Youth Sports

Miami football star Andre Johnson honored by Opa-locka

Standout college and NFL receiver Andre Johnson shows the new scoreboard sign created for the football field at Opa-locka’s Ingram Park. A Miami Senior High School grad, he is surrounded by community youth, his former coaches and Opa-locka Commission members including Coach/Commissioner Joseph L. Kelley, Vice Mayor Timothy Holmes, Commissioner Luis B. Santiago, Ed Brown, Commissioner Terence K. Pinder and Coach Andre Whittle. The sign will receive a makeover to change Johnson’s jersey to one he wore with the University of Miami.
Standout college and NFL receiver Andre Johnson shows the new scoreboard sign created for the football field at Opa-locka’s Ingram Park. A Miami Senior High School grad, he is surrounded by community youth, his former coaches and Opa-locka Commission members including Coach/Commissioner Joseph L. Kelley, Vice Mayor Timothy Holmes, Commissioner Luis B. Santiago, Ed Brown, Commissioner Terence K. Pinder and Coach Andre Whittle. The sign will receive a makeover to change Johnson’s jersey to one he wore with the University of Miami.

Accompanied by the City of Opa-locka Mayor and Commission in March at the regular commission meeting in the Sherbondy Village Auditorium, Commissioner Terence K. Pinder presented NFL receiver Andre Johnson a proclamation for his achievements in football and for his humanitarian contributions off the field.

Johnson also learned that the resolution to name the Ingram Park football field -- sponsored by all five commission members -- in honor of him, passed. Surrounded by family, friends, fans, former coaches and many of the youth who currently participating in sports activities on the Opa-locka Parks and Recreation “Field of Dreams,” Johnson said he was “truly humbled and grateful to have a football field named after him.” He added he doesn’t have a time frame, but he will be return to help the neighborhood kids, the way others in Opa-locka once helped him reach his full potential.

Johnson was honored by Mayor Myra Taylor, Vice Mayor Timothy Holmes, Commission Joseph L. Kelley, Commissioner Luis B. Santiago and Commissioner Terence K. Pinder. The Mayor, who is now an Andre Johnson enthusiast, said she is depending on him to reach the youth of the Opa-locka community, when he returns home.

Commissioner Pinder said, “the community people planted the seeds that grew trees and produced the fruit that they would never eat from…That fruit is Andre Johnson.”

Pinder, who was a cameraman for the City of Opa-locka when Johnson was an member of the Optimist club, said he knew Johnson when he played quarterback, but was surprised to discover he was a receiver during his professional career. Nevertheless, he was proud to see how well Johnson positioned himself as a product from the City of Opa-locka’s sports program.

Vice Mayor Holmes reminded Johnson of the many youth who have been murdered in violent crimes lately and asked him to continue doing his best work to bring back hope and optimism not only to the community, but across the country.

Commissioner Santiago commented, “…You are part of the good things here.”

Commissioner Kelley, who coached Johnson as a kid, said, “I watched him and his brother grow-up on the park. Andre, you are planting seeds.”

They all concluded that today’s youth have no idea of the struggles that occurred for Johnson to play on that field. After Coach Ed Brown read the proclamation, he commented that Johnson has “done what was asked of him as a role model.”

Brown added, “If you can get just one to be successful, you have done what is required of you.”

Proving that it took a village input to provide the tools and motivation, another of Johnson’s coaches, Andre Whittle, was present. Friends with Andre’s mother for years, Whittle coach Johnson from the time he was a child.

In 2003, Andre Lamont Johnson was drafted third overall pick into the NFL by the Houston Texans, where he played for 12 years before becoming a receiver for the Indianapolis Colts. Currently, ninth all-time in NFL career receptions, and 11th in receiving yards, Johnson holds nearly every receiving record with the Texans.

A 1999 graduate from Miami Senior High School, Johnson was rated one of the top football prospects in the country, and he was named a Parade All-American. Johnson chose to remain in South Florida for his college career by enrolling at the University of Miami,where he was a receiver on the Hurricanes football team. He earned Co-MVP of the 2002 Rose Bowl where the Hurricanes defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers 37-14, to cap an undefeated season and their fifth national championship. Johnson’s 1,831 receiving yards is ranked fifth on the University of Miami's all-time career list. In 2014, he was inducted into the University of Miami’s Sports Hall of Fame. Johnson also ran for the Hurricanes’ track & field team, winning the 2002 Big East 60 and 100 meter dash as well as a career-best in the finals of the 2003 FHSAA Class 3A Championships.

