By Len Walencikowski
Published: Fall 1997

Miami Southridge's Principal, faculty and staff since 1976 have always selected a theme for the upcoming school year.  For the 1996-1997 school year that theme was "The Year of the Family United Toward Excellence."  The Spartans of Southridge truly worked as a family united and achieved excellence in athletics by winning the Miami Herald's Major Sports Trophy in both boys and women's sports.

"Sister Sledge" who sang the song "We Are Family" could have used the Southridge girls' fast pitch softball team's season to add another verse to their song.  The verse might sound like this ... "We are family, all the young Spartans and me."  As you look at what a team made up of 16 players; of which there were four sets of sisters, and a coaching staff made up of a husband and wife, their father-in-law and two Spartan alumni, the song fits.  One senior shortstop broke her leg and her freshman sister filled in for her admirably while she healed and rehabilitated.  They didn't let any setbacks stand in the way of their ultimate goal, a state championship.  Lastly, all 16 girls were committed participants in the Bigger Faster Stronger total program for one to four years depending on their grade level.  They, indeed, made their last performance their best.  They demonstrated that they were a family.

On May 20, 1997, Coach Bob Schmidt's softball team sang their song as they defeated a talented 27-4 Valrico Bloomingdale High School team 2-0 in the Florida State High School 6A Championship game in Kissimmee, Florida.  I would like to congratulate Coach Schmidt, his staff and team for this accomplishment and for him receiving the Miami Herald's Coach of the Year Award.  I feel that it was an honor as a strength coach to work with you and your players.  My gratitude goes to assistant coach Edith Velazquez for her dedication and coaching in the strength room from August 28, 1996 to January 22, 1997.  She helped the girls understand that when hard, correct work becomes fun, success will follow.

It is great to see young ladies work together; to help each other strengthen their minds, bodies and spirits.  At Southridge we believe Character, Desire, Experience and lastly Athletic Ability are the determining factors in building a championship team.  Coach Schmidt's team worked extremely hard to develop these elements in the proper order.  I am thankful to three very special ladies for their unselfish senior leadership.  They are: Bonnie Charter, Cindi Perantoni and Denise Pressey.  They are true Spartans.  Through their example of always finding a way to get in the strength room, they made sure the younger girls got their workouts in.  They made sure those girls were using great technique and intensity on the Dot Drill, 1-2-3-4 Flexibility Program, the six BFS Core Lifts, Straight Leg Deadlifts, Glute Ham Developer and Rotator Auxiliary Lifts.

Talk about keeping a busy schedule.  Senior Bonnie Charter also was a varsity bowler for four years, a four-year varsity softball pitcher, maintained a 5.0+ G.P.A. and supported her sophomore sister, Amanda, to a record of 22-1 on the mound for Southridge last season.  In addition, senior Cindi Perantoni plays varsity volleyball, has been a four-year starter at shortstop and the 1996 Homecoming Queen.  She also does the Dot Drill in 45.2 seconds, Power Cleans 125, Squats 275 and Bench Presses 120.  Cindi also broke her leg 1/3 of the way through the season and her 9th grade sister, Kim, was called upon to perform at the same level to keep the dream alive until Cindi could return.  Return she did.  Cindi worked correctly and intensely to allow her leg to heal.  Through the help and knowledge of our athletic training staff, she was able to come back strong for the play-offs and score the run that insured the state championship.  The third senior is as intense as they come.  Catcher Denise Pressey, whose single in the championship game, set up the first run of the victory.  Denise also caught a fly ball for the final out of the game.  Denise is also a member of our Spartan marching Band that received all superior ratings this year, a four-year starter behind the plate has not ignored her academics either as she was Southridge's Silver Knight candidate for Dade County in Athletics.  These three young ladies believe in the principles of the Bigger Faster Stronger Total Program and are truly Upper Limit athletes.

I believe that the returning 13 Spartans have learned from the seniors that when correct hard work becomes fun, success will follow.  Bonnie, Cindi and Denise, it has been fun.  I would like to thank you for the four years we shared.