Highlands, Blanche Ely win titles

Posted on 05 May 2016 by LeslieM

sports050516By Gary Curreri

Blanche Ely and Highlands Christian Academy raced to their respective regional track championships last week.

For Highlands Christian, it was the first regional track championship in school history, and, defeated defending state champion Westminster Academy. The Knights boys and girls teams will send 15 state qualifiers in 20 events.

Highlands Christian’s Ryan Szklany was a double winner as he captured the 1,600 (4:31.23) and 3,200-meter runs (10:04.18) in the Region 4-1A meet. Highlands Boys placed first with 113 points over defending state champs Westminster Academy, who finished at 88.

Highlands Christian runners that placed second included Hunter Walton (800), Delimar Martina (high jump), Scott Bush (pole vault), Chris Julien (100). Placing third for Highlands was Kenny Armstrong (shot put and discus) and Jake Petersen (110 and 300 hurdles).

On the girls’ side, Sara Carroll won four events (high jump, triple jump, 100 and 300 hurdles). Abby Simpson placed third in the 300 hurdles, while Sydney Blackburn placed third in both the shot and the discus. Highlands girls placed third (72 points) behind South Florida Heat (133 points) and Westminster Christian School (Miami) (98.5 points).

I am very proud of both the boys and the girls,” said Highlands Christian coach Jarod Ebenhack. “We knew at the end of last year that our boys would be as strong if not stronger than Westminster coming into the season, but we also knew that the athletes at Westminster are seasoned competitors and champions who would not be easy to beat.

We conditioned hard all year long to make this a reality and we faced some adversity,” added Ebenhack, who lost their top 400-meter runner, Steven Ludwig, to a collapsed lung, and then Elijah Kerr to a broken foot the weekend before regionals. “Those two represented a large amount of points to our team. The team took on the challenge of filling the holes left by the loss of these two senior leaders. Our field events, in particular, rose to the challenge, and scored more points than I was expecting.”

Host Blanche Ely ran away with the boys’ crown in the Region 4-3A meet as it finished with 118-1/2 points. The Tigers’ boys’ 4×800-meter relay set the tone early, as Sueil Foucha, James Walker, Syvenson Noel and Roderic Wilson ran an 8:02.11.

I’ve got a lot of 12th-graders that really worked hard to get to this point,” said Blanche Ely coach Anthony Jordan. “Last year a few that got to state, they got to state and didn’t do anything. This year they are focused on winning it.”

Blanche Ely senior Jacee Simon won the high jump with a leap of 6 ft., 6 in., while University of Cincinnati football signee, senior Thomas Geddis, won the 200 in 21.54. Ely senior Arthur Forrest placed second in the 100 with a time of 10.88, while Wilson also took second in the 800 (1:56.57).

The top four competitors in each event qualified for the state meet, set for May 6-7 at IMG Academy in Bradenton.

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Highlands hopes for regional title

Posted on 28 April 2016 by LeslieM

SPORTS042816By Gary Curreri

Highlands Christian Academy head track coach Jarod Ebenhack laughs at the notion that the school should invest in a track.

With the success the boys and girls varsity teams have had the past several years, at the very least, it makes for some lighthearted discussion.

It’s a matter of funding,” said Ebenhack, who has been at the school the past four years and guided the team to three boys district championships in the past four years (2014 they were second) and district titles for the girls in 2013 and 2015. The team was runner-up in 2014 and this year. The girls’ squad this year is composed mostly of middle schoolers, while the boys are made up of mostly upper classmen. “To build a basic track would cost around $300,000.

If we wanted a really good track, it would run about $700,000,” Ebenhack added. “We have everything else – shot put, pole vault and high jump pits, along with long jump and triple jump pits. We practice on various fields around campus and I actually paint a 400-meter track with all of the marks for hurdles and exchange zones around the football field. I think it makes it easier for us because we train in the grass and on the sand, that we go even faster on a track because we are running on a faster surface.”

The boys’ team suffered a tough blow this weekend as soccer standout Elijah Kerr, who runs the leadoff leg for the region’s second ranked 4×100 relay and is the anchor leg for the top-ranked 4×800 relay, broke his foot playing soccer and is out.

We have good replacements, but it definitely affects the certainty of our performance when you are putting two guys in there who haven’t practiced it regularly,” Ebenhack said. Until 2013, the boys had never won a district championship in track before.

