Nova gets help from St. Thomas Aquinas - its bitter baseball rival - after Hurricane Irma

St. Thomas Aquinas baseball coach Troy Cameron was looking for a way his team could help out after Hurricane Irma.

Once he heard a nearby school needed a hand, Cameron rallied his kids together.

But he knew he couldn’t immediately tell them it was their fiercest rival - Nova.

"He just told us bring extra baseball gloves or gardening gloves to protect your hands," Aquinas senior outfielder Chris Ruckdeschel said. "Then he bought us breakfast at Chick-fil-A…and then he told us where we were going. We were shocked."

For a few hours Saturday morning, one of South Florida’s fiercest baseball rivalries was put on hold.

Players and coaches from Aquinas worked together with players and coaches from Nova to spruce up the Davie school’s home ballpark - Pat McQuaid Field - that was left with a damaged scoreboard and a mess of fallen trees in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

Cameron took a group of roughly 35 players and coaches over and they assisted in the cleanup effort.

"When I pulled up in the morning, I was really shocked," said Nova junior third baseman Jordan Campbell. "I was like ‘Why are they here?’ But then I saw they were here to help. I figured maybe we can put the past behind and put everything aside.

"We started working together and everything clicked."

CALL FOR HELP

Former University School coach and Nova alum Dan Rovetto, who stepped down last October after guiding the Sharks to their first 25-win last year to become a pro scout for the Seattle Mariners, put the word out on Facebook to help his alma mater.

Athletic staff from nearby Nova Southeastern University including baseball coach Greg Brown also came to help as did staff from University School.

Cameron, who is friends with Rovetto, quickly reached out when he saw the post.

"Troy told me that St. Thomas luckily hadn’t taken much damage, but he felt he wanted his kids to give back to the community and do something better for others," Rovetto said. "Knowing the history of this rivalry, seeing the two groups of players come together was really a sight to see."

THE HISTORY

Since 1999, Nova and St. Thomas Aquinas have met in the regional playoffs seven times with the Titans holding a 4-3 lead in that series in addition to numerous other times in the regular season.

Nova beat St. Thomas 4-3 in the Class 8A regional finals this past May before losing in the state semifinals to Tallahassee Lincoln. The regional win was Nova’s first over Aquinas since 2005 the same year they won a state and national title.

St. Thomas had won 11 previous meetings against Nova including a controversial regional semifinal win in 2015 in which the Raiders prevailed despite the Titans rallying from a two-run deficit in the final inning. Officials suspended the game prior to beginning the bottom of the seventh due to heavy rain causing the field to be rendered unplayable. By rule it reverted the outcome of the game to the last complete inning where Aquinas led resulting in a Raiders’ win.

A court injunction was later filed on Nova’s behalf, but subsequently denied.

PUTTING FEUD ASIDE

Cameron returned to Aquinas five years ago to coach his alma mater, and remembers vividly the intensity of the rivalry with Nova.

"When I used to play in these games, I remember how much we didn’t like each other," Cameron said. "It was different when I came back to coach. The schools would do activities together in the offseason. I remember thinking we’re not supposed to like those guys. They’re our rivals. We’re not supposed to be friends with them.

"But in this situation, you put that aside and do what’s right. I think the kids understood that and that’s what I wanted to see out of them."

Nova and St. Thomas are once again in neighboring districts in Class 8A heading into the 2018 season.

Both Ruckdeschel and Campbell think the intensity of the rivalry won’t change when the teams face each other despite Saturday’s cooperative effort.

But both agreed when the final out is recorded both sides have developed a measure of mutual respect for each other.

"It’s probably going to change the way we’ll play each other," Campbell said. "Before it was straight up hatred what we felt for [Aquinas]. I think now we earned some respect for them."

Courtesy of:

Fernandez, A. C. (2017, September 17). Nova gets help from St. Thomas Aquinas - its bitter baseball rival - after Hurricane Irma. Miami Herald. Retrieved from http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/high-school/prep...


