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Northeast Florida's Winter and Spring Athletic Awards Banquets

Diabetes No Match for Providence Tennis Player

Hitting New Heights Emily Dixon West Nassau High School

Bringing Home the State Title




Ponte Vedra

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Creekside Basketball Player Commits to Embry Riddle University J'Michael Plummer Player Profiles Northeast Florida’s Top Athletes

Bringing Home the State Title Ponte Vedra High School

Talley Resides Over Duval County Public School Sports



Tammie Talley

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In The Game | 7

FROM THE PUBLISHER Summer is here! The weather is starting to become hot and humid, school is out, and high school sports have come to a close. In this issue of In the Game, we will highlight athletes who were recognized at our winter and spring Athletic Awards Banquets. It is such an honor for us to lift up these top athletes as a community and recognize their achievements in athletics, academics, and volunteering. Our cover is Stewart Slayden from Ponte Vedra High School. He won the individual title and also the team title at state. He hopes to one day join the pros and is such a humble, determined young man that there is no doubt in my mind he will make it. We also learn about Rachel Pinter, a tennis player from Providence who has Type 1 diabetes. She doesn’t let this hold her back. She continues to play and push the bounds of her sport while also continuing to thrive academically. She is also heavily involved in the community and raises money for programs that fund research for Type 1. We also speak with Creekside’s cheer coach, Laura Clary, whose team won the 1A state title. She is creating a winning culture at Creekside by pushing her athletes to be good students and people first. Emily Dixon from West Nassau is our Farah and Farah Progress Award winner. Dixon is the homerun hitter for the city of Jacksonville and will play at the college level at the College of Central Florida next year. Here at In the Game we never cease to be amazed by the community we cover and their inspiring stories. We continue to come across athletes who really hone in on what living life In the Game means: living each day with passion, determination, and positivity. We can’t wait to see what the 2018-19 year brings and to continue sharing the stories of those who inspire us each and every day. If you know of any athlete, coach, or program that embodies this spirit, head to our website to nominate a story idea. As always, we thank you for your continued support of In the Game and your local athletic programs. To make sure you never miss a chance to stay In the Game, follow us on social media @itgnext and check out our new website,

If you’re in search of great stories, we have the answer. features apparel, stories from the magazine, and much more all at your finger tips. There is even a spot to submit your ideas to us.

Tell us what you thought about the April/May issue of In the Game!

Contributors Publisher Mark Dykes Editor Anna Limoges Susannah Parmenter Graphics Mandy Douthit Jarius Bailey Cover Photography Garrison Muelhausen Feature Photography Garrison Muelhausen Player Profile Photography Garrison Muelhausen Feature Writers Susannah Parmenter Jeff Elliott Mary Catherine Bell Gerald Thomas III Brandon Carroll Copy Editor Anna Limoges Advertising/Marketing Mark Dykes

Website Manager Mandy Douthit

In the Game is published bi-monthly. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced in part or in full without written consent from the publisher. M&S makes no representation or warranty of any kind for accuracy of content. All advertisements are assumed by the publisher to be correct. Copyright 2018 M&S. All rights reserved. ISSN 1945-1458

@ITGNext In The Game | 9

The YMCA of Florida’s First Coast is proud to announce that In The Game Sports Network is now the official coverage partner of the Y’s First Coast Games.


Beginning in March: Channel 4 • Saturdays at 3:30pm YouTube • First Coast YMCA Facebook • First Coast Games

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Garrison Muelhausen Video Coordinator

Mark Dykes

Mandy Douthit

Chief Executive Officer

Creative Director

Founder Mark Dykes is the entrepreneur and mastermind behind the In the Game vision. Back in 2007, Mark set out to create a company that captured the passion, intensity, and unrivalled commitment toward high school athletics in the South Georgia area. Today, that vision has become a reality, and he continues to be the leading influence in what lies ahead for ITG Next, despite his annual prediction that UGA will win the national championship.

As a Pine Mountain, Georgia, native, Mandy’s move to Valdosta has brought enhanced artistry and intricacy to the ITG design team. The University of West Georgia alum graduated with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in art with a concentration in graphic design. Her artistic nature has allowed her to use graphic design to win national and international design competitions, all of which are meant to serve as diversions and coping mechanisms for Alabama’s loss against Auburn.

Moving from Atlanta, Garrison is now a member of our growing video department in Jacksonville. As a graduate of Thomas County Central and Valdosta State University, this filmmaker has been filming and working in a variety of sports since high school all the way up to working for CBS Sports. He always strives to add creative pizzazz in all of his work and in his own personal hobbies such as drawing graphic novels.

aNNA Limoges

Susannah Parmenter

Mary Catherine Bell


Area Coordinator

Journalism/Video intern

After four years as an interdisciplinary studies major at Valdosta State University and nearly two years as an ITG intern, Anna has remained a member of the team as an editor. Since her start in early 2016, she has devoted her editorial eye toward serving as one of the first and last lines of defense against errors within these pages. More importantly, while her Facebook page says that she likes the Saints, there is fortunately no other sign of such irrational fandom.

Susannah Parmenter is a Florida transplant originally from California. After graduating from California State University, Fullerton with a broadcast journalism degree, she continued her education with a meteorology degree from Florida State. Now, as part of In the Game, she combines her journalism and broadcast skills to highlight the athletes who inspire and motivate us to release our “inner champions.”

A native of Charleston, South Carolina, and a student-athlete at Flagler College, Mary Catherine aspires to bring her passions for sports and journalism into one dream. After making leaps and bounds playing soccer at the collegiate level, she hopes to use this unique background in her evolving work as an ITG intern.

Jeff Elliott

Gerald Thomas III

Joshua Miller

Contributing Writer

Journalism Intern

Journalism Intern

After graduating from Michigan State University, Jeff Elliott worked at the Big Ten Conference office for 20 years, the last 17 years as the director of public relations. He moved to Jacksonville in 1990 and became editor of Jacksonville Sport magazine for four years and then was a sports writer and TV columnist for the Times-Union for 14 years. He is currently a correspondent with the Associated Press covering all Jaguars and Florida Gators home football games.

Born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, Gerald is now a mass media major at Valdosta State University. He started working for In the Game in the Spring of 2018 to offer his writing flair and to generate exciting sports content. Gerald enjoys the writing aspect of mass media, whether it be journalism or screenwriting. He is always looking to grow and improve his craft. Gerald has grown to rely on the future, as his favorite team, the Atlanta Falcons, disappoints him every season.

Joshua was born and raised in Gwinnet County and joined ITG in the fall of 2017. Currently a junior mass media major at Valdosta State, Joshua is aiming toward a career as a sports television personality. Although he’s still learning new techniques in sports journalism, his admiration and knowledge of a variety of sports is easily recognized. As a diehard Dallas Cowboys fan, he has learned to remain optimistic towards his goals despite the inevitable obstacles in the way.


Northeast Florida

In the Game Be great. Don’t settle for less than the best. Shoot for the top and land there. Get In the Game. Stay In the Game. Live In the Game.


In The Game | 13

ITG Next Ambassadors 2017-18 In 2017, ITG Next launched its inaugural Ambassador Program. ITG Next Ambassadors exhibit academic excellence, a passion for athletics, outstanding character, and a strong commitment to their schools and communities. As role models, Ambassadors are encouraged to inspire their peers to explore and create new initiatives within their high schools and communities by being a part of In the Game’s mission, which is inspiring your inner athlete toward the passionate pursuit of excellence, on and off the field.

Be a part of ITG Next’s 2018-19 Ambassador Program!

For more information, email us at

Tamara Barrs Mandarin High SchooL

Brandon Carroll

Cooper Huskey

Creekside High School

Bishop Kenny High School

Kofi is a sophomore at Paxon School for Advanced Studies, and his hobbies are track and cross country, which he also runs competitively. Besides running, he enjoys hanging out with friends and going to new places. His goal is to one day become a neurologist because it is an amazing field filled with uncertainty. Kofi joined the Ambassador Program to expand his skill set and make new connections.

