SUCCESSFUL EVENT — Victoria Gardens Men’s Club recently had its first golf-outing fundraiser at Victoria Hills Golf Club for the benefit of Backpack Buddies, whose mission is to eliminate food insecurity in children and families of West Volusia. The event was a great success with a beautiful day of golf and fellowship. Showing off a check for $11,265 from the proceeds are, from left, Backpack Buddies President/CEO Kelli Marks, Victoria Gardens Men’s Club Golf Committee organizer Ed Refsnider, Backpack Buddies board member Eddie Stamm, Backpack Buddies volunteer Cindy Hubbard and Backpack Buddies Chairman Victor Ramos. PHOTO COURTESY ED REFSNIDER

Vonda Morris, who teaches AP statistics, and probability and statistics, at Spruce Creek High School in Port Orange, has been named Volusia County Schools Teacher of the Year.

Three additional teachers were named recipients of Leading With Grace and Respect awards: Robin Shank, a kindergarten teacher at Friendship Elementary School in Deltona; Hai Chi Saber Bride, a math teacher at Silver Sands Middle School in Port Orange; and Tara Gardner, Career and Technical Education facilitator at Mainland High School in Daytona Beach.

As is the case in most Florida counties, Volusia County Schools is looking for teachers. View the current vacancies in Volusia County and start your online application at or call the VCS Recruitment and Retention Office at 386-734-7190, ext. 20115 or 20168.

The starting salary for teachers in Volusia County is $47,500, and teachers can obtain advance-degree supplements and a comprehensive benefits package, and be part of the Florida Retirement System.

Previous teaching experience is honored, and there are opportunities for professional growth and development.

The next Families and Community Together (FACT) Fair will take place 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16, at Heritage Middle School in Deltona. This fair’s theme is sports, and there will be many exhibitors from throughout Volusia County. The final FACT Fair will take place on April 20 at New Smyrna Beach High School.

Spring-sports athletes have started practicing for the upcoming season. The spring sports include baseball, softball, track and field, tennis, flag football for girls, and beach volleyball for girls.

DeLand Parks and Recreation

The DeLand Parks and Recreation Department is currently registering players for Adult Recreation Softball and Adult Coed Softball. The deadline for the spring league of Coed Softball is Wednesday, Feb. 8, while Adult Recreation Softball’s deadline is Monday, Feb. 13.

Call 386-626-7280 or visit the main office at 230 N. Stone St. in DeLand to sign up.

The DeLand Parks and Recreation Department also offers numerous youth programs, which this column will announce as the date draws near.

DeLand Lightning Boltz Track Club

The Lightning Boltz Track Club traveled to Gainesville for a new experience for most of the club’s athletes: an indoor track meet at the brand-new facility at Celebration Pointe.

The brand-new state-of-the-art Alachua County Sports and Events Center offered the first indoor meet held in Florida in more than six years. This meet was the inaugural meet — the Jimmy Carnes Indoor Track and Field Meet. More than 1,000 athletes competed, and more than 500 athletes had competed in the college division the day before the two-day youth meet.

The Lightning Boltz girls were led by 8-year-old Sydnee Simpson, who won the shot put event for her age group with a 17-foot-11 3/4-inch effort, while her 10-year-old sister, Saliha Simpson, took second in the same event for her age group, with a 17-foot-8 1/2-inch effort. Saliha took fifth in the 60-meter run, while Sydnee was seventh in the long jump.

Delise Johnson was fifth in the 400-meter run, and Arianna Tilley was sixth in the shot put for 15- and 16-year-olds.

Lane Roberts led the way for the boys, as he won the shot put event for 13- and 14-year-old boys with a 31-foot-1 3/4-inch effort. He was fourth in the 60 hurdles at 10.80, while also placing in the 400 meters.

Amir Allen was third in the 12-year-old boys’ 60-meter hurdles, with a time of 11.65, while also taking third in the long jump with a leap of 13 feet, 7 1/4 inches.

Cornelius Dunn was third in the long jump for boys 8 years old at 11 feet, 2 inches, while placing in the 200 meters.

Marvin Walker Jr. took third in the 13- and 14-year-old boys’ long jump at 14 feet, 11 1/4 inches.

Those who earned fourth place for the boys were Tysin Willacy, Edward Bland and Majour Etheridge, and fifth-place finishes were gained by Etheridge and Willacy. Others competing and collecting places beyond fifth were Keron Duprat, Fabian McKnight, Bland, Wilbert Ridgley and Taylor Royster.

