Special Olympics Form Passionate Friendships Personality

The Special Olympics is defined as “A non-profit organization that provides year-round sports training to children and adults, with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

Hillsborough County programs offer 17 sports to over 800 athletes, with the assistance of 75 coaches and over 1,000 volunteers throughout the year. These programs are free to athletes.

The Special Olympics also offers various programs such as Unified Sports, which joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team, and Healthy Athletes, which has become the largest global public health organization dedicated to serving people with intellectual disabilities.

However, for Special Olympics athletes and their families, the importance of the organization goes far beyond athletic training and offered programs.

“My favorite part about Special Olympics is playing different sports, make new friends, demonstrate courage, show friendship, and most importantly, to have fun,” athlete Thomas Shervington said.

Thomas plays basketball, soccer, golf, and softball, and just became a part of the Athletes Leadership Program, where he will help spread awareness on how to get involved with the Special Olympics.

“Him being in the Special Olympics has affected our lives so greatly,” Thomas’s mother, Buffie Shervington said. “He’s not only playing sports, but able to make new friends. My son got to thrive, grow, become confident and do all the things kids do.”

“He’s just a completely different person than he was before the Special Olympics. He’s my inspiration.”

Tailgating with Golden Brahman Tailgate Club

USF Bulls tailgate with the Golden Brahman Tailgate Club

Channeling true USF spirit, the Golden Brahmans Tailgate Club gets set for another Saturday of USF football.
Channeling true USF spirit, the Golden Brahmans Tailgate Club gets set for another Saturday of USF football.
USF Alumni Connor Davis and his some Jake share time playing cornhole before the game.
USF Alumni Connor Davis and his son Jake share time playing cornhole before the game.
Brats are a classic Saturday afternoon tailgate snack.
Brats are a classic Saturday afternoon tailgate snack for any football fan.
These Bulls have herded up under the tent to keep cool in the fall heat.
These Bulls have herded up under the tent to keep cool in the fall heat. Staying “hydrated” is half the battle.
The grill, and the Brahmans are fired up for the game against SMU.
The grill, and the Brahmans are hungry and fired up for the game against SMU.
The Bulls flag flying on a beautiful day over the Golden Brahman.
The Bulls flag flying on a beautiful day over the Golden Brahman and the Bulls Nation.

Tailgating and football are such cultural passions in this part of the country and this is some of what a real, organized tailgate looks like. Also, I wanted to dispel the fact that football fans and tailgaters are unstoppable drunks. The Brahmans are a family friendly group that encourages families and children of USF alumni to join them in their festivities. I took various photos of the event itself, the food being cooked and served and some of the various activities people were doing at the tailgate.

Behind the action at USF Football

The USF football team picked up its third straight win with a 38-14 victory over SMU on Oct. 24th, winning three straight games for the first time since starting 4-0 in 2011. While the team had a strong showing on the field, take a look at a few of the stories on what goes on behind the action on game day at Raymond James Stadium.

USF students experience high intensity workout

At the USF recreation center, students have the opportunity to become physically fit. Recently, a new class is offered where students have the ability to test their limits and go above and beyond. This class is open for all students from beginners to expert level. What makes this class different from the others is that it is a full body intensity workout, it focuses on all part of the body and leaves you feeling pumped.

 

At the University of South Florida Recreation Center, students have the opportunity to become physically fit and active.

The full body high intensity workout class has begun in which students have the ability to test their limits and go above and beyond. The class is open for all students from beginners to experts.

This class is different from other ordinary classes because it is a full body intensity workout. This focuses on all parts of the body and leaves you feeling pumped and energized.

Ex-pro passes on his basketball expertise through training program

To some, basketball may be just a sport. For Jean Carlo Rivera, it is a passion and skill he wants to share with all of Tampa Bay.

 

At the Harbour Island Athletic Club and Spa, Rivera has developed a basketball skills training program. After just a month and a half he has established a clientele ranging from high school students to professional players.

 

Rivera has been studying the game of basketball for years. He played four years of collegiate basketball at Florida College. Then he played professionally overseas in Puerto Rico.

