USF Sport Clubs: A chance to play

Sport Clubs at the University of South Florida offer students the chance to be able to live out their sports dreams of being college athletes, but not necessarily playing at the Division 1 level.

 

“This way students that are not at as high a level as NCAA athletes, still have an environment where they can go out and have fun and participate in their sport of choice.” Supervisor Sam Cathcart said.

 

USF Sports Clubs offers many different types of sports to USF students. They also offer unique sports including Water polo, Quidditch, and even Kendo. The wide range of sports available allows many different students to get involved with the sports clubs.

 

Also, many students who play sports during high school assume they are going to play sports in college and are often disappointed when they try out for the college team and do not make the cut.  USF Sport Clubs allows these students to still be able to play the sports they loved back in high school. Club teams are often much more laid back than college teams allowing the players to enjoy their time more while they are playing.

 

Students are also able to create their own clubs if they wish to do so. “There’s Bullsync that you can go onto if you are interested in joining a sports club. That has all the information,” Jordan Mckenzie of USF Campus Recreation said. “As well as how to join a club. If you want to start a new club you are able to go on Bullsync and that’ll answer your questions as well.”

 

USF Sport Clubs give a unique future to something many students thought they would never be able to do again.

 

NFL, MLS Brass Participate in Sport & Entertainment Lecture Series

The University of South Florida’s Sun Dome recently hosted two influential people in the sports world. Tod Leiweke, Chief Operating Officer for the National Football League and Don Garber, the Commissioner of Major League Soccer. The USF Sport & Entertainment Lecture Series is aimed at students studying in USF’S Sport & Entertainment Management program.

Students find it important to have renowned names visiting the university. This is especially true for those in the Sport & Entertainment program.

“First of all, having such important folks that have so much influence in the sports business like Tod Leiweke and Don Garber brings a lot of great attention and educational opportunity to folks in the Tampa area,” said student Payton Phillips. “Our students, our faculty and our athletic staff [benefit] as well, so it’s able to bring industries’ minds and is good to learn from so that we can perform better and learn more.”

The lecture series is a way to show the growing Sport & Entertainment Management program which the university now offers.

“I came here for the basic fact that I wanted to be a Sport Management major, but USF didn’t have that major when I first started,” said Brittany Barber. “I just decided to come to see how I would like it if I wanted to go into it for Grad School because, you know, Grad School is a whole other monster than undergrad. So I just wanted to figure out whether this is something I want to pursue.”

The event took place at USF’s Sun Dome and was presented by Florida Fox Sports and the Tampa Bay Lightning.  The lecture series has taken place annually, with this year being the fourth installment.

Tampa Bay Lightning Host Hockey Fights Cancer Game

The Tampa Bay Lightning and members of the Tampa Bay community came together Nov. 3 to join the fight against cancer at the Lightning’s Hockey Fights Cancer game.

“It’s really important that we lead by example and we inspire others and in the fight against cancer I think we all know someone fighting that fight,” said Lightning Foundation Executive Director Elizabeth Frazier.

Players rallied together; wearing purple jerseys with purple taped hockey sticks to show their support for the cause.

“It means so much to see the entire community give it their all to support people like myself,” said Kerry Roopchand, Moffitt Cancer Center patient.

The event will benefit research efforts at Moffitt, the Lightning’s charitable partner, to help find a cure for cancer. Moffitt team members were taken back by the support.

“It’s so amazing to see such a turnout from our community to help with the prevention and cure of cancer,” said Dr. Damon Reed, Moffitt sarcoma department medical director.

To learn more about the NHL’s Hockey Fights Cancer initiative, visit https://www.nhl.com/community/hockey-fights-cancer.

Brandon Ice Rink Helps Students Learn to Skate

The Tampa Bay Lightning made a terrific run to the Stanley Cup semifinals last hockey season, which has recently prompted an increased interest in ice skating and hockey in the Tampa Bay area.

One of the few ice skating rinks in Tampa is located in Brandon, where the Lightning practice and visit quite often. The Brandon Ice Sports Forum houses a highly qualified staff and hosts many students who have attended the rink for years.