Orange CityElementary School

The School Advisory Council at Orange City Elementary School will meet at 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, in the media center.

Osteen Elementary School

The School Advisory Council at Osteen Elementary School will meet at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 8, in the media center.

Volusia Pines Elementary School

The School Advisory Council at Volusia Pines Elementary School in Lake Helen will meet at 2:45 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, in the media center.

DeLand High School Athletics

The DeLand High School Lady Bulldog girls’ weightlifting team topped Father Lopez in both forms of lifting, Olympic and traditional. The scores in favor of the Lady Bulldogs were 50-29 and 50-28, respectively.

Those Lady Bulldogs who picked up two firsts, one in each division, were Cheyenne Cartwright, Alicia Robinson, Addison Ruocco, Aja Albright and Kaia Horn, and Katyah Ross, Jaliyah Powell and Hollee Brady each earned one first.

Second-place finishes were claimed by Rian Anderson (2), Sophia Riley, Alexis Berriozabal (2), Leah Jensen (2), Ross, Brady and Diana Delgado.

Earning third-place finishes were Charity Rank, Delgado, Riley, Ana Soto and Powell.

FIRST EVER — This is the history-making DeLand High School wrestling team, which for the first time ever earned the right to compete for the FHSAA State Dual Match Wrestling title. The DeLand team went undefeated in qualification for the state matches. In the front row are Edwin Alsina, Tyler Bracero, Phoenix Krauth, Grady Bryant, Peyton Senez, Kellen Chapman and Joshua Folsom. In the second row are Jacob Toledo, Christian Lohsen, Roger Reid, Mathias Franz, Zane Canada, Mason Perkins, Gavin Rodriguez-Cayro, Garrett Perkins, Owen York, MJ Smokes, Chris Folsom and Ray Knowles.

The DeLand wrestling team set school history recently by earning the right to compete in the FHSAA state championships for dual competition. Two years ago, the team placed deep in the standings to qualify for the state meet, while last year, the team moved to fourth, but did not gain a ticket to the states.

This year, the team went undefeated in dual competition, earning the right to advance. The wrestlers defeated the following: Olympia, 84-0; Astronaut, 77-6; Viera, 57-15; Jacksonville Raines, 84-0; Ocoee, 59-21; New Smyrna Beach, 42-32; and Seabreeze, 72-9. Recently, the DeLand Bulldogs won the Space Coast Viper Classic meet 64 points ahead of second place.

Three DeLand wrestlers have hit the 100-win mark: Grady Bryant, Kellen Chapman and Gavin Rodriguez-Cayro. They have continued to add wins to their records.

Those who are interested in sponsoring the team as they continue their success should contact head coach Chris Folsom at The assistant coach is Ray Knowles. Team members are Edwin Alsina, Tyler Bracero, Phoenix Krauth, Bryant, Peyton Senez, Chapman, Joshua Folsom, Jacob Toledo, Christian Lohsen, Roger Reid, Mathias Franz, Zane Canada, Mason Perkins, Rodriguez-Cayro, Garrett Perkins, Owen York and MJ Smokes.

Two former track athletes were seen competing at the RADD Track and Field Invitational at the indoor facility in Gainesville. One was Amberleigh Sauer, who now competes for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. She placed fourth in the collegiate shot put at 36 feet, 4 inches, and fifth in the 20-pound weight throw at 48 feet, 1 inch. The other athlete, Avian Edwards-Pla, is a sophomore now at IMG Academy in Bradenton, and he placed in the top eight at the FHSAA State Championships last spring. He ran the 200 on the boards with a time of 22.50, placing him 11th out of 79 entered.

The DeLand Bulldog boys’ basketball team picked up another win with a 55-20 victory over Calvary Christian Academy in the MLK Tournament at Spruce Creek. Freshman Jahvari Campbell scored 13 points and pulled down five rebounds. The Bulldogs lost to Sanford Seminole, 69-28.

The DeLand boys’ soccer team was stopped by Jacksonville Mandarin, 8-0, and Crescent City, 3-1.

The Lady Bulldog soccer team was stopped by Winter Springs, 2-1, with Savannah Bruno kicking the DeLand goal; Chloe Caven had the assist. The ladies also lost to Pierson Taylor, 2-1, with junior April Mendoza and freshman Mackenzie Beltran kicking goals for the Taylor Wildcats.