Tamara, 17, is a junior at Mandarin High School. She became an Ambassador to meet like-minded peers and to explore new opportunities. Her passions are basketball, running the 300 IH hurdles, and reading. When she graduates high school, Tamara plans to attend a 4-year university and major in veterinary medicine.

Brandon is a junior at Creekside High. In addition to being an Ambassador he is also a student-journalist with his school’s own media program, Creekside Sports Management, where his articles are often published online. He became an Ambassador to improve his writing and make new connections. Brandon hopes to pursue some type of career in the sports industry in the future.

Cooper is a senior at Bishop Kenny High School. He became an Ambassador to help build his skills to become a sports broadcaster for television. Being a part of this program, he is excited to further his anchoring skills on the television show and also learn how to film and edit different sports in new ways. Going into sports journalism is not work for Cooper, but a passion.

Jalondra Jackson

Leah Pelham

Taryn Peterson

Paxon School

Episcopal School of Jacksonville

Leah, 16, is a sophomore at Paxon School for Advanced Studies. Her favorite things to do are play tennis, run, and participate in her youth group at church. In the future, she hopes to be a physical therapist so she can help athletes just like her. Leah chose to be an Ambassador for In the Game so she can meet new students and network with people who can help her reach her goals.

Taryn is a junior at the Episcopal School of Jacksonville. She is an avid tennis player and has been on the varsity team since sixth grade. She also has a deep interest in video production and has produced many promotional films for her school. She hopes to attend University of Virginia or Georgetown University to pursue her passion for psychology. Taryn wanted to join the In the Game Ambassador Program to continue learning about video production. She also hopes to learn more about social media, communications, and writing for magazines.

Kofi Bame Paxon School

Sandalwood High School Jalondra, 16, is a junior at Sandalwood High School. In her free time, you can find her shopping or expanding her wardrobe in some way. She's always had a passion for fashion, a passion that seems to grow as she begins to launch her fashion styling/consulting business. Becoming an Ambassador for In the Game will provide Jalondra with opportunities to enhance her entrepreneurial spirit. This program will give her the chance to work on her merchandising and networking skills.

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Creekside Basketball Player Commits to Embry Riddle University Written by: Brandon Carroll, ITG Next Ambassador Photography by: lake Kiser, Creekside Sport Management Photographer

J’Michael “Jay” Plummer, a senior point guard for the Creekside Knights basketball team, is a class of 2018 college signee.

As a 4 year starter, he is the only player in Creekside history to eclipse the 1,000 point mark in his career. But he is ready to take on the next big challenge in his life: college basketball. Plummer committed to Embry Riddle University in January. He explained that Embry Riddle “really did feel right” for him and “they were different” from the other teams that showed interest. Coach Steve Ridder told Plummer that the team needed someone who could come in and be a floor general. When he got to visit and watch a game, Plummer realized that is exactly what they were missing and what has prohibited the Eagles from taking the next step as a team. He felt that the honesty shown by the coaches on the recruiting campaign led him to Embry Riddle and showed him their character. Another aspect that

Plummer looked at seriously was the distance from home. His mother said that it is such a big part of his life, so he really wanted to be somewhere where she was able to come and see him play. When asked about the biggest influence in his life to get to this point, Plummer responded that many different influences carried him through his basketball journey, includding all the coaches, fellow teammates, friends, and family members; however, the largest would be his mother, Ornett Jackson. She has always been his biggest fan and supported his career. Having Plummer in close proximity to her will no doubt mean she will be at his college games, supporting him just as she always has. While the step from high school ball to college may be tough for many student-athletes around the country, Plummer feels that he is prepared for a smooth transition. His teams at Creekside have been dominant in recent years by making it deep into

the state playoffs. Experiencing big time games that have increased tempos and having everything out on the line is great for him going forward.

“The good thing about Embry Riddle is that I will be able to go over and take some summer classes and be able to get into the flow,” Plummer said. Getting into the flow will be an enormous advantage over other incoming freshmen athletes, as he will be adapted to the college world and begin to focus on basketball as well as his academics. Plummer is well suited to take on this challenge as he looks to continue to grind and advance his game. He is a well-rounded player with many of the tools in the bag to be able to make it big for himself. With his grit and determination, nothing seems to be able to keep him from achieving great things at the next level.

Basketball Trivia Only 40 basketball players have ever won both NCAA and NBA championships including:

Michael Jordan Magic Johnson Corey Brewer Professional and Collegiate Basketball Players Who Scored 100 Points in a Single Game:

Wilt Chamberlain Philadelphia Warriors

Jack Taylor Grinnell College

Clarence “Bevo” Francis Rio Grande College

Paul Arizin Villanova University

Frank Selvy Furman University

James Naismith, a teacher at a YMCA in Springfield, Massachusetts, is credited with inventing basketball in 1891.

In The Game | 15

Josephine Morrill Bishop Kenny

Volleyball Outside Hitter

What is the most memorable moment of your sports career to date? My most memorable sports moment would be setting the school record for the most kills in a game. I found out at the end of the season and was so shocked. After your sports career is over, what do you see yourself doing? I’d love to travel the world and see what types of businesses I could get involved with internationally. Who has helped you the most in your sports career? Coach Winkler has been so great. She is such an amazing coach, parent, teacher, and mentor. Coach Winkler is the best role model and has impacted my life so much.

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Who is your biggest sports inspiration? My biggest sports inspiration is my older brother,


He plays DI baseball, and seeing him love what he’s doing so much pushes me to get to that level.

What makes you different from everyone else?


and try to fill my extra time working with the special needs children at the North Florida School of Special Education.

Claire Cywes Bolles

Soccer Goalkeeper State Champion

What is the most memorable moment of your sports career to date? Winning the state championship this year after losing the district finals was an incredible experience because it really brought our team closer together and helped us be confident in ourselves. Who is your biggest sports inspiration? My biggest sports inspiration is Tim Howard because he works hard and has incredible skill and talent. If you could play any other sport, what would it be? I would throw shot put, discus, and javelin because my position as a goalkeeper would benefit in technique and I enjoy strength training.

In The Game | 17

Kendall Nash Atlantic Coast

Tennis - State Champion

What is the most memorable moment of your sports career to date? The most memorable moment was going to state last year and being able to compete in the finals to represent Atlantic Coast. What makes you different from everyone else? My aggressive play on the court makes me different from everybody else, but also I still go out there and try to have fun and continue learning with every match. Who has helped you the most in your sports career? My mom has helped me the most in my sports career because she has devoted all of her time to taking me to practice every day and tournaments almost every weekend.

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Who is your biggest sports inspiration?


because she grew up with little to nothing and she grew up to be the greatest women’s tennis player in the world.

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After your sports career is over, what do you see yourself doing?


and attempting to lift at the international level.

Jackson Durden Bartram Trail

Weightlifting Football

Who has helped you the most in your sports career? The person who helped me the most would have to be my head weightlifting coach, teaching me to not only lift for myself, but for my team. What makes you different from everyone else? One thing that makes me different is my personality – being very energetic and friendly while lifting. If you could play any other sport, what would it be? Cheerleading because I’m really strong and can flip and stuff.

In The Game | 21

Nathaniel King Episcopal Golf Tennis

What is the most memorable moment of your sports career to date? Winning the regional championship and advancing to the state tournament in tennis. We had lost to that team the year before in the regional final, so it was a lot of fun to finally beat them. Who is your biggest sports inspiration? Jalen Ramsey. They way he carries himself and just sizes up the competition and has the mindset that he’s better than you and he’s going to prove it is pretty cool. I love the way he trash talks too. If you could play any other sport, what would it be? Basketball. I’m super competitive and would just love playing in that atmosphere with student sections going crazy. Tennis and golf don’t exactly draw the same crowds, so playing on a team in that environment would be so much fun.

