FWC Hunter Safety Courses Offered In Escambia, Santa Rosa Counties

January 29, 2020

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is offering free hunter safety internet-completion courses in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties in February. Hunter safety courses are designed to help students become safe, responsible and knowledgeable hunters and learn about conservation.

Students who have taken the online course and wish to complete the classroom portion must bring the online-completion report with them.

All firearms, ammunition and materials are provided free of charge. Students should bring a pen or pencil and paper. An adult must accompany children younger than 16 at all times.

Anyone born on or after June 1, 1975, must pass an approved hunter safety course and have a hunting license to hunt alone (unsupervised). The FWC course satisfies hunter-safety training requirements for all other states and Canadian provinces.

The locations and times of the online completion course are:

Escambia County

February 12 (6 to 10 p.m.) & February 29 (7 to 10 a.m.)
Molino Community Center
6450 Highway 95A in Molino

February 26 (6 to 10 p.m.) & February 29 (7 to 10 a.m.)
Langley Bell 4-H Center
3730 Stefani Road in Cantonment

Santa Rosa County

February 5 (6 to 10 p.m.) & February 29 (7 to 10 a.m.)
Jay Community Center
5259 Booker Lane in Jay

February 19 (7 to 10 a.m.) & February 29 (7 to 10 a.m.)
Santa Rosa County Extension Office
6263 Dogwood Drive in Milton

Those interested in attending a course can register online and obtain information about future hunter safety classes at MyFWC.com/HunterSafety or by calling the FWC’s regional office in Panama City at (850) 265-3676.

Northview’s Garrick Davis Inks With Northwestern Red Raiders

January 28, 2020

Northview High School’s Garrick Davis has signed a letter of intent to continue his football career at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, next fall.

Davis is a 6′3″, 260-pound offensive lineman who completed a standout, two-year career with the Northview Chiefs football team. Davis earned all-Northwest Florida honors after he helped pave the way for the top rushing offense in the state, 24th nationally, as a senior. He earned first team all-region and first team all-Tri-City honors.

“We are thrilled to have Garrick commit to our Red Raider football team,” stated Northwestern Head Coach Matt McCarty. “He is a big, physical lineman who has experienced great success as a run blocker. Garrick is a tough player who we are happy to have join our o-line group.”

Davis plans to major in Biology/Health Professions at Northwestern. He is the son of Kevin and April.

Photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Northview Girls Weightlifting Places At Districts, Advances To Regionals

January 25, 2020

Northview High School’s girls weightlifting team placed at districts Friday at Baker. They advance to the regional meet on January 31, also at Baker.

Team members are (pictured, L-R) De’janique Lowery, Jayla Barron, Caitlin Gibbon, Elianna Morales, Naudia Carach and Taylor McMinn.

Photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Cantonment Ballpark Won’t Have Organized Ball This Spring

January 21, 2020

“Play ball!” won’t be echoing through the Cantonment Ballpark on an Opening Day this year. There were be no league organized youth baseball or softball this spring at the Cantonment Ballpark, but county officials say they are working to make sure the park won’t be totally silent this spring.

The Cantonment Youth Sports Association recently announced they won’t be playing “due to unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances” that were not explained in brief social media announcement. The league told the county the decision was made due to a lack of participation and not enough players to field the teams necessary.

“The ballpark is a great asset, and we are still going to make it available to the community,” Escambia County Parks and Recreation Director Mike Rhodes told NorthEscambia.com. He said the park is available for team practices, travel leagues and tournaments.

Rhodes is urging Cantonment area parents to sign their children up for tee ball, baseball and softball at another county park near Cantonment. Registrations are underway at Northeast Pensacola (NEP), Molino BallparkNorthwest Escambia (NWE) and other county parks. For more information, visit each ballpark’s website or call Escambia Parks and Recreation at (850) 475-5220.

Rhodes said work is underway to make sure organized youth ball returns to the Cantonment Ballpark in the future.

Pictured: Opening Day 2019 last March at the Cantonment Ballpark. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.

Tate Varsity Cheerleaders Take Regionals, Advance To State Finals

January 18, 2020

The Tate High School varsity cheerleaders won their third consecutive FHSAA Region 1 championship Friday night. This year, they competed in the Medium Varsity division at Oakleaf High School in Orange Park.

With the win, the Tate cheerleaders advance to the finals at the FHSAA state competition January 31-February 1 in Gainesville.

Last season, the Tate varsity cheerleaders won the state championship and placed fifth in the nation.

