Cover Story 28 Psychology of a Free Throw Why the mind matters when you’re at the line
Hoops Hot List
INSIDE PREP WRESTLING
On The Cover
Franklin High freshman Vernon Donovan Cover photo taken by Jeff McPhee Designed by Tim Huynh
Total Sports Magazine presents some of the area’s top hoops talent
Mind Over Matter
Despite being legally blind, Woodcreek High’s Joe Germino is no easy mark on the mat
Volume 2 Issue 1
No Mountain? No Problem
Davis High snowboard team still competes, despite its valley location.
INSIDE PREP RODEO
Two of a Kind
Nevada Union High’s Taylor and Fallyn Foster are teaming up for team roping
INSIDE YOUTH SOCCER
McDougal in Motion Franklin Elementary School’s Lauren McDougal has a very long ‘likes’ list
Xs & Os
At the Buzzer
with Bill Cartwright
with Richard Walter
PUBLISHER Brian Sytsma
EDITOR Scott Johnston
PALs on the Pitch
Rancho Cordova PAL rugby program provides many life lessons
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TSMSACRAMENTO.COM TOTAL SPORTS MAGAZINE is published monthy by Napkin Communications, LLC. Principal Office: 1824 29th Street, Sacramento, CA 95816. Periodicals postage paid at Sacramento, CA mailing offices. Return undeliverable addresses to: Postal Station 2356 K Street, Sacramento, CA 95816. U.S Subscriptions: $25 for one year. SUBSCRIBERS: If the postal service alerts us that your magazine is undeliverable, we have no further obligation unless we receive a corrected address within two years. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to TOTAL SPORTS MAGAZINE, 1824 29th Street, Sacramento, CA 95816. MAILING LIST: We make a portion of our mailing list available to reputable firms. If you would prefer that we not include your name, please call or write us. Copyright 2010 TOTAL SPORTS MAGAZINE, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. REPRODUCTION IN WHOLE OR IN PART WITHOUT PERMISSION IS PROHIBITED, TOTAL SPORTS MAGAZINE IS A REGISTERED TRADEMARK OF NAPKIN COMMUNICATIONS, LLC. CUSTOMER SERVICE AND SUBSCRIPTIONS: For customer service, please use our website: www.totalsportsmagazine.com.
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All you have to do is ask, we’d love to hear from you
n my 15-plus years in journalism, I’ve had the privilege to tell a wide variety of stories about a wider variety of people. Next to the actual writing, the process of finding those stories has been one of the more enjoyable aspects of my career. Each time I punch a new number, into my phone a new opportunity for discovery presents itself. At times, my job can resemble a literal story safari – with new and exciting tales waiting to be found every time someone answers their phone. Inside this edition of Total Sports Magazine, readers will find yet another sampling of some of these stories– I first contacted Woodcreek High wrestling coach Doug Mason about a wrestler named Peter Santos, who, as a freshmen last season, reached the state meet. Toward the end of our phone conversation, I casually asked Doug to keep me in mind if he had anything else he thought we might be interested in. Doug answered, “Well, I do have kid on the team who is blind.” That was how I happened to meet Joe Germino, a truly inspirational individual, who, in his three seasons on the mat, has accumulated more fans (and a few groupies) than
wins, but has never let his lack of sight hamper his visionary approach on life.
Scott Johnston Editor
lin Elementary’s Kim McDougal, a standout soccer player, and Eddy Middle School’s Hannah Eastman,
At times, my job can resemble a literal story safari – with new and exciting tales waiting to be found every time someone answers their phone.
While attempting to track down an angle on girls who wrestle in high school, I made a random call to West Campus coach Michael Scott. Turns out Michael, once a monster on the mat himself, has passed on the grappling gene to his children, most notably his daughter, Jamaie, who is currently the top-ranked 189-pounder in the state. While trying to unearth standout youth athletes in Elk Grove, I sat down one day and cut and pasted a cluster of e-mails to every last elementary and middle school in the Elk Grove School District. Those efforts produced Frank-
a nationally ranked swimmer. Both girls are not only wonderful students and athletes, but also proved to be great conversationalists, which is not always the case when interviewing kids. These stories are just another example of something I’ve believed for a long time – everyone has a story to tell, all you have to do is ask. So give us a call, or shoot over an e-mail, we’d love to hear from you and we look forward to telling your story soon. —Scott Johnston firstname.lastname@example.org
TOTAL SPORTS MAGAZINE
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• • • • • • •
Total Sports Magazine - Where in the area did you grow up? Bill Cartwright -I went to Franklin Elementary School and we lived about a mile south of there. Way out in the country, then we moved over to the Valley-Hi/Cosumnes area. Back then in the early ‘70s that was in (Elk Grove’s attendance boundary). Now you would be going to Valley if you live there. Of course now there are a few schools in between, but back then it was all Elk Grove. Total Sports Magazine - What was your time at Elk Grove High like? Bill Cartwright - At that point in time it was a typical high school that was in the country. We had suburban kids, farm kids, black, Asian, white – a small blend of that. I think it was good. It was obviously a good place to grow up and go to school. Total Sports Magazine - How
with Elk Grove High alumnus
Bill Cartwright is one of the most dominant high school basketball players ever to come out of Northern California and is widely considered to be the best in the history of the Sac-Joaquin Section. He was named Cal-Hi Sports Basketball Player of the Year in both his junior (1974) and senior (1975) seasons and was the Cal-Hi Athlete of the Year his senior year at Elk Grove High. Behind the 7-foot-1 Cartwright, the Thundering Herd won two section titles and the 1975 CIF NorCal Tournament of Champions. He went on to play four years at the University of San Francisco, where he was a twotime All-American and still holds the Dons’ career scoring record. He was drafted third overall by the New York Knicks in 1979 and played 16 years as a center in the NBA, most notably with the Bulls where he was part of Chicago’s first “three-peat” championship run from 1991-93. After retiring from the SuperSonics in 1995 he re-joined the Bulls as an assistant coach and won two more championships in 1996 and 1997. He is currently an assistant coach with the Phoenix Suns. Cartwright recently spoke with Total Sports Magazine staff writer John Parker.
many kids in the area were your physical equal in terms of size and athleticism? Bill Cartwright - Height-wise there was one other guy who was as tall as I was – James Donaldson, who went to Burbank High. James went on to go to Washington State then he played in the NBA for eight, nine years. He was the only one as tall as I was. As far as being a great athlete, I’m not quite sure. I was a good, hardworking athlete. I was never a big jumper or anything like that; I was the guy who spent more time in the gym than anybody else. Total Sports Magazine - How often do you reflect on those days? Bill Cartwright - Not that often. They were really good times, I had good friends, great teammates. Periodically I see them. But I don’t really dwell on those days. Total Sports Magazine - Do you still have family in the area? Bill Cartwright - My sisters are still
there. They all live in Sacramento. My dad is still there. My mom passed away. I still keep in contact with my high school coach who’s still living there so I talk to him periodically. I still keep in touch with my high school friends there. Total Sports Magazine - How often do you visit? Bill Cartwright - Summer time during July and August is the only time you really have off. I usually come back then. Total Sports Magazine – You’ve seen and done a lot between high school, college and the NBA, what are some of your favorite memories? Bill Cartwright - Every year is an experience. The ones that stand out the most are the ones when you’re most successful. My junior year (at Elk Grove) we were 30-0. When I was a senior we won the Northern California championship, played in the championship game at the Oakland Coliseum. When
I was a sophomore (at USF) we were the No. 1 team in the country for most of the year. In the NBA, I got drafted by the Knicks, played with them for nine years and got an opportunity to play for Red Holzman. I had some great teammates, my rookie year I played with Earl Monroe, I played with Bernard King. There were a lot of characters there, then I got traded to the Bulls. I won three championships as a player and two coaching. There’s a lot of great stuff in there. Total Sports Magazine - What got you into coaching? Bill Cartwright - I wasn’t really thinking about it. I had just finished my last year (as a player) with Seattle. I was finishing up grad school with the USF branch in Sacramento. Then I got a phone call from (then-Bulls General Manager) Jerry Krause asking me to come back and coach. It was a big decision. I was happy where I
was, living in El Dorado Hills. So I thought maybe this could be what I’m supposed to be doing. Total Sports Magazine - Like a calling? Bill Cartwright - Something like that. I’m not going to call it a religious experience but it was a direction I should be going. So I thought, “Yeah, you know, I’ll give it a shot.” Luckily for me it was ’96, right after they won 72 games. Total Sports Magazine - So many people are comparing Michael Jordan with Kobe Bryant and/or LeBron James. Having played with Jordan and coached against Kobe and LeBron, where do you stand on that? Bill Cartwright - I think it’s hard to compare guys. Interestingly enough Michael and Kobe are similar. But it’s a different time – 10 years can make a big difference. For me it’s really hard to compare and I would never do it. Total Sports Magazine - Who was your toughest matchup in the NBA? Bill Cartwright - I never looked at playing against somebody as a tough matchup. My deal was always that I’m gonna guard somebody, I’m gonna play them as tough as I can play them and I’m gonna try to make their life miserable (chuckles). Sometimes that worked, sometimes it didn’t. Total Sports Magazine - Were you at all star-struck making the NBA All-Star Game as a rookie with the likes of George Gervin, Moses Malone and Dr. J? Bill Cartwright - It was a big deal. I don’t think at that point in the season I was struck by anything. My first year in the league I was second in minutes played. I was playing a ton. So if anything I was more tired
than worrying about playing with those guys.