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What makes you different from everyone else? I combine hard work on the playing field with hard work in the classroom. I am extremely

COMPETITIVE and will do everything I can to make sure I am ready to perform to the best of my abilities.


In The Game | 23

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If you could play any other sport, what would it be? I would play


because I played it when I was younger and absolutely loved it.

Taylor Menk Bolles

Soccer Defender State Champion

What is the most memorable moment of your sports career to date? My most memorable moment of my sports career is winning state my senior year. What makes you different from everyone else? I think I work hard on the field and off the field. I think I am a hardworking player that pushes for success. Who has helped you the most in your sports career? My high school coach, Matt Tracy, has helped me the most because he believed in me my freshman year and pulled me up to varsity even when I was hesitant.

In The Game | 25

Who is your biggest sports inspiration? My biggest sports inspiration is

Reedy Monahan Bishop Kenny Sailing Golf

What is the most memorable moment of your sports career to date? My most memorable moment of my sports career was competing in the U.S. team trials in San Francisco. After your sports career is over, what do you see yourself doing? After my high school career is over, I hope to sail collegiately. Who has helped you the most in your sports career? My parents, along with coaches Dustin and Jodi at the Florida Yacht Club, and Jon Faudree from Jacksonville University.

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because he shows what’s possible through hard work and dedication.

Nominate Male & Female Athlete of the Year

Submit your nominations to

In The Game | 27

Bringing Home the State Title Written by: Susannah Parmenter Photography by: Garrison Muelhausen

TPC Sawgrass,

home of The Players Championship, has hosted some of golf’s most famous players, including Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, and Ricky Fowler. On a recent Wednesday, however, the club’s rolling green fairways and iconic par 3-No. 17 “Island Green” was the training course for Ponte Vedra’s varsity boys golf team. In fact, for Ponte Vedra’s team – the 2A state title winners – the course is like a second home. 28 |

During the recent state championship tournament, sophomore Stewart Slayden – who grew up playing at TPC Sawgrass – took home the individual title. For Slayden and his family, TPC is a special place. Slayden’s grandfather is former president and CEO of PGA Tour Properties Kay Slayden, who instilled a love of golf in his family. “My dad always played golf growing up,” the younger Slayden said. “He played in high school

and in college. My grandpa got him into it. And I have pretty much played my whole life because of him. And I have three brothers; we all play.” After coming in second last year at state, this year Slayden and his teammates were driven to capture the win. “We all practiced and played in a lot of tournaments this summer, the qualifying for the team, and then lots of practice before the state championship and practice rounds,” Slayden said.

“We had just come off second at state last year, so we all wanted to win.” For Slayden, the team win was more important to him than his individual title. “It was awesome,” he said. “To win the individual, but also win with the team with all the guys, it’s really cool. Individual was great, but the team was more important.” Ponte Vedra varsity boys golf coach Mickey Leapley said that sense of camaraderie is important to him.

“It was awesome. To win the individual, but also win with the team with all the guys, it’s really cool. Individual was great, but the team was more important.” — Stewart Slayden

“It's one of the things what was the distance, what that I preach about being was the club, what were you a team,” he said. “Individu- thinking.” ally, you'll see their names Leapley recognizes that and see who's coming in for golf, mental training is as first and second and third. important as physical trainBut the team score is a top ing. three, three lowest scores “If you get too high and out of the five, and you to- you're too excited and haptal them up, and that's your py, walking too fast and your team score against the other heartbeats going or if you team. So have a all during bad shot, the year, you can't they're goget all ing to be upset and going to show agthese tourgression,” naments, he said. “Because and someone will next thing compete, you know, and they'll y o u r rib each mind's other, and all turned they want and twistto beat the ed, you’re other guy. thinking But at the a b o u t same time the next they all shot, so are pretty we try to "But at the same time they proud of talk about all are pretty proud of wearjust trying wearing ing the PV colors, from top the PV colto keep it to bottom, from the No. 1 ors, from steady.” top to botH e player on our team down to tom, from said the the 14th player.” the No. 1 t e a m — Mickey Leapley brought player on our team this mendown to tal toughthe 14th player.” ness to the championship Leapley moved to Pon- course at the Mission Inn te Vedra from Maryland in Resort, holding Plantation 1998 and began coaching American Heritage to win at Landrum Middle School the 2018 title. This was the before taking over the head team’s third state title in five coach position at Ponte Ve- years, but Leapley said that dra High School. Because this win was especially sweet of his long time in Ponte Ve- for him since one of his sedra schools, he has known nior players was able to many of his players since end on a high note. Andrew they were youngsters – a fac- Farraye was not able to play tor that has enabled him to with the team when they form a special relationship won state in 2016; howevwith them. er, this year the team made “These boys play golf all sure he didn’t miss out on year round. They have their the opportunity. own swing coach, so I'm not “This team was pretty necessarily teaching them cool,” Leapley said. “One how to swing. A lot of it has of our seniors, Andrew, two to do with our chemistry, years ago, he wasn't a top and sometimes when I sit five player, and he wasn't down and when I'm watch- on the team that traveled. ing them, I'll track shots, He was a senior captain this and I'll talk to them about year, and the guys were like, In The Game | 29

‘We have got to win this for ers. Sophomore Justin Orhim.’ And there was some- tiguera credited the coach thing about the chemistry with with cultivating this spirit. this group. And for Stewart to “He’s basically like a secwin the individond dad to ual title, it was us,” Ortiguera pretty cool.” said. “He Win or takes really lose, Leapley’s good care main focus is of us, and he “He (Leapley) is to make sure knows what basically like a sechis team has to say to us ond dad to us. He fun and enjoys when we’re takes really good the game. down and care of us, and he “I mean, is just really we all want to good supknows what to say have success, port.” to us when we’re and there's a As for down and is just lot of presnext season, really good supsure on the Leapley and program behis team look port.” cause it's kind to continue — Justin Ortiguera of held to a their culture higher standard now,” he of success. Slayden also said. “But really I just want hopes to continue his winthem to create the camara- ning ways – improving his derie as a team. So I like to game via college and, ultigo out to dinners, and after mately, joining his favorite practice sometimes we'll golfers, “Ricky and Tiger,” as go somewhere, and we'll he calls them, on the tour. either have a little compe“I want to definitely play tition amongst each other college at a top DI school putting, or we'll go have a and then after that, hopefully, burger and sit down.” professionally,” Slayden said. That chemistry is just as important to Leapley’s play30 |

“We had just come off second at state last year, so we all wanted to win.” — Stewart Slayden


In The Game | 31

Talley Resides Over Duval County Public School Sports Written by: Jeff Elliott Photography courtesy of Tammie Talley

There was a time when Tammie Talley was quite content to cheer for and support one school. Not any more. Now she finds herself torn between pulling for 42 different teams. Welcome to Talley’s world as the athletic director for Duval County public schools. Whether she’s attending a football game between Fletcher and Atlantic Coast, a basketball game between Raines and Ribault, or a track meet featuring four local middle schools, Talley won’t be showing favoritism to any school. Truth is, the only people she’s pulling for are the game officials to have a good, competitive game with no issues.

sports. The majority of her job entails working directly with school athletic directors, principals, and bookkeepers to make sure their athletic programs run efficiently, they adhere to the rules of the governing body of the FHSAA, their coaches are all certified, and the student-athletes are eligible. And just in case there’s extra time in her hectic schedule, Talley also supervises the maintenance of the schools’ athletic fields and indoor facilities. If it sounds like an endless job, it is. But Talley welcomes the challenge with open arms, noting that the positives of the job far outweigh any negatives.

