Page 1

FIELD OF DREAMS I

ROAD TO SUCCESS

Harry Glasser, Bolles School S. Avery Geehr, Ponte Vedra H. H.S. Sean Reid-Foley, Sandalwood

I

STRONGER THAN YOU THINK

Inside this Issue:

Overcoming Obstacles Matthew Taylor, Baldwin H.S.

Kendal Williams, Stanton Prep. H.S. Deion Eakins, Trinity Christian $4.00 June/July 2014 Northeast Florida Edition

A Day in the Life of Katie

Cramer

www.inthegamemagazine.com


In This Issue:

NORTHEAST FLORIDA

24

June/July 2014

CONTENTS

10

20

29

38

Kendal Williams

Stanton College Preparatory School

Sara Dandridge

Orange Park High School

30 Overcoming Obstacles Matthew Taylor Baldwin High School

Deion Eakins

Trinity Christian Academy

40 Field of Dreams

30 09

19

Training for Crew: Bolles High School 22

40 48

44 Parsons Duo

44 50

27

59

Track & Field Stars Jemarruse Amos & Jontue McDowell

32

In the Stands

34

Road to Success Kelly Beach, Fleming Island High School

37

Only the Strong Survive: Sam Fishbien 43 47

Sunburn & Children:

Nathan Kelly Bobby Anderson Parsons School

48 Coach’s Corner Fleming Clint Lyons Island High School 50 Academic Athlete

Justin Goldfeder

Bishop Kenny High School

56 Stronger Than You Think Alexandra Hamilton

Atlantic Coast Standout:

Fitness: Cardio for Athletes

Providence High School

24 Senior Sprinter

Bob Hayes Invitational Track & Field Meet 17

Chelsea Francis

Grayson Allen

38 Player Spotlight

St. Johns Country Day

Nutrition: Clean Eating

20 Up Close & Personal

29 Road to Success

Also Inside Women’s Soccer Wins State Title

10 On The Cover Northeast Florida Area Schools

Sabrina Palmares Clay High School

59 A Day in the Life of

Katie Cramer

St. Joseph Academy

56

More Painful Than You Think 53

Clay High School Competitive Cheer State Title

4

55

Read. Subscribe. Share.

www.inthegamemagazine.com


NORTHEAST FLORIDA June/July 2014

Publisher Mark Dykes

Editor

Mark Dykes Kaitlynn Passmore

Graphics

Jennifer Alexander

Cover Photography

Beverly Pye Snappy Shots Photography

Feature Photography

Beverly Pye, Snappy Shots Photography Florida Runners Joey Lopes Sarah Hedden Kelly Helm Hunter Hall Cindy Anderson Ray Dimonda Gabby Dinsmore Rich Ray

Feature Writer

Joey Lopes Brandon Ibarra Robert Preston, Jr.

Contributing Writers Mike McGuire

Copy Editors

Crystal Hubbard Ashley Dailey

Advertising/Marketing

Mark Dykes mark@inthegamemagazine.com

Website Manager Kaitlynn Passmore

From The Publisher It is hard to believe that we are already nearly halfway through 2014. Here at the In the Game High School Sports Magazine family, we have had a year’s worth of excitement in a little more than five months. Expanding our magazine into Florida has been an important move for us. For those of you who may not be familiar with In the Game, we have been publishing magazines highlighting the best of high school sports throughout Georgia. Our corporate offices are located in Valdosta, which provides with a unique opportunity to move into the Northeast Florida market with relative ease. Beginning this year, we started covering the Hamilton County/Jasper market in our South Georgia edition. Now we are here in the Jacksonville area and we have been very pleased with the response we have received since we began publishing here. Our goal here at In the Game is to highlight the positive activities and accomplishments of our student-athletes. And Jacksonville is fertile ground for such an undertaking. The quality of student-athletes and the wide array of sports offered at area schools is second to none. The problem moving forward isn’t going to be finding enough material to print; it’s going be deciding which out of the very talented student-athletes in the area get featured.

Contributors

Mark Dykes, Publisher

Kaitlynn Passmore, Editor

Given the size of the greater Jacksonville community and the number of schools and athletes, the Northeast Florida edition will be the most diverse in terms of featured athletes and sports in our family of publications. Take a look at what we have in this edition: two state championship teams, a future Duke basketball player, a potential Division-I football player, more track and field features than you can imagine, and even a story on crew, just to name a few. We haven’t been here in Jacksonville very long but we are thrilled at the possibilities. We live in a society surrounded by negativity. You don’t have to look very far to see bad things that young people get into. There aren’t enough good stories out there, the kinds of stories that inspire feelings of hope and security in our future. The lessons that student-athletes learn are those that transcend sport and mold responsible, successful adults. Those lessons of hard work, perseverance, time management, never giving up, setting and achieving goals – those are the qualities we want to highlight on the pages of In the Game High School Sports Magazine. Yes, we love talking about winning games, setting records, and bringing championship trophies home. But more than that, we enjoy spending time with young people who are on the road to being successful. And when their playing careers are over, they will take the lessons they learned to be successful on the field of play and use them to be successful in every other area of their lives.

Jennifer Alexander, Graphic Designer

Our journey here in Northeast Florida will be an exciting one, and we hope you are with us every step of the way. For distribution or subscription information contact: info@inthegamemagazine.com For advertising information call: 888-715-4263 M & S Media Group, Inc. 13245 Atlantic Blvd., Suite 4191 Jacksonville, FL 32225

6

In the Game High School Sports Magazine is published monthly excluding July. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced in part or in full without written consent from the publisher. Dykes Publishing Group, Inc. makes no representation or warranty of any kind for accuracy of content. All advertisements are assumed by the publisher to be correct. Copyright 2014 Dykes Publishing Group, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN 1945-1458.

www.inthegamemagazine.com


St. Johns Country Day

Women’s Soccer Wins Third-Straight State Title by Robert Preston, Jr.

L

ast year, after the St. Johns Country Day Spartans defeated Evangelical Christian for their second-straight state championship, The Florida Times-Union quoted Spartans Head Coach John Pickett as stating that winning back-to-back state championships was “just the hardest thing to do.” The Spartans had won five state titles in nine years but never back-to-back championships. So what does Coach Pickett think about making it three in a row? “We thought we could make a run at the Final Four. Once you get there, crazy things can happen. Any little thing can make a big difference in a game at that point,” he says. This year’s team had what all championship teams have: great chemistry, camaraderie, and loads of talent. They also had a winning tradition and what ended up being a 45-game winning streak on their side. “Our kids are well-aware of our tradition. They know they have a target on their backs, but they also want to do everything they can to continue that tradition,” says Coach Pickett. This season, the Spartans did just that. They play a very difficult schedule filled with teams that have the talent to beat them on any given night. “We’re a Class 1A program, so we’re very small. But we’ll play anybody in the state,” says Coach Pickett. “That’s another reason why we do so well.”

photography by Rich Ray

When the playoffs arrived, the Spartans were prepared to make another strong postseason run. Through the early rounds, they were never tested. The Sweet 16 game against Maclay of Tallahassee was a bit of a scary game, but in the end, it turned out well for the Spartans. Maclay and St. Johns are big rivals, and conditions that night were very difficult. It was cold and wet with a chance of sleet. “That kind of weather can be a big equalizer,” says Coach Pickett. The Spartans, however, made a statement early, scoring twice in the first 10 minutes and taking Maclay out of the game within the opening minutes. St. Johns cruised to a 7-0 victory and then defeated The First Academy 8-0 in the Elite Eight. That set up a Final Four showdown with Miami’s Palmer Trinity, a team the Spartans had beaten in the finals 7-1 two years ago. Once again, St. Johns struck early, scoring in the first 45 seconds and putting Palmer Trinity on its collective heels for the rest of the game. The Spartans once again coasted to victory, winning 7-0. The state title game, however, would be a different story. St. Johns faced another rival, Lakeland Christian, in the finals. The Spartans had ended Lakeland Christian’s season four years in a row. This time, there would be no early goals. In fact, for nearly the entire game, neither team could find the back of the net. Finally, with three minutes left, the Spartans scored the

game’s only goal on a free kick en route to a 1-0 win and the Spartans’ third straight state title and their sixth in 10 years. “We let a good team hang around. They were very good and very wellcoached,” comments Coach Pickett. For 2014-15, the Spartans should be the favorites to win a fourth consecutive championship. They return 16 of 18 players, and most of the returners have been there for all three state titles. They are battle-tested and conditioned to play long, tough schedules. It doesn’t look like the Spartans are ready for their championship run to end just yet. ITG

In addition to winning thr ee state titles, the Spartans are in the mi ddle of a 45game unbeaten streak – the fifth-longest in the nation. During the streak, St. Johns has tied several oppone nts, but nobody has beaten them. As impre ssive as the streak is, it’s not that im portant to Coach Pickett and his staff. “W e don’t talk about the streak. We pla y a lot of tough opponents, and it’s going to end one day. We play Bolles, Bartram Trail, and a lot of other really good teams . It’s going to end. Our biggest concern isn’t not losing games. It’s about winnin g state titles,” says Coach Pickett.

9


Harry Glasser Bolles School

When Harry Glasser started high school, he thought he would be focusing on wrestling. He loved the physicality of the sport and the warrior mentality required to be a great wrestler. Pole vaulting was just something he did on the side to keep busy. Then things changed. His vaulting talent passed his wrestling talent, and he realized that his future would be more secure on the track team rather than on the wrestling mat. “I didn’t see myself going in this direction. But I’m all in. I totally love pole vaulting,” he says.