do is give yourself an opportunity to do well and have an edge.
Total Sports Magazine - The Bulls dynasty you were part of is welldocumented, but the ‘87 Knicks had (Dallas Mavericks head coach) Rick Carlisle, (Florida head coach) Billy Donovan and were coached by (Louisville head coach) Rick Pitino. Knowing those guys how you did, what makes them such successful coaches? Bill Cartwright - I think it has more to do with the foundation of the people they are as opposed to anything that may have happened when they were in the league.
Total Sports Magazine - You were recently named to Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Fame. What went through your mind when you heard the news? Bill Cartwright - You have to be pleased. There are some great guys in there like Dusty (Baker) and Kevin Johnson. It’s a great group. To be a part of that, I was pleased. Whenever you see a successful individual it’s a reflection of their
family. I was fortunate to have two great parents, James and Marie, and to come from a big family – six sisters. From high school to college to the NBA, I had really good teammates. That’s what it’s all about. If you have people around you who are supportive when things are not good, that’s what gets you there. If people are there for you when things aren’t going great to keep you upright, thinking the right way, encouraging you, that’s what it’s all about. I’ve been fortunate to have that throughout my career.
Total Sports Magazine - You played with and for a lot of influential people in the sport. Who have been some of your favorite personalities, people you still talk to? Bill Cartwright - There’s a bunch. Every year you’re playing you find somebody that you like, that you hang around with. Some of the guys who I really liked playing with the Knicks were guys like Patrick (Ewing), Kenny Walker and Louis Orr, who’s now the coach at Bowling Green University. Total Sports Magazine - What advice do you give to young people just starting out in basketball? Bill Cartwright - If you’re going to be good at anything you have to commit to it. You have to put time into it. The player who works the hardest and for the longest gets the most out of their ability. You have to put an extraordinary amount of time in working on your body physically, working on your shot, working on whatever aspect of the game is going to be necessary for you to be successful. All you want to MARCH 2011
with Sacramento Country Day’s Richard
t’s a skill and statistic that tends to get overlooked, but thanks to guys like Sacramento Country Day senior Richard Walter rebounding is coming back into style. The Crusders’ resident glass cleaner leads the Sac-Joaquin Section in rebounding, averaging more than 16 per game. Walter also leads Sacramento Country Day in scoring (12 points per game), but his rebounding is what is generating recruiting interest. “He came to me one day and asked if he could play in college,” Sacramento Country Day coach David Ancrum said. “When I said, ‘Yes,’ he just went berserk; worked harder and harder. He just wants to get better.” Earlier this season he had back-to-back 20-plus rebounding performances, pulling down 24 in a Dec. 4 loss to Global Youth Charter and following up with 20 in a win three-days later against Dunsmuir. He is the only true center on the Crusaders’ roster and at 6-foot-5 often has to do the dirty work against bigger guys. He doesn’t physically overpower opponents – he just out works them. “He gets so many of his rebounds in traffic,” Ancrum said. “Man-sized rebounds.” His game has drawn comparisons to – and earned him the nickname of – Kevin Love, the Minnesota Timberwolves’ second-year center who is leads the NBA in rebounding. Ancrum, who played for Phil Jackson with the Albany Patroons and later 13 years overseas, has an extensive Rolodex from his playing days, one he uses to arrange pick-up games with top-flight competition. Walter has honed his craft playing in those games against members of the Kings, local collegians and players under contract in Europe who are in Sacramento during the offseason. “He wasn’t sure at first,” Ancrum said of the first few times Walter tried to post up on the pros. “But once he found out his niche was rebounding, he took off.” We caught up with Walter, who along with teammate Paul Kessler (who was nicknamed “The Great White Hope” by Kings guard Donte Green during a pickup game) was working out with Ancrum before school the morning after a recent win over Sacramento Adventist. In the following photo series Walter (in color) demonstrates and narrates his rebounding technique against Kessler. For the purpose of the example we’re assuming Walter is on offense.
Cleaning STEP ONE
Here Walter anticipates an entry pass.
The shot has gone up.
“As soon as I see him go up for the shot, I find my man and swing around so I can get position. It needs to happen really quickly so he doesn’t box me out.”
the Glass STEP THREE
Proper box-out and rebound technique with Sacramento Country Day’s Richard Walter
Photos by Tim Huynh | Total Sports Magazine
As the ball approaches the basket, Walter has swung his leg around and boxed his man out.
With his interior position established, all that’s left is going up and getting the ball.
“I get in front of him, bend down and push back a little bit, but not too much to dislodge him or anything. I just make sure they can’t get to the ball.”
“Once I have that positioning, once the ball hits the rim, I go straight to it. Just as soon as I think I can get it – when it is at its highest point. Usually you have to jump before anyone else does.”
Total Sports Magazine
Versus This month we’re introducing a new department for TSM called “Versus.” In each installment one or more Total Sports Magazine staffers will take on a prep or youth competitor in his or her own sport. For our first installment we chose Bella Vista senior sharpshooter Kelly Logue and challenged her to a three-point contest. Logue fills the box score each night for Bella
Kelly Logue of Bella Vista High’s Vista and finished her senior regular season on top or among Capital Valley Conference leaders in nearly every statistical category, including a 15.5 point per game scoring average, 4.3 steals per game, 3.4 assists per game and a 57 percent field goal percentage. The Broncos finished the regular season 21-5 with a perfect 10-0 record in the CVC
after being realigned from the Capital Athletic League. Bella Vista earned the No. 4 seed in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II girls basketball playoff and played No. 13 Central Valley on Tuesday night. Read more about Logue and how she has honed her game (with a little help from her family) on page 22.
KELLY LOGUE SCORES KELLY
Photos by Tim Huynh | Total Sports Magazine
When it came to basketball, I was always the kid who got picked last. Such is the fate of the kid who can’t dribble, pass or rebound more effectively than a pet goat. I could take a charge with the best of them – in fact I may have led the East Bay middle school league in that category, if stats were kept – but my main passion was shooting the rock. My “glory days” in the sport are confined to one: scoring five points (should have been six, I still maintain my foot wasn’t on the line) against Hillview circa 1998. Going into this contest, I knew I wouldn’t come close to besting Kelly, but Scott “Shoot the J” Johnston was squarely in my cross-hairs.