 

He wanted to share all that he learned from his experiences. This helped spark the idea for his training program.

 

“Me training on my own, just, I wanted to help kids get better because nobody helped me get better, you understand,” Rivera said. “I had to help myself. So everything that I learned, I want to pass on to kids for the next generation, the next generation, the next generation.”

 

Rivera’s main focus is to develop his client’s basketball skills. He runs different drills with his clients that incorporate various techniques such as dribbling and passing.

 

“Being a basketball skills developer you do pretty much every type of drill. We do ball handling, shooting, rebounding, passing, post moves,” Rivera said.

 

Johnathan Gray, a professional player overseas, values Rivera’s training because it helps him focus on the little things.

 

“He really breaks down my footwork in terms of my shooting, my balance, and stuff like that that I really, you don’t really think about naturally,” Gray said.

 

This program is just the beginning for Rivera. He plans on expanding his program and growing basketball in the city of Tampa.

 

 

Photo: Training for success

Fitness enthusiast Tyler Butler is training to compete in the 2015 Strength Camp Challenge in late November. He has put in hard work and dedication, hoping it will pay off in winning the $10,000 prize. Butler aspires to be a good role model to family and friends and tries to inspire them to lead a healthy lifestyle.

 

Tom Feely helps students find the right kick

Tom Feely has always had a passion for coaching football.  Feely, a father of six sons, took a special interest in kicking when his son Jay Feely wanted to transition from soccer to football.

“When he was between his freshman and sophomore year in high school, we started going around to who were the gurus at that time,” Tom said. “We learned from different individuals and kind of created our own hybrid style, and it worked very well for Jay.”

Jay went on to become an NFL kicker and just finished his 14th season in the league.

After his success with Jay and the knowledge he had gained about the mechanics of kicking, Tom began teaching other students. He later founded Feely Athletics, which began teaching the technique of kicking, but has evolved into teaching every position in football.

“He’s constantly willing to learn new things and do research and wants to be the most knowledgeable person there is in this.  He’s not doing it for the money or anything, he’s doing this because this is something he really wants to do. He loves being able to affect so many lives in a positive manner,” Tom’s son Tyler Feely said.

Feely Athletics has become very successful over the years.  Coach Feely has coached 14 players that have made it to the NFL including his son Jay, who played with the Falcons, Giants, Dolphins, Jets, Cardinals, and Bears; Cody Parkey of the Philadelphia Eagles and Matt Boscher of the Atlanta Falcons.

Feely Athletics’ coaches teach students the importance of consistent routines that help them get better.

“I’ve seen great improvement. Every time I come out here, I’m always getting better,” Dalton Kocsis, an Armwood High School junior, said. “I strive for that and I feel like I’m getting that here.

Jesuit High School sophomore Camden Bauman says he will compete for the varsity kicking job next season and believes Feely Athletics will give him the edge he needs to win the job.

“I’ve made tremendous strides over the past couple of years with my kicking,” he said.

Feely Athletics will be breaking ground for the Feely Soccer Academy in about a year.

“We’ve already purchased land for that and are starting to develop our soccer fields, so through the outreach to all of those kids we hope that we’re going to be able to impact, as we have, many more kids down the road,” Tom said. “That’s my goal: to make our reach as big as possible.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Davis shows perseverance pays

Andre Davis, former University of South Florida wide receiver (2011-14), currently holds 13 football program records, including career receptions, single game receptions and career receiving touchdowns.

“I feel like I play a nice little part in USF history, being that I came in to USF and broke a few records.” he said.

As arguably the best receiver in USF program history, the “Freakshow” says it’s “a blessing” to hold these top spots, but more importantly to be a part of USF’s legacy.

“Just being able for players from the future to be able to come in and see my face on plaques is something that you dream of.” he said.

Though the former team captain has graduated and moved on from playing for the Bulls, he’s still active with the current team. He frequently attends practices, attends home games on the sidelines  and mentors current players, hoping to positively impact “future USF history makers.”

“I look at all the players and the younger guys up under me as little brothers. I tell them to be leaders and that even though there may be hard times, you have to fight through them.” he said.

