Highlands wins four titles in elementary, junior high divisions

Posted on 18 December 2014 by L.Moore

sports121814By Gary Curreri

Highlands Christian Academy (HCA) showed there is reason to be optimistic as two elementary school and two junior high programs finished on top in their respective leagues.

Daniel Copeland Del Toro and David Jesus each scored a goal as the Knights Elementary School soccer team defeated defending league champion St. Paul Lutheran, 2-0, in the Elementary Soccer League (ESL) championship game to finish the season at 7-1-1. Cameron Brooks earned the shutout.

The 2014 Elementary Soccer League consisted of Abundant Life, Highlands Christian, Sagemont, St. Paul and Trinity.

The Knights of Highlands Christian defeated all the schools during the season except their long-time rival, the Falcons of St. Paul. The first meeting between the two teams ended in an exciting 4-4 tie. The second meeting was for the League Shield and for home field advantage in the playoffs. The two teams battled throughout the regular time with a score of 1-1. After the overtime play, the result was the same, and St. Paul eventually prevailed in penalty kicks.

The Knights defeated the Falcons with a score of 2-0 earning the Champions for the second time of the Elementary Soccer League.

The Junior High School volleyball team ended the year at 11-5 and swept Westminster Academy (WA), 25-20; 25-20 in the finals to take the South Atlantic Coast Conference (SACC) title.

The Junior High volleyball team of Highlands Christian Academy had a great season,” said Coach Shannon Ratzlaff. “With some big wins over Boca Christian and The King’s Academy, the girls improved significantly throughout the course of the season. It was nice to play WA in the championship game this year as they defeated us for last year’s SACC Championship.”

Knights’ eighth-grader Aiyana Garcia had 12 service points in the second game of the championship to seal the win.

The Junior High School football team completed a perfect season by winning all six of its games, while the HCA Elementary School volleyball team downed Sheridan Hills to win the SACC Championship. The team finished 6-2.

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Drug bust in Deerfield

Posted on 12 December 2014 by JimLusk

fake-synthetic-bad-marijuanaIn the wee morning hours, on Dec. 12, DEA agents busted into a local food store, a Kwik Stop, on Hillsboro Boulevard. The reason — synthetic marijuana.

The store was allegedly selling up to 10,000 packets of the stuff weekly. Going by names like K2, Spice, Cloud 9, WTF and Diablo, this product consists of chemicals that mimic the effect of THC, which the people allegedly bought from China and sprayed on something like potpourri.

This product is a chemical and can be very harmful, especially because the potency is not necessarily consistent, so it’s hard for the user to know how much or how little is being used and how the body will react to it. It can be extremely dangerous.

Fifteen people were reported as being arrested after undercovers discovered they were using it as a distribution center, selling it only to people who used a code word or who seemed trustworthy, but telling others that they did not sell the product.

Synthetic marijuana is not a new product. In fact, it has been rampant in the area and there was even a movie made about it. Back in February of this year, the movie “Not For Human Consumption,  directed by Chris Alonso, hit the theater, outlining a story based on the synthetic marijuana trade that emerged in West Palm Beach. To see the film, visit http://notforhumanconsumptionthemovie.com.


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FAU ends with loss to Old Dominion

Posted on 11 December 2014 by L.Moore

sports121114Finished season 3-9, 6th Conference USA

By Jacob Shendell

Old Dominion defeated Florida Atlantic University (FAU) in the final minutes last Saturday on a 27-yard field goal 31-28. Much like FAU’s other losses this year, they could do nothing but watch as Old Dominion held onto the ball for the last five minutes of the game, much like four of the other games the Owls played this season.

FAU recognized 19 players in a pre-game ceremony who were playing their final game at FAU Stadium.

In the midst of what looks to be another failure of a season, the Owls did land a $16 million donation from Richard Schmidt to help build a new athletic facility to boost the football program, and, hopefully, propel them to the next level.

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Broward County Special Election- Dist 2 Commissioner TODAY

Posted on 04 December 2014 by JimLusk

fw7xR.So.56   The Election for the District 2 seat on the Broward County Commission is

being held today, Thursday, December 4th. This district encompasses Coconut

Creek from the Florida Turnpike west to S.R. 441 and south to Mcnab Road

as well as portions of Ft. Lauderdale. According to the Supervisor of Elections office. only registered Democrats are allowed to vote in this election.


