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Talent Show

Thanks to their natural ability and hard work behind the scenes, these nine student-athletes from Central Florida are looking forward to a successful spring season.


Cannon Feazell, Windermere baseball
A senior right-hander, Feazell is considered one of the best pitchers in the state. He compiled a 7-1 record with a 1.35 ERA as a junior to help the Wolverines reach the region final, and is poised for a big final season at Windermere before moving on to Clemson University.

OFM: Are you excited for your senior season to get underway and to see what you can accomplish as a team?
CF: Yes, sir. I’m more than excited. Playing with the team and playing as a whole really just brings it all together with the bond that we have. We’re so close and I feel like we really have a good shot at states this year—that’s our main goal. I want to maintain being that leader, keeping the energy high and setting the standards for others. I feel like we have a great shot and that this is the year.

OFM: Do you think the experience from last year will be beneficial when you get to the playoffs this season?
CF: Of course. We’ve been knocking on that door for the past two years, and with our 14 seniors all having that experience, it means a lot. We have a deep pitching staff and great hitters, so this year we’re going to put it all together. Coach [Eric] Lassiter really sets the standards high and pushes you be the best that you can be. He’ll tell you the truth, whether you like it or not.

OFM: Do you have any personal goals?
CF: I’m more of a team guy: I play to get wins. I want to do my job and help the team the best that I can. My main goal is to be a leader, to support the team when they need it and to have everyone’s backs.

OFM: Have you always been a pitcher since you were young?
CF: Yes, sir. Ever since I was a little boy, I’ve always loved throwing a ball and I’ve always had a ball in my hand. The main thing that I love about pitching is I love being in control of the game and setting the pace, pitch by pitch. I love having that dog mentality and going up against each batter in the lineup. It’s just you versus him on each pitch. And with a name like Cannon, you don’t really have a choice.

OFM: Is there a story behind your parents giving you that name?
CF: I don’t know a whole lot about the story behind it. From what I know, they saw it on TV with a baseball player and his son. They thought it was a cool name and knew I would grow up being a ballplayer.

OFM: What pitches do you throw?
CF: Right now my pitches are a four-seam fastball, which I usually throw ahead in counts; I also have a two-seam fastball, which runs a whole lot more and sinks and all of that stuff; I have a changeup that I love throwing and I can throw for strikes whenever I want; my curveball is a great wipeout pitch that I love throwing and it always shakes up the hitters; and just recently I’ve been working on throwing a slider. It’s always fun learning new pitches and seeing what you can throw.

OFM: Does it all start with location of your fastball and then you work from there?
CF: Of course. It always starts with command, and once you get that first strike, it’s hard for the hitter to know what’s coming. You always have to keep them guessing, but the main thing is to be in control and have your command.

OFM: Do you study MLB pitchers and try to get tips for your own game?
CF: I’ve grown up watching Clayton Kershaw, the way he throws and spins the ball. Me and my dad are Dodger fans so we always liked him. But who I really look at and model my game after a little bit is Walker Beuhler, and also Spencer Strider. From the mechanics side of things, they’re both very clean and effortless, and not only that but their command, their spin efficiency and the way they’re able to move the ball are all things I look at.

OFM: How did you become a Dodger fan?
CF: My dad grew up around that area and he always loved watching the Dodgers, so I took after him. I grew up with a big Fathead of Clayton Kershaw on my wall.

OFM: What did you like about the school and the baseball program that led to you committing to Clemson?
CF: During my recruiting process I met a lot of coaches, and these coaches [at Clemson] bring you in as family. Coach [Erik] Bakich, the way he sets the culture there, they welcome you in with open arms and make you feel at home. I loved it the first step that I took on that campus. Since I was a freshman, I had a great relationship with the pitching coach, coach [Jimmy] Belanger. I wanted to pitch for him. They also have a great balance between academics and athletics, and it’s always student-athlete first. That’s what made me fall in love with it.

OFM: Do you know what you want to study?
CF: Yes, sir: I’m majoring in sports communications. I picked that because I love being around sports, I love talking about sports and I love hearing about other people’s journeys and the obstacles they’ve faced. It’s really interesting to me.

OFM: Are you hearing anything about the MLB Draft, or do you definitely want to go to college?
CF: I really love what they have at Clemson and their ability to build the pitchers, and I feel like they can help me reach my best. I would like to take the college route, but it’s always a different story if you’re going in the first round.

OFM: Clemson has produced some big-time pitchers over the years. Is playing professionally a goal of yours?
CF: It’s always been a dream of mine to play in the major leagues. I love playing the game and I want to play for as long as I can. The main thing that I love about it is the process behind it: What you’re eating every day, working out, stretching, making sure you’re sleeping enough. I love all of those small things. Spencer Strider went to Clemson and he currently still works with the strength coach on those things. The process is all about getting better than you were yesterday, and those small improvements can make a big difference.

OFM: What would be the coolest MLB ballpark to throw in? Would it be Dodger Stadium since you’re a Dodger fan?
CF: That’s by far [my top choice]. Seeing myself on that field would be a dream. 

