Three Broward Managers Hit Major Milestones In 2023
Broward County isn’t short on legendary high school baseball managers, and a pair of long-time coaches — Fort Lauderdale High’s Terry Portice and Cardinal Gibbons’ Jason Hamilton — reached major milestones in April.
Portice, who has spent 27 years leading the Flying L’s, reached win No. 300 on Wednesday, April 19, with an 11-1 decision of the Boyd Anderson Cobras. It was only Fort Lauderdale’s fourth win of the season, but it marked a decade of hard work for Portice.
Win No. 200 came in 2013, when the author of this article was still playing for him as a junior in high school. Speaking from experience, Portice’s greatest gift as a manager is his ability to mold athletes with any level of experience into baseball players and responsible young men.
Like all great coaches, he gets his players to buy in, and the results typically exceed expectations. Getting a chance to lead a group of young men through whatever adversity may challenge them in a given season is something he relishes.
“I don’t remember too many easy ones,” Portice said. “I can tell you this, I coached my tail off every day. There’s not a day you can take off. You’ve got to stay on them because you never know what the other team is going to give you… It’s still a work in progress, but I am proud of having done that all at one school, and with a variety of different teams that have been very distinctive in 2-3 year cycles.”
Over the past decade and 100 wins, Portice has collected a second district championship (2014) and saw a 15-win season in 2018. Often landing in the same district as nearby private-school powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas has kept Fort Lauderdale from adding more hardware to the shelf, but Portice wouldn’t have things any other way.
The current Flying L team is loaded with underclassmen, which is something a bit foreign to the program. Wins haven’t come easy, but this could be the start of another one of those cyclical runs.
Portice is hopeful that his team can gain some valuable experience in the upcoming district tournament, which once again features St. Thomas at the top.
Hamilton, who earned his 400th win against Chicago Lane Tech on April 6, is a long-time friend of Portice and said it was an honor to reach win milestones in the same season. He knows the challenges of succeeding at a public school from his first few seasons as a coach with Northeast High.
The first 57 wins of Hamilton’s coaching career came with the Hurricanes, but he’s collected wins No. 100, 200, 300 and now 400 with the Chiefs across two decade-long stints. Cardinal Gibbons has claimed eight district championships and made a Final Four appearance in 2019 under Hamilton. Perhaps the best team he coached was the 2020 team that never got the chance to prove itself beyond a 9-1 record because of a pandemic-shortened season.
Hamilton sat on No. 399 for a while. Coming off an 11-6 win over Monarch, the Chiefs faced a three-game slate against three of the county’s best — Douglas, West Broward and Western. The skid continued with a one-run loss to a different Illinois team, Lemont, and then finally Gibbons played its “best game of the year.”
“To reach an individual milestone like that, you have to have a lot of help along the way. A lot of help,” Hamilton reiterated. “I have always been blessed to have really good kids in our programs over the last 25 years. It really helps to have a good coaching staff too, and some of them — both past and present — are some of my closest friends to this day.”
Hamilton added that parents have played a crucial role in the program’s success over the year, elevating the day-to-day functions through strong fundraising and booster club activities. Being at an athletic-friendly school has also helped Hamilton take the program to new heights.
Win No. 300 came for Hamilton in March 2015, so No. 500 could come before the close of the 2020s if he can continue leading Gibbons to similar success.
Perhaps his now 9-year-old son will even be on the team by then.
University School manager Dan Rovetto might not be at legendary status just yet, but he quickly hit the 100-win mark in his sixth season as a head coach. The Sharks swept a doubleheader against two different opponents on Friday to get Rovetto to the magic number. Flooding and rain might have delayed the moment, but the Sharks beat Miami Senior, 16-1, and Coral Shores, 8-1, to get there.
“I am grateful for all my players and coaches who have helped me accomplish this,” Rovetto said. “It takes a village in coaching. I have been very fortunate to have quality people around me for a long time who give back to the great game of baseball.”
Rovetto is in his second stint coaching the Sharks. He started his career with Coral Spring Charter in 2013 and set the school record for wins after going 22-8. The following year, Rovetto took over at University School, leading the Sharks to a 48-32 record over the next three seasons. After spending time as a professional scout, Rovetto returned to USchool in 2022 and has quickly added another 30 wins to his record.
The Sharks have held down a spot in the county top 10 all year and look to be mainstays moving forward with Rovetto at the helm.