Sophomore Esther Bentolila started her fencing career at Scheck Hillel Community School when she was in third grade.
What started as an after-school activity has turned into a lifelong passion.
“She's either studying, fencing or sleeping,” said Esther's mom, Ronit.
Two years ago, when she was 14, Esther won the National Championship gold medal. This remarkable win skyrocketed her fencing career and put her on the map as one of the top young fencers in the nation. Since that gold medal win, Esther continues to rank impressively.
Recently, she won the silver medal at the Fencing World Cup in Germany, losing by just one point to a competitor from Russia. Selected as one of 20 girls from across the nation to compete on the U.S. national team at the World Cup, Esther proudly represented Scheck Hillel, her community and America on the global stage.
Esther's passion for fencing extends to all facets of her life. In fact, her IB Personal Project is centered around fencing.
She has already received an offer for a full-ride college scholarship to a prestigious university. She also has an offer to fence for Panama's national team.
Led by track star Victoria Karr, the Palmetto Middle School girls’ track & field team was second overall while setting a record in the girls’ 400-meter relay during the West Kendall Invitational at Ferguson High School.
The time (52.99 seconds) was so good that they were third best compared to the boys.
Palmetto track & field coach Mallie Brown had to shuffle the line-up to make this happen. Karr, who won the 100-meter race and was third in the 200, joined Naveah Ezell, Fairy Stringfield and Janiya Barnett on the record setting relay. Ezell also was runner-up in the 100, Barnett sixth in the 100 and Stringfield sixth in the 400.
Lexi Montaplasir won the discus and the shot put events, and Ezell finished second in the long jump. Teammates Lira Aurora, Lindsey Burroughs, Silvia Alonso, Makayala Gardener, Delfina Young and Jessica Wood also participated.
The MVP of the meet was Kasia Cooper of Richmond Middle School. She broke the 400-meter record at 58.47 seconds, won the 200-meter race and was runner-up in the 800.
Cooper and Karr are teammates on the South Dade Express club track & field team.
Highland Oaks track
The Highland Oaks Middle School boys’ and girls’ Junior Varsity track teams opened the 2016 season by winning the JV Invitational at Ferguson Sr. High School.
The Panthers’ girls bested 10 other teams. Paris Baker won the 200- and 400-meter runs. Jada Joseph and Brook Couri won the high jump and triple jump, respectively. Joseph was also second in the long jump and third in the 100 and Couri sixth in the 400. Anissa Lespinase-Casimir took second in the 800 and third in the 1,600.
Destiny Desrivieres placed third in the 400 and fourth in the 800. Aniyah Brown finished second in the discus and Amber Keaton seventh. Rose Clermont was sixth in the triple jump and 100 and eighth in the 200. Khamani McMullen was fourth in the 400 and fifth in the 200. Jada Saint Louis was fourth in the 1,600, and Aneth Castaneda placed seventh in the 800 and 1,600. Annika Grosfeld placed eighth in the 100. HOM swept all three relays (400, 1600, 3200).
Ghana Oboh led the Panthers’ boys to victory over nine other teams by winning the 100, 200 and the shot put. He also anchored the winning 400-meter relay which included Bradley Mesa, Zachary Henry and Cawa Fernandes. Oboh also claimed the meet's award for Outstanding Male Athlete.
Mesa won the high jump, and Fernandes won the long jump and took sixth in the 200. Gaethon Bernadel placed third in the shot put and discus. Zachary Henry was fourth in the high jump, and Braxton Lee and Jeremiah Rivera finished sixth and seventh, respectively, in the triple jump. Maleek Saint-Louis was sixth in the 800, and Lee was eighth. The 3,200 relay (Henry, Mesa, Lee, Saint Louis) was runner-up and the 1,600 relay (Henry, Fernandez, Lee, Saint-Louis) third.
Mo Steel flag football
The Mo Steel Vets, a 14U flag football team based at the Michael-Ann Russell Jewish Community Center in North Miami Beach, won the USFTL 14U National Championship in Lakeland.
Mo Steel, in its 16th season, is a traveling flag football program that competes against the very best flag football teams in the world. The locals, comprised of 10 stellar athletes, defeated Ryan Football to win the championship.
The Mo Steel Vets will be playing for the NFL National Championship in late January in San Francisco.
