Top teams to take part in the nation’s No.1 high school tournament
After a one-year layoff, the excitement is building as the 48th Culligan City of Palms Classic field is set for the tournament, which will be held December 17 – December 22 at Suncoast Credit Union Arena on the campus of Florida SouthWestern State College.
A star-studded field will once again take to the hardwood in Fort Myers for the holiday event, led by defending tournament and national champion Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.). 2019 City of Palms runner-up IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) will also make a return trip to Fort Myers hoping to walk away with this year’s title.
Montverde will make their way to Fort Myers led by ESPN’s No. 2, No. 6 and No. 13 ranked seniors, Jalen Duren, Dariq Whitehead and Skyy Clark respectively. IMG will counter with ESPN’s No. 14 and No. 25 ranked seniors Jaden Bradley and Eric Dailey, Jr. Combined, Montverde and IMG have 10 of ESPN’s top 100 seniors.
The stellar lineup of teams doesn’t end there. Four-time USA Today National Coach of the Year, Steve Smith, brings the fabled Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) program back to the City of Palms for the second time in four years. They’re led by one of the top juniors in the nation, 6’3” Caleb Foster.
Georgia Class 7A state champion Milton High School (Alpharetta, Ga.) makes its first trip to the City of Palms coming off a run to the quarterfinals of the GEICO Nationals on the Suncoast Credit Union Arena court back in April. Milton’s basketball program has been on the rise for several years and nearly shocked IMG at GEICO.
In addition to those outstanding teams, the main bracket also features Ballard (Louisville, Ky.), Berkmar (Lilburn, Ga.), Buchtel (Akron, Ohio), Calvary Christian (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), Charlotte (Punta Gorda, Fla.), Dr. Phillips (Orlando, Fla.), Gill St. Bernard’s (Gladstone, N.J.), Greensboro Day (Greensboro, N.C.), Isidore Newman (New Orleans, La.), Orlando Christian Prep (Orlando, Fla.), St. John’s (Washington, D.C.) and Whitney Young (Chicago, Ill.)
The always exciting Signature Series features several powerhouse teams as well, led by Arizona Compass Prep School (Chandler, Ariz.). Compass Prep reached the semis of the GEICO Nationals last season and put a scare into No. 1 Montverde twice. Combine Academy (Lincolnton, N.C.) makes its way to the City of Palms after being put on the high school hoops map with an upset of Oak Hill Academy in the 2019-20 opener.
A year later, the Goats followed that up with a No. 15 national finish (MaxPreps). The tournament will bring an international flair to Fort Myers with the presence of Crestwood Preparatory out of Toronto, Canada. This program has been a fixture on the Canadian basketball scene for years and they return much of their squad from last season. Victory Rock Prep (Bradenton, Fla.) is coming off an SIAA state championship and it too returns much of its team from last season.
Expect a lot of buzz around the Sunshine Series this year, thanks to 6’6” senior Hansel Emmanuel of Life Christian Academy (Kissimmee), a Dominican player who
moved to Orlando less than a year ago and has gone viral for his flashy dunks, passes and shooting against top talent, despite losing one arm to an accident when he was six years old. Miami Norland (Miami), Tampa Catholic (Tampa), and Choctawhatchee (Fort Walton Beach, Fla.) round out the four-team bracket.
And the Hugh Thimlar Tribute continues this year honoring the legendary college and high school coach. This year’s games will feature Christopher Columbus (Miami, Fla.) against hometown Southwest Florida Christian (Fort Myers, Fla.). As coach of then-Edison Junior College, Thimlar created a junior college national powerhouse over 26 seasons. Overall, he won 604 games over 40 seasons as a head coach in Indiana and Florida. He also founded the City of Palms tournament, then called the News-Press Christmas Basketball Tournament, in 1973, with six teams competing at Edison in a regional tournament.
Tickets for this year’s tournament went on sale on Friday, July 16. Visit cityofpalmsclassic.com to buy your tickets and for tournament information.
The return of high school football brings a sense of normalcy back to student-athletes whose spring and summer seasons were cut short because of COVID-19.
Unfortunately, the return of high school football also means the return of serious injuries, including potentially life-altering concussions.
Despite safety enhancements to helmet designs and rulebook changes banning helmet-to-helmet tackles, football still has the highest concussion rate among 20 high school sports monitored by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
A generation ago, coaches, parents and teammates might have encouraged athletes to get back on their feet and on the field after taking a big hit. Now, we all know better. Concussions are traumatic brain injuries, and just like any serious injury, it takes time – and often rehabilitation – to recover.
The fall sports season offers another opportunity to educate coaches, parents and athletes about concussions and brain injuries. Below are responses to some frequently asked questions:
What is a concussion?
