Friday, June 22, 2018
News Roundup

Soccer Shots is a kick for kids ages 2 to 8

TAMPA

Dozens of small children and parents came and went at Monroe Middle School's field in South Tampa last Saturday morning, braving the heat and humidity for one more chance to run, kick and laugh.

As kids left the field for the last time this spring soccer season, Brandon Crane, executive director of Tampa Bay Soccer Shots, handed out bronze medals affixed to bright orange lanyards.

Soccer Shots is just four years old, but in that time it has grown from a handful of players to more than 1,000 in Hillsborough County, including players with physical and developmental disabilities.

Crane was busy managing his property maintenance business and his wife, Melissa, was in between sales jobs when they learned of the Soccer Shots national brand.

Enticed by the company's creative approach to teaching soccer to small children, the couple purchased a franchise with the expectation of adding part-time work to their routine.

Within a year, the couple was so busy that Crane sold his first business and dedicated himself full time to the local program.

Soccer Shots now operates in Carrollwood, Riverview and South Tampa and hosts children between the ages of 2 and 8. Crane says 90 percent of his small athletes are between 3 and 5, usually considered too young for traditional soccer.

"We teach through fun games," Crane said. "We engage the kids' imagination. Instead of putting one ball down and saying, 'Everybody go run after that,' we give every child a ball."

Crane rattles a few games off the top of his head. There's the game with volcanoes; the cones are "hot" so the players dribble the balls around them. There's the cookie monster game, where the ball is the cookie and the coach is the cookie monster, so the players want to keep their cookie away from the cookie monster.

The Winnie the Pooh game teaches players to go after targets; the players are bees with honey, the ball is the stinger, and the coach is a bear. The players' goal? Sting the bear.

"They're learning real soccer skills, but they think they're just playing fun games," Crane said.

Activities like these make it possible for some children with disabilities to learn soccer skills, too.

One 4-year-old player can't see the ball or her teammates, but she plays as well as anyone. The little girl, who was born blind, follows along by listening to her own soccer ball, which is equipped with small bells.

"Her mom had called and asked if it would maybe be something that would be good for her," Crane said. "They were trying new things and I told her I thought it would work perfectly."

Crane says the girl's parents are amazed at how long she has been engaged by the games.

There are children with autism on the teams, too, Crane said.

Some coaches also take time to visit various schools, including Tampa Day School. There, coaches work with children with ADHD, autism and social anxiety.

Soccer Shots coaches come from various backgrounds. Some specialize in early education and sports management, while others come from unrelated fields like finance.

"I have coaches that put their careers on hold because they have so much fun coaching and they coach all week long," Crane said. "In my experience, it has been that if you're having the worst day but get to coach the kids, it all melts away. Even if you're having a great day it makes it that much better."

Sarah Gottlieb can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Derrick Brooks won’t pursue USF’s AD job

Derrick Brooks won’t pursue USF’s AD job

The local favorite for USF's athletic director job said Friday that he is not a candidate.In a three-paragraph statement, Pro Football Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks said his commitments to Brooks DeBartolo Collegiate High School, his charities and fam...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Body of missing Hernando park ranger found in Georgia; boyfriend being questioned

Body of missing Hernando park ranger found in Georgia; boyfriend being questioned

Georgia detectives on Friday recovered the body of Mitzi Marie Babb, a 43-year-old Hernando park ranger who had been missing since Tuesday.Her boyfriend, arrested Thursday on unrelated charges, has been called a person of interest in her disappearanc...
Updated: 1 hour ago
A Pasco driver was annoyed another driver was texting. So he pointed a firearm at her.

A Pasco driver was annoyed another driver was texting. So he pointed a firearm at her.

PORT RICHEY — A 41-year-old Uber driver was arrested Friday after police said he pointed a firearm at another driver because he was annoyed that she was texting and driving.Philip Macchio was driving near State Road 52 and U.S. 19 around 12:30 a.m. F...
Updated: 1 hour ago
FHP: One dead, three seriously injured in head-on Pasco crash

FHP: One dead, three seriously injured in head-on Pasco crash

DADE CITY — A 31-year-old man was killed and three others were seriously injured after a pickup truck and motorcycle crashed head-on Friday morning, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.The name of the motorcyclist is being withheld pending next o...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Former Tampa police corporal qualifies as Democrat to run for Hillsborough sheriff

Former Tampa police corporal qualifies as Democrat to run for Hillsborough sheriff

TAMPA — A Democrat has officially joined the race for Hillsborough County sheriff.Gary Pruitt, a 50-year-old former Tampa police corporal who now works as director of security at a local mall, qualified Friday to challenge Republican Sheriff Chad Chr...
Updated: 2 hours ago
With Winston suspension, how might Bucs split QB reps in preseason?

With Winston suspension, how might Bucs split QB reps in preseason?

With news that Jameis Winston will be suspended for the first three games of 2018, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter has an interesting decision to make for training camp and especially in preseason games: How does he split reps between Winston and backup Ryan...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Writer resigns from ‘New Yorker’ after twitter flap over Pasco Marine’s tattoo

Writer resigns from ‘New Yorker’ after twitter flap over Pasco Marine’s tattoo

Talia Lavin, whose tweet about a Pasco veteran’s tattoo implied he was a Nazi, has apologized to him and resigned from her position as a fact-checker at the New Yorker magazine.But in another tweet, Thursday evening, Lavin also lashed out at the fede...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Health care IT company CareSync shuts down, laying off 292

Health care IT company CareSync shuts down, laying off 292

TAMPA — CareSync, a Tampa health care information technology company that raised millions from private investors in recent years, has shut down. The company ceased operations on Thursday, laying off nearly 300 people, according to former employees an...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Carlton: That snake-like thing living under your refrigerator? It’s a skink. Welcome to Florida

Carlton: That snake-like thing living under your refrigerator? It’s a skink. Welcome to Florida

At first I thought it was a snake.Because wouldn’t it be typically Florida to come home and find a snake poking its nose out from under your stove? Which wouldn’t be a problem or anything. I would just have to move out is all.But no, the creature th...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Support growing for Tom Jurich to become Bulls’ next AD

Support growing for Tom Jurich to become Bulls’ next AD

This dispatch comes at you from a remote south Georgia lake shore, where the waters remain far more pristine than the waves being made in USF athletics circles.Which is to say, a number of prominent folks are clamoring for Tom Jurich to become the Bu...
Updated: 2 hours ago