10


Propel Bolles Senior to top of Florida’s Pole Vault Heap by Robert Preston, Jr.

photography by Beverly Pye, Snappy Shots Photography

Pole vaulter: Sergey Bubka

Sport you wish you could play: Wrestling Place to travel: Europe

Subject: History

Least favorite: English

much as he has. “She is very knowledgeable about the sport. She knows a lot more than me. She’s the perfect coach, and I have access to her brain 24/7,” he says. Daisy’s expertise, along with the knowledge he has gained from his other coaches and his own tireless work ethic, transformed Glasser into the best pole vaulter in Florida. As we tell Glasser’s story, one may get the impression that everything comes easy to him. After all, with a sister who was also one of the state’s best, there must be something in the Glasser genes, right? Not exactly. Glasser admits that he is far from being a naturally great athlete. In fact, he didn’t qualify for state in wrestling or pole vaulting as a freshman. He didn’t like the way that made him feel, and he decided then and there that it wouldn’t happen again. “Not getting to state really motivated me,” he says. “I went to work, and the next year, I was fourth in Florida in both.” All the hard work – and the success he experienced as a result – is what brought colleges to his front door. Several schools were interested in Glasser, but one stood out above the others. The Glasser family has quite a tradition with the University of Florida. In addition to Daisy, two other siblings went to UF. The Gators were the first school to come calling. “They showed interest in me before any other college did. They are competitive in both indoor and outdoor seasons. I want to contribute to their track team. Florida is also a great school academically, and I felt secure going there. I thought it was the best fit for me,” he says. What does the future hold for Harry Glasser? At the time of this writing, he was a week out from the state track meet. From there, he would be graduating and heading west to Gainesville. “I just want to do as much as I can for my team. I want to do well in school and contribute to my team,” he says. ITG

HARRY’S FAVORITES

bout a year ago, Bolles School senior Harry Glasser faced a difficult decision. He was one of Florida’s top athletes in two sports: wrestling and pole vaulting. One of his primary goals had always been to play a sport in college. However, he had to decide which sport he would choose. Would it be wrestling or would it be pole vaulting? The answer ended up being an easy one. “Florida wrestlers don’t get recruited much for college. I didn’t think I would get a big scholarship offer for wrestling. So I decided to focus on pole vaulting my senior season,” he says. It didn’t hurt that Glasser had surpassed the 15’ mark and colleges – particularly the University of Florida – were already showing some interest. For his senior season, it would be pole vaulting and pole vaulting alone. It turned out to be the right decision. Glasser finished his sophomore and junior seasons as the number fourranked pole vaulter in Florida. However, he admits that his marks weren’t that great. He still had a lot of work to do to become an elite-level vaulter. “Everything came together this year. I wasn’t very fast or strong last year. I got in the weight room and did more speed training. There were a lot of little things I needed to do in order to improve,” he says. And just how much did Glasser improve? As a freshman, he went 12’6”. A year later he topped 13 feet. His junior year, he cleared 14 feet. This year? He went over 16 feet. “So yeah, that was a pretty significant jump to get over 16 feet,” he says. Glasser has an advantage that probably nobody else in the state has. He has the benefit of living with an elite-level pole vaulter, someone whose brain he can pick every day. His sister, Daisy, won multiple state championships in high school and went on to vault for the University of Florida. She now coaches Glasser, and he believes she is a big reason why he has improved as

Last book: Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robinson

Superpower: Flight Person to meet: Sergey Bubka

11


Avery Geehr Ponte Vedra High School

Geehr credits her development into a Division 1 college athlete in part to the excellent coaching she has received, both at school and on her traveling team. Practices are intense and push her and her teammates to their limits, but she is most appreciative of their focus on the mental aspect of the game.

12


Ponte Vedra Senior Leads Team to Undefeated Regular Season by Brandon Ibarra

photography by Beverly Pye, Snappy Shots Photography

A

very Geehr’s goals for her senior softball season were simple. Individually, she wanted to record 222 strikeouts and keep her earned run average under 1. Before Districts, she had tallied over 240 strikeouts, and her ERA stood near 0.4. As a captain and leader, she only hoped her team would play together as a cohesive unit. That was enough for her. She had already signed with Georgetown University and was looking forward to enjoying the time with her coaches and teammates. There are four seniors on the 2014 team, and they’re all the best of friends. She’s been playing with her battery mate, Taylor Zitielo, since they were both six years old. Their fathers started coaching their teams a few years later, from eight-andunder park ball up until they were freshmen. Softball was her way of obtaining a prestigious education and passage to the bustling Washington, D.C. area. She had always planned to attend a school based on its academics, not just its athletics (though the Georgetown softball program is no slouch as an upand-coming Big East contender). “I fell in love with D.C. in eighth grade and cannot wait any longer to live there!” she says. Her weighted grade point average is above 4.4. She probably would’ve made it to Georgetown solely on her grades. She’s enrolled in six Advanced Placement courses split evenly between PVHS and Florida Virtual School: calculus, statistics, physics, microeconomics, government and politics, and language and composition. Geehr didn’t expect her Sharks to win all 24 games on their regular season schedule, but they did. “Our young players really stepped up,” she says. “[Going undefeated] was a great way to go out.”

Favorite Athlete: Derek Jeter Favorite Subject: Calculus Least Favorite Subject: History Ideal Place to Vacation: Bora Bora Gatorade or Powerade: Gatorade

She’s modest, so she might not tell you, but she helped a little bit, too. During a tournament over spring break, Geehr pitched four games in a span of two days. She admits the quick turnaround was physically taxing, but welcomes challenges like these anyway. She’s in the weight room multiple times a week working on core muscles and arm strength. She takes her preparation as a pitcher seriously as well. She practices painting the corners of the strike zone with precision and shows good control of her off-speed pitches. Geehr is an accomplished violinist and has been playing since fourth grade. She performed for patients at the Mayo Clinic over the summer and participates at her church, Christ Episcopal Church. Her musical endeavors double as cross training: she possesses exceptional muscle memory and strength in her fingers, which help her grip the laces when she throws breaking balls. Geehr credits her development into a Division 1 college athlete in part to the excellent coaching she has received at school and on her traveling team. Practices are intense and push her and her teammates to their limits, but she is most appreciative of their focus on the mental aspect of the game. Her coaches drill obscure situations just in case they are faced with one, even if they have yet to encounter it in a game. Geehr’s six-year old cousin Meredith plays youth league softball and wants to be just like her. Geehr sees the responsibility in that and relishes the opportunity to be a positive influence in Meredith’s life. She knows the value in having a role model, because she had one when she was younger, too. Molly Manning, a former Villanova University standout, gave pitching lessons to Geehr while at Bartram Trail High School. Geehr then went on to break most of her area records. ITG

Movie: A Cinderella Story Last Song Played: “Grillz” by Nelly Superpower I’d Choose: Read Minds

13


Sandalwood Senior Excels In all his adventures by Mike McGuire

strong right handed baseball pitcher who enthusiastically values the achievements of his teammates, volunteers in his free time and puts up some truly impressive stats, Sean Reid-Foley is about as apple-pie American as they come. An 18-year-old senior at Sandalwood High School in Jacksonville Florida, Foley plays baseball, basketball, and golf and will be graduating spring 2014.  Unsurprisingly, Foley comes from a family of excellence. Son of Beverly A. Reid and David X. Foley, Jr., a retired Warrant Officer in the U.S. Coast Guard, he is the youngest of four children. His sister Emily, 21, currently attends Florida State University, while his eldest sister Hannah, 25, is a graduate of that same prestigious institution. Sean’s Brother David, 23, attended Mercer University and is currently a minor league baseball player for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Having played baseball since he was four years old, Foley accurately describes himself as, “competitive and a team playe.” Perhaps the defining example of his camaraderie, Foley describes his career highlight as when he watched, “my teammate Alex Wisely throw a perfect game”. Foley currently pitches for his high school baseball team the Saints. A right-hander,

14

photography by Beverly Pye, Snappy Shots Photography

Foley had seven wins and three loses, 15 walks, and an impressive five shutouts this season. He pitched 57.2 innings, 3 of which were no hitters and managed a .607 ERA with 108 total strikeouts. Academically, Sean excels in history, expressing a desire to further develop his skills in English composition. In addition to his athletic and academic achievements, Foley supports his local community through a variety of humanitarian projects. Outside of school, Foley spends time volunteering in Fort Caroline National Park. Foley similarly serves his community through programs within his school. “This school year I helped with an adaptive PE class. I worked with students that have physical, mental, and emotional disabilities,” Foley explains. As an athlete, Foley cites his older brother David as his greatest source of inspiration: he taught me that hard work and determination will make you successful. David’s example motivates Foley, who advises underclassmen hoping to follow in his footsteps to always work hard and strive for excellence. ITG


Sean Reid-Foley Sandalwood High School

15


Bob Hayes Invitational Track & Field Meet

The Bob Hayes Track & Field meet is now known as the largest one day high school track and field event in the United States and currently receives international news coverage. by Joey Lopes

Jacksonville, Florida is one of the premium cities for talented athletes. One event that brings all the top athletes together in Florida to showcase their talents is the Annual Bob Hayes Invitational Track and Field Meet at Raines High School. For the last 50 years this track meet has been the focal point for young track and field athletes from the southeastern United States. Robert “Bullet Bob” Hayes (1942-02), a Jacksonville native, came to the world’s attention in 1964. He was the first person to run 100 yards in 9.1 seconds and held the wold record for sixty yards at 5.9 seconds. That same year he won two gold medals in the 1964 Olympics. Once regarded as the World’s Fastest Human, Hayes also excelled in football by helping the Dallas Cowboys win back-to-back titles in 1965-66. Fifty years ago, this event started very small with only five local high schools: Mathew W. Gilbert (now a middle school), Douglas Anderson (now a school of the arts) , Northwestern (now a middle school), New Stanton, and Stanton Vocational High School. Douglas Anderson hosted the meet and it was held at Northwestern High School on the Northside. The second year the meet grew and included three

photography by Allen Young

colleges: Edward Waters, South Carolina State, and Savannah State College of Georgia. Raines, Deaf & Blind School of St. Augustine, Fessenden of Ocala, Center High School of Waycross, Georgia, and Howard High of Ocala were added. The winner was Raines High School of Jacksonville in 1965. In 1968, Douglas Anderson was phased out in the district’s desegregation plan, leaving the meet location with no host school. The site was then moved from Northwestern to Raines High School, which now hosts the event. The Bob Hayes Track & Field meet is now known as the largest single day high school track and field event in the United States and currently receives international news coverage. Local athletes who excelled in this year’s Bob Hayes Invitational Track & Field meet were Stanton College prep senior Kendal Williams, who won the boys 100-meter dash with a time of 10.28 seconds. Williams will be taking his talents to FSU this fall. In the boy’s 1,600-meter race, St. Augustine High School junior Ryan Aponte took the lead in the homestretch and never looked back until the race was over 4:27 seconds later. ITG

nal Track Meet tio ta vi In s ye Ha b Bo e th s, For the past four decade icipants from the rt pa ld fie d an k ac tr g un yo has been a focal point for member, Bob re to g un yo o to e os th r Fo . southeastern United States was dubbed “Bullet Bob” at th er nt ri sp M A& a id or Fl Hayes was the s from 60 to 100 yards. nt ri sp e th of ce an in m do s hi for 17


Forget fad diets and expensive nutritional supplements. Athletes need good nutrition that includes plenty of water, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. Healthy eating plans such as the Paleo Diet or clean eating lifestyle may offer some benefits to athletes. However, before you make any dietary or lifestyle changes, it is extremely important to consult a physician. It’s also a good idea to sit down and talk to your coach or trainer as well.

