Youth Sports

Undefeated ACES makes history by winning IAL basketball championship

The ACES (Aventura City of Excellence School) Eagles JV travel basketball team went undefeated at 10-0, capped off by winning the Independent Athletic League Championship, a first in program history. The champs are front from left, Jack Dillon, Matthew Chaikin; middle, Guy Katri, Jackson Gold, Joaquin Malarria, Jake Crowder, Raz Sela, Head Coach Donald Krumrie; back, Sebastian Paz, Nadav Leibovici, Tomas Lado, Ethan Mittler, and Andres Sedler.
The ACES (Aventura City of Excellence School) Eagles JV travel basketball team went undefeated at 10-0, capped off by winning the Independent Athletic League Championship, a first in program history. The champs are front from left, Jack Dillon, Matthew Chaikin; middle, Guy Katri, Jackson Gold, Joaquin Malarria, Jake Crowder, Raz Sela, Head Coach Donald Krumrie; back, Sebastian Paz, Nadav Leibovici, Tomas Lado, Ethan Mittler, and Andres Sedler.

The ACES (Aventura City of Excellence School) Eagles JV travel basketball team went undefeated, capped off by winning the Independent Athletic League Championship, a first in program history.

The Eagles (10-0) beat Weston Christian 40-34 in the finals. After a sluggish start, ACES rallied behind the offensive efforts of Jack Dillon (four 3-pointers) , Joaquin Mallaria and Jake Crowder.

The champs also feature Matthew Chaikin, Guy Katri, Jackson Gold, Raz Sela, Sebastian Paz, Nadav Leibovici, Tomas Lado, Ethan Mittler, and Andres Sedler. The head coach is Donald Krumrie.

Miami Country Day basketball

The Miami Country Day Middle School boys’ JV basketball team finished the season 5-13. The Spartans beat Florida Christian, Riviera Prep, Gulliver and Westminster Christian (twice).

They were led by outstanding play from Frantz Blanc, Dylan Goureau, Jack Russakoff and Julian Kovacs.

The Miami Country Day Middle School boys’ varsity basketball team (4-14) reached the quarterfinals of the South Florida Middle School Conference Tournament.

The Spartans were led by Noah Markofsky and Ryan Mendelson. Markofsky earned a spot on the South Florida Middle School Conference All-Tournament Team.

Miami Midnites basketball

Despite a close first half, the Miami Midnites erupted with an offense attack in the third and fourth quarters to earn their 20th victory of the season in a 124-99 rout over the South Florida Gold at the David Posnack Jewish Community Center in Davie.

For the Midnites (20-3), George Gray had 21 points, 4 assists and 7 steals. Amir Celestin scored 21 points with 5 assists, and Antonio Hester had 20 points and 11 rebounds.

*The Midnites (21-3) showcased a series of highlight reel dunks in a 181-146 victory over the Native Pride at Hollywood Christian School.

Gray led all scorers with 39 points on 10-of-20 shooting from beyond the arc, along with 6 assists. Celestin was one rebound shy of a triple-double on 38 points, 10 assists and 9 rebounds, including a posterising dunk in the fourth quarter. Center Naquan Melvin was dominant in the paint with 22 points and 20 rebounds, and Orane Chin added 24 points and 10 rebounds.

*The division leading Midnites (22-3) concluded the ABA regular season in dramatic fashion with a 111-108 overtime victory over the Jersey Express at the David Posnack Jewish Community Center in Davie.

Forward Ty Thomas, who had a game-high 23 points and 13 rebounds, sank two clutch free throws to even the game at 104, forcing overtime. In the extra session, Kevin Thomas made a huge three-pointer to put the Midnites ahead by four points en route to victory.

Gray, a former Florida Memorial University standout, scored 21 points, and former Barry University guard Deric Hill added 16 points.

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, the Miami Midnites won the 2014 Florida Basketball Association championship and followed up with back-to-back titles after winning the 2015 FBA championship.

The Midnites joined the American Basketball Association for the 2014-15 season and finished 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

www.miamimidnites.com.

Opa-locka honors

Whereas Tony Curtis Nathan “has gone through trials and tribulation, broken down color barriers, shattered college and NFL records, and is the subject of a 2015 feature film, he is not only a living legend, and a trail blazer in Black history, but Tony ‘Touchdown’ Nathan is a forerunner in American history,” according to Opa-locka Commissioner Terence K. Pinder who presented Nathan with a proclamation on behalf of the Mayor and Commission at the City of Opa-locka Commission meeting in the Sherbondy Village Auditorium.