Giovani Bernard - Nominee for NFL Walter Payton: Man of the Year Award

Giovani Bernard was born to Haitian immigrants who showed him that with hard work, anything is possible. Giovani has made it his mission to give back to the country his parents came from, since ascending to the NFL. "It's something I hold dear to my heart."

The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award recognizes an NFL player for his excellence on and off the field. The award was established in 1970. It was renamed in 1999 after the late Hall of Fame Chicago Bears running back, Walter Payton. Each team nominates one player who has had a significant positive impact on his community.

The winner of the award each year receives $250,000 donated to the charity of his choice. All other 31 nominees will receive a $50,000 donation in their name donated to their charity of choice. All donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation and Nationwide.

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Giovani Bernard
RUNNING BACK
CINCINNATI BENGALS
Giovani Bernard was born to Haitian immigrants who showed him that with hard work, anything is possible. Giovani has made it his mission to give back to the country his parents came from. His work-ethic is rooted in his upbringing in Boca Raton, Florida, where his mother's sudden death when he was seven marked the family's slide to poverty. But his father, who built a dry-cleaning business and then lost it, was able to get the family back on track with 18-hour days as he scratched his career back to life. Giovani insisted on giving back and when he got to the NFL, he started building a school in Haiti named after his mother. "It's something I hold dear to my heart," he said of Jardin Vert De Josette. Giovani has made several trips to Haiti to visit the children at the school and make enhancements, including adding solar panels for electricity and ensuring the school has clean running water. His goal is to make this school a community focal point and a safe haven for the kids.

Giovani became famous for driving a minivan while on "Hard Knocks" his rookie season. Giovani and his mother-in-law, who he borrowed the car from, decided to pay it forward last year and donated the minivan to a Marine who was severely injured in Iraq. E3 Lance Corporal Dustin Hoog came home to Indiana with medals for Combat Action and the Iraq Campaign and post-traumatic stress that has left him 100 percent disabled. With one member of the family working and five children in the home, his old car could not fit the whole family, but they could not afford a new one. That's where Giovani, his wife and mother-in-law came in to help fix up the minivan for the Hoog family.

Giovani launched his foundation in 2014 with the mission to give underprivileged children a platform for success by providing opportunities for education, athletics and lessons in core values that will help support them throughout their lives. The Run Gio Foundation focuses on helping children develop an awareness of the interdependency of the world around them as a whole, and an understanding that they are part of and contribute to that whole. Through education, children not only gain the concepts and knowledge needed to find gainful employment, but develop the attitudes, self-respect and holistic worldview needed to become a positive contributor to the greater society. Giovani is a leader in the Bengals locker room, and his teammates recognized that by voting him a captain for the second year in a row. He signed his third contract with the Bengals in September, which said as much about his character as well as his versatility. The Cincinnati Bengals are honored to nominate Giovani Bernard as their Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.


Read more about the Walter Payton Award and how you can support Gio: http://www.nfl.com/manoftheyear

Fans are encouraged to participate in Nationwide's 5th annual Charity Challenge, a social media campaign designed to support and promote team nominees. Fans can vote on Twitter by using #WPMOYChallenge followed by their favorite nominee's last name. The player whose unique hashtag is used the most between Dec. 12 and Jan. 12 will receive a $25,000 contribution to their charity of choice, while the second and third place finishers will receive $10,000 and $5,000 donations, all courtesy of Nationwide.


Derek Wingo, '20

Athletic Spotlights


St. Thomas Aquinas star linebacker Derek Wingo added another accolade to his growing collection. The Raiders senior was named Gatorade's Florida Player of the Year on Friday.

The senior linebacker is rated a four-star prospect in 247Sports' composite ranking. He is the No. 80 player in the 2020 class and No. 7 outside linebacker, according to the composite rankings. Wingo is committed to the Florida Gators.

Wingo and the Raiders will play Orlando Edgewater in the Class 7A state title game in Daytona Beach on Dec. 14.

Wingo will also play in the All-American Bowl on Jan. 4, 2020.

Wingo is the second St. Thomas player to be named Gatorade's Florida Player of the Year. The first was Sam Young in 2005.

