The first weekend of Sunshine State Games events with multiple sports in action begins Friday, May 19 with five sports being held in three different Florida communities through Sunday, May 21.
The Sunshine State Games Spring Festival in Manatee County features three sports, Canoe/Kayak – Marathon Racing, Figure Skating and Rugby. The Sunshine State Games Lacrosse Championships will be played in Parkland and the Sunshine State Games Basketball Championships hit the floor in Alachua County. Over 2,000 athletes are expected to compete in the three locations statewide this weekend.
‘This weekend’s events are just a small sample of the wide variety of sports the Sunshine State Games offers to Florida amateur athletes,” said Stephen Rodriguez, the Sr. Vice President of the Florida Sports Foundation, “While Figure Skating and Basketball are traditional Olympic sports, there’s also the opportunity for folks to play Rugby and Lacrosse, two very popular sports with strong youth followings. Then there’s a nature-based sport with Canoe/Kayak Marathon races.”
Now in its 31st year, SSG Figure Skating continues to be a big draw in the Sunshine State. Over 300 skaters have registered to compete on two rinks over the course of three days at the Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex.
Several of the skaters have traveled to national and international competitions since their last visit to the Sunshine State Games and return for the start of the 2017 season in Manatee County. 19-year old William Hubbart, of Ruskin, participated in the 2016 Junior Grand Prix in Slovenia and 16-year old Sarah Rose, of Geneva was a pairs skating participant in the Junior Grand Prix in Saransk, Russia.
The pairs skating couple of Elli Kopma, of Ellenton, and Kissimmee’s Jonah Barrett took second place in the Junior Pairs competition at the 2017 Eastern Sectional Championships in Indian Trail, NC and were also second place finishers in the same category at the 2017 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Kansas City.
Haley Scott, an 11-year old from Port Orange, won the gold medal in the Juvenile Girls competition at the 2017 South Atlantic Regionals Championships in Ashburn, Virginia and was the third place finisher in the same event at the 2017 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
The field of 300 figure skaters features athletes ranging from nine young ladies in the 5 and under age group to a 60+ year old professional photographer. Visit www.flasports.com/state_game/figure-skating/ for a full weekend figure skating schedule.
Besides Figure Skating at the Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex, Rugby teams from Stuart, Estero, Tampa, St. Petersburg and Miami will square off on Rugby 7’s competition to at the G.T. Bray Recreation Center in Bradenton. Canoe/Kayak Marathon Racers will be in the water at Fort Hamer Park in Parrish for 12-mile races in a variety of boats.
The SSG Lacrosse Spring Championships has a total of 115 teams playing in age groups beginning at 9 and under through high school divisions at Pine Trails Park in Parkland. The Boys and Girls High School Divisions make up almost half of the 115 teams with 23 boys high school teams registered and 21 girls high school teams on the field.
Returning to defend its Girl’s High School Championship from the 2016 Sunshine State Games is the Florida Select 2020/21 team, from Delray Beach. For schedule information visit www.sunshinelax.com/schedule.
The Sunshine State Games Basketball Championships return to Alachua County for the eighth consecutive year with a total of 45 boy’s and girl’s teams ranging in ages 11-18 (32 boys teams, 13 girls teams). Tip off for teams, beginning at 5th Grade through High School, is set for Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m.. with games being played until 8:00 p.m. The Championship Sunday, when 11 champions will be crowned, games begin at 9:00 a.m. and conclude at 5:00 p.m.
Competition venues include the Abundant Grace Gymnasium, Buchholz High School, Gainesville High School, Oak Hall School, Santa Fe High School and St. Francis Catholic Academy. A full schedule of games for the weekend can be found at www.flasports.com/state_game/basketball/.
Recent Sunshine State Games Basketball players who have advanced to the collegiate level include Gainesville’s Mitchell Wilbekin, who just completed his junior season at Wake Forest, where he has led the team free throw percentage in each of his three years while making 66 starts. Another Gainesville native, Dennis Mavin, completed his senior season in 2017 at Florida International University and was named the FIU Athletics Male Athlete of the Year after leading Conference USA in scoring with an average of 17.2 points per game.
Gainesville HS alum Ike Smith completed his freshman season at Georgia Southern averaging 11.7 points per game in 2016-17 and recent Buchholz graduate Jonathan Horodyski will begin his freshman season at Queens University of Charlotte in the 2017-18 season.
The Sunshine State Games are an annual program of the Florida Sports Foundation, the state’s lead sports promotion and development organization of the State of Florida. This weekend’s events are being held in conjunction with the Bradenton Area CVB, Gainesville Sports Commission and Broward County Sports Development.
Registration is available for sports of the Sunshine State Games Treasure Coast and Palm Beach County Festivals to be held June 16-18. Registration is also available for the SSG Canoe/Kayak Sprints and Rowing Championships, Table Tennis Championships, Water Polo Championships and Badminton Championships.
Sunshine State Games Schedule for May 19-21
Friday, May 19
Figure Skating – Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex, 8:00 a.m.
Lacrosse – Pine Trails Park, Parkland, 6:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 20
Lacrosse – Pine Trails Park, Parkland, 8:00 a.m.
Basketball – Alachua County locations (Abundant Grace Gymnasium, Buchholz High School, Gainesville High School, Oak Hall School, Santa Fe High School and St. Francis Catholic Academy), 8:45 a.m.
Figure Skating – Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex, 9:00 a.m.
Canoe/Kayak – Marathon – Fort Hamer Rowing Facility, Parrish, 9:30 a.m.
Rugby – G.T. Bray Recreation Center, Bradenton, 10:30 a.m.
Sunday, May 21
Lacrosse – Pine Trails Park, Parkland, 8:00 a.m.
Basketball – Alachua County locations (Abundant Grace Gymnasium, Buchholz High School, Gainesville High School, Oak Hall School, Santa Fe High School and St. Francis Catholic Academy), 8:30 a.m.
Figure Skating – Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex, 8:45 a.m.