Sophomore Ryan Szklany is the school’s top distance runner with school records in both the 1,600-meter run (4:28) and the 3,200-meter run (9:44). Senior Hunter Walton just eclipsed the school record in the 800-meter dash (2:03).

Senior Chris Julien, the school record holder in the 100-meter dash (11.07) who finished seventh at state last year after winning the regional title in the 100, could win both the 100 and 200-meter dashes at the regional meet.

Junior Justin Ebenhack is on three relays that have school records and is the district champion in the 400-meter dash; Senior Kenny Armstrong won the district titles in both shot put and discus.

Junior Sara Carroll qualified in four events for states the past two years and is hoping to do the same this year. She is also the school record holder in those events – 100-meter hurdles (15.9), 300-meter hurdles (47.99), triple jump (35-10) and high jump (5-4).

I think the future is really bright for the girls and they can really be dominant for years to come if they stick together,” said Ebenhack, who had started an elementary school track program a couple of years ago. “The majority of our girls team is middle schoolers.

We have a lot of really good young athletes. We are just going to get better.”

The boys were the top-ranked team headed in the regional. The other teams expected to contend for a regional title are Westminster Academy and the South Florida Heat. The girls were expected to finish in the top 5.

It’s awesome to see them perform,” said Ebenhack, whose boys cross country team has won four consecutive district titles. “They have caught the vision of what kind of work ethic it takes to do it.

Originally, I really had to push them,” Ebenhack said. “In the past I really had to push them. I am at the point now where I just give them a workout for the day and they will push each other. They will be cheering on each other. It is exciting to see.”

The team has about 70 athletes in the overall program, including middle school and high schools. They are taking 26 to the regionals. Last year the team took 14 to state, which represented about 10 percent of the student body. There are about 160 students at the school this year.

I’d like to take most everybody to state this year,” Ebenhack said. “Everything will have to fall into place.”

 

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Cohn wins inaugural triathlon event

Posted on 21 April 2016 by LeslieM

sports042116By Gary Curreri

When Gus Cohn tells his friends that he competes in triathlons, he gets strange looks.

First,” said the freshman at Pompano Beach High School, “they ask me what it is. Then, I guess they dismiss the idea. “I prefer to be on my bike. I guess they find it strange, a little bit.”

Cohn recently placed first in the Boys 15-17 Division of the inaugural Boca Raton Youth Triathlon with a time of 19:29. The event featured 123 athletes ranging in age from 5 to15 and took place at the Peter Blum Family YMCA in Boca Raton. Cohn used to play basketball and football and eventually turned to triathlons.

I think it’s fun,” he said. “It’s three sports in one and you don’t get bored too much. Seeing yourself get faster is probably the most fun out of everything.”

There are simple goals when he competes, and considering he has only been racing for 2-1/2 years, he has been pleased with his progress. Cohn said he is not surprised at his success because he trains a lot and gets faster each time he goes out.

First, I am trying to beat everyone on the team,” said Cohn, who is a member of the South Florida Lightning Youth and Junior Triathlon Team, which trains locally. “I just give it all that I’ve got and see what my time is.

I think I am going to do this as a side hobby and an amateur sport,” Cohn said. “I am not looking to do this as a living. If I really, really enjoy it, maybe I will go to Ironman. I think the best part of the sport is that it builds character, and I like the biking.”

Youth and Juniors Triathlon is a rapid growing sport,” said South Florida Lightning Youth and Junior Triathlon Team coach Racheal Wood, of Deerfield Beach, who started the program in 2011. “It is perfect for young athletes, providing them with the chance to be well-rounded and develop a high level of physical fitness.”

Athletes on both teams are expected to attend practices on a regular basis. If you are interested in being a part of the team, contact Wood at rachealwood@gmail.com or 954-263-4588. You can also visit the website at www.sflightning.com.

Pompano hosts day at Marlins game

The City of Pompano Beach Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department has planned an event to see the Miami Marlins Baseball Team take on the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday, June 21.

The all-inclusive event includes a pre-game BBQ party beginning at 4 p.m., tickets, and transportation to and from the game. The bus will depart from the Herb Skolnick Community Center at 5 p.m. All ages are welcome and an adult must accompany children.