“I love seeing how sports bring out the best in us, yet losing teaches us sometimes way more than winning does." — Tammie Talley

It wasn’t always that way for Talley. For 14 years she was Mandarin High School’s biggest fan in her capacity as the Mustangs’ Athletic Director. But in 2012 when former Mandarin athletic director Jon Fox announced his retirement as Duval County athletic director, Talley applied for the position and was selected to replace Fox. Now in her sixth year on the job, Talley oversees 17 Duval County public schools that offer 36 different sports (boys and girls) and 25 middle schools that offer 12 32 |

“I love athletics, and I love kids,” she said. “I love seeing how sports bring out the best in us, yet losing teaches us sometimes way more than winning does. What I thoroughly enjoyed when I was at a school was watching kids come in as scared freshmen and watching them grow into almost adult seniors and then following them through college and later having them come back and thanking me for whatever role I might have played in their development. “That was my favor-

ite thing for the first 20 years of my career, the relationship I built with student-athletes. Now that I’m in this position, I don’t build those close relationships with student-athletes. I’m building them more with adults – my athletic directors, my coaches, my athletic trainers. What I thoroughly enjoy about this job is that I try to instill my love of learning in my athletic directors.” Having served as a school athletic director for 14 years at Mandarin and a couple years at Paxon before that, Talley knows the importance of having a qualified administrator as head of a school’s athletic program. It’s not an easy position to hold, with most athletic directors teaching classes during the day and then monitoring the sports program after that. “One of the things I started in this district was professional development for our athletic directors, getting them CAA training, which is Certified Athletic Administrator,” Talley said. “I really enjoy that aspect of it because I kind of did it on my own for 20 years. I was always trying to learn to be a better athletic director. But now I’m able to help assist them and mentor them to be better athletic directors, give them the tools they need. Athletic Directors are often teaching classes all day long, and it’s kind

of like me: When they finish up at the end of the day, that’s when they work the hardest with the athletic events going on. That’s also when they make the least amount of money. A high school athletic director makes $5,000, and they probably work harder from 2 to 10 p.m. than they do when they’re making their $40,000 as a starting teacher during the day.” To evaluate the jobs of school athletic directors, Talley conducts various site visits, whether it’s a surprise pop-in or a scheduled visit. She monitors student eligibility and all the paperwork involved with making sure student-athletes are properly registered and eligible (that they are age-appropriate and live in the proper zone). While at a school, she also verifies

time or aren’t treated fairly. Some of those concerns are directed to Talley. Then there are the extracurricular activities that involve opposing players, coaches, officials, or parents in the stands. Fortunately those occurrences are minimal and are near-negligible when taking into account the several thousand district sporting events that take place each school year. With that in mind, Talley expressed optimism about the future of Duval County athletics and her job. “I get a lot of support in the district from the superintendent to communications to my direct supervisor,” she said. “There’s a lot of good in athletics. Everyone wants to be a part of a winning team, of sports, of athletes. Kids are getting athletic scholarships,

“This is my dream job; it’s also my last job. It’s all that I ever wanted to do." — Tammie Talley

the school’s emergency action plan and checks that playing surfaces and scoreboards are up to standards. Talley attends as many athletic contests as she can squeeze into her already over-taxed daily schedule. She always makes an effort to be at a Gateway Conference Tournament, where all of the city’s 17 public schools are eligible to compete, as well as the 12 middle school championship events. During the football season, she coordinates her schedule so she’ll take in two football games each Friday night, leaving at halftime of one game in order to see the second half of another game. There is, of course, a more difficult side to the job that comes when parents complain that their sons or daughters are not getting enough playing

they’re getting academic scholarships, they are participating in things abroad and right here in our city. “This is my dream job; it’s also my last job. It’s all that I ever wanted to do. I serve on many boards throughout the state because I enjoy athletics and youth sports so much. I serve on the Florida Athletic Coaches Association. Two years from now I’ll be the first female president in the history of the association. I’m very proud of that. I think that shows how much I love my job, that I not only want to serve the schools I’ve been in, but serve the district that I work for and now serve the state of Florida as well. There’s nothing else I would want to do job-wise, nowhere else I would want to go. I thoroughly enjoy what I do every single day, without a doubt.”




Everyone Wins in This Baseball Game Written by: Jeff Elliott Photography courtesy of Dawn Young via the Miracle League

That’s on a sign that hangs at Lew Brantley Field at McGirt’s Creek Park on Jacksonville’s Westside. And that, in one simple statement, defines the mission of the Jacksonville Miracle League. The Miracle League promotes opportunities for children and adults with disabilities to play baseball, regardless of skill level. The concept is to provide them with an opportunity to experience the joy and benefits that come from playing baseball. For children and adults facing serious physical and mental disabilities, that opportunity can often be difficult to achieve. The Miracle League, however, turns the adversity into prosperity.

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It’s a unique style of baseball. Because standard baseball diamonds aren’t designed with wheelchairs, walkers, or crutches in mind, the game is played on a 3/4inch thick, rubberized synthetic turf surface that was laid out at the cost of $100,000. The Westside Rotary Club initiated the plans to construct such a facility in 2005, soliciting time, volunteers, and donations from local companies to help cover the cost. The Jacksonville league is now one of nearly 400 such programs throughout the world, most of which are based in the United States. The game itself has its own twists and turns. Each game is approximately 90 minutes long

and consists of a minimum of two innings per team. Every player gets to bat each inning, is never called “out,” and will circle the bases and eventually score every inning. To help the athletes, the Miracle League uses a “buddy” system, pairing each player with an able-bodied peer, whether it be a family member or a volunteer. The best thing – the score is not kept, which means everyone comes away a winner. It’s all about making new friends, building self-esteem, and being treated just like other ball players. There are close to 110 participants in the Jacksonville Miracle League. Games are played every Friday night and Saturday morning during spring and fall seasons. Cary Hanson has been involved with the league since its

“You see the fun all the participants are having, their genuine excitement to be playing the game, their laughter – it’s infectious.”

— Cary Hanson

formation and has served as the group’s only president for the past 12 years. “You see the fun all the participants are having, their genuine excitement to be playing the game, their laughter – it’s infectious,” Hanson said. “A lot of our players never had a chance to play on a team or never had a family member come and watch them play any sport. This is a chance for a lot of them to get exercise that they wouldn’t get otherwise. Come out here, and you’ll see the smile on their faces.”

It’s more than just baseball too. On the last Sunday in April, a group traveled to the Jacksonville Zoo, where the HEAL Foundation sponsored a morning walk to help bring awareness to those with disabilities. That afternoon the group journeyed to the Baseball Grounds to watch a Jumbo Shrimp game, courtesy of the city and the disability department. Later this year there will be a league banquet, courtesy of the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters who will donate a hall, buy

food, cook a meal, serve participants and their families, and then clean up afterward. Parents are involved in the league whether it’s to help with coaching, shag balls in the outfield, or serve as a “buddy” to their children to help them get around the bases. All cite the value and importance of having such an organization as The Miracle League. Bobby Wright serves as one of the coaches for the Marlins, which includes son Christopher, 33, a participant for about 12 years. Nicknamed “Tebow” after his favorite player, Christopher has Down syndrome and cherishes his weekends at the ballpark. “Chris loves hanging out with his teammates and is getting good exercise as well,” his father said. “Everybody goes away a winner from these games, and that’s very important because these guys are the true heroes in life. “Everybody deserves a chance to play baseball. It doesn’t matter

what your disability is. We have a wide range of disabilities here: Some kids can’t see, some are wheelchair-bound, some don’t have the use of an arm, you name it. They have various disabilities, but we always manage to make sure they’re having a good time.” Susan Farris echoed those sentiments. Her son, Kyle, is 31 and in his 10th season as a participant in the Miracle League. Kyle has Lowe syndrome, a condition that primarily affects the eyes, brain, and kidneys and occurs almost exclusively in males. “The Miracle League is just an awesome social outlet for the participants,” Farris said. “It’s great for those who aren’t able to do your traditional sports. Kyle just loves it. He always used to love watching his younger brother play, and now he can too. This helps build the self-esteem for the participants, and they build friendships. We’ve met some beautiful people here and just have a fun time when we

come out for a game. It’s heart-warming to see.” And as a new batter came to bat one Saturday morning in April, there was Kyle, shouting encouragement to her.

