Moroney named top swimmer in state; headed to UVA

Posted on 30 April 2015 by L.Moore

sports043015By Gary Curreri

Deerfield Beach’s Megan Moroney is looking forward to the next chapter of her career.

The 17-year-old senior at St. Andrew’s School in Boca Raton, who was recently named the Florida High School Dairy Association’s Female Swimmer of the Year, captured 13 state high school championships during the past four seasons.

This is such a great honor,” said Moroney, who won seven individual titles including four consecutive in the 100-yd. butterfly and three championships in the 200-yd. freestyle. She was also on three relays. “It’s definitely a great note to end my high school swimming on.”

Moroney, the top-ranked recruit in Florida and 16th overall nationally, is headed to the University of Virginia after signing her national letter of intent in the fall.

I loved everything about it,” Moroney said. “The campus, the coaches, the team, the academics …. it was exactly everything I could want in a school.”

She also considered Stanford and Duke. She said knowing where she was going helped take some of the pressure off her for her senior year.

It was a tough decision,” said Moroney, whose winning time in the 200-yd. freestyle (1:45.89) was the fastest time in the state in all four classifications. “Every school I was looking at was a really great school. I knew Virginia gave me the best combination of everything. I felt that would be where I would be.

One thing I liked about Virginia was they had a lot of help with the academics,” Moroney said. “They have tutors on hand whenever you need one. People are always checking on you to make sure your grades are good. They won’t let you do poorly.”

Moroney has also already qualified for the 2016 Olympic trials in the 100, 200 and 400 freestyles. She was one of the youngest swimmers in the 100-meter backstroke at the 2012 Olympic trials in Omaha, NE.

It was kind of hard to expect a best time at such a huge event with so much pressure,” said Moroney, who started attending St. Andrew’s in the sixth grade. She swam on the club team in the fourth grade after beginning her swim career for the Boca Barracudas Y team in the recreational league. “That was probably the scariest moment of my life and, looking out at an arena pool, it was cool, but it was totally scary. I was a lot younger, so I really wasn’t surprised that I didn’t do as well.”

St. Andrew’s School swim coach Sid Cassidy called Moroney Palm Beach County’s most dominant swimmer ever.

In addition to everything she accomplished in the pool, she has remained true to herself,” said Cassidy, who began coaching Moroney as a sixth grader. “She leads a well-balanced family life and is a top student at St. Andrew’s School.”

She was rightly recruited by every one of this nation’s top collegiate swimming programs and has selected the University of Virginia as her next stop on her journey,” Cassidy added. “No doubt the coaching staff in Charlottesville has to be smiling over the acquisition of this Golden Girl from Palm Beach County. We may never see another one quite like her.”

Stone named All-State

Zion Lutheran School senior Keith Stone was recently named to the Florida Association of Basketball Coaches and Source Hoops Class 2A All-State team.

The 6-ft., 8-in., 240-lb. forward, who recently signed his national letter of intent with the University of Florida, averaged 24 points, 10 rebounds and four assists for the Lions. Stone committed to play for the Gators two days after his official visit last October.

It is close to home,” Stone said of his college choice. “My whole family loves them. Coach Billy (Donovan) is a Hall of Fame coach. He runs NBA style plays and that works for me.”

The four-year starter helped the Lions (20-8) advance to the Class 2A regional semifinals where it fell to Grandview Prep, 88-80.

Stone said he improved in his ball handling and stretching the defense in the last couple of years at the school and the four-star prospect was rated as the No. 97 player in the nation and 11th in the state of Florida, according to 247 Sports.

No. 1, he’s very selfless, so nothing’s ever been about himself,” Zion Lutheran coach John Guion said. “He’s a great passer and a great shooter. He has a solid post game, and he’s got a great perimeter game as well. His game will translate well to the next level.”