The Paleo Diet The Paleo Diet simply means eating like our caveman ancestors did. This does not mean you need to ditch the fork and knife. Eating Paleo (short for Paleolithic) means eating foods that are similar to the foods our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate. These include proteins (meat, fish, and poultry), whole fruits and veggies. Foods that are not part of the Paleo Diet include dairy products, refined sugar, grains (yes, that means hamburger buns), and even legumes (beans, peas, etc.). No processed foods are consumed on the Paleo Diet; the cavemen didn’t have convenience stores to grab a quick snack. If you want to learn more about the Paleo Diet, consider reading the book The Paleo Diet by Dr. Loren Cordain, founder of the Paleo Movement.

Clean Eating Slightly different from the Paleo Diet, clean eating eliminates all processed foods from your diet. Clean eating features an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables just like the Paleo Diet, but it also allows whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and even all-natural sugar substitutes such as honey. White bread and white rice are not part of the clean eating regime. Instead clean eating encourages a switch to brown rice, whole wheat, millet, and quinoa. An athlete used to a pre-game meal of pasta simply can substitute pasta made from regular flour to brown rice pasta (look for it in the gluten-free section of the grocery store). Clean eating means trying to eat as many foods in their natural state as possible. Instead of processed apple juice, eat an apple.

NUTRITION

A

s a high school athlete, you’re already living an active lifestyle and most likely following a regular exercise and training routine. While swinging through the drive-through is fast and easy after a practice, most often it is not the healthiest choice. Maintaining proper nutrition throughout the year, not just during your sport’s season, can help improve your athletic performance and is essential to your overall health.

by Barb H.

Benefits of the Paleo Diet and Clean Eating Both the Paleo Diet and Clean Eating have healthful benefits. Both increase significantly the amount of fruits and vegetables consumed and both help eliminate processed foods from your diet. Processed foods are food items you can’t make in a home kitchen because they contain ingredients not available to the general public. These ingredients include chemicals, preservations, dyes, and more. Reducing processed food consumption can help improve your overall health, allowing you to train more regularly without being as tired or taking as many sick days.

Source: http://health.usnews.com/best-diet/paleo-diet, http://www.pbs.org/ newshour/bb/health-jan-june13-food_04-29/

19


NBA team: Miami Heat Players: LeBron James and Kevin Durant Last book: Game Plan for Life:

The Power of Mentoring by John Wooden

Superpower: Fly Coke or Pepsi: “I don’t drink sodas.” Subject in school: Math

Place to travel: Rome Person to meet: John Wooden

Grayson Allen Providence High School

20


Providence High Senior Lands Hoops Scholarship with Duke Blue Devils by Robert Preston, Jr.

hen Providence High senior Grayson Allen played his first competitive basketball game back in the fifth grade, he had no idea where the sport would take him. He was primarily a soccer player back then and was playing whatever he could to pass the time. To his surprise, he fell in love with basketball quickly. A few years later, he realized he might have a future in the game. Now, all these years later, Allen has a state championship, a McDonald’s All-American plaque, a McDonald’s Slam Dunk trophy, and a scholarship to Duke University to his credit. “I didn’t think all this would happen,” he says. “The attention was tough at first. It was a learning curve for me. It’s different when so many people are offering you advice. You can’t let the good stuff people say about you go to your head, and you can’t let the bad stuff affect you negatively,” he says. The 6’4,” 200-pound point/shooting guard is considered a five-star recruit with almost unlimited upside. He shoots the ball well, can distribute effectively, and is excellent in transition. Allen is a versatile offensive weapon who is equally at home behind the three-point line and above the rim. “I’ve always been able to use my athleticism to my advantage. That and my three-point shooting can make me kind of hard to defend,” he says. Throughout his career, Allen has played on the various travel circuits, including the prestigious Nike Elite Youth Basketball League. While playing with the best high school players in the country, it can be easy for players to forget about their high school teams. Not so with Allen. He didn’t play much varsity ball his freshman year. A year later, Providence won region and advanced to the Final Four. As a junior, Allen and his Providence teammates won a state title. This year, Providence was ranked in the top 20 nationally for most of the season and went all the way to the Final Four, where the Stallions faced Sagemont, another nationally-ranked team. Sagemont’s defense proved too much for the Stallions, and Sagemont won the game relatively easily. “We just didn’t play well. Maybe we played too much to the scouting report. But they played really well and had a good shooting game,” recalls Allen. Though the 2013-14 season didn’t last as long as Allen would have liked, he still has quite a list of accomplishments on which he can hang his hat. He was named a McDonald’s All-American, which was a goal he has had for

photography by Beverly Pye, Snappy Shots Photography

quite a while. “Seeing my name on television when I was named an All-American was a great experience. When I got to Chicago and played against the best players in the nation, that was unbelievable, too. I wasn’t intimidated being up there with those guys. I knew I could play with them,” he says. He had a solid AllStar game, scoring seven points on one of the most prestigious high school basketball stages in the country. He also brought home the slam dunk trophy after he jumped over a future teammate, the 6’10” Jahlil Okafor, in the slam dunk finals. “That was his idea. I wasn’t sure I could do it, but I went for it. It was my last dunk of the contest,” he says. Allen had always wanted to play basketball in college. He just wasn’t sure where he would end up. He received his first college offer when he was a freshman. It came from the University of North Florida. At that point, he began to take the game much more seriously. By the time his junior year rolled around, Allen had over 40 Division I scholarship offers. One, however, stood above the rest. When the Duke Blue Devils came to the table, the recruiting game changed, and it changed quickly. Allen had a couple of meetings with assistants from Duke before he spoke with Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski. Krzyzewski visited the Allen home in Jacksonville in April of 2013. During the meeting, Coach Krzyzewski didn’t make Allen any promises about his future with the Blue Devils. He was matter-of-fact about his expectations and let Allen know that while he could have a chance to play as a freshman, it would take tremendous work. “Coach Krzyzewski said he likes to use a lot of guards, and I could compete as a freshman. He didn’t say a lot about my role on the team, but he did say that he thought the Blue Devils would be a good fit for me,” Allen says. Allen agreed and committed to Duke later that month. Throughout his basketball career, Allen has learned tremendous lessons from the sport. He has accomplished a great deal in a short period of time, and it would be easy to think that everything has come easily for a young man blessed with his ability. There is, however, much more to Allen’s success than just ability. “Back in the ninth grade, I decided I would work as hard as I could and see what happened. That’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned—that hard work will get you the results you’re looking for. You have to work hard to become the best player you can be. Those are the lessons that translate into other areas of life,” he says. ITG

Duke University is one of the steppingstones to the NBA. So is playing professionally something Grayson Allen is considering? He says it’s definitely a possibility. “Duke produces so many NBA players. That’s my ultimate goal. But if it doesn’t happen, I’m okay with it. I love basketball, and if I can make my living playing, that would be great,” he says.

21


Training for Crew Rowing takes Discipline and Coordination

by Joey Lopes

W

hen you hear Florida, you think warm climates and beautiful beaches. When it comes to sports, our weather is the best for playing the popular sports such as football, baseball, basketball, track and field. But what about water sports? Rowing, also referred to as “crew,” is one of the growing sports here in Jacksonville. Rowing is one of the original sports in the modern Olympic games and also the first intercollegiate sport contested in the United States in 1852.

22

photography by Hunter Hall

Bolles School has one of the successful crews here on the first coast. With one of the top facilities and high quality equipment, it’s no wonder students come from all over the world to be a part of this crew. Not only do you get a top-notch education, but you get to row year round and use facilities better than some colleges. Rowing is one the oldest, purest sports and also the ultimate team sport because it takes discipline and coordination to have a successful crew. You never hear of one person carrying a crew in this sport because if one person isn’t doing his/her part, the boat won’t move.


Training for crew isn’t like training for any other sport; it’s a combination of power weights, endurance weights, and cross training says Coach Bryan. Bolles came in third place in the state last year out of 47 schools and clubs. According to Head Coach Oli, anyone can row no matter thier size, shape, or athletic ability. Bolles is the only school that starts kids rowing in the sixth grade and by the end of their first year, they’ll have reached the million strokes club. Coach Bryan says that, as a coach, he looks for “any athlete willing to learn—preferably a current athlete participating in sports. ”Coach Bryan is a former football player who “was attracted to being out on the water early in the morning with [his] crew.” Rowing is one of the most complex sports of today

because it takes everyone working in synchronization. The stroke is made up of four parts: catch, dive, finish, and recovery. Most teams seat their crews based on athletic ability, and some seat by size or strength. There are two types of events: sweep rowing, when the athlete has one oar, and sculling, when the athlete has two oars. Coach Bryan believes kids who row make better grades because of the structure and planning that comes with the territory of being a rowing athlete. Bolles has crew athletes that attend Harvard, which has one of the top crew programs in collegiate sports, and the Naval Academy. Harvard now has an athlete by the name of Travis Kennedy, a sophomore who’s trying out for the junior national team. ITG

Rowing is one the oldest, purest sports and also the ultimate team sport because it takes discipline and coordination to have a successful crew. 23


Kendal Williams Stanton College Preparatory School

Favorite Athlete: Yohan Blake Favorite Subject: Psychology Least Favorite Subject: Math Ideal Place to Travel: the Bahamas Gatorade or Powerade: Powerade Favorite Movie: Lone Survivor Last Song Played: Migos’s mixtape Superpower: Super Speed 24


