Here at the Community Sports Section of The Laker/Lutz News, we enjoy telling stories of local individuals — the people who live and grow up in our coverage area — and their accomplishments when it comes to the wide world of sports. From the shuffleboard in Zephyrhills to the Little Leagues in Lutz to the PAL football in Wesley Chapel to the watersports in Land O’ Lakes to the outdoor adventures in Dade City, here are a handful of our favorite sports stories from 2023.
Crumbley wins game No. 800
Published on April 19, 2023
In four decades and counting, longtime baseball coach John Crumbley has accumulated a lot of accolades, including four state titles. He is the winningest Hillsborough County baseball coach by a mile. He’s in three separate Hall of Fames, and now, thanks to a win on April 12 vs. Land O’ Lakes High, Crumbley became the first Hillsborough County coach to reach 800 wins.
“God has put a special blessing on me, my career and my family,” Crumbley told The Laker/Lutz News in April. “The results, the titles, the lifelong friendships with players and coaches — it’s been really something. … It’s been neat, and I’ve been blessed for every year and every win.”
Former Gaither baseball player now hitting coach for Rays
Published July 4, 2023
Brady North is one of two Gaither High grads coaching the Tampa Bay Rays. But North is quickly establishing himself as a valuable member of the team’s coaching staff, just finishing up his second season with the Rays. North rose the ranks in the Rays’ organization after joining the team in 2019, with the rookie-level team, and then the COVID-canceled 2020 season with the Charlotte Single-A team. The Rays added North to the coaching staff in late 2021, leaning on his keen hitting eye and his ability, because he’s bilingual, to talk freely with the team’s many Latino players.
“You can never get complacent with things,” North told The Laker/Lutz News in June. “You always have something to learn, no matter what environment it is. … I’m just trying to be the best assistant hitting coach I can be and learn everything I can.”
Local centenarians going strong
Published May 24 and July 19, 2023
Roy Caldwood, of New Tampa, and LaVerne Pace, of Lutz, aren’t about to stop their activities because of their age. Both are over 100, and they’re still going strong. Caldwood, a World War II Buffalo Soldier, can be found a few times a week at AdventHealth Wellness Center in
Wesley Chapel, where he works with a trainer and puts others half his age to shame. Pace is the same way, but she’s over at Jazzercise in Lutz, where she attends classes several times a week with close friends.
“I don’t feel 100 — I’ve never been 100 before, so I don’t know what it’s supposed to feel like!” Caldwood told The Laker/Lutz News in May. “But I’m going to keep working out and hopefully I’ll reach 101.”
“Oh yeah, I’m going to keep coming, probably until I drop dead here at Jazzercise (laughs). I’ve been very blessed with good health and family and friends,” Pace told The Laker/Lutz News in July. “I really never thought I’d reach 100 and I don’t know anyone else who has!”
McGough wins MVP, back-to-back titles
Published June 14, 2023
Alex McGough doesn’t mind being a local celebrity and he’s been one in his hometown — the Lutz/Wesley Chapel/Tampa area. But now, he is more than a local celebrity. He’s a back-to-back USFL Champion for the Birmingham Stallions, guiding that team as quarterback. He’s also an MVP, after a monster season in which McGough led the Stallions to an 8-2 record, completing a league-high 67.4% of his passes for 2,104 yards, with 20 passing touchdowns and only five interceptions, plus he rushed for 403 yards and five scores. McGough also had 307 total yards and four touchdowns in Birmingham’s championship win, which got him a brand-new contract with the Green Bay Packers. While he didn’t make the roster, he is on the team’s practice squad.
“That’s why they call it glory days, right?” McGough told The Laker/Lutz News in May. “The goal was always to make it to the NFL and play at the highest level. I’m just trying to win games, like I always have either back home or here in Birmingham.”
Steinbrenner track athlete excels single handedly
Published March 8, 2023
Dani Kanas only needs one arm. She’s proved it her whole life, especially as a one-armed javelin thrower that has competed at the top levels, including abroad. The now Warriors graduate was selected as one of 30 athletes to represent Team USA in the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports (IWAS) World Games. On that world stage in November 2022, in Portugal, Kanas brought home three medals — a gold in javelin, a silver in discus and a bronze in shot put. Now, Kanas is on the University of Alabama Para Track and Field Team.
“My goal is to show others — who may have a similar story to mine, who may be in a similar situation as me — that they shouldn’t let their disability stop them,” she told The Laker/Lutz News in February. … I want them to know that this community (of adaptive athletes) exists and they shouldn’t just assume they can’t do it because they’re not able-bodied.”
Published December 27, 2023