If interested in joining this elite program (age 8-14), call Coach David Fried at 786-344-3726.
Our Lady of Lakes sports
The sports teams from Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic School are having an outstanding start to the winter season.
Here are some highlights:
Varsity Boys’ Soccer
The Varsity boys’ soccer team defeated Good Shepherd 7-1. They were led in the midfield by 8th grader Mason Ibarra. Goals were scored by Paolo Jebian (8th grade), Justin Espinosa (8th grade), Joseph Munoz, and a hat trick by Miguel Palacios (8th grade) who had four goals.
The Cheetahs then beat St. Agatha 6-0. There were led defensively by Daniel Luna (8th grade) and Sebastian Bak (7th grade) as well as goalkeeper Justin Quintana (8th grade) en route to the shutout. Goals were scored by Tommy Vereau (8th grade), Justin Espinosa (8th grade), penalty kick by Kenny Romeu (8th grade), and a second hat trick (three goals) by Miguel Palacios (8th grade).
JV Girls’ Basketball
The JV girls’ basketball team defeated St. Patrick’s 14-10. They were led by solid overall team defense and Sofia Mendez (4th grade) who had eight points.
The Cheetahs then beat St. Rose 33-8. Defense keyed the effort, and Andrea Luna (5th grade) scored 10 points and Sofia Mendez (4th grade) 12 points.
Primary Blue Basketball
The Primary Blue basketball team edged St. Michael’s 21-20. The team was led by Daniel Rubi (2nd grade) who scored 19 of the 21 points. In the last 30 seconds, the Cheetahs played outstanding team defense, and Johnny Perez (2nd grade) had a key steal to clinch the victory.
The JV baseball team defeated Blessed Trinity 12-2. Luis Torrens (6th grade) pitched well with eight strikeouts in three innings. He also tripled and drove in a run. Gianlucas Lemoine (6thgrade) closed the game in relief. The team also had solid catching performances behind the plate by Matthew Mesa (6th grade), Ben Segall (6th grade) and Brandon Ravelo (6th grade.).
Two Monsignor Edward Pace High School seniors signed Letters of Intent to play NCAA Division I baseball.
Shortstop Jorge Arenas signed with Stetson University in Deland, and pitcher Chris Rodriguez signed with Jacksonville University during a ceremony in front of the student body inside the Pace Spartan Center. Donning the shirts and hats of their respective universities, Arenas and Rodriguez were joined on stage by their family members, fellow baseball players, Pace Principal Ana Garcia, and Pace baseball coaches Tom Duffin and Chuck Lyman.
Arenas and Rodriguez thanked their families, coaches and teammates for all of their support throughout their four years of high school and for helping them get to this point in their lives.
Coastal Carolina junior shortstop Michael Paez of Miami was named to the Perfect Game 2016 Preseason All-American second team.
He is a graduate of Sunset High School.
For the complete team, click
Last month, Paez was a first team selection to the Louisville Slugger/Collegiate Baseball Pre-Season All-American squad.
The Chanticleers are NCAA Division I members.
Paez batted .326 last season. He was selected first team All-Big South and second team All-Atlantic Region by the American Baseball Coaches Association as well as being one of 25 semifinalists for the Brooks Wallace Award for the nation's top shortstop.
Among the NCAA leaders last season, Paez ranked 11th in sacrifice bunts (16), 43rd in runs scored (58), 69th in hit by pitches (14), 81st in stolen bases (19), 125th in doubles (17), 157th in on base percentage (.436), 189th in total bases (113), 194th in home runs (8) and 212th in slugging percentage (.526).
Paez reached base safely (by hit, walk, hit by pitch) in each of his last 13 games of the 2015 season and, overall last season, reached base safely in 54 of 59 games played with additional streaks of 14 games and 23 games as well.
In addition to his offensive prowess, Paez ranked second in the Big South with 177 assists, and he was part of 41 double plays as Coastal Carolina finished the season second nationally by turning 66 double plays.
High school wrestling
Katalina Bartlett of Coral Gables High School, Ysiana Jones of Miami Jackson HS and Chelsea Guillaome of North Miami HS were first during the South Florida High School Girls’ Wrestling Championships at McArthur High School in Hollywood.