I staked out a spot on the right wing and hoisted all of my shots from there. Now, far be it from me to complain about shooting with a smaller ball (unlike, ahem, some people) but it is an adjustment. Fortunately for me, I had not shot a basketball of any kind for a good five years going in – and it showed. Clank. Clank. Clank-clank-clank. Finally, about midway through the session I hit a groove with two splash hits in a row. At this point I’m thinking “OK, two more and I’m golden. Easy-peasy.” Wrong. I put on a great display of stone masonry for in the final 30 seconds, air-balling twice. The final shot took a high bounce off the back of the iron and hung in the air for what seemed like an eternity as I fantasized about at least getting a tie out of the deal. No dice, it fell harmlessly to the floor.
It really is too bad this wasn’t a “Who can draw rim on the most shots” contest, because that’s one I so could have won, what with Kelly hitting nothing but net on nearly all of her makes. Considering I’m the one who sets these contests up, it’s pretty pathetic that I’ve come in last in both. Definitely rigging it next time …
Aside from packing and unpacking my garage during a recent move, I have picked up a basketball exactly zero times in the last three years. So when my colleague John Parker suggested we kick off Total Sports Magazine’s version of us versus them with a 3-point contest, I thought, how hard could it be? As I dusted off my old, black Nikes (shoes I bought before I met my wife of nearly eight years) I actually started getting pretty pumped. Even in my prime years (1989-1991), I can’t remember any opponent of mine ever being rushed to the hospital with broken ankles or speed dialing his local sports psychologist.
My old basketball buddies tagged me with the nickname “Shooter,” which I proudly made every effort to live up to. It wasn’t until much later that I found out that’s exactly what my friends DIDN’T want me to be. While heading to Bella Vista High, the site of the contest, I called on a couple of those same guys for some last-minute advice. “Smooth and easy,” was the general consensus. Unfortunately, neither action fits very well with my style, which is more “fast and furious.” Sadly, the only thing coming fast and furious this day was the shots on my ego. I miss this game…
Those feelings remained even as shot after shot went astray. When it was all said and done, I’d managed to clang approximately 12 of the 15 shots I launched in the one-minute time limit. The release felt great, the arch looked fine, but the results hadn’t changed after all this time…
Total Sports Magazine’s
Hoops Hot list
Ever wonder who the best shooter in the area is? The best defender? The best dunker? How about guard tandems? Front courts? What about the best gym? To find the answer one would have to watch enough hoops to cause Dick Vitale to burn out. Never fear, TSM is here to do the leg work so you don’t have to. We scoured the region for the top games and spoke with over two dozen players, coaches, parents and fans in putting together a cross section of the area’s very best hoops talent.
tch a game a c o t e c la p t s e B hoops built” “Houses
Earl Crabbe Gymnasium, Placer High
Photos by Sc
Hear that? It’s mystique. Built in 1936, it’s only fitting that every year comes to a close with the state’s oldest basketball tournament, the Kendall Arnett, played in one of the state’s oldest high school gyms. In contrast to the cold feel of more modern cement and brick gyms, Earl Crabbe has a warm, inviting feel accentuated by the wood paneling that wraps the gym floor. High above the playing surface the Hillmen and Hillgals’ championship banners are displayed dating all the way back to 1903, adding to the history. The below-ground locker rooms, above-court fixed bench seating and the broadcast booth in the south corner are all quirky twists that give this relic a true “Hoosiers” feel. Also worth a look: Dave Hotell Pavilion, Sacramento High; Father Barry Gymnasium, Jesuit High.
| Total Spor ts Magazine
Best backcourts “All hands on Deck”
Photos by John Pa
—GIRLS— Carly Bettencourt & Dakota McLarnan, Oak Ridge
, lef t and Carly Be ttenc
rker | Total Sport
The Lady Trojans are defending D-I state champions because they can beat you in a variety of ways. With the ball in Bettencourt’s capable hands, Oak Ridge can play break-neck fast, running past opponents or lure-you-tosleep slow by working an open shot for McLarnan who, despite her diminutive 5-foot-5 frame, is lauded as one of the area’s best sharpshooters. Then there’s the defense. Oak Ridge, again led by Bettencourt and McLarnan’s, apply a constant, suffocating brand of defense that Rocklin coach Rob Ferraro calls, “Swarming. They come at you in waves. (Their) eight-through-12 players are better than most teams’ one-through-five.” Other standout guard combos: Briana Charles & Beth Balbierz, St. Francis; Madeline Campbell & Becky Duncan, Del Oro; Bre’ana Williams & Fantasia Hilliard, Sacramento.
—BOYS— Akachi Okugo & Parker Uu, Jesuit An apt name for this duo may as well be “Fire (Okugo) and Ice (Uu).” Okugo is a blur in the open floor, pushing tempo and attacking the rim while Uu is the Marauders’ calm, cool, collected shooter like his older brother, Drake, who scorched nets at Rio Americano during the later part of the last decade. Both served notice last year as sophomores that the Marauders would once again be a force as Okugo led the team in assists and steals and Uu led the team in three-point makes. Another standout guard combo is D’Erryl Williams and Dakarai Allen of Sheldon.
s by Je ff
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, left and P
arker Uu MARCH 2011
Best frontcourts “Paint Patrol”
—GIRLS— Belle Obert & Crystal Sewell, Del Oro Total Sports Magazine Photo by John Parker |
Not many in the area can match Obert’s raw athleticism as the 6-3 post player is also a standout on the volleyball court with a scholarship to Butler awaiting her in that sport. Sewell enters her third varsity season with a varied skill set that includes ball handling, shooting and shot blocking. Obert is the Golden Eagles’ leading shot blocker (5.8 per game) while Sewell is their leading rebounder (8.1). In addition to an intimidating defensive presence, both also fill the box score on the offensive end as Sewell leads the team in scoring, averaging just over 13 points, while Obert pours in just over eight points per game, making over two thirds of her shots. Other standout frontcourts: Ali Ryan & Nicole Johnson, Ponderosa; Tyler Ellis & Taylor Hawkins, Antelope; Dezja James & Melissa Norman, Pleasant Grove.
Belle Obert and Crystal Sew
—BOYS— Kyi Thomas, Ramon Eaton & Darius Nelson, Sheldon When your front line averages 6-foot-6 in the high school game, just consider yourself blessed. Huskies coach Joey Rollings does, noting that he not only has size on the baseline, but athleticism as well. Nelson, a 6-foot-6 UTEP verbal commit, is the Huskies’ focal point (and has been since he was a freshman) with a deceptive jump shot and a guard-like handle on the ball. Eaton, 6-foot-8 with a longer wingspan, patrols the middle and with leaping ability that has to be seen to be fully appreciated. Flanking Eaton on the other side is Thomas, who plays much taller than his 6-foot-3 frame would otherwise indicate. Other standout frontcourts: Chad Haysbert & Kenneth Parker, Center; Chuks Iroegbu & Theo Johnson, Franklin. Photos by Scott Johnston | Total Sports Magazine
Kyi Thomas, Ramon Eaton and Darius Nelson
Best defenders “You shall not pass”
—GIRLS— Ali Ryan, Ponderosa
Ali Ryan, left
Photo by Tim Huynh | Total Spor
At a time when more and more high school, and sometimes younger, athletes are opting to specialize in one sport, Franklin High senior Anthony King is a throwback. In the fall, he dons pads and a helmet and gives opposing defensive backs fits as a wide receiver for the Wildcats football team. As the leaves turn color and fall gives way to winter, he can be found in the gymnasium, pestering opposing guards and making brash drives down the lane. For the past five years he’s known no different; he took up basketball at 7-years-old, shooting around with Dad, and then in the seventh grade took up football. He’s spent the last six years excelling at both. This past season he caught 59 passes for 1,256 yards and 16 touchdowns for a 10-3 Wildcats outfit that qualified for the playoffs. Hampered by a shoulder injury he suffered in football this fall, he missed the Wildcats’ first seven basketball games but provided a lift in his second game back, scoring 14 points and recording two steals in a 76-70 win over area rival Pleasant Grove. That after he had only been back on the court for a week. Not that it bothered him though; toughness – mental and physical – is a trait that follows him from the field to the hardwood. “Physical toughness, quickness and speed,” King said of the characteristics that he utilizes in both sports. “Mentally there’s a lot that crosses over, too.” As the Wildcats’ shooting guard he is a valuable offensive weapon, just as he is on the gridiron, but it’s his defense that sets him apart, Franklin basketball coach Jesse Formaker said. King is tasked each night with guarding the opposition’s best scorers. “The best on-ball defender in this area, I’ll be biased, wears No. 24 and plays right here at Franklin High School,” Formaker said. Other lockdown defenders: Darius Grant, Sacramento; Elijah Hudson, Encina; Jeff Davis, Burbank.