The Observer highly recommends that you vote for Charlotte Rodstrom today.

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Broward County Special Election- District 2 Commissioner

Posted on 04 December 2014 by L.Moore

The election for the District 2 seat on the Broward County Commission is being held today, Thursday, December 4th

Coconut Creek from the Florida Turnpike west to S.R. 441 and south to McNab as well as portions of Fort Lauderdale. According to the Supervisor of Elections Office, only registered Democrats are allowed to vote in this election.
The Observer highly recommends that you vote for Charlotte Rodstrom today.

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Smith signs with FAU

Posted on 04 December 2014 by L.Moore

sports120414By Gary Curreri

Kaitlyn Smith won’t be far from home when it comes to playing collegiate sports. The Highlands Christian Academy senior will be playing just 6 miles up Interstate-95 from the school’s campus.

Smith, 18, a Ft. Lauderdale native who lives in Deerfield Beach, will play sand volleyball for Florida Atlantic University (FAU). Smith has been at Highlands Christian Academy for 12 1/2 years.

I have been playing sand volleyball for five years,” Smith said. “One of my friends (Kealey Wik) asked me to play one time and I have loved it ever since. She is an inspiration to me.”

Smith said she loves how the sport keeps her in shape and how it is a beautiful atmosphere on the beach.

I have made a lot of relationships and it presents both mental and physical challenges, which have made me strong and who I am today,” Smith said. “Winning is important to me, but how you get there is what matters. When I play, I worry about how I play, how I can help improve my partner and my game. I also make sure that I supply good sportsmanship.”

She also plays for the Tribe indoor volleyball club and DVA Sand volleyball. She played in the Junior Olympics in California and competed in the High Performance All-Star program in Deerfield Beach.

Smith carries a 4.0 gradepoint- average and is dual enrolled at FAU. She selected the Boca Raton school over four other schools, including Stetson, Florida Gulf Coast, University of Florida (UF) and the University of Central Florida. She visited all of the schools except for UF. She plans to study criminology and math.

I chose FAU because it is close, a great school and [has] incredible coaching,” Smith said. “Head coach Capri (Grotowski), and her assistants Kendra (Van Zwieten) and Tammy (Pelski), are a few of the best there is … so, who wouldn’t chose FAU?”

Smith said she was pleased with the Knights indoor volleyball season. The team finished 16-9. She finished with 13 kills, 75 service points, 27 assists and 718 digs. Smith is the No. 1 ranked libero in the state, according to MaxPreps, and is ranked No. 65 in the nation.

We had a great season,” Smith said. “Even though we didn’t finish how we planned, I learned a lot. As always, I kept my skills up while I was away from the sand.”

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Ondo wins first flight Women’s Amateur Golf

Posted on 27 November 2014 by L.Moore

sports112714By Gary Curreri

Deerfield Beach’s Karen Ondo has only played in the Broward Women’s Amateur Golf Tournament a handful of times; however, she is happy she did this year as she and 65 other women braved the miserable weather at the recent tournament at Jacaranda Golf Club in Plantation.

Ondo, 66, won First Flight of the tournament with a twoday total of 158. She was also the top low net player in her Flight with a 5-under par, 138. The First Flight played shorter distances than the Championship Flight. Plantation’s Ann Fulginiti, 61, captured the Champ i o n s h i p Flight when she carded a two-day total of 162.

I never keep track of my score,” Ondo said. “I know if I am doing okay or not doing okay. To me, it is the course and me. I think it is a challenge. I love it.”

Ondo, who was previously VP of Communications for Broward Health and now consults in health industry, didn’t play last year. She wasn’t sure if she was going to play this year, as she was a last minute entrant as she drove two straight days from her North Carolina summer home to make the tournament.

I had no expectations,” Ondo said. “I was surprised when I saw the scoreboard (after the first day). I was shocked. My strength is my putting, my driver and my irons so it really set up nice for me.”

Ondo has been playing golf for 19 years. She said there was too much business being done on the golf course and wanted to be good enough to play in the charity tournaments so she took lessons and told her boss at the time (Richard Schirey) that she was going to hit the links.

