Local youth barefoot water-skier is a rising star

In the extreme sport of barefoot water-skiing, one of the world’s top-ranked juniors can regularly be seen perfecting his craft on the steady waters of East Lake Padgett. Twelve-year-old Brett Swanbom is a Land O’ Lakes resident and seventh-grader at Pine View Middle School. He also happens to be a two-time national junior champion and the world’s ninth-ranked junior barefoot water skier, … [Read more...]

Academy at the Lakes football eyes state title run

Following last year’s historic eight-man state title run, questions swirled about how the Academy at the Lakes football program would respond in 2018 with the loss a number of impactful seniors, including do-it-all tailback/linebacker Daniel Gonzalez, the 2017 Florida Christian Association of Private and Parochial Schools (FCAPPS) Heisman Trophy winner. Fair to say, they’ve handled the adjustment … [Read more...]

Local schools receive Special Olympics honor

Land O’ Lakes High School’s Unified Special Olympics program received international attention more than three years ago, when its coed soccer team won the bronze medal at the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles. Now, the school’s Unified program has earned another prestigious honor — 2018 Special Olympics National Banner Unified Champion School. The designation, based on the … [Read more...]

Sunlake High girls swimming primed for another big splash

The Land O’ Lakes High varsity football team upending Sunlake High in the 12th annual Butter Bowl wasn’t the only long-running sports streak broken between the two rival schools. The other came in girls swimming and diving — with Sunlake finally getting the upper hand against its crosstown foe. The Seahawks girls defeated the Gators in a dual meet 108-78, on Sept. 19 at the Land O’ Lakes … [Read more...]

Land O’ Lakes girl is all-star golfer

Hailey Stricker already has collected a fair number of medals and trophies competing in youth tournaments throughout Tampa Bay. The 12-year-old from Land O’ Lakes is seeking an addition to her trophy case — as a member of the Clearwater Jr. PGA All-Star team. The 10-member all-star team will compete on Aug. 26 in the PGA Jr. League North Florida Section Championship at Orlando’s Grand … [Read more...]

Land O’ Lakes youth reaches motocross championship

Colt Golembeski’s dream of racing in the sport’s premiere amateur competition is coming true this week. The 10-year-old Land O’ Lakes resident is competing this week in the 37th Annual Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship, held at the iconic Loretta Lynn Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. Golembeski, who began racing at age 6, endured a series of area and … [Read more...]

Academy at the Lakes gets a new baseball coach

Just two months after guiding Carrollwood Day School to the state final four, Ken Akins looks to achieve similar results at another local private school. Akins is the new head baseball coach at Academy at the Lakes (AATL), replacing John DiBenedetto, who left the Wildcats program after three seasons for an athletic director position at Mother of Teresa Calcutta Catholic School, a kindergarten … [Read more...]

AATL softball captures first state title

A pitcher’s duel, extra innings and weathering wet, muddy conditions were all needed before Academy at the Lakes softball could finally claim its first-ever state championship. Overcoming hurdles, they wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. The Wildcats (26-4) defeated Monticello Aucilla Christian 1-0 in 11 innings on May 22 in the FHSAA (Florida High School Athletic Association) Class 2A … [Read more...]

Academy at the Lakes savors first winning season

After five seasons of varsity baseball, senior Eric Hutchison can finally say he was part of a winning team. “It’s always nice to be the first success in something. The fact that I’m a senior makes it much better,” said Hutchison, a team captain pitcher/infielder who’s played for Academy at the Lakes (AATL) since eighth grade. The Wildcats just wrapped up its first winning season in program … [Read more...]

Local soccer player scores prestigious statewide honor

Whenever the Land O’ Lakes Gators needed a score, Sydny Nasello was there to answer the call. And, she delivered often, racking up 120 goals during her four-year varsity soccer career. In this past season alone, the senior tallied 45 goals and 13 assists — guiding the Gators to the regional finals, a 23-3 record and undefeated (7-0) district mark. Her skills on the field — combined … [Read more...]