yphotography.net Hurley | rich@hurle
—BOYS— Anthony King, Franklin
h Photo courtsey of Ric
Steals are a state usually reserved for guards, but Ryan, also the Bruins’ leading scorer, has managed to lead the section in that category playing in the post. A muscular 5-foot-11, with what coach Noel O’Donnell calls, “Lightning-quick hands” Ryan rips the ball from opponents and often leads the break. Only a junior, she averages 6.5 steals per game, a stat made more impressive considering she’s only fouled out once this season – in the opener against El Dorado. When she’s not picking up easy buckets in transition off the Bruins’ stout press, she excels with her back to the basket, utilizing feet just quick and skilled as her mitts. Other lockdown defenders: Kelly Logue, Bella Vista; Amara Wainwright, Vista del Lago;
Best shooter s “L ights out”
—GIRLS— Kelly Logue, Bella Vista
Photo by Tim Huynh | Total Sports Magazine
Tell Bella Vista senior guard Kelly Logue she plays like a guy and she’ll probably just shrug, perhaps thank you, then cross you up and take it to the rim for an easy two. Logue has grown up playing on teams and against younger brother K.J. – short for Kevin James – and in the process developing a game that makes most, boys and girls alike, envious. “Her knowledge of the game is tremendous,” said Bella Vista girls basketball coach Gwyn Jackson, whose own son and daughter, Terry and Teryn, respectively, play varsity basketball at the school. “She’s a little gym rat, always has been.” Kelly leads the Broncos in assists, steals and shooting and has been among the leaders in the Sac-Joaquin Section in those categories for two seasons now. Kelly, K.J., a junior at Bella Vista, and older sister Katie, a 2008 BV graduate, played for their father, Kevin, in the program he founded at Woodside Elementary. Starting out with just two boys teams, Kevin grew it to six boys teams and five girls teams by the time K.J., 16 months younger and one grade level behind Kelly, entered middle school. Kelly and K.J. often played on the same teams, but it never ended there. “We played against each other all the time,” Kelly Logue said. “I actually used to beat him until he got his growth spurt … he’s dominated ever since.” Kelly credits that one-on-one experience against her brother – currently standing 6-foot-5 – to developing her shooting touch and overall game. At 5-foot-10, she is one of the area’s best at creating and getting her own shot up. “He’s the reason I can make those odd, off-balance shots,” Kelly said. It’s not just a one-way street though, as Kevin points out, they have helped each other. Despite his size, K.J. has more of a combo guard game and even gets about five minutes per game to run the point. And according to Sue, he’s borrowed some of big sister’s slick ball-handling moves, incorporating them into his own burgeoning inside-out game. He is among team leaders in points, assists, blocks and rebounds. And while those driveway pickup games can get contentious, they remain each other’s No. 1 fans. “(Kelly) is very supportive and I do my best to support her too,” K.J. said. “It’s nice to have somebody here that’s got your back, always. She gets me. If I’m upset (after a game) she’ll just give me a high five and that’ll be it. It’s just her letting me know she’s there for me and if I need to talk to her, I will.” Other pure shooters: Dakota McLarnan, Oak Ridge; Amara Wainwright, Vista del Lago.
K.J. and Kelly Logue
—BOYS— Colin Lee, Nevada Union
Colin Lee TSMSACRAMENTO
al Sports Magaz ine
Photo by Scott Joh nston | Tot
At 6-foot-4, getting a clear look at the bucket isn’t normally an issue. But what sets Lee apart from other elite shooters is his touch. “He’s got great balance, good instincts, good shot mechanics,” Miners coach Dale Latimer said. “There aren’t too many pure jump shooters left, so a kid that’s got a 12 to 14-foot jump shot is really a rarity.” Lee is the Miners’ playmaker: he is a primary ball handler, their triggerman on many inbounds plays and the focal point of the offense. One could only imagine what he would do if his only role was a jump-shooter. Other pure shooters: Brandon Ogle, Monterey Trail; Parker Uu, Jesuit; Matt Hayes, Pleasant Grove; Jason Gish, Valley Christian
Best dunGk6e”r “Like a
—BOYS— Chuks Iroegbu, Franklin Plenty of 6-foot-3 guys can get up and dunk. But to truly appreciate Iroegbu’s athleticism, consider that it is he, and not the Wildcats’ tallest starter (6-foot-5 junior center Theo Johnson), who jumps during the open tip-off. In one earlyseason game against Nevada Union (average height, 5-11) Iroegbu, who won the dunk contest at the Arcata Invitational last December, had a tip-slam, caught an alley-oop and threw down on the fast break … in three quarters. He seemingly can’t help himself: following a failed fourth dunk attempt in that game, coach Jesse Formaker reminded him, “Chuks, they still give you two (points) for a lay-up …”
ynh | Total Sp
Photo by Tim Hu
Michelle Hernandez, Bella Vista. Volleyball (MB) and Basketball (F) Belle Obert, Del Oro. Volleyball (OH) and Basketball (C) Lauren Chetner, Elk Grove. Soccer (MF) and Basketball (G) Jenny Lysaght, Christian Brothers. Basketball (F) and Volleyball (MB) Melissa Norman, Pleasant Grove. Basketball (C) and Volleyball (MB)
Anthony King, Franklin. Football (WR) and Basketball (SF) Arik Armstead, Pleasant Grove. Football (OL/DL) and Basketball (C) Nick Blaser, Roseville. Football (QB), Basketball (PG) and Baseball (SS) Josh Turney, Placer. Football (RB) and Basketball (G) Brady Dragmire, Bradshaw Christian. Football (RB), Basketball (G/F), Baseball (P/SS)
Davis High snowboard team still competes, despite its valley location
makes about as much sense as a soccer team in Siberia, but Davis High, located on the floor of the Sacramento Valley, not only fields ski and snowboard teams, it excels in them. To explain how Davis physical therapist Marcia Heller became the coach of the school’s snowboard team is to observe what happens to nearly every person who tries the sport for the first time: She just-kind of-fell into it. Heller’s oldest daughter Gretchen, now 25, joined the team when she was a sophomore at Davis High. Ever the involved parent, Marcia decided to help out and be the “bus mom,” chaperoning the team to and from the slopes for practices and races. When the previous coach, also a parent of an athlete on the
team, left Heller stepped in to fill the bindings. “That’s how I started learning this godforsaken sport,” Heller quipped. “I’ve been hooked ever since.” She has since seen her two younger children through the program. The title “head coach” is more of a figurehead position as the team receives dry and on-snow training from the Auburn Ski and Snowboard Club. That leaves bookkeeping, transportation and, of course, cheerleading responsibilities to Heller. “It’s just so fun to watch them get up on the mountain and see their confidence grow,” she said. “I love taking a kid who can hardly turn and in two years turning them loose at Squaw (Valley) or Northstar and
watch them enjoy it. “They pick things up a lot faster than I do, I’m jealous as heck.” Despite being located on the valley floor – about 40 miles from the footh i l l
schools it competes against – Davis continually fields strong alpine sports teams. The ski and snowboard teams at Davis each fill their own bus for the two-hour trip up the mountain for Sunday practice sessions and Monday races. Heller has to cap participation at 50 to avoid having to book another bus. Last season the snowboard team finished 12th out of 30 schools in the Central Tier II Division at the California-Nevada Interscholastic Ski and Snowboard Federation championships. The Davis ski program is even more decorated, having won multiple individual and team titles.
n g li s h E – to – d r a o b Snow d ic t io n a r y AIRDOG – n. A rider chiefly concerned with pulling off aerial tricks. BEEF – v. To crash, whether attempting a turn, trick or otherwise. Also called a “biff ” or “wipeout.” CLEAN – adj. When a trick or run is pulled off with relative ease. DEATH COOKIE – n. A large snowball frozen into the middle of a run. FRAGGLE – n. Accident involving two riders. GOOFY – adv. A rider who predominantly rides with his or her right foot forward. The opposite of regular. HUCKER – n. A rider who attempts incredibly complicated tricks with reckless abandon – often without success.
