Tigers roar to state championship

Posted on 15 March 2018 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

With as much time as Blanche Ely basketball coach Melvin Randall spends in Lakeland, maybe he should consider getting a condo there.

The Tigers coach led his boys’ basketball team to their fifth title in seven seasons as they cruised past Jacksonville Creekside, 77-54 in the Florida High School Athletic Association’s Class 8A state championship on Saturday night at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland.

Randall, who has won a state-record eight basketball championships, six at Blanche Ely and two at neighboring Deerfield Beach, said this championship is even sweeter than when the squad went undefeated in 2015.

There was adversity this time around, dealing with a number of setbacks early in the season — namely an 18-point loss to University School.

We took a couple of beatings along the way, which is okay, but growth came in and helped us to get to where we are now,” said Randall. “We were inconsistent in the beginning of the season because they weren’t used to playing with one another and, as the season went on, they understood how to play with one another.”

Randall is 16-1 in the state final four and 8-0 in championship games.

The Tigers finished the season at 24-8. They had two starters back from last year’s team in Joshua Scott and Michael Forrest.

Scott, a junior forward, led the Tigers with 26 points and six rebounds. He was a perfect 7 of 7 from the field and 12 of 14 from the free-throw line. Forrest, a senior guard, had 21 points and helped Blanche Ely win 13 of their final 14 games of the season. Senior guard Anthony Byrd added 14 points.

It’s been an amazing journey,” said Forrest, who struck from distance with a game-high 4 three-pointers. “We won state my sophomore year and came back to win again this year.

With all the things (Coach Randall) does for us, this the only way we can give back to him – just winning the state championship for him.”

We play for Mr. Randall, and I do what I have to do to win,” said Scott, who also had 26 points in the team’s semifinal win.

Added Forrest: “Last year was very disappointing. I really wanted to win two in a row and get that third ring, so I think it motivated us this year.

I thought we would go pretty far this year,” Forrest said. “The intensity was better this year. I think we really played better defense too.

Forrest said going into his senior year was both “fun, but kind of scary too.”

I wanted to go out winning a state tournament,” Forrest said. “(This journey) has been a lot of hard work. A lot of long hours, just being in the gym with Mr. Randall and the other coaches who have helped me become who I am today.”

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Bucks win regional semifinal

Posted on 01 March 2018 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

Deerfield Beach High School boys’ basketball coach Kenny Brown switched his team to a zone defense and the Bucks were in a zone in taking out the state’s second-ranked Class 9A team in Coral Springs, 73-60 on Tuesday night.

Senior Lutelson Jerome led four players in double figures for the Bucks with 19 points in the Class 9A regional semifinal at Coral Springs High. Jonathan Lemy and Hansley Senatus had 12 points each, while Michael Johnson added 11 in a winning effort.

Deerfield Beach (22-8) will travel to play Wellington in the regional final on Friday night. The Wolverines, who lost in the state semifinals last year to the eventual state champion, Osceola, are 29-0 this year.

We held some things back in the first three games,” said Bucks coach Kenny Brown, whose team entered the game as the eighth-ranked team by MaxPreps in Class 9A. “We weren’t going to do certain things. We just stuck to the basics. We decided to do some things tonight that we felt would work against them.

Tonight, we decided to play a zone (defense) and we knew they weren’t going to be prepared for that because we hadn’t done it before,” Brown continued. “They thought we were going to play man-to-man the whole game…we just played some 1-3-1 (zone) and never played man-to-man the whole night.”

Coral Springs (22-7) had defeated Deerfield three times during the season winning 61-55 in OT in the first meeting and then 60-54 in the second. The Colts, the second-ranked team in Class 9A and 8th ranked overall, then topped the Bucks 71-56 for the district championship.

Deerfield opened up an early 12-2 lead before the host Colts clawed back to tie the game at 30-30 on a lay-up by Deante Moore. The Bucks’ Hansley Senatus drained a 3-point basket at the buzzer as the Bucks took a 33-30 lead at the intermission.

Deerfield Beach used an 18-11 run in the third quarter to break open a close game and the Colts were unable to recover.

Coral Springs was led by Moore who scored 11 of his game-high 21 points in the fourth quarter, but the Colts were unable to recover from an 18-11 run in the third quarter that stretched the lead to double digits. The Colts, who won the state title in 2016, led just once in the first half as Jelani Heard opened a 2-0 lead with two free throws.