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Ely flag football team Hopes for playoff run

Posted on 23 April 2015 by L.Moore

sports042315By Gary Curreri

Blanche Ely High School senior quarterback Faitia Irving has seen a noticeable improvement in this year’s flag football team.

We are more experienced this year,” said Irving, who has guided the team to an 8-2 record this year. “The starting seven have played together for a while. In the past, everybody wanted to be a leader and that didn’t work. I had to step up as a leader.”

This is a lot of fun,” Irving said. “I like having the ball in my hand and making decisions. It’s a lot of responsibility, but I like that role. I have a lot of options on the team. I like to run or throw and, either way, we are going to score.”

Irving said she doesn’t feel any pressure playing football.

It comes easy to me,” said Irving, who started playing flag football as a sixth grader at Crystal Lake Middle School. “It is more fun to play flag football now because the team has gelled together. It is like a sisterhood.”

Irving said the team’s experience is carrying it this year. The team will open play in the District 27 tournament on April 27 at Deerfield Beach High School.

We have six seniors in the starting seven and the underclassmen look up to us and we have to lead by example,” Irving said. “I think we can go to states and win it. We hope to be as good as the (state champion) boys’ basketball team. It gives us motivation to go do it.”

In addition to Irving, the other seniors on the team being counted on are Latearia Perkins, Christa Vedrine, Stephanie Altidort, Brianna Lebrun, Ta’Marla Thorpe and Marie Lafosse. The team has already bettered last year’s record of 7-5 when it finished runner-up to Coconut Creek in the district.

We seem better than last year’s team,” said Tigers’ fourth year coach Clenner Goodman. “The team is more focused and they are taking things a little more seriously. I don’t have to work as hard. I don’t have to fuss as much. They are pulling themselves together.

My returners are taking more of a leadership role now,” Goodwin added. “They are more cohesive and playing more as a unit now. That is what was lacking last year. When I tell them to be someplace at a certain time, all of them are there. They are ready to play ball and they are enjoying winning.”

Bucks hire new gridiron coach

Jevon Glenn will be the new football coach at Deerfield Beach High School next season.

Glenn, a 1996 graduate of Blanche Ely, where he played football and basketball, replaces Allen Jackson, who resigned in December after four seasons.

The new Bucks coach will have his work cut out for him as the team is coming off of a 4-6 season in which the Bucks missed the playoffs. It was only the sixth time in school history, dating back to 1974, the Bucks finished with a losing record. It is Glenn’s first varsity head coaching job; he spent eight seasons coaching Deerfield’s junior varsity squad.

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Pompano swimmers making a name for themselves in water

Posted on 16 April 2015 by L.Moore

sports041615By Gary Curreri

Swimmers from the Pompano Beach Piranhas USA swim program have enjoyed success in recent months and the recent Florida Gold Coast Junior Olympics swim meet at the Coral Springs Aquatic Complex was no exception.

Several Piranhas turned in strong efforts in the high point awards for their respective divisions led by Tyler Zuyus, who took fourth in the 13-14 Boys Division, while Jake Schulte was 10th in the 10-Under Boys. Pompano’s Boys were fifth in the Boys 13-14 team race, while the 10-Under Boys were ninth overall.

Two swimmers are happy with the progress of the program, which is in its fourth year as a USA swim program, and Piranhas head swim coach Jesse Vassallo is entering his fourth year heading the program.

Pompano Beach’s Shane Schulte, 14, is one of five members of his family that swim. He has two brothers (Kelly, 16, and Jake, 10) and two sisters (Julia, 18, and Summer, 12).

It is very competitive between us,” Shane Schulte said. “We always try and do the best in every sport. It is really cool because all five of us have spent all of our lives competing. My brothers and me play rugby for the Pompano Storm and we are always fighting and aspiring to be the best out there. We have been playing rugby for two years.”

In the Junior Olympics (JOs), I was hoping to do the best I could and go up a few spots from where I was ranked in the beginning,” he added. “I went up in my rankings and dropped times in all seven of my events. I was pretty psyched about it.”