Read the complete article courtesy of Adam Lichtenstein, Sun-Sentinel. Published: Dec 6, 2019





Olivia Mogridge  '22

Athletic Spotlights


Sophomore, Olivia Mogridge has been playing volleyball for 5 years, the first 4 of which she played as Middle Hitter. This year Olivia takes on a new position – Outside. Of her new position and challenge, Olivia said "I'm learning a lot, especially how to see the court differently."

At 6'4', Olivia is a dominant force on the court, physically and with her productivity. Olivia was selected by Prep Volleyball as a 15U All American and she is being heavily recruited by the top programs in the country. Olivia is touching over 10'2".

With only 3 seniors on this year's Varsity team, Olivia says that this years' experience is fun because, "Every game is a learning experience. We are a young, 'brand new' team and getting to take those steps together is very exciting."

Olivia plays volleyball year round, traveling the States with her club team.

Foluke Akinradewo Inducted to Stanford Hall of Fame

On September 16th, Foluke Akinradewo '05 was named as one of 8 inductees to the 2019 Class of the Stanford Athletics Hall of Fame. On September 20th, former Coach, Lisa Zielinski was there in California to help celebrate her former player!


While at STA, Foluke Akinradewo assisted the Lady Raiders Volleyball Team in their 2004 State Championship v. Venice. As a middle blocker Foluke was known for her power and accuracy. She also played basketball and was a 4x Florida State Track Champion.

Foluke left STA, going on to be a 4 year starter at Stanford, and finishing her college career with the best career hitting efficiency of any NCAA D-1 player. She was a member of the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games winning silver and bronze, respectively, and today she is a member of the US Women's National Volleyball Team and plays for the Japanese club, Hisamitsu Springs.

Congratulations Foluke! We are so proud!

To view her induction to the Stanford Athletics Hall of Fame, click here!

OU vs. UCLA defensive player of the game: Jaden Davis

Davis never backed down from the challenge and brought his aggressive mentality to the practice field. As a result, he found his way into a backup role to begin the year. After seeing some action in the first few outings of the season, Davis solidified himself as a viable option to provide depth.

In a conference Monday, September 16th, 2019, the Sooners recognized STA Alum Jaden Davis as their Defensive Player of the game against UCLA two days prior.

Read more about his success here.

James McCourt stayed the course and is getting his chance as the kicker for Illinois

Illinois kicker James McCourt (17) has been in a battle for the starting kicker spot for four years, and finally attempted his first collegiate kick this season as a redshirt junior. "It was an unreal feeling to put in so much work here and I've dedicated so much time to this university."

For four years, James McCourt waited for his opportunity to be the kicker on the Illinois football team.

McCourt, a redshirt junior, lost the starting kicker job to Chase McLaughlin for three straight seasons. McLaughlin became the Big Ten Kicker of the Year last season. McCourt could've cut ties with Illinois and tried his hand at another university, but he'd made a pledge to the program and planned to stick around.

So, that's what McCourt did, and he was announced the starting kicker in Week 1 against Akron after beating out redshirt freshman Caleb Griffin in training camp.

Read More


Lance Lesage, '21

Athletic Spotlights


Lance Lesage '21, Varsity Swimmer, secured two 1st place finishes at the Nova Southeastern University "Shark Invitational" in the 100 meter Freestyle and 100 meter Backstroke events. Lance's efforts helped the boys secure a 4th place finish overall.

Swimming since age 7, Lance is used to making waves! Lance says his passion and determination in the pool is driven by "my coaches who push me through everyday training and most importantly my parents."

He also qualified for the Summer Junior Nationals this summer that took place at Stanford University where he competed and qualified for Winter Open Nationals that will take place in Georgia this December.

At age 16, Lance qualified for the 2020 Canadian Olympic Swimming Trials Selection which will take place in Toronto, Ontario, April 2020!

#1 Producer of NFL Players

Fort Lauderdale's Saint Thomas Aquinas High School, with 15 players, again tops the list of high schools with the most NFL players. The school has led the nation in players on NFL Kickoff rosters for seven of the past eight seasons (2012, 2014-19). It tied for the lead in 2013.