It was a rematch of last year’s regional semifinal won by Coral Springs, 47-44. Deerfield Beach reached the state semifinals in 2013 when it fell to eventual champion Haggerty, 57-54.

This is huge for these kids,” Brown added. “I have a lot of kids who this is their first year on varsity and this has been a year where they learned on the fly. We have had some ups and downs because of their youth, but they learned from it and they played a lot better tonight.”

Tigers rally past Dwyer, 65-50

Michael Forrest scored a game-high 38 points as Blanche Ely blew past Dwyer, 65-50, in the Class 8A regional semifinal in Palm Beach Gardens on Tuesday night.

Tigers coach Melvin Randall said Forrest has been the key to the team’s success down the stretch.

He is finally getting it that he is the leader,” said Randall, whose Tigers (21-8) will host McArthur on Friday in the Class 8A regional finals. “We don’t go anywhere without him.”

The win was the Tigers’ fourth straight year where they ended the Panthers’ season in the playoffs. Dwyer (26-2) saw its 13-game win streak come to an end. The team’s only other setback came on Jan. 9 to University School, 66-62.

Joshua Scott added 11 points on the night for Blanche Ely, which won four state titles in a five-year span from 2012-16. The Tigers, who won back-to-back championships in 2015 and 2016, were upset in their bid at a three-peat last year when it fell to Palm Beach Lakes in the regional semifinals.

Forrest scored 14 first-quarter points to stake the Tigers to 11-point lead after eight minutes and stretched the margin to 38-22 at the intermission. Dwyer made a late run, but it wasn’t enough.

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Reflecting on Parkland tragedy Deerfield residents give back

Posted on 22 February 2018 by LeslieM

By Rachel Galvin

On Feb. 14, 17 lives were lost in the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Parkland. There are no words to really capture the heartbreak felt by the families and friends. Yet, our television sets are being bombarded by the graphic images captured that day, by the outpouring of grief and anger, and calls for action. We have heard the timeline of events. We have seen the disturbing social media messages from the shooter. We have seen the heroes who have died to save others. We know all this. But the question is what is being done today to stop this from happening again. Yes, there is talk of new gun regulation, talk about mental health. There are so many lessons to be learned, missed opportunities.

The incident led schools to scramble to take a look at their own security procedures.

Principal Baugh, from Deerfield Middle School, said, “We have drills a couple times a year – Code Black for a bomb threat, Code Red for a shooter or an unknown on campus. After [what happened in Parkland], we had an emergency facility meeting and reviewed procedures. We reiterated with students on the intercom… ‘Please do not open doors, make sure they are locked.’ We have students hide in the classroom during a lockdown with lights off. We had a meeting with the school resource officer Deputy Jimetta Williams that day and asked ‘What are the lessons learned?’ She felt very confident that our procedures are good.”

She added that grief counselors were made available for students and teachers and that many utilized them. They consisted of school counselors and social workers, who were set up in the media center.

Gordon Vatch experienced a lockdown at Deerfield Park Elementary recently when giving out dictionaries to 3rd graders on behalf of the Kiwanis Club.

Principal Reid said, ‘It’s a Code Red’ and took us into the cafeteria and we were in lockdown. We had many 15 to 20 of us in a closet. We were given the ok after 20 minutes. Someone had perpetrated the area. The way they did it was very professional and very quick. The kids listened and obeyed instruction,” he said.

This tragedy led the city to cancel their annual Pioneer Days activities, a controversial move, but one that Vatch said he agrees with.

I am glad they canceled,” he said. “They could have been our kids.”

Some shared his sentiments; many others shared their disappointment about the cancelation of events. But everyone felt this tragedy strongly and many have reached out to lend a helping hand.

Joan Gould said she waited three hours to give blood, something the city encouraged people to do.

I was there at 11:15 in the morning and people were already waiting. Deerfield Beach called for action. I was so proud to see one [Blood Mobile] bus after another. We all felt so helpless. What can you do? I gave blood so I could feel like I was doing something. “

Buddy Sparrow, who is known for spearheading the branding of Deerfield Beach Island (DBI), decided to lead a silent march where the parade would have been, from Pioneer Park to the beach. A few followed his lead.