Bartlett won the 106-pound weight class, beating Brianna Tucker of Davie-Nova HS in the finals. Jones won the 132-pound weight class, pinning Jorclay Doyle of Kissimmee-Liberty HS in 1 minute 10 seconds in the finals, and Guillaome won the 182-pound weight class, beating Dalpha Manosse of Coral Springs-Taravella HS in the finals.
Hillary Giffard of Miami Jackson HS was runner-up in the 113-pound weight class as were teammates Cynthia Aldama (120 pounds), Kerenyi Mirable (138), Paola Forchu (160) and Mary Rodriguez (285).
Miami Country Day sports
Miami Country Day School: Middle School Female Athlete of the Week: Andrea Nelcha (soccer) made eight saves in the South Florida Middle School Championships and was named to the All-Tournament Team.
Middle School Male Athlete of the Week: Julian Kovacs (basketball) combined for 19 points in the Spartan Invitational.
Upper School Female Athlete of the Week: Kelsey Marshall (basketball) combined for 47 points, 15 rebounds, seven steals, and six assists in wins against Archbishop Curley and Dunbar High School.
Upper School Male Athlete of the Week: Agustin Popiloff (soccer) combined for five goals and an assist in games against Archimedean, Marco Island, Clewiston, and Seacrest High School.
McDonald’s All-American basketball
McDonald’s announces the 755 high school seniors who have been nominated to play in the 2016 McDonald’s All American Basketball Games.
This year’s list includes players from 49 states and the District of Columbia who have been selected by high school coaches, athletic directors, principals and members of the McDonald’s All American Games Selection Committee.
The local players nominated for the 2016 Games include:
Dewan Huell, Norland High School; Shawn Chandler, Miami Southridge High School.
Miami Midnites basketball
The Miami Midnites basketball team beat the Jacksonville Giants 118-101 at the MLK Community Center in Hollywood.
George Gray’s clutch four-point play, and 10 straight points by swingman Ty Thomas sealed Miami’s ninth win of the season.
Six players scored in double-figures for the Midnites led by Gray’s 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the field. He also had five assists. Power forward Antonio Hester registered his ninth double-double of the season with 14 points and 15 rebounds.
Thomas tallied 12 points late in the game and grabbed nine rebounds. Miami (9-2) shot 50 percent from the field, including 18-of-36 from beyond the arc.
The Midnites started the second quarter with a 13-0 run to grab a 39-27 lead. Guard Miguel Paul, who tied a game-high with six assists, buried a three-pointer to put Miami up 56-46 at the break. In the third quarter, Miami was feeling it from long distance with Gray, Orane Chin and former FIU and Barry University guard Deric Hill all netting three-pointers to widen the advantage 87-72.
Jacksonville went on a 15-2 run in the fourth quarter to erase the Midnites’ comfortable advantage, but Gray sank a three-pointer and drew a foul, converting the extra point to put Miami up 95-87 at the 8:25 mark of the fourth quarter. Thomas, who burned his former Jacksonville team, put the game away after scoring 10 straight points for Miami.
About Miami Midnites
The Miami Midnites, established in 2014, are the official Minor League affiliate of the 2012-13 Israeli Super League champions Maccabi Haifa basketball team. In their first season of existence, the Midnites won the 2014 Florida Basketball Association championship and followed up with back-to-back FBA titles after winning the 2015 FBA title.
The Midnites joined the American Basketball Association for the 2014-15 season and was runner-up of 90-plus teams across the country. The Midnites compete year-round, playing their home games at the David Posnack Jewish Community Center in Davie. For information on the Miami Midnites, visit the team's official website at
A large selection of the best one-design sailors in the world are preparing to ascend on Key Biscayne Bay for Sailing World Cup Miami 2016, presented by Sunbrella.
US Sailing’s premier event is set to return to Miami for top-level Olympic and Paralympic class racing. This event is the only North American regatta to be included in World Sailing’s 2015-16 Sailing World Cup Series.
Competitors in the 10 Olympic and two Paralympic events will have five days of fleet racing from Monday, Jan. 25 to Friday, Jan. 29. Medal Races across the Olympic classes will bring the regatta to a close on Saturday, Jan. 30 where medals will be awarded to the top three boats.
