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Sports – 01-05-2011

By Kevin Cassidy, Islander Commentary

Holmes Beach resident Ellen Jones crosses the finish line in the Palm Beaches Marathon in West Palm Beach. Jones appeared in The Islander twice in 2010, and inspired readers with her achievements in running and in life and, for that, she is featured as The Islander’s sports story of the year. Islander Photo: Courtesy Chuck Jones

Looking back: The year 2010 in sports

It’s hard to believe that another year has passed, much less another year of Island sports. This year is my 18th year writing sports for The Islander.

I was a witness to many good games and performances in 2010, and some pretty cool things were included in my column. I never thought I would be writing about an olympian, but pairs skater Mark Ladwig made The Islander news in February. Another person who made the sports page was Nick Galati, an offensive lineman for the Manatee Hurricanes football team that advanced to the state semifinals. Paige-Moore provided several great photos of Nick, who was recently named to the Bradenton Herald all-area football team.

My children Conal and Gillian both made a few appearances on Islander pages (as is the norm) for indoor soccer, outdoor soccer and volleyball.

And then, the bread and butter of my weekly column, is the Anna Maria Island Community Center. A big thanks to Andy Jonatzke and Tyler Bekkerus, who provided weekly updates, schedules, announcements and statistics. Their efforts ensure that a lot of names end up in the paper.

Others who merit mentioning are the folks at the Key Royale Club and Ron Pepka and the crew from the Anna Maria City Hall horseshoe pits.

And now, the top 10 stories in Island sports:

No. 1: Jones finishes strong

The top story of the year is Ellen Jones’ story. Jones is a Holmes Beach resident who has dealt with a series of medical maladies, including almost dying from a colon blockage, calcification of her arteries, high cholesterol and brutal joint pain exacerbated by being overweight.

Seven or eight years ago, Jones decided to change her life, and she started with eating more plants and eventually becoming a vegetarian. She lost close to 30 pounds, which in turn reduced the pain in her joints.

She started running more, joined the Braden Runners Club and now is an accomplished runner in the 55-59 age group. This year, she had several high finishes in local 5-k races, completed two half-marathons and recently ran the Palm Beaches Marathon.

Jones is an inspiration to us all.

No. 2: Center caters to adult athletes

The Anna Maria Island Communit Center provides the majority of the content for this weekly column, much of the information focusing on youth sports.

But the Center started offering adult coed leagues in flag football and soccer this year, and who could have guessed the response would be so positive.

Flag football started in June and continued through August, when the Buccaneers rallied to defeat the Broncos 14-12 in the Superbowl.

The center then kicked into soccer season and scored another big hit. Adult soccer concluded in December with the first “Island Cup” won by the Erin Heckler-led Fish Hole soccer team. The Fish Hole defeated Back Alley 2-1 in a penalty-kick shoot out that was full of drama and excitement. Could an adult coed kickball league be on the horizon?

No. 3: O’Connor Challenge is one for the ages

The O’Connor Bowling Challenge, which took place Aug. 28, marked its 20th anniversary and was last time the event for the Center would be put together by George and Billy O’Connor at the AMF Lanes in Bradenton.

Together with spouses Sharon O’Connor, Sue O’Connor and long-time cohorts Peggy Davenport, Jen and Bill Lowman, Christine Holmes and Chris McNamara, this challenge helped raise more than $150,000 for sporting equipment at the Center.

No. 4: Players moving up to the next level

Some of my favorite stories are seeing Center youth players excel at the next level — be it club, high school, college or beyond.

Nick Sato grew up at the Center playing every sport, but was probably best known for quarterbacking the Anna Maria Dolphins to the 2003 PAL Superbowl. He moved on to Manatee High in 2006-2008 as a weakside linebacker, and last spring he was a walk-on linebacker at Florida State University.

Anna Maria resident Stephen Thomas made the paper in March after being named the offensive MVP for the Manatee Hurricanes boys soccer team and making the Florida Athletic Coaches Association all-star team.

Martine Miller and her St. Stephens High School team advanced to the regional semifinals, as reported in the Feb. 17 edition. She finished her sophomore season with 19 goals and 11 assists.

Jenna Duval, Sarah Howard and Mackenzie Kosfeld appeared in The Islander in October. Duval was recognized for her stellar officiating during the club volleyball season.

Also, Duval and her Manatee Hurricane volleyball teammates captured the Manatee County Cup. All of the girls played well, with Howard making the all-tournament team.

And also requiring mention — the Jan. 27 District 12 semifinal game between Manatee High and Naples Gulf Coast in girls varsity soccer. Twice Manatee trailed by a goal and Islanders Ally Titsworth and Erin Mulrine came up big when it mattered. Titsworth scored to tie it up in the 27th minute, and later threw herself into the middle of the fray which allowed her teammate to tie the score. In the second overtime, Mulrine scored on a rocket from 25 yards to win the game.

No. 5: Flag Football champs crowned

Flag football was one of the better additions to the sports offerings at the Center. It’s fun, fast and entertaining for players and spectators.

In March, an exciting season of flag football came to an end with the championship games. Tapes Tennis Titans, Ross Built Raiders and Sparks Steel Art Eagles earned Superbowl victories.

No. 6: Soccer champs crowned

Another great season of soccer came to an end in November with championships decided in five age groups.

Jaysen Berzowski scored three second-half goals to lead Island Real Estate to a 3-2 victory over Sandbar in the 6-7 tournament.

Fran Maxon Real Estate completed an undefeated season with a 6-0 win to capture the Division III title.

Division II saw the Michael Latimer led Southern Greens defeat Spark Steel Art 4-3 in a penalty-kick shootout.

The Premier League title game also went to a shootout with Beach Bistro edging West Coast Surf Shop 5-4 on Julius Gomes’ penalty kick and stellar goal keeping from Max Miller.

Mike Norman Realty won the Division I title by a 5-1 score over Autoway Ford behind the scoring duo of Morgan Greig and Michael Duffman.

No. 7: Basketball crowns four champs

The basketball season concluded in June with championship games in three age groups.

The Gathering Place rolled past Rotten Ralph’s to take the Premier League title, while Walter & Associates defeated Ross Built 19-6 to take the Division II title behind the dominant defensive play of Moriah Goode.

The Division III championship game saw Connie’s Landscaping jump out to an 8-4 lead before holding on for a 14-12 win over Sandbar.

No. 8: AMICC pickleball players take gold

Seven players who regularly play pickleball at the Center combined to win 12 medals at the Lee County Senior Games in late February.

Anita Marcus led the way with a gold medal in women’s oubles while Craig Humphreys captured gold in men’s doubles and silver in mixed doubles.

Barb Smith took silver in both women’s doubles and mixed doubles while Toni Teasdale won a silver in women’s doubles and a bronze medal in mixed doubles. Jim Teasdale and Niles Kenyon won bronze in men’s doubles.

No. 9: Local takes 5-k Villages series

Long time Galati Yacht Sales employee and former Islander Mickey Hooke took first place overall in the second and final race of the Villages 5K Series at Lake Sumter Landing.

Hooke ran to victory with a time of 16:43, which set a new course record as well as broke his own masters record by 42 seconds.

The victory helped Hooke reach his pre-season goal of being an overall winner at 49 years of age with his fastest 5-k performance since entering the male 45-49 age group.

No. 10: Indoor soccer cools summer

This past summer, the Center hosted an indoor soccer league with seven teams in two age groups.

No standings were kept, though Action Kawasaki Yamaha certainly had the strongest team.

I enjoyed it because my children and their friends were playing and it gave me something to write about during the dog days of summer.

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