We would just like the victims, families and all of Parkland to know we stand with them and that Deerfield Beach cares. They bleed — we bleed… One human family. We know it cannot assuage the incredible anguish of these families but it felt wrong to do nothing,” he said.

Deerfield Beach Elementary School (DBES) art teacher Suzanne Devine Clark created the idea of “Stones for Stoneman” and, as of press time, was rallying volunteers to paint rocks with hearts and such to be placed in their memorial garden at DBES.

Gabriele Schlicht, owner of CrossFit Deerfield Beach, offered CrossFit classes to anybody they could reach using the money to fundraise to help the Parkland community.

This was a very quick decision made on Thursday the day after the shooting and completed yesterday. We offered CrossFit classes to anybody we could reach in such a short time. We opened the doors at 5:30a.m. and offered 14 classes (hourly) to raise money. The news spread fast and we raised around $1500. (It is still coming in).

The most amazing thing is that other fitness facilities are copying our workout and using it as a way to fundraise for Parkland. This is so very heartwarming how we all come together for the same reasons,” she said.

Coastal Community Church asked member Ed Taber, of Pompano Beach, to make the crosses that were set up in the makeshift memorial for victims of the shooting in Parkland in time for the vigil that was held on Feb. 15. The church is open for anyone who needs a prayer or to help in any way they can. (www.coastalcommunity.tv).

These are just a few of the members of the community that felt the need to do something in wake of this incident, but there are surely so many more. Perhaps, the thing most needed following this tragedy is just more kindness. Nerves are raw, hearts are heavy; a kind word or hug can make all the difference. The Observer offers its condolences to all those affected.

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Heroes Memorial unveiled in Lighthouse Point

Posted on 22 February 2018 by LeslieM

By Rachel Galvin

It is three years in the making — the Heroes Memorial Shrine now sitting in Frank McDonough Park in Lighthouse Point (LHP). It has benches for each branch of the military and an American flag in the middle with an Eagle flying north on top, and a city and state flag. This site features all the cardinal directions in a “compass rose” and has bricks that were purchased with names of veterans and first responders.

The inspiration for the memorial is to recognize United States Marine Dale Sloan Wilkinson, the only LHP resident ever to have been killed in combat, but it honors all who have made the ultimate sacrifice and those who continue to serve today.

This beautiful site is the brainchild of Ryan Kolb, brought about as his Eagle Scout project for Troop 238. His original sketch was taken and turned into a reality with help from William Gallo, of Gallo Herbert Architects, Chuck McLaughlin, the Exchange Club of Pompano Beach, the City of LHP and others. Even the Archdiocese of Miami was involved since the land it is on belongs to St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church and is leased by the city.

I started with the original hand sketches by Ryan. I invited Ryan to come in and participate with my design team. Chuck [McLaughlin] and I tried for 15 years [to get a memorial for vets]. We couldn’t get a location. I started doing a master plan for St. Paul’s,” said Gallo, who, like McLaughlin, has also been a “Keeper” of the City.

He said this location in the park was picked purposely.

He explained, “I used to go to a boot camp here in the morning at 6 a.m. When the sun rises, the whole place glows. We will always have the sun rise on the monument.”

He added, “I came up with the circular idea [for the area]. The different benches give people an opportunity to meditate. This is Frank Lloyd Wright style.”

He also installed seven Italian Cypress trees, which when grown, he said, will “kind of float on air.”

He said the site is not complete yet. They will be acid washing it and putting gunnite (sprayed concrete) on it, a spray that NASA uses, which will seal it for 10 years.

The site was made possible by the purchase of bricks and private donations. The budget was over $100,000. The back of the sign for the park nearby will be modified to thank contributors. Bricks are still available. 8 x 8 bricks are $200 and 4 x 8 bricks are $100. For more information, visit www.LHPHeroesMemorial.com. Money that comes in will also go toward maintenance.

I have a brick honoring my father, who was in Korea and my father-in-law, also in Korea. I have one for my grandfather, who lived in Lighthouse Point from 1963 until he died. He was in World War I and World War II in the Navy.

It’s very impressive site to see at night,” said LHP Mayor Troast, “The light [washes] the area in a soft light. The flag is illuminated at night. It has LED lights, low voltage and as green as possible. They come on at dusk. It is not just a dedication to those who came before us but to everyone who serves us now.”

