USF students volunteer their time and work to help promote one of their favorite local spots around campus. Imraan Frook and Cris Dipiano set up a booth at this weeks Bull Market to help market and sell different kinds of boardgames for Armada Games. This spot is not your typical game store, it’s located about a mile away from campus and provides a different way of free socializing and entertainment for students. The USF volunteers hope to increase clientele, help the owners by advertising and spread the word about one their favorite places to hangout.
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.”
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.
Bruno Falkenstein is the Godfather of sea turtles.
Since 1979 he has been monitoring the stretch of beach from the Pass-A-Grille jetty to Bunces Pass at Upham Beach. While the times and shoreline have changed drastically since Bruno’s first year on turtle patrol, his routine has not.
Bruno gets out of bed at around 6:00 every morning from April 1 until Halloween. He walks his dog and then grabs the keys for his Jeep. He leaves and drives down the beach to search for turtle tracks and check on existing nests.
In the past few years there has been an increase in sea turtle nests and a rise in interested locals wanting to do their part to conserve the aquatic creatures. In response to the swell in popularity, Bruno founded Sea Turtle Trackers Inc. The mission of Sea Turtle Trackers Inc. is to ensure a suitable habitat for sea turtles, people and the ecosystem of the islands and their surrounding waters. They also connect with the community and inform residents about what they can do to promote sea turtle conservation.
There are other organizations in the state that do work similar to the Sea Turtle Trackers. Locally, Clearwater Marine Science Center monitors the Pinellas County beaches north of Bruno’s jurisdiction. Clearwater, however, has incentives for monitoring turtles besides just conservation.
“The major difference between Clearwater Marine Science Center and myself is that I’m not under contract with Clearwater,” Bruno said. “And by the way as food for thought, Clearwater gets paid about one hundred and thirty five thousand dollars a year to do Pinellas County beaches. I won’t accept anything, I don’t want to be paid for anything. To me, it’s a labor of love.”
In 2009, Bruno was named Florida Citizen of the Year by The Florida Beaches and Shores Association in recognition of his long time commitment to conservation. As far as what is next for Bruno and the Trackers, he says he is more than content doing what he has done so well for the last 35 years.
Thanks to Cigar City Brewing owner, Joey Redner Jr., Tampa Bay has become a haven for beer lovers, geeks and connoisseurs alike.
Cigar City Brewing has taken over the craft beer scene in Florida, in a land where Budweiser has reigned supreme for decades. Their dedication to Tampa Bay history, and their collaborative work with other local businesses has set them apart from their competition.
“We like to work with other local businesses in the area and support the community as much as possible,” Neil Callaghan, Tasting Room Manager at Cigar City Brewing, said. “We work with companies like Buddy Brew, a local coffee beanery and roasting house, who roasts a coffee bean just for us to use in our beers.”
The coffee from Buddy Brew is used in an award-winning beer called the Cubano Espresso Brown Ale as well as a few others. Cigar City also work with other local vendors, including a local soap making company, that makes beer flavored soap for the brewery gift shop.
Cigar City also is involved with numerous charities in the Tampa Bay Area. Their most recent charity event had some of the employees do something special for a great cause.
“Last week every employee had a huge beard but we all shaved them off for a charity event,” Callaghan said. “It was to raise money and awareness for the pediatric cancer foundation. It was a great event that Cigar City was proud to be a part of.
The 6th annual Veredus|HAYS Cut for a Cure Charity Challenge got these brewers and bartenders to shave off their precious beards, which for many have become a rite of passage in the industry.
Cigar City has become a leader in the community and a great business that leads by example. Their beer is pretty darn good too. They recently got voted the fourth best brewery in the entire world.
Brandon, Fla.—Two years ago, Eva Johnson was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer at age 30.
Johnson said it was important for her to remain positive while she was fighting the disease.
“I didn’t let it control me,” Johnson said. “I was in charge of that cancer, so taking it day by day was first and foremost for me.”
Johnson underwent several rounds of chemotherapy, radiation and surgeries.