Tickets are only $50 per person and include the food party, round trip transportation and a home plate box seat (handicapped accessible).

Tickets can be purchased at the Herb Skolnick Community Center located at 800 SW 36 Ave., Pompano Beach, FL 33069. Tickets must be purchased by May 13. For more information, call 954-786-4590.

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Women in Distress tourney nets $16K

Posted on 07 April 2016 by LeslieM

sports040716By Gary Curreri

Like many of the other players in the tournament, Deerfield Beach’s Marilyn Guisti played for a cause and the competition.

It is very important to support women who are being battered and hopefully this will give them a lot of confidence to do what they have to do,” said Guisti, who was one of 128 golfers in the sold-out field for the 4th annual Women’s Invitational Golf Tournament to Benefit Women In Distress-Broward at Colony West Country Club in Tamarac. “It is very special to be with friends and help women who are being battered.”

Delray Beach’s Tina Ostrowski agreed. After she hit her tee shot into the rough at Colony West Country Club, she looked at her teammates and shrugged her shoulders.

That was a bad one, but the practice swing was good,” she said with a laugh. “I am a new golfer, so this is only my third tournament, but I am here with dear friends and we are here to support a wonderful cause. It’s great to be a part of it and I look forward to supporting it [for] many years to come.”

Nancy Hersey, Kathy Constantine, Mechelle Brown, and Shauna Federico won Low Gross honors in the tournament with a 63, while Cheryl Johnston, Pat Reid, Lora Hoffman, and Jen Gallaudet captured Low Net honors with a 43.2.

Pompano Beach’s Jan Parke, who chaired the event with Alberta Bove and Penny Eppy, said the fourth annual event has raised more than $37,000 during its history, including a record amount of $16,417.68 this year. That total easily surpassed last year’s previous total of nearly $6,000.

It’s grown by the number of players and the amount of money we are donating to Women in Distress,” Park said. The Colony West Women’s Golf Group hosted the event. “I feel it is an important tournament. It is a tournament by women to help women and Women in Distress is a really important charity.”

The first year, the tournament drew 84 players and raised a little more than $4,000. The tournament sold out for the second consecutive year with 128 players and has been held at Colony West Country Club all four years.

Parke said men have approached her suggesting a coed tournament.

We haven’t gotten to that point,” Parke said. “I know there is another tournament in the fall for Women in Distress that is a coed tournament, so ours is a spring, women’s only tournament.”

Parke said one of the things that stood out this year is the support of the community and the sponsors.

She said there were more auction items and drawing prizes. There were awards for low gross and 1-6 for low net. They received gift certificates. The Low Gross and Low Net winners each won a foursome at the course.

Events Coordinator for Women in Distress Eileen Trower said there are 3 to 4 main events and then smaller “third party” events such as the Colony West tournament. There are more than a dozen third party events annually.

This isn’t considered a main event; however, it is gradually getting closer to that,” Trower said. “The money covers everything…the organization offers [to] the women in the shelter, women in the outreach program…just any of the women, men or children that live in our facilities. It helps in so many ways.”

The shelter consists of 132 beds and there is an outreach program. Both operate at capacity.

As soon as someone leaves, there is someone else who comes right into the facility,” Trower said. “It is very gratifying to know that there are people out there willing to support the organization. It is just amazing. Just the work that goes into organizing something like this is just incredible and we are so thankful for that.”

It does bring awareness to domestic violence,” Trower added. “Events like these, the ultimate goal is to stop domestic violence. With everyone doing events like this, the awareness and the monies brought in to help the individuals we serve, will help us end domestic violence for everyone.”

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Baseball School expanding

Posted on 31 March 2016 by LeslieM

sports033116By Gary Curreri

When it comes to the expansion of the South Florida Baseball School, Bruce Charlebois said his prayers have been answered – literally.

We have wanted to run a home school division, which is something that we have been praying for a long time and God has answered that prayer with Marc (Carpiniello) and his family,” said Charlebois, owner of the school and head baseball coach at Highlands Christian Academy, where the school is located. “We have also started a softball division this year and that has been another desire of ours for years.

That is ridiculously great!” Charlebois added. “People believe in our system and we have been able to help in the area of character and baseball training throughout the years and people are investing in us. Again, it is a miracle that we get to do this and people love us enough to invest in what we are doing.”