I said I am playing in this tournament and he said, ‘you don’t play golf’ and I said, ‘yes I do.’ So he made me go out and play with him and I beat him on the front nine of Inverrary and he said, ‘I think you can play golf.’ He bought me a windbreaker that day,” she said. “I’m happy about winning this,” Ondo said. “I’m great. It’s great the way the tournament turned out. It was iffy for me to even sign up because I knew we were just getting back from North Carolina. When I saw the weather today, I thought maybe they’d call it and just tell us to go eat lunch. The weather actually was better today than it was the first day.”

sports112714-bPompano Beach High School’s girls volleyball team came up short in its bid for a Class 5A state title when it fell in the regional finals to visiting Merritt Island, 25-18, 25-17, 16-25, 26-24.

Despite the loss, it was the farthest the Tornadoes had ever gone in a season following previous losses in the regional semifinals, including last season to Cardinal Gibbons (25-17, 25-18, 25-22, 25- 15). Pompano Beach defeated rival Cardinal Gibbons three times this season en route to a 23-7 mark.

I told them to be proud of what we accomplished,” said Pompano Beach coach William Strachan. “It was a good year. They (Merritt Island) just outhustled us.”

Pompano Beach junior Cassidy Bonito led the Tornadoes with 24 digs, 23 assists and 13 kills, while Casey Calhoun added 27 digs and 23 assists.

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Ely falls 21-13 in regional playoff game

Posted on 20 November 2014 by L.Moore

sports112014By Gary Curreri

Blanche Ely first year football coach Nakia Jenkins left the field Friday night following his team’s Class 7A regional quarterfinal loss to Atlantic convinced he had the better team.

The problem was Atlantic is moving on in the postseason following the 21-13 win and the Tigers will have to wait another year to see if it can reach the same heights it did in 2002 when it won the Class 5A state championship and finished the year 14-1.

Jenkins, the school’s sixth coach since 2006, cited the team’s inexperience as a key factor in the loss. The Tigers have only won more than seven games three times since former coach Steve Davis left the school and went to Plantation in 2003.

I’ve been telling my guys all season that you guys have to make the best of every opportunity and dropped balls killed us again,” Jenkins said. “Dropped balls and blown opportunities … Early in the game we are down in the red zone and we don’t capitalize … just miscues and it shows that we are a young team. We learn from experience and I am proud of them. We will just get ready for next year.”

Atlantic High junior quarterback Edwin Hernandez threw two touchdowns within a 2-minute and 48 second span of the third quarter to give the Eagles (9-2) the victory. Hernandez tossed touchdown passes of 19 yards to Markinson Ripert and 30 yards to Lamar Washington to stake the Eagles to a 14-0 lead.

Blanche Ely (6-5) cut the deficit in half to 14-7 on an 8-yard scamper by Teddrick Moffett with 11:49 left in the game; however, the Eagles wasted little time in answering as Davan Cleckley returned the ensuing kickoff 80 yards for a 21-7 lead.

Blanche Ely closed the gap to 21-13 on a 23-yard scoring pass from Moffett to Laderrick Smith with 2:19 remaining in the game, but the Tigers couldn’t tie the contest after it got the ball back with just 45 seconds left on its own 9-yard line.

Blanche Ely also had a chance to take the lead at 3-0 with 8:15 remaining in the third quarter when Carmeley Charite’s 30-yard field goal attempt was wide right. Demeterice Bellamy finished the game with 11 carries for 54 yards for the Tigers, while Laderrick Smith caught 5 passes for 94 yards.

Atlantic won the contest despite committing 18 penalties for 187 yards that nearly wiped out its 260 yards of offense in the game.

Jenkins’ team featured 80 percent of its roster with players in their first year on varsity. Three of the team’s five losses came in the closing minutes to Deerfield Beach, Miami Northwestern and Plantation.

We just got to learn how to finish ball games, man,” Jenkins said. “It shows. We had opportunities. We should have beaten this team tonight, hands down. We just didn’t capitalize on the opportunities that we had and that has haunted us all year. We’ll take it. We’ll learn from it and just get ready for next year.”

Jenkins said the most important thing the team should bring away from the season is to play a complete game.

They need to learn to play four quarters,” Jenkins said. “They need to learn to fight through adversity. They need to learn from mistakes. Dropped balls killed us all year and we probably had seven to eight dropped balls tonight and that could have helped us. We got away with it early in the season, but playing a good, solid team like that which runs the ball well and chews up a lot of clock, that’s what happens.”

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Chris Evert Pro-Celebrity Tennis Classic in Delray next weekend

Posted on 13 November 2014 by JimLusk

2013 Chris Evert/Raymond James Pro-Celebrity Tennis Classic

Chris Evert and Kevin McKidd, 2013.