Event winners in each Olympic class from Sailing World Cup Miami will qualify for the 2016 Sailing World Cup Final, and the best placed ‘home continent’ sailor will also qualify. Several countries will use Sailing World Cup Miami as an Olympic and Paralympic Selection event, including the United States, with the results in nine classes contributing toward Rio 2016 selection for American sailors.
The regatta has significant ranking implications for sailors hoping to qualify for the US Sailing Team Sperry, the U.S. National Team, which annually distinguishes the top American sailors in each Olympic and Paralympic class.
Regatta Headquarters will be at the US Sailing Center Miami, a U.S. Olympic Training Site, in Coconut Grove. Additional hosts for the event include the City of Miami’s Regatta Park, Coconut Grove Sailing Club and Shake-A-Leg Miami. These sailing organizations host classes onshore, as well as help run the on-the-water racing. The Coral Reef Yacht Club hosts the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and is the site for the Regatta Village throughout the week.
Sailing World Cup Miami is presented by Sunbrella, and sponsored by Beneteau, Jeanneau, Lagoon, Sperry, Chubb Personal Insurance, City of Miami, Harken, McLube, Coral Reef Sailing Apparel, UHealth Sports Performance and Wellness Institute, Adventure Sports Miami, Switlik, Sturgis Boat Works, Vetus-Maxwell, Papa’s Pilar Rum, Nacra Racing, and Beneath the Waves.
More events, leagues, programs
Gridiron Cooking Challenge
The Dairy Council of Florida is hosting its third annual Gridiron Cooking Challenge, a fun-filled food competition for elementary and middle school students throughout Florida.
The initiative is created and supported by the Florida Dairy Farmers and is part of Fuel Up to Play 60, an in-school nutrition and physical activity program launched by the National Dairy Council and NFL to help encourage today’s youth to lead healthier lives.
Elementary and middle school students in groups of four are encouraged to create and submit an original recipe that features dairy products, such as milk, cheese and yogurt. The deadline for submissions is Feb. 29.
The top four student teams in each Florida NFL market – represented by the Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jacksonville Jaguars – will compete for the grand prize at the Gridiron Cooking Challenge as they create their recipe on-site in under 60 minutes. The students’ creations will be judged by a select group of distinguished professionals including NFL players, local celebrity chefs, Florida Dairy Farmers and Fuel Up to Play 60 student ambassadors.
The winning team in each NFL market will receive a prize pack for their school valued at up to $2,500. Each student on the team will receive an iPad mini 2, among other prizes.
“The Gridiron Cooking Challenge was developed to highlight the health benefits of dairy products and to emphasize the importance of an active lifestyle,” said Vanessa Hodak, VP School Health & Wellness for the Dairy Council of Florida. “Each year, we look forward to reviewing the recipes submitted and interacting with the students during the competitions in Miami, Tampa and Jacksonville.”
Recipe entry forms can be found on the Florida Dairy Farmers website and can be submitted via mail or email.
For more information, visit
Miami-Dade County Fair sports
The Miami-Dade County Youth Fair and Exposition has released the schedule for its 2016 winter-spring middle school sports invitational meets.
The middle school bowling, track, golf and tennis invitational meets will occur at various locations throughout Miami-Dade County in January and April.
Students competing in the tournaments must be officially enrolled in the school they are representing. If a school is not represented at a Youth Fair sports activity, parents may enter their children with written approval from the school principal.
Bowling - Bird Bowl: Friday, Jan. 29 at 10:30 a.m.
Track - John A. Ferguson Senior High School: Saturday, Jan. 30 at 9 a.m.
Golf - Briar Bay Golf Course: Wednesday, April 6 at 10 a.m.
Tennis - Tropical Tennis Center: Saturday, April 9 at 8:30 a.m.
or call 305-223-7060.
Miami-Dade Fair sports
The Miami-Dade County Youth Fair and Exposition has released the schedule for its 2016 winter-spring middle school sports invitational meets.
The middle school bowling and track invitational meets are in January, and the golf and tennis tournaments are in April. All events will occur at various locations throughout Miami-Dade County.
Bowling teams of at least five players each will participate in the 2016 invitational at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 29 at Bird Bowl, 9275 SW 40 St., in Miami. Entries are limited to one boys’ team and one girls’ team from each school.