“Going through all of that, it’s nothing you want anybody to have to go through,” Johnson said. “It’s probably the worst thing I’ve ever been through.”
Johnson said her family helped her through the process.
“I tried to be her strength when she was weak,” Nichole McDonald, Johnson’s sister, said. “I just tried to be positive, encourage her through her rough days, and remind her that brighter days are ahead of her and she could get through it.”
Johnson’s positivity also came from her son, Mason.
“He needs his mommy, and I planned on staying around for him for a long time,” Johnson said.
A year after her first surgery, Johnson learned she was cancer-free.
“When I found out, I was at the car dealership getting my oil changed, and I had to wait a whole week,” Johnson said. “Those five days were the worst. I was stressed, I was on edge, I cried every day about it. And then when I found out, I screamed, I was out in the parking lot. I said, ‘I got the news’.”
If there’s one thing that you can find an abundance of at Florida Studio Theatre Improv, it’s laughter. Florida Studio Theatre is located in downtown Sarasota off Palm Avenue. The theatre features musicals, plays, improv and a full restaurant and bar.
The FST Improv troupe has a new show every Saturday night. This season’s show is called Out of Bounds. It incorporates two teams that compete for points given by the audience. The teams can range from as little as two cast members to as many as four. The winning team receives a trophy they get to keep until next week’s show where they compete all over again.
One of the most important aspects of improv is rehearsal. The entire troupe gathers at 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays to practice improv games and discuss how to improve their acting. Darryl Knapp is a performer for FST Improv.
“I think rehearsal is very important because it is good for camaraderie for one thing, to get to know other players,” said Knapp.
Normally one wouldn’t think of preparation as something that goes into a show that is thought up on the spot. However Chris Friday, who also performs with FST Improv, feels strongly that it is preparation is key.
“It’s very important. We don’t rehearse what we’re going to do in the shows as far as these are the lines we’re going to use or any of those kinds of things. Because we’re really creating the show with the audience in the moment. But you rehearse the technique of the game and part of that rehearsal and part of what makes an improve show go so well is playing with people,” said Friday.
FST Improv also features piano accompaniment. Not all improv troupes have a pianist to accompany the scenes, so FST makes use of the piano to enhance the shows. Pianist Hunter Brown brings his unique skills to the table.
“I’ve been playing piano since I was 8 years old. And I was like ‘yeah sure’ so I ended up playing a little diddy from there, for some reason they had enough faith in me to be the accompanist for this and I had no idea what to get into. But I was just like ‘yeah sure I’ll do it’. And from there I guess it ended up turning out really well cause I feel like my talents suit improve pretty well,” said Brown.
The Florida Studio Theatre tries to get as much audience participation as possible. They lay out suggestion cards on the tables before the performance that the audience can fill out. The scenes are then used in the shows.
Improv is a popular thing, not only in the Tampa area but also around the country. Edith Jones is an audience member for one of the Out of Bounds shows.
“I love improv. But I’ve never been to it in Sarasota so I thought it would be fun to see how it is. I’m looking forward to it,” said Jones.
There is no doubt that when you go to an FST show, you’ll have a great time.
For decades, the Chasco Fiesta has been a mainstay in the New Port Richey community. The Fiesta is a weeklong celebration of the local Chasco culture, while mixing in various fair-like activities.
Craig McCart, one of the chief organizers of the Chasco Fiesta, has been involved with the celebration for more years than he can remember.
“I’ve been involved since back in 1974,” McCart said. “But, I’ve been on the steering committee since 1998.”
McCart explained there are nearly 30 non-profit organizations that have come out this year to take part in the Chasco Fiesta. One of those organizations, West Pasco Sertoma, is headed up by Michael Tyler.
“We support the All Children’s Sertoma Speech and Hearing Center,” Tyler said. “We come out to the Chasco Fiesta and cook for two weekends in a row. We cook so kids can hear.”