In 2003 Johnson founded the Andre Johnson Foundation for children and teens growing-up in single-parent homes. In December 2012, Johnson made headlines around the world when his own foundation funded a shopping spree at Toys R’Us for more than $19,000 for youth, age 8 -16, in Child Protective Services to have a happy holiday season. He continues to participate annually.

Johnson also joined the Houston Police Department's Blue Santa program to surprise 800 students at Houston's Bastian Elementary School with Christmas presents.

Commissioner Pinder revealed that one change will be made to the scoreboard sign before it is placed. Johnson will be proudly wearing his University of Miami jersey, because, Pinder said, “This is home.”

Red Zone flag football

ROCC won the U12 Recreational Division Championship of the Red Zone Sports Youth Flag Football League.

Team Raiders won the U14 Recreational Division Championship. The Panthers won the U8 Division Championship.

All Stars won the U14 Pro Division Championship. Ryan Sports won the U12 Pro Division Championship. The Mighty Dolphins won the U6 Division Championship.

For more information on how to join, www.redzonesports.org

Suniland flag football

Sundevils Invitational Flag Football Two-Day Tournaments are May 14-15, May 28-29, June 11-12.

Divisions are 8U-5on5-$100 per team; 12U-7on7-$125 per team; 15U-7on7-$125 per team.

Registration is 6:30-8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays from now-June 9 at Suniland Park, 12855 S. Dixie Hwy., Village of Pinecrest

Contact Ken Hannah 786-606-4404, kenhanna12@gmail.com, or Alfred Dallas 305-310-5611.

Dolphins Cancer Challenge

The Dolphins Cancer Challenge announced an additional exclusive opportunity for the South Florida community to be cancer fighters. On April 4, the DCC will hold its inaugural DCC Celebrity Golf Tournament hosted by Turnberry Isle Resort & Golf Club.

Co-Chaired by Don Soffer and James Caan, the tournament will offer cancer fighters a chance to golf and interact with athletes and other celebrity guests. One hundred percent of the funds raised from the golf tournament will benefit Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami.

“The participants, donors and partners of the Dolphins Cancer Challenge are dedicated to improving people’s lives through the financial support of innovative cancer research,” Miami Dolphins President & CEO and DCC VI Chair Tom Garfinkel said. “We wanted to expand the scope of ways for anyone to be a cancer fighter. This golf tournament provides an additional opportunity – along with our bike ride, 5k run/walk, Fall Family Fest and concert to help in this fight.”

Players will enjoy a complimentary, VIP shopping experience at the Pro Shop onsite exclusively for the DCC Celebrity Golf Tournament. Signature food and drinks will be served on the course with a cocktail reception and awards ceremony to end the day. Golfers will tee off for a round of scramble-golf on the world-famous Soffer Course, home to a number of LPGA and PGA events.

Additional sponsorship opportunities are still available. To register for a foursome, visit

www.DolphinsCancerChallenge.com

About Dolphins Cancer Challenge

The Dolphins Cancer Challenge was founded in 2010 by the Miami Dolphins organization as the signature initiative of the Foundation’s health pillar. In part inspired by Dolphins alumnus and long-time radio voice Jim “Mad Dog” Mandich’s courageous battle with cancer, the DCC’s mission is to improve people’s lives through financial support for innovative cancer research at South Florida’s only academic-based cancer center – Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami.

Since its inception, the DCC has raised more than $11.55 million, donating 100 percent of participant-raised funds to Sylvester. For additional information, call 305-943-6799 or visit

www.DolphinsCancerChallenge.com

DCC can be found on Facebook at facebook.com/RideDCC and on Twitter at @TackleCancer.

Miami Country Day basketball

The Miami Country Day School boys’ varsity basketball team went 17-11 and captured its first district title since 2011. The Spartans also advanced to the regional semifinals.

The boys faced a tough schedule throughout the year, traveling to South Carolina for the Bojangles Bash and also to Tampa for the Wally Keller Tournament. They had key wins against 3A State Finalist Westminster Academy, SLAM and Tampa Prep. They were led by outstanding play from junior forward Ibrahim Doumbia, point guard Mick Lynott and junior Anthony Cambo. They had two seniors on the team.

The Miami Country Day School boys’ JV basketball team was 5-14 with two wins each against Divine Savior and Curley and a victory over Doctors Charter.

