It’s hard to believe another year has passed and, oh boy, this one was a doozy!
Weather played a big role in making 2017 difficult on sports enthusiasm with Hurricane Irma the leading culprit, but there were other weather issues as well.
As I’ve stated more than once in my 25-plus years writing an Islander sports year in review, there’s nothing scientific in how I come up with my top 10 list.
Entertainment value, excitement level, drama, uniqueness and even cuteness factor into my rankings. This is a sports column and sports are supposed to be fun, so having fun leads off my top-10 sports stories for 2017.
Happy reading and happy new year.
10. Key Royale golf news
The Key Royale Club’s golf results are a regular staple of my weekly contribution to The Islander. The club played host to several special events IN the year. The annual Men’s Club Championship was one such event reported in the Feb. 21 issue. Gary Risner defended his championship with scores of 69, 68 for a 9-over-par 137 that easily surpassed the 152 (75, 77) carded by runnerup Ron Pritchard.
Also in the Feb. 21 reporting, the women held a special Valentine’s Day member-guest event titled For the Love of Golf. Sixty-eight members and guests particpated in the Feb. 14 four-person scramble.
In first place, tied with a low-net score of 18.75, were the teams of Debbie Richardson and guest Sharon Ellen and Jana Samuels and guest Barbara Krueger.
The March 28 issue was highlighted by the annual President’s Cup tourney, when Gary Risner cinched his clubhouse bragging rights with a 2-under-par 30 to win the low-gross score, while club president Mike Gillie recorded the low-net score of 6-under-par 26.
The April 4 issue reported on Greg Shorten surviving five weeks of grueling match play, ermerging as the 2017 club champ after rolling past Tom Nelson by a four and three score.
The club women held their annual Spring Doe Day April 5 with a theme of “The Royals.” Costumes and decorations reflected the royal touch as reported April 11.
The golf action mirrored the Ryder Cup with twosomes competing over three holes of best ball, three holes of best shot and three holes of alternate shot play.
Jane Perkins and Marty Clark were the big winners on the day with a net score of 12-under-par 20.
The April 25 issue, we reported on the April 19 action at the Key Royale Club that attracted 43 golfers to Spring Stag Day.
Dave Richardson posted the best low-gross score with a 2-over-par 34 while Chet Hutton and Paul Phillips tied for the best low-net score with matching 4-under-par 28s.
The team of John Kolojeski, Phillips, Gino DiClemente and Vince Mercadante combined on a 4-under-par 124 to win the team low-net competition.
Last but not least, the Key Royale Club hosted an Oktoberfest Scramble Oct. 14 that included a traditional German buffett enjoyed that evening by more 60 club members.
9. Anna Maria pitchers
Another staple of my sports column is the weekly reports sent in by the Anna Maria City Hall horseshoe pitchers. The following are some of the year’s highlights, which begins with the second annual Ron Pepka Memorial Horseshoe tournament March 4, reported in the March 14 edition. Fourteen teams showed up to honor the late Pepka, a long-time participant and leader of the group. The team of Rod Bussey and Jay Disbrow took first place with a 23-7 victory in the finals over Mason and Nigg.
The March 14 edition reported on several members of the Anna Maria horseshoe group venturing off the island to participate in the 28th annual Gulf Coast Senior Games at G.T. Bray Park in Bradenton. They brought home some serious hardware.
Dom Livedoti, Bob Palmer and Gene Bobeldyk won gold medals, while Sam Samuels, Bill Fox and Neil Hennessey brought home silver. Fred Gelderman and John Crawford completed the medal haul for the group with bronze medals.
The Sept. 5 issue saw Tim Sofran run his winning streak to four at the Anna Maria City Hall horseshoe pits.
Sofran grabbed his third successive victory during the Aug. 30 games when he walked his way to the only 3-0 pool-play record and was the day’s outright champ.
On Sept. 2, Sofran teamed up with Jay Disbrow to defeat Neil Hennessey and Steve Doyle by a 21-13 score to earn yet another trip to the winner’s circle.
However, Sofran’s streak was eclipsed in the Nov. 11 issue when Dom Livedoti ran his winning streak to five in a row during Nov. 1 horseshoe action. He teamed up with Jay Disbrow to defeat Sofran and Hank Huyghe by a 21-3 score.
8. Winning isn’t everything
When the parents of players who signed up for the age 6-7 division of the youth soccer league at the Center of Anna Maria Island received the game schedule and saw only one team listed, they probably had a few questions. Consider them answered.
The center revamped its instructional league — the 4-5 and 6-7 players — in order to put the focus on instruction.
Even though the center hadn’t kept track of wins and losses and didn’t kept standings for the young players, there was still too much focus on winning the game.
Coach Nathan Kragt led a group of about 20 youngsters through a series of ball drills called Coerver Skills. Coerver skills develop first touch and dribbling by getting kids to feel comfortable with the ball at their feet.
The skill drills continued for a while and then the kids were split up into teams for scrimmages.
Watch out for these up and coming players when they move up to the big field. They’ve got skills.
7. Gladiator Dojo karate takes over center
The May 9 edition of The Islander highlighted the Gladiator Dojo Kid’s Karate Island Championship at the center May 6. The tournament gave students of the dojo a chance to show off the skills and disciplines.
The student competitors ranged in age from 4 to 12 and competed in empty-handed katas or forms, weapons forms and breaking pro-force boards.
Sensei Omar Schwanzer leads the island contingent with classes at the center with about 13 students. Schwanzer also holds classes at AMI Fitness for kids, as well as self-defense courses for women and seniors.
6. Sato runs up perfect season
Sato Real Estate completed an unblemished season in the adult soccer league July 6 at the center with a dominating 8-2 victory over Moss Builders.
After rolling through the regular season, Sato won three consecutive playoff games by a combined score of 23-5 to finish with a 10-0 overall record and the championship.
Kevin Roman and Jake Parsons both had two goals and an assist to lead Sato Real Estate in the championship game, which also saw a pair of goals from Chris Klotz. Josh Sato and Lyn Clark added a goal each, while Adam Mott chipped in with an assist and goalie Jordan Demers came through with 11 saves.
Matt Kretzman and Diego Felipe each scored a goal for Moss Builders, while goalie Shawn McCarthy finished with eight saves in the loss.
Next week: 2017 stories 1-5.
Happy new year.