“My favorite thing about skating is how beautiful of a sport it is and how free it makes you feel,” current student Isabella Ramirez said. “It teaches you a lot of life lessons like to always get up when you fall down.”

Courtney O’Connor, a former student turned coach, is one of the main coaches at the rink. O’Connor works six days a week making sure her students receive the best training.

“I get to share the love that I have for ice skating with my students,” O’Connor said. “It’s really nice to be able to see them out there on the ice, skating, having a smile on their face and having that enjoyment.”

O’Connor has been coaching for four years and has plans to keep coaching for as long as she can. She has also been skating since she was three.

The Brandon Ice Sports Forum works closely with each student through private lessons and other skating classes. One of the most popular skating classes the ice rink offers is “Learn to Skate.” This class gives children and even adults the opportunity to learn skills that ice skaters and hockey players acquire through years of training.

To sign up for “Learn to Skate” or any other classes with the Brandon Ice Sports Forum, please visit http://www.theicesportsforum.com/.

USF Football Struggles to Attract Student Fans

The USF Football team is 6-1, but you wouldn’t be able to tell by looking in the stands.

After a massive showing by the students against FSU, the football team has been left with little fan support in the student section. The 11,000 student representatives who made the commute to Raymond James Stadium for the FSU game devolved into a crowd of 2,000 two weeks later for a homecoming week matchup against East Carolina.

“I was extremely disappointed in that game,” Student Bulls Club President Hailey Piana said. “When you ask around, when you put on Facebook ‘Hey, where are y’all at?’ people say ‘Oh, well it’s a noon game, it’s hot.’ It’s all these excuses.”

In fact, Facebook class pages have been rife with arguments revolving around attendance for USF football games. There are many students who feel the football team deserves better attendance, and have been unafraid to let their peers know.

None of it has changed the attendance numbers, however, as the student attendance for the following week tallied 3,000 students.

Longtime fan and USF alumni Collin Sherwin weighed in, saying that the football culture of USF simply fell off following a memorable 2007 season.

“USF was the No. 2 team in the country at the time and it just sort of took off and became part of this campus. What happened from the early part from this decade, forward, was a lot of that enthusiasm for this program just fell off. That’s got to change for USF to get where it wants to go [as a program].”

Skateboarders Excited For Bro Bowl 2.0 Opening

 

After years of hard work and dedication, Bro Bowl 2.0 in downtown Tampa opened on April 16.

The skatepark is a recreation of the 1979 Bro Bowl in Tampa. City officials had plans to demolish the skatepark and rebuild Perry Harvey Sr. Park.

Shannon Bruffett, the director of The Skateboarding Heritage Foundation, was involved in the effort to save the skatepark.

“I grew up skating here for almost thirty years. (I’m a) Tampa native, so it means a lot to me and the history of Tampa and skateboarding in Tampa,” Bruffett said. “I wanted this to be acknowledged just as much as the rest of Central Avenue’s history, since it played a role in it.”

The skatepark was developed for beginning and advanced skateboarders alike to have a safe place to skate.

Organizations like Boards for Bros support skateboarding in the community and help people who are not able to purchase a board.

“We target unserviced youth and we make sure they can have whatever they need to have to skateboard,” Michelle Box, the executive director for Boards for Bros, said. “So, we supply them with skateboards, experiences at the skatepark of Tampa, lessons, peer mentoring and things like that.”

The skatepark not only attracts people interested in the hobby, but it also gives them the opportunity to express their love for skateboarding.

“Skateboarding has always been a part of this city as long as it’s been around, and hopefully it will (continue for) generations to come,” Bruffett said.

Cheerleading Alumni Back on the Field

University of South Florida alumni cheerleaders were welcomed back on the field during the homecoming football game against University of Connecticut.

“Homecoming’s really fun,” said Sandy Clarke, the USF All-Girl Cheerleading head coach. “It’s that time of year where everybody kind of comes back.”

As alumni, the former cheerleaders had the opportunity to come back to Raymond James Stadium and cheer among the current USF cheerleaders during the pregame show.

“I definitely miss being on the field though and it was cool getting to be on the field for just pregame,” said Sara Blaylock, former USF cheerleading captain.