Stanton Senior Eyes Perfect Showing in 200M

photography by Ken Williams, USATF, Florida Times Union

by Joey Lopes

ne might peg Kendal Williams as the shy, thoughtful type when conversing with him. His voice stays calm and steady, never getting too fast or excited. He pauses just a bit longer than normal before replying, making his words seem deliberate and important. Your first impression is of a fairly serious 18-year-old. Then he’ll say something hilarious that makes you laugh twice: once from the punch line and again from surprise that he had it in him. You might shake your head and silently scold yourself for underestimating him in the first place. No one underestimates Williams on the track. The senior from Stanton College Preparatory School has won the 3A state title in the 200-meter sprint three years in a row; his best time in the event is 20.63 seconds. He added a state title in the 100 meter as a sophomore in 2012 (best time: 10.18) and is also a USATF Junior Olympic champion and AAU Club national

record holder. Stanton Prep is an accomplished institution unto itself, heralded as one of the best academic public high schools in America. The Blue Devils rank seventh this year on The Washington Post’s list of “America’s Most Challenging High Schools.” Williams’s schedule includes Advanced Placement courses in U.S. government, macroeconomics, environmental science, English literature, art history, and calculus. His achievements on the track and in the classroom made him one of the most sought after prospects in the country. Williams had scholarship offers from Division I programs all over the nation. He describes the recruitment process as a “fun experience” mixed with “a lot of back and forth.” The choice was eventually narrowed between Florida State University and the University of Southern California - stay at home or get as far away as geographically possible. In the end, he shunned the cardinal and gold of Los Angeles for the garnet and gold of Tallahassee. “Both schools were great, and it was a tough decision,” he says, “but at the end of the day, I felt more comfortable with FSU and the track team, as well as me feeling that was where my heart was.” He plans to study exercise science and pursue coaching or training afterwards.

Williams added a state title to his accomplishments in the 100m as a sophomore in 2012 (best time: 10.18).

Williams joined the middle school track team in eighth grade just to stay in shape while football was out of season. There he realized the impressive natural ability he possessed; his knee lifts and hand placement were solid despite his lack of formal instruction. He pledges not to rely solely on his talent, however. He trains five to six days a week and is trapped in a perpetual state of aches and pains. He admits there have been times when he wanted to quit. But his family has instilled in him a strong work ethic and the confidence to strive to be the best, a philosophy that has facilitated success. Don’t let Williams fool you. He describes himself as a “goofy guy” who can have a good time no matter the situation. And winning always makes for a good time. ITG

25


Atlantic Coast Standout Has All the Tools for Success by Brandon Ibarra

Speed

Chelsea Francis is fast. That much is obvious. She caught everyone’s attention at state her freshman year. She was under the radar back then. She calls that her “new kid on the block” phase. Now, as a junior, she runs the 100-meter dash, the 200-meter and the 4x1 and 4x4 relays. And she usually wins. Bob Hayes Invitational, Chandra Cheeseborough Invitational, Gateway Conference Championship: she’s VIP now. Her best times are 11.55 seconds in the 100-meter and 24.16 in the 200-meter. She keeps a rigorous training routine and strives to maintain balance between speed and strength. She hits the weights to improve her arms and core along with her calves and hamstrings. Endurance and injury prevention are as important as power and explosiveness to her. She’s dedicated to a new regimen this season, designed to help her peak as the postseason intensifies. Her gains are noticeable though not as apparent as before. She remains optimistic, nonetheless. “Last year, I was just running,” she admits. “Now, I’m right where I need to be.”

Leadership

Francis was named team captain as a sophomore. She keeps her grades up, posting a 3.4 cumulative high school GPA to this point and sounds ashamed that it isn’t higher. She doesn’t want to be seen as just a runner, especially during the recruitment process. “I don’t want scouts to say, ‘She’s fast, but can she write? What else can she do?’” The process has been “exciting and stressful” for her. She has a duffel bag full of letters from colleges and isn’t eligible to speak to any of them until June. She’s taken unofficial visits to Texas A&M University (“Powerhouse,” as she called them), Florida State University, and the University of Central Florida. She is conscientious of her actions and image as an aspiring Division I athlete. “I always have to be on my Ps and Qs,” she says.

photography by Florida Runners

Experience

Francis is enjoying this season. She’s not nervous or intimidated as she was as a freshman surrounded by seniors on either side. She’s confident but stays humble. She’s won before. First place is no longer paramount. She competes against herself instead, striving to top her personal best. Using her mechanics, techniques, and the fundamentals she drills in practice every day are more interesting to her at this point. So she doesn’t notice the pressure. She wants to be normal sometimes, to go out with her friends without having to worry about curfew or tomorrow’s agenda. But she takes her priorities seriously. She knows if she has to leave class early for a meet, she needs to get the lecture notes from a friend. She’s experienced one too many sore, restless nights to let up now.

Motivation

Francis caught the attention of her track coach at Southside Middle School because she was racing a boy who said she couldn’t catch him. She lost, and immediately wanted another chance. She was in seventh grade and looking for something fun to do to keep an active lifestyle, something to fend off the boredom the living room couch promised. The sport just found her that way. And she is ready for the attention her success brings. She is the youngest in a blended family of ten siblings. She’s watched her brothers and sisters excel, and she expects to do the same. “Put the spotlight on me,” she says. ITG

Chelsea Francis

“Last year, I was just running,” she admits. “Now, I’m right where I need to be.” 27


Road to Success

Orange Park setter has the determination to take her career to the next level

by Joey Lopes

all is known as football/the beginning of basketball season for high school athletics in Florida. But right in the midst of fall sports is volleyball, the second most popular sport in the world behind soccer. Sara Dandridge, the 5’11,” right-handed junior setter at Orange Park High School, is the total volleyball package. She would be the quarterback on the football field or point guard on the basketball court. This dynamic athlete plays the positions of both setter and outside hitter. The setter is the most important position on the volleyball court because she decides who should get the ball and when. It doesn’t matter how good your hitters are if they don’t have the setter to consistently deliver a good ball to hit. Dandridge plays volleyball at OPHS for Coach Amy Walker, and she is a three-year varsity starter for the Raiders. Dandridge has accumulated numerous awards, including All-County and AllConference, and she has led her team to two district championships and playoff appearances.

photography by Randy Lefko

Dandridge is no overnight success; she’s been playing volleyball since age 12. Like most successful athletes, she works on her craft year round with club play, camps, and a solid strength and conditioning program. As a sophomore, she averaged 8.7 assists per set and 767 assists for season, the second highest in Northeast Florida. In her junior year as a setter/opposite hitter, she led the team with 210 kills and a 42.3 percent kill ratio for season, 51 aces, 33 blocks, 216 digs, and 349 assists. Perhaps most interesting about Dandridge is that she finds time to be part of the high school weightlifting team. In addition, she adds daily core work, long distance running one day a week, and two days of volleyball strength and conditioning. With all these obligations, she still finds time to be a role model on and off the court, serving as captain for the Lady Raiders and carrying a 3.4 grade point average in the classroom. Walker

believes Dandridge will be playing at the next level as her work ethic, desire, and determination will ensure that. ITG

still finds time to be a e sh on g in go ns io at lig ob e With all thes she carries a 3.4 GPA as t ur co e th on d an f of th role model bo e Lady Raiders. th r fo n ai pt ca as es rv se d an 29


Baldwin Sophomore Conquers Disability, Then Marathons by Bradon Ibarra

M

photography by Joey Lopes

atthew Taylor has cerebral palsy. When he was born, the doctors told him he would never walk unassisted. The 16-year-old from Baldwin High School has been in and out of hospitals and rehabilitation centers his whole life. Four years ago, Taylor was introduced to a new treatment that changed his life completely. In that time, he transformed himself into a seasoned marathon competitor, a motivational speaker, and a charity event coordinator. His story is truly remarkable:

Baldwin High School

30


April 2010: Taylor, 13, has limited mobility. He can’t remember the number of surgeries he’s already endured. When he was four, his muscles failed to develop at the same rate as the rest of his body, causing his right side to feel rigid and tense. He and his mother Kim are approached by his neurosurgeon about a new method, Intrathecal Baclofen Therapy (IBT), to manage his condition. Pioneered by the medical technologies juggernaut Medtronic Inc., IBT involves the implantation of a medicine pump inside the patient’s abdomen, which allows the drug Lioresal to be injected through a catheter directly into the spine. It is most commonly prescribed to patients with cerebral palsy, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and brain and spinal cord injuries. According to baclofenpump.com, complications from surgery could include infection, meningitis, spinal fluid leak, and paralysis. The technology has been available since the early 1990s but was used primarily with patients in cases more debilitating than Taylor’s. The decision to receive the surgery was ultimately his, but he admits he needed some convincing. “At first I did not want [the pump],” he says. “I had a lot of surgeries [before this one], multiple Botox [injections], de-rotation on my hip…after my last Botox injection, I said, ‘I’m done. I’m tired of the surgeries.’ My orthopedic doctor told me just suck it up, see how the trial goes, or else I’d be in a wheelchair right now.” Taylor agrees to undergo the eight-hour trial, where the baclofen is injected under fluoroscope into the appropriate place in the spine. Doctors monitor any reduction in spasticity every hour. His mother instantly notices a dramatic change. “Probably midway through, hour three or four…he was like, wow, like a whole different kid walking down the hallway,” she says. “At the end of the day, they all came back in the room, the therapists, the Medtronic people, the doctors, and they said, ‘Well, do you want to go back and get more education? Do you want to talk about it?’ Taylor says, ‘Can I say something? I want the pump now.’ That was on a Tuesday. Monday he was in surgery.” The operation is a success. The edges of the pump protrude from his abdomen slightly. His mother says, “He went to rehab right after, and there was no protocol, because there’s not people like him that are mobile. Nobody with this device has done the stuff he’s doing, so he’s kind of testing it as he goes along.” Taylor tries to play basketball a little too early and overexerts himself, causing a spinal leak. “He spent ten weeks flat on his back while that resolved,” Kim Taylor says. Despite the setback, his gains are obvious. “We noticed immediately, within the first week, his speech and vocabulary had improved. He said ‘extraordinary’ one day. I said, ‘Where did that come from?’ He said, ‘It was too hard to say before.’” When Taylor resumes physical therapy, he starts with one-mile fun runs. His ESE teacher at school is also the cross-country coach, and invites him to come out for the team. August 2010: Taylor has one week of practice with the team before his first meet. He possesses surprising endurance in spite of his lack of preparation and experience. He competes to avoid last place throughout the season with a student from Trinity Christian, who becomes a friendly rival. But he finishes. And he never walks. Not once. He sets a new goal immediately after conquering the previous one. “I asked my mom after my first cross country meet, and granted I was still running 45-minute 5Ks, if I ever do a marathon, can I get a tattoo?” His mother agrees, making no attempt to hide her skepticism. “After four years, she had to eat those words,” says Taylor, pointing to the 26.2 tattooed on the inside of his ankle March 2011: Taylor participates in the Gate River Run. He’s never run more than nine miles in training before the day of the 9.3-mile race. He finishes in 1 hour, 53 minutes and passes a few of the other competitors down the home stretch. At school, he completes the last 5K of the season ten minutes faster than his first. He is less worried about how the pump will hold up and more about not getting lost out on the course. He meets 2007 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow through the Dreams Come True organization. Taylor leaves a good impression on Tebow, because he asks Taylor to say a prayer at the celebrity gala