“We’re all winners, all winners baby,” he yelled out. Winners who deserve their chance to play baseball. For more information about the Jacksonville Miracle League, go to: or contact Dawn Young at 315-4359.

Interesting Qualities of the Special Olympics 1. The Special Olympics Athlete Oath is “Let

me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

2. With 221 individual programs in 170 countries currently, more than 84 percent of Special Olympians are not residents in North America.

3. The “A Very Special Christmas” holiday album

series has generated nearly $120 million in royalties, all of which have been dedicated to Special Olympics programs.

4. Every participant feels like a winner, as after first, second, and third place are presented, all participants after receive a place ribbon in a ceremony of their own.

5. Most Special Olympics programs are run almost purely by local volunteers, from high schoolers to senior citizens; this fosters a greater collective understanding of those participating in the Special Olympics.

In The Game | 37

Cheering in the Millions

Winning Is the Creekside Cheer Way Written by: Susannah Parmenter Photography courtesy of Laura Clary

There’s a lot to learn from losing, said Laura Clary, just doing our hair and deciding what color our uniCreekside head cheerleading coach. forms are going to be – that they actually do two to Clary and the Creekside cheerleading team recent- three hours of training four days a week,” she said. ly won the 2018 2A state title after falling last year to Clary said some of the cheer dads recently experiBishop Moore by less than a point. enced how hard it was to keep up with their daughters “I think because it was so close that year, it helped at an event for breast cancer awareness. the team train on those itty bitty things that make the “We put them all in pink outfits, and difference,” Clary said. “And this year when it was our the dads came out and cheered with the turn and our name was called last and we knew that girls for a full quarter,” Clary we had won, it all came full circle.” said. “They were sweating, For Clary, the victory also represents a personal triumph. “A lot of times the girls they were breathing heavy, Although she cheered briefly and this is just regular sidewill say ‘Coach Clary, in high school, she didn’t have line cheer; this wasn’t even any "first-hand" experience with do we really need to go competitive. They were litthe Creekside program until her full out and train three daughter began cheering. After erally dying. They were so agreeing to watch a game, Clary shocked.” and four times a week?’ said, she accepted the role. This breaking from stereotypes “I had already worked with chil- and I’m like, ‘Well, you is part of Clary’s mission as a coach. dren in the music world, so the edShe believes that part of her job is ucational part, the mentoring part, do if you want to be in making sure her student-athletes was the same,” she said. “I always a competitive sport and continue to lead on and off the field. tell the girls, ‘It’s 90 percent teach“They can show that the cheeryou want that respect.’” er slash guardian and 10 percent leaders at the school can be recheer knowledge.’” — Laura Clary spected kids and student-athletes As an educator, Clary underthat do well in class, lead people, stands that cheerleading requires and also be competitive,” she said. not only teamwork but focus and intense training. In “They can excel at all of that. They can break the steorder to perform the complex routines, cheerleaders reotype that they are just pretty girls in uniforms that must have cardiovascular endurance to perform fast- aren’t smart. In fact the 2018 class valedictorian is a paced movements and strength and flexibility to exe- cheerleader this year.” cute stunts. For Creekside, team training begins at 6:30 And in the spirit of "work hard, play hard,” Clary a.m. two to three times a week and sometimes four in said: "My favorite thing is just how much they make us the height of competition season. laugh, all the inside jokes and silly things they do with Clary said this level of commitment is necessary to each other. To see how well they get along and how compete at an elite level. much they love being around each other, even at 6:30 “A lot of times the girls will say ‘Coach Clary, do we in the morning – they just crack us up.” really need to go full out and train three and four times As for next season, Clary looks forward to a fresh a week?’ and I’m like, ‘Well, you do if you want to be in start and recruiting new team members. Until then, she a competitive sport and you want that respect.’” is still cheering about her team and their state title win. And respect is something Clary demands for her “It was such a great moment of how it finally went team. our way,” Clary said. “It could have gone either way, but “I think people are surprised to hear that we aren’t it went our way.” 38 |

As of 2013, competitive cheerleading is not considered an official sport. Although there’s been a push for cheerleading’s recognition for years, it hasn’t happened as of 2013. For competitive cheerleading to be considered a championship sport, it must be recognized by the NCAA. Some strides have been made, however. For example, some universities with cheerleading squads are now offering scholarships to cheerleaders.

Number of Participants in Cheerleading in the U.S. (in millions): 2.93






















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Diabetes No Match for Providence Tennis Player

Written by: Mary Catherine Bell Photography by: Garrison Muelhausen

It’s the love of my life in a sport. Tennis was the one for me, and I love being out on the court. — Rachel Pinter

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At first glance, Providence senior Rachel Pinter seems focused, determined, and confident, but not many know about her struggle beneath the surface. Pinter is a tennis player living with Type I diabetes. Pinter started playing tennis at the age of 5. She truly fell in love with the game in sixth grade and joined the Selva Marina Club Team and junior varsity Providence team. “When I’m holding a tennis racket, I feel like I’m in heaven,” Pinter said. “It’s the love of my life in a sport. Tennis was the one for me, and I love being out on the court.” Pinter’s career in tennis hit a roadblock when she was diagnosed with Type I diabetes at the age of 11. “I was diagnosed on Jan. 14 of 2011; I was in fifth grade,” she said. “The first few months my mom had known that something was up with me. One night she finally made me test my blood sugar and knew that something was not right. It was 575, and it should be around 100. We rushed to the emergency room, and we were there for about three or four days.” Type I diabetes is an autoimmune disease

that attacks the pancreas, including an insulin pump taking away its ability to and a continuous glucose make insulin, and can be monitor. The CGM allows triggered by catalysts in her to track her blood the environment. sugar levels through an “In October before I app on her phone. Her was diagnosed and into insulin pump is the only January, I had a cold for kind without tubes and a few weeks, and I nev- wires. Both give her the er got sick,” Pinter said. freedom she needs to “It was a really bad cold, play tennis. and we think that’s what “Every time before I triggered it.” eat or my blood sugar is At the time of her high, I have to give mydiagnosis, Pinter was up- self insulin for it,” Pinter set and confused over said. “There is also a the circumstances. Her continuous rate, called mother, Carla Aldridge, basal rate. Every hour a commended Providence certain amount of insufor being an amazing lin is being given to me support system. through my insulin pump “I think I understand that goes on 24 hours of why God put her at this the day. Every three days school because they I change that. It’s a little just wrapped their arms contraption device. It around her and they stays on me with adhewere so open to helping sive, and a cannula inher achieve everything serts in. Whenever I give she needed to achieve,” myself insulin, I tell the Aldridge said. PDM (personal diabetes Before recent techno- manager), and it gives logical advanceme my insulin.” ments, Pinter Aldridge gave herself said Pinter six to seven is in tune shots a with her day and b o d y pricked a n d her finknows ger eight w h e n t o 1 0 to take times a breaks day. — Rachel Pinter d u r i n g Pinter uses matches and a variety of diabepractices. She tes equipment to keep her can also tell how Pinter is blood sugar levels in check feeling from the sidelines.

When I’m holding a tennis racket, I feel like I’m in heaven.

Top 6 Women With the Most Singles Career Titles:

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24 Margaret Court

“I’m really in tune by watching her play and can tell if she is going high or low,” Aldridge said. “I can even tell on the phone when I’m talking to her. It’s just a change in the voice and the behaviors.” Pinter will be attending the University of North Florida in the fall, where she will continue to play tennis and will also be living on campus. While many parents

would be worried about their kids leaving home, Aldridge isn’t nervous. She credited Pinter’s maturity to living with Type 1. “She is much more capable, much more in tune,” Aldridge said. “It has made her more patient and more tolerant. It’s made her see that everybody has their issues and everybody has to deal with them. It has made her much more

confidant. It’s going to be pretty amazing to watch where she goes with this.” As for Pinter, she is excited to start at UNF and continue to play the game she loves. “In the scheme of things, no matter what happens on the court, you have to remain positive,” she said. “You just have to go out there and love what you do.”