It’s just so fun to watch them get up on the mountain and watch their confidence grow. —Marcia Heller Davis High head coach The snowboard team holds organized practices most Sundays from mid-December through February and the six races are Mondays from early January through February. The two-hour plus ride up the mountain means the Davis riders have an added foe: 6 a.m. departure times. “It causes a lot more stress,” senior Shane Lillya said. “For most other schools, it’s maybe one hour round trip for them to get up there. For us it’s over four. You really have to devote a full day to it and take it seriously when you’re up there.” Typical Sunday training sessions utilize all of the winter daylight, beginning as soon as the bus hits the resort parking lot and doesn’t end
until sundown. Mornings are reserved for direct coaching sessions and in the afternoon team members can opt to work one-on-one with a coach, make solo runs or board in the park. Race days – done either in slalom or giant slalom format – consist of two runs on separate courses with combined times generating the results. After six races each school’s top three boarders are automatically qualified for the CNISSF championships and can take up to an additional three if their combined scores are in the top 100.
Last year the Davis girls qualified five racers after never having qualified more than three. The Davis boarders know they’re at a competitive disadvantage being two hours away from snow, but instead of using it as an excuse,
Roeckl says, they use it as motivation. Not to mention the fact that many boarders on teams like Truckee, North Tahoe and Colfax – all in Central Division II with Davis – often have athletes with many more years on a board. “We can’t just take a 10 minute drive up the hill,” he said. “That makes us train hard on dry land and work that much harder when we get on the mountain.” —John Parker John@tsmsacramento.com
Photos by RileyGraf
LEAF – v. To sway side-to-side all the way down the run. NOOB – n. Pejorative term for novice or inexperienced rider. Short for “newbie.” POW-POW – n. Fresh snow or powder. ROLLING DOWN THE WINDOWS – v. When a rider is caught off balance and wildly flails his or arms to regain control. REGULAR – adv. A rider who predominantly rides with his or her left foot forward. The opposite of Goofy. SHREDDING THE GNAR – v. Making one’s way down the run in an aggressive or sharp manner. SKETCH – adj. A trick or run that is not performed gracefully. The opposite of clean or steeze. STEEZE – adj. A particular trick or run made to look simple. A combination of the words “style” and “ease.” YARD SALE – n. When a rider beefs so badly that his or her hat, goggles, gloves and any other equipment is sent flying. MARCH 2011
Psychology of a
Why the mind matters when you’re at the line
by John Parker | Total Sports Magazine
here’s nothing “free” about a free throw. A player generally has to pay a physical toll just to be awarded with a free throw and once he or she steps to the line there is no guarantee of success, only opportunity. And a whole lot of anxiety. Ostensibly, heaving a 22-ounce, 10-inch wide leather ball through an 18-inch wide rim 10 feet above the floor without a defender is not a particularly challenging physical skill. “It’s really not a difficult thing to do,” said Steve White, coach of the defending CIF Division II state champion Oak Ridge Lady Trojans. “Sometimes it’s just the thought process. They check the scoreboard, and say ‘Oh my God; if I don’t make this we’re down or we’re only up by so much,’ so they talk themselves out of it.” Power in perception
There truly is nothing like it in sport. The free throw is the one scenario in which one player has complete control of the situation. It has its own place even in the canon of individual tasks in sport: a penalty shot in hockey has a goalie – not to mention the variable of the texture of the ice – ditto for free shots in water polo and soccer, a volleyball serve can still be returned by one of six defenders, and a field goal kicker is one of 22 others on the field. “It’s 60 percent mental, 40 percent physical,” Nevada Union boys basketball coach Dale Latimer said. “It’s a free shot, you have to step up and bury a free shot.” It’s also one of the few things in any sport that remains unchanged from youth all the way up to the professional level. The weight of the ball, the diameter and height of the rim and the court dimensions are all the same. Even within the context of a basketball game, the free throw seems out of place. It’s the one time that all 10 players are standing still. Photo by Jeff McPhee
Psychology of a Free Throw “Good basketball players are used to everything moving,” Franklin High head coach Jesse Formaker said. “Your body’s moving, you’re adjusting, there’s a defender moving, the ball is moving and to, all of the sudden, just stop everything – it’s difficult.
“The thing I try to impart on our guys is the free throw shot is unlike anything you do in basketball. It’s not a basketball shot, so don’t shoot it like a basketball shot. The closest thing I would liken it to would be a golf swing. Nothing’s moving. Literally if you could do it the same way every time, it would be perfect every time.” Formaker is all too familiar with the impact of free throws. Last year his Wildcats shot 11-of-22 from the line in a 58-52 Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship game loss to Sheldon High – which was 15-of16 from the charity stripe. So why did Formaker’s players miss so many while Sheldon coach Joey Rollings’ players made so many? “It always boils down to perception,” said UC Davis Sports Psychol-
ogy Professor Paul Salitsky, who has previously worked with 19 of the Aggies’ athletic teams. “The athlete perceives this moment has some sort of extra value to it; that the game is on the line or someone in the stands is watching them. They perceive it as being harder (than it actually is).
Consistency is key
With any well-practiced skill, consistency is key. “You (had) better have a routine,” said Bill Baxter, who has coached the El Camino High varsity girls basketball team to four NorCal championships and one state title. “If you don’t have a routine you have no hope. You better do it the same way every time.” Developing neural and muscle memory to program the body to do it the same way cognitively (mental) somatically (physical) every time is vital because the action never changes. It stands to reason then, that a player can develop a routine as early as middle school that can carry them all the way through the highest level of play they reach. An experiment conducted by Mark Otten, a professor of behavioral science Photo by Tim Huynh at CSU Northridge, titled “Regardless of the outcome, your “Choking vs. Clutch Performance” mother still loves you and you’re still used free throws help explain why going to get a warm meal that night.” some people perform well under Think of the iconic scene in pressure while others fail. Among “Hoosiers” when coach Norman other things, Otten concluded that Dale (played by Gene Hackman) reinvestment (consciously thinking has his Hickory High players mea- about each physical step of a task) sure the height of the rim at Butler while under pressure – subjects were University’s Hinkle Fieldhouse prior videotaped and told their behavior to the state championship game. would be evaluated by lower division His message was simply to show Psychology class – was a root cause that the rim was just as high as the of “choking.” Otten concluded that rim in their home gym. implicit knowledge, like the kind one Same principle. In order to suc- gains by riding a bike, was a main cessfully shoot free throws, it’s im- predictor of success. portant to simply focus on the things That seems to back up the old that don’t change. sports axiom of “Don’t think, react.” “We know the movement is the The goal is to get to a point where same,” Salitsky said. “It’s always the shooting the free throw is secondsame. It’s a well-practiced skill. You nature. have to have the perception that its Formaker has taken steps this practice.” year to do just that by standardizing
Franklin’s free throw shooting. “We teach kids other skills the same way; there’s a certain way to dribble a ball, there’s a certain way to jump stop, there’s a certain way to close out, there’s a certain way to shoot a lay-up,” Formaker said. “Why would anyone shoot free throws different ways?” Once their feet are set, Franklin players are instructed first to find the inflation hole on the ball – the one thing all basketballs have in common – as a means to gather mental focus and obtain the same grip on the ball. Next, a deep breath to clear the body and slow heart rate. From there they take three bounces, bend the knees and let it fly. Not all coaches go to those lengths, though. Baxter allows his players to develop their own routine so long as it’s effective – otherwise it’s his method. And while there is truly no way to simulate a clutch free throw, coaches often drive themselves crazy trying. “You can make ‘em run,” Nevada Union boys basketball coach Dale Latimer said of one of his methods. “Put everybody on the baseline and put one kid out there and say ‘OK, if you make it, we’re done. If you miss, we run.’ That puts some pressure on them, but there’s no way you can reproduce a game situation. So what you do is just shoot a lot of them.” Consistency has paid off for Formaker and Franklin. Last season the Wildcats shot 62 percent from the line. With a renewed focus and a standardized shooting motion they’re up to nearly 70 percent, highlighted by a 30-for-37 performance against Elk Grove rival Pleasant Grove on Dec. 16.
