The Los Angeles Unified School District, facing massive cuts to athletic programs in 2010-2011, received private and corporate donations of $1.4 million to stave off the economic armageddon of the district's $640 million deficit. The effort was spearheaded by the LA84 Foundation and Dodgers owner Frank McCourt. Other major players in resolving the issue reportedly included soccer team Chivas USA, the Lakers and Nike.
The real task now will be to keep it going, because it's unlikely the money will return any time soon. In fact, supervisors are now looking at trying to fund other disciplines, such as the arts, the same way.
The funding will allow football teams to pay for six coaches instead of four, and keep freshman-sophomore basketball teams from being eliminated.
District superintendent Ramon C. Cortines has asked Melissa Infusino to generate a strategy for aligning corporate sponsorships for the future, and to present a proposal by July 1.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the options include naming rights for fields and auditoriums, and corporate sponsorship of events, games and programs.
The Times also noted that coaching stipends were eliminated and travel budgets cut in half in the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District, that $100,000 must be cut from the district budget by coaches in Redlands, that the Los Padres League has eliminated freshman-level sports, and that the Capistrano Valley Unified School District cut coaching stipends this year with no plans to reinstate them.
Golden Valley (Santa Clarita) enjoyed the most successful week in its baseball history, but it didn't come without a scare. The team discovered a rattlesnake in its dugout during a practice, and then won its next three games, including two victories over highly regarded West Ranch (Valencia), 18-6 and 5-4. A victory over Valencia, 7-6, made it three in a row. In that game against Valencia, Brandon Smith hit a two-run homer with two out in the seventh. Since getting rattled, Golden Valley is 4-1, which is telling for a team that's 10-10 on the season.
From the bullpen, coach Scott Drootin saw kids suddenly scrambling from the dugout. "The one thing I discovered was I didn't realize how fast my team was," Drootin told the Los Angeles Daily News. "I was actually impressed."
MVP honors went to a pair of infielders, Jon Granado and Tanner Swire, who disposed of the snake.
Taking a hard line
No one can accuse Matt Rutter, the baseball coach at Reseda, of not being a disciplinarian. When fewer than nine players showed up for a practice, the punishment was a forfeiture of its Mission League game to San Fernando, whose coach, Armando Gomez, didn't seem to appreciate the consequences.
"First we were supposed to play (last) Tuesday, and it got rained out," Gomez told the Los Angeles Daily News. "Then we were supposed to play Wednesday, but it was postponed because Reseda didn't have their uniforms. And now this. Reseda should have punished the kids some other way. We just want to play."
Carson steps up against cancer
Among the biggest softball games in the City Section each year is San Pedro, and once again there will be Marine League title implications at stake when they play Thursday at Carson. However, the game will be used to raise cancer awareness. Three cancer survivors will throw out the ceremonial first pitch: Juanito Cuico, grandfather of San Pedro star Kailee Cuico; Carrie Lovelady, mother of former Carson star Christina Schallig; and Marilyn Bittle, teaching mentor for Carson's coach, Cam Werner.
"We're going to introduce them before the game and recognize them in their struggle to beat Cancer," Werner told the Torrance Daily Breeze. "And Mr. Cuico has done it twice."
Werner established the cancer awareness game two years ago in honor of Schallig's aunt, Eileen Ignacio, who died from the disease at age 45. Proceeds from the game will go to the American Cancer Society.
Bishop Amat gets lift from Rio Grande
Bishop Amat (La Puente) scored a big win on Wednesday, defeating South Hills (West Covina), 4-3, under the lights at Mt. San Antonio College. Sophomore Rio Ruiz hit a 400-foot homer, and Paul Paez struck out 12 to improve to 10-0 on the season. Amat is ranked No. 10 in the state by MaxPreps, South Hills No. 53.
Hard to call South Hills (14-4) a warmup for anybody, but it was: On Saturday, Bishop Amat will face No. 7 Lakewood (22-3) in the marquee Red Division championship of the Redondo baseball tournament. The game is Saturday, at 7 p.m. It will be preceded by the White division final between Taft (Woodland Hills) and South (Torrance) at 4 p.m.
As bizarre games go, few can match those of Birmingham (Lake Balboa). The Patriots had a game postponed earlier this season because of bees, and they had a game Wednesday in which they scored 11 runs – 10 with two outs – in the ninth inning to beat Cleveland (Reseda), 26-15.
Cleveland scored 10 in the fifth inning to go ahead, 15-10, but Birmingham answered with five in the seventh. The teams used six pitchers apiece and combined for 40 hits, 22 by Birmingham. Kevin Torres had four hits and four RBI for Birmingham, and Randy Medellin and Steven Rodriguez had five RBI apiece.
