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Date of Issue: December 31, 2008

Island tops in sports for 2008

sport pic
Islanders baseball manager Chris Monuese talks to battery-mates Justin Gargett and Garrison Clark during Manatee West Little League action.
sport pic
Participants in the Native Surf Camp pose for a picture before diving into a pile of pizza culminating an end to an exciting week of surfing and fun on the beach.
sport pic
Islanders Jenna Duvall, Mackenzie Kosfeld and Sarah Howard pose for a picture in their pink "Volley for the Cause" uniforms with MHS junior varsity coach Kimlyn Wilson. Islander Photo: Kevin Cassidy
sport pic
Islander baseball player William Brusso hit his own "shot heard round the world" on this swing. Allegedly, Jeannie Bystrom heard mom Elsa Brusso's screams from G.T. Bray Park, Bradenton, while negotiating traffic on Manatee Avenue.

It’s hard to believe that already another year has passed us by. When you’re busy and having fun, time really does fly. Though I’ve always been in love with sports, it really dominates my life now. My daughter Gillian, now 11 and officially a “tweenager,” is involved in Manatee Magic soccer and club volleyball while my 6-year old son, Conal, plays soccer and Little League baseball. Add to that my girls soccer coaching duties at Manatee High School and my sportswriting gig here with The Islander and you would have to agree that mine is a “sporting life.” Did I forget to mention golf?

With that being said, I try to get out to cover as many of the Island’s sporting events as possible, but with the above-mentioned schedule, that is not always in the cards.

Picking the top sports stories also isn’t easy, since I wasn’t at each and every event. I try to pick out events that stand out, like when kids take it to the next level, be it from recreational soccer to club soccer, young player to high school sports, or all the way to the top as a professional.

There were several basketball games that stood out for me in 2008, including a pair of Anna Maria Island Community Center Basketball League Division III games involving Ross Built. One was a regular season game between Ross and LPAC on Feb. 16 while another was the Division III championship game. Another stand-out was a soccer game between AMICC Soccer League Division II Panoramic and Coastal Orthopedic on Oct. 24 that saw Luke Valadie score the game winner with 30 seconds to play.

In addition, there are many people in the community who send me news and notes to fill out my column that need to be recognized. A big thanks to the folks at the Key Royale Club who send their golf news, and to young players’ parents like Lee Ross, Gareth Miller, Susan Thomas and others that I’m not remembering at the moment. Also, a big thanks to Andy Jonatzke and the rest of the crew at the Center. Their sports leagues provide the meat and potatoes of my weekly report.

Last, but not least, thanks to all of the parents and coaches for their dedication to the kids and for reading The Islander.

Below is my top pics for 2008. Happy new year to all!

 

Islanders advance in baseball cup play

 The Islanders defeated Munivez Lawn Service 8-1 on May 30 at G.T. Bray Park to finish pool play in the Manatee County Cup with a 2-1 record and the ninth seed.

At first glance, this might not seem to be that big of an accomplishment, but the Islanders’ foray into the Manatee West Little League produced only two victories during the regular season and the team lost one game to league champ Bonefish Grill by a 30-1 score early in the season.

It would have been real easy to blow off the rest of the season after a loss like that, but manager Chris Moneuse, along with coaches Mike Brusso and Jim Dudevoire, kept working on not only the player’s fundamentals, but also their attitudes and, slowly but surely, they started to improve.

It also didn’t hurt that Justin Gargett was cleared to play, giving the Islanders a stud on the mound. He pitched exceptionally well and the Islanders played good defense behind him and produced enough timely hitting to spark the turnaround.

Other members of the team were Hunter Parrish, Lee Bergeron, Max Monueuse, Max Miller, Garrison Clark, Phil Dudevoire, Trevor Albers, Jonny Mattay, William Brusso and Nick Papazian.

 

Islander makes Major League Baseball debut

Holmes Beach resident Tim Perez spends a lot of time online reading up on the goings on and happenings of the St. Louis Cardinals and its AAA affiliate, the Memphis Red Dogs. Perez’ son Chris was a member of the Red Dogs, so when Tim Perez read about Cardinals’ pitcher Jason Isringhausen being placed on the disabled list, he thought his son might get called up to the big-league club. He proved right and Perez was called up on May 15 in time to be in the bullpen as the Tampa Bay Rays came to town for interleague play.