Visualize success But the physical aspect is only a small part of it. Training the mind to perform at a peak level, especially
in a scenario as solitary as the free through, is vital. Imagery, or visualization, Salitsky said, is the most studied, and proven successful, mental exercise used in sports psychology. “I always tell an athlete if you aren’t using imagery you are missing out,” said Salitsky, who works oneon-one with athletes in his own applied sports psychology practice. “It’s just like the weight room. You have to do reps and sets of the imagery for it to help you. You’re programming your mind for success.” Imagery is accomplished when an athlete “steps into” a certain scenario. Rather than see themselves perform the skill as a bystander, they imagine all aspects of the scenario: increased heart rate, crowd noise, time on the clock, score, everything. Salitsky says he’ll have an athlete imagine themselves making 25 perfect free throws before bed, then increase that amount depending on how fast they can run through it in their head and increase those reps accordingly. “When you get on the free throw line everybody tells you, don’t listen to the people around you. But you listen to them,” said Bella Vista guard Kelly Logue, one of the area’s best shooters. “In your head you’re saying, ‘take a deep breath, pay attention, and shoot.’ It’s really the luck of the moment the way your brain is responding to the crowd. “We’re constantly talking to ourselves through the free throw.” But for all the preparation, all the mental and physical reps, all the sweat, there is still that moment when the referee hands the ball to the shooter that doubt, anxiety, or dread can set in. Some thrive on that pressure, while others fold. For that, Salitsky offers this advice: “Get out of your own head, enjoy that moment. The only thing that matters is the line, the basketball and the basket.”
Photo by Tim Huynh
Tow is better than one
Union Mine High’s Cody and Sean Tow are pillars of strength for Diamondbacks
quick look beyond the statistics and past the accomplishments reveals something more, something rare, something possessed by few and desired by many. Coaches thirst for it, teachers praise it and classmates gravitate toward it. Union Mine High’s Cody and Sean Tow have it – a quiet confidence, approachability and the innate ability to feather life’s throttle just enough, while maintaining perspective and wisdom well beyond their teenage years. Slight of build and humble to a fault, the brothers – wrestling champs and football stars – are easily two of the more recognizable figures as they make their way around their El Dorado Hills campus. Cody, a senior, and Sean, a sophomore, have seen their legacy grow daily, a result no doubt of their legendary athletic accomplishments, as well as their approachable, easygoing attitudes in and out of the classroom. “They’re very personably people and they’re very popular around campus,” said Tim Brown, Union Mine’s head wrestling coach. “Cody is involved with student government and leadership, both of which he carries off the mat. Both of them are excellent students. They’re both very humble kids.” Sandwiched between football and wrestling practice, both can be found passing on their passion for sports while coaching youth football and wrestling. They are magnets for not only the next generation of Diamondback athletes, but their parents and coaches too. “Sometimes when we’re at tournaments,” Brown said, “parents,
coaches and referees will strike up a conversation with Cody because he’s such a nice kid and so pleasant to talk to. And with what they’ve gone through, it could have been easy to go the other way.” In December 2006, Cody and Sean’s father, Randy, died of a heart attack at age 42. In 2008, their mother, Michelle, fell gravely ill with bacterial meningitis, spending a total of 37 days in the hospital, 14 in intensive care, and nearly succumbing to the disease. Through it all, their mother’s strength and the memory of their father proved to be a powerful driving force for the boys. “Their mother has a huge influence them,” Brown said. “She has very clear goals and expectations for them. School is No. 1 and anything they commit to doing they’re going to do 100 percent. I think they have a different perspective on things. At the end of the day, they recognize that it is just a sport. It’s not life or death; it’s just a wrestling match. They put a lot of work into it and they want it really bad, but they realize, at the end of the day, that there are more important things in life. They handle everything very well; I wonder how they do it sometimes.” As one of the top wrestlers in the area, the 5-foot-4, 143-pound Cody is a two-time Sac-Joaquin Section Masters champion (at 119 and 125 pounds) and three-time CIF State Championships top-eight finisher, finishing 6th twice and 7th once. He captured the 130-pound title at Foothill High’s Tim Brown Memorial Tournament, but was upset at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament, falling in the semifinals to Bella Vista’s Shayne Tucker. He finished third and Roseville’s Dylan
Jankovich claimed second. After missing most of the season with a back injury, Sean was third at 140-pounds to claim his spot in the CIF State Championships. True to form, the brothers credit their success to their mother and staying humble. “She keeps our heads on straight,”
to good use as a hard-hitting linebacker, often surprising much larger players with his strength and agility. He led the Diamondbacks to the third round of the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs where they fell to Calaveras High 28-21. Cody finished the year with 696 yards on the ground and eight
They have high expectations and clearly the sky’s the limit for them both. —Tim Brown Head coach, Union Mine said Cody, who will attend Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on scholarship next fall. “We don’t want to go around thinking no one can touch us. She helps us make the right choices; we know if you want to be good, you can’t be going out all night getting in trouble. I have goals, like winning the state championship. That’s what I really want. And after college, I’d like to coach at the college level.” Barely missing a down during football season, he plays running back, full back and receiver on offense and puts his wrestling skills
touchdowns. He added 33 receptions for 312 yards and four touchdowns while totaling 56 tackles from his linebacker position. Following in his brother’s footsteps, Sean, who played junior varsity baseball last season and maintains a 4.0 grade-point average, was also among the region’s top wrestlers last season. A back injury suffered during football season kept him off the mat until Feb. 1 against Vista Del Lago. At 5-6 and 157 pounds, he is bigger than his brother and appears primed to equal or better Cody’s ac-
complishments on the mat. He won the 135-pound Sierra Valley Conference championship and was seventh at the Masters last season. A two-time middle school state champion, Sean qualified for state (finishing 2-2) at 135 last season, the only freshmen in his weight class to do so. “Not a lot of freshmen compete an entire season at the varsity level, let alone make it to state,” Brown said. “Medaling at the state meet is a real goal for him and a realistic goal.” Sean also established himself as one of the area’s elite running backs, grinding out 2,261 yards and 25 touchdowns on the ground and nearly 300 receiving. He was also the Diamondbacks’ kicker and at times he filled in at linebacker, making 34 tackles. Together, the brothers combined for five interceptions. “These past few years, my brother and I have been really close,” Sean said. “The things that have happened in the past few years do motivate me a lot. Everything I do with wrestling and football is for my dad. Sometimes out on the football field, I think, this one’s for you Dad. And my mom has really kept us going in
the right direction.” Competition among the two is healthy, never hurtful. Sean looks to his more experienced brother for guidance in life as well as in athletics. “Watching Cody and what he’s done here has helped me a lot,” Sean said. “I’ve learned from everything he’s done and he’s always there for me. I take whatever advice I can get. He’s a senior and he’s been through a lot.” For his part, Cody pushes his brother only so much and is careful to give him space when needed, especially when afternoon practice sessions begin to get a bit too intense. “They practice every day together,” Brown said. “And there’s been a few times when you could feel the tension rise, they’re brothers. But they’ve always kept it under control and they use it to push each other. They won’t give each other an inch, ever, and they have different styles, so it’s good for them to wrestle each other. They have high expectations and clearly the sky’s the limit for them both.” —Scott Johnston firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Melissa Calvert | Studio3Weddings.com