Notes from the bullpen
Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood) had certainly hoped to christen its new $700,000 O'Malley Family Field in a different manner against Loyola (Los Angeles), which pounded out 23 hits in a 22-2 Mission League victory. A.J. La Bruna and Danny Hayes had five RBI apiece, and freshman Corey Dempster hit the first homer. It's located at Franklin Field in Encino and named in honor of former Dodger owner Peter O'Malley, who was a major donor to the school and had two sons graduate from there.
Lakewood may be among the best teams anywhere, but behind Cody Harris' three hits, Wilson-Long Beach scored a 6-4 Moore League victory, its second of the season against the Lancers.
Angel Acosta, a sophomore at Gabrielino-San Gabriel, pitched a no-hitter and struck out 17 in a 7-1 Mission Valley League victory over El Monte. Now with 100 strikeouts, he holds the school record for most in a season. Also a school record was the 17 Ks, and it was the first no-hitter in school history. Acosta is the same pitcher who fired off seven scoreless innings of relief a few weeks ago against St. Anthony-Long Beach as his team came back from a 15-1 deficit to win, 21-17, in 11 innings.
Henry Owens of Edison-Huntington Beach, the powerful left-hander who has been unbeatable, was beaten on Wednesday. Esperanza got a solo homer from Jonathan Maciel and two-run homer from Travis Alamazan to beat the 6-foot-7 junior, 3-1. Owens (8-1) had a no-hitter going into the fifth inning; he walked four and hit five, allowed five hits and struck out 11. Esperanza (15-6, 8-2) has twice beaten Edison (14-7, 8-2), which began the season as one of the nation's most highly regarded teams. Austin Pettibone, ripped in his last appearance for seven runs in 2 2/3 innings against Newport Harbor, outdueled Jones by allowing eight hits, including a solo homer in the first, and one walk.
Chatsworth clinched its first outright league title in softball as Florida-bound Cheyenne Coyle pitched a no-hitter against Birmingham-Lake Balboa in a 12-0 victory. She also had three hits, two home runs, six RBI and three runs.
A humdinger at Leuzinger
Reggie Morris Jr., coach at Leuzinger (Lawndale) who guided the program to a 25-8 record and its first CIF Southern Section title this season, has been fired as both coach and teacher, according to the Torrance Daily Breeze.
Apparently the school district issued him a notice of non-reelection in February – and voted on it the night of his team's second-round victory – so he coached the team to the championship knowing he wouldn't be back. He did not tell his team. Because he is a new teacher in a probationary period – he received his teaching credential last year – the district is not required to provide him the reason for its decision.
"It was tough," Morris told the Daily Breeze of coaching without letting on what was going on. "I have to be as tough as I tell them to be. I push them to be tough and not have any excuses. I had to practice that. It wasn't about me personally, it was about all of us achieving something they can't take away from us, even if I don't get my job back."
Morris had coached Leuzinger for eight seasons. Two of his former players are in the NBA. It will be interesting to watch this develop because Morris seems to have some support within the community. If it was determined he was a poor teacher, was it also determined that he was a poor coach? Or did one affect the other and if not, why did he lose both positions?
This will probably play out with the district avoiding comment because it's a "personnel issue," but the ethics of the situation demand the coach at least be provided a reason for his dismissal.
Another humdinger, this time at Rialto
Don Markham, the infamously successful football coach hired by Rialto to restore its football program, has been sent to the sidelines before ever grabbing his whistle. Markham was placed on administrative leave as the Rialto Unified School District investigated a complaint against him.
He had coached Rialto for two seasons, going 13-9 in 2000-01; he won more games in those two season than the program has won in the eight years since. He is 309-110-1 overall, and his undefeated 1994 Bloomington squad scored a national-record 880 points. It's not the first time that Markham has rubbed someone the wrong way. Previously when he was at Rialto, he referred to his team as "a bunch of jerks," a comment that eventually reached the pages of Sports Illustrated.
Pierson Williams, an all-City guard from Taft-Woodland Hills, has committed to LMU for men's basketball.
Max Wittek, a quarterback at Mater Dei-Santa Ana, has committed to USC. . . . Freedom McCullough, a safety at Campbell Hall-North Hills, has signed with Minnesota Crookston. . . . Brent Williams, a defensive end at Taft-Woodland Hills, has signed with Washington. . . . Brandon Jimenez, a linebacker at El Segundo, has signed with Millikin University.
