Esther Solano and Tina Leon not only share a passion for health and fitness, they also share a friendship that stands the test of time.
Solano helped create Tampa’s very own Epic Boxing & Fitness, a full service boxing gym with a twist.
“We’ve been here for almost three years now,” Solano said. “It’s been great to watch us grow from when we first opened in 2014 until now.”
Located on West Kennedy Boulevard in the heart of Downtown Tampa, Epic Boxing & Fitness attracts all different kinds of clientele from around the Tampa area, like Solano’s regular, Tina Leon.
“I started coming to Epic around three years ago when they first opened up,” Leon said. “Esther and I have become great friends and workout buddies so I definitely love it here.”
The gym found its start with the help of co-owner Jaye Maddon, wife of Joe Maddon, the 2016 World Series Champion Manager of the Chicago Cubs.
“I was her boxing coach at the time and one day she came to me and told me she wanted to open her own boxing gym with a twist, and if I’d help her start on this adventure,” Solano said. “It’s been a blessing to work with her.”
Epic Boxing & Fitness will be celebrating its third anniversary next year.
“If you want to be challenged then come down and try out a session,” Solano said. “We welcome college students from UT as well as USF.”
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.
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].”
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.