The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 14 No. 8 - December 18, 2013


Athletic director and assistant selected

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story


Matt Ray is the Community Center’s new athletic director

The Anna Maria Island Community Center has selected a director and assistant in the athletic department.

The athletic department is an important component of the Center’s services to the Island community. The department is quickly increasing in size and responding to the responsibilities of a very active population. Last year, for the first time ever, the athletic department formed more than 100 sports teams and also held numerous tournaments and camps.

Matt Ray has been hired as the new Community Center athletic director. After spending nearly two years as the assistant athletic director, Matt was promoted from within to take the leadership role.

Ray has his bachelor’s degree in recreation and sports management from Indiana State University. He played college basketball for Indiana University East and has a fast history and experience in athletic sports camps at Michigan University, Purdue University and Dayton University.

When interviewed Ray said, "Being the athletic director for the Community Center is a dream job. I love going to work every day and I look forward to great things in the future."

Ray Gardner has been hired on as the Community Center’s new assistant athletic director. He replaced Matt Ray when he was promoted and takes on his old responsibilities as the assistant. Gardner also will be taking on new responsibilities as the department grows.

Gardner also was hired on to be the new physical education (P. E) instructor in the afterschool TLC program and school days out camps. He will provide the recreational component to the program using his expansive range of P.E. experience and education.

Gardner has his bachelor’s degree in physical education with a minor in sports management from Bethany College. He also has an associate’s degree in business management accounting from Minnesota State University. He was a collegiate all-American in football and basketball and remained on as a student coach after eligibility.

Gardner has a deep passion for athletics and said, "I was ecstatic about the opportunity to work at the Center as a PE instructor and the athletic assistant director. To share my knowledge and experience with kids from both a coach and a player perspective is very exciting”.

To meet these two new professionals and to share your passion in athletics, visit the Community Center between 1 and 9 p.m. They have said their door is always open, and they are always open to new ideas and creating new recreational opportunities on the Island.

Making resolutions for the new year

It’s never too early to start seeing articles about New Year’s resolutions. They are already popping up all over the web. Some of the more interesting articles have been about the resolutions most likely to fail. Which are of course, the ones that you most likely make. As you might also expect, the most frequently made resolutions are about weight loss, financial control and general happiness.

I would be the last person to suggest that you not to make any New Year's resolutions, even though one article said that 30 percent of all resolutions are broken by February. But that's kind of like my experience as a financial consultant at a Wall Street firm. It really doesn't matter what the Dow Jones or any other index does.

What matters most is what is in your portfolio and how well its components perform. The scale is only specific to you or however or whatever it is you used to measure your success. Some experts say trash the scale and just look at how your clothes fit. The end of the year is just a natural time to reflect on the year past – what was accomplished and what wasn’t.

The most common resolutions – losing weight or getting fit come at the top. Quitting smoking, finding happiness and controlling debt fall somewhere behind. I don’t know about the smoking, but eating vegan can solve so many of these issues. Some recent studies show that vegans have improved mood and fewer mood swings.

I put my consumer reporting and financial services background to good use and literally wrote the book on how eating a balanced vegan diet saves money big time – not only what can be saved at the store, but by avoiding doctors and disease.

Since I’d eaten vegan for most of the past 32 years, I got tired of seeing stories on the news that said you can’t eat well on food stamps or on a budget. I set out to destroy the myth that eating vegan requires shopping at Whole Foods full time.

I love Whole Foods, but every one of the 100 recipes in my first book comes with an estimated cost based on ingredients you can find at our local Wal-Mart. When I say this in my talks around the country, I almost always hear immediate groans.

So I jump in and say, “Now I don’t necessarily recommend shopping at big box stores, but the reality is that if you are one of the people in the U.S. living below the poverty level of $23,000 a year, you’re already shopping there.

Given that I’ve spent the last four years tracking prices at these stores, I know that many people who shop there aren’t loading their carts with healthy foods. I knew that so many people live close to a big-box store like Wal-Mart, I wanted to use their foods to show even there, one can eat healthfully on a strict budget.”

Speaking of which, I just got great news this week that our local Fresh Market is going to donate food for my upcoming lunch-hour cooking classes every Thursday in February. The series, “A Taste of Vegan,” will feature recipes I’ll make from my books. Classes will be at the Anna Maria Island Community Center. Be sure to contact them if you’re interested, as places are filling up fast.

You may recall, as a trained instructor, I taught Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s “The Cancer Project” classes for six years before my books came out. When the classes were funded and offered for free, we had as many as 60 people, twice a day, five times a week. I hope you’ll stop in.

I haven’t taught cooking classes here in several years, though I teach them all over the U.S. now. I had a narrow window of time before my third book, “Paleo Vegan” takes me back on an intense book tour.

Finally, to honor your New Year’s resolutions, come do a gentle free workout with me starting Mondays in January at 9 a.m. by the Manatee Beach playground. I’ll be resuming my seasonal sessions of favorite personal training warm-ups before we head out on a walk or run, depending on abilities of those present. We’ll close out the hour with my favorite cool-down exercises and stretches.

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