By Rachel Galvin

Since 1989, the Chris Evert Pro-Celebrity Tennis Classic has been bringing in professional tennis players and celebrities in to play together in the spirit of philanthropy.

Besides the pro-celebrity tennis at the Delray Beach Tennis Center and Boca Raton Resort & Club, there also are plenty of opportunities to meet the stars and pros at the Classic Cocktail Party, at the Pro-Celebrity Gala and at Tennis with Chrissie and Friends at the Pro-Am. The event will be held Nov. 21-23.

According to the public relations staff at the event, this year with bring in plenty of celebs, including TV personalities Gayle King, Hoda Kotb and Rob Marciano, singers Gavin Rossdale and David Cook, and actors Kevin McKidd Timothy Olyphant, Maeve Quinlan and Jon Lovitz. They will play against former tennis pros Martina Navratilova, 

The first event was held in October 1989, one month after Ms. Evert’s final U.S. Open.

1989 Program Cover

The program from the first event in 1989.

Her personal assistant, Tami Starr, said, “The first year was held at the Polo Club. Whitney Houston performed. For a couple of years, we built stands at the Boca Raton Resort and Club, then the Boca Country Club. [Now, the Delray Beach Tennis Center].”

Through the years, the event has stayed pretty much the same, said Starr, adding that it brings the celebs, pros and vendors back year after year.

The camaraderie on the court seems to keep onlookers entertained every year.

Ms. Evert’s sister, Jeannie Dubin, explained, “There is a lot of joking around. Jon Lovitz keeps the score. The players and celebs. wear mics on the court. It is a great event.”

The number of people who attend not only benefit the charities that Ms. Evert supports, but also the local area. Ms. Dubin said that people stop by on Atlantic Avenue to have a drink (or get something to eat) in between matches.

Rick Vach, the communications and marketing coordinator of the United States Tennis Association (USTA) said, “Celebrities come to the event year after year. It is fun to watch. The Delray Beach Tennis Center does a wonderful job. It is an incredible boon to the community.”

The steady attendance could be attributed to the popularity of the sport, according to Vach.

2013 Chris Evert/Raymond James Pro-Celebrity Tennis Classic

Jon Lovitz, Mats Wilander, Chrissie, Elisabeth Shue, Kevin McKidd.

He said, “Tennis is the top growing recreational sport in the last 10 years. The number of people playing is on a constant upswing.”

Besides sponsoring the Pro-Celebrity Classic, local businesses can also set up booths and showcase their products and services yearly as well.

The Tri-County Humane Society goes every year to show off their dogs that are up for adoption.

Co-founder Susie Goldsmith said, “We go back because the people who put it on are wonderful friends of the animals. They gave us this opportunity to have the animals there “taking center court.” People can see these beautiful dogs and come over and adopt; don’t shop. It is a win-win all the way around.”

The Humane Society dogs will receive a “Bow-to-Wow” makeover before being paraded in front of everyone in the stadium, escorted by event celebs.

But this is not the only animal-friendly event.

Dog lovers can get some love at the puppy kissing booth for only $1. The money helps the Humane Society.

In addition, man’s best friend shows off some skills at a special K-9 demonstration. Former Navy Seal Mike Ritland, who trains dogs for the military and law enforcement, will bring along his 3-year old Dutch Shepherd to do the demonstrations in between matches.

There is never a dull moment at the event, as there is plenty of entertainment to be enjoyed.


Illusionist Gary Goodman will perform at half-time.

Illusionist Gary Goodman looks forward to performing again this year. He has been part of the center court half-time entertainment for 10 years. He is familiar with performing at athletic functions; he also has worked for the Miami Heat for eight seasons.

I will be doing grand illusions like you see in Las Vegas,” said Goodman, who performs magic full-time around the country. “I will be working with my female assistant. It will be six or seven minutes of fast-paced illusions.”

Kids can stop by the Festival du Soleil where they will find plenty of fun and games. They can event get their face-painted. Children 10 years and under receive free admission (must be accompanied by an adult).

Although the event is filled with fun, it all comes down to giving back to charity. Since its inception, the event has provided over $21.2 million toward fighting against drug abuse and child neglect in the state.

When asked why she started the event, Chris Evert said, “I wanted to give back as I have been so fortunate. I want to give people a second chance.”