dinner of his charity golf tournament two months later. Four months later on November 17, Taylor is on the home sideline at Mile High Stadium in Denver, watching Tebow rush for the gamewinning touchdown against the New York Jets. Tebow hands him the game ball amidst a sea of flashing lights. One of those pictures eventually finds its way onto CBS during the NFL playoffs. Taylor completes his first half-marathon on Thanksgiving Day. October 2012: Medtronic Inc. hosts an event honoring an elite group of IBT patients as company heroes. At 15, Taylor is by far the youngest among the twenty-five selected. The age restriction for the event must be lifted for Taylor to participate, so his uncle writes a letter convincing the selection committee to make an exception for him. Surrounding Taylor are Ironman competitors, marathoners, and a Bondi Beach lifeguard/big wave surfer, who broke his neck in the water and guided his own rescue. “I’m just a cross-country runner,” says Taylor. He is inspired by their stories but doesn’t realize he is inspiring to them. October 2013: Taylor is ready for his first marathon, but he wants to find a “meaningful” one and one that will allow athletes below legal age to participate. He chooses the Marine Core Marathon in Washington, D.C. When asked why he chose this race in particular, he replies, “Why not? Our country is at war.” April 2014: Taylor has always wanted to show his gratitude for the care he has received at Wolfson Children’s Hospital. Two years earlier, he gets the idea to organize a celebrity flag football game while getting the catheter in his spine replaced. Football is his first love, and running became an alternative when that wasn’t an option. “The whole thing about this whole flag football idea was to give back to the hospital, and to give back to where I spent sixteen years of my life,” he says. He pitches the idea to a committee at The Bolles School, and they’re on board immediately. He wants to get some of the patients involved because he identifies and empathizes with them. He wants to break up the monotony of their daily routines. “This gives them the opportunity to do something, to have fun, something other than sitting down,” he says.

Seventeen patients play, along with Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee and members of the NFL Alumni Association. The event raises triple the amount of money expected. But the smiles and laughter, the apparent joy had by all is what affects Taylor the most. “It kind of felt like…” he pauses, “It kind of felt awesome. I never thought it would be this big.” He plans to hold the event annually and wants to expand to a tournament format with multiple fields accommodating simultaneous games. Present and Future: Taylor graduates from Baldwin in 2016. He plans to attend the University of North Florida and pursue a career as a motivational speaker. He speaks on behalf of Wolfson and Medtronic and has shared the stage with Jaguars Ring of Honor inductee Mark Brunell. Kim Taylor worries the school administrators don’t take her son’s absent excuses seriously when he misses class to be there. “In September, we went to Boston,” she says. “He spoke at Harvard, and when we returned, I sent a letter to school saying, ‘Please excuse Matthew from being absent. He was speaking at Harvard Medical School.’ You know they think I’m nuts.” He still trains hard. He runs, lifts, or swims every day and has his sights set on completing three half-marathons in three straight months, from November through January. Taylor is constantly setting new goals because he is constantly achieving the ones he has set before. He has experienced a great deal of adversity in his young life and has overcome it to accomplish these extraordinary things in four short years. Which begs the question, what do the next four years have in store for Matthew Taylor? ITG

y day and ns, lifts, or swims ever ru He . rd ha s in tra ill in He st three half-marathons g in et pl m co on t se s has his sight nuary. November through Ja m fro s, th on m ht ig ra three st

Favorite Athlete: Tim Tebow Favorite Subject: Gym Least Favorite Subject: Math Ideal Place to Travel: Australia Gatorade or Powerade: Gatorade Favorite Movie: (tie) Forrest Gump, Rocky Last Song Played: “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice Superpower: Super Speed 31


Track & Field

Stars

Best friends on and off Raines track, they push each other to reach their full potentials Jemarruse Amos and Jontue McDowell by Allen Young

photography by Florida Runners

emarruse Amos and Jontue McDowell are inseparable. Best friends on and off Raines track, they push each other to reach their full potentials. “Amos keeps me on track”, says McDowell.

Both are full of energy and humor, but on the track, it’s strictly business. Not only are their personalities the same, but their pre-game rituals are, as well. They enter each event calmly and focused both mentally and physically.

Jemarruse Amos

32

They also make sure they’re wellhydrated and properly stretched. Coach Steven Bailey and Chanel Ray are key contributors to their successes. “Coach Bailey is a father figure to me,” says Amos. ITG

Amos the 5’11,” 169-pound senior, competes in the hurdles, 4x4 relay, and triple jump. He is ranked fifth in the state of Florida and 14th in the nation. Amos is a two-time gateway conference, district, and two-time regional champion. He also finished fourth overall in state and is a two-time state qualifier and Junior Olympic qualifier. “My mother Nichole Brown taught me how to be a man and is the reason for my never-quit attitude,” says Amos. Amos also lists Alphonso Lewis as another key contributor to his overall growth and development. An Olympic gold medalist and an occupation as an athletic trainer are goals Amos wishes to accomplish. Amos is undecided on his plans for the fall but has offers from Virginia Union and Tennessee State.


“Don’t let anybody come in between you chasing yo ur dreams and catching th em.” - Jontue McDowell

Jontue McDowell McDowell the 6’1”, 167-pound senior competes in the 200, 400, and 800-meter runs and the 4x2, 4x4, and 4x8 relays. He is a four-time gateway conference and regional champion and a four-time state qualifier. McDowell lists his grandmother Betty Lane as an important contributor to his development as a young man. “Don’t let anybody come in between you chasing your dreams and catching them,” is a quote which McDowell lives by. McDowell is also undecided on his plans for college this fall but received offers from Alabama State, University of North Florida, Clemson, Tennessee State, and Virginia Union.

Amos is ranked fifth in th e state of Florida and 14th in the nation.

Jontue’s Favorite Food: Chicken Alfredo Movie: Thin Line between Love and Hate Powerade or Gatorade: Gatorade Place to travel: Texas Person to meet: Tyga Superpower: Speed (Flash) Last song played: “Smiling Faces” by Kevin Gates

Jemarruse’s

Favorite Food: Spaghetti Movie: Little Monster Powerade or Gatorade: Powe rade Place to travel: Texas Person to meet: Aries Merrit Superpower: Speed (Flash) Last song played: “We Read y” by Soulja Boy and Migos

33


IN THE S photography by Joey Lopes and Ray Dimonda

for fans at Dalton Cyr performs rity event. cha pe Ho for e the Hik

Hospital staff and voluntee rs pose for In the Game.

Someone messed up this guy’s cotton candy.

Parents and kids are in line early to atten d Waterleaf Spring Carnival.

Kids retaliate against teachers Waterleaf Spring Carnival.

Fans are arriving

early at Terry Pa

rker for class 4A

districts.

by throwing pies at the

test at

p con pete for prizes in a hula hoo Mia, Sophia, and Arisa com l. niva Car Waterleaf Elementary Spring

Middle school girls prepare to race in swim meet at Terry Parker.

34

Swim fans await the start of the next race at Terry Parker.


STANDS A fierce girls Lacrosse battle between Bolles and Fleming Island for the district breaks out.

Trinity’s state champions cele

brate.

High school volun

teers show love

at the Field of Dr

eams.

Trinity’s sophomores show off their bling for In the Game. on Terry Stanton Prep prepares to take Parker in district semi finals.

Baker County Baseball team poses for In the Game after the victory over Bishop Kenny in the district tournament.

35


Road to Success

Fleming Island Junior Leads Team to First Lacrosse District Title

by Brandon Ibarra

he Fleming Island Girls Lacrosse team won its first district championship in school history by defeating The Bolles School 13-6. Not bad considering this is the first year they’ve had to make cuts at tryouts. Captain Kelly Beach led the way, evading defenders with a comfortable lead as time expired. Head Coach Clint Lyons called it their best performance of the season. Beach is one of the more experienced players for the Golden Eagles, having competed in recreational leagues since she was in fifth grade. A friend’s mother had played in college and started a team along with Beach’s mom and a few others. She joined the North Florida Wave travel team after junior high and currently plays for them in addition to the school team. Wave Head Coach Meghan Fanning offers Beach a second perspective on the game, which Beach then relays to her school teammates. She credits strong senior leadership and team harmony for this season’s success. “[Our chemistry] shows on the field. We mesh better, and play as a team,” says Beach. “It’s an honor to be a captain. This year, I knew I had to step up my game and my leadership. I want to do whatever is best for the team.” Beach looks forward to the promise of her senior year and the chance to build upon the momentum of their first postseason berth. Losing the 2014 seniors will be difficult to compensate

photography by Ray Dimonda

Beach is one of the more experienced players for the Golden Eagles, having competed in recreational leagues since she was in fifth grade. for, but from what she’s heard, the incoming freshmen show immense potential. Jennifer LaVangie, wife of boys Head Coach Jeff LaVangie, will coach a summer league team to acclimate new players to the program. Beach will not participate on that team because she will be consumed in her travel squad’s schedule. Starting in June, she expects to have a tournament to play in every weekend. They’ll

visit Georgia and Virginia on their tour with plenty of college scouts in tow. She welcomes the chance to earn a scholarship but is focused more on a prospective university’s academics. She won the class treasurer office again this year and is an excellent student: she just earned her first “B” grade on a report card, in chemistry. She is enrolled in the AICE program at Fleming Island and has a busy exam schedule because of it. She dreads the thirteen tests waiting for her at the end of the semester but tries to keep an optimistic perspective nonetheless. “It’s going to get tough, but I’ll get through it,” she says. Beach intends to enter the job market for the first time this summer to gain experience and strengthen the look of her college application; and of course, to make some spending money, too. She’s also looking forward to visiting family in Connecticut at their beach house (no pun intended) over the July 4th weekend. Maybe she will have time to pick her ukulele back up on vacation. She got it for Christmas two years ago and did not take to it as naturally as her lacrosse stick. It probably didn’t help that it was out of tune the whole time, either. Then she will be back to work, and there will be plenty of it waiting for her when she returns. But she doesn’t mind it. Hard work is what she’s good at. ITG

