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A first: soccer takes shape inside

LARGO — Just off Missouri Avenue, across the street from Largo High School and tucked between J&S Auto Body and the Pinellas Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, sits a metal structure that used to be a wind chime factory. The building has overrun landscaping and gutted offices, but it is a beautiful sight to Nick Fowler and business partner Terry Griffin.

Soon the boards will be in place, the turf will be laid out and the nets will be up. Soon the building will be transformed into Pinellas County's only indoor soccer facility.

Fowler, Griffin and a slew of contractors have been working overtime to get the facility ready for the first camps, which begin July 14. For the rest of the summer, the Pinellas Indoor Soccer Academy will house leagues, camps, training sessions and tournaments. And it will all be indoors.

"We had the idea to start an indoor soccer center about two years ago,'' said Fowler, who moved to Florida from London eight years ago. "Where we come from, indoor sites are everywhere and we couldn't believe there weren't any around here. If this works the way we think it will, then we plan to build other ones in the future.''

Fowler said the project will cost close to $500,000. There will be a full-sized indoor field, as well as a shortened field for youth players. There also will be meeting rooms, concession stands and a pro shop. The air conditioning, a must for the facility, will be put in by next week.

"We're trying not to cut any corners,'' Griffin said. "We want people to enjoy this facility and want to keep coming back.''

Fowler and Griffin have hired local coach Ian Matthews as the academy director. Matthews is an assistant coach at Seminole High and coaches Gulf Coast United in Seminole. He will head clinics and camps for the arena.

"These kids need to have an indoor area where they can play,'' Matthews said. "I just got done coaching a clinic outdoors and there is really only so much you can do. Indoors, you can get a lot more done and not be in the heat.''

Fowler said the camps are about 75 percent full and he anticipates constant activity throughout the year. Full day camps are $125 per week for multi-sports camps and $150 a week for the full day ultimate soccer camp. For information, go to www.pinellasindoor.com.

Golf

The Florida State Amateur Championship, for amateur golfers who qualified through regional tournaments, was last week at the Jupiter Hills Club in Tequesta. Judson Eustaquio of Lake Worth won with a 2-under 280 for four rounds. Some local players qualified for the tournament but didn't survive the two-day cut. Zach Zender of Indian Rocks Beach (155), Alec Konstantin of Tarpon Springs (156), Steve Burkett of Pinellas Park (162), Stanley Kinnett of Clearwater (171), Tyler Wilkins of Clearwater (172) and Carson Crooms of St. Petersburg (174) were not around for the weekend.

• St. Petersburg's Michael Barbosa shot 69-73—142 at a U.S. Amateur Public Links qualifier at Bloomingdale Golfer's Club in Valrico and is a first alternate for the Public Links Championship in Aurora, Colo., on July 14-19. Riverview's Ian McConnell won with 138. Palm Bay's David Johnson was second with 139.

Seminole's Ryan Ashburn won the girls 16-18 division championship at the Hurricane Junior Golf Tour's Orlando Junior Classic at Champions Gate Golf Resort. Ashburn shot 74-76—150 to win by five.

Holes-in-one: Gary Sirmons aced the par-3 eighth hole at Mangrove Bay in St. Petersburg on May 26. He used a 3-iron to drain the 190-yard shot. … Matt Olson, 15, of Largo aced the 130-yard second hole on June 18 with a 9-iron. Donald Harvey of Largo aced the 90-yard 11th on June 22 with an 8-iron.

Tennis

Kevin Manning, head professional at Shipwatch Yacht and Tennis Club, has been selected to play on the U.S. International team in the Fred Perry Cup in Turkey in October. The team is for the country's top players 50 and older. He will be joined by Ross Persons of Houston, Mark Vines of Lynchburg, Va., and Wesley Cash of Chattanooga, Tenn.

Bowling

The Tuesday doubles league at Sunrise Lanes recently had some good scores. Louie Ramsey shot 988 for four games on June 17. Dottie Thompson had a 266, high scratch for women on June 24. And high game for the season is Doug Bell with 290 followed by John Hahmann, Gary Koonz and Mike Vitel with 279s.

Rodney Page can be reached at page@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8810.

A first: soccer takes shape inside 06/27/08 [Last modified: Friday, June 27, 2008 3:29pm]
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