Being back on the field wasn’t the only upside to homecoming, however. Some of the alumni cheerleaders were seeing each other for the first time in years. Head coach Clarke remembers how special the reunions were when she was on the team.

“I remember when I was on the team looking at the alumni that would come back to practices and thinking, ‘oh that’s so cool, they’re so genuinely excited to see their old teammates,’” said Clarke.

Blaylock describes the relationships made while on the USF cheerleading team as unforgettable. In fact, Clarke, Blaylock, and Jessica White, another USF cheerleading alumna, said that the friendships were some of their favorite things about being a USF cheerleader.

“They’re just lifelong friendships,” said Clarke. “It’s very fun.”

Clarke mentioned growth as being another one of her favorite things about the program. Since becoming a part of the program in 2002, Clarke has seen it evolve over the years. Blaylock even noticed growth in her four years on the team.

“I think it’s just growing into something really good,” said Blaylock.

The USF football team ended homecoming week with a 42-27 win over UConn. The Bulls will travel to Philadelphia next weekend to face Temple for their fourth conference game.

‘War on I-4’ Gets Official

The USF vs. UCF rivalry game has a new factor. A trophy to be specific. A 4 foot, 160 pound monster of a trophy.

After seven games in the series, three in conference, both schools formally established The War on I-4, a football rivalry as well as a general athletic rivalry that spans all sports that USF and UCF play against each other.

“I think it means a lot (for the rivalry),” said Adam Schemm, the assistant athletic director for marketing. “We don’t necessarily have the biggest rivalry yet, but we think we have a pretty cool and big trophy that can really get the fan bases and the student athletes and the students on campus excited for a great rivalry game every year.”

Junior Matt Neuhausen agreed.

“I think it’s great that we have a trophy now to play for because we see a lot of the big rivalries have trophies that they play for,” Neuhausen said. “So now we have something to kind of highlight our rivalry with UCF.”

The trophy is made of two parts: the base, which will have engraved plates for every game; and the road sign, which extends out of the top of the base, and is easily removed for parading around a football stadium.

The new trophy will be contested for the first time this Saturday at noon at Raymond James Stadium. The winner drives the trophy out on a semi.

 

Explore Tampa’s waterways with Riverwalk Boating Company

 

Jason Olewinski has lived in Tampa for nearly thirty years. A few years ago, he wanted to explore Tampa’s waterways, and what originated as a personal motorized kayak quickly became Jason’s reality and an affordable opportunity for both tourists and locals to enjoy Tampa’s canals.

“For the past few years our entertainment options have been limited,” Olewinski said. “So I went ahead and just bought a few and threw them down here and so far people have been loving it.”

Along the Tampa Riverwalk, next to the Convention Center, you will spot 6 green mini- powerboats floating in the water. Established in 2014, the Riverwalk Boating Company provides a thrill and unique water experience for all. Whether you have prior boating experience or not, you can be the captain of your own two- person mini- powerboat, minus the hassle of maintenance and repairs of owning a boat.

The mini boat can take you through the Tampa waterways. The winding Hillsborough River will take you north around the city and south along Bayshore to Davis Island.

Chris and Chantal are vacationing for the week and just happened to walk by the boats while exploring the city. The two decided to take out a boat for the afternoon and travel along Bayshore Boulevard.

“I loved it! It was so much fun. They go decently fast,” Chantal said. “The waves… that was fun, feeling it go all crazy for a second.”

Riverwalk Boating Company is open 7 days a week from 10 a.m. until sundown. It is an enjoyable option for anyone 18 years or older with a driver’s license and a credit card, and dogs are also welcome onboard. The prices start at $35 for 30 minutes or $50 for one hour, and there are special rates if you rent out more than one boat.

To reserve your boat, visit riverwalkboating.com.

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Wimauma Woman Offers Affordable, Comfortable Way to Get in Shape

 

After losing nearly fifty pounds, Rosie Velasquez is giving back to the community of Wimauma by hosting Rosie’s Boot Camp. The women-only boot camp helps females of all ages come together in a judgement-free environment for a common goal: to get in shape.

“Most of these women, they don’t go to the gym,” Rosie Velasquez said.  “They rather do a workout here in my boot camp because they’re, you know, shy to go to the gym.”