She wanted to give back earlier in her career, but did not feel she could give enough time, opting instead to wait until she was able to devote more of herself to the cause and to oversee it.

Her first event helped The Drug Abuse Foundation of Palm Beach County open drug treatment facilities. She later joined with The Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida, a non-profit who helps to prevent issues like drug abuse by pregnant women and mothers. The governor at the time of the event’s inception, Governor Martinez, matched the funds Ms. Evert received, which doubled the funds afterward.

Last year, the event raised $600,000 dollars.

Lonnie Parizek, director of communications at Ounce of Prevention, said that Ms. Evert is “an outspoken advocate for something that affects the most vulnerable populations, such as children who are abused.”

She added that Ms. Evert also gives back through a scholarship [the Vitas Gerulaitis scholarship] for women and girls.

Ms. Parizek said, “It helps women to better themselves and get an education. Thirty-eight scholarships have been given. This year is the 39th. There are one to two [recipients] per year. Once or twice, it was three. [In order to apply for the scholarship], girls write an essay on their experiences, their goals and dreams.”

If you are ready to watch the matches, meet the celebrities and pros and enjoy the fun, buy your tickets quickly. To purchase tickets or for more information, call 561-394-2400, or visit www.chrisevert.org.


Event at a glance:

Tennis Pro-Am and Classic Cocktail Reception

Where: Boca Raton Resort & Club

When: Friday, Nov. 21

What: Mingle poolside with participants, enjoy music and sample the hors d’oeuvres while sipping on cocktails in style.

Pro-Celebrity Tennis

Where: Delray Beach Stadium & Tennis Center

When: Saturday, Nov. 22 & Sunday, Nov. 23

What: Play tennis with the pros and enjoy lunch with the participants.

Tickets: $20 general admission; $40 to $90, premium seating

Charity Gala

Where: Boca Resort & Club

When: Saturday, Nov. 22

What: Dinner, dancing, live entertainment, as well as live and silent auctions.

Tickets: $750; sponsorship packets with other events available.



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Annunziata headed to sectional skating event

Posted on 30 October 2014 by L.Moore

sports103014By Gary Curreri

Pompano Beach’s Lara Annunziata recently placed third in the Ladies Final and qualified for the 2015 Eastern Sectional Figure Skating Championships, which will be held in Raleigh, NC from Nov. 19-23.

It marked the second consecutive year that Annunziata, 11, a Shepherd of the Coast sixth grader, finished third at the regional competition. Annunziata was one of 29 skaters from the Panthers Figure Skating Club (PFSC) that went to competition.

I am happy I made it to sectionals again,” said Annunziata, who moved up to a higher division this year. “It’s a little longer program and has an extra jump. It is a little more tiring.”

Annunziata said it is important to make eye contact with the judges and the sectional qualification is a culmination of her hard work throughout the year.

I really don’t think of anything when I am out on the ice,” she said. “I kind of go with the flow. I clear my mind. It is really important to go to sectionals in my first time at this level.”

Deerfield Beach’s Rachel Metzner placed 11th in the Novice Ladies Division. The 15-year-old North Broward Prep sophomore also moved up a division this year and has been skating for the past nine years.

I love everything about it,” Metzner said. “It is the way I feel on the ice. It is indescribable. I really enjoy being out on the ice. I feel free. I can do whatever I want. My friends always ask me why I do a sport that takes so much time. My answer is because I love it and it is what I want to do. I want to continue on with it in the future.”

When she first started, she had no idea it was going to morph into what it has become.

I first started taking group lessons with my friend because she was having a birthday party and I did Stanley C. Classes here,” Metzner recalled. “When I finished, I cried because I didn’t want to get off the ice so my mom signed me up for private lessons.”

She is pleased with the effort she has put into the sport. This was her fifth trip to regionals and she made it to the finals in juvenile two years ago.

I am most proud of all of the obstacles I have overcome,” Metzner said. “I have had a lot of injuries. I have had knee injuries, a broken collarbone, torn rotator cuff, collapsed lung and, right now, I have a cracked rib cage.

For me, it is cool to see how I have been able to come back from all of my injuries and still compete,” Metzner added. “I still stay motivated, which I think is really important. When I was injured, it was really hard for me for me to do. I sat at home and got ahead in my homework and got to see my friends. I wasn’t happy. My life felt incomplete when I wasn’t on the ice. I am happy I am back.”

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