Sunday, August 11, 2019

Boyer’s Hike for a Cause (by Donny Rieber & 321sportscast)

Boyer’s Hike for a Cause

Former Florida Tech softball pitcher Rachel (Pence) Boyer pitched her last game at Florida Tech on April 14, 2017. In her four years at the school, she had a positive impact both in the circle and in the locker room.

Not much has changed in the two years since. Boyer is still making a difference in her hometown of Jacksonville, with her involvement in a non-profit organization called Connections to Hope. The organization was founded by Donna Fenchel, and Noelle Marx. Fenchel is a franchise owner of Orangetheory Fitness, where Boyer is employed. 

About a year ago, Fenchel heard about a hike that would raise money for human trafficking and decided to get involved. In November, she enlisted Boyer and two others to do the hike with her, and Boyer was all in.

Human trafficking is not something that gets a lot of attention, and this hike was meant to change that, which is why Boyer decided to get involved. “I think it’s something nobody wants to think about,” said Boyer. “It is really horrific, and no one wants to think of it happening, especially in their own town. Unfortunately, it is happening, and it is something that can’t be ignored.”
The group made their way to Washington and hiked the Cascade Mountains, which extend northward for more than 700 miles from Lassen Peak, in northern California, through Oregon and Washington to the Fraser River in southern British Columbia, Canada. The hike was sponsored by Freedom Hikers. The motto is “Do what I love to fight what I hate.”  Boyer’s hike was one of a handful that they put on in different areas of the country. “They chose Washington,” she said. “They just pick areas where they can rally a group of people.” “Doing what we love, with the fitness aspect of the hike, to fight what we hate,” Boyer continued. “We hiked 23-24 miles and it was an amazing thing to be part of.” When asked if there was an adrenaline rush with this hike that reminded her of her days at Florida Tech, Boyer said there was a correlation. “The day before I felt like I was preparing for game day,” she said. “I was nervous and excited. During the hike, my feet were falling asleep, and there were times we didn’t want to continue. At Florida Tech, I focused on the next pitch I threw. During the hike, all you can focus on is the next step you take.” 

A total of $7,642.22 has been raised by the four hikers involved, and they hope to raise $10,000 by September 7. If you would like to donate to this cause, please follow this link. Boyer had a stellar career at Florida Tech. A career that included a perfect game in her debut as a Panther on February 1, 2014, against Fort Valley State, and a no-hitter back on April 8, 2016, against Eckerd. She took some time to reflect on her career, now that she’s been away for a couple of years. When asked her thoughts about the perfect game, she said, “I remember telling coach Val Silvestrini before the game that I would do my best.” “I just remember thinking about being a freshman and it was a one pitch at a time mentality,” she said. “I didn’t even realize I had a perfect game until it was over, and someone told me.” Anyone who knows Rachel knows that she is not someone who was a fan of the spotlight or making a big deal out of her accomplishments. That hasn’t changed, either.
“I didn’t think of myself as a standout pitcher, but now that I look back at some of the stats, and some of the cool things that happened, I think we accomplished some good things.” She said. “I think we set a nice precedent.”

Boyer said she enjoyed watching Melanie Murphy, who like Boyer was considered the Panthers ace over the last couple seasons. Florida Tech made it to the regional tournament this season, something Boyer was part of with her 2015 squad. “It was a lot of fun for us, and I got excited when they got there this year,” she said. “I got even more excited when they got to host.” Fans will likely see Boyer when the softball program hosts the Florida Tech Alumni Game. Stay tuned to 321 Sportscast for more information when it becomes available. -by Donny Rieber & 321sportscast

All photos courtesy of Rachel Boyer on Facebook and used with permission.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Eleutiza Ready to Turn Things Around at EFSC (by Donny Rieber & 321sportscast)

Eleutiza Ready to Turn Things Around at EFSC

The Eastern Florida State volleyball program has not enjoyed a lot of success on the court in the last handful of years. It is now up to Carmelo 'Melito' Eleutiza to change that. Eleutiza was hired in March of this year, taking over for Andrea Rasmussen who was 69-97, in her six years at the helm.

