Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

Ed Smith Stadium {photo source}

Anyone who follows baseball knows that the American League East is arguably the most competitive division in the majors. The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, with their long histories and deep pockets, garner most of the headlines, but the Tampa Bay Rays have joined them the last few years as an elite franchise. And now the Toronto Blue Jays and Sarasota’s own Baltimore Orioles, who train each spring at the newly renovated Ed Smith Stadium, have loaded up with young talent and are threatening to make the division even more difficult.

Interestingly, the spring training sites of all five teams are spread out along Florida’s gulf coast, from Dunedin to Fort Myers, meaning that even in spring training they can’t get away from each other! This week, the O’s have home games against the Houston Astros, Minnesota Twins, Philadelphia Phillies, and New York Yankees. For tickets and other information, visit their spring training site.

Ed Smith Stadium, located at 2700 12th Street, is easily reachable from Laurel Park via bike, bus, or car. You can call them at 941-954-4101 for more information.


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Found this article from the Pelican Press on Dan Giguere, who we mentioned in the last post, and the future of the Payne Park Skate Park. We at Laurel Park Management think that Payne Park as a whole and the Skate Park in particular have been extraordinary additions to downtown Sarasota. Skateboarding cuts across traditional boundaries of race and income and, if accepted and given a place, encourages our kids to do what we all hope they’ll do: play together, have fun, gain confidence. Times are tough all the way around, but wouldn’t sacrificing the Payne Park Skate Park be like stealing from our kids?

Here’s the article—

With future city funding of the skateboard facility in Payne Park up in the air, two local residents appeared at the city commission meeting on Sept. 7 to present a plan that could keep the park open.

Dan Giguere and Mike Walling told the commission they would operate the park as Sk8skool and save the city more than $16,000 a year.

A middle school teacher at Sarasota School of the Arts and Sciences, Giguere said he has seen hundreds of middle schoolers go through his program, so he knows how popular skateboarding is in Sarasota.

He added that he also knows what a positive impact skateboarding can have on a child’s life. “I’ve seen such a great improvement in the kids,” Giguere said. “We want what’s best for the youth.”

Having an after-school skateboarding program, Giguere said, can help keep students out of trouble. The park can be a safe place for them to go, he added.

Part of Sk8skool’s plan is to make membership affordable for interested skaters. Giguere suggested a sliding scale in costs for children to use the facility.

Further, the men talked of providing scholarships to low-income families out of proceeds from fundraising efforts along with allowing a child free membership at the skate park in return for 10 hours of community service.

They added that the park perhaps even could make money if were to host official skateboarding competitions.

“We can actually turn a profit if we turn it into a competitive recreational facility,” Giguere said. “[We can] also have concerts, professional demonstrations, lock-ins. … This also increases revenue and can make more kids want to skate.”

keep reading at pelicanpressonline.com


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Dan Giguere, a physical education teacher at Sarasota School of Arts & Sciences, has an innovative method of helping middle school students learn—he gives them a skateboard.

I started teaching in 2003 and had the idea of starting a school sponsored skateboard team to utilize as a motivational tool in helping those athletes that don’t play the traditional sports at the school. We started with approx. 15 students the first year and each year we have grown, now we average around 45-50 students that must maintain at least a 2.0 GPA and can’t be a discipline problem in the classroom. Three years ago I started sk8skool to expand the concept into the local school system. (source)

Dan has applied for funding through Pepsi’s Refresh Project, and if sk8skool receives enough votes he intends to pack up his students and hit the road, visiting middle schools all over Florida and helping them organize their own skateboard team. Voting ends October 31.

Sarasota School of Arts & Sciences, located at 645 Central Avenue in downtown Sarasota, has received an “A” on its annual report card from the State of Florida for the past five years. According to their mission statement, “SSA+S is a middle school that presents a ‘way of life,’ regarding educational achievement, by instilling in its students the ability to develop learning skills by instructing via many neural pathways. This teaching technique, coupled with our ‘Holistic Approach of the Total Child,’ philosophy, focused on the Development Domain Paradigm, promotes a high level of mastery of relevant concepts and Sunshine State Standards of each content area.

“Moreover, by teaching via this method, the student develops learning procedures and adopts learning acquisition tools that in turn perpetuate even more significant learning gains in the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains, not only for middle school, but subsequently for high school and post secondary institutions.”