Tyler is just one of many that come out to the Fiesta for a noble cause. Tara Londergan is part of a women’s motorcycle group called the Diva Angels. The Diva Angels are a non-profit organization that come out and donate their time for a good cause. This year, they were working with Tyler and West Pasco Sertoma to raise funds.
“We have poker runs, last year we had a spaghetti dinner for the homeless vets,” Londergan explained. “We hang out and raise funds for other charities.”
With all the fun and festivities, there can be times where things get a little out of hand. That’s where Officer Greg Williams of the New Port Richey Police Department comes in.
“The only issue we have sometimes is the excess alcohol use,” Williams said. “But, for the most part, it’s a good event. All different classes of people come out.”
Like Officer Williams, mostly everyone seems to agree that the Chasco Fiesta is a positive event for the community and the surrounding areas.
“Oh, it’s awesome,” Londergan said. “It’s great for the downtown, it keeps it alive.”
The Chasco Fiesta comes to Sims Park in March of every year. It includes a big parade on the first Saturday, along with concerts throughout the week in the Sims Park Amphitheater and finishes up with a boat parade on the final weekend.
When it comes to the University of South Florida (USF), there are an endless amount of activities that can be done. However, on the weekends, when campus seems to be a bit bare, it can be difficult to find activities to participate in.
I started my day of finding USF students by wondering the campus. At first, I was nervous I wasn’t going to find anyone, since I seemed to be the only student walking on campus. Then I came across two girls carving pumpkins. It was a beautiful day outside, so they thought that was the perfect opportunity to complete this activity.
After that, I made my way in the direction of the Marshall Student Center. There, I came across of a group of girls in the sorority Kappa Delta. They were taking turns having their picture taken with the statue of the bull. Everyone should get a picture with the bull before they graduate. Their chance came to do this on a weekend when the campus was empty.
Heading away from the main campus, making my way to some off campus areas where students would be, I noticed the beauty of the campus. When you’re rushing to class it is hard to appreciate all the real beauty USF has to offer.
I knew a spot students went in their free time was the USF Riverfront Park. I was introduced to the girl in the canoe from one of my best friends here at USF. She agreed to let me tag along with her in the canoe to snap a few shots.
Finally, I started to head home when I saw another activity students could do. They could ride bikes for pure joy, rather than just as a form of transportation.
Overall, USF may seem to be an empty campus on the weekends but that is not true. It takes a little searching to find students because instead of spending most of their time on campus, they are completing activities they wouldn’t normally have time for.
The photos above showcase some of these activities to offer an insight to other students at USF looking for fun things to do on the weekends.
Christian Ovalles, 21, has a life that many individuals dream about. He plays music for hundreds of people every Friday night at the Amphitheatre Event Facility in Ybor City, Fla.
Many people only see the end product of Ovalles’s music, but fortunately he has invited the public into his home to show everyone the process of creating a new track from start to finish.
At the 4th Annual Clearwater Beach Chalk Art Festival, more than 40 artists took part and showed off their artistic talents for everyone to see.
This event was held Oct. 23-25 and was hosted by the Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce. These professional chalk artists came from all over the world and transformed the Beach Walk into their own artistic playground.
Spectators were able to get a rare experience of witnessing the beauties of art unfold before their eyes.
The co-founder of a new facility is taking a unique approach in helping veterans in the Tampa Bay area cope with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Janel Norton has served our country as a combat photojournalist for the U.S. Air Force, now she serves in her community by helping other veterans.
“I experienced what I now know was post-traumatic stress when I returned home” Said Janel.
After being stationed in both Liberia and Bosnia, she decided to come back to the United States, but the transition wasn’t easy.
“I got really angry when I came back,” Norton said. “People don’t even know what’s going on over there. I felt very disconnected with everybody and nobody understood anything I had been living through for the last couple of years”
She then discovered the healing power of yoga and had the idea of opening an establishment where local veterans could meet and experience this healing together. After meeting with a prior green beret, they started the Veterans Alternative.
Member and Afghanistan war veteran David Jones is only one of the many veterans that has benefited from this class.