OFM: Fenway Park, Wrigley Field or Yankee Stadium would be pretty memorable too.
CF: Oh yeah. At Fenway you have to watch out for that Green Monster.

OFM: What else do you do for fun aside from baseball?
CF: I love playing golf. I love competing, whether it’s me and my buddies going shot for shot or just looking at myself. I love golf because it relates to pitching: In baseball you go pitch for pitch, and if you make a bad one you have to come right back. It’s a similar mindset in golf. I also like going to the beach here in Florida, like New Smyrna Beach, but they have those sharks there so you have to be careful. [Laughs] I also love going in lakes, whether it’s wakeboarding, wakesurfing or tubing. The other thing is working out and getting better.

OFM: Do you have a favorite golf course to play?
CF: Around here, I usually go to Orange County National, which is a nice course. For Windemere, we usually have our fall fundraiser there and I love playing there.

OFM: Do you just pitch now or are you also a hitter?
CF: I’m just a pitcher. I get asked all the time if I miss hitting, and the answer is not really. As a pitcher you know what you’re throwing, and you think about what you would do against yourself. I probably wouldn’t want to hit that.


Shaye Gluckman, Bishop Moore girls lacrosse

This senior goalie recorded 184 saves as a junior to help the Hornets reach the region semifinals, and was named an All-American by USA Lacrosse. With a background in the sport since she was in second grade, she will continue her career at the collegiate level at the University of Pittsburgh.

OFM: Do you have any certain goals for yourself or the team this season?
SG: As a team, obviously our goal is to get better and to win a state championship. My goal is to get better and to keep making memories with my teammates since we’re all going to different colleges. I just want to spend time with them and play the sport we love together.

OFM: How did you become a goalie? It doesn’t seem like the position that most players gravitate toward.
SG: No, it’s not [laughs]. I started playing when I was in second grade and I was always a midfielder. Then when I was playing for the Stingers, which is the feeder team for Bishop Moore, I was asked to play goalie one random Saturday during one of our games. I started playing and I loved it, and from then on I would play both midfielder and goalie. My freshman year is when I had to pick one and I chose goalie, because I knew I could go to college for goalie.

OFM: What do you love about the position?
SG: I really love all of it. I like knowing that I can be there for my team. I’m in a position where I have to save the ball and it can make or break a game. I like knowing that it’s on me, because I feel like I do super good under pressure. It’s just a great position.

OFM: Do you need a short memory to play goalie in lacrosse, since a lot of goals can be scored?
SG: Yes, and I struggled with that for a while. I was always thinking about a goal that went in previously, but I just have to forget about it and focus on the next one.

OFM: You received a lot of nice recognition last year, including the All-American honor. What did that mean to you?
SG: It was such an honor being part of that. Being recognized by my team, the coaches at Bishop Moore, the coaches in Orlando and being nominated for that [was great]. It was the first annual North vs. South [festival] in Florida for USA Lacrosse, and being part of that felt amazing.

OFM: How do you prepare for a big game? Any certain rituals?
SG: I listen to music—I have a playlist with a bunch of random songs that get me hyped for the game. And I always text with my mom and she sends me a long motivational paragraph that gets me fired up. Most of the time it has to do with Rocky—that’s our thing. I also see her before I go into the locker room and she just gets me fired up.

OFM: It sounds like you’re really close with your mom.
SG: Yeah, I am. She got me through lacrosse, has pushed me through everything and made me the athlete that I am. She played soccer and my whole family is deep in the sports world, so I’ve grown up around it. Seeing everyone in my family succeed made me want to go far. I know that if I want something, I have to work hard for it and it won’t just be handed to me. My mom plays a really important role in my life.

OFM: What is it about the Rocky films that you like?
SG: Just how hard he fought. It’s my mom’s favorite movie and she got me and my brother into it. We love the whole series and she always makes Rocky references.

OFM: What led to your college decision?
SG: When looking at colleges, Pitt wasn’t really on my radar until they came out with a documentary about [the program], and then I just knew that I had to go there. When I went up there for my official visit, meeting the coaches and meeting the team was a perfect fit. Every single one of the coaches is amazing, and I had such a deep connection with the goalie coach because we play very similarly. It’s just a great environment and the team is like family. They all want each other to get better and they push each other to be their best. Pittsburgh itself is a great little city and it just all made sense. I love it there.

OFM: Are you prepared for snow and cold weather?
SG: I don’t know [laughs]. I guess I’ll see when I get up there.

OFM: Do you know what you want to study?
SG: I’m undecided right now, but I think I want to do something with marketing.

OFM: What are you going to miss most about Bishop Moore?
SG: I’m going to miss my friends. Lacrosse really gave me my closest friends—I grew up with them, and being able to play in high school and experience this with them is something I’m going to miss.

OFM: What do you like about growing up in Florida?
SG: The weather, for sure, and being able to play year-round, because a lot of schools up north can’t do that. I also like the beaches: I love going to West Palm, the Juno Beach, or to Naples.

OFM: What else do you do for fun when you’re not playing lacrosse?
SG: I like to hang out with my friends and family. With my friends, we normally go on Jet Skis or boats on the lakes, or we’ll go to the beach.