Specifically, Davis mentors current USF safety Nate Godwin, as both classify themselves “Bay Made, Bay Stayed” after growing up in Tampa Bay and staying in the area for college.

“Me and Dre are very close. He just shows me how to handle success and be humble.” Godwin said. “He leads by example. He’s a legend in my books, and he’s a legend in their books. He’s one of the guys I know they’re definitely going to remember.” Godwin said.

When asked about the legacy he left as a Bull, Davis didn’t talk about his records, game-winning touchdowns, or making it in the USF history books.

“It’s more than that.” Davis said. “The legacy that I left here at USF is definitely being a leader, a hard worker, and a guy that persevered through a lot of things. That’s it.”

Since his days as a Bull, Davis had a short stint with the Buffalo Bills, and is currently a NFL free agent.

Steinbrenner Field hosts Tampa, New York fans

On the corner of Dale Mabry Highway and Martin Luther King Boulevard, Tampa residents can enjoy America’s favorite pastime at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Opened in 1996, Steinbrenner Field is home to the minor league Tampa Yankees and the New York Yankees spring training season. Its original name was Legends Field and was renamed George M. Steinbrenner Field almost a decade later to honor former Yankees owner, George Michael Steinbrenner.

“Mr. Steinbrenner, I know, was a very big part of the Tampa Bay community,” said Matthew Gess, the assistant general manager to the Tampa Yankees. “A lot of things here are built and maybe were passed by him.”

Everywhere you go on the facilities bears a little bit of the city that never sleeps. At the front entrance, visitors can see the numbers of retired jerseys from some of the New York Yankees, shop for some memorabilia at the Legends Room store and even pay their respects to the 9/11 Memorial.

“Being that we’re related to the New York Yankees, we do get our share of it because across the bay is the Rays,” said Gess. “A lot of snowbirds come down from New York, so they’re in the area and that plays a huge part into it. I know they love their Yankees down here. They get to see them a little earlier here than their regular season.”

Those who are not New York Yankee’s fans, but are still loyal to Tampa’s baseball teams, can check out the Tampa Yankees at Steinbrenner Field. Tampa’s minor league team plays at the facilities throughout the summer, attracting fans from all over the city.

“I know they like our affordability, our prices and the fact that we’re an open-air stadium and we’re outside,” said Jessica Lack, the digital/social media and community relations coordinator. “It’s just such a fun atmosphere here with all those kids cheering and everything.”

Kids are some of the Tampa Yankee’s biggest fans. The field hosts Kids Day Wednesdays, where local Hillsborough schools are invited to the stadium and students receive a free ticket and meal from the concession stands.

“The kids are gold,” said Lee Buese, a camera operator for the Tampa Yankees. “It really epitomizes the good times that the rest of the people have.”

Steinbrenner Field also hosts a variety of charity events throughout the year to give back to the Tampa bay community. Some of these events include Autism Awareness, Striking Out Cancer, Everyday Heroes and the Children’s Home of Tampa Bay.

“We do a lot of theme nights that give back to the charities to attract people to come,” Lack said. “Coming up next week we’re doing our Fight for Kids Night for a child who has stage four cancer.”

Tickets are on sale for Tampa Yankee’s games. For more about Steinbrenner Field, the Tampa Yankees and the New York Yankees spring training, visit steinbrennerfield.com.

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Student merges motivational message with apparel business

“Progressively Getting Better.”

The term coined by University of South Florida student, Imani Lee, is a social movement that encourages positivity and productivity.

“When I came to USF I decided I wanted to take the term to the next level,” Lee said. “I wanted to start my own company to actually use this message and incorporate it with a medium that everyone could use.

Lee believed apparel would be the perfect way to promote his motivational message. He specifically designed athletic apparel to allow athletes to define themselves, rather than being defined by the brand they’re wearing.

“It’s something unique in terms of not only providing an apparel line for athletes,” Shaquille Kent, a USF student said. “It’s a constant motivation. Whether its sports, whether its school, it’s always something that you’re progressively getting better at.”

Lee said he has plans to partner with businesses such as the YMCA and Alpha House of Tampa in order to host campaigns to spread awareness of the movement.

