Local youth barefoot water-skier wins national title

Brett Swanbom can be considered a rising star in the extreme sport of barefoot water-skiing. The 11-year-old, who lives in Land O’ Lakes, has the medals to prove it. Swanbom won first overall in the boys B Division (12 & under) at the 2017 United States Barefoot Nationals on Aug. 5 in Polk City. There, he claimed gold medals in jump and slalom events, and a silver medal in … [Read more...]

Land O’ Lakes coaches named nation’s best

The accolades haven’t stopped for the Land O’ Lakes High Gators softball program, months after winning its first-ever fast pitch state title. The latest award spotlights the team’s coaches. The Gators coaching staff has been named the 2017 National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) High School Coaching Staff of the Year. The award came on July 27, and the Land O’ Lakes coaches beat out … [Read more...]

Local athlete relishes national team experience

Alexis Kilfoyl has had a busy summer, as a member of the 2017 USA Softball Junior Women’s National Training Team. The Academy at the Lakes pitching sensation is one of just 24 athletes on the prestigious roster, which features some of the nation’s top players under 19 years old. After a weeklong training camp in mid-June, Kilfoyl and her Team USA comrades participated in a round of … [Read more...]

Local pitchers delay pro careers for college

Two of the area’s top pitchers are postponing their pro careers — for now. Sunlake High School’s Tommy Mace and Steinbrenner High’s CJ Van Eyk — both selected in the middle rounds of June’s MLB Draft — have opted to forgo professional baseball contracts, and instead attend in-state Division I programs. Mace, drafted in the 12th round (347th overall) by the Cincinnati Reds, will pitch at … [Read more...]

Land O’ Lakes High softball wins state title

They finally did it. On May 20, the Land O’ Lakes High Gators unseated powerhouse Plantation American Heritage 3-1, claiming the Class 6A Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSSA) softball championship at Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach. The achievement marks the first fastpitch title for Land O'Lakes (29-3) and the first for a Pasco County program since Ridgewood High won in … [Read more...]

Servin’ aces on the sand

When Bethany Randall began playing beach volleyball nearly two years ago, she never envisioned it could lead to a Division I athletic scholarship. "It really just started with trying to get in shape," said Randall, a Land O' Lakes resident and senior at Seffner Christian Academy. Starting next spring, Randall will play women's beach volleyball at Jacksonville State University, a Division I … [Read more...]

Academy at the Lakes poised for breakout season

After three consecutive losing seasons in the eight-man football ranks, Academy at the Lakes looks to make a splash in 2017, under fourth-year head coach Shawn Brown. The Wildcats are coming off a 2-8 mark in 2016, after finishing 4-7 and 3-5 the prior two seasons. But now — with a fruitful combination of talent, depth and experience — the Wildcats appear primed for a breakout … [Read more...]

Wesley Chapel High softball reaches first regional appearance

The banner season for Wesley Chapel High softball isn’t quite over. At 18-6, the Wildcats already have secured the program’s best record — and first winning season — in its 10-year history. Now comes the school’s first playoff appearance. The team is set to face the Robinson Knights (22-5) in the Class 6A Regional Quarterfinal on May 3 at 7 p.m. The game, at Robinson High School in … [Read more...]

Going out on top

Pennye Garcia, the longest-standing cheerleading coach in Pasco County is retiring — and she’s going out on top. Garcia, who’s coached at Sunlake High in multiple stints (2007-2008, 2013-2017), was recently crowned Sunshine Athletic Conference (SAC) East Cheer Coach of the Year, for the second consecutive year. It, too, marks the second straight year one of Garcia’s cheerleaders — senior … [Read more...]

Sunlake girls weightlifting well-represented on SAC awards

The dominance of the Sunlake girls weightlifting program remained apparent at the annual Sunshine Athletic Conference (East) Awards. Seahawks coach Denise Garcia won her second consecutive SAC East Girls’ Weightlifting Coach of the Year Award, and 10 of her lifters were named to the 2016-2017 SAC East All-Conference team, announced on March 6. A mix of youth and experience, Sunlake won … [Read more...]