Charlebois, 49, of Deerfield Beach, said the school is celebrating its 20th anniversary and adding a home school division was just a natural progression.

Carpiniello, 45, also of Deerfield Beach, said the home school division for children ages 6 to 13 began a few months ago with a Tuesday camp and just three players. It has since grown to 14.

I think it is more of a want, than a need,” said Carpiniello, who home schools his children, Vince, 7, and Jami and Justin, twin 6-year-olds. He coaches his children in several leagues and about 30 games each, however, there are not many practices.

Even though my kids adapt quickly and make friends fast they are still not in the same circles as most of the other boys since they are home schooled,” Carpiniello said. “With our program, we do a little skill training with them and then break into a wiffle ball or tennis ball game. We will then do some speed and agility, and then some baseball. We will also focus on the pitchers and catchers a little bit. I think it is huge for the kids to be able to play with their friends. They like that they have a league of their own.”

The South Florida Baseball School recently broke ground on a brand new state-of-the-art, 6,000-sq. ft. indoor hitting and pitching facility, currently being built with completion expected by June. They have also added “Rookie Ball” for kids ages 2-5, a softball division, clinics for little league players and coaches.

The hitting and pitching facility is a game-changer for us as far as the academy goes,” Charlebois said. “It will be built where the exiting hitting area and bullpen area is. It is down the left field line.”

Charlebois said the schedule varies depending on the time of the season.

We have home school stuff available at any time during the day – from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and our prime time schedule is available from 3:30 to 8:30 p.m. during the week,” said Charlebois, who also offers private lessons, small groups and team workouts. “We have Saturdays all day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. We also have winter and summer camps. We had a three-day power camp during winter break.”

Looking back over the 20 years, is there one thing that stands out?

For the baseball academy, the best memory would, honestly. be God bringing Marc and his family into our lives,” Charlebois said. “His excellent wife Janis has built our website and is doing administrative work for us.

We have done a lot over the years,” he added. “We have guys in the big leagues with Mike Fiers (Houston Astros) and Michael Taylor (Washington Nationals), both guys who trained in our academy. We also have a number of guys who are in pro ball or Division 1 in college.”

For more information, visit southfloridabaseballschool.com, or call 954-326-2373.

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Ely goes back-to-back

Posted on 24 March 2016 by LeslieM

sports032416By Gary Curreri

When it comes to boys’ basketball at Blanche Ely High School, Coach Melvin Randall doesn’t rebuild. He doesn’t reload. He just finds a way to repeat.

Despite early struggles this season, the Tigers (20-13) found a way to roll off five wins in a row at the end of the season to win its second consecutive Class 7A state championship with an 84-70 victory over St. Petersburg at the Lakeland Center.

St. Petersburg (27-7) had won 12 in a row and 18 of 19 – the only loss was a 62-61 defeat to Wellington. Blanche Ely’s victory was the sixth overall for the school and fourth in the past five years, and fifth since 2007.

It was all a setup,” Ely coach Melvin Randall joked following the contest. “We took all the losses we could so we could come in the back door and do this again. Seriously, though, this team could have laid down, but they worked extremely hard, and, as a result, we’re state champions. This is sweeter even than 28-0.”

Randall was referring to last season’s 28-0 mark. This year’s team started off slowly, but, like most years, found a way to peak at the right time and helped Randall win a state-record seventh state championship as a coach. With the win, Randall surpassed Miami Norland coach Lawton Williams III, and Dillard’s Darryl Burrows, who each have six state titles.

Despite returning just three players from last year’s squad, Randall said it took time for the team to put things together. Injuries didn’t help either as the Tigers found itself at 12-11 at one point late in the season, including a four-game losing skid at one point – something Randall had never experienced in his illustrious 24-year career where he has amassed 555 victories.

It has been an up and down year,” Randall said. “The youngsters started peaking at the right time. I think a lot of it had to do with the schedule that I presented to them. We definitely took some beatings, but we played against the best.

I thought they had it in them,” Randall said. “They kept their composure when they had to. I am just pleased. There were times during the season where I had to grab myself and realize how young they are. We had to keep fighting and keep fighting. As a coach, I could have laid down and made excuses that I had all babies and was just going to burn this year, but the kids just fought and fought and, as a result, we finished the job.”

