By 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.