The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 14 No. 6 - December 4, 2013


Island winter sports season begins

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story


Last year during the winter season Carolyn Cullinan, of
the Eat Here Packers team, races down the sideline
for the touchdown during AMICC NFL Flag Football action.

The Anna Maria Island Community Center’s winter sports season is about to begin. Children and adults will have many opportunities to stay active and keep up their fitness levels in the New Year.

The Community Center runs the only NFL Flag Football program in the area. Last year’s winter season saw the largest amount of teams ever. Thirty-seven teams were formed last year making the Flag Football sports season the largest on the Island.

Tryouts and drafts for all the leagues begin this week. For parity of the leagues and formation of teams, tryouts are mandatory. Everyone who signs up though will be placed on a team and tryouts are to determine ability of each player only. Because of successful fundraising, the Center’s motto is that no child or adult is ever turned away from a program for an inability to pay. Scholarships are available for those that qualify.

Each team has a volunteer coach and a sponsor. The coach’s child can play in the league for free as a thank you for his/her volunteer time and effort. Anyone wanting to make a difference in the life of a child by coaching or sponsoring should contact Athletic Director Matt Ray immediately.

The Center is offering three new sports opportunities this winter to go along with the regular season. They are as follows:

Christmas Indoor Soccer Tourney

The very popular Christmas Indoor Soccer Christmas Tournament is back after a two-year break. Ray is bringing back the holiday tradition to the Center by popular demand.

The double elimination tournament will run from Dec. 12 through 19. Game times will vary in the weekday evenings and all day on the Saturday and Sunday, depending upon the age groups.

In the youth divisions, male and female age groups will be divided separately as under 8, under 10, under 14 and under 16. Playing age determination is based upon the player’s age on July 31, 2013.

In the adult division, it will be a co-ed format. Every team will have to have at least one female on the floor at all times. The adult division has not existed in over 10 years, but it has been brought back due to the popular demand.

Only the first six teams entered in each division will be accepted. Sign up as a team only before Dec. 9 and with a minimum of six players and a maximum of 12 per team. A mandatory coaches meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 11, at 7 p.m.

For more information and how you can get involved, call Ray at 778-1908, ext. 9205, or e-mail him at You can also visit the website at

Youth After school Tennis

The Anna Maria Island Community Center is offering a new winter after school tennis lesson program. The program will start on Jan. 8, 2014, and run in eight-week cycles. This program will be made possible by KidServe, the USTA and the Center.

The program all starts with a USTA free tennis play day after school on Dec. 11 from 3:30 to 5:30. This will give children of all levels the opportunity to tryout the tennis program and have fun.

The first eight-week session begins on Jan. 8, 2014. Ages 8-under will play from 3:30 to 4 and ages 9 and up will play from 4 to 5 every Monday and Wednesday.

For those children that need transportation, the kids can join the Center’s TLC Afterschool program, be picked up at the Anna Maria Elementary School, fed a snack, get homework help and then go to the tennis program. Scholarships are available for those that qualify.

For more information and how you can get involved, call Jennifer Griffith at the Community Center, 778-1908, ext. 9204, or e-mail her at

Adult Co-Ed Tennis

The Community Center, for the first time, is offering a new tennis league for adults as part of its winter season. Male and female tennis players ages 18 and up can sign up as individuals or together as doubles partners.

Games will be played on Tuesday nights at the Center’s courts. Age divisions are 18 to 39 years old and also 40 years and over. The league will consist of the first 36 players to register. Match play will begin the second week of January and run eight to 10 weeks concluding with a championship tournament.

For more information and how you can get involved, call Ray at 778-1908, ext. 9205, or e-mail him at You can also visit and register on-line at

Youth and Adult Co-ed NFL Flag Football

Youth NFL co-ed flag football tryouts begin this week for ages 5 to 17 to select the teams. All registered players before tryouts will be placed on a team, but tryouts are mandatory to help in the parity of the league.

Tryout times are as follows:

5-7-year-olds: Monday, Dec. 2, at 6 p.m.

8-10-year-olds: Wednesday, Dec. 4, at 6 p.m.

11-13-year-olds: Monday, Dec. 2, at 7:30 p.m

14-17-year-olds: Friday, Dec. 6, at 7 p.m.