The timing was right,” said McLaughlin about the site, as he walked around and pointed to bricks, knowing every veteran that was shown, many of whom, like he, served in Vietnam. He served from 1967 to 1968 in the Marine Corps and received a Meritorious Mast for his service during the Tet Offensive.

He pointed to the middle of the circle, saying, “This is the circle of protection… vets living and dead. On the outside are the first responders. The Eagle flies north, a great sign for America. There are five branches of the military [on the benches]. It goes around and ends with the first responders. It’s time to honor our own.”

Kolb was certainly thrilled with the result.

I think it came out amazing. I started it years ago. I met with Mr. Chuck and Mayor Troast. I didn’t know what it was going to look like, but we knew we wanted a monument for the heroes and first responders. It came out amazing. It’s incredible to see how much the project means to so many people,” said Kolb.

Only 32 or 33 badges are required to reach Eagle Scout, said Kolb, an 11th grader at Deerfield Beach High, but he has 36 and is working on four more. He has inspired his younger brother Mason, who is almost 13, to start working early on his Eagle Scout project.

His parents Angela and Chris proudly stood at the special soft opening of the site during Keeper Days activities in the park Saturday, Feb. 10.

We are proud of him. It is quite a learning experience. I am happy to see it finally came to fruition. He will be able to come here, to bring his kids and grandkids. It’s nice that he created something with a lasting impression in the city.”

Kolb said the event included the Pompano High School ROTC presenting colors, the saying of the Pledge of Allegiance and a speech by Mayor Troast and more. Many vets, DAV members and other community leaders came out for the occasion. There will be a more formal ceremony probably on Memorial Day.

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Boca Bacchanal Sip & Roll

Posted on 22 February 2018 by LeslieM

By Rachel Galvin

Gearing up for the 16th Annual Boca Bacchanal beginning April 6, Mugsy PR gave media an outstanding sneak peek with a unique event. Media met up at Saks 5th Avenue in the Town Center at Boca Raton, received a branded wine glass, and then waited for our cars and drivers from Excell Auto Group to arrive, including Lamborghini, Ferrari and a Rolls Royce, as well as the Sprinter, a custom cargo van. We jumped in our individual cars and headed out to visit three of the Boca Raton restaurants who will be a part of the Boca Bacchanal. [I was in the Sprinter and we had champagne ready for us in the back!]

First stop was Louie Bossi, which opened last May in a prime location on Federal Hwy. in Boca Raton (100 E. Palmetto Park Rd.) We had a selection of cheese and meat selections and wine. After visiting there briefly, we switched up cars and headed to Seasons 52 (2300 NW Executive Center Dr.) where we were offered tender chicken skewers and pineapple with red pepper, a delicious flatbread and scrumptious scallops, and more wine. The last stop was Maggiano’s Little Italy (21090 St Andrews Blvd.) for more wine and a delicious meatball and pasta offering. We went back to Saks and received a collection of perfume samples as a parting gift.

This event was a perfect collaboration between the Boca Raton Historical Society, who puts on and benefits from the Boca Bacchanal; Saks 5th Avenue and Excell Auto Group.

This was just the first in a series of events leading up to the main event. Coming up are the following events (rates are per person):

Bacchus Beckons: Tuesday, Feb. 27, 6-8 p.m., at Saks Fifth Avenue. The chef and vintner pairings will be announced as well as the vintner dinner hosts. $50.

Bubbles & Brunch: Sunday, March 18, 10 a.m. to noon, at the brand new Robb & Stucky showroom in Boca Raton. Guests will enjoy live music while strolling the showroom sipping champagne that will be featured at Boca Bacchanal this year. Upstairs will be a designer work-shop by Robb & Stucky creative director on new trends and inspirations from the Highpoint Market. $30.

Boca Bacchanal

Vintner Dinners: Friday, April 6, 7 p.m. Guests go to different private residences (grand estates and historical sites, including The Boca Raton Resort & Club) to experience an intimate, dining experience. Each features a vintner and chef pairing their wine and cuisine together to create a magnificent five-course meal. Each dinner will also have a unique Saks Fifth Avenue silent auction item. $325 per person.

Bacchanalia 2018: Saturday, April 7, 7 to 11 p.m. Mizner Park Amphitheater. This is a more casual event, as guests experience incredible food from over 30 local restaurants with world-class vintners showcasing their wineries’ best – all for attendees to sample. DJ and electric violinist Timothy Lovelock will keep the party going until 11p.m. High-tech auction too. $100.

For more information and tickets, visit www.bocabacchanal.com.

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JV Knights win SACC Title

Posted on 22 February 2018 by LeslieM

The HCA Junior Varsity boys’ basketball team won the SACC Tournament recently with a 63-61 victory over Westminster Academy. (L to R) top row: James Nichols, Sean Julien, Bryce Everette, Brady Tiedemann, Darryl Carney, Pasha Szklany, Coach Luke Still; (bottom row): Nick Vaccaro, Mike Giourgas, Jimmy Good, Kolton Wik, Lor Louis, Josh Gray. Submitted photo

By Gary Curreri

The Highlands Christian Academy junior varsity boys basketball team got a little revenge as it captured the South Atlantic Coast Conference (SACC) championship with a 63-61 victory over Westminster Academy.

The Knights finished 15-8 this season and avenged its overtime loss to Westminster last year. Highlands Christian finished 15-3 last year.

I could not be prouder of our guys,” said Coach Luke Still, whose team also won the Sheridan Hills JV Invitational a week ago by defeating Boca Christian and then Sheridan Hills. “Going into this season we knew we had lost some talented guys from the previous year; however, this team was full of guys who were determined and not afraid to put in hard work.”

The top-seeded Westminster Academy squad advanced to the championship game with a 59-57 win over fourth-seeded Berean Christian, while second seeded Highlands edged third-seeded Jupiter Christian, 47-46, to move on. That win also avenged a two-point defeat to Jupiter Christian earlier this year.

In the opening game against Jupiter Christian, James Nichols led the Knights with 13 points, while Jimmy Good added 12 including 3 three-pointers.

In the championship game against the Lions, Nichols led the team again with 16 points, while Kolton Wik added 15 and Good had 13. The Knights had seven baskets from long distance that game with Wik and Good both hitting 3 each.

As a first-year student and player at Highlands, I knew this would be the right fit for me,” said Nichols, 14, of Deerfield Beach. “I enjoyed how Coach Luke prepared us in practices for the games. We worked really hard as a team and were able to accomplish our goal of winning the SACC Championship.”

The Knights were tied at 61 when Lor Louis got fouled with one second left on the clock. He hit both free throws to seal the Championship.  He finished the game with 5 points and had 8 points in the semis against Jupiter.

Just getting into the championship game was success for me, but our team was determined,” Still added. “After posting our best half the entire season, we let the lead slip in the fourth quarter. Westminster always plays hard, and had tied the game, with one second left on the clock, Lor Louis was fouled and knocked down both free throws. What a moment, for our team, for Lor who has worked incredibly hard to improve his game, and for our school.

To win the SACC on our home floor and the first win in over eight years,” he added. “As a coach, you desire to see young men improve on the court, but, more importantly, to see them grow in character and integrity as young men. It was such an honor to coach this incredible group of guys this season.”


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Feeling like Italian? Olive Garden has new selections

Posted on 17 February 2018 by JLusk

(c) 2018  Rachel Galvin

Loaded Pasta Chips

(c) 2018  Rachel Galvin

Parmesean Zucchini Bites

(c) 2018  Rachel Galvin

Salmon Piccata

(c) 2018  Rachel Galvin

Chicken Giardino

(c) 2018  Rachel Galvin

Meatball Pasta Bowl

(c) 2018  Rachel Galvin

Spicy Calabrian Chicken Breadstick Sandwich

(c) 2018  Rachel Galvin

Chicken Parmesean

(c) 2018  Rachel Galvin

Fettucine Alfredo

(c) 2018  Rachel Galvin


(c) 2018  Rachel Galvin

Their popular salad always paired with breadsticks…

Photos & story by Rachel Galvin

Have you been to Olive Garden lately? This inexpensive family restaurant has added some new selections to their popular traditional items. Maybe it is time to give them another try.

