Annual Sport Award Finalists Announced

January 28, 2009

Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame
Announces Annual Sport Award Finalists

WEST PALM BEACH, FL – The Palm Beach County Sports Commission announced the finalists for the 2008 Annual Sports Awards, which will be presented at the Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame Induction Banquet on March 29th at the Palm Beach County Convention Center. The finalists include a sensational pitcher for the Florida Marlins, a Wimbledon champion, an undefeated high school track superstar, a college basketball coaching legend, and a world-class polo player. Selecting three finalists in each category was difficult because Palm Beach County is full of talented athletes and coaches.

Chris Volstad, a native of Palm Beach Gardens made his MLB debut on July 6, 2008, for the Florida Marlins. A few days later he started his first major league game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, earning the win and baffling the Dodger’s hitters with a 94 mph heater and sharp 12-6 curveball. He was 6-4 with 2.88 ERA in 15 appearances with the Florida Marlins since his July start. Chris was a first round draft pick in 2005.

Venus Williams is a former World No. 1 American tennis player who is currently ranked World No. 6. She won her fifth Wimbledon singles title, beating sister Serena in the finals 7-5, 6-4. As defending Champion, she entered Wimbledon as a seventh seed and never lost a set in advancing to the finals for the seventh time. Venus and Serena then teamed to win the women’s doubles title without dropping a set at the entire tournament. Venus is a Jupiter, Fl resident.

Ashley Brasovan, a senior at Wellington High School, has won four straight state 4A cross country championships. She has also won four county, conference, district and regional titles. In track, she won her third straight state 4A 3,200 meters as a junior last spring after winning county, district, and regional titles. Ashley has never lost a cross country race in Florida. Due to these remarkable accomplishments, Ashley was named the Gatorade Florida Girl’s Cross Country Runner of the Year. Ashley plans to attend Duke in the fall.

Rollie Massimino, guided the Northwood University Seahawks to Florida Sun Conference titles in each of his, and the program’s, first two seasons. Massimino has followed up this year by leading the Seahawks to an 18 – 2 record and No. 6 ranking in the NAIA Division II poll.

Jeff Blake, a professional polo player since in 1996, has won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) honors in almost every major United States Polo Tournament, including the prestigious Stanford US Polo Championship in 2008. Blake was also named MVP at the Texas Open in 2008. Jeff is considered one of the most talented players in the sport of polo, a predominant sport in Palm Beach County.

The Annual Sports Award Finalists are;

Professional Athlete of the Year
Jeff Blake, Lake Worth – Considered one of the most talented players in the sport of polo.
Chris Volstad, Palm Beach Gardens – Made his professional MLB debut in July 2008, with the Florida Marlins.
Venus Williams, Palm Beach Gardens – Won her fifth Wimbledon singles title, beating her sister Serena in the finals.

Amateur Athlete of the Year
Erlana Larkins, Riviera Beach – As a senior at the University of North Carolina, she averaged 13.5 points and 95 rebounds for 33-3 Tarheels. She was a first round draft pick by NY Liberty in WNBA draft.
John Reback, Jupiter – Is a world-class athlete. He won the Singer Island Triathlons that took place in July and September, in addition to the Tropical Triathlon in September and the Loggerhead Triathlon in August.
Rusty Smith, Boca Raton – He led Florida Atlantic University to its second consecutive bowl victory, defeating Central Michigan University 24 -21 in the Motor City Bowl. During the regular ‘08 season, Smith threw for 3,224 yards and 24 touchdowns.

High School Athlete of the Year
Ashley Brasovan, Wellington High School – She won four straight 4A cross country championships and, in track, won three straight 4A 3,200 meters. Ashley has never lost a cross country race in Florida.
Matt Elam, William T. Dwyer High School – Is a force for the Panthers on both sides of the field, playing LB and DB. He has 91 tackles, 21 for losses, and 9 sacks; running, 435 yards, 13 TD’s; receiving, 776 yards, 9 TDs. He also won the Lou Groza Award High School Player of the Year.
Vincent Smith, Pahokee High School – Scored 29 TDs and more than 2,000 yards rushing on 246 carries his senior season, earning him the Palm Beach Post’s Small School’s Offensive Player of the Year. Smith has committed to the playing for the University of Michigan

Coach of the Year
Rollie Massimino, Northwood University – As head basketball coach, Massimino is leading the Seahawks to an 18 – 2 record and No. 6 ranking in the NAIA Division II poll.
Dusty Rhodes, University of North Florida – Is inducted in the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in January, 2009. North Florida went 29-26 during the 2008 season and finished 4th in the Sun Atlantic Conference.
Roy Ward, Jupiter – Led his team to win the Cal Ripken World Series, 12-and-under division, beating defending champion Mexico 5-4 in the finals, after winning district, state and regional titles.

High School Coach of the Year
Jack Daniels, William T. Dwyer High School – Won the Lou Groza Award High School Coach of the Year for his 12-2 season, losing to Tampa Plant in the state semi-finals.
Eric Hill, Boca Raton High School – Led the girl’s swimming team to the second straight 2A state title.
Bill Powers, Jupiter Christian – Won second straight 1B state title with 14-0 record, including 49-14 win over South Daytona Warner Christian in championship game.

Outstanding Contributions to Sports in Palm Beach County
Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola – The two soft drink giants contribute each year to youth sports in Palm Beach County through in-kind and cash donations.

The winners will be announced on March 29, 2009, during the Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame Induction Banquet at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach. Tickets go on sale February 2, 2009, and will be available to purchase online at For more information please call (561) 233-3180.

Scheduled for induction into the Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame are Ray Botel, Mark Calcavecchia, Daryl Ceravolo, Joey Ceravolo, Tom D’Angelo, Bill Davis, C.W. (Web) Pell, Charlie Persson, Jack Rhine and Howard Schnellenberger.

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