After winning 10 national championships in the open division of club volleyball, and spending time at Division II Bluefield State College in West Virginia, Eleutiza spent 2017 and 2018 as a volunteer assistant at the University of Central Florida, learning under head coach Todd Dagenais. “He helped me prepare for this opportunity,” Eleutiza said of Dagenais. “He told me what to expect, and what I have to do with this program to make it competitive.” 

Eleutiza got his start in coaching at the age of 13, helping his mom coach at the club level in Puerto Rico. They coached together for many years, and he eventually worked his way up to coach a semi-pro league, with a team called Toa Baja, leading that team to a national title in 1998. 
“My mom taught me so much,” Eleutiza said. “Without her, I would not be here.” 
With all those accomplishments under his belt, it was time for Eleutiza to be a head coach. “I have done so much at the club level, and wanted to be challenged,” he said. “I liked the opportunity to turn this program around. This was a great opportunity to be close to family, and friends, and I am surrounded by great people here (at EFSC).” 

The first thing Eleutiza did after being hired, was to meet with the freshmen to let them know that he was here to help them, and our goal was to turn the program around.  
“I kept the seven players from last year, and I believe they are great kids,” he said. “I have a daughter around the same age, and I don't want to take scholarships away. I want to prove that we can win with the girls we have and make this program competitive.” That goes hand in hand with what the coach considers his biggest hurdle to overcome with this Eastern Florida State College team.  “I would say the biggest challenge is making people believe we can be competitive at the next level,” he said. “Because of past history, I don't think there is a lot of respect for the program. I understand that we need to improve our talent, and our record, in order for us to earn that respect, and that comes with our performance on the court.” 

Part of that improvement has to do with recruiting, and Eleutiza said there were some challenges in recruiting as a new coach, but he enjoyed the process.  “It's tougher when the kids are looking for DI or DII opportunities,” he said. “Luckily, there is a big market of players at this level. I would say it's been a challenge, but it's been good. We finished our 2019 recruiting a few weeks ago, so we are now focused on 2020 and 2021.” 

Now the focus is to improve the teams 5-17 record last season. “One of my biggest things was earning my players' respect,” Eleutiza said. “The players know my knowledge and background in the sport, they need guidance and need to learn what it takes to win a match. I want a program that can be successful on the court, and in the classroom too.” 

When he is not coaching, Eleutiza enjoys spending time with his wife and two kids, as well as friends, and family. He will welcome a third child into the family in December. In his free time, he spends time playing video games, including MLB The Show, and NBA 2K. 

The team officially starts practice on August 1, and their schedule kicks off with the Jamboree Preseason Tournament on August 17. They will play an exhibition match against Florida Tech on Tuesday, August 20 at 7:00 p.m., at the Clemente Center in Melbourne. The Titans full schedule can be found here.  (by Donny Rieber & 321sportscast)

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Space Coast “Frozen” Hurricanes skate to gold at Nationals (by Sue DeWerff & 321sportscast)

Space Coast “Frozen” Hurricanes skate to gold at Nationals (by Sue DeWerff & 321sportscast)