The women in her boot camp echo Rosie’s sentiment about favoring group fitness rather than the typical gym experience. Janet Huerta says that in addition to the group fitness environment she also likes the support she receives at the boot camp.

“I like the whole group fitness camp,” Huerta said. “I used to go to the gym but the whole group and the motivation that I get here is better than the gym for me.”

Velasquez also offers additional services for women who prefer one-on-one sessions.

“Well, I have some people…that are more shy,” said Rosie. “They don’t like to work out in front of people so they like to do…personal training.”

Rosie’s Boot Camp is offered Monday and Wednesday for five dollars.

International Players Represent More Than Just USF

The University of South Florida soccer defenders Estefania Fuentes and Grace Adams are not your typical college athletes, because both play soccer for their countries national soccer team.

Fuentes plays for Mexico’s and Adams represents Ghana’s national soccer team.

“In the national team you are representing a whole country, like everybody is paying attention to you and you need to be focused and know you can have fun, but with responsibility, because it’s not only you or your university,”  Fuentes said. “It’s millions of people on your back.”

Coming from opposite sides of the world, both players are strengthened by their strong religious beliefs, which they believe is the key to their success. Adams says she always prays.

“I talk to my God communicate with him to give me the strength and remind me off everything that I learned in the field that my coaches taught us,” Adams said. “That is what I always do all the time.”

While both athletes continue to have a successful season, they also face challenges within the team.

“The language is a huge difference here at USF,” Fuentes said. “The language comes slower than Spanish so I have to be more focused.”

The language barrier does not intimidate either player. Both defenders strive for a victorious season finale at USF.

Local Junior College Begining to Make its Mark

Led by recruiting coordinator Antonio Nelson and starting quarterback Brandon Conner, the Gattaca Junior College football program, a local Tampa Bay junior college, is making a name for itself.

Entering only its third season of football, GJC is striving to not only win games on the field, but develop the character of its players off the field as well.

“How to treat people, uh, be respectable, yes sir no sir,” Nelson said. “Just become a better young man overall.”

Located in Tampa, GJC offers full-time college credit classes online as well as in person at Hillsborough Community College campuses.

“That’s not only on the field, its off the field,” Conner said. “it taught me a lot, honestly like, but being a man is number one you know it’s time to step into the real world.”

As the recruiting coordinator, Nelson has the responsibility of bringing talented young men to the program. One of the main recruiting tools that GJC uses to keep in touch with recruits is the use of social media.

“Right now our biggest hit is Facebook,” Nelson said. “We get a lot of kids from the Facebook page.”

Although being a Florida-based program, GJC still travels all over the east coast to play other junior college opponents.

“We travel all over,” Nelson said. “We travel to Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia.”

Gattaca started its program in August 2013 and will travel to Kentucky this season for the first time in school history.

 

 

 

Paralympic Sports Program Motivates Locals

 

Paralympic Sport Tampa Bay is a program of Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation with the mission to promote health, independence and personal growth through sports for people with physical disabilities.

Andy Chasnoff started the program 15 years ago and he, with the help of this staff, focused his time helping people reach their maximum potential in sports.

“We focus on their ability and not their disability,” Chasnoff said.

Logan Krepop, 14, is a student at Manatee School of the Arts and has been a member of Paralympic Sport Tampa Bay for the past two years.

“It’s a great experience with kids with my disability to throw the discus and do a bunch of sports with the kids that are like  them,” Krepop said. “It’s really nice.

Travis Leigh, 33, has cerebral palsy, but feels like everyone else. He is grateful the paralympic events in the area, because they were not around when he was young.

Members of the Paralympic Sport Tampa Bay are competing in local and national competitions. Over 300 athletes participate in at least one PSTB program or event each year.

“Well first I’m going to try and go to the Adaptive Sports National Championship and then once I get older, going to train up for the Paralympics,”said Krepop.

USF Football Plays Annual Spring Scrimmage

USF Football held its annual spring game on Saturday, playing in front of more than 4,000 fans at Corbett Stadium. It’s the third-straight year the team have hosted the game on campus after previously holding it at Raymond James Stadium.