In the title game, junior forward William Maloney finished with a game-high 20 points, while junior guard Geremy Taylor posted a triple-double, finishing with 12 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

Senior forward Trevor Goodrum Jr. (12 points, three steals and three rebounds); sophomore guard Michael Forrest (12 points); freshman power forward Joshua Scott (11 points) and senior guard Mark Houston (10 points) all contributed to the title.

We always felt like we had it in us to come together,” Goodrum said. “We just had to join together as a team and work hard at practice. That was the way we were going to go back to states. We had to go all out and come together as a team and, once we did that, we knew it would happen.”

Goodrum said there were doubts.

We knew we had to stay together as a team,” he added. “We were a family and we knew if we stayed together we could do whatever we wanted to accomplish. The only thing on my mind was getting another ring. I wanted two on my fingers.”

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Bucks fall in regional semifinals

Posted on 17 March 2016 by LeslieM

sports031716By Gary Curreri

Although it wasn’t the storybook ending Deerfield Beach High School girls basketball coach Portia Williams had hoped for, it was a step in the right direction.

Host Boca Raton (26-7) jumped out to an early 13-2 lead and cruised to a 71-47 win over Deerfield Beach (25-7) at home in a Class 8A regional final game. The Bobcats went on to fall to Vero Beach, 77-68, in overtime in the state championship contest.

The Bucks got an unexpected boost from 5 ft., 5 in. freshman guard DenAsia Mitchell, who averaged 10.4 points, 4.3 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 4 steals a game. Mitchell believed she had an opportunity to have a featured role this season after finishing up her middle school career at Carver Middle School in Delray Beach.

It was a good season and it was good for my first full year,” Mitchell said. “It is a lot of pressure because I was a freshman and a co-captain. It is a big learning curve for me if I want to get better and go to college.”

Deerfield Beach coach Portia Williams was pleased with her team’s effort this season.

This was a group of young energetic girls that were trying to gel day by day,” said Williams, who was in her 15th season as a coach. “They worked hard and I just had to try and keep them focused. It is a talented group of girls.

As a 9th grader and seeing a point guard with (Mitchell’s) skill set and knowing the game like her, I just haven’t seen that in a long time,” Williams added, “I was surprised. We told them all season to stay focused and take it game by game. We just have to continue to work on little fundamental things with them.”

Wilburn hired by Tigers

Blanche Ely has hired Carl Wilburn as its new football coach succeeding Nakia Jenkins, who resigned in January after two years with the program.

Wilburn, 51, who has coached 27 years in Broward County, has been a head coach at Northeast and Coconut Creek, in addition to serving as a defensive assistant at Miramar, Dillard and Blanche Ely.

Wilburn takes over a Tigers’ program that finished 2-9 under Jenkins and fell in the Class 7A regional quarterfinals. Blanche Ely has reached the postseason 16 of the last 18 seasons, highlighted by a Class 5A state championship in 2002.

There’s a lot of pride in that community,” Wilburn said. “I think that was the biggest thing to draw me. We have to work harder than anyone else.”

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Record crowd turns out for Honda Classic

Posted on 10 March 2016 by LeslieM

SPORTS031016By Sandy Johnson

The Honda Classic Golf Tournament was played at PGA National Golf Course in Palm Beach Gardens in front of a record crowd of over 200,000 people.

This is a tribute to the connection that the Honda Classic has made with the community. People enjoy coming out to the tournament and they have a great time once they are here,” said tournament executive director Ken Kennerly.

They were not disappointed by the golfing action that they saw.

Adam Scott held off Sergio Garcia in an exciting down-to-the-final-hole nail biter! But equally important to the pleasure of watching the tournament is the amazing impact it has on the local community. Children’s Health Care Charity contributes to Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation (founded by golfing great Jack Nicklaus) as the major benefactor of the tournament. Over the years, the Honda has given more than $28 million to this foundation and other local children’s charities. This is made possible by the folks that attend, the sponsors, the staff, but, even more so by the thousands of volunteer hours put in by locals.

The CouTOURe Club is a group of over 100 gals who run the hospitality tents all over the course, easily identified by their distinctive pink outfits that change daily. They are on-hand the whole week to make sure everyone is met with a smile and any problems are worked out.

These ladies do not stop at just working the Honda, but have many projects they work on all year long. Next up is gathering an array of gently-used jewelry, then going to the Grove Park Elementary School to let the students “shop” for a piece of jewelry to give to their moms for Mother’s Day.