Schulte, an eighth-grader at Pompano Beach Middle School, said the local program is starting to make waves in the swimming community.

Over the past couple of years, we have grown drastically,” he said. “We started off going to JOs and we would be one of the last teams. In the winter champs, we finished Top 10 and that was a pretty good feat for us. We are starting to get a lot stronger and form one of those big teams and big names that everyone wants to be on.

Schulte said the best part of swimming is that it is a social event.

You are not just competing against your friends,” he said. “The practices are fun. It is not just all about hard work. You can enjoy it and that’s what makes it better than most other sports. It is not always about the placement. When you accomplish something that you have never done before like dropping a time or reaching a certain goal, you are still very satisfied in the end. I want to go very far in swimming.”

Teammate Alicja Zielinski, 14, of Oakland Park, came very close to dropping all of her times in the meet. The Northeast High School freshman has been swimming for Pompano for the past four years.

I like how it is like an individual sport and it focuses on yourselves and your team,” Zielinski said. “To be honest, it is better than any other sport because it is the best workout for your body. You get this rush of adrenaline and you speed your way through. I am in love with competing.”

She has seen improvement and confidence as she has progressed through the past Junior Olympic competitions.

It is a tough sport,” said Zielinski, who hopes to swim in college. “It really is. It is tougher mentally than physically. You have to motivate yourself to achieve your goal. When you get up on the block and you race, it is like you are in a different world. It is about you and how you want to achieve your goals. That is more important to me than winning medals.”

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Dolphins compete

Posted on 09 April 2015 by L.Moore

sports040915Deerfield Beach Dolphins, South Florida Recreational Swim League Swim Meet, was held at the City’s Aquatic Center on Saturday, April 4. Our Deerfield Dolphins are a top team in the 3 county area.

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Randall earns national honor

Posted on 02 April 2015 by L.Moore

SPORTS040215By Gary Curreri

With Blanche Ely High School’s boys basketball team set to play in the Dick’s Sporting Goods National Invitational in New York this week, its coach Melvin Randall learned was named USA Today’s All-USA National Boys Coach of the Year.

It’s s a great honor,” said the 52-year-old Randall, who led the Tigers to its third state championship in four years. “I can’t take all the credit because I have some players that worked extremely hard all season. This speaks volumes for not only the kids, but my coaching staff as well.”

Blanche Ely is hoping to pad its 28-0 record when the third-seeded Tigers tip off against No. 6 Findlay Prep of Nevada at noon Thursday at Christ the King High School in Queens, where the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds will be played. The championship will be played at Madison Square Garden.

Randall, whose team defeated Kissimmee Osceola 72-60 in the state final in early March, became the first boys’ basketball coach from Broward to win six state championships. He also won two titles with neighboring Deerfield Beach High School.

In his 23-year coaching career, Randall has an overall record of 505-145. He was also named the Florida Dairy Farmers’ Class 7A coach of the year.

Dolphins hold camp

The Miami Dolphins organization was in town last week to help kickoff its NFL Flag Football program that will start up in a few weeks.

Former Miami Dolphins tight end Troy Drayton, 44, who is the Youth and Community Programs Manager with the Miami Dolphins, held a clinic for about 35 youngsters last Tuesday, while his former Penn State College roommate Reggie Givens, 43, also a former NFL and CFL linebacker player, came out on Saturday and hosted another 45 youth football players.

Both are heavily involved in the Dolphins Academy football program that puts on hundreds of camps a year throughout the state.

We just want to get them to come together on the weekend with your peers and your fellow athletes in your age group and do something constructive,” Givens said. “You are out here in the air, working on your physical fitness and agility, and you can take this in any sport. Even though we are out here for football, you can take this in any sport you do — baseball, soccer, basketball, any sport you want.”

