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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FLICKS: X+Y, The Record Man, Walking Man, Hidden Assets & The Lost Key

Posted on 02 April 2015 by L.Moore

PBiFF2015Ellar Coltane and Randi Emerman Axler (2)By Dave Montalbano


The April zeitgeist known as the Palm Beach International Film Festival (PBIFF) wraps up tonight at Boca Raton Cinemark Palace 20 with While We’re Young, starring Amanda Seyfried, Naomi Watts, Ben Stiller, Adam Driver and Charles Grodin.

The final party will be at Yoko-San Restaurant, 99 SE Mizner Blvd, Boca Raton.

When The Observer started covering PBIFF in 2003, young Ellar Coltrane was just beginning work on his 2014 movie Boyhood [which received an Oscar for actress Patricia Arquette]. After a whirlwind of promotion,[including picking up a Shooting Star award at PBIFF], this fine young gentleman will be returning to Texas as he makes plans to attend college in New England.

Directed by FSU alumnus Mark Moorman, The Record Man provides nostalgia for people who grew up in South Florida during the 1970s. With George McCrae receiving the key to the city of West Palm Beach, the sold-out audience responded with religious fervor, including singing along with Steve Alaimo, KC and the Sunshine band.

2006 PBIFF voluntePBiFF2015 Mr and Mrs George McCrae (2)er Mitchell Egber produced The Record Man and organized the music for the gala event Saturday Night at the home of Marty & Joyce Kobak. Besides hob knobbing with guests like Connie Francis and Tom Arnold, the party featured live performances by George McCrae, Jimmy “Bo” Horne, Charlotte McKinnon and the Derek Mack Band.

While celebrities and parties draw attention, the purpose of a good film festival is to feature the work of independent filmmakers. Asa Butterfield stars as mathematical genius with poor social skills in X + Y, a British drama with much dry humor. Although laced with profanity, this is a family film shot in Great Britain and Asia. It is one of the best movies I’ve seen this year for its logical unpredictability.

Josh Salzberg brought his documentary Walking Man to town, a father/son road movie about suicide prevention. With echoes of the Reese Witherspoon movie Wild, Salzberg brings a raw authenticity about healing by a cross country walk through the state of Missouri.

Word-of-mouth has been strong for the Alfred Hitchcock inspired Hidden Assets, directed by local actress Jacqueline Journey.

The Lost Key has inspired discussions about the meaning of intimacy.

It’s sad that we have to wait another year for such an intimate festival … PBIFF.

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Putting on the Ritz

Posted on 26 March 2015 by JimLusk


La Mystique dancers showed their moves.

Photos by Rachel Galvin

The Deerfield Chamber of Commerce transformed the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel for their Gatsby-themed gala March 21 — the biggest fundraiser of the year.

 Guests dressed to the nines. La Mystique dancers shimmied and shook on the dance floor, posing for pics. A cigarette girl strolled with candy. A long line of auction items were up for silent bid and a live auction was commandeered by Pompano Mayor Lamar Fisher ($25,000 worth of auction items in all).

Honey Bunch Florist, which created the feathered centerpieces, was one of the Big Shots honored, along with Seawood Builders, Bartell Chiropractic, Broward Health, Oceans 234, Bicycle Generation, Awards by Academy and JP Miller & Sons. Key Club students assisted.                  

Guests dined on three-course meal and danced the night away.


Kiwanis Club enjoyed the evening.


Jim “Chiefy” Mathie, author, columnist, host and lover of nautical views, and Danielle Williams, of Oceans 234.


Commissioner Joe Miller and his wife Carolyn.


Broward Health was among the honorees.


Guests were all smiles as they enjoyed the evening, which included a three-course meal.


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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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Festival of the Arts

Posted on 20 March 2015 by JimLusk


Screening of “West Side Story” with accompaniment by Festival Orchestra-BOCA opened the festival.

By Rachel Galvin

Every year, since 2007, the Festival of the Arts has turned Mizner Park in Boca Raton into a mecca for those seeking art and culture. Held March 6 to 15, the festival included music, dance, film, book talks with award-winning journalists and more. The festivities began with a screening of the classic film “West Side Story” with Leonard Bernstein’s music brought to life by Festival Orchestra – BOCA. On March 4, author Jamie Bernstein also talked about her book about her father and his legacy.

The weekend continued with a screening of the documentary “Girl Rising,” a film focused on the importance of giving girls an education, followed by a discussion moderated by Barbara Schmidt, founder of Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life. Included in the panel was Per Loof, a director of the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, U.S. Congressman Ted Deutch and Julie Hogan, deputy statewide prosecutor of the Attorney General Office of Statewide Prosecution. At night, banjo superstars Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn played. Sunday included a talk by Richard Ford, a Pulitzer prize-winning author talking about his book “Let Me Be Frank With You,” and a performance by the International Stars of Ballet.

The festival of the Arts continued weeklong so there was plenty of opportunity to enjoy, including a Mozart concert with Festival Orchestra – BOCA and a talk by author Lucinda Franks with a concert later by Young People’s Chorus of New York City and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Master Chorale of South Florida, Festival Orchestra – BOCA and soloists. The last day included a talk by author and radio personality Martin Goldsmith.

For details on all events, visit www.festivaloftheartsboca.org.


A discussion followed screening of “Girl Rising” opening weekend. Pictured (L to R): Per Loop, Julie Hogan, Congressman Ted Deutch, Barbara Schmidt.


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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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BREAKING: Gas Leak- The Cove Shopping Center evacuated

Posted on 15 March 2015 by JimLusk

IMG_1883By Rachel Galvin

As of 10:41 p.m (3/15/15)., SE 15th is filled with fire trucks and BSO. According to a source, there is a gas leak currently being investigated. Gas is coming from the roadway in the 300 block. Businesses in The Cove Shopping Center and some apartments have been evacuated at the time of this writing. Stay tuned for more details.

11:18 p.m: A source with BSO states that it is not a propane line, but a propane tank under the roadway that seems to feed the surrounding buildings. The leak was detected via smell and also sensors. They are still assessing the situation. Meanwhile, the apartment buildings in that block have been evacuated and the residents are standing around waiting to see when they can return.

12:42 p.m. According to BSO FR PIO, ” Hazmat techs have secured the leak. Tank will likely have to be dug up and replaced.”




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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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