John A. Ferguson Senior High School will play host to the 2016 Middle School Track Invitational beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 30. Participation is limited to the first 20 boys’ team and 20 girls’ team entries. Teams are limited to three entries for each event; relays are limited to one team for each school. Individuals may participate in a maximum of four events.
The Middle School Golf Invitational is 10 a.m. Wednesday, April 6 at the Briar Bay Golf Course, 9373 SW 134th St., in Miami. The nine-hole tournament will accept a four-player team or a maximum of four individuals.
Matches for the 2016 tennis invitational begin at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, April 9 at the Tropical Tennis Center, 7900 SW 40 St., in Miami. Team entries must include one boys’ team and one girls’ team for singles competition, one co-ed doubles team, one girls’ doubles team and one boys’ doubles team. Individual competitors are permitted to enter in one event only.
Students competing in the Miami-Dade County Youth Fair and Exposition sports program must be officially enrolled in the school they are representing. If a school is not represented at a Youth Fair sports activity, parents may enter their children with written approval from the school principal.
Participants must complete a school certified field trip form and be accompanied by a school coach or a school approved chaperone. All Miami-Dade County Youth Fair activities within the department of athletics will be held in accordance with the official rules of the National Federation of State High School Association, Florida High School Activities Association and G.M.A.C. All events are open to students in grades 6-8. Middle school students who participate on high school teams are not allowed to participate in these events.
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. The events are open to middle and high school students.
The Miami-Dade County Youth Fair & Exposition (The Youth Fair) is the largest charity event in South Florida. The not-for-profit association is dedicated to promoting education and agriculture while showcasing and rewarding youth achievement and providing quality family entertainment, all without taxpayer dollars.
The annual Youth Fair exhibits more than 53,000 student projects to more than 650,000 Youth Fair guests and awards more than $300,000 annually in college scholarships, cash premiums and awards to students. To date, The Youth Fair has presented well above $10 million to the Miami-Dade community. It was recognized in 2015 as the Leisure & Entertainment Services Firm of the Year by the Latin Builder's Association, the Non-Profit Organization of the Year by the South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and was the Diamond Award Winner for Outstanding Hospitality Entity by the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce.
The Fair Exposition Center, which is the second largest convention center in Miami-Dade County, hosts an additional 70 community events each year.
or call 305-223-7060.
Panthers hockey clinics
The Florida Panthers announced as part of promoting youth hockey in South Florida, they are holding “Try Hockey for Free” clinics in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties.
Try Hockey for Free clinics are at the Florida Panthers IceDen (Broward County), Palm Beach Skate Zone and Palm Beach Ice Works (Palm Beach County) and Kendall Ice Arena (Miami-Dade County). Boys and girls, age 4-9, are encouraged to learn the game of hockey for the first time free of charge. All equipment including skates will be provided.
To register for one of the clinics or for information, visit
The schedule includes:
Kendall Ice Arena, 10355 Hammocks Blvd., Miami, 33196.
March 6: Noon-2 p.m. March 13: Noon-1 p.m. March 20: Noon-1 p.m. March 26: 1-2 p.m. April 10: Noon-1 p.m.
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
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
The FIU baseball program announced that former Major League pitcher and current Detroit Tigers color commentator Jack Morris will serve as the featured speaker at the annual Diamond Dinner on Saturday, Feb. 6 at the Graham Center Ballroom.
Morris -- who played for the Tigers, Minnesota Twins, Toronto Blue Jays and Cleveland Indians -- was a five-time all-star and four-time World Series Champion during his 18-year career.
Tickets to the Diamond Dinner cost $120 for an individual and $1,200 for a table of 10.
For information on the Diamond Dinner, contact Carla Garcia by email at email@example.com or phone at 305-348-7297.
Fans can follow the Panthers on Twitter (@FIUBaseball) and become a fan on Facebook (Facebook.com/FIUBaseball) for all the latest FIU Baseball news. Follow all of FIU's 18 athletic teams on Twitter (@FIUAthletics), Facebook (Facebook.com/FIUSports), YouTube (FIUPanthers), and Instagram (FIUathletics).
Join new Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly and 2003 World Series Champion Jack McKeon at the third annual Jack McKeon Celebrity Golf Classic on Wednesday, Feb. 17 at Crandon Golf at Key Biscayne.
