Columns & Blogs

Commentary | Youth football players from Manatee County on national title team

Two local players, Brandon Luckett and Kyle Thoma, captured a national championship as part of the Central Florida FBU all-star team (eighth-graders) on Saturday. Luckett, a wide receiver/defensive back, attends the Imagine School at Lakewood Ranch, and Thoma, a kicker, attends Nolan Middle.

Thoma booted a perfect 3-for-3 extra points in Florida’s 21-20 victory over Oregon in the semifinals. The title game was against the team from Dallas, representing Texas.

The locals won 25-14 to win the inaugural Football University national title.

Little League merger

For years, Little League baseball at G.T. Bray has been under three charters: Manatee American, Manatee Central and Manatee National.

That’s no longer the case, as Little League International approved a merger between two charters (American and Central) because of an increase in the median age and reduction of families with young children, according to a news release.

The new charter is called Manatee West.

Currently, registration for the 2012 spring season is underway for players aged 4-16 years old. Online registration can be found at, and on-site registration at Bray’s baseball complex is scheduled for Friday (6-8 p.m.) and Saturday (10 a.m.-2 p.m.). Birth certificates and three proofs of residency (driver’s license, utility bills, voter registration card, etc.) are required. Opening Day is Feb. 25, with practices beginning in late January. Contact MWLL Information Officer Peggy Willrodt at 798-3771 for more information.

Hoops for youths

Manatee County Parks and Recreation Department has announced tentative dates for the upcoming 2012 Spring Youth Basketball Leagues for children ages 5-17 years old.

A three-week camp is scheduled to start Feb. 6, with team practices beginning on March 5 and games on March 17. The registration fee is $65 per child and includes a team jersey. Registration at G.T. Bray Park’s Recreation Center is ongoing and is slated to run until Jan. 31. There is also off-site registration at Dick’s Sporting Goods on 14th Street West from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Jan. 14 and 21. Contact Ashley D’Arpino at 74205923 ext. 6062 for more information.

Premier events

Lakewood Ranch’s Premier Sports Campus is the host venue for two upcoming events: a youth soccer event featuring 50 teams all vying for a shot at the USSSA National Championships in June is being conducted on Saturday and Sunday. Game times run from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., with parking and admission free. The public is also invited to watch practices next week for the women’s Olympic team, which is training at the East Manatee complex for several days. Times for the practices have not been released yet.

Running like a river

The 11th Manatee River Run 5-miler, a Florida State championship race, was conducted New Year’s Eve and attracted 750 runners from various countries including Germany, Switzerland and Canada.

Bayshore High’s Canaan Meester-Kitterman, the Herald’s boys cross-country athlete of the year this past fall, clocked in at 28:52 to grab the overall title. He was six seconds better than St. Petersburg’s Sam Chandler. The 16-year-old Chandler snagged second in the male division, while 15-year-old Hunter McCann of Treasure Island turned in a time of 29:18.

The female winner was St. Petersburg’s Ali Crabb. The 22-year-old finished at 29:31. North Port’s Heather Butcher was fifth overall and second in the female division with a time of 29:38.

Thirty-three-year old Marie Domin, of Mount Pleasant, S.C., placed third in the female division with a time of 32:08.

DAWGS days of winter

The Bradenton BEACH DAWGS, a U-10 travel baseball team, played its first doubleheader of the season against the Bloomingdale Bullsharks on Saturday. Bradenton split the twinbill, losing 9-6 and winning the second game 13-12. Leading hitters for the BEACH DAWGS were: Andrew Procter (2-for-5, two RBIs, two runs), A.J. Thompson (2-for-5, double, three runs, three stolen bases), Logan O’Leary (2-for-3, RBI, walk, three stolen bases), Spencer Stephens (2-for-4, two RBIs) and Jake Platko (three RBIs). Lucas Hartman pitched two innings and allowed one earned run while striking out four batters to pick up the win in Game 2.

Jason Dill, sports reporter, can be reached at 745-7017 or via email at