Interesting that a school known for academic rigor has inspired a skateboarding team, and that a sport once associated with juvenile delinquents is now being used to promote scholastic achievement. If you’d like to help Coach Dan’s team realize their dream, vote for sk8skool here. For more information on SSA+S, check out their website.

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The Sarasota area has been a tennis hotbed for many years, with the Nick Bollettieri/IMG Academy just up the road and numerous pros and former pros choosing to make Sarasota their home. The Sarasota Open, held at the Longboat Key Club in a brand new $4.5 million facility, is the premier tennis event on Florida’s gulf coast. Local pros seek to defend their home turf as everybody gets tuned up for the year’s second Grand Slam event, the French Open, which immediately follows.

Residents of Laurel Park are a five-minute drive away from all the action. Or you could always enjoy the scenic half-hour bike ride out to Longboat Key, instead. Either way, the Sarasota Open is a can’t-miss event. Check out their Web site for more info.

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Enjoy a Sunday afternoon of great music and good people when the Suncoast Concert Band or Jazz Ambassadors Big Band play at Payne Park. Concerts cost five bucks, payable at the door, with refreshments provided for a dollar each. All concerts are presented in a casual atmosphere, with open seating. Two performances remain in the spring schedule: April 25th and May 9th, both at 3pm. Laurel Park Management encourages all residents to get out there and enjoy everything Payne Park has to offer.

Payne Park is directly across Washington Boulevard from Towles Court and the Northeast corner of the Laurel Park neighborhood. The park features a tree-lined half-mile walking loop, rolling hills (well, for Florida), duck ponds, tennis courts, a skate park, a community center, an amphitheater, and the Payne Park Auditorium, where all band concerts are held. The auditorium is located at 2100 Laurel Street. Find more info online here.

While Laurel Park can never be supplanted as the central park of the neighborhood that shares its name, Payne Park is nothing to sniff at. The park comes alive when the weather gets warm, and residents from Laurel Park and neighboring communities all converge to let their dogs play, their kids skateboard, or to share in a pickup game of soccer or frisbee.

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Laurel Park is a great place to live, not least because of how much there is to do within walking distance. One of many such attractions is the Sailor Circus. From their Web site :

Sailor Circus now in its sixth decade of operation has grown from a small high school gymnastics class in 1949 to the present spectacular 4 ring youth circus production known world wide as the Greatest “Little” Show on Earth. Students from the 4th through 12th grades in Sarasota and surrounding counties have an opportunity to experience the performing arts in a circus atmosphere. Our dedicated students practice 20 – 30 hours a week and are trained by volunteer coaches who are retired circus performers, sailor circus alumni and enthusiastic parents. More than 200 volunteers donating over 25,000 hours of their time each season to PAL Sailor Circus demonstrates strong community involvement.

Click here to see a timeline.

PAL Sailor Circus is a major tourist attraction for Florida’s Gulf Coast. Through the years, more than 10 thousand students have performed to more than 1 million attendees during our annual home based performances.

For more than 60 years, Sailor Circus has thrilled audiences around the globe with outstanding feats performed by students from Sarasota, Florida. More remarkable than their abilities is the fact that they are all children. As performers in America’s oldest youth circus, these children are recognized as major contributors to the circus legacy in Sarasota. PAL Sailor Circus is a non-profit organization with the goal of helping our youth develop life management skills, self-discipline and gain confidence while learning through the circus arts.

PAL Sailor Circus invites you to attend our shows and become involved with our programs through volunteer opportunities or donations.

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Major League Baseball is back in Sarasota as the Baltimore Orioles’ 2010 spring training campaign gets underway. With young studs like Adam Jones and Matt Wieters, familiar faces such as Nick Markakis and Brian Roberts, and welcome additions including Kevin Millwood, Garrett Atkins, and a returning Miguel Tejada, the Orioles look primed to cause some damage in the potent AL East. The club’s local impact, however, extends beyond the Major League camp.

Cal Ripken, the Orioles’ iconic Hall of Fame shortstop, has opened a local branch of his Cal Ripken Youth Academy at Twin Lakes Park. In a statement celebrating the move from Fort Lauderdale, Ripken said:

I am thrilled that the Orioles have found a new comprehensive Spring Training home and that Ripken Baseball will be a part of the facility in Sarasota. I have always liked the idea of the kids playing side by side with the professional ballplayers as it really enhances their experience. We are excited to partner with the Orioles and bring our youth academy model to the Sarasota community.

Laurel Park is short bike ride, drive, or bus ride from all the action.

check out orioles.com for more info

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