VIDEO: Florida Prep Has Rich Tradition In Sports, Has Produced State Titles, Olympic Athletes
By Space Coast Daily // December 14, 2016
ABOVE VIDEO: Florida Prep graduate Sasha Kaun’s dedication and hard work in the face of tragedy and adversity personify the character of many Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame inductees.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – When Sasha Kaun entered the ninth grade at Florida Preparatory Academy, he had zero basketball experience, but he was a fast learner, a very fast learner.
With the guidance of Florida Prep coaches, Sasha ultimately became a Cleveland Cavalier and a NBA Championship player in 2016.
Of course, as they say in the weight loss ads, results may vary, and not all students who participate in sports at Florida Prep will parlay their experience into a professional sports career. However, while they may not go pro, they will all have acquired valuable lessons that will serve them well in the playing field of life.
Although participation in sports is encouraged at this Melbourne preparatory school, students are not forced to do so. Most do, however, because unlike other schools, Florida Prep gives all students the chance to perform at their own unique level at any sporting activity they choose.
“We do not pressure students” said Jeanette Middletown, the school’s communications director. “They make a lifestyle choice and they come out for the fun of it.”
Three-quarters of Florida Prep’s student population takes part in at least one of the school’s varied athletic offerings, which span intramurals, varsity baseball, basketball, golf and softball conditioning.
The school’s very approachable size, combined with a plethora of sports offerings, translates into the perfect opportunity to explore sports. If they want to try out for a sport, Florida Prep welcomes them, be it soccer, basketball, baseball, swimming, track and field, softball, golf, tennis, weightlifting and cheerleading.
In addition to a comprehensive schedule of traditional sports, Florida Prep also offers SCUBA lessons that lead to PADI certification. For students interested in SCUBA, but not quite ready to “take the plunge,” snorkeling lessons allows them to explore underwater life without SCUBA’s complicated gear and training.
When it comes to surfing, Brevard County is Surf Central and served as the surfing nursery for legendary surfers such as Kelly Slater and the Hobgood brothers.
Florida Prep’s Surf Club uses a variety of great surf spots that accommodate all surfing levels. Students participating in the club’s Spring Break Surf Safari have been able to catch waves from St. Augustine to Costa Rica.
With the exception of varsity basketball and baseball, the school has moved away from the high-pressure of FHSAA competitive leagues to play schools with similar demographics, thus students enjoy less pressure to perform and more opportunity to have a good time and acquire lessons in sportsmanship.
ABOVE VIDEO: Florida Prep President James Dwight talks about the rich tradition, international student body, dedicated faculty and high standards of the 53-year old Melbourne, Florida institution.
This “no pressure” approach works, for the Florida Prep Falcons fly high in sports, both in middle and high school. The girls’ middle school basketball team recently finished an energetic competitive season, although not one of the girls in the team had played in the past.
Florida Prep’s middle school boys’ basketball team won the Space Coast Christian Athletic Association Championship in 2015, beating teams twice their size both in height and numbers.
Florida Prep’s tradition of excellence in sports includes five state basketball championships, two in baseball, track state medals and three Olympic athletes.
“There are obviously athletes in our student population and our varsity basketball and baseball teams consist of several “college scholarship” level players,” said Middleton.
The school’s fields have served as training ground for alumni that, in addition to Sasha Kaun, includes Olympic Bronze medalist triple jumper Leevan Sands, Prince Fielder of the Texas Rangers, New York Nicks member Jermone Jordan and world-ranked pro tennis player Roger Smith.
ABOVE VIDEO: Walter Hodge is the kind of alumnus that would make any high school proud, but Florida Prep has the honor of claiming this basketball star among its graduates.
At the London Summer Olympics, not one but two, Florida Prep alumni, competed. Sasha Kaun represented his home country of Russia in basketball, while Leevan Sands from the Bahamas participated in track. Sands took bronze in the 2008 Olympics.
Athletics, says Education.com, teaches the three “Ps,” the critical life skills of persistence, patience and practice. Students learn the value of practice, of hard work. They learn that perfection is not achieved without patience, and that persistence pays off in achieving positive results.
Students motivated to excel in sports are provided all the opportunities to pursue their passion.
“It is our responsibility to provide coaches capable of teaching their sports, to provide academic support where necessary and to reach out to colleges on behalf of our student-athletes to help them pursue their dreams,” said Florida Prep athletic director Joe Burley.
“We also expect our student-athletes to maintain good academic standing and maintain good behavioral standing on campus as well as in the community.”
ABOVE VIDEO: In the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, Sands earned his place at the winner’s stand with a bronze medal and also achieved his personal best jump with 17.59 meters, a record that still stands as tops in the Bahamas.
TEACHING LIFE’S LESSONS
Sports play an important part at Florida Prep because of the school’s ultimate goal is to nurture a well-rounded individual ready to successfully tackle anything life throws at him or her.
Playing sports can impart crucial life lessons that include the importance of giving your best to whatever you do, of working as a team for a common goal and of the necessity to be able to both win and lose with grace.
For more on Florida Preparatory Academy, call 321-723-3211 or visit flprep.com