Sunday, February 18, 2018
Health

East Lake Youth Sports to renovate facilities, expand programs

EAST LAKE — Just before dusk on a hot June night, coach John Duncan lines up about a dozen 12-year-old girls for their next soccer drill under the lights. The first game won't be until October, but that does not stop the team from practicing twice weekly all summer.

Duncan is not paid during the summer, so he, like his girls, is out there for the love of the game.

East Lake Youth Sports Association can breathe easy now after years of struggling to find solid financial footing. At its June 24 meeting, the Pinellas County Commission approved a new property tax to fund the group. Starting Oct. 1, ELYSA will see an estimated $550,000 per year to keep themselves afloat while tackling long-awaited renovations to the Old Keystone Road complex.

"Sports at this level is an opportunity to gather and feel part of something that's bigger than yourself," Duncan said. "I'm really pleased that's not in any danger of going away."

The Palm Harbor Community Services Agency board will oversee ELYSA, joining other entities in unincorporated areas, such as the East Lake Library. The 30-year-old group enrolls about 1,500 athletes in soccer, football, baseball, softball and cheerleading programs.

The new East Lake Recreation Services District will levy a quarter-mill, which is 25 cents for every assessed $1,000 in property value after all exemptions.

"We're extremely excited," said Rick Watson, the association's president.

One of Watson's top priorities is his laundry list of renovations for lighting, irrigation, parking lots, concession, bathrooms and storage. Eventually, Watson also hopes to add more fields on the 100 acres the county leased to his group last year.

Aside from physical changes, ELYSA athletes will see reduced team registration fees. The fees vary by sport and team. For competitive soccer teams like Duncan's, parents said fees can top $1,000, plus another few hundred for uniforms.

"We were happy," said East Lake parent Joe Snaguski, who was one of about 300 ELYSA supporters to attend the commission meeting. "We have three girls playing, so any break we will take."

Only one East Lake resident spoke in opposition to the recreation tax before the vote, saying it should go to a ballot first.

"Kids having access to recreation is good for the entire community," said County Commissioner Susan Latvala, who has been a big supporter of ELYSA. "Nobody wants their taxes raised, that's for sure. But when they see it dedicated to something as invaluable as this, they're okay with it."

Watson also plans to start a lacrosse program in January, as the youth sport gains popularity in Central Florida and nationwide.

But the biggest comfort to participants and staff is not the promise of renovated facilities nor new programming. It's that youth sports in East Lake are here to stay.

"In the end, if we didn't get a single bit of capital improvement out of this, and all we got was the continued existence of sports-playing at those fields, I'd take that," Duncan said, explaining that renovations are secondary to him. "I don't mind going into a windowless room and changing into my soccer uniform if it means the fields will still be there in 20 years."

Contact Julie Kliegman at [email protected] or (727) 445-4159. Follow @jmkliegman.

Comments
Be prepared to help save a life: Learn CPR

Be prepared to help save a life: Learn CPR

70 percent of cardiac arrests outside hospitals happen at home. American Heart Association 3 a.m. Jan. 4, 2016. Lisa Peters of St. Petersburg is awakened by her husband, Rick, making strange gasping sounds. She can’t wake him. He feels cold. Only 46...
Published: 02/16/18

Step by step, ramp up your daily activity

Jae Bermanhe Washington Post There are many reasons that people avoid exercise. Time is an obvious one. Our lives are already busy — who has time to work out? Money is another common excuse. Gym memberships and equipment can get pricey.People often w...
Published: 02/16/18
Put Alaskan king crab leg shells to work in a creamy, dreamy bisque

Put Alaskan king crab leg shells to work in a creamy, dreamy bisque

Nothing says indulgence like noshing on some seriously giant Alaskan king crab legs. They’re not just tasty, they’re a low-fat source of protein: One leg has about 25 grams of protein and a host of vitamins and minerals (including sodium, incidentall...
Published: 02/15/18
Avocado toast gets a persimmon twist

Avocado toast gets a persimmon twist

You’ve likely seen persimmon in the grocery store and then shied away from it, not quite sure what to do with it. The most common variety in the United States is the fuyu persimmon, also called Japanese persimmon, and it looks similar to a slightly f...
Published: 02/15/18
News co-anchor Dan Harris delves into meditation, and why being distracted is ‘a victory’

News co-anchor Dan Harris delves into meditation, and why being distracted is ‘a victory’

Emma Seppalahe Washington PostDan Harris is co-anchor of ABC’s Nightline and the weekend editions of Good Morning America. His first book, 10% Happier, was a No. 1 New York Times bestseller. He later launched the 10% Happier podcast and an app called...
Published: 02/15/18

Mayo Clinic Q&A: exercise stress tests; breast self-awareness versus self-exams

DON’T SWEAT THE EXERCISE STRESS TESTI have a treadmill stress test scheduled to look for heart disease. I know this involves exercising, and I’m worried that I’m not physically up to it. Is there another way to gather this information?Yes. There’s an...
Published: 02/15/18
Gay doctor takes a drug to prevent HIV. Then he couldn’t get disability insurance

Gay doctor takes a drug to prevent HIV. Then he couldn’t get disability insurance

Three years ago, Dr. Philip J. Cheng, a urology resident at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, nicked himself while preparing an HIV-positive patient for surgery.Following hospital protocol, he took a one-month course of Truvada, a cocktail of t...
Published: 02/15/18
Doctor removes worm from Tampa man’s eye. ‘Luckily we caught it just in time’

Doctor removes worm from Tampa man’s eye. ‘Luckily we caught it just in time’

TAMPA — Nothing seemed wrong or out of place when it was time for Sam Cordero to make an appointment for a routine eye exam.The 57-year-old man from Tampa occasionally saw a few bright or foggy spots in his left eye, but thought it was just "floaters...
Published: 02/14/18
Updated: 02/15/18
A couple calls to ask, ‘Hey, can we donate our kidneys?’ The stranger who got one is in awe

A couple calls to ask, ‘Hey, can we donate our kidneys?’ The stranger who got one is in awe

LARGO — Keshava Persaud entered the room inside Largo Medical Center, his wife at his side. His eyes went right to the couple across the room. They looked so young, he thought. Tears welled as he handed the woman, April Scott, 49, potted white silk f...
Published: 02/14/18
Bayfront Health system gets new leader

Bayfront Health system gets new leader

Bayfront Health has hired a new executive position to oversee the six regional hospitals it operates along the Gulf Coast of Florida. Joseph Mullany has been appointed regional president and chief executive officer of Bayfront Health, and will overse...
Published: 02/13/18