2024 Sunshine State Games Events

Starting the Skating Young at the Sunshine State Games

The final day of the 2023 Sunshine State Games Figure Skating Championships was a day for the beginners in the sport.

The Snow Plow Sam events were held on the Florida Panthers IceDen Mezzanine rink for those just learning the elements of figure skating and looking to continue.

The events are known as Snow Plow because the snow plow stop, where skaters turn their skate to stop, is one of the first moves they learn after taking to the ice. Snow Plow Sam, is a bear mascot created by US Figure Skating to make the events more appealing to the young skaters.

In the Snow Plow Sam Basic 4 Girls event, four skaters went through a variety of moves that included spins, jumps, skating backwards, turns, skating around the Florida Panthers logo at center ice, and of course, the finishing pose and bow.

Five-year old Connor Ramsey, from San Antonio, sported a tuxedo and skated to the “James Bond, Jr.,” theme. He and his seven-year old sister, Olivia, were both on the ice this weekend.

Now skating at the Basic 3 level, Connor started at the age of two, shortly after Olivia started skating. Their father, Mark, learned to skate in Colorado and was a competitive speed skater and played on a high school hockey team at Gulf High School, in New Port Richey.

Their mom, Ashley, rounds out the family affair and selects their music and costumes.
“She literally scours the internet and movies for little known themes and music you don’t often see in figure skating routines,” Mark said.

Connor’s performance music Sunday will definitely give him confidence as he grows up in the sport.

“Look out, he’s coming through. He’s got a job to do, while he rescues the girl. James Bond, Jr.”

Assisting the skaters move up the levels of skating to the stadium rink is a panel of more than 40 judges who spend their weekends, at tables, in heavy jackets, scarves and boots above the ice. While the skating routines only last a couple of minutes, the judges are watching dozens of routines a day.

They’re watching for the precision of the skaters moves, their balance during jumps and spins and their accuracy gliding across the ice.

It’s a volunteer position, with expenses covered for travel, and the judges are skaters who grew up in the sport and stayed with it, according to The Sunshine State Games Figure Skating Sport Director, Betty Stark, who skated competitively through her high school years. She was involved in the first Sunshine State Games Figure Skating Championships in 1987 with 59 skaters.

The judges are travel to competitions around the county for the love of the sport. Stark and the others at the judges table enjoy seeing the sports and its athletes grow.

“We an adult silver man skating today who I remember as a kid first starting out.,” she said.

Her fellow judge Greg Cannon, now living in Indian Harbor Beach, relocated from Dallas where he began skating and began judging in his early 20s.

“It’s all about the continuity of the community,” he said of the progression from skater to judge. “I don’t travel to international events but have done a lot in the U.S. I’ve seen skaters like Sarah Hughes and Johnny Weir advance through the ranks. Even Andrew Torgeshev, from South Florida, has all of the banners on the wall out there (gesturing toward the rink). We’ve watch him grow up.”

For a complete listing of events and results, visit 35th Florida State Games Figure Skating Championships (usfigureskating.org).

A bit north of the Florida Panthers IceDen at the Village Park Athletic Complex, in Wellington, Lacrosse players were advancing through the ranks from the 8 and under, 7 vs 7 teams, through the High School Divisions. The 98 teams playing in the Sunshine Summer Lacrosse Classic wrapped up after playing 210 games, on 16 fields, between Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon.

Sunshine Summer Lacrosse Kickoff Gold Medal Winning Teams
Boy’s High School A: FLX (5-0)
Boy’s High School B: Manatee LC (5-0)
14 and Under A: Old Bay 124 (5-0)
14 and Under B: Manatee Wildcats (5-0)
12 and Under A: Jaws 2029 (5-0)
12 and Under B: Jaws 2030 (5-0)
10 and Under A: FCS (3-1)
10 and Under B: Old Bay 10 (5-0)
8 and Under: PV Jaws (4-0)
Girls High School A: Florida Select 2026 (5-0)
Girls High School B: Limitless 26/27 (4-1)
Girls High School B2: Florida Express Teal (5-1)
Girls Middle School A: MadSkillz 2028 (4-0)
Girls Middle School B: MadSkillz 2029 (5-0)
Girls Lower School: Lax Maniax Force (5-0)

Visit www.sunshineeventsgroup.com/summerkickoffschedule for the schedule and results.

The Sunshine State Games continue the weekend of June 2-4, with Pickleball and Canoe/Kayak in Charlotte County. Pickleball will be played all three days at the PicklePlex of Punta Gorda. With over 130 players currently registered, the deadline for registration is Friday, May 26. Visit www.sunshinestategames.com/pickleball for more information.

Canoe/Kayak will be held, Saturday, June 3, with Sprint Races, and Marathon Races on Sunday, June 4, at the Port Charlotte Beach Park. The online registration deadline for the Canoe/Kayak races is Friday, May 26. Visit www.sunshinestategames.com/canoe-kayak for more information.

Swimming will also be held the weekend of June 2-4, at the Dwight H. Hunter Northeast Pool, in Gainesville. The Sunshine State Games meet, hosted by the Makos Aquatic Club, is always a popular event with over 300 swimmers annually. The registration deadline is May 24. Visit www.sunshinestategames.com/swimming for more information.

The Sunshine State Games is an annual Olympic-style Sports Festival for amateur athletes of all ages.  Now in its 44th year, dating back to 1980, the Sunshine State Games is the longest continuously-running State Games in the U.S.  The 2023 Sunshine State Game is held in conjunction with the Gainesville Sports Commission, Central Florida’s Polk County Sports Marketing, Visit Lauderdale, Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach Visitor & Convention Bureau (VCB) and Earl Enterprises.