Ari Jimenez, Montverde Academy softball

A senior outfielder/pitcher, Jimenez is coming off a fantastic junior season in which she batted .589 with 24 RBIs and a school-record 38 stolen bases to lead the Eagles to a region championship and the 3A state semifinals. She is headed to Eastern Florida State College.

OFM: After all of your success from last year, are you excited to see what you can do this spring?
AJ: Yeah, I’m excited. It’s going to be fun.

OFM: Do you have any particular goals in mind for yourself or the team?
AJ: I think one goal as a team is that we’re pushing to win states, and we’ve been working hard for that in practice. For me, I want to beat my stolen base record.

OFM: What did you learn from last year’s deep playoff run?
AJ: It pushed us to get even farther this year. It motivates us.

OFM: Has stealing bases always been a strength of yours? What is the key to your success?
AJ: Yeah, I’m pretty fast so that’s always been a strength of mine. Having a high IQ, being able to read the field and thinking a step ahead [are all important].

OFM: How did you first get into softball?
AJ: I started softball when I was 6 years old. My mom put me in it and I loved it, so from there I just kept playing.

OFM: Do you play any other sports?
AJ: I used to play basketball for my old school, but that’s the only other sport I played.

OFM: How did you adapt when you transferred to Montverde last year?
AJ: Coming to Montverde was really good for me because it’s very different from other schools. You get a lot of opportunities here, it’s very diverse and everyone is very welcoming.

OFM: Is it challenging academically?
AJ: No, because at Montverde they give you a lot of help.

OFM: Do you know what you’re doing next year?
AJ: I’m committed to Eastern Florida. I went on a visit and I really liked the coaching staff, the girls and the school in general. I felt like it was the best fit for me.

OFM: Do you know what you want to study?
AJ: I’m leaning toward business but I’m still trying to decide.

OFM: What position will you focus on in college?
AJ: I got recruited for center field, left field and pitching.

OFM: How big of a role will you play as a pitcher this year for Montverde?
AJ: I’m actually not sure, because we got a new coaching staff. I really like outfield and I feel like that’s the position for me.

OFM: What do you like to do for fun in your free time?
AJ: Other than softball, I like being active and being with friends, and I also like traveling.

OFM: What’s the best place you’ve visited?
AJ: The best place I’ve been was probably Hawaii. That was really cool.

OFM: What do you like about growing up in Florida?
AJ: There’s a lot to do here. There’s the theme parks and other stuff right near me, and I love the weather here.

OFM: Who is the funniest person on the team at Montverde?
AJ: The funniest person on the team is probably Lexi Perez. She tells funny jokes and she has funny facial expressions, so she makes me laugh.


Owen Lenox, Lake Highland Prep boys lacrosse

Lenox, an attackman, scored 49 goals to go with 11 assists last year to help the Highlanders win a region title and reach the 1A state semifinals. A Rutgers University commit, he is part of a stellar senior class that has lofty goals for its final season of high school lacrosse together.

OFM: This group of seniors is a special one. Have you all been playing together for a long time, even before high school?
OL: Yeah, it’s been as long as I can remember. Obviously, the four years of high school, but even before that we played for the local club team together. Basically, I’ve played with them for my whole lacrosse career, which has been great. We’ve been able to build really good chemistry and friendships, and it makes this year a lot more special, for sure.

OFM: A lot of you guys are going on to the next level, so there’s a lot of talent. Is it ever difficult to keep everyone happy?
OL: No, we all mesh together. We have guys like Jack Fiordalis, who’s going to St. Joseph’s, and Chris Jaskiewicz, who’s going to Providence, and the list goes on. We all work together on offense and it’s a good group. They’re fun to play with, and we hold each other to a different level, which is good for the team and good for us too.

OFM: You got so close to a state title last year. Does this team have what it takes to reach another level and win it all this time?
OL: Yeah, 100%. In my opinion, we’re just as loaded as we were last year and we’re coming back with more experience. We all got better as well, and this is the year we’re looking to go all the way and finish the job. Unfortunately, we fell short last year, but this year I think we have all the pieces and the mindset on the team is that’s where we need to be, and if it doesn’t happen it’s kind of a bust.

OFM: How did you get started in lacrosse?
OL: My brother, who is two years older than me, introduced me to it. When I was about 5 or 6 years old, him and my dad brought home lacrosse sticks from Dick’s Sporting Goods and they had an extra for me. From then on, I just fell in love with the game. When I was young, I pretty much played every sport I could think of, but I never stuck with one or loved one like lacrosse.

OFM: Have you always played attack?
OL: Yes, sir. I remember the first time I looked up positions and I always wanted to play attack. I think it started because the name sounded cool to me.

OFM: What are your strengths as a playmaker?
OL: I think my shooting is probably one of my strongest abilities, just shooting and finishing from the outside. That’s given me success over the past few years. Getting reps in the backyard or at the fields is something I’ve always loved to do, and it’s transferred over to games.