Elk Grove’s Martin Ramirez hopes the third time is the charm For Elk Grove High wrestler Martin Ramirez the pieces all appear to be in place. As he progresses through his junior season Ramirez has his sights set on not only a third straight trip to the California Interscholastic Federation State Meet, but also cracking the top 3. On Feb.26 Ramirez won the 119-pound title at the SacJoaquin Section Masters tournament. The top eight advance to the CIF State Championships in Bakersfield. As a freshmen Ramirez posted a 2-2 mark at the state meet at 112, only the third freshman in Elk Grove history to accomplish the feat, and was third at the Sac Joaquin Section Masters Tournament. He followed that up with a 5th place finish last year, a year in which he compiled an overall mark of 48-7 and a Masters win. While Thundering Herd coach Pat Coffing isn’t surprised by Ramirez’ success so far, he’s quick to point out there’s always room for improvement. “He better on his feet than he was last year,” Coffing said. “That’s always been his strength. He can get offensive take downs more readily than he has in the past, but he still needs to improve on getting off the bottom. That’s something I’ll always throw him under the bus about.” As of Feb. 24, Ramirez was ranked No. 4 in the state by thecaliforniawrestler.com. He finished third in the 125-pound bracket at the Doc Buchanan Invitational and won the Curt Mettler Invitational and the Deliddo Invitational in Lemoore. He was second at the Temeula Valley Invitational and hopes to keep the momentum going all the way to Bakersfield. “I’ve been there (the state meet) twice now,” he said. “So my goal for this year is to keep making my way higher up the podium.” —Scott Johnston
INSIDE Prep Wrestling
Only a sophomore, Woodcreek High School wrestler Peter Santos is already a seasoned veteran on the mat. Since he first strapped on his headgear at the age of 5, Santos has seen success at every level. A state champion while attending Roseville’s Silverado Middle School, he reached the California Interscholastic Federation State Meet as a freshman last season. Santos, who is currently competing at 145-pounds, also captured the Sierra Foothill League 125-pound title and was fifth at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters meet. He earned another shot at a state medal following a fifth place finish at the Sac Joaquin Section Masters tournament Feb. 26. “There’s no doubt about it,” Timberwolves coach Doug Mason said. “He’s a lot more seasoned than a lot of the kids he faces. And that’s a real advantage. He’s no rookie even though he’s only a sophomore. He’s been wrestling a long time.” That seasoning will no doubt help him as he looks to improve on his 2-2 mark at last year’s state meet. “Getting there last year will help me a lot this year,” said Santos. “I understand the level of competition and the level that I need to be at. I realized it was my freshman year, so I went in pretty relaxed. This year the goal is to make the placing rounds.” With those goals come expectations. “He was expected to do well at every level,” Mason said. “And he has.” —Scott Johnston
Mind over Matter
Despite being legally blind Woodcreek Highs Joe Germino is no easy mark on the mat
Woodcreek’s Santos returns to the state meet
Despite being legally blind, Woodcreek High’s Joe Germino is no easy mark on the mat
e takes no sympathy. He gives no quarter. Joe Germino is a wrestler. And he’s blind. When he arrived at Woodcreek High School three years ago, he wasted no time setting out to accomplish his goal of competing for a high school team. A friend suggested wrestling; Germino thought why not. No matter that he’d never set foot on a mat or pulled on a singlet and was an average athlete at best. “He didn’t know the first thing about wrestling,” Timberwolves head coach Doug Mason said. “And he’s blind. But he’s a really fast learner and he’s pretty strong for his weight (119). He’s improved every year. He works hard all the time; he never stops and he never complains about anything.” When Germino was 10-½ years old, he began having violent migraine
Photos by Scott Johnston | Total Sports Magazine
From left to right, Joe Germino prepares to warm-up with teammate Kyle Scribner. Germino takes his pre-meet warm up laps with assistance from teammate Ryan Smith. headaches. At one point, one of those headaches was so intense he was admitted into the emergency room. He couldn’t see; he could barely walk; his blood pressure was skyrocketing and his brain had begun to swell. He was diagnosed with malignant hypertension and was put into a drug-induced coma for three weeks. While in the coma, he suffered a seizure that left him almost completely blind. He can make out light and dark, but is unable to see shapes or structures. He is legally blind and uses a cane to get around. However, this hasn’t stopped him from leaving an impression (and a few bumps and bruises) on his teammates and unsuspecting opponents. “He’s very aggressive,” said junior Kyle Scribner, Germino’s best friend and sparring partner since they were
freshmen. “He doesn’t stop; he won’t stay down. When I first started wrestling with him, I thought, because he was blind, I should go easier on him, but as we went on, I started going a
think it’s going to be easy, he’ll beat you. Wrestle as hard as you can and try to beat him because he wants it to be a level playing field.” A junior, Germino has yet to wrestle at the varsity level, but he has compiled a mark of 6-11 at the junior varsity level this —Doug Mason season, someWoodcreek High head coach thing he credits lot harder. And so did Joe.” to hard work and a good sense of Before a match, Mason con- feel. fers with the referee, the opposing “You always have to work hard coach and Germino’s opponent. He for anything you want,” he said. explains that other than the neutral “Sometimes I have trouble keeping position, the bout is just like any my composure, but you just have to other. keep on going. Once I get locked Something else Mason never up with someone, my eyes aren’t reforgets to point out: Watch out. ally that important anyway. It’s more “I tell them, don’t take him light- about feel. Once you have contact, ly. If you go out there and say, ‘Oh, there’s not much difference.” I’m wrestling a blind guy,’ and you His will to win far exceeds his
He’s improved every year. He works hard all the time; he never stops and he never complains about anything.
fear of failing. “I like winning,” he said. “The only thing going through my mind is just trying to pin the other guy as fast as I can. I’ve never really been scared. It’s kind of like getting on a rollercoaster; you’re only scared in the beginning.” During practice, every demonstration is done by touch, with Germino’s hands being guided to the proper position by a teammate. Once contact is made, he employs a normal attack. Teammates also guide him through line drills and suicide sprints. “He’s tough. He never gives up and he doesn’t like to get pinned,” said Scribner. “He’s taught me that all you need is a heart. You don’t need to be able to see; all you need is a heart.” —Scott Johnston email@example.com MARCH 2011
INSIDE Prep Wrestling
The Wonder of Twin Power
Ponderosa High wrestling team boasts three sets of highly talented twins
Left to Right: Erik and Alex Greybill, Tim and Walker Ditrichs, David and John Timms
practice. He likes intense practices, just not that intense. “They have a tendency not to practice against each other because I think it could end up at home on the living room floor,” laughed Murphy. “Once in a while, one of the guys will show up with a black eye, but for the most part, they get along, and they support each other more than anyone else on the team.” Each of the twins agrees that while it’s nice to have a live-in practice partner, certain precautions have to be observed. “We have a mat at home we practice on,” Alex said. “We’ve had a few fights over the years and most of the time we don’t drill together because it gets too intense. Officially, we’ve been wrestling since the eighth grade, but unofficially, we’ve been wrestling for a long time.” Alex, who qualified, but did not place at the state meet at 114 pounds last season. As a junior, he compiled a record of 41-14. He finished second at 119 in the recent Masters tournament. After his junior season was cut short by a shoulder injury,
Eric came back strong this season, capturing the 114-pound Divisional title, but failed to advance past the Masters tournament. “Those two have a long list of accomplishments,” Murphy said. Although Murphy would argue otherwise, the twins say they have never been able to use Extra Sensory Perception (ESP). “They both speak for each other,” said Murphy, who has known the Greybills and the Ditrichs since they were in grade school. “They seem to have a weird sense that connects them mentally – that twin thing.” But none of the twins would go that far. “We’re always near each other, so we can sometimes finish each other’s thoughts,” Erik said. “But it’s not like we’re telepathic.” Tim and Walker have a different take on the so-called twin connection. “He’ll go for a run and make me feel guilty, so I’ll go for a run,” Walker said. “It’s good motivation to see someone else doing it, especially when it’s your twin brother.”