Another great volunteer effort goes into the Patriot’s Outpost that honors all veterans past and present [by giving them a] place to watch the tournament, a meal and thanks from everyone in the area. There was even a wall where one could go and write a message of thanks to these well-appreciated Americans.

An interesting fundraiser that everyone can participate in is the Birdies for Children program. Any group can get involved with this. Individuals or businesses can solicit donations in the name of their favorite charity. Checks are sent to the Honda and they send a donation for the full amount plus a 10 percent donation from them to the charity. As a bonus, you get a chance to guess how many birdies will be made in the tournament. Winner receives a brand new Honda! Honda has been sponsoring this tournament for 35 years and has just signed on to continue for the next five years.

So go to the Honda Classic website and think about volunteering next year. Teens are welcome too! www.thehondaclassic.com.

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Johnson gets first ace

Posted on 03 March 2016 by LeslieM

sports030316johnsonBy Gary Curreri

At 81 years of age, Pompano Beach’s Bob Johnson finally got it right.

Johnson recently used a pitching wedge on the Par-3, 115-yard seventh hole on the Greg Norman Signature Pines Course at the City of Pompano Golf Course to pick up his first ever hole-in-one.

Was I lucky or what?” asked Johnson, who was playing in the weekly Pompano Beach Men’s Golf Association tournament. “Fifty years I have been playing and I never came close.”

I just hit it right,” Johnson laughed. “It is pretty amazing for an old bastard like me. The only thing I thought of was that I had good contact. I never thought it was going to be a hole-in-one. It was a thrill. It was a nice feeling, especially after playing all of those years.”

When he returned to the clubhouse, he had to buy drinks for his fellow golfers, as is tradition for someone getting a hole-in-one.

Of course everybody busted me, I had to buy the drinks for everyone,” Johnson said. “The first thing they said was, ‘buy a drink.’ Thankfully, they don’t drink much. If that happened 50 years ago, I’d probably still be there.”

How does he describe his game?

Not good,” he chuckled. “I am average player. I play three times a week – Monday, Wednesday and Friday.”

I haven’t come close since,” Johnson said. “I am lucky if I hit the green.”

Johnson did have one regret.

I should have said I was on a limited income,” Johnson added. His tab was helped out by a $100 check he received from a hole-in-one fund by the association.

Johnson still loves the camaraderie that the sport brings.

When you get to a certain age and you don’t work anymore, it is nice to go out and meet friends,” Johnson said. “That’s the fun part about it. I played sports all my life and I enjoy that part.”

Johnson said it was also fun for the family.

It was fun for my grandkids (Guy, Nick and Patricia) who came down to visit a week later,” Johnson said. “They got a thrill out of it. They are triplets and are 16 years old.”

sports030316harrisHarris hired as Highlands gridiron coach

Highlands Christian Academy has hired Josh Harris as its new varsity football coach.

Knight, who is currently teaching at Somerset Canyons in Boynton Beach and attends Boca Glades Baptist Church, played college football at the University of Miami a freshman before he transferred to Tennessee State University.

Harris was the assistant JV football coach at Miami Northwestern Senior High School in 2011; the assistant varsity football/defensive line coach at Doral Academy in 2012. In 2013, Harris was the assistant varsity football/defensive Coordinator for Somerset Academy in Pembroke Pines.

We are thrilled with Coach Harris accepting the position of Head Football Coach,” said Highlands Christian Academy Athletic Director Jim Good. Harris takes over a Knights program that went 2-7 last fall under interim coaches Sam Oge and Max Fisch. “It’s obvious Coach Harris has a love for the game, but his priorities are in order with God being at the top of the list and then his family.”

Highlands Christian will be competing in a spring jamboree on Thursday, May 19 with Jupiter Christian and Somerset Canyons. Currently, HCA is a member of the Florida Independent Football Conference.

Simply Soccer Camp starts soon

Simply Soccer Camp, which has boys and girls, ages 5-14 of all skill levels, and has attracted children from throughout Broward County, will host its Spring Break Camp at Mullins Park in Coral Springs.

The camp will be held from March 21-25.

There are three sessions ranging from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and a Tiny Tot program from 9 a.m. to noon. Players will be taught a variety of soccer skills from dribbling to shooting.