OFM: What did you like about the school and the lacrosse program that led to you committing to Rutgers?
OL: I visited last fall around late September, and from the minute I stepped on campus, everything felt so welcoming. It’s the type of program I was looking for: I wanted a program that could compete for a Big Ten championship and hopefully even a national championship, and also the culture of the team was important to me. I found that the coach/player relationships were really good there, and there seemed to be a level of trust. That’s something that I value for sure, so that was a big part of it. Seeing the campus and the facilities, it kind of clicked for me and it was an easy decision.

OFM: Do you know what you want to study?
OL: I’m looking to go into business—probably finance, but I’m still researching all of that stuff and figuring it out.

OFM: Some of your high school teammates will be going to school close by, especially Jack Fiordalis at St. Joseph’s or even Chris Jaskiewicz at Providence.
OL: I don’t think we would play them unless it would be the playoffs, but having those guys close by will be great. I’ve already talked to Jack about being close to him, because we’ve kind of been best friends since I’ve been at Lake Highland. It will be cool to have him close if we ever want a weekend to hang out or catch up.

OFM: Have you always lived in Florida?
OL: I was born in Fort Lauderdale and when I was really young I moved to Baltimore, but that was only for about two years of my life. Then I moved back to Florida in the Orlando area, so for the most part I’ve spent all of my life here.

OFM: What do you like about growing up here?
OL: The weather, for sure. It’s nice having the sun year-round, but I am excited for a change next year. Orlando is nice, it’s a great area, and Lake Highland is a great school for me. Academically it’s great and athletically it is too. The lacrosse program is obviously a winning one and Coach V [Jeff Vander Meulen] has been great for me, and I love playing for him.

OFM: What else do you do for fun?
OL: I like to golf a lot with my friends and my dad. It’s nice to be outside enjoying a round. Me and my dad also have a pretty competitive tennis relationship, which is always fun. I can’t beat him yet but I will one day.

OFM: Do you have a favorite golf course to play?
OL: The Winter Park Nine is like five minutes from my house and it’s super fun. It’s not a par-3 course but it’s a very short course so it’s fun to play a quick round.


Victoria Hill, Trinity Prep girls track
Just a junior, Hill has already accomplished so much in her high school track career, including top-five finishes at last year’s 2A state meet in the high jump, long jump and triple jump and a region title in the long jump. She is also a standout volleyball player who will focus on that sport in college.

OFM: Last track season was a memorable one for you. What stands out when you look back on it?
VH: Probably taking [third] place at states in the high jump.

OFM: What is your favorite event out of the three you focus on?
VH: Probably the long jump. It’s the first one I learned and I think it’s the easiest. It’s also fun and I don’t have any struggle with it like I do the other ones. The long jump is an event I don’t have problems with.

OFM: What are your goals heading into this season?
VH: My goal is to jump 20 feet in the long jump, 5-4 in the high jump and 40 feet in the triple jump. I think about my PR more than where I’ll place.

OFM: Is it nerve-wracking to compete at the big meets, like regions or states?
VH: It’s scary and it’s a little nerve-wracking, but it puts adrenaline in me and makes me want to do it. It helps me jump farther to have a lot of competition.

OFM: What are the goals for the team this year?
VH: This is one of our smaller years, where we don’t have a lot of people on the team. We also don’t have a lot of seniors, but I just hope that we can build this year.

OFM: I know you’re also a terrific volleyball player. Which sport is your favorite?
VH: Volleyball is definitely my first sport. I say that track is for me to stay in good shape and it’s a good thing to do outside of volleyball to make me more bouncy in volleyball. I’ll be going to college for volleyball.

OFM: Have you already started looking at schools?
VH: I’ve committed to Appalachian State in North Carolina. I know the coaches because they used to work at LSU and my sister, Samarah, played volleyball there. I went on a visit and it was super beautiful and somewhere I could see myself staying. I really loved it and that’s why I committed early.

OFM: Do you know what you want to study?
VH: Business, most likely.

OFM: What are your goals for your volleyball career?
VH: In the future, I hope to become the Sun Belt Athlete of the Year, because App State is in the Sun Belt Conference.

OFM: Is your sister a big role model for you in regard to volleyball?
VH: Yeah, I actually started because of her. I play the same position as her just because I look up to her so much.

OFM: Is she your only sibling?
VH: I also have a brother, Isaac Hill, who plays basketball. He’s somewhere in Europe right now playing overseas. 

OFM: What else do you do for fun?
VH: I mostly hang out with my friends and go to the mall for food, stuff like that. I take a lot of naps too. [Laughs]

OFM: What do you like about growing up in Florida?
VH: I love the weather because I hate the cold. I also like going to Downtown Orlando whenever I’m free. There’s a lot to do there.

OFM: What do you like about Trinity Prep?
VH: I like the environment. It’s a private school and there are lot of people there, but not too many. You feel really safe and you know that you’re learning. The teachers are all super nice.


Surraya Fadloullah, West Orange girls water polo

Named the team MVP every year since she was a freshman, Fadloullah is coming off a junior season in which she totaled 81 goals, 31 assists and 49 steals to help the Warriors go 24-2 and reach the region final. She was rewarded with multiple accolades, including All-American honors.