It’s been a great summer on ice for the Space Coast Theatre on Ice “Frozen” Hurricanes.
Last month, skaters from the Rockledge Iceplex were among 1,300 participants representing 82 teams at the US Figure Skating Theater on Ice competition, held in Birmingham, Alabama. Program director and choreographer, Katie McGovern Nyman, who along with assistant choreographer, Brielle Francis, and coach, Cammi Acosta, led three teams to medals at the 12 th annual event. Gold medal performances by the intermediate level team in both the choreograph exercise and free-skate that topped 22 teams throughout the nation was the highlight of the trip. “It’s always a unique experience to be a part of this event,” said Nyman, who has been the director of the Theater on Ice program since 2003. 
Both their African-themed choreograph exercise and the Haunted Mansion free-skate won top honors and melted the hearts of the judges who evaluated skaters on technical merit with emphasis on originality, costuming, artistry and musicality. “I chose extracts from the Broadway Version of the Lion King for the African themed skate. The main track; “He lives in you”, was so inspirational allowing the skaters to really get into it,” Nyman told 321 Sportscast. “It was both entertaining and fun. I used a great drum beat section within the score for a percussion Africa style dance block.” Katie Zendehrouh, 13, of Rockledge, one of the standouts in the Haunted Mansion, free-skate number that drew standing ovations from the audience, played the role of Madame Leota, with a prop that featured a “head in the table.” It was the idea and creation of Page Zendehrouh, her Mom. “I have an amazing team of Moms who shared my vision for this number and assisted in designing props and costumes”, Nyman said. Katie, who began skating four years ago, said she puts in at least three hours, five days a week. She hopes to be part of the Novice team next season. The win was a second back-to-back victory for the skaters who took gold at the preliminary level last year. They will move up to Novice in 2020. The junior team, who skated to “Cats”, scored a strong 79.88 overall points, pewter medal for fourth place. The Space Coast Hurricanes adult team, who were disguised as Disney villains, earned an overall 49.29 points to bring home a pewter medal as well. Nyman said she hopes to take a Special Olympics team, as well as a new preliminary team to the competition next year. 

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Hall of Fame Coach Jamie Howell Drives EFSC Golf Program (by Donnie Rieber & 321Sportscast)

Hall of Fame Coach Jamie Howell Drives EFSC Golf Program

With many coaching accolades and team accomplishments throughout his now 18 years as the golf coach at Eastern Florida State College, coach Jamie Howell got a well-deserved individual accomplishment back in May, when he was inducted into the National Junior College Athletic Association Hall Of Fame.  “It's hard to wrap my arms around it. I am very humbled,” Howell said. “I just think it was a bit early because my work is not done yet.” 

Howell was told of his selection to the Hall of Fame in 2018, but because Eastern Florida State hosted the national tournament in 2019, Howell was asked if he would like to wait to have the ceremony in his backyard, so his family and friends could be a part of it. As you would expect, he was on board with that. 

Howell played professional golf both in Europe and the United States. He had PGA status from 1983-1986. After spending a year teaching the game in Merritt Island, he came to Eastern Florida State as an assistant in 1994, and after eight seasons, was elevated to the head coaching position. 
“I don't think anyone can forecast that you're going to hold a job like this for 18 years,” Howell said. “But I enjoy it as much now as I did that first year. I plan on coaching as long as the school will have me.” 

It is easy to see why Howell was bestowed the Hall of Fame honor. He has led the team to 51 tournament wins, and the Titans have reached the NJCAA National Tournament in all 17 of Howell's seasons finishing as high second place, and third place twice.The team has won the NJCAA District 4 title eight times, and he has been named coach of the year seven times. 
The last national title Eastern Florida State won came back in 1991. That is something Howell is focused on changing, but his main focus has always been the kids. 
 “Our first coach won seven (national titles),” he said. “That's hard to believe when you are chasing one, but it is important to make sure the kids absorb what I am able to pass on. There is always room for improvement, but I know our teams are always going to be competitive and if they are game and competitive in every tournament, that's what's important.”

The 2019-2020 season is not far off, and Howell is already hard at work preparing. He will have six returning players on the men's side and a couple of new faces as well.  
The women's program is heading into just their fourth year and had four players on the squad during the 2018-2019 season. He will have three returning players on the team and expects to have five overall.  “Obviously, we are always trying to recruit more players,” Howell said. “We have to find players that are willing to put the work in, and also are strong academically.” 
Despite having a small team last season, the women were able to finish sixth in the nation. They will look to improve on that in the new season. 

Talking to coach Howell was a pleasure, but it was clear early on, that he wants the focus to be on his teams, not on himself. One more thing that was evident is that he has no plans of slowing down. A huge factor in that is his love for not only what he does, but where he does it. “The culture and environment at Eastern Florida State breeds competition and it is a great place for our student-athletes to excel,” he said. “I am proud to be part of such a great school.” 