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23 Serena Williams

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19 Helen Wills Moody

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18 Chris Evert

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22 Steffi Graf

18 Martina Navratilova




Like us on Facebook real estates signs banners yard signs window and truck lettering magnets MONUMENTS CARVED DIMENSIONAL SIGNS LARGE FORMAT PRINTING

MONDAY - FRIDAY 8:30 - 5:00 1961 HENDRICKS AVENUE JACKSONVILLE, FL 32207 In The Game | 41

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In The Game | 43

Fastest Growing Sport Gaining Local Support Written by: Jeff Elliott Photography by: John Dister, the First Coast YMCA

The first thing to remember when playing pickleball is stay out of the kitchen. No, not where you can make yourself a meal. In pickleball, the kitchen is a 7-foot area that extends on both sides of the net that players cannot venture into, unless the opponent hits a soft shot and it bounces in this framework. Then they’re allowed to move forward for a return. Hit a volley while in the kitchen and it’s a fault; you lose the point. For many people, this is their first introduction to the sport of pickleball, or as those who play the game refer to it as, “America’s fastest growing sport.” Pickleball is a paddle sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis. Two or four players use solid paddles made of wood or composite materials to hit

a perforated polymer ball, similar in style to a Wiffle Ball, over a 3-foot high net. It is played indoors or outdoors on a court that measures 20x44 feet for both singles and doubles, about half the size of a doubles tennis court. The court is striped like a tennis court but has no alleys like those that exist for doubles play in tennis. The ball is served with an underhand stroke so that contact with the ball is made below waist level, i.e., the navel level, in an upward arc. The server hits from behind the baseline on one side of the center line and aims diagonally to the opponent’s service zone. Only the serving side may score a point. Play ends for a point when one side commits a fault, i.e., failing to return the ball over the net and inside the lines. In doubles, both players from the team serving

the ball continue to serve until that team commits a fault. Only the serving side may score a point. The first side scoring 11 points and leading by at least two points wins the game. If the two sides are tied at 10 points apiece, the game is decided when one side goes ahead by two points. Invented during the summer of 1965 on Bainbridge Island, Washington, the game has gained in popularity on the East Coast the past few decades, especially the state of Florida. There are a number of indoor courts in Jacksonville including courts at four of the YMCAs in town. In addition, there are now numerous outdoor courts, including the two biggest venues at Jarboe Park (eight courts) in Neptune Beach and 9A Baymeadows Regional Park (four courts). George Catalano is a regular participant at the

The regions with the largest number of participants:

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Baymeadows facility. The 75-yearold former handball and paddleball player from New York City took up pickleball eight years ago and is now one of a handful of ambassadors of the sport, spreading the word of its virtues to anyone who will listen. “We don’t have enough assets right now; we need more courts,” Catalano said. “We’re keeping track of how many people are playing and showing those numbers to the city. There’s hardly any maintenance involved in the game. Maybe every three to four years you’ll have to replace a net, but otherwise, we bring the balls, we bring the paddles, we bring our own refreshments. We’re hopeful the city will realize we need more courts here and will convert one of the tennis courts into pickleball courts.” That isn’t likely to sit well with tennis players who spew the merits of their sport with passion and conviction. But more and more tennis players are also playing pickleball or converting totally to the game that is not as taxing on the body. One such player is Vic Puelo, 80, who now adds a few days of pickleball to his weekly tennis and golf outings. Puelo and George Harris, 83, combined to win the 80-andover division doubles title in pickleball in last year’s city-sponsored Senior Games. “Pickleball is a great sport,” said Puleo, who plays at the Williams YMCA during the week and at Baymeadows on the weekends. “You don’t have to be exceptionally in shape compared to tennis, where there’s more running around. I like pickleball because all the action is at the net. The courts are smaller, so it’s better for mixed doubles. You

JOI: Proud team physicians keeping the Jaguars and you on your game.

Kevin M. Kaplan, MD - Head Team Physician

Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute and Baptist Health are pleased to offer area athletes and weekend warriors unmatched sports medicine expertise and complete orthopaedic care. As team physicians for the Jaguars, area high schools, colleges, and universities, you’ll find us on the field and at convenient office locations across Northeast Florida. That’s good for the team — and good for you.

To learn more or to set an appointment, call JOI-2000 or visit

The Coolest Sports You’ve Never Heard Of:

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Joggling (Running and Juggling)

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Snowkiting (Snowboarding, Skiing, and Parachuting)

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Octopush (Underwater Hockey)

Courtesy of Bossaball International

Bossaball (Volleyball, Soccer, And Gymnastics on a trampoline)

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Floorball (Lacrosse and Field Hockey) 46 |

do need to have good members that would like hand-eye coordination to see the program conto be able to play the net tinue to grow here at the because the ball is com- Y,” Chacos said. “Some of ing at you pretty quickly. those who are playing the “Tennis is harder in my sport here have requestopinion ed that because it "As far as longevity we build takes more is concerned, there’s so eu vt deor oa rl athletic m o v e s less movement in courts on and you pickleball than ten- our propneed to be and nis. I hope I can keep erty, in better that is bepickleball ing conshape, but playing I like them until I’m 90.” sidered. both, so We contin— Vic Puelo I’m going ue to see to continincreasing ue to play both. As far as interest in pickleball. As longevity is concerned, the Baby Boomer generthere’s less movement in ation has begun to retire, pickleball than tennis. I this has become a very hope I can keep playing popular sport among this pickleball until I’m 90.” group. If it keeps people Charlie Chacos is ex- connected and it’s good ecutive director at the for the community, we’ll Williams YMCA, the only continue to look at ways Y in the city that has ten- to expand it here at the nis courts (13 in all). While YMCA.” the courts are in use from The interest in pickmorning until night, Cha- leball is growing. Severcos said he’s seen a grow- al of the big cruise lines ing interest from tennis now have built-in courts players and others in try- on their top deck for ing their hands at pickle- play while the ship is at ball. sea. There are more than “We have many of our 1,000 playing members

of the USA Pickleball Association in Jacksonville. USAPA Jacksonville Beach Ambassador Nan Jester, who overseas play at Jarboe Park, cited a mailing list of over 800 pickleball players. Catalano envisions a day when Jacksonville hosts a major tournament, similar to a regional tournament that will be played at a 44-court outdoor facility in Naples later this year. “I’d love to see a national tournament in Jacksonville,” he said. “We’re trying to get the convention center (Prime Osborne Center) to host such an event. They could put 20 courts in Exhibit Hall A. The ceilings are good, the lighting is good; it’s perfect. Plus, we could get enough vendors in there to defray the cost (of $10,000/ day).” Pickleball is a sport that is growing by leaps and bounds. Just remember to stay out of the kitchen.

Hitting New Heights

Written by: Mary Catherine Bell Photography courtesy of Emily Dixon

Optimism and determination are only two of many traits that varsity softball player Emily Dixon possesses.