OFM: What are your expectations for this season?
SF: I’m hoping that we can make it all the way to states, and my whole team is too. We’re all trying to push each other the best we can at practice. … We’re doing all of the little things and we’re working together perfectly. We all love each other and we’re coming together in and out of the pool.

OFM: Does the experience from last year help a lot?
SF: Well, we had quite a few seniors, but the sophomores are taking on bigger roles, which I’m proud of them for. We have sophomores playing goalie, and playing goalie in general is scary. I’m proud of them for stepping up to the plate.

OFM: Do you have any individual goals?
SF: I’m looking to get the team as close as possible and to set them up for the future as well. You learn discipline and so many other values from water polo that I think everybody should learn.

OFM: How did you get started in the sport?
SF: I started in middle school. My sister was on the swim team for West Orange and then she switched over to water polo. That’s what a lot of athletes do, the swim season and then water polo in the offseason. But I quit swimming as soon as I started playing water polo because I loved it so much.

OFM: What made it click with you?
SF: I think it was just different. I love how you don’t need to always be aggressive, you can be strategic as well. You can be a smart player or you can be a really strong, muscular  athlete. I love how versatile the game is. My coach says water polo is like chess, and I think it is too.

OFM: Water polo seems to get more popular in Olympic years. Do you follow the international game at all?
SF: I watch some of it, but just the USA.

OFM: What did it mean to you to get All-American accolades last year?
SF: I haven’t shown it off enough: My friends are like, “Why don’t you post it?” But I’m happy that I got it. I wasn’t expecting it, but I’m really appreciative of it.

OFM: Do you know what you’re doing next year?
SF: I haven’t decided yet. I might play water polo, depending on what college I go to. There are actually no colleges in Florida that do water polo, so I would have to go out of state.

OFM: Do you know what you want to study in college?
SF: Business and sales. I’m a talker—I like talking—and my dad is in sales, and he says I would be good at it. I just think I can be a smooth talker and it’s something I’m interested in.

OFM: What do you do for fun when you’re not playing sports?
SF: I hang out with friends, I hang out with my cat—he likes to cuddle up. I also like to go shopping. I don’t do much other than that.

OFM: What do you like about growing up in Central Florida?
SF: I like how the community is so close. In Orlando, especially in water polo, everyone knows everyone. It’s a good community to be around.

OFM: Which team is your biggest rival?
SF: It’s been changing every year. Last year, it was Lake Nona, but now that they lost all of their seniors, I don’t know who our tough competitors will be. It was Dr. Phillips in the past and Lake Nona for a few years.


Zephy Rogers, Foundation Academy boys track

Rogers, a senior sprinter, had a memorable 2023 season, as he helped Foundation’s 4×100 relay capture region and state championships. He shined in his individual events as well, placing second in the 200 and third in the 100 at regions to go with top-10 performances in both races at states. He enters his final high school campaign with high hopes.

OFM: Are you excited for the spring season to get underway?
ZR: I can’t wait. It’s my senior year and we’re going to have a great season.

OFM: What stands out as your proudest moment from last year?
ZR: Definitely winning states: It was the best feeling of all time. We worked really hard for it, so seeing it pay off in the end was really rewarding. The previous year we placed sixth, so we thought if we worked hard we had the potential to be top three. As the season went on, we started to PR and we were moving up and up in the state rankings, so we knew we had a real chance. We kept getting faster and faster.

OFM: How did your love for math play a part in the state championship?
ZR: I always try to do the math and see how much we need to take off our time to beat this team or that team. I look up the fastest times from the other teams and see what we need to do. That helps, because I like to know what I’m going up against, and then I can find a plan to handle it.

OFM: Were you happy with your individual performances at states?
ZR: The year before I didn’t make it, so I knew I had to get better. I worked on my 100 time and I dropped half a second off that one, and I placed sixth to get a medal. The 200 is always my hard race, because I get tired pretty quickly after running. My coach helped me work on my endurance, and I dropped a second off my time, broke the school record and made it to states and placed 10th.

OFM: What are your goals for this year?
ZR: I want to break the school record in the 100 and I want to beat my own school record in the 200, and I want to go back-to-back as state champions in the 4×100. We have the exact same team because we were all juniors and one freshman: JT Bronaugh and CJ Bronaugh, who are brothers, and Daniel Jean. Our goal this year is to break the FHSAA 4×100 record, which is 40.14 [seconds].

OFM: How did you first get into track?
ZR: I was always the fastest, pretty much wherever I went. In 10th grade, my friend Daniel was already in the track program and he told me I should try out. I didn’t know if it was good for me, but I decided to give it a try. I went to practice and I enjoyed it, so I stuck with it. I wish I had started earlier—much earlier.

OFM: Do you play any other sports?
ZR: I play football and I used to play basketball. I was more focused on football, but then I started working on both, football and track.

OFM: What else do you do for fun?
ZR: I’m either hanging out with friends, working or working out. I work at a place called The View—it’s a golf course and restaurant in Clermont. I can golf a little, and now that I work there I can practice a lot more, because I get a discount for golf.

