On a day that we pay tribute to fathers, there are a number of dads in the area who deserve a little shout out.
It would be impossible to mention everyone, but these fathers were successful in their respective sport and have done everything within their power to help their kids excel:
A standout basketball player at Southeast and Manatee Community College, where he is a Hall of Fame inductee, Stan and his son, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, have done a lot for kids in the area and annually run a free basketball camp. DRC came out of Lakewood Ranch unwanted and the only scholarship he received was set up by his father at Tennessee State. Quite a move, since it enabled DRC to turn himself into an NFL first round pick and Pro Bowler who is currently earning a handsome paycheck with the New York Giants as their top cornerback. Father knows best is the message here.
Tony was a standout football player at Bayshore despite injuries that prevented him from reaching his full potential. Still, he played at Vanderbilt and was good enough to get invited to the New York Giants preseason camp. Tony has stayed active in his sons' lives (Chris and
Cameron), coaching them in youth league sports, and it certainly paid off. Cameron is an elite shortstop who signed with Coastal Carolina and Chris is a talented running back at Wake Forest looking forward to 2015 after redshirting last season. Both excel in the classroom.
Tracy quarterbacked Manatee to its first official state title in 1983, played defensive back at Florida State and then had a successful career with the Tampa Storm of the Arena Football League. He came back home to coach Manatee and his son, Ace, helping the receiver earn a scholarship to South Carolina and become a fourth-round draft pick by Jacksonville. What could a receiver want more in a dad who was a DB and went through the recruiting wars himself? Good job, Tracey.
Dave played basketball in hoops hotbed Indiana and then at Valparaiso. He coached his son, Ryan, through his youth league days when he struggled and was there all the way through Ryan's electrifying senior year -- one that ended with a scholarship to national power Louisville. Ryan has often said he wouldn't be the person he is today (especially in basketball) if not for his dad, a feeling echoed by all of these kids when talking about their fathers.
The former Mr. Indiana Basketball player and Academic All-American at Kansas, who put some time in the NBA, has quite the resume when it comes to turning his kids into elite athletes. His daughter, Jessica, and son, D.J., are the basketball career scoring leaders at Bradenton Christian. His youngest son, Daniel, was all-state his senior year and Jennifer was a heralded tennis player.
Now commissioner of the Canadian Basketball League, Magley spent 11 years coaching basketball at BCS to help his sons and daughter during their high school years. His dedication to being a father is nothing but awesome.
The son of military parents, Willie Clark was a prep football phenom in California, where he set a state record with 17 yards per carry in 1988. He played mostly running back/receiver at Notre Dame and played five years in the NFL as a defensive back after being selected in the third round (1994). He did not miss a beat in raising his son Tre. The 6-5 junior guard was a standout on the hardwood and in the classroom, averaging 19 points and 8 rebounds while compiling a 4.0 GPA. He is a bright, hard working and nice kid who has no ego and is like his dad in so many ways.
This dad is a legend in Michigan Prep basketball. He averaged a state record 44.4 ppg for Fennville High in 1965 and was known for his ability to dunk a basketball with two hands despite standing only 5-7. They had to move Fennville's games to college arenas his senior year because so many people wanted to see him play. He was instrumental in helping his son, Mick, become the career scoring leader at Cardinal Mooney, and currently helps local players work on their shooting.
No Father's Day tribute in these parts could go by without mentioning Ed Dick. He and his wife of 61 years ,Joanne, adopted eight children and provided shelter for hundreds. He helped break down racial barriers when he got the University of Miami to sign Lincoln High's Ray Bellamy in 1967, enabling him to become the first African-American to play major college football for a school below the Mason-Dixon Line. It opened up the doors for many of the great African-American football players from Manatee County who followed.
His daughters, Terri and Sherri, played tennis for Notre Dame after stellar careers at Saint Stephens. Vitale is most known as the father figure to hundreds of kids with his relentless drive to fight pediatric cancer. On this Father's Day, Vitale is in Memphis to receive the Liberty Bowl-St.Jude Hospital Distinguished Citizen Award for his work in raising money for pediatric cancer research. As part of the award he will receive $25,000 for his annual cancer fundraising drive. "I am extremely honored, but most happy because of the donation. Every penny we can raise is so important," Vitale said.
And to all those dads out there: Have A Happy Father's Day