Pictured are (front, L-R) coaches and seniors Morgan White (coach), Madelyn Ray, Trista King, Kensley Foley, Shelby Fleming (captain), Bailey Carter (captain), Kyndal Milsted, Abigail Manoso, Keaden Martin, Annie Wiggins (assistant coach), (back, L-R) Briana Ragan, Alana Polk, Emily McNair, Kyndell Ammons, Erin Johnson, Morgan Warrington, Ashlyn NeSmith, Angelena Tamoria, Hagyn Helton, Ashlie Houdashelt, Paige McKinney, Emma Romero and Landry Bellard. Photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Registration Underway At Molino Ballpark, Northwest Escambia

January 18, 2020

Molino Ballpark

Molino Ballpark spring registration is underway though next Saturday online only.

Register for tee ball, baseball and softball through 11:59 .m. on January 25 at www.molinoballpark.com. Further information and costs can be found on the website.

Northwest Escambia

Registration is underway from Northwest Escambia tee ball, baseball and softball. Registration is open online at www.nwebaseball.com through January 31. Additional information is available on the website.

In-person registration will also be held from 9 a.m. until noon on January 25 and February 1 at the Bradberry Park Fieldhouse.

Photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Blue Wahoos Add NAS Pensacola Memorial Patch To Uniforms

January 17, 2020

The Pensacola Blue Wahoos will take the field in 2020 with their city over their hearts.

The team announced on Thursday that the Blue Wahoos will wear “We Have The Watch-NAS Pensacola” patches on their uniforms in 2020 to honor the victims of the tragic shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola on December 6th, 2019, and the brave military members, police officers, and first responders who protect the citizens of Pensacola.

“The brave military members at Naval Air Station Pensacola keep our city and our nation safe, and it’s an honor for us to pay tribute to the victims of this tragic event and to the strength of the city of Pensacola as we collectively recover as a community,” team president Jonathan Griffith said.

The patches, designed by Marcus Pointe Baptist Church Media Director Robbie Harvey and pressed and embroidered by Wings & Things Monogramming on South Navy Boulevard, will be worn over the heart, directly above the Blue Wahoos logo on the team’s home uniforms.

The same patches are worn on the uniforms of local military members at Naval Air Station Pensacola and first responders across Pensacola.

Century Heat Youth Basketball Opens Season With Win

January 11, 2020

The Century Heat youth basketball league opened their season Thursday night with a sold 25-6 win over the Pelicans.

Minnesota Twins Announce 2020 Pensacola Blue Wahoos Coaching Staff

January 11, 2020

The Minnesota Twins announced their Double-A minor league coaching staff assignments for the 2020 season on Friday, bringing a new-look staff to Pensacola with a familiar face at the helm. 2019 Blue Wahoos manager Ramon Borrego will return to lead the Blue Wahoos in 2020 after taking the team to the Southern League playoffs with a 76-63 finish last season.

Borrego will be surrounded by an almost entirely new support staff in 2020. Ryan Smith will join the Blue Wahoos from the Twins level A affiliate, the Cedar Rapids Kernels, to serve as hitting coach. Pensacola will once again employ two pitching coaches with both Luis Ramirez and Nat Ballenberg joining the Blue Wahoos from High-A Fort Myers. Former Quinnipiac baseball assistant coach Joe Mangiameli will serve as a coach for Pensacola. Travis Koon returns as Pensacola’s strength and conditioning coach while Chris McNeely, formerly of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, becomes the team’s athletic trainer.

Ramon Borrego has coached in the Twins organization for 15 seasons, including 11 as a manager. After reaching Triple-A in a seven-season playing career with the Twins, Borrego became a coach in his native Venezuela for four seasons with the Twins affiliate in the Venezuelan Summer League. In 2009, he was promoted to manager of the Twins Dominican Summer League team before moving up to manage the Gulf Coast League (Rookie) Twins from 2010 through 2017. In 2018, he was promoted to High-A, leading the Fort Myers Miracle to the Florida State League title. In his first season at the Double-A level in 2019, he took the Blue Wahoos to the Southern League playoffs and graduated eight players from the team’s roster to the Major Leagues.

Ryan Smith joins the Blue Wahoos as hitting coach from the Cedar Rapids Kernels, the Twins A-affiliate. With Smith coaching hitters in 2019, the Kernels finished second in the Midwest League in home runs and qualified for the playoffs with a 78-62 record. He played collegiately at the College of Central Florida and Valdosta State University and spent three seasons as a coach at Central Florida before joining the Twins organization in 2019.