The Spartans were comprised of mostly freshmen with a few sophomores and two middle schoolers. Chaz Berkowitz, Gaetano Onorato, Franco Gonzalez and Evan Mendelson led the way. Seventh grader Reggie Luis saw a lot of action.

Barry basketball

The Barry University men’s basketball team came from behind to defeat No.12 Alabama-Huntsville 87-83 in front of 2,509 fans at Spragins Hall to capture the NCAA Division II South Region championship in Huntsville, Ala.

It is the first outright title in the program’s history.

Yunio Barrueta (Hialeah Gardens HS) and Elvar Fridriksson each scored 21 points for the Bucs, who erased a 12-point deficit to outscore the Chargers 47-35 in the second half. Barrueta was eight of 17 from the floor and had eight boards and two steals. Fridriksson hit five of 10 from downtown and had five assists and seven rebounds. Adrian Gonzalez scored 14 points, and Undra Mitchem added 12.

Barry improved to 26-6. Huntsville finished 25-8.

Miami Country Day sports

Miami Country Day School: Middle School Female Athlete of the Week: Allexii Bassette (varsity tennis) won her singles and doubles matches against Palmer-Trinity and singles match against Divine Savior.

Middle School Male Athlete of the Week: Daniel Saydkhuzhin (baseball) went 4 for 6 with two RBI in a double-header against Doctors Charter and was 2 for 2 in his high school debut against Archbishop Curley.

Upper School Female Athlete of the Week: Taylor Sennett (softball) combined for seven hits, including two doubles, a triple and a grand slam, scored seven runs, and had 10 RBI against LaSalle, SLAM, and Palmer-Trinity.

Upper School Male Athlete of the Week: Evan Meiselman (tennis) won his singles and doubles matches against Palmer-Trinity and Divine Savior.

Tennis

Teenager Katerina Stewart of Coral Gables won her second consecutive ITF-level pro title in two weeks, raising the trophy this time in Orlando.

After finishing first in the tournament in Weston, the 18-year-old Stewart followed up by winning the Orlando Women’s $10,000 Tournament.

In the finals, she beat American qualifier Grace Min 6-4, 6-3. In the semifinals, the No.2-seeded Stewart survived a tough three-set encounter with Germany’s Julia Wachaczyk, and Min upset No.1 seed Jessica Pegula in straight sets.

It was Stewart’s eighth career ITF-level singles title.

Local soccer

Miami Country Day School sophomore Laurel Ivory was voted outstanding goalkeeper of the CONCACAF Tournament in St. George’s, Grenada.

Representing the U.S. women’s under-17 national team, Ivory helped the Americans qualify for the U17 World Cup in September in Jordan.

Ivory also plays for the Sunrise Soccer Club travel team. Her Sting teammate, forward Samantha Earle, is from Miami, too, competing for Gulliver Prep.

Speaking of Sunrise SC, the Sting under-15 girls’ travel team qualified for the 2016 US Youth Soccer National Championships. That team features two players from Miami-Dade County.

Forward Stephanie Cuan is from Miami Springs, and defender Sydney Waiters is from Miami Lakes. Cuan also plays for LaSalle High School and Waiters for American Heritage in Plantation.

More events, leagues, programs

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.

Self defense

A class in Israeli self-defense is 2-4 p.m. Sunday, April 17 at the Alper Jewish Community Center in Kendall.

Philip Glikman, expert instructor, will conduct the class for all levels, using the Operative Emeth Krav Maga System (how to defend yourself efficiently in the real world; relieve stress; get into the best shape of your life, becoming mentally and physically stronger).

Individual fee $30. Parent and child (mature teen) $50. Advance reservation required: 305-271-9000, ext. 284.

Best Buddies walk

Best Buddies International, a groundbreaking nonprofit founded in 1989 by Anthony K. Shriver to establish a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, announces its 2016 South Florida Friendship Walk on Saturday, April 23 at the Museum Park in Miami

The event will feature the state walk honoree, long-time Best Buddies supporter and employer of individuals with IDD, Holland & Knight, an international law firm that has been recognized for its leadership in employing individuals with IDD.

The Best Buddies Friendship Walk in South Florida is the latest life-changing movement created By Best Buddies. Since 2009, more than 55,000 participants have walked in more than 26 states and three countries, raising more than $5 million for Best Buddies. The Friendship Walk changes lives, as participants walk for inclusion, friendship, leadership, and opportunity for people with and without Intellectual and Developmental disabilities.