According to the CDC, “A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth.”
This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells.
How do you know if you have a concussion?
Common symptoms of a concussion include a headache, nausea, vomiting, balance problems, dizziness, double vision, sensitivity to light or noise, confusion and a general feeling of sluggishness.
Should you see a doctor?
Yes. In fact, many state athletic associations now require medical clearance before an athlete can return to competition. Doctors may elect to perform a neurological exam, cognitive testing and imaging tests. The six-step “Return to Play Progression” used in many states requires a minimum of 24 hours to complete each step, and the form must be signed by a physician, coach, school administrator and the student before he or she can compete again.
What if I have a concussion?
For the first few days, rest is the best medicine. This includes both physical and mental rest. Studying for exams, using a computer, playing video games and even watching TV can make symptoms worse because those stimuli prevent a brain from recovering.
Are there long-term impacts?
Generally, most sports-related concussions are considered “mild.” Symptoms can last a few days to a few weeks, gradually disappearing with adequate rest. Individuals who have experienced one concussion, however, are more likely to experience additional concussions, increasing the probability of long-term consequences like headaches, forgetfulness, mood swings, difficulty sleeping and dizziness. That’s why it is so important to let the brain fully heal before returning to competition.
How can physical therapy help?
After an initial period of rest, physical therapists can design strategies to improve brain functionality, reduce discomfort and alleviate painful symptoms.
Physical therapy, occupational therapy, massage therapy, specific stretches and eye motion exercises are among the most common activities that help concussion patients recover.
What is baseline testing?
Researchers and physical therapists can conduct baseline testing to assess how an athlete’s brain performs in a healthy state. Therapists will measure balance, reaction time and additional areas. Later, if that individual is believed to have experienced a concussion, a trained medical professional can compare baseline results with subsequent findings.
Football teaches the importance of teamwork, builds camaraderie among the student body, fosters competition between rival schools and brings families together on Friday nights. Understanding the risks and proper steps following a concussion can set the tone for a safe season.
About the Author
Dr. . Chris Mulvey, PT, is president for company clinics at FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers, which has 405 locations in 45 states. For more information, please visit FYZICAL.com.
Tad O’Had, associate head coach of the Florida Everblades, supports fighters on and off the ice.
Being involved in hockey as a player and as a youth, junior and pro coach of the Everblades, O’Had knows the value of fighting and persevering.
“I spend every day
with men trained to battle on the ice,” he said. “I have found
that you never know the true meaning of strength until the moment you
are met with adversity. Strength has very little to do with the
weight you move or the time you score. Strength is endured through
the ability to show up and battle.”
Four years ago,
O’Had faced a fight of his own when he was diagnosed with Chronic
Myeloid Leukemia, an uncommon type of blood-cell cancer that
originates in the bone marrow. Receiving that news totally changed
“I realized how fortunate I am, and I worked on growing and persevering,” he said, noting he is now in remission. “I’m thankful for the progress I have made, the people that have helped me get here and that I’m on the road to good health.”
For his birthday in
February, he decided to give back to the community that has supported
partnership between the Florida Everblades and Golisano Children’s
Hospital of Southwest Florida that includes the annual teddy bear
toss to collect stuffed animals for children at the hospital, O’Had
and team members met some of the children and their families and
heard their struggles.
Children’s Hospital is a place that embodies what it means to be
strong,” he said. “Seeing these kids in pain was heartbreaking,
but also very humbling. Their perseverance is inspiring.”
To honor these courageous kids and to encourage donations to the hospital, he decided to challenge himself physically the day before his 39th birthday. Months in advance, he planned and trained to row, bike and run 39 miles and complete 3,900 weight repetitions. He sent emails to 39 people who have influenced him throughout his life, thanking them and asking them to support the hospital.
challenge, O’Had checked in with Everblades trainer Chris Emrick to
be accountable and make sure he didn’t get injured.
“To say I was
exhausted is an understatement, but no matter how hard that day was
for me, it pales in comparison to what those kids are going through,”
he said. “When you look at a child who is hurting or receiving
lifesaving care, and they’re doing it with a smile on their face,
it’s truly inspiring. I find a great deal of strength in that.”
generosity of friends, family and players, he raised well over his
target of $3,900 for Golisano Children’s Hospital.
think the biggest thing we need to do as members of the community is
to show compassion and provide service to one another,” he said.
“We may never understand the struggles that others are undergoing
around us, but by supporting organizations like Golisano Children’s
Hospital, we are impacting the youth of the community and possibly
saving a life. If you can help at any level, you should. It’s the
right thing to do.”