Kelly’s Favorites: Favorite Athlete: U.S. Women’s National Team defender Ali Krieger

Favorite Subject: Math Least Favorite Subject: History

Ideal Place to Travel: “any tropical paradise” Gatorade or Powerade: Gatorade Favorite Movie: The Proposal

Last Song Played: “Why Georgia” by John Mayer Superpower: Teleportation

37 37


Deion Eakins

Trinity Christian Academy

Favorite Athlete: LeBron James Favorite Subject: History Least Favorite Subject: Spanish Ideal Place to Travel: France Gatorade or Powerade: Gatorade Favorite Movie: Friday Night Lights Last Song Played: “I’m Goin’ In” by Drake Superpower: Read Minds

38


Eakins Leads Way Toward Repeat State Title by Brandon Ibarra

Trinity Christian Academy won the Class 3A state title in 2013, their fourth football championship in the last 12 years. The Conquerors offense rushed for an average of 266 yards and scored 34.7 points per game last season. And they’re supposed to be better this year. Trinity’s defense features four players ranked in the 2015 ESPN 300, including cornerback Kevin Toliver II, ranked third overall, and outside linebacker Jeffery Holland, 24th overall. Starting quarterback Jaquez Riles and wide receiver Isaiah Ford are graduating, but the offense still boasts one of the state’s best tackle tandems in Kendrick Norton (68th overall) and Deion Eakins. They became fast friends as freshmen and have been mistaken for brothers by strangers on more than one occasion. The 6’3, 295-pound Eakins is ready to assume a senior leadership role on a team with aspirations of earning a trip back to Citrus Bowl Stadium in Orlando. “As far as the offensive line goes, me and Norton will be leading the way, we’ll be the anchors,” he says. “We have three underclassmen on the line this year, so we’ll teach them, mold them. And in the summer, when newer guys come in, whether they’re transfers or ninthgraders, we’ll teach them, as well.” If you’re looking for Eakins and don’t know

photography by Sarah Hedden

Eakins’s tenacity on the field has caught the attention of college scouts across the nation. where he is, check the weight room first. He gears his workouts to improve his strength while maintaining footwork and agility. He has no preference between run and pass blocking, but approaches each technique with equal vigor. He credits the coaching staff, particularly coordinators Gus Scott and Gerard Ross, for instilling a tough, physical mentality in him early on. “Coming into Trinity in the ninth grade, they not only teach you about playing the game and being a better student of the game, but they also teach you as a lineman that you have to have tenacity,” he says. “As those two always say, the play’s never done until [the opposing player] is on his back.” Eakins’s tenacity on the field has caught the attention of college scouts across the nation. There are over 40 letters sitting on top of a plastic box full of even more letters in his dining room. His first offer came from Florida International University, the alma mater of Jaguars starting strong safety Johnathan Cyprien. He’s also

gotten serious interest from Cincinnati, South Florida, Purdue, South Carolina, and Arkansas. And this is just the start. “A lot of those schools said they want to see me one more time in the spring before they pull the trigger and give me an offer,” he says. He would prefer to stay close to home for the sunny weather, but his decision ultimately comes down to a combination of the school’s academic and athletic programs. He plans to study either sports management or physical therapy. Eakins’s other passion is music. He’s been playing the drums since he was five years old and participates in his church’s band. He grew up around gospel and R&B, because his brother, aunts and uncles all play instruments. A few of his favorite artists are Fred Hammond, Kirk Franklin, and John Legend. Eakins might not yet have the same national recognition as a few of his teammates, but he is an integral part of the Conquerors’ chances of repeating as state champions. He’s focused on getting better every day and doing whatever it takes to help his team win. The rest will take care of itself. ITG

39


Field of Dreams

Gives Many Opportunities and Hope

E

by Allen Young

ver since opening day on Saturday, April 26, 2011 the Field of Dreams organization, alongside the Creeks Athletic Association, has participated in a baseball league for the physically challenged. With the help of volunteers, girls and boys ages five to 18 take a swing at bat. “Over the past four years, the Field of Dreams has grown from 39 participants to 130,” says Dave Levy, president of the Field of Dreams. The Field of Dreams opens registration to all surrounding counties at any time during the season. “Even if it’s the last day, we give everyone 40

photography by Kelly Helm

the opportunity to participate,” says Mr. Levy. In 2009, the objective for Keith Martin, Mike Grubbs, Chuck Forcier, and Troy Blevins was to begin the project. The community saw their vision and in return raised over $50,000. St. Johns County donated the necessary land to complete the project. The Bartram Trail baseball and football team, as well as other organizations throughout the St. Johns County, were present for the 2014 season in Aberdeen. Kevin Thomas, Carl Newman, Jody Gains, and George Vancore were key contributors to the success of this past season. ITG


The Field of Dreams gives the participants more than just a uniform, trophy, and a location to play baseball. The Field of Dreams gives them opportunity and hope.

41


ONLY THE STRONG SURVIVE Orange Park Senior Savors Only Flag Football Season by Brandon Ibarra

am Fishbein stays busy. She is a server at Texas Roadhouse and usually drives straight there after school. The senior from Orange Park High played five sports during her first three years: basketball, weightlifting, track, cross country, and softball. This year was the first that Clay County offered flag football for female athletes. Fishbein was excited to add a sixth sport to that list, even though it meant missing her senior softball season. Duval and Nassau counties have had teams for years. Fishbein had played when she was in seventh and eighth grade at Lakeside Junior High and in YMCA recreation leagues before that. She’d been waiting for this opportunity ever since. “It was something I was always good at,” she says. “With flag football, I knew the game, I knew what I could do, and I knew what I was capable of.” Seventy girls signed up at the first meeting, though only about twenty showed for preseason conditioning. FHSAA rules prohibit the use of actual footballs at any team-organized practice before the season officially starts, so they threw tennis balls for two weeks. The team was made up of girls who had already developed strong reputations for themselves in other sports, but there was no clear hierarchy established yet on the flag team. “Coming into [the] flag football [season], you didn’t know everyone, because it was just all the [girls from] other sports clashing together, trying a new sport,”

she says. “Nobody knew who the leader was.” Fishbein, along with childhood friend Megan Styron, was quick to point out that everyone should start as equals. “Megan and I said from the beginning, ‘It doesn’t matter where you’re from, what team you’re from… you were here at flag football, and we’re a family for the flag football team.’” Practices usually lasted two hours. Head Coach Matthew Boyack, who is also the school’s reigning Teacher of the Year, ran the team to a 7-1 regular season record. Using what he referred to as his “favorite invention,” which amounted to a football attached to a broomstick, he would simulate the snap count during suicide gassers. If someone jumped offsides during the drill, Boyack would start them all over. He is generally easygoing but will not tolerate lack of hustle or too much joking at inappropriate times. Fishbein started every game at center and led the team in receptions. The Lady Raiders found their chemistry early and were winning games easily. At a tournament at Mandarin High School, they beat teams from Duval and Nassau that had been together much longer than they had, and their confidence skyrocketed. But they were also susceptible to playing down to their competition. “I told them, ‘Don’t get big-headed just because we beat these teams. You have to worry about the game you’re in right now,’” she says. Their only loss came in overtime at the hands

of Fleming Island High, who went undefeated in its regular season. Boyack called Fishbein’s number for the final play. Trips-right formation, all slants; she runs a flare underneath the receivers as they charge toward the middle of the field. A Fleming Island defender spies her off the line and breaks the pass up two yards away from the end zone. She is a true competitor and still blames herself for the loss. Fishbein also went to state in weightlifting the last two years, competing in the clean and jerk and bench press events. “Top-15 at state in my book, I felt that was pretty good.” She wouldn’t describe herself as a perfect student but understood from an early age how important her grades are. She’s been writing free verse poetry since seventh grade and has books full of her work. She also loves to sing in private. She was in the school chorus from fourth grade until her freshman year. ITG

“It doesn’t matter where you’re from, what team you’re from… you were here at flag football, and we’re a family for the flag football team.” 43


Bobby Anderson

Nathan Kelly

Parsons Christian Academy

Parsons Duo

Lay Foundation For Baseball Program’s Future by Brandon Ibarra

he Parsons Christian Academy has a unique origin. Eileen Parsons started the school for the children in her family as a faith-based alternative to secular public education. Every fall, a few more students than the year before enroll, and the school adds facilities and activities to accommodate them. When Bobby Anderson arrived at Parsons, there was no athletic program to speak of, much less a baseball team, the sport he’d been playing since he was four years old. So he asked if he could get a team going, and they agreed. “When I first got there, they didn’t really have a baseball team, so I kind of pushed for one,” says Anderson. Each season is unpredictable. Head Coach Len Norton and his staff never know what to expect regarding student interest because enrollment at Parsons is so low. There are no cuts. Tryouts are a formality. There are a little more than 100 total high school students. There has yet to be a graduating class larger than 20, but this is partly by design. According to the school’s website, “Small class size and individualized instruction truly allows Parsons Christian Academy to stand out as a superior educational facility. Children feel 44

photography by Cindy Anderson

like they are part of a family and respond well to the personalized attention each receives.” While it serves as an excellent teaching technique, this philosophy makes it difficult to fill roster spots. But Anderson had a team to play on, and that was better than no team at all. He is grateful for Norton and his assistant, Brad Lacrosse, and the time they contribute as volunteers.