Dixon, a senior at West Nassau High School, is the leading home-run hitter for the city of Jacksonville. She will be playing at the College of Central Florida next year. Dixon ’s sports career has not always been glamorous, ”Me and my little sister, we though. She broke her ankle while playing at a prospect play together on the high school camp at Jacksonville Uni- team,” she said. “We drive each other. Challengversity her ing each other is junior year, “Every athlete goes the best part of and it’s one through phases where playing. Like the of the hardyou don’t trust yourself other day, me and est obstacles as much as you should. her both hit home she’s faced. “I had Once you figure out that runs in the same you can trust yourself day, and it’s kind to get surand trust your ability, of cool. We feed gery,” Dixon off of each other.” your coaches, and your said. “I now Growing up in have a plate teammates, then you can an athletic family, and a coutrust in yourself.” Dixon loves the ple screws — Emily Dixon intensity of the in there and game. can barely “You have to keep working feel them. I worked hard to be able to get my speed and better yourself and show improvement,” she said. “I like how back and to be able to get back into the swing of things it’s fast and quick and how everything is fast paced the whole time. like before. I thought it was It’s very competitive.” going to be the end of the She strives to play softball in world because that’s top recruiting. JU was going to college and dreams of making it offer me, and I had all these people looking at me, and then when that happened I thought I was done.” Her mental durability was strengthened by the hardships she endured, includFASTBALL ing her fight to stay mentally C-Grip strong when the game gets tough. “Every athlete goes through phases where you don’t trust yourself as much as you should,” Dixon said. “Once you figure out that you can trust yourself and FASTBALL trust your ability, your coachHorseshoe Grip es, and your teammates, then you can trust in yourself.” Some of Dixon’s fondest memories include playing with her sister on the varsity team.

to a Division I school. “That’s always been the main goal,” Dixon said. “When you’re a kid, that’s what you want to do; you want to be a professional athlete. Both of my parents are super good athletes. It’s a family thing. Twelve was when I really got into softball, so from then on college was the goal.” Dixon’s determination to master her sport is obvious from her hard work in high school and will continue to present itself at the collegiate level.

“Everything happens for a reason,” she said. “The college I’m going to now is going to make me work harder and make me work to get to the next level because it is a JUCO (junior college). It’s going to better me.”

Softball Pitching Grips CHANGE-UP Knuckle Grip

CHANGE-UP Circle Grip

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2017-18 ITG Next Northeast Florida Winter & Spring Athletic Awards Banquets

Written by: Susannah Parmenter Photography by: Garrison Muelhausen

Living life In the Game means living each day with passion, determination, and positivity. We love highlighting those who drive home these qualities and inspire us along the way. Our Athletic Awards Banquets allow us to lift up top athletes across Northeast Florida as a community and give them extra recognition for all of their achievements. At our winter banquet, athletes and their families were able to hear from the Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute’s Dr. Carl Freeman as he explained the importance of athletics and how sports molded his life. We also recognized athletes who participated in winter sports, including basketball, soccer, competitive cheerleading, girls weightlifting, and wrestling. In the Game handed out several special recognitions, including the Duval Ford Scholar Athlete, the Excellence in Character Award, and the Baker's Sporting Goods Winter Coach of the Year. We also handed out a new award: Winter Adaptive Athlete. Our inaugural winner was Creekside High School's Jenna Perowski, who is a member of the Shining Knights, which pairs varsity and junior

varsity cheerleaders with students who have physical or intellectual disabilities. Our spring banquet was our final banquet of the year. We were able to highlight athletes in softball, baseball, lacrosse, tennis, boys weightlifting, and flag football. The guest speaker was Dr. Nigel Sparks from the Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute. Dr. Sparks highlighted the message that while a professional sports career may be short lived or even impossible to attain for many, athletics can open doors that otherwise would stay shut. Again we recognized our special award winners, this time including the 2018 Male and Female Athletes of the Year, presented by the Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute. Ryan Smenda from Fleming Island High School and Kensey McMahon from Mandarin were voted by their peers at Athletes of the Year. We had so much fun hosting all these top student-athletes and their families! As always, if you know of an athlete that you feel deserves to be recognized, please reach out to us via our social media platforms (@itgnext) and our website,


Chase Rocker

YMCA 2017-18 Winter Excellence in Character Award

ITG Next Winter Athletic Awards Banquet


Nicholas Garas

Duval Ford 2017-18 Winter Scholar Athlete of the Year

ITG Next Winter Athletic Awards Banquet


Jenna Perowski

ITG Next 2017-18 Winter Adaptive Athlete of the Year

ITG Next Winter Athletic Awards Banquet


Matthew Tracy

Baker's Sporting Goods 2017-18 Winter Coach of the Year

ITG Next Winter Athletic Awards Banquet


Christina Thompson Baker's Sporting Goods 2017-18 Spring Coach of the Year

ITG Next Spring Athletic Awards Banquet


Reighan Sheppard

Duval Ford 2017-18 Spring Scholar Athlete of the Year

ITG Next Spring Athletic Awards Banquet


Javon Robinson

ITG Next 2017-18 Spring Adaptive Athlete of the Year

ITG Next Spring Athletic Awards Banquet


Emma Jane Warren

YMCA 2017-18 Spring Excellence in Character Award

ITG Next Spring Athletic Awards Banquet


Brandon Pham ITG Next

2017-18 Spring Breakthrough Athlete of the Year

ITG Next Spring Athletic Awards Banquet

Female Athlete of the Year

Kensey McMahon

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Male Athlete of the Year

Ryan Smenda

In The Game | 55

Girls Basketball

Boys Basketball

Competitive Cheerleading

Girls Soccer

Boys Soccer

Girls Weightlifting

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Flag Football

Boys Lacrosse

Girls Lacrosse

Softball In The Game | 57

Girls Tennis

Boys Tennis

Girls Track & Field

Boys Track & Field

Boys Weightlifting 58 |

Common Tennis

INJURIES While not many people play tennis competitively, many choose to play recreationally for the cardiovascular and muscular benefits involved. However, regardless of skill level or purpose for playing, injuries will continue to be a part of the game; the worldwide rate for injuries in tennis is about five injuries every 1,000 hours. The five most common injuries are usually found in the back and the joints of the limbs: stress fractures in the back, tennis elbow, ankle sprains, jumper’s knee, and rotator cuff tears. Most athletes need look no further than Peter Sampras’ battle with stress fractures in 1999 to know that they can cause debilitating pain. Stress fractures in the back occur when hyperextension strains the vertebrae, causing

small cracks that may not hurt initially, but they will become more and more painful over time. Treatment for this occurrence comes in the form of a back brace, hydrotherapy, pilates, or a core stabilization program. Tennis elbow is an injury most tennis players are aware of regardless of their intensity levels while playing, as tennis elbow develops with overuse; symptoms include burning pain and weakened grip strength, and they are likely to worsen if one does not take proper care of the affected arm. To remedy these effects, some utilize range of motion exercises that reduce stiffness and increase mobility, while others may need to use ibuprofen or naproxen to reduce intense pain. If all else fails,

many tennis players will seek physical therapy to more adequately rehabilitate their injuries. Ankle sprains are more common than any other injury in tennis; the fast-paced matches combined with stopping and turning on a dime repeatedly can cause players to twist their ankles and damage ligaments. These damaged ligaments can soon become stiff, begin to swell, and in some cases will even bruise from the severity of the twist in the ankle. Many players tend to self-treat with rest, ice, compression, and elevation and will wear supportive ankle braces in the event they do have to perform on their injured ankle. Ibuprofen or naproxen are both common solutions to the pain

in this case as well. Jumper’s knee occurs from excessive strain on the patellar tendon, a vital component of the leg’s construction in that it connects the kneecap to the shinbone. When this strain occurs, microscopic tears occur in the tendon, and these tears lead to pain and swelling that are irritated by jumping, kneeling, and taking the stairs. Treatments sought out by tennis athletes include stretching routines, cryotherapy (the use of low temperatures to treat tissue damage), and eccentric quadriceps exercises to strengthen muscles. Rotator cuff tears can happen over time but are usually the result of an acute injury due to overuse. A tear causes pain and weakness in the shoulder along with dif-

ficulties in lifting the arm. Depending on the severity of the injury, only rest, ice, and physical therapy may be needed. If the injury happens to be severe, surgery might be necessary. It is likely that most tennis players will experience at least one of these injuries over the course of their careers, but they can prevent these injuries by taking breaks to prevent overuse, wearing the right equipment (for example, if you have weak ankles, make sure to get that ankle brace you were eyeing in the store yesterday), and using the appropriate equipment that is ergonomic. If nothing else, a tennis instructor is always beneficial for one’s form and learning to play with your body.

