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Community sports | Two-time figure skating coach of the year gets another nomination

The first time Jim Peterson was awarded the Professional Skaters Association's Developmental Coach of the Year it was a surprise. As a coach in Florida, Peterson wasn't thought to be a major player in the world of figure skating. It's a winter sport and that means it's more popular up north.

But suddenly he had a name. At the time he was just a solo coach working out of Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex. And with the award came heightened attention and interest in the Southwest Florida Figuring Skating Club. He needed some help for a program that would feature two Olympic pairs in 2010.

He brought in Lyndon Johnston and Alison Smith, who has since left the school, and they won the award for the second straight year. Now, after a four-year hiatus, Peterson, Johnston and third-year coach Amanda Evora, one of those 2010 Olympians, are up for consideration again. "It really feels great to have that national recognition to bring a little more spotlight to our program," Peterson said. "The workload got so much bigger."

The Southwest Florida Figure Skating Club now draws from across the nation and even other countries. This year the program had a pair of national champions, including its first ever in singles.

The SWFFSC has always focused on pairs -- this year it had gold, silver and bronze medalists and nationals - partly because it wasn't quite as competitive and easier to gain a reputation for. As the program has grown, though, it has been able to draw new coaches who place a greater emphasis on individuals. The club now uses intensive video training to help its skaters excel.

The team environment that the SWFFSC has taken on has been good for Peterson. And that success has in turn been good for the growth of one of Florida's premier skating clubs. "It's basically like

a baseball team," Peterson said. "I'm the manager and I sort of just allocate workouts and make the final decisions on things. I can't do everything."

NCAA golf championships

On Friday, two weeks of top-flight collegiate golf will settle in at The Concession Golf Club.

First, the NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championships will spend six days determining its national championship from a field that includes top seeds University of South Carolina, Baylor University, University of Southern California and defending national champion Duke University.

After one day off at The Concession, the NCAA Division I Men's Golf Championships will get underway on May 29 and conclude on June 3. The men's field includes University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, University of Oklahoma, University of Texas at Austin, University of Alabama at Birmingham and host University of South Florida. University of Alabama, the winner of the past two national championships, missed out on the finals. Tickets can be purchased at NCAA.com.

David Wilson, prep sports reporter, can be reached at 745-7057 or via email at dwilson@bradenton.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DBWilson2.

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