“We’re going to have basketball tournaments and we’re going to be doing food drives,” Lee said. “A portion of those proceeds that we collect will go to whichever company we’re partnered with.”

Lee said he also has goals of creating motivational workshops, a production crew and a record label.

“When I say progressively getting better I’m talking about now and in the future,” he said. “Me and you — all of us as a whole — we are connected. We do have a global conscious and we should make that consciousness more productive. This is the future.”

Wheels are rolling in Tampa

The 22nd Annual Tampa Am skating competition dropped into the Skate Park of Tampa, drawing out hundreds of people to watch young skaters prove themselves in the world of extreme sports.

The event takes place over three days, with two qualifying rounds and finals. The winner advances on to compete in Street League, a nationally broadcast skateboarding event that opens doors to sponsorship opportunities and professional skating careers.

“It’s kind of like an art, making my mind create things I like to do,” competitor Miles McKenny says about skating. “Seeing me progress is another good thing.”

This is something McKenny hopes he can pass down to future generations of skaters, saying that his favorite thing to do is help younger skaters work on their tricks.

There was a sense of community throughout the entire three-day event, and as the pool of competitors became smaller and smaller, the crowd became bigger and bigger. The sense of community is what keeps a lot of skaters going.

“You walk around and everyone has the same feeling as you,” Daniel Toss said. “It’s a good group of people and something fun to do.”

 

USF mascot a product of student petitioning

TAMPA, Fl.– Rocky D. Bull is an icon most known for his appearances at USF sporting events. The USF mascot’s history goes back some 50 years and is an essential piece of USF’s heritage, student life and athletic competitions.

“Higher-ups in the administration of USF wanted to have a mascot designated, so they left it up to the students,” USF Associate Librarian Andrew Huse said.

Students came forward with different suggestions including the Buccaneer, the Desert Rats and the Golden Brahman.

“A lot of people don’t know that Florida has a cattle history going back many centuries… and I think it was clear early on that the administration liked this one,” Huse said.

Conflict arose when the Buccaneer was the declared winner of the first student vote by a margin of three votes. Upon the naming committee’s discovery of a junior college in Pensacola already using the pirate as a mascot, a student petitioned for a referendum where the Golden Brahman Bull won.

When it comes to modern day Rocky, he is no longer a Brahman Bull. As just USF’s bull, he is now a nationally recognized mascot.

“Back in 2013 when Rocky won the Capital One Mascot challenge… It was a long season and every week we’d have to keep on voting and I remember by the end for our school to win, it was a big deal,” said USF cheerleader Heath Rinkus. “We were all really excited in the spirit department.”

 

USF dominates Florida A&M

The University of South Florida football team kicked off a brand new season against Florida A&M on Saturday. With a 51-3 win over the Rattlers, the Bulls’ new results have heightened fan expectations.

“Willie’s been working really hard with the team. It’s going to be really positive.” USF alumna Cara Zeph said. “I’m ready to see the student section this year. Hoping more fans come out!”

“It’s a great atmosphere. You guys put on a great show,” Bulls fan Matt Foy said. “We just need to start winning games. Like anything, when you start winning games, people come back and support your team.”

Support isn’t something the Bulls lacked at Raymond James Stadium on Saturday night, with a full student section and a total of 30,434 people in attendance. Head coach Willie Taggart contributes some of the team’s victory to the support of the fans.

“That was big time. Best student section in the country. I’ll tell you what, that’s a big reason the guys played like they did,” Taggart said. “We intend on playing that way and keeping it that way. That’s how Ray Jay should be.”

USF won by its largest margin since a 54-24 win over the University of Texas at El Paso in 2011. Quarterback Quinton Flowers threw two touchdowns and ran for another, while Marlon Mack rushed for 131 yards and a touchdown.

“From what I saw today from our guys we’re ready to win. We’re tired of losing. That’s not South Florida,” Flowers said. “Coaches stress that every day. Let’s get us back to where we were. When tickets used to be sold out. We were going to bowl games. So that’s where we’re trying to get South Florida back at.”

University of South Florida game still remembered today

TAMPA- University of South Florida played in its biggest game over eight years ago when they played against the West Virginia Mountaineers on Sept. 28, 2007.

