The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 13 No. 26 - April 10, 2013


Sports spring into action

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Scott Dell | Submitted
Brenna Heckler takes her stance and readies herself
duringt tee-ball tryouts.

Spring is in the air on the Island after a cold rainy March and sports stars are blossoming at the Anna Maria Island Community Center. Five sports leagues formed their teams for the start of the upcoming spring sports season.

In youth sports the Center formed sixteen teams. Youth basketball will fast-break into action with 12 teams. Three teams in the 8-to-ten-year-old age group, five teams in the 11-to-13-year-old age group and four teams in the 14-to-seventeen-year-old age group.

Youth baseball will homer its way into the hearts of baseball fans with four teams. The little sluggers are broken up into two tee-ball teams of 5-7- year-olds and also two teams of coach pitching 8-11-year-olds.

The season begins on Wednesday, April 17, at 6:30 with the kickoff the season dinner banquet. All players who attend will get their uniforms and schedules at this time. It’s a longstanding tradition for starting off both seasons, and everyone is invited to attend and show their support.

In adult sports the Center formed 17 teams. Adult soccer will kick–off the action this season with eight teams. Competition will be exciting on Thursday nights as the adult co-ed teams battle it out all season for the Center Soccer Cup.

Adult basketball will slam dunk its way onto the hardwood with six teams this season. The Center’s gym will be rocking on Tuesday nights as the co-ed teams battle it out for the coveted championship.

Adult co-ed kickball is back by popular demand and ready to thump its way into the season with three teams. The Wednesday night league is full of energy and not just a kid’s playground pastime anymore. Kickball is a national craze and gaining popularity amongst Island adults. More than 30 players will take to the Center field and try to help their team take home the kickball championship.

Community Center Athletic Director Troy Shonk said, “Spring Sports are starting up and you can feel the excitement in the air. We have some really great coaches who are stepping up for our youth leagues and that makes me very happy.

“We are offering five different leagues between youth and adults this season and that is a record. That is a testament to our staff, coaches, parents and players. We are obviously putting out a product that our community loves and that is a great feeling!”

For more information on how you and your family can get involved or for a schedule of activities, go to or call Troy Shonk at 941-778-1908, ext. 9205.


Bragging or informing?

I had a passionate, wonderful agent who knocked herself out, didn’t get paid a penny, and copied me on every e-mail she sent to “big boy” publishers. They all turned me down because I wasn’t already a celeb or published author, and as she put it, “All publishers care about is how many friends you have on Facebook and how many tweets a day you tweet.”

As my book, “Eat Vegan on $4 a Day” came out 2 years ago this month, I hired someone to help me get started, and then I took over posting daily. My Facebook book page has almost 21,000 followers.

Because of the success of my page, others have hired me as an administrator to create posts for them. As a TV reporter for decades, my natural curiosity and ability to connect with “viewers” has translated well to having an engaged following.

A simple, “What’s for dinner?” gets a response of 100 or more answers in an hour. I know I should be blogging more. I know I should send out my newsletter more. But when you get that kind of a response, it’s hard to tear yourself away from the “live” interaction of Facebook.

Some social media gurus say controversial posts are “good for business.” People keep coming back. Some days though, I think life is too short, controversy too stressful, and I’m way beyond the nitpicking that often erupts on what you’d think would be inane friendly posts to drink more water. One Facebook post I love is “You don’t have to attend every fight you get invited to.” I’d way rather be sailing with my hubby here in Paradise.

At some point, I started posting photos of my placing in my age group at 5K races. I didn’t start racing consistently until 2006. As I crossed finish lines, I thought of relatives who couldn’t see my improved health. My mom, aunt and both sisters who had breast cancer. Most adults who had heart disease and diabetes. The more age group awards I got, the more I realized how treasured good health can be, and how much work it takes to say no to donuts at a finish line. High school girls I had the pleasure of coaching would say, “Wow, you’re the age of my grandma!” So I started posting every age group award to inspire others that genes don’t determine destiny.

Facebook has “trolls” who post just to be nasty. On my page, occasionally someone will say, “I just ate a steak.” Followers of any page expect the administrator to jump in immediately as I do, delete the post, ban the user and post reminders that trolls aren’t tolerated.

Yesterday, when I posted my picture of my award, it included me standing with a very sweet friend, a younger, long-time, runner who had won her age group too. She has won twice as many 5K awards as me. I know there are many 5K runners faster than me (though they probably can’t match my shorter sprint times). Other runners I don’t know suggested my post was bragging.

I tried to explain, I post awards because so many people say on my Amazon review or elsewhere, or tell me directly, “You can’t get enough protein, calories, (fill-in-the-blank) on a vegan diet.” Every time I place in a race, it is the best proof I can think of that says, “Oh yes you can.”

Some Amazon reviews are mean-spirited untruths. The have less to do with my book and more about how much money can be lost by the meat and dairy industries if people like me keep showing how well a vegan diet works.

Since most doctors don’t get a single nutrition class in medical school, I often say, eating vegan is the best-kept secret.

As a Bradenton Herald article “Keeping Up With The Kids” about me said, “To appreciate her accomplishments, you have to understand how far she has come.” I have three daughters. They and everyone else get many messages that contradict what I’ve done. That’s why I say, “I’m the broccoli rep, because who else is?” I’ll keep posting for them, because so many well-funded messages say otherwise.

You can follow Island resident Ellen Jaffe Jones on her Facebook page and keep up with her just released book:,"Eat Vegan on $4 a Day," or her website: She is also a nationally certified personal trainer and running coach. For training in a gym or private hire, contact Ellen at or 941-704-1025.

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