We, at The Laker/Lutz News enjoy sharing stories in our Community Sports Section about people who live or grew up in our coverage area. We like to report on their accomplishments, whether it’s on a local field, or in the wide world of sports.
The section often includes athletes testing their skills in everything from shuffleboard in Zephyrhills, to Little League in Lutz, from youth football in Wesley Chapel to cycling in Dade City. Of course, there’s also cycling in San Antonio, high school sports all over, fitness challenges, and myriad recreational pursuits.
Here are some of our favorite sports features from 2022.
Adapting to the right fit
Published Sept. 21, 2022
At CrossFit AERO in Lutz, trainers have developed a modified program allowing individuals with permanent physical disabilities or severe injuries to complete the Workout of the Day, or WOD, and become comfortable with the fundamentals of functional movement.
“The way we see it, with CrossFit, everything is scalable,” said Ellaine Sapin-Ancheta, the AERO Adaptive CrossFit director and head trainer. “So, if there is a workout of the day — say its rowing — every single person that walks in the door, we want them to be able to do that, no matter what your ability or disability is.”
Stephanie Beaver, of Wesley Chapel, is one of the program’s athletes and can be seen here doing a deadlift at CrossFit AERO during a session of Adaptive CrossFit.
“The movements we do here translate into the things I have to do every day, from moving around at home or to picking things up. It just translates into everyday life for me, so that really helps a lot,” Beaver said. “Never in a million years I thought I would ever be doing the things I am doing today while at CrossFit.”
From Lutz to Ole Miss, Tim Elko becomes a legend
Published July 20, 2022
A local kid became a legend.
Ole Miss baseball captain and Lutz native Tim Elko hoisted up the NCAA National Championship trophy on June 26 at Charles Schwab Field Omaha after The Rebels defeated Oklahoma in two games.
Becoming a national champion caps off an amazing collegiate career for Elko, who through his last two seasons, was the one of the big bats in the lineup. In 2021, he batted .325 with 16 homers and 55 RBI that helped lead the Rebels to a Super Regional appearance, doing so all on a torn ACL. In 2022, he batted .300, with 24 homers and 75 RBI — plus added that national championship.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Elko, who went 4-for-5 with a home run and three runs scored in Game One of the CWS Finals against Oklahoma. “You just couldn’t ask for a cooler final season. Some people counted us out, but the rest is history. This was just a great team that never gave up and believed in our abilities. Really, a dream come true.”
Up next for Elko: he was selected in the 10th round of the MLB Draft by the Chicago White Sox.
Senior Softballers in a league of their own
Published Sept. 7, 2022
The North Tampa Bay Senior Softball League, which plays their games and practices in Land O’ Lakes, kicked off its 10-year anniversary season on Sept. 9. And the league has come a long way since it started with just 10 players.
“It was an adventure (10 years ago) because many of us were coming back to the game we hadn’t played in many, many years,” said Lutz resident Fred Eckstein, another one of the original 10. “We blew up back then and even sometimes now, where we get a new influx of players. But the play is good, the camaraderie is good — it’s a real diverse group, too, given everyone’s backgrounds and where they are from, originally.
“It’s really just fun to hang out with all (the players).”
Now, there are more than 100 people involved, including players, umpires and scorekeepers. Seven teams will play through the playoffs and a championship in May.
Our story about the team resonated with the community, according to the league’s commissioner, Walt Bruschi. “Senior citizens across the entire area of your paper’s distribution have called me.
“I had a call from The Keystone Place at Terra Bella, a retirement and assisted living community, (and asked) if they could bring a van of senior citizens to watch our games!”
A hearty comeback
Published June 8, 2022
JohnE McCray was dead for four minutes.
This Zephyrhills resident and professional disc golf champion was out on the course on Feb. 5, even doing well at the Barnett Park Championships, in Orlando, and suffered a heart attack.
After emergency surgery and the installation of an automated internal cardiac defibrillator (AICD), the 50-year-old disc golf national champion needed some time to rehabilitate, which was about four months of rest and recovery, including building up endurance just to be able to walk the courses.
Now, he’s ready to be back on the Professional Disc Golf Association Tour.
“Definitely got some big plans (to get back on tour),” he added. “When (the heart attack happened), it was Saturday afternoon, and I woke up on Monday, but thought it was still Saturday. I’m like, ‘Am I still going to be able to play tomorrow?’ and Jen was like, ‘Um, I don’t think so!’
“So, yeah, I’m really ready to get back out there on the course.”
Splash for the cash
Published May 18, 2022
Wyatt Deaton just kept swimming.
For 2 miles — raising $5,900 through his persistence.
The 11-year-old Wesley Chapel resident powered through laps as part of Swim Across America (SAA) — the nationwide fundraising event for cancer research, clinical trials and patient programs.
He did it for his mom who has secretory breast carcinoma, a rare form of cancer.
“I just wanted to do my part to raise money for cancer (research), because my mom’s cancer is very rare, and this helps finding rare cancers and helping people, like my mom, who have it,” Wyatt said.
He set a fundraising goal of $2,000, but he ended up raising nearly $6,000 — becoming the top fundraiser for the Tampa Bay SAA event.
“He was devastated (when I was diagnosed with cancer), so he just read every book to learn more about it,” Michelle, his mother, said. “I think that being able to do something as a child that makes a difference means a lot to him, and I can see him doing (SAA) for years and years to come.”
The Tampa Bay swimming event raised more than $136,000 for Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg.
His goal for the 2023 swimming event?
“I want to raise $10,000,” Wyatt said.
Published January 04, 2023