“They’ve sacrificed a lot for us,” Anderson says. “They push us every day. They look to [Nathan and I] to lead the team. They’re great guys; they’re role models. I’m thankful for everything they’ve been doing for us.” As he entered his junior campaign and the important recruiting exposure that came with it, he encountered a heartbreaking setback: he tore the labrum in his shoulder while conditioning for the fall. His entire season was lost to surgery and physical therapy. “It was definitely a depressing time,” Anderson says. “Especially seeing everybody play, my friends committing to colleges. That was tough, too, because I was missing a whole year. But I just had to continue to trust and know God has a plan for my life, and that I was going to get through it either way.” Anderson didn’t merely return for his senior year - he dominated. In just 36.2 innings pitched, he recorded 80 strikeouts with a 0.95 earned run average and a .199 batting average against. The Lions placed second in Districts and fourth in their division. He’s proud of the progress the program he helped create has made in four short years. “I knew at the beginning of the process, we were just trying to build up the program,” he says. “By the time I was a senior, I was looking to put us on the map.”


Favorite MLB team: New York Mets Favorite MLB player: David Wright Favorite Athlete: Hines Ward Sport You Wish You Could Play: Hockey Favorite Subject: History Least Favorite Subject: English Ideal Place to Travel: Puerto Rico Gatorade or Powerade: Gatorade Favorite Movie: The Benchwarmers Last Song Played: “All Me” by Drake Superpower: Super Speed

This year, when he and sophomore Nathan Kelly were featured in the sports section of The Florida Times-Union for their individual batting statistics, he felt he had accomplished just that. Kelly, a true utility player in the mold of Tampa Bay Rays star Ben Zobrist, shares a leadership role with Anderson and is his unofficial successor, which is ironic given their history. “We used to not like each other,” Anderson admits. “He’s kind of like a little brother to me. He’s a good kid, he does everything right. We’ve grown really close over the last few years, though.” Kelly has big shoes to fill but plenty of time to do it because he’s a sophomore. There will be no senior captains on the 2015 squad, because there are no returning juniors. “I hope we can get the championship in our little division that we have,” says Kelly. “I’m actually going to be the oldest on the team next year. Hopefully, we can do a little bit better than we did this season and just keep moving forward.” Seven Lions made the trip to Ocala as members of the Florida Christian Athletic League All-Star Team this year. Anderson, the

Bobby

Nathan Godfather of Parsons Baseball, will graduate having left behind a strong foundation for the program. “We grew a lot, went through a lot, lost a lot of games,” Anderson laughs, “Went through a lot of adversity, but we’ve come a long way.” Adds Kelly, “At the beginning of the season this year, we had three kids that could barely throw or catch the ball,” he says. “One of them, actually on Friday (regular season finale), went four for four and had two catches out in the outfield.” Anderson has workouts lined up with junior colleges such as Florida State College at Jacksonville, Saint Leo University, and the College of Central Florida (CFCC). The National Honor Society inductee hopes to transfer after two years and continue playing at the Division I level. He’s torn between sports medicine and transportation logistics as his preferred area of study. As for now, he recently threw out the first pitch at a Jacksonville Suns game. Kelly still has two years before making that decision but expressed interest in becoming a firefighter if baseball doesn’t take him elsewhere. ITG

Favorite MLB team: Atlanta Braves Favorite MLB player: Chipper Jones Favorite Athlete: Tim Tebow Sport You Wish You Could Play: Football Favorite Subject: History Least Favorite Subject: Math Ideal Place to Travel: Australia Gatorade or Powerade: Gatorade Favorite Movie: Dumb and Dumber Last Song Played: “Happy” by Pharrell Williams Superpower: Fly

45


The Importance of Cardio Training for Athletes

FITNESS

CARDIO FOR ATHLETES Many high school athletes like to focus on the glitz and glamour of their sports, sinking gamewinning shots, scoring a clutch penalty kick, or driving home the winning run. But those memorable performances are all the products of dedicated training and hard work.

Increased endurance Endurance is imperative in almost every sport. As athletes grow tired, they grow weaker, and their athletic performances inevitably worsen. Cardio training is a direct antidote to that condition; it strengthens the heart and the body’s efficiency in managing its oxygen intake and energy workload. With consistent cardio training, you will tire more slowly during athletic competition, and your performances should improve as a result.

Important cross-training The same training routine, when repeated every day, becomes less effective at training the body over time. Diversifying your training is an important component of an effective training regimen, and cardio can be a great means of stressing your body in new ways. For that reason, many athletic programs that don’t focus primarily on cardio training still mix in some cardio once or twice every week.

Decreased body fat While a little heft can be valuable in some sports, particularly football, fat mass is never as useful as muscle mass. While increased muscle mass gives your body more force, it also increases your physical strength. Fat, meanwhile, only makes you tougher to push around. And when you’re trying to run bases, chase down a tackler, or even hurl a discus into the air, fat can slow you down and even inhibit your balance and body control. A little cardio can go a long way when it comes to body fat. by Stephanie G

What You Can Do If your current sports program doesn’t feature a cardio exercise component, you can work in this exercise on your own. Whether you choose to run, briskly walk, bike, swim or even participate in an aerobics program, try to work out for about 30 minutes a day, three to five times a week. After a few weeks, you should start seeing the positive effects of your cardio training, and you’ll be a better athlete for it.

C

ardio may not be a high school athlete’s favorite part of practice, but it is no less essential to a winning pedigree. Here are some of the benefits of consistent cardio exercise, as well as some tips to help you manage your own cardio training.

47


Coach’s Corner

Fleming Island Coach Steps Up, Wins District by Brandon Ibarra

photography by Ray Dimonda

Fleming Island High School girls lacrosse head coach Clint Lyons is in the midst of building a perennial playoff-contending team. The Lady Golden Eagles went 9-4 this season, including their first district win in school history.

Clint Lyons

Fleming Island High School 48


leming Island High School girls lacrosse head coach Clint Lyons is in the midst of building a perennial playoff-contending team. The Lady Golden Eagles went 9-4 this season, including their first district win in school history. “We’re kind of a growing program, so it’s nice we won districts and have a chance to win a state playoff game,” says Lyons. “We’ve definitely made good strides here lately.” Lyons took the job in 2010, three years after the program’s inaugural year. There was little interest in the position, because there were no candidates with prior experience with the game. “For a few years there, [the team] had a sponsor, but the girls were kind of coaching themselves,” he says. Lyons took the responsibility on top of his other coaching commitments as a lacrosse novice. The Edward White High School graduate played baseball, football, soccer, and cross country. “I played sports my whole life, some I’ve been better at than others, but I’d like to think I was decent at most.” With the help of boys lacrosse coach Jeff LaVangie, he has proven to be a quick study. “I learned from Coach LaVangie, and I’ve kind of learned [through experience] each season. I’m still no expert by any means compared to a few other coaches around, but I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on [the game]… Sports is sports. There are certain

things that I think translate over to any sport, from coaching football and soccer, that have kind of helped me out a little bit.” Lyons says he is improving in areas of scouting and evaluation. He reads his players and sets them in the best positions to succeed. Organization is a cornerstone of his coaching approach. “I tell my football players, if you’re organized, that doesn’t mean you’re going to win. It’s not an organizing competition, but at

from, older coaches, that the time to really get after them is when they win, because then they think they’re great.” And when they take a bad loss, he knows he has to let up a bit. Especially with female athletes, he says it’s important to keep a fun atmosphere. The pregame routine stays light. But he is a competitor and reacts accordingly in game situations. “I preach going into the game: we’re going to do what we do. And if they stop us, we’ll adjust. Play smart, keep it simple, and play fast. If you play fast, you have a chance. “You definitely can tell just within the last fifteen to twenty years, there’s a lot more options for these kids as far as sports are concerned… there certainly wasn’t lacrosse back then.” While northern Florida has yet to become a recruiting hotbed, Lyons is confident the area is progressing toward that direction. “The University of Florida’s already a top-fiveprogram, and they’ve only been around five years. If you look at their roster, it’s still just stacked with girls from the Northeast. That’s just where the game’s been around longer. They play sooner. They probably have five-and-six-year-old girls running around with sticks in their hands up there. And you have to imagine the coaching is really good. It’s just the whole deal.” Lyons and his Golden Eagles seem to be on their way to bringing the whole deal here to Jacksonville and beyond. ITG 49

Lyons is encouraged by the overall growth of lacrosse in the area. What was once strictly a northern sport is now slowly making its way to the Southeast. least if you’re organized and you practice, it gives you a chance to go out there and look like you’re a team (laughs). It gives you a chance.” Lyons’ disposition is more often relaxed than serious, but he aims for balance between the two. “I try to mix it up. Sometimes when I think they’re being lazy I can yell at them from time to time. But if they’re putting forth the effort, there are times where you have to back off. I was always told from guys that I learned


Academic Athlete Justin Goldfeder

Bishop Kenny High School

Movie: Coach Carter

Food: Grilled Chicken Breast

Tv Network: ESPN

Place to travel: Spain

Person to meet: Chris Paul

Powerade or Gatorade: Gatorade Last Song played: “All of me” by John Legend 50


Determined Junior Lets His Orginizational Skills Shine by Allen Young

ustin Goldfeder is the definition of a studentathlete. If not in the gym, he’s at home studying. Major reasons for his academic success are his organization and time management skills. “I’m self-disciplined and determined, I pre-plan and follow my planner,” says Goldfeder. These qualities earned him a perfect 4.0 grade point average. “My goal is to play basketball on the college and professional level,” he says. He can attain this goal after the conclusion of his high school career for the Crusaders of Bishop Kenny High School. Goldfeder, a junior, is crafty and pass-first oriented. His admiration for the talents of the NBA’s Steve Nash and Chris Paul explains his impressive ball-handling and passing abilities. Goldfeder has excellent court vision and a high basketball IQ. “Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard” best describes Goldfeder’s

photography by Jackonsiville University Camp

approach. He is the type of player who doesn’t say much but instead works hard and leads by example. The Crusaders, coached by Jerry Buckley, finished their season 21-9 overall and 5-1 in district. On February 22, the Crusaders’ season ended in a tough 52-63 point loss to Rutherford High School in the regional finals of the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) 5A state tournament. The crusaders made an impressive run, defeating Palatka and Baker County High School in the quarter- and semifinals. The 2013-14 season was rough for Goldfeder, who averaged only two points and two assists per game. Goldfeder is fully capable of double-double performances in both the points and assists categories. In other words, don’t count him out of the leaderboards for the incoming season. ITG 51


Sunburn and Children: It’s More than Just Painful

It is that time of the year again. Fun in the sun! To have a safer summer, parents should be proactive to help their children avoid the notso-fun parts of summer.