The Mountaineers were ranked No.5 in the country and the Bulls were coming off big wins against North Carolina and an over-time thriller at Auburn. Tickets for the game sold out fast. Tampa Bay officially had Bulls Fever.

“There are sell outs and there are legitimate sell outs,” Jim Louk said. “And this was a legitimate sell out. You could not find a seat.”

When game time came around, the stadium was filled to the brim, and the crowd made their presence known. Over 67,000 fans were at the game. It is still the largest crowd that has filled Raymond James Stadium that wasn’t a Super Bowl game.

As the game kicked off the crowd was loud. It was the loudest stadium USF ‘s Matt Grothe had ever been in.

The Mountaineers led in every offensive stat. They outgained the Bulls 437 to 274, led in time of possession and had more first downs, but the Mountaineers lost 21-13.

The game was strange, there was a combined 10 turnovers between the two teams. None bigger than USF Ben Moffit’s interception return for a touchdown.

Late in the last quarter, West Virginia’s Pat White dropped back to pass and was picked off by Moffit who took it for six points. The crowd exploded. Grothe said the crowd reached near seismic levels.

Both Louk and Grothe said the crowd was loudest when the game ended. Fans stormed the field.

USF had officially arrived. Grothe believed it was a turning point for the program.

“It was just the beginning of the next few years that made everybody think differently about USF,” Grothe said.

The bulls are far from the glory days and hope to get back to their short-lived success. The game still resonates for players and fans alike.

 

 

 

 

Assault Survivor Empowers Women With Self-Defense

 

Hot Ninja Defenders creator, Caroline Portugal is changing the game for women empowerment throughout the area.

She has developed her own personal defense training specifically designed for women since she first started her business in 2013.

Portugal hosts everything from six week training courses, to personal training, to private women’s classes to teach women to protect themselves.

“Hot Ninja Defenders is a self defense course that I created specifically for women so that they can defend themselves if they were ever to be attacked,” Portugal said .

Her business was a success and made her Hot Ninja Defenders feel empowered, confident and most importantly, safe.

“Before taking these classes I had no idea how important it was to understand the technique behind it and it’s very important that women know these strategies,” gym goer, Bobbie Freitage said.

Portugal also hosts art classes and charity events to help raise money and awareness to women who have been personally affected by street assault.

“If one person comes out of this seminar utilizing one of the techniques that I taught them and it helped saved their life, then I know that what I do for a living is everything that I’ve always wanted to do,” Portugal said .

Find classes near you at ninjadefenders.com.

Former MLB hopeful Christopher Reynoso pursues career as a firefighter

 

RIVERVIEW — Christopher Reynoso is far from  your average 22-year-old. He can’t remember the first time he played baseball, but many of  his fondest memories revolve around the sport. He often spent his afternoons playing baseball with his friends and going to Yankee games with his grandfather.

‪Reynoso played for school baseball teams for years and was offered a full scholarship to Wabash Valley College in Illinois. After a year in school, he received a call from the Diamondbacks organization. They were interested in recruiting him to play for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and a scout came to see a few of his games.

“He came up to me and asked if I was interested in becoming part of the organization,” Reynoso said.

‪Becoming a Major League Baseball player was Reynoso’s lifelong dream. Unfortunately, his dreams were dashed.

‪“After a few months of strenuous activities and overuse, my shoulder decided to give out on me” Reynoso said.

Reynoso sought medical assistance, but no one could figure out what was wrong with his shoulder. His professional baseball career vanished.

‪Reynoso decided to pursue a different dream–becoming a firefighter. He is an EMT and is going to fire school, where he has learned many new and interesting things.

‪”He called me one day and he told me basically that he had to try and resuscitate an already deceased person,” Reynoso’s best friend Josh Fernandez said.

‪Reynoso is satisfied with the turn his life has taken and is determined to reach his new goal.

Strong Dogs wheelchair basketball’s youngest player prepares for national championship game

Adrian Powell is the Tampa Bay Strong Dogs wheelchair basketball team’s youngest player. Powell joined the team in 2010, a year after he was injured.