On May 16, Perez made his MLB debut in the seventh inning with his family in the stands and did not disappoint. He faced four Tampa Bay Rays’ batters and struck out one in a scoreless appearance that had St. Louis fans clamoring for him to assume the closer’s role. The stadium radar gun clocked one of his pitches at 100 mph.

 

Gulf Coast Flames win national championship

Defenseman Zachary Facheris and coach Fred Eaton, both Island residents, helped their Gulf Coast Flames age-12-and-under Tier Two ice hockey team to the national title in April in Hackensack, N.J.

The Flames played and defeated six teams from around the country, scoring 30 goals while surrendering only seven. The national title completes an undefeated season (36-0) for the team, which plays out of the Ellenton.

 

Islanders help soccer team to undefeated season

The Manatee High School girls JV soccer team defeated Palmetto High 4-0 on Jan. 11 to finish its season undefeated with an impressive 12-0-3 record. The Her-icanes are well represented by Islanders with sophomore team captain Sean Edwards joining freshmen Ally Titsworth, Lexi Owens and MacKenzie Kosfeld. The team is coached by another Island resident, Jeff Nelson.

Kosfeld was a defender while Edwards, Owens and Titsworth played midfield on a team that outscored its collective opponents by a 68-4 margin. Edwards and Owens each finished with three goals on the season, while Titsworth was among the team leaders with nine goals.

“With only five returning players, I didn’t know what kind of team to expect, but the girls bonded quickly and that led to their success this season,” Nelson said.

The only blemishes on the Lady Canes’ fantastic season came in two 0-0 ties against crosstown rival Lakewood Ranch and a 1-1 tie against St. Pete Catholic. Otherwise, the girls were perfect.

 

Fun for all at surf camp

Fun was the order of the week at the annual surf camp put on by Native Surf Camp and the West Coast Surf Shop. Leading the young surfers was Ryan Helm, a professional surfer and a former X-Games participant. Helm has an easy-going, let’s-have-fun attitude that fits well with kids trying something new like surfing.

Roughly 25 kids came out to the White Avenue beach June 30-July 4 to give surfing a try. The young surfers were taught the basics of paddling, standing up and catching waves, and were even trying some switch stances before week’s end.

After riding two consecutive waves to the beach, six-year old Bolly “Bali” Turner of Bradenton was asked how he liked surfing. Turner replied, “The first time it kind of hurted because the board shot up in the air and I fell.” When asked if it was worth the pain, Turner shouted back, “Yeah!”

Thanks to a nice little ground swell, the waves were perfect all week for kids learning to surf. In addition to surfing, the kids also spent time skimboarding and enjoying other beach games.

 

Islanders take part in Super Bowl victories

Islanders Chris Galati, Anthony Cucci and Joseph Cucci all played in the Police Athletic League youth football league this year. Chris played for the PAL Raiders in the JV or 11-12 age division, while Anthony and Joseph played in the mitey-mite division or 8-9 age group, also for the Raiders.

Not only did they play, they won. Chris Galati’s team fashioned a perfect 10-0 season that was culminated with an exciting 12-6 victory over the Panthers in the PAL Super Bowl. The Raiders were trailing 7-6 with only two minutes left to play and proceeded to drive the length of the field to score the winning TD with only a few seconds left on the clock.

Anthony and Joey anchored the defensive line for the mitey-mite Raiders, which compiled a 7-1 regular-season record, good for first place. They defeated the Jaguars by a 19-0 score in the first round of the playoffs before heading to the PAL Super Bowl where they avenged their only regular-season loss when they defeated the Broncos 20-13. Anthony and Joey chipped in with three solo tackles and two assists each in the victory.

 

Thomas helps MHS soccer mates to title

Manatee High School sophomore soccer player Stephen Thomas and his teammates were the 2008 Class 5A, District 12 champions after a Jan. 25 2-0 victory over top-seeded, crosstown rival Southeast High.

Thomas was the starting central midfielder for the third-seeded Hurricanes in crafting a 14-7-1 record. Thomas went on to be named the team’s “rookie of the year” for his stellar play during the 2007-08 season.