O’Had credits his
mother Cheryl Gnojek with his drive to help others. He’s not sure
what he’ll be doing for his birthday next year, but he’s grateful
for the opportunity to support Golisano Children’s Hospital this
To learn how you can
help, visit LeeHealthFoundation.org/Golisano.
Sprinter who made iconic protest will address local high schoolers
His silent gesture shook the sports world 50 years ago. On his visit to Southwest Florida, he’ll seek to inspire others to do the same.
Civil rights pioneer and Olympic gold medalist Tommie Smith will be the keynote speaker for the 2019 Rotary of Fort Myers South Scholar-Athlete Awards banquet on Wednesday, May 16. The ceremony and announcement of scholarship recipients will run from 7-9 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Fort Myers on 13051 Bell Tower Drive.
Smith and fellow Olympian John Carlos raised their black-gloved fists on the medal stand after the 200-meter dash at the 1968 Games in Mexico City, as captured by photographer John Dominis in one of the most iconic images of the 20th century. Smith and Carlos were jeered, vilified, ejected from the stadium and banned from international competition, effectively ending their careers as track athletes.
But to many, they became heroes for their protest against inequality, poverty, lynchings and a lack of regard for human rights amid the tumult of 1968. They received honorary doctorates from San Jose State University, where they competed collegiately, and won the Arthur Ashe Courage Award from ESPN.
“We are honored and privileged to have Dr. Smith speak at our program,” said Tracie Bagans, president of the Rotary Club of Fort Myers South. “Our goal is to challenge the outstanding high school students who have been selected for this event to excel as scholars, as athletes and as citizens. Dr. Smith embodies those virtues and more.”
The 33rd annual event recognizes top athletes from area high schools based on athletic and academic achievement, along with strength of character. Eighteen Lee County-area high schools each nominated one top male and one top female varsity letter winner who demonstrate leadership characteristics, have GPAs of 3.2 or higher, and are involved in school and community activities. A selection committee of Rotary South members interviews nominees and selects the winners.
Rotary Club of Fort Myers South has more than 140 members who are among the 1.3 million Rotarians worldwide. Service Above Self is the motto of Rotary International, which has contributed more than $1.2 billion and tens of thousands of volunteer hours toward polio eradication in addition to projects such as water quality, world peace and literacy. Rotary Club of Fort Myers South meetings are held each Monday at noon at the Crowne Plaza Fort Myers on 13051 Bell Tower Drive. For more information, visit www.rotarysouth.org.
Signal III will perform a concert for charity on Friday, March 29th, from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at The Ranch in Fort Myers. Located at 2158 Colonial Blvd, event proceeds will benefit the North Fort Myers High School football program.
The event will feature silent and live auctions, 50/50 raffle, food and a cash bar. The cost is $20 per person when purchased in advance and $25 at the door. VIP tickets are available for purchase for parties of six at $600, or ten at $1,000 and include two drink tickets per person and a snack platter for the table.
A local band, Signal III is comprised of five Cape Coral Police officers and a Lee County Sheriff’s deputy with a combined 157 years of community service in law enforcement.
With a music style described as eclectic rock, the band’s name originated from the law enforcement radio code for a hit and run. All members donate their time and performances to charity.
Tickets can be purchased in advance at The Ranch, Anytime Fitness in Cape Coral located at 2708 Santa Barbara Blvd. or 2354 Surfside Blvd., or GoFan.co/app/events/50901.
The City of Cape Coral Parks and Recreation Department is pleased to announce the launch of a new youth volleyball program in September 2018. Open to children aged 10-17, the league will run from September 5 through the end of November. Practices and games will be held on Wednesday nights from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Oasis Middle School Gym.
The program will be broken down into two age divisions – one division for ages 10-13 and the other for ages 14-17. And, while each game will result in a winning and losing team, this program is being established for participants to learn the fundamentals of volleyball and, above all, to have fun.
“The City of Cape Coral is moving forward with new programs based on the needs assessment completed by the citizens of Cape Coral,” said Kerry Runyon, Cape Coral Parks and Recreation Director. “Volleyball has not been offered as a program in Cape Coral and has been a priority need for this city. We welcome the opportunity to work with Oasis Middle School for the development and partnership of this new youth volleyball program.”
Registration for the City of Cape Coral’s Youth Volleyball program will begin on Monday, July 30, 2018. The cost is $60 per child and includes a shirt. For more information about Youth Volleyball and/or registration details, visit www.CapeParks.com, call (239) 242-3486, or stop by the Parks & Recreation Athletic Office located on the second floor of Cape Coral City Hall at 1015 Cultural Park Blvd.