It is the longest running soccer camp offered by the city. Campers must bring a soccer ball, swimsuit, shin guards, water bottle and lunch. For information on the Coral Springs camp, call 954-345-2200.

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Jersey retired for Deerfield native

Posted on 25 February 2016 by LeslieM

sports022516By Gary Curreri

Being named to the University of Miami’s Hall of Fame in 2008 was one thing, but Octavia Blue was humbled on Sunday when her #10 jersey was retired by the school prior to the team’s 67-56 overtime victory over Virginia Tech at the BankUnited Center in Coral Gables.

It was an awesome day,” Blue said. “It was really special.”

The University of Miami retired assistant coach Blue’s jersey before the game. She is the fourth player in program history to receive the honor, joining Maria Rivera, Frances Savage and Tamara James.

Blue’s 2008 Hall of Fame class included President’s Cup golfer Woody Austin, basketball stars Octavia Blue and Mike Wittman, football’s Jeff Feagles, Randal “Thrill” Hill and K.C. Jones, Golden Spikes winner Pat Burrell and Olympic diving medalist Wendy Williams.

The Hall of Fame was awesome,” Blue said. “There is a 10-year gap after you finish playing before you can be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Right at my 10th year, they put me in. That was an unbelievable honor. I got in with a great class. I was surprised and honored to be inducted with them.”

(Sunday) was crazy,” Blue added. “It felt like 10 times more special. I don’t like to compare the two because they are both great honors, but when you go into the Hall of Fame there are basically eight to 10 of you going in and when you get your jersey retired, they are singling you out. It makes you look back and reflect over your whole career with all of the people who have been involved in your development and helped, had a hand in your success as an individual. It all came together and it hit me like a ton of bricks. It was a really proud moment for me.”

Blue played with the Hurricanes from 1994-98 and still sits in seventh place on Miami’s all-time scoring list with 1,724 career points. She also ranks seventh in career field goals made with 671.

After her Miami career ended, Blue was the 15th overall draft pick by the Los Angeles Sparks in the 1998 WNBA Draft.

Blue went on to play with the Sparks and the Houston Comets, as well as playing professionally overseas with stops in Turkey, Greece, Israel, Poland, and France before beginning her coaching career.

Coaching took her to St. Thomas, St. John’s and Georgia Tech universities before she returned to Miami and joined coach Katie Meier’s staff in 2012.

Admittedly, Blue was a “late bloomer.” She was an eighth-grader at Nova Middle School when the girls’ basketball coach saw her shooting baskets in a PE class and convinced her to give the sport a try. She went on to star during her high school career at Nova High School and earned a scholarship at the University of Miami.

When I got to high school, I was really good at it, but I was really raw,” said the 39-year-old Blue. “I didn’t have skill. I just had natural ability and that actually landed me at the University of Miami.

When you start off so young, it could probably get stale because you have played so long, but it was still very new and fresh to me and I was excited about the game and that is how I played,” she continued. “All of that passion enabled me to get a college scholarship and, from then on, the successes just kept piling up. The opportunities kept presenting themselves.”

When the WNBA was founded in 1997, Blue knew it was something she wanted to pursue. After an Achilles tendon injury cut short her professional playing career, Blue had no aspirations of coaching. Her former college coach convinced her to coach the post players at St. Thomas University and that led to her Division 1 stints.

For the players I coach now, it is something I tell them to strive and try to be the best in anything you put your hands in,” said Blue, Hurricanes’ recruiting coordinator and is responsible for the development of Miami’s post players. “There is so much more to accomplish.

For me, I want to continue to inspire young people and that’s why we coach,” said Blue, who hopes to be a Division 1 head coach someday. “When you are 18 to 22, those are the years you are in college and those are the most impressionable years of their lives. That’s what coaches and teachers, and educators, do. We help mold young people. I want to continue to do that and be a role model and a model citizen, and good things will come.”

Her recognition on Sunday will last a while.

(Sunday) had to be at the top of the list of anything of anything that ever happened to me,” she said. “Obviously, I love the University of Miami. I had so much support from family and friends. I had people come from Deerfield Beach. People that I have known since I was 6 years old all the way up to my agent who managed my professional career – she flew down from New York. So many people who have helped me along the way were all there to celebrate that special moment with me – my family, my mother … it was just really special and a nice honor.”

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