A pair of pitching coaches move up from High-A Fort Myers to Pensacola in 2019: Luis Ramirez and Nat Ballenberg.

Ramirez spent four seasons as a pitching coach with the Twins rookie level affiliate Elizabethton before being promoted to Fort Myers in 2019. Under his tutelage, the Fort Myers pitching staff posted a 3.11 team ERA during the season, second best in the Florida State League and led the league with 1,188 strikeouts. Prior to his coaching career, he played professionally for 14 seasons in the United States, Venezuela, Columbia, and Taiwan.

Ballenberg joined the Twins during the 2019 season, assisting the Fort Myers coaching staff with performance evaluation and training to enhance player development. He spent nine seasons as a coach at Haverford College before joining the Twins organization. He holds a degree in economics from Haverford College and a Masters in Sports Leadership from Northeastern University.

Mangiameli enters his first season of coaching professionally in 2020 with the Blue Wahoos after spending 2019 with Quinnipiac University baseball and the three previous seasons with Eastern Connecticut State University. A 2016 graduate from Southern New Hampshire University with a degree in Sport Management, Mangiameli played collegiately for the SNHU Penman.

The Blue Wahoos training staff will consist of strength coach Travis Koon, a returnee from the 2019 staff, and athletic trainer Chris McNeely, who joins the Twins organization following four seasons as a coach with the Los Angeles Dodgers minor league system.

Argos For The Win: UWF Athletics Top 10 Moments Of The Decade

January 9, 2020

The lobby of the UWF Field House was remodeled early in 2019 to enhance presentation for the Argos growing treasure chest of athletics awards.

Looking back, the timing was perfect.

With the football team’s national title trophy now the latest, gleaming part of the display, UWF rings in a new year and new decade Wednesday on heels of its greatest past decade of athletics in school history.

From 2011 through 2019, the Argos won five NCAA national championships in four sports, along with four teams finishing national runners-up in various other years.

The Argos surpassed the century mark for Gulf South Conference championships across all sports. They had athletes win national awards for player/athlete of year and had coaches reach rare milestones for career wins.

This is truly the best of times in Argos’ athletics. The UWF brand has furthered its national profile in the NCAA, but most importantly, the Argos have made a major impact in the Pensacola area with awareness and support.

What better way to honor success than a Top 10 list of greatest achievements in the past 10 years? It was not an easy selection. And there are many others worthy of mention.

But here goes.

10. Volleyball twice hosted NCAA D-2 Championships – In addition to winning seven GSC volleyball titles during this decade, including the latest in 2019, plus reaching the NCAA tournament all 10 seasons, the UWF volleyball program under Melissa Wolter hosted the NCAA Championship tournament in 2012 and 2017.

It gave the Argos a chance to twice showcase the sport’s national stage in the Pensacola community. This season was Wolter’s 17th at UWF and 20th overall. She has been part of the coaching staff for USA Volleyball, the NCAA D-2 Women’s Volleyball National Committee and has taken the Argos to the NCAA Tournament in 14 consecutive seasons

9.  Women’s Swimming Program Launched, Champions Crowned – In 2013, UWF added its eighth women’s sport when the swimming and diving team began its inaugural season. It didn’t take long to make an impact.

The Argos finished No. 23 nationally in their first season, climbing to a pair of sixth-place NCAA finishes in 2016 and 2017.  During the program’s first six seasons, the Argos have honored a national swimmer of the year, Theresa Michalak (2017), who won five D-2 individual event titles in her career and two-time, national diver of the year, Monica Amaral (2016, 17), who swept the 1-meter and 3-meter diving titles.

8. Men’s Golf Has NCAA Champion – Chandler Blanchet created his special legacy in UWF golf program history by rallying from a three-shot deficit on the final three holes to win the 2017 NCAA Division II individual championship. He has gone on to build a solid start to his professional career, playing on the PGA Tours in Canada and Latin America the last two seasons while earning conditional status for the 2020 Korn Ferry Tour.

He joined former UWF player Orjan Larsen (the 1998 D-2 NCAA champion) in winning the Jack Nicklaus National Player of the Year Award and the Arnold Palmer Award as medalist in the national championship tournament. Both players were mentored by long-time UWF coach Steve Fell, who has led UWF to a pair of D-2 national team championships and won national coach of the year three times in his 23 seasons.