Monday, July 15, 2019

Dueling To WIn One Battle At A Time (by Sue DeWerff & 321Sportscast

(By Sue DeWerff & 321Sportscast)

For 16 year-old, Rebekah Bucur, her success in fencing—one of the oldest sports of the Olympic Games—could be her ticket to a college scholarship.
Her recent performance at the largest national competition to date held last month in Columbus, Ohio, has sparked interest from University recruitment personnel. 
Since, she has received invites for scholarship programs at both Temple University and Cleveland State. Bucur, a home schooled junior, finished among the top 25 percent of women, placing 21 st, out of 230 participants in the Division I women’s  Epee discipline, (pronounced EPP-Pay) . “I try to think about winning one bout at a time,” she said. “I just have fun, it’s something I enjoy and love a lot.” Described as a sport that requires a tremendous amount of mental concentration, as well as athletic agility, it is often compared to playing a game of chess.

Bucur, who aspires to become a nurse practitioner or a physician’s assistant, and hopes to attend medical school, told 321sportscast she plans to continue competing at major events in order to attract more attention from University coaches and scouts. To even get a qualification to be a fencer at the national level requires a lot. According to Bucur, it means winning at the regional level. To date, she has won her all of her divisional bouts throughout statewide competition. 

(from left to right: Rebekah, Coach Daniel, Naomi)
Last summer, 2018, she was the runner-up at the national event in the Division II junior women’s epee contest, having lost by just one touch. Currently a “B” rated fencer, ( the top Olympians being the majority of “A” rated athlete’s in the sport), Bucur said her goal is to attend a college where she can be a part of the women’s Epee team.  A member of the Central Florida Fencing Club, and daughter of Daniel Bucur, coach and owner of Genesis Fencing School and Club, of Viera, Rebekah began fencing at age 7. She and her sister, Naomi, 15, are now mentors and assist in training and teaching youth the fundamentals of the sport at the school. “I really enjoy working with all the kids, especially those that really want to learn the sport,” said Bucur. “Fencing is a game of precision, it’s all about timing which helps coordination skills,” said Daniel Bucur. “Our hope is to hold a few local tournaments here at the Viera Youth Recreation Center this fall,” he added. “Though many of my students compete at regional competitions throughout the state, having a local venue here to showcase our outstanding students would be great.” (by Sue DeWerff & 321Sportscast)

                  For more information about Genesis Fencing Club or private fencing lessons, visit or call 321-355-8079.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Emerenciana Twins Keep Softball Dreams Alive (by Donnie Rieber & 321sportscast)

Emerenciana Twins Keep Softball Dreams Alive

Twins Xiarysse and Shanysse Emerenciana played college softball on the same field. They played two years at Palm Beach State College, before spending the last two seasons playing softball at Florida Tech. Their college career culminated in an unforgettable season, that included a 2019 Sunshine State Conference championship, the first in school history, and a run to the Division II South Super Regionals. “This past season, we set the goal and we went for it,” said Xiarysse. “Nothing ever stopped us. 
I straight up told coach (Val Silvestrini) this was going to be a record-setting season and I was happy that at least we won the conference.” Shanysse was second on the Panthers in batting average this past season, hitting .326, had 46 hits, and led the team with an OPS of .940. She was 13-for-16 in the stolen base department. Xiarysse hit .277 with 48 hits and led Florida Tech in steals, going 38-for-41.