OFM: Next year you’re heading to Florida State to study engineering, correct?
ZR: Yes sir. I was really happy to get into FSU: For the past year, that was my goal. I always found engineering to be fascinating, maybe because math is my strongest subject in school. I knew I wanted to pursue it in college and later on in life.

OFM: Why was FSU your dream school?
ZR: My top two choices were FSU and UCF, but I wanted FSU more. I wanted to stay in Florida and be close to home, but I didn’t want to be too close, and UCF was just a little too close for me. I can stay in state and have some distance, and their football team and track team are both really good. I’m still trying to decide whether I want to do football or track, but it’s most likely going to be track.

OFM: I know you wrote an essay during the application process talking about the adversity you’ve overcome in your life, such as losing your mother at a young age and your father being in prison. Do you think facing those challenges has made you the person you are today?
ZR: It really has. That’s what pushed me to persevere and overcome more challenges in my life, and to be able to handle more difficulties in life. It made me a stronger person.

OFM: What do you like about growing up in Central Florida?
ZR: I love it out here, aside from when it gets cold. I like the people, the weather, everything to do around here, the activities. It’s just perfect for me. Later on, I’m going to want to explore more out of state, but right now I want to stay close to home.

OFM: What do you like about going to school at Foundation?
ZR: I like a smaller school because you know everybody, the teachers know you and it’s easier to get help. All of the teachers here are really nice and extremely helpful. They help push you on the right path in life and in the classroom.


Justin Joyce, Timber Creek boys volleyball

A senior setter and captain, Joyce serves as the orchestrator for the Wolves’ potent offense. He accumulated 665 assists to go with 126 digs and 204 service points as a junior, leading Timber Creek to a 20-3 record. He will continue his career at Rutgers University.

OFM: What goals do you have for yourself and the team this season?
JJ: Obviously, the goal is to win states. That’s what we’re going for and we’re not settling for anything less. It’s going to come with adversity—nothing comes easy—but the potential we have and the trust in each other is super high, and we definitely feel like we can do it.

OFM: As a captain, do you feel like you have to show your teammates the way, especially the younger guys?
JJ: It’s not about showing them the way, it’s more about keeping the unit secure. We’re all smart in the game and we all trust each other, so it’s making sure that we’re in a rhythm. I trust everyone on the team that they know what they should be doing and they know how to do it.

OFM: The setter is such an important role. Do you pride yourself on knowing where everybody likes the ball and trying to put them in the best positions?
JJ: Oh yeah. The beginning of the season is definitely an adjustment because it’s been like a year since we played together indoors. The goal is to run a quick offense so we can score easily, so we’re trying to get that speed back.

OFM: How did you become a setter?
JJ: I was a libero for a while, and then my sophomore year we needed a setter so I decided to give it a shot. It’s a lot more fun: I get to touch the ball a lot and I have a bigger responsibility on the team. I enjoy that responsibility, and the more I got into it, the more I realized it was the spot for me.

OFM: Do you ever get opportunities for kills yourself?
JJ: Yeah, I’ll dump once in a while. I’m left-handed, so I’m trying to learn to swing on the second contact. It’s a little shaky right now but I’m polishing that up. I think I took 45 attempts last year and I plan on taking a lot more this year.

OFM: How old were you when you first got into volleyball?
JJ: It was the end of seventh grade when I first touched it, but it was eighth grade when I really got into it. I was like, “This is my sport.” Then once my freshman season started, that’s when I started dedicating a lot of my time to getting good at it.

OFM: Do you play any other sports?
JJ: I played baseball for a while, probably from age 4 to 12. I stopped playing because I had an ankle injury and I couldn’t run long distances or it would flare up. I had to pick a sport where it was either short distance or no running, and I thought volleyball worked because the court was smaller. So I started playing volleyball and never went back to baseball.

OFM: Do you play beach volleyball as well?
JJ: I mainly train in beach. I prefer indoor, but it’s hard to find indoor courts that are available and the beach training is good. A lot of what we do in the offseason at Timber Creek is go and play beach once or twice a week, just because it’s accessible. I’ve played a couple of tournaments too. Physically it’s tough, especially in the Florida heat during the summer.

OFM: What else do you do for fun when you’re not playing sports?
JJ: I’m picking up guitar right now so I’m spending a lot of time doing that. I’m taking music theory this year and getting more involved in music. I’m also working on college stuff too, because I’m going to play up in New Jersey.

OFM: What kind of music are you into?
JJ: I love rock music of all sorts. Right now, that ’90s grunge era is my favorite, but there’s some other stuff I love, like shoegaze—anything from the late ’80s to the ’90s.

OFM: What led to your commitment to Rutgers?
JJ: I knew I wanted to play in college, but for volleyball the options are kind of weird. Since it’s a growing sport, a lot of schools that have it are just schools that have a gym and maybe not a big football field or anything like that. It’s a lot of rural places with less competitive academics. My two big things are that I wanted a big city with a nice social surrounding area, and I was going for the highest academics I could. Rutgers fell into place because it’s close to New York City, it’s in a great area, and they have a lot to offer academically. I went to visit and I knew it was the spot for me.