Perhaps their most well-known combination is their soup and salad with breadsticks. You can get unlimited for only $10.99. The Chicken Parmigiana is one of their classics, as is the Chicken Alfredo, Spaghetti with Meat Sauce, Rigatoni with Five Cheese Marinara and Lasagna Classico. You can mix it up when you go are done eating and ready for more. These classics are only $11.99.

Some of their entrees, like Braised Beef Bolognese, are available for a limited time. They also have your lasagna, ziti, ravioli, you name it. You want eggplant parm? They make it. They have choices for meat and pork lovers, or those who prefer chicken or seafood selections – something for everyone. They even have specials for early birds – early dinner duos for $8.99.

If those sound a little too ultra for your taste, you may want to try one of their lighter selections. Their newest items are possibly the tastiest yet. Their Taste of the Medeterranean items are all under 600 calories! Try the Salmon Piccata. Flaky and perfectly pink salmon is paired with thinly sliced Parmesan-crusted zucchini, topped with sun dried tomatoes and capers and a lemon butter sauce. It is hard to believe it is only 590 calories. They also have a Chicken Piccata. Their Chicken Giardino has creamy Pappardelle pasta, flavored by a light, lemon chicken herb sauce, on top of slices of grilled chicken with fresh vegetables mixed in. Their Spiralized Veggie Pasta is perfect for pasta lovers who want something lighter. It only has 560 calories and the pasta is made from zucchini and yellow squash. That pasta is mixed with whole grain linguine and topped with tomatoes and garlic in a scampi herb sauce. The Shrimp Scampi and Chicken Margarita round out the selections.

Before you even begin your entree, you might want to try an appetizer. They have so many to choose from, including their new Loaded Pasta Chips. Pasta… chips? Yes, believe it or not, they have made chips from lasagna pasta and they load it up with meat sauce, cheeses, a few cherry peppers and a drizzle of Alfredo sauce to make a great Italian alternative to nachos. For those who love cheese, you might want to grab a few Parmesean Zucchini Bites, a fun pop of fried-up flavor while waiting for your entree. They also have items like stuffed mushrooms, calamari, spinach artichoke dip and more.

If you stop by at lunchtime, you may want to partake in their new Meatball Pizza Bowl — speaking of cheese… Loaded with cheese and meat sauce, these meatballs are nestled in pizza dough that has been crafted into a bowl. This is a choice that both parents and kiddies will enjoy. Kids may also want to try the new Spicy Calabrian Chicken Breadstick Sandwich. It is the classic breadstick with the spicy breaded chicken placed inside tossed in their Calabrian sauce with gorgonzola and over Italian cheeses spread upon it. It is served with parmesean-garlic fries. Note, when they say spicy, they mean it. There are other items crafted into breadstick sandwiches as well. Their lunch duos pair an item with soup or salad. Their lunchtime entrees start as low as $6.99.

Of course, no matter what your choice, you just can’t leave without having dessert. They have plenty to choose from, from tiramisu to cheesecake to zeppolis… and now cannolis. You could choose vanilla, chocolate or strawberry filled, whatever suits your fancy.

Note: They also have gluten free options for those who have sensitivities.

Olive Garden is a fun place to go because there are so many different choices. You can even create your own pasta combinations. They have inexpensive options like the lunch duos or the never ending classics for $11.99 if you are really hungry.

Olive Garden also has a full bar. Try their delicious Watermelon Moscato Sangria!

[Media was invited to a complimentary meal to try some of these options on Feb. 5. This reporter’s favorite entree was the Salmon Piccata. But I liked the lightness and great flavor of all of the Taste of the Mediterranean options best… and the amazingly good Watermelon Moscato Sangria for its light sweetness!]

Olive Garden is a national chain. The closest one to the local area of The Observer is at 5550 N Federal Hwy, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33308. This locale from the 1980s just did some remodeling. For more information on Olive Garden and to see their menu, visit www.olivegarden.com. #OGTastes

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Pioneer Days Special Edition

Posted on 15 February 2018 by LeslieM

The Observer’s Pioneer Days Special Souvenir Edition is available in print and online! Read it here or pick one up at the festivities!

Image by Leslie Moore

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Tigers reach state; finish 4th in semifinals

Posted on 15 February 2018 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

Blanche Ely senior cheerleader Makya Harvard couldn’t have been happier with her team’s performance this season as they reached the FHSAA Class 2A state semifinals.

