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Pinellas County names Hofer, Harris best

The athletic rules manual is also updated with clarified warnings about profanity.

By JOHN C. COTEY, Times Staff Writer
Published May 26, 2005

Palm Harbor University's Dani Hofer and Clearwater's Jason Harris were honored as the Pinellas County Athletes of the Year Tuesday, highlighting the county's annual Blue Book meeting.

The meeting also produced two changes to the Blue Book (or county's athletic rules manual), while four other proposals were defeated.

Hofer, a senior pitcher, led the Hurricanes to the Class 5A state championship, an undefeated season at 31-0, and a No. 3 ranking in the country according to USA Today.

An LSU signee, Hofer finished 24-0 with 22 shutouts, seven perfect games and 405 strikeouts. She also helped PHU become the first county team to win back-to-back state titles and the first unbeaten, untied team in the state in more than five years.

Harris was a dual-sport star. In the fall, he rushed for 1,147 yards and 15 touchdowns, returned a punt for a TD and was a standout at linebacker. He earned a scholarship to Iowa State, and was a first-team All-County, All-Suncoast and All-PCAC pick.

In the spring, Harris was a top sprinter, winning PCAC titles at 100 and 200 meters, and at state was the county's top finisher, fourth place in the 200.

It is the first Henry Deck Trophy for each.

Dunedin pitcher and infielder Kyle Mills, who came back from testicular cancer and was one of the county's top baseball players, received the Mike McPheron Award for courage.

The Superintendents Award, given to the school with the best overall athletic program, went to Palm Harbor U. with 236.5 points. Seminole (222) was second and St. Petersburg (206) third.

The award does not include football nor the postseason, and is based strictly on PCAC standings. Each respective sport's champion gets 16 points, second place gets 15 and so on.

PHU also had the highest cumulative GPA, edging Seminole 3.366-3.326. Clearwater was third at 3.25.

Also, county principals okayed a plan to change the wording in the county's athletic rules manual dealing with the use of profanity by coaches, players and spectators, clarifying the language and moving it to the front of the manual, or Blue Book.

"It was in the back of the book," county athletic director Walter Weller said. "Now, it's No. 4; it was No. 20."

Weller said the rules haven't necessarily changed but the language will be made clearer.

"It now gives a warning that the coaching staff and players will be disciplined according to school board policy," Weller said. "Coaches will be disciplined like a teacher."

Weller said the Blue Book never specifically stated clear rules on profanity, but will now contain a passage that reads "coaches will not use profanity and will not make disparaging or inappropriate remarks towards participants."

"It wasn't in the Blue Book, but there was always an understanding (that it shouldn't be done," he said.

The Blue Book will require principals to educate their staffs on its contents before each school year.

Only one other proposal (of six) passed at the end-of-the-year meeting: all school personnel can now get free passes for sporting events involving their respective schools, and coaches are allowed in free for PCAC championship events.

The changes will now go to the school board for final approval.

Measures defeated included:

Two proposals for junior varsity scheduling, one allowing teams to compete in tournaments and another that would have allowed for five regular season games and seeding for the last two.

The second measure received 9 votes; 11 are needed to pass.

A proposal to have the county pay for the cost of computer operators at big swimming meets, namely the PCAC meet, only got three votes.

Only one principal voted to change the start times for track meets to 4 or 4:30 p.m. (from 6), though if two participating schools agree, a meet can start earlier.

Weller proposed that since schools have to leave an open date for the PCAC final, they play a game whether their team made the final or not. Weller proposed the two No. 1 teams in the North and South play for the title, No. 2 plays No. 2, No. 3 plays No. 3 and so on.

The proposal got eight votes, more than in previous years.

[Last modified May 26, 2005, 01:18:13]


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