Powell had never played basketball and relied heavily on his older, more experienced teammates to teach him the sport and provide him with support.

“Everything I learned is from them,” Powell said.

In his first year on the team, the Tampa Bay Strong Dogs played in the wheelchair basketball national championship game. Powell received first-team tournament for that game, and this put him on the recruiting radar.

Powell was recently offered a full scholarship to play basketball at the University of Texas. He is taking classes at Hillsborough Community College to get the credits he needs to start at the University of Texas by next year.

Powell and the Strong Dogs have been practicing every Tuesday and Friday from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. in preparation for this year’s national championship tournament in April.

Jose Rodriguez, who has been with the team since it began in 2008, feels confident that the team’s practice will pay off this year.

“With the same heart, same intensity, and hopefully we can get it done again,” Rodriguez said.

Before leaving for Kentucky to play in the national championship tournament, the Strong Dogs will get national exposure in their hometown. The team will play a scrimmage game at the halftime of the NCAA Women’s Final Four Championship at the Amalie Arena on April 5.

USF exercise researchers say short, high-intensity workout can replace hour of cardio

People too busy for lengthy workouts can breathe easier since researchers at the University of Tampa’s Human Performance Research Lab discovered that higher-intensity workouts can be as effective as an hour spent on cardio.

“What we found is that very, very intense, extremely intense, nauseating sprinting movements can actually deplete in 30 seconds, like, 30 percent of your carbohydrate source in your muscle,” said Jacob Wilson, associate director of the graduate program in exercise and nutrition science.

Wilson conducted the Wingate test, in which the subject uses a special stationary bike to perform this high-intensity workout. There are 10 stages, and weight is added at each stage. If participants do 10 out of 10 sets, the workout takes only 2 minutes and burns more fat than an hour of normal cardio.

“We’ve found as much fat loss, actually more, with that than doing an hour of traditional cardio,”  Wilson said. “It’s also better for athletic performance as well. You’re more powerful, and it actually helps you gain lean mass.”

UT graduate student Chase Hollmer is a bodybuilder who values staying in shape.

“I’d have to say it’s probably the most efficient form of cardio there is. I love it and recommend it 100 percent,” Hollmer said.

A Wingate bike is expensive. In order to apply this science to your workout, Wilson suggested getting a partner for your next gym visit.

“First, you start off for a few seconds and you sprint all the way out with no weight,” Wilson said. “Then, your partner suddenly moves the weight all the way up on the treadmill or on the stationary bike or on the StairMaster, so now you’re mimicking what we’re doing in our lab.”

Wilson plans to expand his quick-workout routine to Powerhouse Gym in Tampa.

Photo gallery: USF’s men’s club prepares for soccer games at FSU, UM

The USF men’s club team is a student run organization in which USF teams play soccer and compete with other universities, such as the University of Miami and Florida Gulf Coast University. The team trains Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 to 10 p.m. at Sycamore Fields, which is open to  all USF students who want to join the team.

This gallery shows players preparing for the upcoming games at Florida State University and the University of Florida in March.

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Training at Sycamore Fields usually takes about  an hour and consists of structured drills followed by intense, small side games, all run by the president and officers on the team. (Photo by Tom Turnbull)

 

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Bryce Driscoll, a junior majoring in criminology, plays for the USF men’s club team and is also one of the team’s officers. (Photo by Tom Turnbull)

 

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Tryouts for the team are held at the beginning of each semester. Any USF student can use this opportunity to try to make the team. (Photo by Tom Turnbull)

 

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Jose Estrada, a sophomore majoring in public health, plays on the left wing for the club team. Jose joined the team  during the fall 2013 at USF.   (Photo by Tom Turnbull0

 

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Felipe Diaz and Jose Estrada play ball and warm up in a cold night at Sycamore Fields. They warm up before the team comes together and start training. (Photo by Tom Turnbull)

 

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The boys usually train in small groups. (Photo by Tom Turnbull)

 

 

 

 

 

The photos were taken at the men’s soccer team’s training at Sycamore fields on Feb 20th.  About 30 players attended the session, even though temperatures were in the low 40’s.