The players were split into two teams; the green team and the white team. Starting quarterback Quinton Flowers headed the white team. The green team featured Marlon Mack and Rodney Adams, among the notables. Asiantii Woulard, a transfer from UCLA, started at quarterback for the green team.

The white team had an early first quarter lead, with the surprising help of fourth string running back, Trevon Sands. Sands, a freshman from Miami, scored the first touchdown of the game from inside the 5-yard line. Sands could challenge for a starting spot in an already loaded backfield consisting of Mack, Darius Tice, and D’Ernest Johnson. Head coach Willie Taggart says he’s happy with the depth of talent in the running back position.

“You just let them go,” Taggart said. “Make sure Marlon Mack gets his carries and let the rest of them do what they’re going to do.”

The game was also the first chance for Bulls fans to watch Marquez Valdes-Scantling in action. The transfer from NC State got a reaction from the crowd when he made a leaping catch over a defender in the third quarter.

“We’ve been building chemistry in practice,” Valdez-Scantling said. “I’m excited to play in front of these fans, I feel real good about what we have going on.”

The white team won the game 32-19. USF Football now enter the summer months, preparing for their season opener against Towson University on September 3.

Rays Seek Attendance Boost with Student Rush deal

The Tampa Bay Rays are hoping to give their college-aged fans more bang for their buck.

For the first time, the Rays are offering Student Rush tickets to fans 18 or older with a high school or college ID.  Students can get lower level seats every Friday night for just $15.

Rays vice president of communications Rick Vaughn said the team is targeting a different type of fan each day.

“On Monday, we hand out free tickets for military veterans on Military Monday,” Vaughn said. “For all Tuesday home games, kids 14 and under can get in for $2, and Wednesday we sell two dollar hot dogs. For Thursday, all seniors 60 years of age or older will receive a discounted ticket, and of course Friday is Student Rush.”

Vaughn said the Rays are in the upper third of major league baseball television ratings.

As for actual game attendance? Not so much. In 2015, Tampa Bay ranked last in the league, averaging just over 15,000 fans per game in a stadium that can fit up to 42,000.

Though the Rays are uncertain of how many students will attend the Friday games, they expect to average 2,000 to 3,000 students each week. Vaughn said if fans make the trip and show support of the deal, they will see there is more to do than just watch the game.

“We have the Ted Williams Baseball Museum,” Vaughn said. “It’s free with the purchase of a game ticket. We also have the ray tank in centerfield where we are supported by the Florida Aquarium.”

As for the students? They said the discount is something that should not be overlooked.

“For a student, this is a good opportunity to get out and do things around the Tampa Bay area without having to break your wallet,” said Aaron, a student from the University of Tampa.

Vaughn and the Rays hope promotions like Student Rush will help provide a much-needed boost in attendance.

For Bay area college students, this is one deal that is sure to be a home run.

“It’s great,” said Spencer, a student from the University of South Florida. “Since I work and I’m saving money, $15 for a Rays game is my kind of deal.”

 

People of all ages get active at the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park

Zumba classes are fun, active and free to everyone who stops by “Zumba in the Park” at the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in downtown Tampa. Meagan Simmons has been leading the class every Tuesday night for two years and enjoys seeing old and new faces.

“The great thing about Zumba is that you’re not here for your neighbor, you’re not here for me, you’re here for yourself,” Simmons said.

The class starts promptly as 6:00 p.m. and is a full hour of exercise in a family-friendly environment.

Laurence Alo is a regular at the Zumba class. He’s been coming ever since the downtown YMCA started offering the class in 2014.

“Zumba is best when we have weather like we do today,” Alo said.

The class’s popularity has grown immensely. The number of dancers has increased from 20 people in the first year to an average of 50 to 60 people now. Men and women of all ages are seen in the crowd.

“It is a great way to meet different kinds of people,” Alo said.

“Zumba in the Park” is held every Tuesday at Curtis Hixon Park from 6:00-7:00 p.m.

USF women learn the ins and outs of Bulls football

The fourth USF Women’s Football Clinic was held on Saturday. There were over thirty women who showed up at 9:00 A.M. when the event kicked off. The clinic had many different phases throughout the day.