Commissioner Pinder’s salute to Nathan for Black History Month goes well beyond his career as an African-American football coach and running back. As one of the first black football players at his Birmingham, Alabama high school during his sophomore year, Nathan was well on his way to establishing greatness and setting records.

He became a running back at the University of Alabama, where in his four seasons with the Crimson Tide, Nathan rushed for 1,997 yards with 29 touchdowns and a 6.4 yards per carry average. Also excelling as a kick returner, he finished his college career with 30 touchdowns and 3,362 all-purpose yards, including a 10.9 average in yards per punt return.

In 1979, Nathan was selected in the NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins, with whom he played until 1987. His 10 receptions were the second most in Super Bowl history at the time, and he was recognized as a clever runner with keen pass-catching abilities, Nathan was the starting running-back for the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII and Super Bowl XIX, with superb performances, including 18 yards rushing and 10 receptions for 83 yards. Nathan had a significant performance in the 1981 AFC Divisional playoff game against the San Diego Chargers which became known as The Epic in Miami. He gained 169 total yards and scored two touchdowns, including a score on the renowned "hook and lateral" play in which he took a quick toss from receiver Duriel Harris.

In the 1985 AFC Championship game, Nathan was instrumental in the Dolphins’ 45-28 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, when he rushed for 64 yards and a touchdown, and caught eight passes for 114 yards. He completed nine NFL seasons with 3,543 yards rushing, 383 receptions for 3,592 yards, and 32 touchdowns (16 each rushing and receiving). He also completed four of eight passes for 61 yards and a touchdown.

He retired from playing in 1988 and became an assistant to legendary Dolphins head coach Don Shula. In 1993, he became the Dolphins' running backs coach. From 1996 to 2001, Nathan served under Tony Dungy as the running backs coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs ranked 22nd in the NFL in rushing offense during his first year, but rose to 11th, then fourth within the next two seasons. From 2003 to 2005, Nathan was the running backs coach at Florida International University, under head coach and former Dolphins teammate Don Strock.

Nathan was inducted into the Senior Bowl Hall of Fame in 2006 with Curtis Martin and Michael Strahan. Nathan eventually returned to the NFL as a running backs coach for the Baltimore Ravens. On Feb. 4, 2008, he was hired as the San Francisco 49ers' running backs coach, making him the 24th former Raven to join the 49ers under head coach Mike Nolan.

Nathan is currently the Bailiff for former teammate Judge Edward Newman in Miami-Dade County Court, and recently the story of his high school career was made into a movie called “Woodlawn,” released on Oct. 14, 2015.

Noting that Nathan’s achievements in school “could not have been easy in the South,” Commissioner Pinder gave an impressive thumbs-up approval at the “never too late” example Nathan set. Pinder discovered that Nathan remained dedicated in 2015 to fulfilling a commitment he made in a promise to the late, great Alabama head coach Bear Bryant in 1979, by returning to the University of Alabama to finish his degree.

As well, in another commitment to Jesus Christ, Nathan continues to strengthen his faith and his love for his family and community. Accordingly, Commissioner Terence K. Pinder proclaimed Feb. 10, 2016 as Tony Curtis Nathan Day in the City of Opa-locka.

Miami Country Day sports

Miami Country Day School: Middle School Female Athlete of the Week: Tatiana Barnes (varsity softball) starting her first game at catcher and recorded six putouts in three innings and also had a hit and scored three times.

Middle School Male Athlete of the Week: Zac Wyka (baseball) tossed six innings for the win against Marathon and added two hits.

Upper School Female Athlete of the Week: Gaby Palmisano (water polo) combined for 49 blocks, 10 steals and four assists in wins against Cooper City, ATM, Hialeah High and Coral Gables.

Upper School Male Athlete of the Week: Christian Claramonte (water polo) combined for 47 blocks and nine steals in games against Hialeah High, ATM, Cooper City, Coral Gables, and South Broward.

St. Thomas University sports

BASEBALL: The St. Thomas University baseball team, ranked No.2 in the nation in the NAIA Coaches Poll, has 19 players on its current roster hailing from Miami-Dade high schools. Junior outfielder Jose Gomez (Brito Miami Private) was named Sun Conference Player of the Week for the week ending Feb. 28 after batting .632 with 10 runs scored including a 5-for-5 game with three runs scored and three RBI in a win over Webber International. Alex Hernandez (Westwood Christian) was named Sun Conference Pitcher of the Week for the week ending Feb. 15 after not allowing an earned run and striking out seven batters in a win over 13th ranked Auburn-Montgomery.