“She’s done wonders as far as you know helping me sleep with this iRest,” Jones said.
iRest is a form of yoga made accessible to everyone. This stress reducing class helps veterans tap into their inner resource.
“We have a small population that we’re serving, but there’s many more,” Norton said.
Lacoochee Elementary School received a new bench this past March, but its purpose is much deeper than providing a place to sit. It’s being used to spread kindness and friendship to the students.
“What it is, it’s a friendship bench, but the name we gave it is called the ‘Kindness Corner’,” said Nancy Montoya, guidance counselor at Lacoochee Elementary.
The bench is a place for students to help others and make friends in the process. If a student is sad, lonely or needs a friend, they can sit on the bench. Students who see someone on the bench are encouraged to go up to him or her and strike up a conversation. They are to ask what is wrong, what they can do to make it better and be a friend in their time of need.
“It is a way for a student to be an up-stander and help someone else rather than ignore someone when they are in pain,” Montoya said.
Montoya got the idea for the bench from an article geared toward anti-bullying. She felt the students at Lacoochee could use it as a tool to gain social skills and build relationships. She contacted the Kiwanis Club of Dade City and they loved the idea.
“When Nancy contacted me at Kiwanis about having us possibly fund the bench, I couldn’t say no,” said Keith Williams, president of the Kiwanis Club of Dade City. “Friends are such a vital part of childhood, and the Kindness Corner is going to be a place for friendships to flourish.”
Lacoochee Elementary School is located in an area that struggles economically. Surrounding the school are three government housing developments. The school’s graduation enhancement teacher, Daniel Vazquez, says the majority of the students live in those developments.
“About 96 to 97 percent of them are on free or reduced lunch, which means they are living at or below the poverty level,” Vazquez said.
When Kiwanis donated the bench to the school, there was a large dedication to show the students the purpose of the bench and how to utilize it. The student response was overwhelming.
“The next day students were running up to me saying they see someone on the bench and they’re going to find out what’s wrong and make a friend,” Montoya said.
Many students believe the Kindness Corner is a great addition to Lacoochee.
“It’s a good idea because, if you don’t have a friend, then wait on the bench and then a friend might come to you,” said Nathaniel Vento, first grader at Lacoochee.
With the success of “Kindness Corner”, the faculty at the school believes the bench is going to be building friendships for years to come.
Tampa, Fla. – Phyllis P. Marshall is the backbone of the University of South Florida. She was there from the very beginning in 1960.
Marshall lived in the first student union called the University Center. She was essentially the first resident assistant on campus. The girls’ dorms were on the fourth floor of the building.
President John Allen wanted the focus of the school to be on academics and merits, not any social aspects.
“He and the other deans and the other students did not want beauty contests, popularity contests and they didn’t want Greek organizations either,” Andrew Huse, associate librarian at USF said.
Huse said Marshall was an advocate for students. “If she didn’t go to the event, they might not have been able to have the event.”
Marshall is known as “Ms. USF” for her involvement with students. Among many ideas, she helped advocate for students to bank at the credit union. In her mind, it was not fair for students that did not have transportation.
“I think she was an advocate for integrating students with the university.” Huse said.
The University Center was later named the Marshall Student Center in 1994 to coincide with Marshall’s retirement.
Although D.G. Yuengling and Sons began selling beer in Pottsville, Pennsylvania in 1829, this Tampa brewery has been making a southern name for itself and the Yuengling brand since 1999.
Hospitality Manager and brew house tour guide Elizabeth Moroney has been with Tampa’s branch from the start. When she left her job as an RN for a pediatrician in 1999, she says that the Yuengling sales force consisted of her loading six-packs into her car, and driving around Tampa asking restaurants to try the new beer in town.
Now, she says “People are crying out for this product. We are like the Coors of the 21st century now.”
Yuengling is keeping up with the demands as a “21st century Coors” beer company with the release of the Summer Wheat beer, a seasonal brew currently available on the Florida market. Although the beer made its debut in 2014, its recipe has since been tweaked for the 2015 summer season.