The following season, UWF finished as 2018 NCAA D-2 national runner-up. In 2017, 2019 the team finished tied for third in the national tournament.

7. Men’s Basketball Has Historic Season – In his third season as UWF coach, Jeff Burkhamer led the Argos to their greatest heights. They reached the 2018 NCAA D-2 Tournament for the first time in school history, following a school-record 28-4 season.

The Argos cracked the national top 10 in the coaches poll for the first time in school history en route to winning their first GSC Tournament title. Though falling against Barry University in the first round NCAA South Regional, the breakthrough season brought large crowds to the UWF Field House and increased awareness in the community.

6. Softball’s Special Year – Under first-year coach Ashliegh McLean in 2019, the Argos produced their second-most wins as an NCAA-member program and second trip in three seasons to the Women’s College World Series. The Argos were ranked No. 1 nationally during four weeks of the regular-season and finished No. 5 in the final coaches poll.

The team’s 54-11 record was surpassed only by a 2005 team that won 60 games. The Argos won the GSC regular-season title, the GSC Tournament title and two NCAA regional titles enroute to reaching the national stage in Denver, Colo.

5. Women’s Basketball Reaches Elite Eight – In 2017, the Argos produced their greatest season in school history with a 28-7 record, including 18-4 in conference play and first-ever GSC regular-season title, plus the first-ever trip to the national quarterfinals.

In D-2, the final eight teams reach the national tournament stage and UWF battled No. 2 ranked California Baptist all the way, before losing 77-69. The game in Columbus, Ohio occurred during the height of March Madness and was shown by Pensacola area sports-theme restaurants.

4. UWF Men’s Tennis Gets Third National Title – After winning back-to-back championships in 2004 and 2005, the Argos produced the trifecta in 2014 with a 29-0 record and 5-3 win against Hawaii-Pacific in the national title match. They added a fourth three years later with a 32-1 slate in 2017.

In his 21 seasons, coach Derrick Racine has taken the Argos to the final four an astonishing 11 times. His teams have included four NCAA champions in singles, including Bruno Savi in 2013 and two doubles teams winning national titles, including Alex Peyrot-Pedro Dumont in 2016.

3. UWF Women’s Soccer Back-To-Back Title Appearances – In 2012, UWF capped an undefeated season (22-0-1) with a 1-0 victory against University of California-San Diego in the NCAA Division II national championship game.

Chelsea Palmer, the most decorated women’s soccer player in UWF history, scored the goal in the 76th minute. Palmer also scored the game-winner in the national semifinal. She was named the national player of the year and this year was inducted into the UWF Athletics Hall of Fame.

In 2013, UWF advanced to the national title game again, finishing runner up after a 2-0 loss to Grand Valley State. During the 2019 season, UWF’s long-time coach Joe Bartlinski attained his 500th career win. It’s been quite a decade for this program.

2. Baseball Team Wins 2011 D-2 College World Series – Three years after beloved coach Jim Spooner passed away after battling leukemia, his coaching prodigy, Mike Jeffcoat, took the Argos to the mountaintop.

They won their first NCAA region championship in dramatic fashion at Jim Spooner Field, then rolled through the CWS bracket in their first-ever appearance to win the national title. The Argos won a school-record 52 games that season, shattering the previous best of 43, which also happened under Jeffcoat’s guidance in 2007.

Beyond baseball, however, the win elevated UWF’s entire athletic profile in the Pensacola community and set the stage for what followed in succeeding years.

1. Football Team Wins Historic National Title – An easy choice. This was historic in NCAA football history across all divisions. The riveting, edge-of-seat, 48-40 triumph Dec. 21 against Minnesota State in the Division II title game in McKinney, Texas completed an improbable, dizzying odyssey in just four seasons of existence.

UWF went from a start-up program in 2016 — born a year earlier from practices on a well-used intramural field — to twice playing on ESPN broadcast for a national championship. It’s never happened before in college football history.

The 2017 breakthrough run and title game loss was topped in 2019 by playoff wins over unbeaten, No. 1, No. 2, No. 4 and No. 6 ranked teams, all on the road. Incredible barely describes what this football program has attained in four years.

HONORABLE MENTION
* UWF women’s golfer Paloma Vaccaro finished second in the 2018 NCAA D-2 Women’s Golf Championship tournament, the highest finish in school history.
* The UWF women’s tennis team produced a program-best 31-4 record in 2018 and reached the national championship match before losing to No. 1 ranked Barry University in the final.

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