I just love giving back, working with kids and keeping them active,” Givens added. “That’s a positive thing no matter what happens. They will take this throughout life. If you get them going now, they are always going to grow. Physical fitness is a huge thing that is in America and a huge thing we are lacking in.”

Deerfield Beach’s Diesal Eagleson, 11, a Quiet Waters Elementary School fifth grader, enjoyed the camp.

This is really fun because I like football,” Eagleson said. “I am learning how to catch, run and jump. I don’t play football on a team, but I am thinking about doing it now after this.” Pompano Beach’s Jeremiah Fowler, 12, is a member of the

Pompano Beach Steelers football team and said he’s been playing for fi ve years. It was good to refine his skills.

This is good because I am learning more stuff and how to play football to get ready for the season,” said Fowler, a sixth grader at Deerfield Beach Middle School. “I am learning how to move my feet quick and I think the best part is catching a football.”

We are hooked up with them now because our flag football program is NFL Flag so they were helping us promote flag football and they were tying us into their Play- 60 campaign,” said city of Deerfield Beach Athletic Coordinator Blaise Leone. “It was a lot of fun. When the Dolphins do something, they do it right and it is top shelf. The kids were excited. We had a lot of fun.”

The city is still taking registrations for the program, which will begin on April 14-15. The cost is $50 for residents and $60 for non-residents.

This is the first year that the league has partnered with the NFL and the players will receive NFL replica jerseys. Last year, the city’s flag football program fielded seven teams.

We are looking to have a lot more this year,” Leone said. “We have always had a flag football season, but having the Dolphins involved has taken it to a whole new level.”

For more information, go to the city’s website at http://www.deerfield-beach.com or call 954- 480-4433.

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Highlands captures titles

Posted on 26 March 2015 by L.Moore

SPORTS032615By Gary Curreri

Highlands Christian Academy’s (HCA) sports programs are proving that the future is now as three of its lower school sports team won South Atlantic Coast Conference (SACC) championships recently.

The girls elementary and junior high girls basketball teams were joined by the junior high boys soccer teams as titlists this year.

The girls’ elementary basketball team had an outstanding season finishing 5-1. The Knights squad is composed of 4th and 5th graders, and its lone loss of the season was to Abundant Life, who plays 6th graders on its team.

Brooke Vaccarro led the Knights in scoring and received the Outstanding Contribution Award as she scored 6 of the team’s 8 points in an 8-6 victory over Sheridan Hills in the SACC championship game. It was almost a repeat of the regular season where Highlands, with just four returning players from last season, defeated the Sharks, 7-6.

I am so proud of my Lady Knights,” said Leslie Shein, who is an alumnus of the school and in her second year as coach. “These girls worked hard, encouraged one another, had great sportsmanship, and finished strong. They practiced hard throughout the season and it paid off!”

The school’s junior high girls basketball program needed to work overtime; however, it also brought home a title.

After dispatching Zion Lutheran, 28-19, in its opening game of the SACC tournament, the Knights were pushed to overtime; however, it prevailed with a 26-23 victory over Sheridan Hills.

It was a very successful year for our team as we were able to achieve our goal of winning the SACC tournament,” said 5th year coach Scott Lassen, also an HCA graduate. “We had five returning 8th graders who were determined to win it all their final season.”

Seventh grader Raphael Menezes scored the lone goal of the game and fellow 7th grader Jason Thomfhorde recorded his fifth shutout of the season as Highlands Christian Academy blanked Coral Springs Christian, 1-0, for the boys’ junior high SACC title.

It was Menezes’ fourth goal of the season for the Knights, which went from third place in the league to first this year. The team finished the year 10-2.

I’ve seen a good amount of improvement in the quality of soccer,” said second year coach Daniel Mauro, whose father Darryl is the boys’ varsity coach. “I am very proud of my squad and the boys should be very proud of their achievements, but not satisfied; there is more to come from these guys.”