The other Miami-Dade high school products on this year’s squad are: Oscar Aguirre (South Dade Senior), Bryan Bermudez (Monsignor Pace), Nick Canino (La Salle), Michael Centeno (Miami Sunset), Jack Diaz (Florida Christian), Branden Gonzalez (Doral Academy), Kendrick Gutierrez (American Senior), Anthony Lopez (Florida Christian), Brandon Pomeranz (Scheck Hillel), Cesar Ramirez (Miami Coral Park), Frankie Rodriguez (Felix Varela), Michael Sanchez (Mater Academy), Alan Saumell (Ferguson), Eric Torrente (Westminster Christian), Erne Valdes (Miami Braddock), Emilio Valdez (St. Brendan) and Brandon Valentin (John Ferguson).

MEN’S BASKETBALL: St. Thomas University junior guard Armand Shoon (Westwood Christian) was named to the All-Tournament team for The Sun Conference Championship tournament. Shoon scored 23 points on 8-of-15 shooting, including five made three-pointers in a 83-66 quarterfinal win over Webber International. He followed with a team-high 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting in a semifinals loss to Warner.

SOFTBALL: St. Thomas went 7-1, including a five-game winning streak, at the annual Spring Tournament held at the National Training Center in Clermont, Fla. Miami-Dade high school products Jennifer Acevedo (Doral Academy), Alexis Castroman (American Senior), Melody Grafals (Doral Academy) and Michelle Murch (American Senior) all played key roles in the Bobcats’ strong performance.

MEN’S TENNIS: St. Thomas University senior Josh Rosner (Scheck Hillel) was named Sun Conference Men’s Tennis Player of the Week for the week ending Feb. 29 after going a combined 4-0 in two road dual matches. Rosner won 6-0, 6-2 in number singles and teamed with Juan Carlos Villamizar for a 8-5 win in doubles at Webber International. Rosner followed that performance with a 8-6 doubles win with Villamizar and a 7-5, 6-2 singles win at Warner.

WOMEN’S TENNIS: The St. Thomas women’s tennis team went on a three-match win streak with winning performances by Miami-Dade high school products Cassandra Lemieux (Monsignor Pace HS) and Naomi Maehama (Krop Senior HS). Playing number two singles, Lemiuex won 7-6, 6-2 at Webber International and 6-0, 6-1 vs. St. Peter’s. At number five singles, Maehama won 6-0, 6-0 at Webber International, 6-0. 6-1 at Warner, and 6-0, 6-1 vs. St. Peter’s.

FIU softball

Off to an 11-5 start, the FIU softball program received some recognition as junior first baseman Stephanie Texeira (Gulliver Prep) was named Co-Player of the Week by Conference USA.

Texeira played in four of the six games for the Panthers, hitting three home runs and driving in 12. She also drew four walks in four games, giving her an on-base percentage of .750 and combined with one double, a slugging percentage of 1.500. She hit two three-run home runs, including a walk-off blast and drove in six when FIU beat Central Connecticut. For the season, Texeira leads Conference USA with seven home runs, 23 RBI and a season 1.205 slugging percentage. She also leads FIU with a .538 batting average and five doubles and nine walks. She is one home run shy of her season total from last year and seven away from tying the program’s career mark.

http://www.fiusports.com/index.aspx?path=softball

*Center fielder Gabby Spallone (Miami Palmetto HS) went 1 for 2 with a walk, an RBI and three runs as FIU softball beat Florida A&M 8-0. Second baseman Ashley Leon (Gulliver Prep) had a hit, a walk and a run, and right fielder Dominique Grossman (Gulliver Prep) walked and scored.

UM Tennis

The University of Miami was named the USTA Florida Tennis on Campus 2015-16 Club of the Year.

Along with the University of Miami claiming Club of the Year honors, UM’s Steven Masciale was named Leader of the Year, and UM was the Florida Campus Series points winner. UM won two titles during the regular season.

In the USTA Florida Tennis on Campus Section Championships at Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs, the University of Miami-B team won the Silver Bracket over the University of Florida-C team 25-18. In the Gold Bracket final, the University of Florida beat the University of Miami 29-18.

The University of Florida and University of Miami teams will represent the USTA Florida Section at the USTA Tennis on Campus National Championships from April 14-16 in Cary, N.C.

More events, leagues, programs

Kendall Hammocks NFL flag football

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

Registration is open to boys and girls, age 5-16. Can not turn 17 in 2016. Copy of birth certificate is requested for age verification only during the registration process.

No weight requirements for Flag. Teams are based by age only. Regular season is 12 games with season running April 25-June 25.

Fee includes NFL Flag Jersey, flag belts, secondary insurance, participation trophy and referee cost.

Registration: March 19 (11 a.m.-3 p.m.).

Tryouts and draft will be Sunday, April 17.