“In the morning we started upstairs in our team room,” says Executive Assistant Julia Reed, “We broke down offense, defense and special teams. We just broke it down. What is football? What does behind the scenes look like?”

After a morning filled with Q&A sessions with the wives of coaches and the players, there was a 50/50 raffle and a silent action. Some of the prizes included a signed football helmet by USF head football coach Willy Taggart, t-shirts and more.

The afternoon was more hands on, with the ladies going down to the practice field. They were put through the same drills that the players do on a daily basis. These drills helped teach the ladies the importance of throwing accuracy, footwork, proper technique of tackling and more.

USF President Judy Genshaft also attended the event.

“Today was double wonderful because we had the women’s football clinic this morning and later this afternoon is our spring game,” said Genshaft.

After the woman’s clinic was over, the men played their annual football spring game.

 

USF holds vibrant rally in preparation for FSU showdown

The University of South Florida hosts a festive and optimistic pep rally to prepare for the game against Florida State University. Students gathered around cheering on the USF football players as they enjoyed the energetic vibes.

This game is expected to be a sold out event USF student Lera Koch said, “It’s the first game since I have been at USF that is going to be a 300 level for students section and actually for all fans in general; so I think its going to be super awesome I think the energy is going to be crazy.”

For a university that lacks school pride, the pep rally was full of pride and hope for a victory against FSU.

“FSU is going to get demolished by the bulls they have no chance against us,” said Juan Garcia a fan who chanted green and gold throughout the pep rally.

There is no doubt that the fans will cheer on the green and gold after the USF football team defeated Syracuse giving the bulls hope for a win considering FSU loss against Louisville.

The USF football team has evolved and is ready to take on FSU, with a body of students who chant loud and proud “Go Bulls.”

 

USF Soccer: Bulls Battle Tigers

The USF Men’s Soccer team faces their toughest challenge of the year on Tuesday against last year’s College Cup runners-up, Clemson.

USF (4-3-2) started the season slowly after a string of injuries and other issues forced key players to miss time. For many teams, this wouldn’t be much of an issue, but Coach George Kiefer loaded the schedule with big names like Maryland and Virginia Tech early in the season.

However, a long stand at home gave USF time to get sorted out and start a winning streak. The Bulls won three games straight at home before defeating UCF on the road Saturday.

“It’s a great boost for us,” said senior Nazeem Bartman. “As you know we started off the season a little bit slow, but we’ve won the last four games now, it’s a great confidence boost for myself and the rest of the team too.”

Players wouldn’t emphasize the game too much, but Coach Kiefer had a bit more to say about the visiting Clemson Tigers.

“I’d hate to emphasize one game more than the next, but I would take my hat off to Mike Noonan,” Kiefer said. “He used to be a Brown [University] so he’s used to teams not wanting to travel to him. So the fact he’s at Clemson, willing to come back to us, I give him a lot of credit for that. We’re very excited to have him here.”

The Bulls and the Tigers kick off at 7 p.m. at Corbett Soccer Stadium on Tuesday.

USF BASEBALL FIGHTS CANCER ON THE FIELD

For the second straight year, the USF Baseball team partnered up with the V.S. Cancer Foundation to shave their heads in order to raise money in support of the fight against childhood cancer.

“It’s such a great thing to do. Hopefully we make a small dent in conquering this disease someday,” said Mark Kingston, head coach of the USF Baseball team. “We’ll always want to do our part.”

It takes a lot of passion and a lot of drive to make it to the division one level, let alone be successful. The Bulls channel that same energy to give back and help others.

“We have it so good,” Kingston said. “To be able to give back to children that are battling terrible diseases like this, it’s important to gain that perspective.”

This event hits especially close to home for pitching coach Billy Mohl, who lost his wife to cancer in 2013.

“I promised my wife when she passed away that I would do something in terms of raising money for cancer research,” Mohl said. “I can think of no better way to do it than on a baseball field with all these guys.”

There were 74 other schools around the country who participated in this year’s V.S. Cancer fundraiser. The Bulls raised more than $11,000, the eighth most out of any school.

The proceeds will be split between the V.S. Cancer Foundation and Tampa General Hospital.