Monday, February 19, 2018
News Roundup

Land O'Lakes youth basketball coach shares love of the game

LAND O'LAKES — Coach Erashaul "Ray" Sutton sits calmly on the sidelines for the entire game. He never shows frustration. He never yells.

The 23-year-old father who works at McDonald's never made it past a college tryout on the hardwood, but he can't stand the idea of being away from basketball. He started his coaching career as a teenager, long before he quit playing himself. He played briefly for Sickles High in Tampa, then lost his eligibility as his grades slipped.

Now Sutton coaches two co-ed teams at the Land O'Lakes Recreation Complex — one for 7- to 8-year-olds, another for 10- to 12-year-olds — where he tries to help kids improve on and off the court.

"I like to talk to these young kids and mentor them from a young age to make sure they do the right things and understand how important school is to basketball," said Sutton, who lives in Land O'Lakes. "I grew up quick and started analyzing older kids when I was 11. Then in eighth grade I started helping out coaching a youth football team and I realized how much I wanted to coach. I never made it as a player, but this lets me stay close to the game and give back to the community."

Sutton also coaches AAU kids with the C&G Bulls in Land O'Lakes, and he coaches with the local noncompetitive league i9 sports. He has helped out with coaching at Gaither High School and Pine View Middle School, and hopes to move on to coach a high school team someday. For now, he shares his passion for basketball on a volunteer basis. He just wants to be close to the game.

"I work with them on basics and just want every kid to enjoy the game," Sutton said. "I tell all my players to love the game, don't worry about being LeBron James or Kobe Bryant when you're a kid. What matters is that you have fun, because if you're not having fun, winning doesn't really matter. There is no point if you don't enjoy it."

Land O'Lakes recreation leader A.J. Fernandez, who has worked with Sutton over the last three seasons, said the coach has a good rapport with kids and parents alike. In fact, he said, many parents ask to have their players placed on Sutton's team.

"He has a passion for the game and he's good at teaching them," Fernandez said. "The kids really take to him and I think they see him as a role model. He wants to go on and coach older kids, but this is a great place for him to start and get a coaching education and learn how to communicate, which he is already very good at."

Amy Naylor of Land O'Lakes has a 10-year-old son who played for Sutton last season. She was disappointed the league couldn't accommodate her request to place her son on Sutton's team this season, but she said the coach isn't a stranger to the family.

"He's amazing and so personable," Naylor said. "He talks to them on their level and they're very active in practice.

"We're not on his team this season, but he still walks up and shakes hands with my whole family and gives my son a high five and asks him how he's doing.

"He's a great family guy and a pleasure to have in the league."

Sutton has found a way to establish trust with the players and the parents.

"It's not as hard as people make it seem," Sutton said. "People look at me funny because I'm so young and my daughter is only 7 months old so she isn't on the team, but I've learned that once you show their kids respect and prove to them that you have their kids' best interest at heart, the parents trust you.

"I make myself available to them any time and you can create that relationship where one of our kids scores and they immediately look over to me and they're beating their chest. That's the best part of it all."

Comments
On deck in Rays ballpark quest: Tampa Bay’s business community

On deck in Rays ballpark quest: Tampa Bay’s business community

TAMPA — Columbia Restaurant owner Richard Gonzmart says he’s ready to put his checkbook where his heart is when it comes to supporting a Tampa Bay Rays move to Ybor City.So is the investment fund for the founding family of Ashley Furniture. So, it ap...
Updated: 18 minutes ago
Epilogue: Tourism community remembers Paradise founder Cedar Hames

Epilogue: Tourism community remembers Paradise founder Cedar Hames

When Cedar Hames spoke, you listened.He was a natural storyteller, always dressed sharp to match his wit and natural elegance. He grew a two-person business in St. Petersburg into a leading tourism, advertising and marketing agency over an esteemed 3...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Video: Swiss skier Fabian Bosch explains his viral escalator stunt

Video: Swiss skier Fabian Bosch explains his viral escalator stunt

Last week, a video went viral that showed Swiss freestyle skier Fabian Bosch dangling while hanging onto an escalator, arm outstretched, as a teammate rode alongside him."We had to wait until our apartment was ready, so we had to kill time, we got re...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Wardrobe issues cause Olympic stress for French skaters

Wardrobe issues cause Olympic stress for French skaters

GANGNEUNG, South Korea — The first notes of Ed Sheeran’s "Shape of You" had just played when Gabriella Papadakis suddenly became aware that people were about to see a whole lot more of her shape than she had planned. The French ice dancer’s glitterin...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Video: Parkland shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz in brief court hearing

Video: Parkland shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz in brief court hearing

PARKLAND — Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz has appeared in court for a procedural hearing. Cruz said nothing at Monday’s hearing in Broward County Circuit Court, the first he attended in person and not via teleconference from jail. He ke...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Teachers say Florida shooter’s problems started in middle school, and the system tried to help him

Teachers say Florida shooter’s problems started in middle school, and the system tried to help him

PARKLAND, Fla. — The real problems started at least as early as middle school and quickly intensified. There were the vocal outbursts, disturbing drawings of stick figures with guns, constant disciplinary issues. There were threatening statements wri...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Girl, 12, sister of murder victim, reported missing in Manatee County

Girl, 12, sister of murder victim, reported missing in Manatee County

Seven months ago, Jalyssa Shannon’s older sister Janessa went missing, sparking a frantic search that ended with the discovery of the 13-year-old’s body in a Hillsborough County nature preserve and, later, the arrest of the girls’ father in her murde...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Sting nets arrests of more than 20 ‘brazen’ unlicensed contractors in Pinellas

Sting nets arrests of more than 20 ‘brazen’ unlicensed contractors in Pinellas

DUNEDIN –– The unlicensed contractors answered calls to perform electrical, plumbing and other types of work at a home since Saturday. But the workers had no idea that Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputies posed as homeowners.Since Saturday, deputies ar...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Ruth: Douglas High students, expect the expected in protesting gun violence in Tallahassee

It is noteworthy that the 100 or so students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who will arrive in Tallahassee Wednesday to plead with the Florida Legislature to introduce some sanity into our gun laws are now just a bit older than the 20 firs...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Tuesday’s letters: Making politics personal is one way toward reasonable gun control

The Parkland shootingMake gun politics personalAs an educator of 32 years, it encourages me to see our young people engaged after the horror at Stoneman Douglas High School. The tragedy at Parkland has awakened the sleeping giant that is the millenni...
Updated: 1 hour ago