Kyle Coulson was named the team’s MVP and led the Knights with 10 goals and 6 assists. The Knights were the top seed going into the SACC Tournament and defeated Westminster Academy 4-2 to advance to the championship game.

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Baseball League starts next month

Posted on 19 March 2015 by L.Moore

SPORTS031915By Gary Curreri

Deerfield Beach’s Jim Eddy and Pompano Beach’s Alex Rodriguez may be foes on the field, but like many others in the Liberty Hardball Men’s Baseball League, based in Coral Springs, they enjoy the camaraderie and the competition.

Both men recently squared off for the championship and Eddy’s Cardinals’ team won its second consecutive championship over Rodriguez’s Yankees.

Eddy, 49, an athletic trainer at Highlands Christian Academy who also sells real estate, has played in the league for five years.

It is convenient for me because I live in Deerfield Beach,” said Eddy, the league’s most valuable player. “It keeps the competitive juices flowing. It makes you think back to when you could play like that every day. It helps relieve stress that you might go through during the week.”

The Cardinals, which went undefeated in winning the championship last year, won their fourth championship in the past six years and it marked the first time winning back-to-back titles.

The Cardinals finished last season 23-0 becoming the first men’s baseball team in any league in South Florida to ever finish a season undefeated as it swept the Cubs in the championship series. The Cardinals (21-6) also won titles in 2009, 2011 and 2013. It wasn’t easy this year as the Cardinals lost several players; however, they won 10 games in a row to close out the season and 11 of its last 12 contests.

A lot more teams were gunning for us this year, so they tried to stack their teams to take us out,” said Eddy, who batted .574 with 5 homeruns, 30 RBI and 41 runs scored. “That was nice. You get to my age and you need something to motivate you. You don’t have all of that adrenaline fl owing through you anymore and it kind of helps when there is a little chip on the other team’s shoulders.”

Yankees pitcher Alex Rodriguez, 32, has spent four seasons in the Sunday morning league. He likes that they play a 20-game season and then playoffs. Rodriguez, who played semipro baseball in Venezuela, and also pitched in college for Yacambu Universidad, has put off Tommy John surgery to keep playing.

When I played in college I used to throw 92 miles an hour,” said Rodriguez, who batted .414 with 4 HRS and 33 RBI. He also was 3-0 on the mound with a 6.40 ERA. “I would have to stop playing for a year. I don’t think it’s worth it. I can hit, but I can’t throw so much now. I hope to play until I am 40 or 45. I would like to be 60 and still play baseball, but I don’t know if I can get to that point.”

The league will kick off its new season on April 12 and Rodriguez, like most of the other players, enjoys the six-team league.

I love it,” Rodriguez said. “I love the fact that we start at 9 a.m. and we are usually done by 11:30 or noon and have the rest of the day to spend with our families.”

Ely gets national invite

As Yogi Berra coined with the phrase, “It’s never over until it’s over,” Blanche Ely’s boys and Dillard High School’s girls’ basketball teams were invited to play in the Dick’s Sporting Goods High School National tournament next month.

Blanche Ely (28-0) won the Class 7A state championship earlier this month, a 72- 60 victory over Kissimmee Osceola. The Tigers became just the second Broward boys’ basketball team to finish as an undefeated state champ. It was Randall’s third title in four years at Blanche Ely and county record sixth overall in his career.

This will be the third trip for the Ely boys to the national tournament. The Tigers attended the nationals in 2012 and 2013. The boys and girls championship games will be played in Madison Square Garden on the April 5.

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Honda Classic Golf Tournament

Posted on 12 March 2015 by L.Moore

sports031215By Sandy Johnson

The Honda Classic Golf Tournament at PGA National Resort and Spa brings excitement, great golf and a major financial impact on our area every year. Last year alone, the Classic awarded a record $2.55 million in charitable contributions! This went to 136 organizations, with the Jack Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation the primary benefactor. Much of the reason for this is the amazing number of volunteers who donate thousands of hours of their time to keep the tournament running smoothly. All of these volunteers wouldn’t be effective without the organization of Jim Coleman, who has been the Volunteer Chairperson for many years.