Harvard, 17, of Pompano Beach, finished her fourth year on varsity and third year on the competition team. Even though the team doesn’t have captains, Harvard is one of the leaders on the squad.

I have to make sure everyone is okay physically and emotionally,” said Harvard, who has been a cheerleader since age 4. “I also make sure everyone is on time and able to do what they are supposed to do. The best part for me? When I hit the mat and do what I do.”

More than 50 teams and 800 athletes from Broward, Palm and Miami-Dade counties competed in the Region 4 competition at Coral Springs High School. The top two teams in each division with a raw score of 70 or better earned an automatic entry into the state finals. A qualifying score of 60 or better earned the team a spot in the state semifinals at the Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on the campus of the University of Florida.

The Tigers finished ninth in the Large Non-Tumbling division and qualified for the state semifinals. They finished fourth at the state competition during those semifinals and failed to reach the finals at state.

There is an excitement knowing what I am doing, that people want to participate and I am making others happy…” Harvard said. “That’s what cheerleading is about, cheering people up.”

She said the hardest part about the sport is getting fans excited when a team is losing. She said the football season was very difficult.

That happened a lot this year; but, being a leader, you can’t let your emotions get the best of you,” she said. “I have to show my teammates and cheer everyone else up.”

How will that help down the road?

I think knowing that I can put my emotions aside in things that are important to me, and being a leader and taking charge, will help me when I get out in the real world and [with] a real job,” she said. “When I first came in my freshman year, we weren’t too good, and each and every year, we have progressed … We have unity and we go out together now. We have become one big family.”

Harvard said she was relieved that the team qualified for state this season.

It just shows that all of those long nights paid off,” she said. “Even though there were times when our fliers had injuries, we just pushed through.”

Deerfield Beach placed 10th at the regional competition in the Small Non-Tumbling Division and Pompano Beach finished ninth in the Medium Non-Tumbling Division as both squads failed to advance to state.

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Ride Element opens

Posted on 14 February 2018 by JLusk

By Rachel Galvin

Owner Ana Gajardo shows off the Stages bikes.

Workouts are good for you but they also can get dull real fast. Ready to illuminate your workout and try something a little different? Well, if indoor cycling is in your wheelhouse, then you might want to try the newly-opened Ride Element.

This locale offers indoor cycling with a kick. Not only do they feature Stages bicycles, the crème de la crème of indoor bike technology, but also a light show with every ride. The stream of lights is sure to pep up your energy at just the right moment to keep you going. Lights otherwise are kept dimmed so that the focus becomes on the rider, not the people around him or her, making for a true judgment free zone. The bikes also have a “SprintShiftshifter that helps to more rapidly increase or decrease the intensity. Each click equates to an intensity change of 1 ½ twists on a normal bike.

You can have statistics on your progress emailed to you so you can rate your performance, or you can take a class that focuses on unplugging from technology and just enjoying the ride. It is a great way to unwind and take out the stresses of the day.

TRX anyone?

Besides bikes, they also are a designated Premier TRX facility. Besides bands, they have kettlebells, ropes, slam balls, medicine balls and other ways to do functional training.

For owner Ana Gajardo, Ride Element is more than just fitness; it’s also about the community. She does her best to create an atmosphere that makes people want to not only workout, but also stay awhile, to sit in the lobby, buy some merchandise, drink a kombucha or other drink and meet fellow fitness lovers. She also likes to give back to the community and is looking for ways to partner up with other businesses in that endeavor. Her business focuses on four elements: music, energy, passion and community.

Before opening Ride Element on Feb. 3, Ana had been doing indoor cycling herself for 10 years and loved it and decided to get certified.

“I took the first class in college at FAU and fell in love with it. It’s the only thing I could stick with. I never got bored. It is always different. I am always improving and challenging myself.”

She knows education is important, which is why she offers continued education to her instructors. In addition to the certification they already have in indoor cycling, they will be getting Stages certification so they will be experts on their bikes. She will be hosting TRX classes as well.

Ride Element is located at 3496 NE 12th Ave. in Oakland Park, FL. They are open Monday through Friday 5:30 to 11 a.m. and then again at night from 5:30 to 8 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m.to noon. For more information, call 954-280-RIDE or visit www.therideelement.com.


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