“We are thrilled to host the Friendship Walk and further involve the South Florida community with Best Buddies,” said Anthony K. Shriver, Founder and Chairman of Best Buddies International. “This community is passionate about supporting Best Buddies’ mission of friendship and social inclusion. It is such an incredible feeling to know that every participant and team is walking to improve the lives of those with IDD, and to create a more inclusive work force for those with special needs.”

The event will bring together some of South Florida’s most notable residents and celebrity supporters. Among those expected to attend are: Anthony K. Shriver; Pop-Artist Romero Britto; Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine; Desperate Housewives of Miami actors; Miss Teen USA 2015 Katherine Haik and Miss USA 2015 Olivia Jordan; WSVN Anchor Craig Stevens; Major League Baseball legend Sammy Sosa; the NBA’s Miami Heat Cheerleaders; and more.

Best Buddies South Florida is proud to have 3,000 (and counting) participants lacing up their shoes to walk for inclusion this month. Registration begins at 9 a.m. and commences at 10 a.m. at Museum Park in Downtown Miami, 1075 Biscayne Boulevard. Following the Walk, please join Best Buddies for a day of fun, family, fitness and friendship.

Those interested in participating in the Friendship Walk are encouraged to register on the walk website: bestbuddies.org/soflowalk. Participants can create or join a team to raise awareness and funds with family, friends, and co-workers. Best Buddies South Florida also welcomes volunteers for the day of the event. Volunteers may also register on the Friendship Walk website.

Proceeds from the Friendship Walk play a fundamental part in funding our state programs that provides one-to-one friendships, leadership development and integrated job opportunities for individuals with IDD. These programs can be found in all 50 states and will create promising opportunities for more than 350,000 people this year.

Walk for inclusion. Walk for friendship. Walk for a better community.

Friendship Walk sponsors include: Royal Media; Starwood Property Trust; Holland & Knight; Gray Robinson; Inktel; City of Hialeah; Accessible Home Healthcare; MasterCard; Tusk Ventures; Design District; Britto; TUUCI; City of North Bay Village; Nordstrom; Turnberry; Celebrity Cruises; Genovese Joblove and Batista; FedEx; Mercedes-Benz of Coral Gables; Foster Morales; Riverloft Capital; Hollywood Animal Hospital; Zumba.

ABOUT BEST BUDDIES INTERNATIONAL:

Best Buddies is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Founded in 1989 by Anthony K. Shriver, Best Buddies is a vibrant organization that has grown from one original chapter to more than 1,900 middle school, high school and college chapters worldwide.

Today, Best Buddies’ eight formal programs — Middle Schools, High Schools, Colleges, Citizens, e-Buddies® , Jobs, Ambassadors, and Promoters — engage participants in each of the 50 states and in over 50 countries, positively impacting the lives of more than 900,000 people with and without disabilities around the world. In many cases, as a result of their involvement with Best Buddies, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities secure rewarding jobs, live on their own, become inspirational leaders, and make lifelong friendships.

For information, visit www.bestbuddies.org,

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

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

Sunshine State Games

Get into the 2016 Olympic Games spirit by competing in one of more than 25 Sunshine State Games sports between now and November. The 37th annual Sunshine State Games are Florida’s own Olympic-style Sports Festival.

The Games continue May 13-15 when Figure Skating and Rugby are contested in Broward County. Online registration is now open for both sports of the Broward Spring Festival and all other sports of the Games at

www.sunshinestategames.com and more information is available by email at

games@flasports.com or calling toll-free 866-354-2637.

The Broward County Spring Festival begins a plethora of SSG activity with six of the next seven weekends featuring amateur sports competitions through June 25.

Two multi-sport festivals will be in Manatee and Sarasota counties the weekend of June 11-12 and Palm Beach County June 18-19.

Two sports that returned to SSG action in 2015 (BMX Cycling and Boxing) are back for 2016, and Baton Twirling debuts in 2016 as part of a Fall Festival in Vero Beach, along with Lacrosse. Beach Ultimate returns in 2016 as part of a Beach Festival in Clearwater in September, featuring Beach Tennis and other sports.

The Sunshine State Games are an annual program presented by the Florida Sports Foundation, in conjunction with local sports commissions.

For more information visit

www.sunshinestatemgames.com, email

games@flasports.com or call toll-free 866-354-2637. Follow the Sunshine State Games on Facebook

www.facebook.com/sunshinestategames

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.

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.

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

Be honored for academics, sportsmanship at Miami Marlins game

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

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

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

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

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

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