OFM: Do you know what you’re going to study?
JJ: I’m going to study political science and I’m hoping to go to law school afterwards. I think I’m going to minor in social justice. [The law] has been a passion of mine for a while, even going back to when I was 10 years old and watching YouTube videos of court cases. It sounds nerdy, but that’s just what I would do. I took debate my sophomore and junior year and law studies last year, and I realized the fun aspect of debate and the fun aspect of law is something I can make a living at. I get enjoyment from it and I would love to do it.

OFM: Are you worried at all about going to school so far from home?
JJ: No, I was planning on going to school out of state anyway. I think a change of scenery will be nice and I’m excited because I wanted to do something different for college. I can always come back if I need to afterwards, but for the four years of college I wanted to do something fun, and I thought going up there would be great.

OFM: Have you always lived in Florida?
JJ: For my whole life. I’ve lived in three houses and they were all in Orlando. I don’t mind the heat and I really like the community. The team has been my group and that sense of community around here has been great.

OFM: What do you like about Timber Creek?
JJ: It’s definitely a good school. It has a lot to offer, like dual enrollment, which I’ve been doing this year. It has tons of AP classes, the education is very good, and it has a big student body, which I prefer.

OFM: Who is the big rival? Is there a team you circle on the schedule?
JJ: This year it’s going to be Lake Howell and Winter Park, especially Lake Howell. They did really well last year and they didn’t really lose anybody, so they’re going to be very good. And Winter Park is always good. Those are the teams to beat, but we’re 100% in the mix and I think we can win both games.


Jerald Carroll, Winter Park boys tennis

Carroll, a junior, is coming off a promising sophomore season in which he posted a 15-4 record at No. 1 singles and captured a district title. Also a very accomplished tournament player outside of high school, he has multiple championships on his resume and has represented his parents’ home country, the Bahamas, in international competition.

OFM: I know you play a lot of tennis throughout the year, but are you excited for the high school season?
JC: Yeah, of course. It’s another season and hopefully I can do better this year.

OFM: What are your main goals for yourself and the team?
JC: I want to win as many matches as I can, because obviously I’m playing No. 1. I want to get us further than last year, when we won districts. I got injured in the first round of regions, and I was up too, so hopefully we can recover from that and get further as a team.

OFM: What was your injury?
JC: I tore my hamstring. I won the first set 6-3 and I was up 4-1 and then I got hurt.

OFM: What do you like about high school tennis that you don’t usually get in tournament tennis?
JC: I like the team aspect. Everyone is pretty supportive, which is great, and traveling to away games with the team is always fun. It’s a new experience and it prepares you for college.

OFM: How did you first get into tennis?
JC: I got into it at age 4 with my dad. He helped me a lot and was basically my coach for most of my beginning years. He doesn’t work with me as much now. Every now and then he’ll give input, but he just learned the sport to help me. He’s knowledgeable but not as much as some of the other coaches.

OFM: Are you happy with how you’ve been playing in tournaments leading up to the high school season?
JC: I’m playing well right now. The only tournament I’ve played this year was the Battle of Boca and I did pretty well.

OFM: Is there anything specifically you’ve been working on during this offseason?
JC: I’ve been working on my serve because that’s a big part of tennis. I’m focusing on first-serve percentage and making my serve more of a weapon so I can get free points off it.

OFM: I know you’ve competed quite a bit for the Bahamas. Were you born there?
JC: I was born here, so I’m American, but I’m also Bahamian because of my parents. I’m playing Junior Davis Cup for the Bahamas in two weeks, in the Dominican Republic. I’ve not been to DR, but I’ve been to Guatemala and Honduras for other events for the Bahamas.

OFM: Do you appreciate getting those opportunities to travel because of tennis?
JC: For sure—I love traveling. … It’s fun being able to play at all the different courts. It’s mostly tennis, but I do explore sometimes. 

OFM: How often do you visit the Bahamas?
JC: I go back to the Bahamas pretty often: If not once a month, then once every two months. I have a lot of family there, mostly grandparents and uncles.

OFM: What do you like about growing up in Florida?
JC: It’s different. When I was in the Bahamas, it was always more sheltered because it’s so small. In Florida, there’s so much more to do and I can be more outgoing.

OFM: What are your ultimate goals with tennis?
JC: Of course, I’d love to go pro. I want to reach to the highest levels possible. It’s always fun to watch the pros, see how they compete and see the crowds. I play better with a larger crowd, so it’s an exciting idea to play in front of that many people.

OFM: Have you ever attended a Grand Slam?
JC: I have not attended a Grand Slam, but I went to an ATP event.

OFM: If I could give you free tickets to any Grand Slam, which one would you pick?
JC: I’d probably pick the U.S. Open because I want to see all the young American talent like Ben Shelton, and they give a lot of wild cards to younger Americans. I’d love to see them play them play the early rounds, see how far they make it and just see the evolution of American tennis.

OFM: Do you have a favorite player to watch?
JC: Currently, I love Ben Shelton. I play a lot similarly to him: I’m a lefty, we both are pretty loud on the court.