The Bulldog sports calendar has the Lady Bulldog weightlifters competing in the FHSAA regional meet Feb. 2-4 at Flagler Palm Coast, to earn the right to go to state.

The Bulldog wrestling team competes in the Five Star Tournament on Saturday, Feb. 4, at University High School in Orange City.

On Wednesday, Feb. 8, the Bulldog wrestlers have their last home meet of the year against Toto at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. This will be Senior Night.

Stetson University Athletics

The Stetson University Hatter basketball team recently won one and lost one in overtime at home. The Hats defeated Jacksonville State, 87-81, with Jalen Blackmon scoring 25 points, while Stephan Swenson added 17 points and had seven assists. Wheza Panzo made 16 points with seven rebounds, and Luke Brown dropped 11 points.

The Hats went into overtime with Kennesaw State after knotting the score at 72 all. The Hats were outscored, 10-9, in overtime, losing, 82-81, with Swenson scoring 23 points with one blocked shot, three steals and three assists, while Blackmon had 22 points and Alec Oglesby added 10 points.

The Lady Hatter basketball team was stopped twice on the road. First to Liberty, 77-50, with Jamiya Turner scoring 15 points with five rebounds, with Khamya McNeal getting 15 points, as well. The Lady Hats were inched by Queens, 77-75, with McNeal scoring 22 points, with six rebounds and five assists, while Jaelyn Talley added 20 points and Anabel Ellison scored 11 points.

The annual Stetson Baseball Golf Tournament will be at 11 a.m. Friday, Feb. 10, at the Alaqua Country Club. This will be an 18-hole tournament, with a longest-drive competition, four closest-to-the-pin competitions, and a silent auction featuring baseball memorabilia. There will be a shotgun start at noon, with lunch provided at the start of play and dinner after play. Contact Stetson for entry information. The cost is $300 per individual golfer.

The annual Dick Westervelt First Pitch Banquet will take place Saturday, Feb. 11, at the Wayne G. Sanborn Activity Center in DeLand. Happy hour will start at 6:30 p.m., with dinner and a program to follow. The cost to attend is $25 per person, and there will be a cash bar. The purpose of the dinner is to honor the 2022 team and meet the 2023 team.

The Stetson men’s golf team has signed Dominic Clemons. As a freshman at Hutchinson Community College, Clemons helped the team to repeat its NJCAA national championship. Clemons hails from Cambridge, England.

The Stetson men’s tennis program has signed a new volunteer assistant coach to the staff. Tim Gennes graduated in 2022 and has stayed with the Stetson program as a volunteer coach. The Hatter team opened their 2023 season with a win over Florida Southern, 6-1, while on the same day, the Lady Hatter netters topped Saint Leo, 4-2.

On Saturday, Feb. 4, the men’s basketball team greets Central Arkansas at 2 p.m., and the women are at North Florida at 7 p.m.

On Wednesday, Feb. 8, the women are at Florida Gulf Coast at 7 p.m., and the men play at Jacksonville University at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9.

The Stetson softball team will open its 2023 season Friday, Feb. 10, playing Fairleigh Dickinson at 3 p.m. and Providence at 5:30 p.m. on the campus field. These two games are part of the Frank Griffin Classic. Other games in the Classic on Feb. 10 have Providence facing Dayton at 9:30 a.m., and Dayton and Fairleigh Dickinson playing at noon.

The next day, Saturday, Feb. 11, has games at 9:30 a.m., noon, 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., with Stetson playing at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.

College honors

Veronica Marin, of DeLand, has been named to the 2022 fall quarter’s dean’s list at Palmer College of Chiropractic’s Florida Campus in Port Orange.

Ridge Wilson, of Deltona, has been named to the 2022 fall semester dean’s list at Manchester University in North Manchester, Indiana. Wilson is majoring in nutrition sciences.

Jiya Hastings, a sophomore from DeLand, has been named to the dean’s list in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia.

India Sapp, a junior from DeLand, has been named to the President’s List in the College of Health Professions at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia.

Tristan Sumner, of Deltona, graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Aviation Management/Homeland Security at LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas.

Amanda A. Lauer, of Deltona, graduated from the University of Maryland Global Campus with a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice.

Solomon Tabe, of DeLand, graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Science in computer networks and cybersecurity.

— Send school news to Tony Tussing via email: at


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