Registrations, practices and games are at Devonaire Park, 10411 SW 122 Ave., Kendall.

Discounted rates for head coaches.

Email khnflflagfootball@aol.com, khwfootball@aol.com

Visit www.khwarriors.org

or www.khwarriors.org/kendallhammocks

The NFL Flag football program is under the Optimist Club of Kendall Hammocks and is an all volunteer organization, serving the community in sports for more than 28 years.

Suniland Sports Camp

The Suniland Sundevils Sports Conditioning Camp is now-May 29 at Suniland Park, 12855 S. Dixie Hwy.

The fee is $75 for boys and girls, age 5-15. That Includes:T-shirt, awards and secondary insurance.

Registration open 6-8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.

For information, contact Jose Regalado 305-458-1966 or josearegalado@att.net.

Warrior Basketball

The Warrior Basketball Pre-Travel Team Program in Miami is intense training for boys and girls, age 8-15, to prepare athletes for a travel team level.

The athletes will train two times a week in a two-hour practice. To gain experience, scrimmages will be set up, and tournament like situations will slowly be introduced to the team.

Practice days are Wednesdays, Fridays and/or Sundays. Kids will receive a Warrior basketball jersey and shorts.

Call 305-777-7077.

North Miami baseball

North Miami Little League Baseball registration is open to boys and girls, age 4-14. The program provides the youth a safe structured environment to learn and enjoy the game. Contact Lucas Bailey 786-266-2738 or Brian Jinks 786-999-9130.

Miami Junior Tennis Cup

Youth tennis players, age 8-12, are invited to register for the Miami Junior Tennis Cup.

The prestigious youth tennis tournament is an opportunity for intermediate and advance level players living in Miami-Dade County to realize their dream to play at the world-famous “Miami Open” professional tennis tournament at the Crandon Park Tennis Center on Key Biscayne.

The first two rounds will be March 19 and 20 at the Tamiami Park Tennis Center, 11201 SW 24th St., Miami. The winners of the first round qualifiers will compete in the semifinals and finals, April 1 and 2, at the Miami Open.

Registration is open until March 16. Entry cost is $48.88 per player. Register online at PlayMiami.org

http://www.miamidade.gov/youthsports/.

For more information, the public can contact Chris Evans at 850-384-9033 or ChrisEv@MiamiDade.gov.

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

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

For information about the Youth Sports Championship series, visit

http://www.miamidade.gov/youthsports/about-us.asp

For information about USTA Florida, visit

https://www.ustaflorida.com/

Tennis

The Florida High School Athletic Association in partnership with USTA Florida has increased high school “No-Cut” tennis teams from 22 at the end of 2015 to 164 registered schools thus far in 2016.

“The No-Cut program gave kids who wouldn’t normally make the team an opportunity to participate,” said Will Adams, the contract administration specialist for the FHSAA. “I received several calls from coaches thanking us for sending out the information so they could take advantage of the program. It gave teams the opportunity to receive a free case of balls, which is a huge benefit as tennis programs don’t always receive a lot of funding.”

USTA Florida offered an incentive where the first 100 schools to register received two cases of balls (or four cases if the school had both boys’ and girls’ teams). The next 50 schools to register each received one case of balls. A total $15,000 investment was made by USTA Florida for approximately 200 cases of balls to Florida high schools.

Thad Hawkes, the entry-level tournament coordinator for USTA Florida and a high school coach, coordinated the effort. As a No-Cut coach himself, he has seen the difference the program has made in keeping kids in tennis.

“The hardest thing for a coach is to tell someone that they didn’t make the team,” he said. “The other consequence is that the student may very well drop tennis and pick up another sport. Being a supporter of No-Cut means that I keep anyone who comes out. They practice with us, travel when they can, and many times get to play practice matches. They don’t just feel like part of the team — they actually are. The support we received from the FHSAA has made a huge difference this year.

“Growing this program is just the first step in growing the opportunity for high school tennis in years to come.”

Tony Lilly, the head men’s and women’s coach at Monsignor Pace High School, was one recipient from the program.

“As Thad stated in his letter, ‘I understand the value of tennis balls and how every little bit helps’ — this could not be more meaningful in our situation, and I’m sure for many programs throughout the nation with limited funding and resources.”

High school tennis and providing additional opportunities for players and coaches is high on the Florida tennis radar, along with collaborating with state and local coordinators, according to USTA Florida Associate Executive Director of Recreational Tennis Andy McFarland.

“High school tennis coaches and players are a demographic USTA Florida is looking to get more involved with these next few years,” McFarland said. “From offering education and resources to providing off-season Junior Team Tennis play opportunities, we at USTA Florida need to do a better job collaborating together with coaches and players. Building a sound relationship with FHSAA is a start in the right direction.”