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STATE CHAMPIONS Fall Sports 2A Cross Country Bolles 2A Boys Cross Country 5K Run Bolles Charles Hicks 4A Girls Diving Mandarin Keegan Fluharty 3A Boys Diving Bartram Trail Nathan Howze 4A Football Raines 2A Boys Golf Ponte Vedra High School 2A Boys Golf Ponte Vedra High School Stewart Slayden

4A Boys Swimming 200 Yd Free Relay Fleming Island Nick Hackett, Drew Heinton, Jack Neely & Jacob Thompson 3A Girls Swimming Creekside 3A Girls Swimming 200 Yd Medley Relay Creekside Abigail Ellis, Anna Gapinski, Aubrey Miller, & Taylor Thomson 3A Girls Swimming 400 Yd Free Relay Bartram Trail Lilly McCabe, Nicole Sowell, Lexi Smith & Summer Stanfield 3A Girls Swimming 100m Breast Stroke Nease Olivia Peoples

2A Boys Swimming 100 Yd Butterfly Paxon Tyler Watson 1A Girls Swimming 200m Medley Relay Bolles Katharine Baker, Faith Khoo, Adair Sand & Kate Wilkerson 1A Boys Swimming 200m Medley Relay Bolles Jake Adcock, Paul DeGrado, Ansen Meyer & Ariel Spektor 6A Girls Volleyball Ponte Vedra 3A Girls Volleyball Christ’s Church Academy

Winter Sports 1A Medium Competitive Cheerleading Creekside 2A Girls Soccer Bolles 1A Girls Soccer St. John’s Country Day 2A Girls Weightlifting Unlimited Oakleaf Lexi Buchanan 2A Girls Weightlifting 199 lbs Madarin Morgan Gersten 60 |

2A Girls Weightlifting 169 lbs Atlantic Coast Kylani Secor

1A Girls Weightlifting 199 lbs Union Co. Brandi McCoy

2A Girls Weightlifting 129 lbs Atlantic Coast Autumn Hutchinson

1A Girls Weightlifting 169 lbs Union Co. Mia Jackson

1A Girls Weightlifting Union Co.

1A Girls Weightlifting 139 lbs Union Co. Josie Godwin

1A Girls Weightlifting Unlimited Union Co. Kursten Bakken

1A Girls Weightlifting 119 lbs Baker Co. Ryah Davis

Winter Sports Continued 3A Wrestling 220 lbs Fleming Island Ryan Smenda

3A Wrestling 170 lbs Fleming Island Paul Detwiler

1A Wrestling 285 lbs Bishop Kenny Josiah McCallum

1A Wrestling 138 lbs Clay Co. Peyton Hughes

Spring Sports 3A Boys Tennis Bartram Trail 3A Boys Tennis Singles Bartram Trail Brandon Pham 3A Boys Tennis Doubles Bartram Trail Brandon Pham & Brian Pham 3A Girls Tennis Singles Atlantic Coast Kendall Nash 4A Boys Track & Field Triple Jump Oakleaf Melvin Briley 2A Girls Track & Field 1600m Run Bolles Cailtin Collier

2A Girls Track & Field 800m Run Bolles Cailtin Collier

2A Boys Weightlifting 199 lbs Oakleaf Jakobi Baker

2A Girls Track & Field 100m Dash Westside Aniya Harper

2A Boys Weightlifting 183 lbs Bartram Trail Tyler Nguyen

1A Girls Track & Field High Jump Bishop Snyder Semaj McGhee

2A Boys Weightlifting 154 lbs Fleming Island Tyler Nguyen

1A Girls Track & Field Long Jump Bishop Snyder Semaj McGhee

1A Boys Weightlifting Baker County High School

1A Boys Track & Field Triple Jump Bishop Snyder Jalen Chance 1A Girls Track & Field Triple Jump Bishop Snyder Semaj McGhee

1A Boys Weightlifting 169 lbs Baker Co. Dalton Simon 1A Boys Weightlifting 139 lbs Baker Co. Marcus Dialo

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13th Annual First Coast Games The First Coast YMCA recently wrapped up its 13th annual First Coast Games corporate wellness program with 29 participating companies and nearly 2,500 employees. Powered by JP Morgan Chase Bank and the Jacksonville Jaguars, this corporate challenge was designed to encourage healthy lifestyle choices for participants while building fellowship among employees outside the office. All events and activities encourage employees to get active through fun and competitive sports, games, and activities, which in turn benefits the overall wellness of the company. In addition to promoting and encouraging company pride, morale, and camaraderie among employees, FCG promotes networking among businesses across the First Coast. Employees worked to strengthen their bodies, minds, and spirits over the past many months. The 2018 Games kicked off on March 3 and invited teams to participate in sports such as basketball, bowling, soccer, volleyball, TopGolf, 5K run/walk, and a Healthy Living Challenge. On June 9, Florida Blue was crowed the grand champion with JP Morgan Chase Bank in second Place. Team JEA was first in the Healthy Living Challenge with Adecco coming in a close second. Our 2018 teams were Adecco, American Cancer Society, Availity, Baptist Health, Black Knight Financial Services, Brooks Rehab, City of Jacksonville, Community First Credit Union, Crowley Maritime, Deutsche Bank, Fidelity Investments, Fidelity National Financial, FIS, Florida Blue, FSCJ, Haskell, Healogics, Jacksonville Jaguars, JEA, JP Morgan Chase Bank, JTA, Lenderlive, Macquarie, Mayo Clinic, Orange Park Medical Center, PepsiCo, Regency Centers, VyStar Credit Union, and the YMCA! Contact Dana Troeger to sign your company up for the 2019 Games and for more information at

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1st Place: Florida Blue

2nd Place: JP Morgan Chase Bank

3rd Place: Deutsche Bank

4th Place: Adecco

5th Place: FIS In The Game | 63

2018 First Coast


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In The Game | 65


Players Who Entered the NBA After High School LeBron James St. Vincent-St. Mary High School Akron, Ohio

Written by: Gerald Thomas III

Kobe Bryant Lower Merion High School Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Kevin Garnett Farragut Career Academy Chicago, Illinois

Courtesy of

With the latest issue of the FBI discovering college basketball players receiving benefits for signing with a university, the long-lasting question of players being able to make a jump from high school to the NBA has been raised once again. Moses Malone was the first player to be drafted in the NBA fresh out of high school. The rule was outlawed after the 2005 draft. Nowadays, it is not a surprise when we hear about universities paying their players. This lands schools and players in big trouble, since the players are not supposed to be financially compensated by college coaches or boosters. The NBA is now looking into letting players enter the draft or play in its G-League after high school to solve the financial issue that college athletes have with their respective universities. 66 |

The Big East conference proposed the idea of getting rid of the oneand-done rule and replacing it with a two-or-none rule. Basically, players must play two years collegiately before leaving college for the NBA. I believe high school players should be able to either forgo college to enter the NBA or enter the G-League to develop for a season while legally receiving a financial advance. Realistically, many of these players only attend college to play basketball there for the required year before entering the NBA. But why are they being told they must do this? In his documentary “One & Done,” former LSU forward Ben Simmons said that once his fall semester was over, he stopped attending classes since he was eligible for the rest of the season. These players are not going to utilize their

college educations, so they should not be forced to go to college. If players feel they’re ready, let them go to the NBA. The “two-or-none” rule that the Big East recommended could actually solve this problem many players face. If a player commits to a college, he is committing for two years and should not complain about not being paid because he had an opportunity to play in the NBA’s G-League for a season and receive pay for it. This rule would be more enticing to players who are actually interested in a college education. You will have players with interest in attending college, and you will have players being legally compensated in the G-League for their talents. Everyone wins.

Moses Malone Petersburg High School Petersburg, Virginia

Tracy McGrady Mount Zion Christian Academy Durham, North Carolina

Dwight Howard Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy Atlanta, Georgia

Shawn Kemp Concord High School Elkhart, Indiana

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Northeast Florida June/July 2018 Edition  

In the Game Magazine

Northeast Florida June/July 2018 Edition  

In the Game Magazine