Ping Pong Smash 3 at the Hard Rock

By Chris Jenkins

HOLLYWOOD — The third time is the charm as they say. In this case, good times and a good cause led the way on Dec. 11, 2006. The Miami Dolphin’s Jason Taylor and the Seminole Tribe of Florida joined forces again for the third annual Ping Pong Smash 3 and auction at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

The all-pro defensive end Taylor joined a host of current teammates including Zach Thomas, Randy McMichael, Olindo Mare, Channing Crowder and Vonnie Holliday, and other former Dolphins and many fans, in doubles table tournament play. All the action was to raise funds to support The Jason Taylor Foundation serving children in need in the South Florida community.

Fort Pierce Liaison Sally Tommie made an appearance. DJ Laz from Power 96 FM emceed the evening.

The tournament was set up into two conferences, Ping and Pong, with four divisions in each conference. There were six teams in each conference with each team playing the other in their division at least once. Eight teams made the playoffs. The winning team was Dolphin linebacker Derrick Pope and Juan Ly from Flamingo Commons Dental Office.

Noted auction items included: autographed Joe Montana, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, and Jason Taylor jerseys, an autographed Dwyane Wade shoe, autographed Ray Lewis-Ed Reed helmet and an autographed baseball and hat from Pete Rose.

Seth Levit, executive director of Taylor’s Foundation, said he was very grateful to the Tribe for their support.

“The Seminole Tribe of Florida has been unbelievable since day one,” Levit said. “They have been tremendous supporters of Jason and tremendous supporters of what we do here as a foundation.”

Taylor also feels the support of the Tribe as well as the growth of the tournament are excellent.

“The Tribe has been the best at helping us out in everything that we do with the foundation,” Taylor said. “It’s gotten bigger and better. I think we’ve gotten more efficient in running the scoring system and gotten more participants every year.”

Away from his charity, Taylor is having an MVP season on the field ranking first on the team in sacks and forced fumbles and has two interceptions returned for touchdowns. However, he says he would trade it all for a better season.

“You hear the talk [for defensive player of the year], but I really don’t think about it, if it happens then great, but you know I would much rather have 11 wins at this point, then any award,” Taylor said.

Levit says the funds raised have also increased each year for the tourney since its first year in 2004, with this year’s total approaching the $50,000 mark.

He said he feels such a unique fundraiser is a great way to relax.

“Everybody gets to get together, have fun, let their hair down and I think this is probably the most fun event we do all year,” Levit said.