Yuengling tour guide Bredon Hobson explains, “It’s the first time we’ve ever done a wheat beer. We kind of got it a little bit smoother.”
Fellow tour guide Maureen Brake says “The impression of [the Summer Wheat] this year is very positive.” She says that those who are sampling the beer at the end of their brewery tour “are definitely asking where they can go about finding the product and how they can find it in the market.”
Brake also told me this is not the only exciting development at Yuengling. The company has plans to release yet another seasonal beer this November. It will join the Summer Wheat and the Octoberfest on the list of Yuengling seasonal beers.
Brake says “Our brew-master developed it almost six years ago, it’s his baby.”
However, further details about this addition to the Yuengling beer menu, including its ingredients, recipe and name are still tightly bottled up.
Brake says “I don’t know if they’ve released the name of it yet, I think it’s secret. But we’ve tried it.”
And Moroney and Brake say they like it. Brake was actually recruited as a tour guide by Moroney in 2010. Brake says that teaching new tour guides is her favorite part of the job.
She says “Teaching them what I do and doing it well, and taking pride in the company is important to me.”
Moroney says she enjoys “the versatility of the job, working for a great company. It’s a family owned company, which makes a big difference.”
Brake says “Yuengling of Tampa specifically offers a very relaxed environment that is just fun.”
Those of legal age interested in visiting the Yuengling brewery of Tampa and doing what Brake says is “something that’s different and unique” can visit http://www.yuengling.com/breweries/tampa for more information on brewery tour times and Yuengling news. The website is also equipped with a “Beer Finder” to help customers locate the Summer Wheat or any beer near them.
The La Segunda Central bakery’s production of fine baked goods has been a staple in Tampa’s Ybor City for over 100 years.
“My great grandfather Juan started the business in 1915, he came from Spain,” fourth-generation owner Copeland Moore, said. “He fought in the Spanish-American war in Cuba, learned how to make Cuban bread.”
He came here in the early 20th century with cigar workers who were flourishing in Ybor City. “He brought the recipe and made the bread for the Cuban workers and the Cuban sandwiches and passed it on to his two sons, who are my grandfather and his brother,” Moore said.
Figure 1 Copeland Moore’s grandfather was the second generation to run the bakery
The rest is history.
La Segunda produces a variety of baked goods, but is most known for its world famous Cuban bread.
Figure 2 La Segunda Bakery is known for its renowned Cuban bread
“We distribute locally and nationally, but locally here most likely if you’ve had a Cuban sandwich it’s on our bread,” Moore said.
The Bakery also has a long-standing tradition of hiring employees that have family ties to the bakery. “I just do whatever they ask me to,” cashier Cathy Rosemurgy said. Moore is Rosemurgy’s son-in-law and technically, Rosemurgy is retired.
“I just to love come and help out because of all of the wonderful people here,” she said.
Figure 3 La Segunda is seen as a crucial part of Ybor City’s history
In addition to employing family and close acquaintances, the bakery also supplies many local restaurants with their Cuban bread. One example is the Columbia restaurant also located in Ybor City. “Providing the local community here in Ybor City with high quality products is important to us,” Moore said.
Moore currently runs the bakery with the aid of his father. When asked what his favorite aspect of the restaurant was, he pointed to new challenges and family.
“Helping with the customers, helping our employees work on their processes, that’s the most enjoyable, that’s what helps me get up and come to work every day and that’s what I like the most about it,” Moore said.
Emmanuel Smith did not plan to become a postdoctoral researcher at the University of South Florida (USF) during his undergraduate years. It took him four years to finish a two-year degree.
For fun, Smith asks people to guess his GPA when he was in college.
“I always tell them that it was extremely low and I tell them to shoot for as low as they can,” he said. “They always tend to put two extra points on top. My GPA after two years of community college was 0.69.”
When he was 22 years old, he said he had no idea what he wanted in life.