Working close by his side is his 19-year-old daughter Samantha. Sammy has been at this since she was 6 years old. She has been everything from a standard bearer to a caddy bib distributor, to her current position as her Dad’s right hand “man.” This year, she had the added chore of helping to direct people to safety when a massive storm with pouring rain came through on Saturday, forcing everyone off the course and out of all the hospitality suites. Every person had to be relocated into the main clubhouse, which was the only safe, permanent structure. Sammy calmly took on this unexpected task. She not only volunteers with her dad at the Honda, but also the Allianz, Doral, ADT and other local events. When she was still in high school, she had so many thousands of service hours that she just stopped counting. The best part of all this is the fact that she is now in college at Palm Beach State studying Business Management and then is transferring to Florida Gulf University where she will get her degree in PGA Golf Management.

Asked about her favorite moments, she said it was when senior player Chi Chi Rodriquez insisted that she ride in the cart with him, instead of walking with the standard. He then autographed his name card, which she framed and still has hanging in her room. She also loved it when Ben Crane, a current player with a huge following (of the younger set due to his Golf Boys video that he has made with three of the other young golfers), asked her if she would pose for a picture with him.

Sammy was on the Honda course on Monday when the delayed tournament continued and ended up with the exciting playoff between Padraig Harrington from Ireland and a PGA rookie local boy Daniel Berger from Jupiter. Padraig won on the second playoff, but it made for a nail biting ending with all of Daniel’s family there cheering him on.

An interesting side note on the tournament was some of the consequences of the massive rain storm. When the crew went out to try and get everything back in shape for the next day, they had to contend with chasing alligators and water moccasin snakes that were now on the course! Saturday was cancelled and Sunday tee times were delayed. It was a massive undertaking for Chairman Jim and Sammy to contact and reschedule all the volunteers for the new times and also the extra day that had to be added on. They took it in stride and all went perfectly.

Perhaps the best quote of the tournament came from Lukus Harvey, director of PGA National agronomy, when asked how in the world his staff managed working all day and night to get the course ready to play again by Sunday afternoon — “It is only stressful if you make it that way!” That’s an adage for all of us to live by!

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Ely wins state title

Posted on 05 March 2015 by L.Moore

sports030515By Gary Curreri

All season long, Blanche Ely boys basketball coach Melvin Randall thought he had a special team.

He was right. The Tigers won the Class 7A state title with a 72-60 victory over Kissimmee Osceola in the Class 7A state championship at The Lakeland Center on Saturday and continued to make history.

Ely (28-0), ranked No. 5 in the nation by USA Today, won its fifth state title overall and third in the past four seasons. It is the school’s fourth title since 2007.

I can’t say they are one of the top (teams at the school),” said Blanche Ely coach Melvin Randall. “They are the top!”

Blanche Ely is ranked the highest it ever has been in school history and became the first by a Broward County public school and second in county history following Sagemont’s undefeated run last season. It is the first time the Tigers finished the year undefeated.

It wasn’t a pushover schedule that we had,” said Randall, who also won state titles in 1997 with Deerfield (Class 5A) ,and his win in 1999 (Class 6A) came at the expense of his current school Ely, 77-69. After moving over to Ely, Randall won state titles in 2007 (Class 6A), 2012 (Class 7A) and 2013 (Class 7A).

We played some teams that really pushed us,” added Randall, whose previous high national ranking was 12th in the country in 2013. “The way this team played is surprising because when you are ranked that high in the country, you are looking to have maybe four or five Division 1 players or Top-100 players on the team, which we don’t have. These kids played with a lot of heart and played together. They enjoyed playing with one another and that is what makes it good. For the most part, they listen.”

The Tigers are now tied with Ft. Lauderdale Dillard for the most state titles by a Broward County school.