Reflecting back on her time at Florida Tech, some of the lessons Xiarysse took away, were invaluable and she wanted to be sure to thank Florida Tech and her coaches for the opportunity to play at Nancy Bottge Field. “This was the best coaching staff and teammates I've ever played with,” she said. “Coach Val was a good coach and taught us to trust the process. She taught us that planning things out is pretty important and so is time management.” In January, coach Silvestrini told the twins about an opportunity with a new league called the American Softball Association (ASBA) out of Mobile, Alabama in January, and they signed up for the four-team league in May. 
The draft was held June 5, 2019, and Shanysse was drafted by Performance Lab with the third pick in the 11th round. Xiarysse went undrafted, and the reality of not playing together was a real possibility. Shanysse did not want to play without her sister, but Xiarysse told her that things happen for a reason, and to pursue her dream. The following day, the coach of Performance Lab called to tell Shanysse to make sure her sister got a flight as well because he just picked her to be on the team. “It was a dream come true for us,” Xiarysse said. “We had always hoped to play together professionally but weren't sure it was going to happen. I am so glad it did.” It was a smart decision for the Performance Lab coaching staff, as through 15 games, Xiarysse is leading the team with a .423 average. She has 22 hits in 52 at-bats and has scored 11 runs. She has four steals in five attempts. Shanysse is hitting .302 with 16 hits in 53 at-bats. She too has scored 11 runs and has two home runs. She is 5-for-5 in stolen base attempts.

The ASBA season started June 16 and runs through July 30. 

The Performance Lab team is in the midst of a fundraising campaign to help with equipment and travel expenses. If you would like to donate, please click the link below. Your help is greatly appreciated. 

After the Emerenciana's wrap up the season, they will return to Florida Tech and get set to graduate in December. We wish them the best in their future endeavors.  (by Donnie Rieber & 321sportscast)

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Brevard's Presti Hopeful to become 2020 Olympian (by Sue DeWerff)

When the sport of surfing debuts at the 2020 Olympic Games in Toyoko, Japan, Brevard 17-year-old
Rachel Presti could be riding waves that would be, in her words, “a-dream- come true.” The reality is within her reach!

Presti, a Melbourne Beach resident, who hopes to qualify to represent Germany as one of 40 surfers around the world (20 men and 20 women), is ranked among the top 25 internationally on the women’s World Surf League’s QS, (qualifying series). “I’m going to have to work really hard and give it my best shot but there is definitely a chance I could qualify,” she said. Though she will have her work cut out for her, needing to place above all European women who will compete in the 2019 ISA (International Surfing Association) games in Japan this September—Presti has both the talent and mindset to make it happen. She has plenty of accolades to her credit since she began competing in the sport just eight years ago at age nine.

Her most recent, back-to-back wins at WSL (World Surf League) junior pro events in Portugal: the
Bala Beach junior pro in Espinho, and six days later, the Caparica Surf Festival junior pro at Raia de Paralso. Two weeks ago she took third at the Vic Bay Classic, a QS 1,000 contest in Western Cape, South Africa. Presti captured the first ever international title in women’s surfing for Germany last fall at Huntington Beach, California, winning the U-18 division at ISA (International Surfing 

Association) Junior World Championships. She prevailed over more than 70 competitors who represented nearly 30 countries at the annual contest. It was a feat that has ultimately propelled her to
new heights and given her huge confidence in her sport.
Currently training with several members of the German and other European teams, and her coach, Jim Hogan in South Africa, Presti told 321sportscast that riding waves and just having an opportunity to travel and explore new breaks around the world have been her favorite part of the experience. Presti was able to get approval by the ISA and WSL organizations to represent the German team, because it was her mother, Myriam Presti’s birthplace.

She officially began representing the DEU flag last September. “It would mean the world to me to simply be a part of the inaugural surfing competition in the Olympics.” Presti will head back to the states to compete in two upcoming contests in California again the end of the month, the Supergirl Pro, and the WSL Vans US Open of Surfing. “My goal is to place in the single digits here, 9th or above.” “I’m working on my flow, mixing up my maneuvers, both things that will help me to win heats going forward,” she said. She said her coach, Jim Hogan, who she has worked with for many years, training in Costa Rica, has kept her focused on the prize.
After winning her first QS in the Latin American country in Jaco back in 2018, Presti has learned that mental attitude and confidence in her surfing goes a long way. “I have a long way to go, but each day I get an opportunity to make progress. This is what surfing is all about.” (by Sue DeWerff/321sportscast)