“Going out and drinking every night tends to be repetitive,” Smith said. “At the moment you might think you are having the best time of your life, but after you do it a bunch of times, you realize the experience doesn’t change. It’s just the same experience over and over again.”
Thanks to an undergraduate teacher, Smith pursued biochemistry and decided to go back to school, where he graduated with a 3.9 GPA.
“I wanted to feel good about what I was doing, so that led me going back to school and trying really hard,” Smith said. “It felt really good succeeding in my classes, and eventually that led to the path that decided to be a biologist.”
Colleagues at the USF lab said Smith is a hard worker and always motivates the team.
“Just his love of science, just the love of doing what he does, you can tell that he is passionate about the work that’s done here,” Derek Nichols said. “And, the work that he is looking forward to doing in the future.”
Emmanuel Smith surpassed his own expectations. He tells students if you want to succeed, you need to work hard now.
Festa Italiana was hosted in Ybor City for the 18th year with the help of Joe Capitano Jr. The festival, celebrating Italian culture in Centennial Park, took place Thursday afternoon through Sunday afternoon.
The celebration of Italian culture allows the community to come together to share the culture and support local businesses, while raising funds for the Italian Club of Tampa.
“It brings awareness to Ybor,” Alice Mueller, the Italian Club manager said. “Sometimes there’s a negative connotation attached to Ybor City, but really it’s a great place to come.”
The Italian Club begins preparing for the event in August each year and continues working up until the event takes place in April.
Over 15 thousand people attended each day. Every day offers unique events to draw in crowds.
The annual Bocce Ball tournament takes place Saturday morning, while Sunday morning kicks off with a Catholic mass in the Italian Club.
Following mass, Centennial Park opens up to the public where over 100 food and beverage vendors line up along the street to sell their unique dishes and drinks.
“It’s really a family event,” Gilda Ferlita Capitano, President of the Italian Club, said.
Though family is near to many Italian’s hearts, food is a close second.
“Food, Italian food, a bunch of other Italians they get it,” Andrea Diaz, a festival attendee said. “When they see loud voices, big gestures, it’s welcomed.”
Gilda Capitano couldn’t be prouder of her son Joe Capitano Jr. who works hard to ensure this event lives on.
“Seeing so many people together, it’s really just gratifying,” Gilda Capitano said.
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.
When thinking of Ybor City, cigars usually come to mind. This is because the city wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the cigar business that Vicente Martinez-Ybor brought to the Tampa Bay area. Martinez-Ybor came to what is now Ybor City in 1885, and the rest is history.
The cigar industry brought several different cultures to Tampa, with the largest group being Cubans. Cubans brought their techniques for hand-rolling tobacco into cigars, creating a huge boom in population for Ybor City.
There are about a dozen cigar shops in Ybor. Some are strictly distributors and others produce hand-rolled cigars. One thing they all have in common is a strong customer base. The stores serve local customers, as well as those from other states and countries.
John Watson, a retiree, works at Metropolitan Cigars in his free time. A cigar smoker all of his life, Watson uses his broad knowledge of cigars to help customers find the right cigar for them.
“We get a lot of tourists in here from Europe,” Watson said. “They come in here specifically looking for cigars.”
For the past several decades, highly sought after Cuban cigars have been absent from Ybor City and the rest of the country. These cigars have been considered the forbidden fruit in the cigar world due to their taste and unavailability. However, negotiations between the United States and Cuba have made the possibility of Cuban cigars in Ybor more prevalent.
Dr. August Mauser, a retired University of South Florida professor from the USF Department of Special Education, has been operating his own cigar business— AJ’s Cigars To Go of Tampa—for the past decade. Mauser has been able to find Cuban cigars a few times in the past and finds their future interesting.
“With Cuba opening up, that’s going to mean that we’re going to have Cuban cigars, but it won’t be at least a couple years,” Mauser said. “Cuban tobacco is the finest in the world.”
The future of the cigar industry is up in the air, but cigar lovers can find a multitude of quality cigars in Ybor City. Cigars have built Ybor City and are continuing to bring people to Tampa.