 

O’Connors bowl another strike

Heavy rains from Tropical Storm Fay failed to dampen the enthusiasm of the many bowlers that participated in the 18th annual O’Connor Bowling Challenge on Aug. 23.

The fundraiser, which benefits the Anna Maria Island Community Center, is a social event for Islanders who pack the AMF Lanes in Bradenton to show off newly acquired bowling skills (Dale Conlon took lessons) and to hobnob with friends and family members.

Kelly Jordan took home a couple of trophies for winning high game and high series in the ladies division. She threw a high of 190 and finished with a 507 score for all three games.

Jim Weaver’s 221 in his last game earned him a trophy for high game, while Jim Stufflebeam put together a 542 series to win first place in the men’s division.

The big winner of the evening was Cindy Jennis, who won the raffle for the 37-inch flat-screen television.

 

Islanders contribute to MHS volleyball success

The Manatee Hurricanes varsity volleyball team is in the middle of one of its best seasons in recent memory behind senior and Auburn-bound middle-hitter Courtney McDonald and fellow senior middle-hitter Taylor Mealy.

Waiting in the wings to continue the Hurricanes success next year are sophomores Jenna Duvall, Mackenzie Kosfeld and Sarah Howard. This trio of Islanders have helped the Manatee High junior varsity team to a 12-5 record.

Duvall, an outside hitter, has put together a nice season with 61 kills, 18 blocks and 29 digs, while serving at a 75 percent success rate and 15 aces.

Kosfeld pulls double duty for the Lady Canes as an outside-hitter and setter. She has 24 kills, 22 digs and six blocks and has dished out 52 assists. Kosfeld, who Coach Kimlyn Wilson says has an incredible jump serve, has served 25 aces and has an 87 percent success rate.

Wilson raved about Howard, who plays middle hitter and also serves as the team co-captain. “Sarah has been a force for us with her hitting and blocking. She is the player that will always hit the floor going for the ball, always giving 110 percent.”

Wilson, in her second season as JV coach, was sure to point out that it’s not all about volleyball with these girls. “They are a great bunch of girls that work hard, both in the classroom and on the court.”

 

Holmes Beach youth wins skimboard contest

Lifelong young Island resident Brandon Mills, a third-grader at Anna Maria Elementary, recently participated in the first annual Aqua East Surf Shop-St. Augustine National Kidney Foundation Surf Festival held June 26-29 at the St. Augustine Pier and Oceanfront Resort in St. Augustine.

Brandon grabbed first place with some strong rides, including one where he pulled off an “indy,” which is when you get some big air and grab the board between your legs before getting it back underneath your feet for a good landing. He also pulled off a “180 pop shove it,” where a rider gets air and spins the board 180 degrees under their feet before landing.

 

Ross Built holds on for roundball title

Second-seeded Ross Built jumped out to an 8-2 halftime lead during the AMICC Basketball League Division III championship game on March 11 against number-one seed Duncan Real Estate, then held on for the victory as Duncan staged a frantic fourth-quarter rally.

The scoreless third quarter came to an end with Ross Built seemingly in control with a six-point lead, but that view quickly changed. Duncan Real Estate staged a furious rally and had several chances to tie the score, but the ball just wouldn’t drop into the hoop.

Madison Gsell led Ross Built with six points and five steals, while Luke and Maddy Valadie finished with two points apiece.

 

This week in sports:

Former Island resident Rich Bell has started up a new company, Youth Sports Training Inc., “Island Style,” and he’s hosting a fun soccer event: Beach Soccer Blast.

The Blast will be held Jan. 17-18 and Jan. 24-25 at Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach for soccer players ages 4-13. And the best part about it? It’s barefoot and it’s free, according to Bell, who is hosting the event in honor of his mother, the late Nancy Stork, former owner of Fran Maxon Real Estate in Anna Maria.

The first weekend, Jan. 17-18, is for players who will participate in ages 4-5, 6-7 and 8-9. Jan. 24-25 is for players in the 10-11 and 12-13 age groups.

Teams will consist of 6-12 players and registration can be for a team or for a player. Participants will receive a T-shirt and there will be division awards.

To register, simply go to islandfootballclub.com and click on the registration link. You may also contact Bell at 941-792-9376, or by e-mail at Rich@islandfootball.com.

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