Adult co-ed flag football tryouts begin this week for ages 18 and up and also the new league for ages 30 and up. All registered players before tryouts will be placed on a team, but tryouts are mandatory to help in the parity of the league if you have never participated in the league before.

The 18 & up league will play on Wednesday nights and occasional Thursday’s. The 30 & up league will play on Thursday nights. Games will begin on Jan. 8, 2014.

Tryout times are as follows:

18 & up: Thursday, Dec. 5, at 7 p.m.

30 & up: Thursday, Dec. 5, at 7 p.m.

For more information and how you can get involved, call Ray at 778-1908, ext. 9205, or e-mail him at You can also visit and register on-line at

Adult Co-ed Volleyball

Indoor adult co-ed volleyball is back for its winter season at the Community Center. Last summer season the Center formed five teams. The league can accommodate up to eight teams and will play on Tuesday nights.

The league is for all ages and all abilities. It is a fun recreational co-ed league for 18 years old and up. For more information and how you can get involved, call Ray at 778-1908, ext. 9205, or e-mail him at You can also visit and register on-line at

Tryout times are as follows:

18 & up: Tuesday, Dec. 3, at 7 p.m.



A tale of two cities

The media love to have fun with Florida and all of it’s crazy characters. But that’s what happens when you get to be large and popular. There will be the share of nut cases and all kinds of folks the media loves to squander headlines on.

Last week, I had no column because I was busy at the Miami Book Fair. I was very lucky to be the only author my publisher invited to attend. It was the second year in a row, and it was every bit as fun as last year. This year, the weather was definitely more cantankerous. The first two days were almost a wash-out with wind and downpours rivaling any tropical storm.

At one point, the wind was so strong that the tents provided by the book fair, which were grounded in concrete blocks, almost blew over. The water didn’t drain fast enough and the two employers from my publisher, as well as I, were standing in ankle-deep water.

But the show must go on, and by day three, we sold many more books than last year. I sold more than 100 books and topped my numbers from last year. Considering that most other book titles sold only about five at the max, it really was an excellent event for me. The flipside is that I had to pay my expenses, as most authors do these days. Fortunately, I got to stay with my best friend from high school who lives in Miami. She lives on Brickell Key.

When I was a TV reporter in Miami in 1980, I lived in a leaky-9 story condo, (since replaced with a mega-highrise condo building) in Coconut Grove that overlooked Brickell Key. As I ran the running path on Brickell Key, I saw a photo of the same view I had back in 1980, which at the time was just a spoil island with nothing on it but dirt.

My friend lives on the 10th floor of a 30-story condo building. Since she rents, I joined her as she looked at other condo units in some of the other 10 or so buildings that take up every inch of the island. She has a gorgeous view out her window. She has her bed right against the window so that she can fall asleep looking at the breath-taking Miami skyline. I did that too.

My husband, Clarence and I reminisce with great nostalgia for our days in Miami. But how the child has grown. I found myself wanting to stay longer, yet as we drove down Biscayne Boulevard, I thought that Miami is more like New York City these days. Reluctantly, I got in the car and drove back to our paradise on the other side of the state.

As I drove down Alligator Alley in the dark, I thought how lucky we are to live in a state that has such diversity. Miami really is like going to another country. In some ways, it felt so much more alive and vibrant. The demographics are quite different. I was aware of how many more younger people I saw.

I also remembered how difficult it was to run on the sand there. And how much easier it is to do my almost daily runs on the level, ideally compact sand on Anna Maria.

This morning I got to run the Sheriff’s Activities League half marathon (13.1 miles) in Sarasota. I placed fifth in my age group (the 49th 5K or longer race I’ve placed in since 2006 just on plants). My first half marathon placement. If I lived in larger cities, placing in my age group as often as I have may not be as easy. At my age, it can often be just about showing up.

Running in the mist and dealing with a painful ankle as I experiment with shoes and orthotics to help my aging body deal with miles of hard asphalt, I didn’t achieve any records.

I ran remembering the words of the “Running Journal” magazine publisher that I write for: that currently being seventh in the U.S. in my age group in the 1,500 meters, after getting there from county and state competitions, means that it is rare for someone with my sprint times to have ever finished a marathon. Love our state. Gotta run!

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.

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper