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Bob Putnam, Times Staff Writer

Bob Putnam

Bob Putnam has covered high school sports for the Tampa Bay Times as a staff writer since 1996. He is a fourth-generation Floridian who graduated from Dixie Hollins High School and wrote for the student newspapers at St. Petersburg College and USF. He has covered the high school careers of football stars Riley Cooper (CCC/Florida/Philadelphia Eagles), Dante Fowler (Lakewood/Florida/Jacksonville Jaguars), Leonard Johnson (Largo/Iowa State/Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Dexter McCluster (Largo, Mississippi/Tennessee Titans), among others.

Phone: (727) 580-4395


  1. ACL tears don't always shred college dreams


    Jaden Garrett went to the Sound Mind Sound Body Camp last month in hopes of impressing college coaches in attendance. The Durant High defensive back performed well. In one drill, he leaped for an interception.

    But when Garrett landed, his left knee gave out. The diagnosis: torn anterior cruciate ligament.

    It was a crushing blow for Garrett, who already had offers from schools such as Cincinnati, Florida International and Western Kentucky. Garrett joined a scarred bay area fraternity that includes Seffner Christian running back Karmi Mackey and Zephyrhills running back Antwione Sims....

    Seffner's Karmi Mackey during practice at Seffner Christian Academy on Friday, August 8, 2014. (Will Vragovic, Times)
  2. East Lake swim alum Sydney Pickrem realizes Olympic dream


    At the Canadian Olympic trials three months ago, Sydney Pickrem and Emily Overholt were virtually synchronized on the final lap of the 400-meter individual medley, each circling their arms in a furious freestyle leg to the finish.

    They crashed into the wall simultaneously. The difference came down to a touch. Pickrem got there first to win in 4 minutes, 38.34 seconds, beating Overholt, a Canadian record-holder and bronze medalist at the 2015 World Championships, by 0.16 of a second....

    Sydney Pickrem, a former East Lake High standout, qualified for Canada’s Olympic swim team in the 200 and 400 IM.
  3. Most influential women in Tampa Bay sports: Stella Thayer, Tampa Bay Downs


    Tampa Bay Downs has always played a pivotal role for women in a male-dominated industry.

    In 1981, Julie Krone, then an apprentice jockey, won her first race at the Oldsmar track. She finished her career with 3,704 victories — the most of any female jockey — and was the first woman inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.

    But the most influential woman at Tampa Bay Downs has been Stella Thayer, who has been involved with the track for more than 50 years....

    Stella Thayer
  4. Time for a new Tampa Bay takeover in U.S. Olympic swimming?


    Melanie Margalis was 7 months old when former Lakewood High standout Nicole Haislett won three gold medals at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.

    Margalis was 4 years old, still too young to swim competitively, when Brooke Bennett burst onto the national scene with a gold medal in 1996 at Atlanta.

    Margalis was 12, two years away from high school, when former Tampa Bay Tech star Maritza Correia McClendon became the first black female to make the U.S. Olympic swimming team....

    Associated Press (2004)
  5. Jerome Ford's move to receiver catches colleges' attention


    Jerome Ford did not post gaudy statistics last season. The Armwood athlete had just three touchdowns, well short of his goal of 10.

    The numbers — or lack thereof — have a lot to do the unbelievable depth the Hawks possess at the skill positions, particularly at running back.

    So Ford moved to receiver. He had two catches in the spring jamboree against Tampa Bay Tech, both resulting in touchdowns of 50 yards or more....

    Armwood’s Jerome Ford, who has moved to receiver, makes a touchdown catch during a spring jamboree.
  6. Nick Vandewalle takes over as St. Petersburg Catholic athletic director


    St. Petersburg Catholic girls basketball coach Nick Vandewalle has stepped down after 19 seasons to become the athletic director at the school.

    Vandewalle replaces Mike Moran as athletic director. Moran relinquished his duties to devote his time strictly to being the boys basketball coach.

    Because SPC no longer wants its athletic director coaching sports, Vandewalle, 43, had to give up girls basketball as well as cross country....

  7. Tampa Bay Times' all-Tampa Bay softball teams


    By Bob Putnam

    Times Staff Writer

    Hillsborough Player of the Year: Cassidy Davis, Sr., Newsome

    Why we picked her: One of the leaders of last year's state title run, Davis played a big role in helping the Wolves win another district title and earn a top-five national ranking by MaxPreps early in the season. She was efficient at the plate and on the mound. Davis batted .358 with 20 RBIs and four home runs. As a pitcher, she was 11-2 with a 0.58 ERA and recorded 107 strikeouts. One of two Hillsborough County selections for the Florida Athletic Coaches Association All-Star Game, Davis was named the West MVP after hitting two home runs and a double....

    The Times’ all-Tampa Bay softball players of the year, from left: Stella Preston, Danielle Romanello, Shannon Saile, Paige Pfent and Ashley Blessin. Cassidy Davis (not picutured) is the Hillsborough County player of the year.
  8. Injury hampers ex-Gibbs High star Trayvon Bromell's Olympic track efforts


    Trayvon Bromell, the former Gibbs High standout who is considered one of the favorites to medal in the 100 meters at August's Olympics, sprained his left Achilles tendon last month and will not run until the U.S. Olympic Trials in July.

    The injury happened before a meet in Rome on June 2. Bromell was scratched from the 100 in Rome but ran the 200 and finished seventh. He has spent the past two weeks recovering from what he called a Grade 1 sprain in the tendon....

    Trayvon Bromell celebrates after tying for third in the 100 meters at the ’15 World Championships.
  9. Points-based Florida high school football playoff format moves forward


    GAINESVILLE — The Florida High School Athletics Association moved one step closer to a radical new postseason format for football by presenting a proposal to the board of directors for a points-based system instead of having district champions and runners up determine playoff spots.

    Tuesday's discussion was to provide feedback and alleviate any concerns. There was no vote. The next step is for the proposal to be presented at an athletic directors advisory committee in September, where it will be determined if there should be a vote — most likely at another meeting in November — for the suggested changes to become a reality....

  10. CCC quarterback Jakob Parks is taking his show on the road


    This spring, Clearwater Central Catholic quarterback Jakob Parks picked up his first offer from Eastern Kentucky.

    That did not did not generate scholarship offers from other schools despite an impressive showing in the spring game against Clearwater.

    So Parks decided to go to them.

    He will be on a whirlwind tour this month, visiting as many colleges as possible to show off his skills at camps. This past week there were stops Indiana, Marshall, Memphis, Miami (Ohio) and Western Kentucky....

  11. Tampa Bay Times' all-Pinellas County softball teams


    Pitcher of the Year: Stella Preston, Sr., Countryside

    Player of the Year: Danielle Romanello, Jr., Canterbury

    Coach of the Year: Kaylyn Bayly, Countryside

    First team

    P Corynn Miner, Sr., Admiral Farragut

    P Diana Rayder, Sr., East Lake

    P Caylie Van Auken, Jr., Boca Ciega

    P Sarah Huskey, Sr., Osceola

    C Cheyenne Blumberg, Sr., Countryside...

    Countryside pitcher Stella Preston (24) throws the ball during the Class 8A state semifinal high school softball game against St. Thomas Aquinas at Dodgertown in Vero Beach on Friday, May 6, 2016. Countryside won 3-0.
  12. Tampa Bay Times' all-North Suncoast softball teams


    Pitcher of the Year: Shannon Saile, Sr., Land O'Lakes

    Player of the Year: Paige Pfent, So., Springstead

    Coach of the Year: Mitch Wilkins, Land O'Lakes

    First team

    P Abbey Primavera, Jr., Nature Coast

    P Alexis Kilfoyl, Fr., Academy at the Lakes

    P Brittney Pressler, Sr., Gulf

    P Kama Woodall, Jr., Springstead

    C Chyloe Gonzalez, Sr., Nature Coast...

     Springstead's Paige Pfent (37) bats during the Class 6A region softball final featuring Land O'Lakes at Springstead Friday (4/29/16).
  13. Tampa Bay Times' all-Hillsborough County softball teams


    Pitcher of the Year: Ashley Blessin, Fr., Plant City

    Player of the Year: Cassidy Davis, Sr., Newsome

    Coach of the Year: Ron Slater, Riverview

    First team

    P Claire Feldman, Sr., Newsome

    P Alea White, Sr., Cambridge Christian

    P Haley Murphy, So., Riverview

    P Scottie Todd, Sr., Strawberry Crest

    C Elizabeth Mason, Sr., Gaither...

    (WILLIE J. ALLEN JR., Special to the Times)
  14. Western Conference softball teams selected


    Here are the Western Conference softball as selected by the public school coaches in Hillsborough County

    American Division

    First team

    P Marcella Parrado, Sr., Leto

    P Hailee DeCicco, So., Gaither

    IF Kayla McGory, Sr., Plant

    IF Jessica Louth, Sr., Alonso

    IF Bethany Kursch, Sr., Gaither

    C Elizabeth Mason, Sr., Gaither

    OF Kristen Hawkins, Sr., Alonso...

  15. Goodbye, districts? FHSAA explores points-based playoff system for football


    Pinellas Park High School's football team went 8-2 last season, one of the losses coming by a point against Countryside, the eventual district champion.

    That loss proved costly. Instead of winning a district title, the Patriots were eventually forced into a tiebreaker for the final playoff spot — and lost. That ended Pinellas Park's four-year streak of postseason appearances.

    Under a new proposal by the Florida High School Athletics Association, the Patriots could potentially avoid another heartbreaking scenario by being in charge of their own destiny — or at least their own schedule, budget permitting....

    Armwood football coach Sean Callahan likes the idea of a playoff system built on strength of schedule, but not everyone agrees.