OFM: Who do you think is the greatest male tennis player of all time?
JC: I think the greatest is [Novak Djokovic], but my personal greatest is [Rafael] Nadal. He’s my favorite player and I just love his mindset. I love how, no matter what the score is, he can bring the match back.

OFM: What else do you like to do outside of tennis?
JC: When I get a break from tennis, I spend a lot of time with my family, because I miss a lot when I’m at practice. When I train in Port St. Lucie, I board there: I stay by myself and just play tennis. So my free time is spent with my family doing outings, mostly going out to eat.


Star Watch

Will Kane, Windermere Prep: Kane, a sophomore catcher, was terrific last year as a freshman, batting .426 with a .580 on-base percentage and .489 slugging percentage while throwing out seven baserunners attempting to steal. He is expected to bat in the middle of the lineup this spring and it would not be surprising to see his power numbers go up.
Connor Mulready, Timber Creek: A senior right-handed pitcher, Mulready was basically unhittable as a junior, when he went 8-2 with a 1.16 ERA and 67 strikeouts to lead the Wolves to a 20-7 record. He is committed to Rollins College.
Roy Rodriguez, The First Academy: The Royals were state champions in 2021 and have an 82-8 record over the past three seasons, including 15-3 last spring. Players like Rodriguez are going to help them stay at that level: The junior shortstop batted .395 with 11 extra-base hits and 33 RBIs as a sophomore.

Emilie Ching, Windermere: A senior shortstop/third baseman, Ching belted 11 home runs last year to go with a .468 average and 32 RBIs as the Wolverines reached the region final. She will continue her career at Florida Atlantic University.
Riley Fennell, Oviedo: Fennell, a senior outfielder, was among Oviedo’s team leaders in several categories last year, including average (.395), home runs (nine), RBIs (33) and runs (25). She is primed for another big season before heading to Clemson University.

Kai Evans, Lake Minneola: Last year was one to remember for Evans, who was the 3A state champion in the 400 hurdles before winning the event at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals and the AAU Junior Olympics.
Alex Georgiev, Montverde Academy: One of the premier pole vaulters in all of Florida, Georgiev has finished in the top three at the 2A state outdoor championships every season of his career, including a pair of state titles.
Campbell Hendrix, Geneva: Named Geneva’s Male Athlete of the Year as a junior, this versatile competitor contributes in a number of events and is already part of 20 schools records with his senior season to go. Last year, he placed seventh in the pole vault at the 1A state meet and 10th in the 400 meters.

Amaya Bien-Aime, Edgewater: Not many high jumpers across Central Florida have the credentials that this senior has. She was a region champion in the event last year and placed third at the 3A state meet. She was also a region runner-up in the long jump and took 14th at states. She is headed to Florida International University.
Ava Wyant, The Master’s Academy: A star in both cross country and track, Wyant is looking to wrap up her outstanding career with the Eagles with another outstanding season. Last spring, she was the 1A state champion in the 800 meters, placed third in the 1600 and helped both the 4×400 and 4×800 relays earn medals. She is committed to the University of Florida.

Daniel Raz, West Orange: Considered one of the best boys water polo players in the state, Raz totaled 118 goals and 37 assists last season to lead West Orange to the region final and earned All-American second-team honors. Last summer, he was placed on the All-American first-team list by USA Water Polo after competing in the Junior Olympics.
Ryan Tannus, Dr. Phillips: The only senior on the Panthers’ roster, Tannus will be counted on for his leadership as well as his continued production. He finished with 141 goals, 74 assists and 122 steals as a junior to help Dr. Phillips post a 17-10 record and reach the region semifinals.

Ava Conway, Lake Nona: The three-time defending state champions graduated their top five goal scorers from last year but are happy to welcome back Conway, a junior who had 22 goals and 28 assists and will look to become one the leaders on offense.
Victoria Mastrangelo, Boone: One of the best pure scorers in the area, Mastrangelo found the back of the net 93 times last year after scoring 74 goals as a sophomore. The senior is already off to a fantastic start this season and will look to help the Braves contend for a region title.

Caden Harshbarger, Lake Mary: Also a standout wide receiver on the Lake Mary football team, this senior midfielder is even more impactful on the lacrosse field. His memorable junior season include 42 goals and 19 assists for the 2A state champions, and he will try to help the Rams repeat this spring before continuing his career at the University of North Carolina. 

Izzy Hughes, Lake Highland Prep: A senior midfielder and captain, Hughes had 36 goals and 86 draw controls as a junior to lead the Highlanders to the state final. She is aiming for a state title this spring before moving on to Vanderbilt University.

James “JP” Candrian, Horizon: Candrian, a senior outside hitter, totaled 262 kills, 146 digs and 21 blocks last year to carry Horizon to Metro and district championships. He has 550 kills in two seasons with the program and a host of accolades to his name, and earlier this year was invited to the National Training Development Program.

Gabi Almanza, Lake Nona: Almanza, a junior, started this season playing No. 1 singles and will be a key contributor no matter where she is in the lineup for one of the top teams in the area.