Joey Bosa (Chargers), Nick Bosa (49ers), Bryan Cox (Panthers), James Crawford & Jake Rudock (Dolphins), Phillip Dorsett & James White (Patriots), Marcus Gilbert (Cardinals) Lamarcus Joyner (Raiders), Brandon Linder (Jaguars), Michael Palardy & Jordan Scarlett (Panthers), Giovani Bernard, Geno Atkins, & Bobby Hart (Bengals)

When asked, "What's in the culture at Saint Thomas Aquinas?" Giovanni Bernard had the perfect response.

"Professionalism," Bernard said. "Taking accountability for everything you do, your actions. We learned very early my freshman year that if you're going to miss a workout, there's going to be discipline. I always hold myself very accountable, and that's something I feel that all the players coming out of Saint Thomas have learned. They're all players who are very accountable to their teammates, and they get their jobs done."

Overall, NFL players hail from 1,296 high schools in 46 states and the District of Columbia, 10 countries and a U.S. territory (American Samoa). The totals are based on the 1,695 players on Kickoff Weekend rosters.

Continue this great read from NFLcommunications.com!

Photo Gallery of all STA Alum now in the NFL, courtesy of the SunSentinel.


Aidan Breslin, '20

Athletic Spotlights

Athlete Bio:

The St. Thomas Aquinas junior won the 4A boys title at the Spanish River Invitational last weekend in a time of 15:53.40.

"I just wanted to stay at the front and maintain that and if anyone challenged me, I would just throw in a surge and try to get them off my back," Breslin said.
Breslin hung onto Adam Magoulas and never let him leave his sight at the Spanish River Invite, his eyes were focused on the next place and on the finish line ahead.
This was an incredible season opener and personal record performance set by Breslin.
"I'm hoping to drop more time and get down into the 15:40s. Then next year, my senior year, just to see where I can go from there," Breslin said.
In just two short years, Breslin has taken his 5k time down from a 17:27 to 16:43 to a 16:22 at last year's state finals, a gradual and strong progression.
This year Breslin not only PR'd during his season opener but also ran 50 seconds faster at the Spanish River meet this year compared to last year on the same course.
Breslin's track season was quite notable with his new 9:39 and 4:29 3200m and 1600m PRs.
His 15:53 performance this past weekend makes Breslin the top junior in the state at the moment, the top 4A boy, and amongst the top five across all classifications. It will be exciting to see him mix up the 4A boys race at the state meet in a few short months.

Reported by: Adaiy Lyden of FLrunners.com, September 21, 2018

Alumni Strong in the NFL

Statistically speaking, when it comes to the NFL, St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale is the go-to high school for grooming pro players. In the 2018 season, Aquinas has had 15 players in the league (on active rosters, practice squads or injured reserve) -- by far the most of any high school in the country.

St. Thomas Aquinas piles up 15 alumni in 2018's NFL after week 1

The St. Thomas Aquinas Raiders saw 15 of their former players make NFL teams in the first week of the season, either as players on the 53-man roster, practice squad or injured reserve.

Last year, Aquinas ended the season with 16 alumni acquiring such status.

According to pro-football-reference.com, Aquinas' 15 is more than double the next-best-represented high school as Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy, Long Beach Poly (Calif.) and Cleveland's Glenville have seven players each. Glades Central has six active players who graduated from the Belle Glade school, but a seventh if Baltimore's Willie Snead IV is counted. Snead played freshman year for Glades Central before his father got a new coaching job and moved the family to Holland, Mich.

Further, there have been 25 St. Thomas graduates to get drafted (gallery below), a massive 17 of them in the seven-draft span from 2010-2016, including their highest-drafted player as defensive end Joey Bosa went third overall to the then-San Diego Chargers two years ago.

Meanwhile, ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay has projected Bosa's younger brother, Nick, to go second overall in the 2019 NFL draft, and others have the Buckeyes defensive end being the top selection.

To see the Aquinas alumni in this year's NFL, click above or here.



Svekis, S. (2018, September 13). St. Thomas Aquinas Piles up 15 Alumni in 2018's NFL after Week 1. Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved from http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/highschool/fl-s...