Adam Velez, a centerfielder at El Dorado-Placentia, has committed to nearby Chapman University. . . . Tyler Abbot, a pitcher at Royal-Simi Valley, has committed to UC Irvine.
Comings and goings
Colin Jamerson of Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth), has resigned as boys basketball coach after two seasons and a 41-19 record. According to the Daily News, Jamerson said there were things happening with the school administration with which he didn't agree. The team reached the section V-A title game.
Yucaipa has hired Justin Price as its football coach. Price, 31, was 8-12 in two seasons at Granite Hills-Apple Valley; the day before he interviewed, Friday, he had received a layoff notice as a special education teacher. He was tendered the position on Monday, according to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin. Coincidentally, Yucaipa had an opening for a special education teacher. He succeeds John Hallenback, who was replaced after two seasons.
Dave Mikesell, who developed Santa Ana Foothill into a girls water polo power – it won an Orange County-record six section titles – has resigned.
The transfers among you
Victor Robbins, a 6-foot-5 sophomore at Carson, has transferred to Compton.
DaVonte Young, the Pacific Coast League player of the year as a freshman running back at Irvine, has taken advantage of his free transfer prior to his sophomore season and will attend Tustin, according to the Orange County Register. Said Young: "Tustin is a higher competition and I will get the special attention I need in the classroom there." This one isn't sitting very well at Irvine. New coach Erik Terry – the replacement for OC legend Terry Henigan – refuted the lack of attention Young received, and said there was no indication from Young's foster family that he was leaving Irvine, where three family members had previously attended. "I take this as a slap in the face that DaVonte and his family didn't share their (plans) with us," Terry told the Register. Tustin has had a long line of outstanding backs, dating to Deshaun Foster and including this past season's standout, Anthony Wilkerson.
Former coach hospitalized
Ryan Silver, 30, who recently resigned as boys coach at Rolling Hills Prep-San Pedro, has been hospitalized in Las Vegas after being found in a hallway outside his room at Mandalay Bay. According to the Daily Breeze, Silver is in intensive care but is conscious. He had been in Vegas for a basketball tournament with his Pump-n-Run travel team, but it is unknown whether he collapsed or was attacked.
Better late than never
At a 20-year reunion of a championship team from 1990, the Pasadena Muir boys are trying to get into the record books. The program won 169 consecutive dual meets, beginning in 1979 and continuing for 20 years. The program won four state titles, including three in a row from 1994 to 1996 under coach Clyde Turner. Coaches that preceded Turner during the run were Walter Opp and Bill Paul. They also won nine section titles.
The group, spearheaded by Sy Baldwin, is hoping to get the total recognized in the National High School Sports Record Book and then the Guinness Book of World Records. Baldwin, captain of the 1990 national championship team, indicated that the work of Paul, Turner and Jim Brownfield would be able to document the achievement.
"We did not always have the best individual athletes, but we had great dual meet teams," Baldwin told the San Gabriel Valley News.
Michael Woepse of Mater Dei, who had hoped to set a national record this season in the high jump, won't get that opportunity after being injured Saturday while attempting to clear 17 feet at the Orange County Championships. The Orange County Register reported that specialists told the nation's leading pole vaulter that he would need three to four months to recover from a partially torn left hamstring. The UCLA-bound vaulter has cleared 17-6 this season.
Bryce Jones scored 27 points as the Taft-Woodland Hills standout led the City Section to a 129-126 victory over the Southern Section in the Collision All-Star game at El Camino College. Keala King of Mater Dei scored 27 points for the Southern.
Chris Adams of Damien-La Verne scored 22 points, including four in overtime, to lead the Tribune past the Star-News, 118-111, in the Tribune/Star-News All Star Classic at Damien High. Ify Umodo added 21 in the game pitting seniors from East and West San Gabriel Valley. Proceeds from it, and the girls game, went to the Jimmy V Foundation for cancer research. In the girls game, the Star-News scored a 72-70 victory as Most Valuable Player Tia Chen of La Canada scored 20 on 5-of-7 shooting from beyond the 3-point arc. "I've never shot that well in my entire life," she told the Pasadena Star News.
La Verne Lutheran honored by city
La Verne Lutheran, which won the State Division V championship, will be honored by the City on Saturday, 4-7 p.m., at the high school. Admission is $12 for the ring and watch ceremony, but there will also be food, music, carnival games, auctions, guest speakers and announcements about the program.
Martin Henderson began covering Southland preps in 1993 for the Los Angeles Times. He contributes to the Orange County Register, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin and San Bernardino Sun, and offers up motorsports opinions at Racescribe.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.