

· 12% using Kits before school, leading to an increased number of physically activity kids

NFL FLAG provides children of all ages with the opportunity to be active and learn the basics of football in a fun environment. With the tremendous reach of Fuel Up to Play 60, the nation’s largest in-school nutrition and physical activity program, an additional 1,000,000 children in more than 2,500 schools will be able to participate in the coming 2015-16 school year via the new Kits. The program will culminate with the NFL FLAG National Championships at Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco.

“GENYOUth is proud to support this partnership by bringing this fresh and exciting sport to schools nationwide through our flagship program, Fuel Up to Play 60,” said Alexis Glick, CEO of GENYOUth. “Flag football is a fun, fast-paced, skills-based and strategy-driven game that inspires more kids to get active. It allows physical education teachers and communities to introduce a new curriculum that has already inspired more physical activity among both boys and girls during and outside of the school day.”

Schools can apply for the Kits starting in early May via the Fuel Up to Play 60 website:

www.FuelUpToPlay60.com and will be provided at the beginning of the 2015-16 school year while supplies last. Additionally, in-person FLAG trainings using the curriculum developed by USA Football and SHAPE America will be held in the 10 NFL markets this fall.

About NFL FLAG

NFL FLAG powered by USA Football (http://www.nflflag.com/) provides opportunities for children ages 5-17 to enjoy America's favorite sport.

With more than 250,000 participants nationwide, players benefit by being physically active through non-contact, continuous action while learning the fundamentals of football, lessons in teamwork and sportsmanship. NFL FLAG is a program of PLAY 60, the NFL’s campaign to encourage kids to be active for 60 minutes a day in order to help reverse the trend of childhood obesity.

About Fuel Up to Play 60

Fuel Up to Play 60 is an in-school nutrition and physical activity program launched by National Football League (NFL) and National Dairy Council (NDC), which was founded by America’s dairy farmers, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Fuel Up to Play 60 is designed to engage and empower youth to take action for their own health by implementing long-term, positive changes for themselves and their schools.

The program additionally encourages youth to consume nutrient-rich foods (low-fat and fat-free dairy, fruits, vegetables and whole grains) and achieve at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. As a result of the program, last year 14 million students made better food choices and are getting more physically active during the school day. Fuel Up to Play 60 is further supported by several health and nutrition organizations: Action for Healthy Kids, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Association/Foundation, National Hispanic Medical Association, National Medical Association and School Nutrition Association.

Visit FuelUpToPlay60.com to learn more.

About GENYOUth Foundation

A leading nonprofit, GENYOUth brings leaders in health and wellness, education, government and business together in a movement to empower America’s youth to achieve a healthier future by uniting partners, raising funds and uplifting the student voice.

GENYOUth has established itself as a thought leader in youth health and wellness and collaborates with its partners to convene experts, conduct research, publish perspective reports, and build programs that make a lasting difference in the pursuit of healthy, high-achieving youth. Founded in 2010 through a public-private partnership with the National Dairy Council and the NFL, GENYOUth has raised funds, increased visibility and commitment to school wellness among health and wellness leaders, educators, students, parents, community leaders and businesses.

Learn more about GENYOUth partnership, volunteer and donation opportunities at

www.genyouthfoundation.org or contact

info@genyouthfoundation.org.

About USA Football

Indianapolis-based USA Football (www.usafootball.com) is the sport’s national governing body, leading the game’s development for youth, high school and other amateur players. The independent nonprofit partners with leaders in medicine, child advocacy and sport to establish important standards rooted in education. USA Football trains more high school and youth football coaches combined than any organization in the U.S., advancing coaching education and player skill development for safer play and positive experiences through athletics.

Follow USA Football at

www.facebook.com/usafootball or on Twitter

@USAFootball.

About SHAPE America

SHAPE America - Society of Health and Physical Educators is committed to ensuring all children have the opportunity to lead healthy, physically active lives. As the nation's largest membership organization of health and physical education professionals, SHAPE America works with its 50 state affiliates and national partners to support initiatives such as the Presidential Youth Fitness Program, Let's Move! Active Schools and the Jump Rope For Heart/Hoops For Heart programs.

Since its founding in 1885, the organization has defined excellence in physical education, and our resources provide the leadership, professional development and advocacy that support health and physical educators at every level - from preschool to university graduate programs.

For information, visit www.shapeamerica.org.

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

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.

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 experienced and professional 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.

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.

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).

Submit info to Sports Scene

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

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

Email sportsscene@MiamiHerald.com.

Youth sports online

For more area sports photos, go to

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

YouTube youth sports and more

YouTube at the Jim Varsallone (the jimmyv3 channel)

www.youtube.com/user/jvarsallone/videos

Be honored at Miami Heat game

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

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

Include school, grade level and grades or interim report. Each selected academic team player will receive a certificate of achievement, a Heat gift pack, two Heat tickets and will be recognized on the court. Plan accordingly as there are three designated ceremony dates during the regular season (Jan. 19, Feb. 22, March 25), and no make-up dates.

To nominate a Team Player, e-mail Miami Herald Youth Sports Editor Jim Varsallone at

jvarsallone@miamiherald.com or call 305-376-3621.

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

Be sure to include a contact telephone number and complete mailing address in your e-mail. For Heat ticket information, call 786-777-HEAT and log on to HEAT.com.

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