Youth basketball league offers year-round skills program for boys and girls

Basketball makes everything better, especially for youth who simply love playing the sport.

It’s not easy though, and becoming better with passion and practice requires a dedicated community and mentors.

Since 2012, Elite Sports Miami & Elite Youth Academy has had a mission that no one is left out of pursuing their dream, and having fun.

The large youth basketball league in Kendall has worked with more than 500 families and offers a year-round skills development program for all girls and boys ages 4 to 18.

There is an indoor training facility, tournaments, and spring, summer and winter youth basketball skills camps for kids from all over Miami-Dade County.

Founder and President Junior Gonzalez said that thanks to their sponsors every child who wants to can participate.

“We are dedicated and beyond passionate. And we never turn down any children due to their financial situation,” Gonzalez said.

His current goal is to find more people who want to help buy uniforms for the boys and girls who can’t afford them.

“We want to get the word out on getting more sponsors for our kids for the new year so we can continue to provide uniforms for the less fortunate, low income and underprivileged families in our area and neighboring communities,” he said.

Gonzalez and his motivating team have invested a lot of their own money to help the kids and grow the facility, he said.

Over the years, Elite Sports Miami & Elite Youth Academy has also hosted toy drives and All Star events with basketball guest appearances to raise awareness in the community.

This spring a new post-grad basketball league program for older youth ages 18-22 will be added.

“We want to keep them active after they get out of school,” Gonzalez said.

“We love what we do, not only for our sport, but for our kids. We all become family. We want the families and our youth to call it home.”

The facility is located at 15420 SW 136th St., No. 10. For details on sponsorship or to help your child join in, call 786-426-9452 or visit Instagram @elitesportsmiami.

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The 1977-78 Champion Hialeah-Miami Lakes Sr. High School soccer players line up for a picture in their reunion shirts in the same order as the original State Championship team picture. Their coach, Jose Enriquez, thanked them for the great memories.

Photo provided to the Miami Herald

Soccer team reunites

Soccer is another sport that warms the hearts of its players and fans. Over 40 years ago, a group of students from Hialeah-Miami Lakes Sr. High School won the GMAC Championship and the Florida State Soccer Championship in the same year.

The championship was won during the 1977-78 school year and the memories and pride are still so strong that the players recently organized a reunion.

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The 1977-78 Champion Hialeah-Miami Lakes Sr. High School soccer players line up for a picture in their reunion shirts in the same order as the original State Championship team picture. Their coach, Jose Enriquez, thanked them for the great memories.

Photo provided to the Miami Herald

When they gathered, the players lined up for a picture in their reunion shirts in the same order as the original State Championship team picture.

Miami Lakes resident and then-coach Jose Enriquez, now 82, gave a reunion speech to his former players with the message that “it has and will always be about being a very close team.” He thanked them for the great memories.

“Forty years ago these players were part of a special group of kids who won the 1978 State Championship at HML. To this day, they are the only soccer team in Hialeah-Miami Lakes history to achieve this success in boys’ soccer,” said Enriquez’s son, also named Jose Enriquez.

“Coach Jose Enriquez, a counselor and soccer coach at HML, worked with these players for years and ultimately lead them to a 17-1-2 season that resulted in the Class 4A State Championship,” Jose Enriquez, Jr. said.

The reunion of players and their families was hosted by teammate Mario Sabates. Attending were Randy Shapland, Lee McPherson, Fred Morro, Stan Wan, Carlos Gonzalez, Mike Covone, Alberto Gil, Carlos Govantes, Russel Poulson, Sabates, Todd Taylor, Bobby Pinto, Randy McPherson, Coach Enriquez, Bobby Bowen, Larry Botsford and Ed Lambert.

Coach Enriquez’s three sons — Jose Jr., Stephen and Michael — all served as “Ball Boys” for the soccer team through the years.

They all attended Hialeah-Miami Lakes and Jose Jr. is currently the principal of nearby Jose Marti MAST 6-12 Academy. Son Stephen Enriquez has a CPA firm in Miami Lakes and Michael Enriquez is a teacher at American Senior High School.

UM Celebrity Bowling Tournament

Let’s not forget how important University of Miami football has been in our community.

Some of the legendary players over the years will gather for the UM Sports Hall of Fame eighth annual Celebrity Bowling Tournament, 6 to 9 p.m., Feb. 25 at Splitsville in the Shops at Sunset Place in South Miami.

Canes star Bennie Blades, a member of the College Football and University of Miami Halls of Fame, will host the event sponsored by CanesWear.

“I’m looking forward to hosting the upcoming UMSHoF Bowling tournament this year,” said Blades, who, along with his 1987 defensive secondary teammates led Miami to their second National Championship. “It’s always a good thing to get together with Canes fans to support the Hall of Fame and the charities they contribute to.”

Canes fans can bowl with some of their favorite former all-stars during an evening of family fun, food and Hurricanes camaraderie.

“As we prepare for the eighth year of our annual celebrity bowling tournament, we’re excited to be partnering this year with both the Heidi Hewes Chapter of the Woman’s Cancer Association and The Home Team, as well as welcoming back our returning sponsor, CanesWear,” said bowling tournament chairman Gerard Loisel.

Cost to enter as a team starts at $500 for four bowlers. Regular sponsor lanes are $1,200, and premium sponsor lanes are $1,700.

Social tickets to watch, enjoy refreshments, and participate in the silent and live auctions can be purchased for $75 for adults (T-shirt included), and $25 for children under 12 years old.

For more information on being a sponsor, bowling on a team, and social tickets, contact UMSHoF Executive Director John Routh at 305-284-2775.