O

ne of the most common and painful conditions of summer is sunburn, a visible reaction of the skin’s exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, the invisible rays that are part of sunlight. UV rays can also cause invisible damage to the skin. Excessive and/or multiple sunburns cause premature aging of the skin and lead to skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S. and exposure to the sun is the leading cause of skin cancer. “Skin cancer is truly an epidemic,” says Jason D. Meier, MD, a facial plastic surgeon on the medical staff of Baptist Medical Center South. “I am seeing more and more patients with skin cancer at all ages. It is not uncommon for someone in their 20s and 30s to come in with a lesion that actually is basal cell or other type of skin cancer, primarily due to sun exposure as a teenager and/ or child.” Children often spend a good part of their playing outdoors in the sun, especially during the summer. Children who have fair skin, moles or freckles, or who have a family history of skin cancer are more likely to develop skin cancer in later years.

Exposure to the sun during daily activities and play causes the most sun damage. Overexposure to sunlight before age 18 is most damaging to the skin. The following are the most common symptoms of sunburn. However, each child may experience symptoms differently • Redness • Swelling of the skin • Pain • Blisters • Fever • Chills • Weakness

• Dry, itching, and peeling skin days after the burn

Protection from the sun should start at birth and continue throughout your child’s life. It is estimated that 60 to 80 percent of total lifetime exposure occurs in the first 18 years of life. “Tanning, not just sunburn, causes significant damage to the skin,” says Dr. Meier. The best way to prevent sunburn in children over six months of age is to follow the A, B, Cs recommended by The American Academy of Dermatology:

Away - Stay away from the sun in the middle of the day. This is when the sun’s rays are the most damaging. Block – Block the sun’s rays using a SPF 30 or higher sunscreen. Apply the lotion 30 minutes before going outside and reapply it often during the day. Sunscreens should not be used on infants under six months of age. Cover-up – Cover up using protective clothing, such as a long sleeve shirt and hat when in the sun. Use clothing with a tight weave to keep out as much sunlight as possible. Keep babies less than six months old out of direct sunlight at all times. Hats with brims are important. “Reapply sunblock at least every two to three hours to protect your children (and yourself) from the sun’s damaging rays. Sunblock needs to have both UVA and UVB coverage called broad spectrum. This is as important as the SPF number because these types of sunscreens provide the best coverage. Also, the lower the SPF, the more often you will need to reapply throughout the day,” says Dr. Meier.

53


Clay High School

Wins its first-ever Competitive Cheer State Title by Robert Preston, Jr.

knew we had some talent heading into this season. If we were going to win a championship, this was going to be the year,” says Clay High School competitive cheerleading coach Lori Davis. As things turned out, this was indeed the year. CHS, with its squad of 26 (20 females and six males), won the 2013-14 1A Large Co-ed state title. While cautiously optimistic at the start of the season, Coach Davis admits that she didn’t necessarily expect to win a championship, even after her team placed third in its first meet of the year, qualifying for nationals in the process. The beginning of the season is always difficult; most of her male team members play football, and if the football team enjoys a strong playoff run (like this year – the football team played for a state title), the guys join the team late and have to play catch-up. One of the biggest pieces of the competition cheerleading puzzle is communication. Yes, team members need the physical skills – the tumbling, stunting, and for the men, the strength and technique needed to lift the girls – but they must also work together as a unit and know exactly where each team member is during a particular routine. It also helps to know what the judges

photos submitted by Clay High School Cheerleading

are looking for. Teams must do everything they can to max out their score sheets. And this year, Clay High did just that. “The kids spend so much time together, it’s like they’re brothers and sisters. We work hard to keep them focused and on task. Once they decided to put the team first, everything clicked,” she says.

Clay High participated in six meets from October to February. The goal at the start of the season was simple: do their very best and have fun along the way. Clay made a statement early by qualifying for nationals. “When they got that

bid to nationals, we knew we could do it. When we went to regionals, with the routine we had, we knew we had a chance to go all the way,” says Coach Davis. At state, the co-ed division was split into a 1A and 2A. As such, there was only one round in which the teams competed. To win, there would be no margin for error. Teams had one chance to nail their routines, and there wouldn’t be any opportunity to recover from a mistake, no matter how small. When Clay finished its routine, Coach Davis and the Clay faithfuls felt good about the team’s chances. “I knew we were up there, in the top three at least. I kind of thought the defending champions, Eustis High, beat us. They were very good,” she recalls. Thankfully for Clay, the judges saw it differently and awarded the state title to Clay. Almost as soon as her team was named state champion, Coach Davis began looking to next year. “I think we can be just as good or better. We’re losing nine seniors, but only one is a boy. We should be strong again, especially after the experience our team gained this year,” says Davis. And that’s good news for Clay High but terrible news for their opponents. ITG

There are always a ton of factors that go into winning a championship: talent, coaching, a willingness of the players to support the system, and, of course, a lot of luck. Coach Davis believes a lot of the credit goes to the support she receives from the parents of her team members, her principal Pete McCabe, her assistant coach Amanda Stilianou, and the rest of the Clay High community. Winning a championship takes an entire school community, and she is truly appreciative of all the support she and her team have received.

55


Stronger Than You Think

Alexandra Hamilton and Sabrina Palmares by Mike McGuire

I

magine the discipline, tenacity, and raw physical strength it takes to be a competitive weightlifter. Now add the demands of a modern high school student. Located in Green Cove Springs ,Florida, Clay High School has recently produced some exceptional weightlifters, including Alexandra Hamilton, a 16 year-old junior, and Sabrina Palmares, an 18 year-old senior. Despite only lifting for two years, Palmares has demonstrated a clear talent for the bench. In numerous tournaments this year, Palmares benched an impressive 230 pounds. As part of her routine, before each lift Palmares takes a moment to say a prayer. While strong on the bench, Palmares singles out the clean and jerk as an area most in need of improvement because she thinks too much about her technique. In contrast to Palmares, Hamilton excels at the clean and jerk but works to improve her performance on the bench. Having lifted for three years, Hamilton finally went undefeated this year. She started the year benching 135 pounds while clean and

photography by Beverly Pye, Snappy Shots Photography

jerking 150 pounds. However, by year’s end, she had improved to benching 150 pounds and clean and jerking 170 pounds. Her career highlight came this year at the state tournament where she broke two state records, winning the 110-pound class. Hamilton explains, “When I finish my warm-up, I put my headphones in and block everyone out. During this I try to motivate myself and get excited about my lifts, only focusing on one lift at a time.” In addition to their athletic achievements, these two have demonstrated outstanding scholastic ability. A junior set to graduate in 2015, Hamilton upholds a 3.8 GPA. Her academic strengths include math and staying organized, but she acknowledges history as a subject with room for improvement. In her free time, Hamilton volunteers at the Salvation Army and serves as a PAL cheer coach. After high school, she plans on lifting in college at Northern Michigan University, East Tennessee University, or the University of Alabama. Palmares is a current senior who will be graduating spring 2014. Palmares excels

In numerous tournam ents this year, Palmares benched an impressive 230 pounds. 56

at memorization and explains her personal dedication to, “putting all my focus into something I love.” Palmares currently maintains a 2.7 GPA and plans on majoring in nursing. In her free time, Palmares enjoys working with FCA and loves spending time with her family and friends. Weightlifting is a demanding sport, requiring physical as well as mental determination. With their academic determination and physical domination, Palmares and Hamilton represent their sport with the grit of champions. Hamilton says, “The environment of this sport is completely different than others. I think the most important aspect of weightlifting is your mental toughness”. The tenacity with which these young women approach weightlifting serves as a well of inspiration. Palmares says, “My teammate Alex Hamilton is the the most hard working, determined, and amazing person I know.” ITG


“The environment of this sport is completely different than others. I think the most important as pect of weightlifting is your mental to ughness,� Hamilton says. 57


A Day in the Life of

Katie Cramer

by Allen Young

photography by Gabby Dinsmore

For most freshmen in high school, adjusting to the new curriculum and making the junior varsity team are your typical tasks. For Katie Cramer, a 5’9” forward at St. Joesph Academy, that wasn’t the case. Cramer averaged twelve points, eight rebounds, and two assists, the highest on her varsity basketball team. Cramer’s best stat line of 22 points, six rebounds, four assist, three steals, and one block, took place on January 20, 2014 against Fernandina Beach High School. Cramer shot an impressive 71 percent from the field. The Flashes, coached by Sherri Nowatzki, finished their 2013-14 season 10-8. Maintaining an unweighted grade point average of 3.86 was no problem for Cramer as she took us through her Monday schedule:

Sport you wish you could play: Soccer Movie: Safe Haven Food: Pizza Place to travel: Hawaii Powerade or Gatorade: Gatorade Person to meet: Harry Styles Last song you played: “You and I” by One Direction Favorite Subject: Spanish

8:00am: Health class 9:00am: Theology class 10:00am: English (honor s) 11:00am: Art (elective) 12:00pm: Lunch/ Spanish 1:00pm: Geometry (hon ors) 2:00pm: Environmental Science/Homework before practice starts 3:15pm: Practice Starts Stretch/Plyome trics Three man weave Junior varsity/Varsity pla ys Defensive drills Scrimmage 5:30pm: Practice ends 6:00pm: Arrive home/S hower 7:00pm: Eat dinner 8:00pm: Finish up home work 9:30pm: “I brush my tee th an

d go to bed.” 59


June/ July 2014 Northeast Florida Edition  

In the Game High School Sports Magazine

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you