Enjoy a day on the links with your favorite Marlins players, coaches and alumni. Guests will participate in a variety of hole contests, a silent auction, enjoy various food and cocktail stations, and win great prizes throughout the day.
Learn more at:
Proceeds from the third annual Jack McKeon Celebrity Golf Classic will benefit the Marlins Foundation.
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
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, 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
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.
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
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 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.
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.”
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.
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.
Heads Up Football
USA Football’s Heads Up Football program for high schools and youth organizations will include sudden cardiac arrest protocols andHeads Up Blocking fundamentals.
Both topics are now included in USA Football’s Level 1 coaching education course and its high school certification course.
USA Football is the national governing body of the sport and educates more high school and youth football coaches combined than any organization in the United States.
USA Football’s Heads Up Football program is supported by more than two dozen medical and football partners.
“Coaches should be prepared to respond to a life-threatening emergency if needed,” said Dr. Jonathan Drezner, past president of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine and a member of USA Football’s Medical Advisory Committee.
“With prompt recognition, early CPR and use of an AED, sudden cardiac arrest is largely a survivable event if treated quickly. USA Football is committed to the safety of young athletes, and I am proud that a sudden cardiac arrest training module is being added to the Heads Up Football program. The module provides coaches the information they need to be prepared for sudden cardiac arrest.”
“Blocking is one of football’s basic skills that every player needs to be taught,” said Jeff Saturday, a former NFL All-Pro center and ESPN analyst. Saturday is a member of USA Football’s Football Advisory Committee.
“USA Football’s Heads Up Blocking technique helps coaches teach this fundamental – properly engaging with a defender, driving with the legs and maintaining the correct body position for effective and safer play. This is how blocking should be taught.”
Heads Up Football is a comprehensive collection of resources and medically approved protocols to establish important standards rooted in education to change behavior for the better.
In addition to sudden cardiac arrest and Heads Up Blocking, the program covers concussion awareness and recognition, heat and hydration protocols, proper tackling fundamentals and equipment fitting. More than 5,500 youth leagues and 750 high schools in 2014 participated in the program this past fall, benefiting nearly 1-million players.
Follow USA Football at www.facebook.com/usafootball
or on Twitter @USAFootball
NFL Football Matters
The National Football Foundation announced the launch of FootballMatters.org, a powerful new addition to the organization’s campaign to highlight the good in the game and the lifelong benefits to those who play it.
“Football makes a positive impact on so many levels, and we realized that we needed a centralized resource for capturing and subsequently promoting all the great football stories out there,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “FootballMatters.org provides us a potent platform for addressing that void and delivering compelling content directly to audiences who can help us amplify our messages about the value of football in producing leaders and creating educational opportunities.”
NFF Chairman Archie Manning added: “It’s just gratifying to be part of something that does so much good for our young people. The stories are out there, including the thousands of young kids who could not have gone to college but got some aid because of football, and their lives have been changed for the better. FootballMatters.org will enable us to directly capture those stories and inspire the next generation to further their educations.”
The NFF has linked with Arkleus Broadcasting, a Dallas-based full-service media company, to create the platform, which also encompasses a strong social media component to gain traction for the campaign.
“Arkleus is honored and thrilled to be chosen by such a prestigious American institution as the NFF to build and market an exciting new sports media property,” said Arkleus Broadcasting President Joe Shults. “We are passionately committed to helping the NFF in every way to protect, enhance, and ensure the future of football for generations to come.”
The site focuses on stories, videos, and franchises highlighting the very best in high school and college football, such as: Football Moms, Special Teams, Hook & Corporate Ladder, Man-to-Man, the Quote of the Day and many more. The site will also be the home to exclusive profiles of Campbell Trophy finalists, Leadership Award Winners, Courage Award Winners and all the honors associated with the NFF.
“We are really excited about the Football Matters initiative,” said Hatchell. “I want to thank everybody at Arkleus for their passion for the project. They have done a marvelous job of getting it up and running in a short amount of time, and we have already received great feedback.”
The site focuses on the stories that evoke the qualities of leadership, sportsmanship, competitive zeal, character building and the drive for academic excellence that exemplifies many of the young men who play football and the families who support them.
You can learn more about the site and watch a video featuring NFF Chairman Archie Manning and NFF Board Members Jack Ford, Archie Griffin, Kevin Plank and Rod West by clicking here.
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.
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.