Blanche Ely opened the game on a 7-0 run and led 13-2 at one point. The team stretched the lead to 13 before Osceola (26-6) clawed its way back to grab a 39-38 advantage with 4:25 left in the third quarter.

Senior Therrell Gosier Jr., who was a part of Ely’s two state championship teams as a freshman and sophomore, helped the Tigers erase that brief deficit and closed the game out with 20 of his 27 points in the second half. He also had eight rebounds.

Senior Laquincy Rideau had another balanced effort with 10 points, six assists, six rebounds and five steals, while senior guard Javon Heastie scored 19 of his 21 points in the first half. Randall said he is hopeful of a bid to the Dick’s Sporting Goods National Invitational in April in New York.

Randall said the “formula” to being successful was a simple one.

I take it as a blessing,” Randall said. “I learned from the best – Greg Samuels, Butch Ingram, John Keister, Wade Edmonds, and I have a little bit of them in me, and I really studied them and took notes. I want to win with class and that is what is taught here. You can win, but we teach our kids the right way; they win with class.”

Randall said there is another thing on his bucket list that he would like to accomplish.

I never met Louise Crocco from Cardinal Gibbons and I know it is another sport, but she has won championships and I wanted to know what she is doing,” Randall said referring to the volleyball coaching legend, which amassed 1,132 victories and 18 state championships in a stellar 40-year career. “I never had a chance to meet her, but I will.”

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Pompano Senior gets sixth ace

Posted on 26 February 2015 by L.Moore

sports022615By Gary Curreri

Joe Patchen wouldn’t have it any other way.

The 88-year-old Pompano Beach man plays golf three times a week and doesn’t plan on stopping soon.

Patchen is still pretty good at his craft because he recently used his 6-iron and recorded his sixth hole-in-one on the Par-3, 134-yard 15th hole at the Pines Course at the Pompano Municipal Golf Course.

This one was nice because of the six hole-in-ones I have. This was only the second one that I saw go in the hole,” added Patchen, who was playing in a Pompano Beach Men’s Golf Association tournament and picked up a second place finish with a net score of 67. “It bounced twice and went in. I was feeling good that day.”

Patchen, who plays on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, said he enjoys both the camaraderie with the other golfers and the competition. He said he called his hole-in-one.

I was talking to my playing partner and said it was about time one of us got a hole-in-one and I did,” Patchen said. “It was exciting because we had just talked about it.”

Patchen began playing in New York when he was 12 and hasn’t stopped. His last hole-in-one came three years ago.

I have been caddying and playing golf,” Patchen said. “I play three days a week. I love golf because it is a challenge. Every single day is different. Every single shot is different. It is not the same thing day after day after day. I never know what is going to be happening that day.”

Patchen said his singular shot was a lucky one.

I think it’s luck,” Patchen said. “We all throw the whole ball at the hole and for it to go in that little hole, I think it is luck. When you figure how many years I have been playing, 76 years … I must have thrown a million shots at those holes and only got six of them.”

Patchen believes he has a lot of golf left. He idolizes Jack Nicklaus, who he said was the best golfer he ever saw.

I am going to keep going until I can’t play anymore,” Patchen said. “I look forward to it. I get up at 5 in the morning and have my coffee and breakfast, and go out and play golf. I just like the game. Now that I am retired, I play it a lot. I play in all kinds of weather, but I can be a little particular. If it is raining, I don’t go out. If it is cold, I don’t go out.”

Ely in Final Four

Blanche Ely’s boys’ basketball team will hope to end its season on a high note – a perfect one at that.

The Tigers remained undefeated at 26-0 and are ranked 6th nationally. Blanche Ely advanced to Thursday’s Class 7A state semifinal against North Port at the Lakeland Center with a 79-65 victory over Miami Central. A victory will mean a third state championship in four years. It would also mark the first undefeated season for the Tigers basketball program.

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