For more information on No-Cut tennis go to

www.usta.com/Youth-Tennis/Schools/HighSchool

5K Walk/Run

The PFC Bruce W. Carter Young Marines of Miami Dade is hosting its first 5k Walk/Run in honor of the Medal of Honor recipient who sacrificed his life fighting in Vietnam. The event is May 7 at the Village of Virginia Gardens Pavilion, 6500 NW 38 Ter.

Raised in Virginia Gardens, PFC Carter was a native Floridian, who diligently served his country.

Previously known as the Young Marines of Miami-Dade County, the unit was proud to have adopted the name PFC Bruce W. Carter Young Marines of Miami Dade because the legacy of this fine young man has inspired many boys and girls to pursue a life of dignity, respect and leadership. Though he left us too soon, PFC Carter’s life has stood as a testament to his courage and fortitude.

Community service is an integral part of the PFC Bruce W. Carter Young Marines ofMiami Dade unit’s day-in and day-out activities. As a 501 (3) c, non-profit organization, making this 5k Walk/Run possible is yet another testament of how these kids work conscientiously to remind others how important it is to give back to their community, while choosing a life of service and loyalty.

As a fundraiser, the 5k Walk/Run will help support the PFC Bruce C. Carter Young Marines of Miami Dade’s mission and also provide scholarships and leadership school opportunities for the unit.

The PFC Bruce C. Carter Young Marines of Miami Dade 5k Walk/Run will run on the very street named after PFC Carter, which is a great way to involve the Virginia Gardens community in something positive.

Sponsorship opportunities are available by calling Lisbeth Colon at 305-607-3030. Volunteers can contact Zenith Gordillo at 305-606-4011. For information about the program visit

www.youngmarines.com or log on directly to the Facebook Page

https://www.facebook.com/PFCBruceWCarterYoungMarines

UM Sports Hall of Fame

The University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame holds its 48th Annual UMSHoF Induction Banquet on Thursday, March 31 at Jungle Island in Miami.

Headlining the class are 2001 football National Champions Willis McGahee and Joaquin Gonzalez; , Miami's first African-American basketball player Will Allen and World Series Champion Jon Jay. The stellar class also includes women’s tennis great Megan Bradley, football’s John Mackey Award winner Kellen Winslow, Jr., women’s basketball’s all-time leading scorer Tamara James and two-time National Champion swimming coach Charlie Hodgson.

“The University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame is pleased to induct its 2016 class that once again represents some of the finest athletes and coaches to wear the Orange, Green and White,” said UMSHoF President Gerard Loisel. “We are proud to recognize their accomplishments as we welcome them into the UM Sports Hall of Fame.”

UM Athletic Director Blake James said: “The UM Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2016 is representative of the excellence displayed by the thousands of Hurricane coaches and athletes over the years. The individuals to be honored achieved remarkable success during their time in Coral Gables and, for many, on fields and courts well beyond South Florida. On behalf of the Hurricane Family, I want to congratulate all of the inductees and to thank them for their contributions to The U.”

Tickets for the 48th Annual UMSHoF Induction Banquet are $100 each, or a table of 10 for $1,000 In addition, a Super Table of 10 can be purchased for $1,500, which includes preferred seating and a 1 /4 page advertisement in the banquet program. For information contact the UMSHoF at 305-284-2775 or go to UMSportsHallofFame.com.

The University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame is a non-profit organization founded in 1966 by eight Dade County Circuit Court judges, Miami alumni, who wanted to establish an organization that would recognize those student-athletes, coaches and administrators who excelled at their sport and brought acclaim to the University through their achievements and championships. With the addition of the Class of 2016, only 300 honorees will have been inducted into the Hall.

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 golf and tennis invitational meets will occur at various locations throughout Miami-Dade County in 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.

Golf - Briar Bay Golf Course: Wednesday, April 6 at 10 a.m.

Tennis - Tropical Tennis Center: Saturday, April 9 at 8:30 a.m.

Visit fairexpo.com

http://www.thefair.me/thefair/index.php

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 golf and tennis tournaments are in April. All events will occur at various locations throughout Miami-Dade County.

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.

Visit fairexpo.com

http://www.thefair.me/thefair/index.php

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

FloridaPanthers.com/TryHockey.

The schedule includes:

Kendall Ice Arena, 10355 Hammocks Blvd., Miami, 33196.

March 13: Noon-1 p.m. March 20: Noon-1 p.m. March 26: 1-2 p.m. April 10: Noon-1 p.m.

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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