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Palm Coast Monday, Jul. 31, 2017 1 year ago

Palm Coast: A surprising wealth of athletic talent

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If I was able to get to know two talented young professionals in the span of only two weeks in the dead of summer, I can’t wait to see what I’ll witness once school starts.
by: Ray Boone Sports Editor

I didn’t know what to expect when I first arrived in Palm Coast.

(I know, this sound exactly like the beginning to my last column. But, trust me, it’s different.)

In my introductory column a week ago, I talked about my past as a sports writer for The Independent Florida Alligator — the student-run newspaper at the University of Florida. In my year and a half at The Alligator, I was fortunate enough to watch and write about some of the most talented athletes I have ever seen in person.

In addition, I also discussed my Miamian heritage — if there even is such a thing — in last week’s column. Keeping in line with the focus of this column, Miami — and South Florida, in general — is a massive pool for athletic talent. And that’s not even to mention the four major professional teams in the area.

So I say again: I didn’t know what to expect when I first arrived in Palm Coast. I had not even the slightest idea of the degree of athletic ability I would pay witness to as the Palm Coast Observer’s new sports writer.

Instinct told me I probably wouldn’t be exposed to too much talent. Most of Florida’s top-tier athletes are typically congregated in the more metropolitan areas of the state: South Florida, Orlando, Jacksonville, Tampa Bay and so on. Yeah, sure, there may be some outliers in Florida’s smaller communities, but not as a rule.

Or so I thought.

I’ve been in Palm Coast for a full two weeks now.

(And as a side note, I’ve loved every second of it.)

But in my two weeks — and before the high school athletic season has even started — I’ve already been introduced to incredible talent not indicative of a relatively small community.

A week and a half ago, I met 15-year-old professional surfer Hannah Blevins, who competes in surfing events that regularly span the globe. And I also got to interact with 19-year-old tennis star Reilly Opelka, a former Junior Wimbledon champion and current ATP Tour member.

If I was able to get to know two talented young professionals in only the span of two weeks — in the dead of summer, I might add — I can’t wait to see what I’ll get to write about once high school sports actually commence.

Again, Palm Coast: I’m impressed.

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