Photo by Scott Johnston | Total Sports Magazine
ver the past three decades, the Ponderosa High wrestling team has left plenty of opponents seeing double. Since 1971, the Bruins, who are currently in the Delta River League, have failed to capture an outright league or conference title only three times, sharing the ’94-’95 Sierra Foothill League title and finishing second twice, once in the Sierra Valley Conference (’07-’08) and once in the Golden Empire League (’80’81). This season, the Bruins were the top team in the Delta River League this season, leaving more than a few adversaries seeing double, and in more ways than one. The 2011 Ponderosa team featured not one, but three sets of twins – seniors Erik and Alex Greybill are identical, while Walker and Tim Ditrich are fraternal; sophomores Jonathan and David Timm, are also identical and round out the group. Erik, Alex, Walker and Tim are team captains and among the section’s best in their weight classes. Jonathan (119) and David (125) both appear to be next in line to carry the torch. Both earned varsity letters as freshmen. In his five years coaching at Ponderosa, Soren Murphy, who is a cohead coach with Tyson Escobar, has seen more than his share of talent, but Murphy has never had the opportunity to coach more than one set of multiples. “With each one of the sets, there seems to be one brother who is slightly more intense than the other,” Murphy said. “One of them always seems to have a little more of a dominant personality, and there’s definitely a lot of sibling rivalry.” So much so that Murphy is careful to mix the brothers up during
Like the Greybills, Tim and Walker rarely square off on the practice mat. “We can’t really wrestle each other because we get too physical,” said Tim, who was 38-17 and qualified for the state meet as a junior. “We’ve been wrestling since the fourth grade and we’ll fool around together and work on techniques and moves in the living room, but we don’t really go at it. It would get way too rough.” Walker finished his junior campaign 32-17, won the DRL meet this season and was second at the Divisional tournament at 137-pounds. Tim captured the DRL’s 127-pound title, was third at Divisional meet and seventh at the Masters. As the Bruins continue to pile up the wins, it appears one of Murphy’s most pressing issues could be telling one twin from the other. “Mix-ups happen,” laughed Murphy. “I’ll be yelling at one kid when I meant to yell at the other. It can be a problem.” But it’s a nice problem to have. —Scott Johnston firstname.lastname@example.org
INSIDE Prep Wrestling
West Campus High’s Jamaie Scott masters math and the mat
here are two sides to Jamaie Scott.On one side, Jamaie is reserved, intellectual, softspoken, yet quick-witted. She enjoys math and physics and prides herself on getting good grades. A senior, she hopes to one day study engineering in college. One the other side is Jamaie the wrestler, Unbeaten (34-0) on her senior season with 30of those wins coming by pin. The two-time All-American recently won the inaugural CIF sanctioned girls state championship, defeating Gabriela Guzman of Edison High 4-3 in the 189-pound final. Joining Jamaie at the state championships were Folsom High’s Tianna Camous, who won the 122-pound title and Lincoln’s Gabrielle Eslinger who fell in the 108-pound finale. Cordova’s Estera Felton placed third at 189. Rocklin’s Olivia Seppini (126), Christian Brothers’ Mallory Velte (132) and Lantala Miles (189) of Grant finished fifth, while
Christian Brothers’ Ruby Santos (126) was seventh. Possessing two sides as distinct as feathers and asphalt, when Scott steps out of the “phone booth” and onto the mat, a transformation takes place; glasses come off, hair is tucked away, a switch is flipped. “My teachers would always be shocked when I said that I wrestled,” Jamaie said. “I tend to be pretty quiet. But I’m a different person on the wrestling mat. I’m much more outgoing, much more confident.” Extroverted and menacing on the mat, Jamaie is far from a slouch in the classroom either. “I’m a math girl. I’m in Advanced Placement calculus and physics,” said Jamaie. “I’d really like to be a civil engineer.” A typical heavyweight, she employs more strength than technique - as a junior she spotted one opponent 53 pounds and still managed a pin. But her attention to technical detail has not been lost,
no doubt a nod to her love of math and physics. “Once she puts somebody on their back, they’re not going to roll off,” said her father and West Campus head coach Michael Scott. “They’re not going to roll her, and the match is going to end up with a pin.” In proving that brains and brawn can truly coexist, Jamaie is quick to credit her academic prowess as an attribute on the mat. “Math is a lot like wrestling,” she said. “You have to study it and then get in and get it done. In calculus, I spend hours working out new problems every night. In wrestling, there’s always a new move that you haven’t seen and you have to analyze it and come up with the best way to counter it.” A more hands-on method Jamaie uses to test the scientific study of matter, energy, force and motion is rumbling in the living room with her brother, Michael Jr. A sophomore, Michael also wrestles in the 189-pound weight
Photo by Scott Johnston | Total Sports Magazine
class and has been a valuable practice partner since middle school. “A lot of the reason I’ve had success is I’ve always been able to roughhouse with him,” Jamaie said. “He’s a lot stronger than me, even though he’s two years younger. But I’ve done it longer and I know a lot more moves, so we’re pretty evenly matched. Like any sibling rivalry, the frequent after-practice practice-sessions occasionally test the boundaries of patience. “Sometimes, my dad has had to separate us when things aren’t going well and we start getting a little mad,” said Michael Jr. “Off the mat she jokes around a lot, but on the mat she gets really serious. She’s all business.” Family members also act as spotters for the pair, calling for a pause in the action when a chair or coffee table comes into play or the action gets a bit too heated. “When my mom found out that we were serious about wrestling, she cleaned out most of the breakables,” Jamaie said. She was the top-ranked 189-pounder in the state all season (she has wrestled at that weight her entire career), making a steady progression from a freshmen season in which she compiled a record of 1320. She flipped that mark as a sophomore, going 20-13. Her junior year, she posted a 25-6 mark. “She’s very strong, but that will take you only so far,” said Angela Vyborny, a 2009 Del Campo graduate and a two-time high school state champion. “But she’s becoming a better technician. And I feel like the sky’s the limit for her.” —Scott Johnston email@example.com
INSIDE Prep Rodeo
he sport of team roping has a penchant for pairs. Two horses-two riders-two saddles-two ropes. So what better way to gain an edge on the competition than to have two teammates born just seconds apart? At least that’s what fraternal twins Taylor and Fallyn Foster are hoping. After competing with separate partners all through middle school, the sisters, who are freshmen at Nevada Union High, decided to pair up for the first time entering their first season of competing in the District 3 California High School Rodeo Association, “They were roping with separate
This two of a T kind make a great pair Nevada Union High’s Taylor and Fallyn Foster twins are teaming up for team roping
partners and I said ‘that’s crazy,’” said Tanya Foster, the girl’s mother and herself a one time high school rodeo competitor. “They were both doing different ends (healing and heading), so why not do it together. It’s easier to practice; it’s easier to do everything and it should give them an edge.” The girls gave it a shot and quickly discovered how right their mom was. Not only was it easier to practice, but the closeness the twins share allowed them to communicate that much better in the arena. “We definitely have an advantage when it comes to understanding each other,” Taylor said. “And we’re more relaxed because we know each other better than if we had someone
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else as a partner.” After competing in the Junior Wrangler program from 6th through 8th grade (they both made it to the state championships in goat tying and Taylor reached the Nationals), the pair tested their new partnership for the first time at the CHSRA’s Jan. 28 event at the Lincoln rodeo grounds. With Taylor acting as the header and Fallyn the healer, the twosome posted an overall time of 13.57, which was good for third in their goround and seventh overall (out of 12 teams) for the event. Their next time out will be in Red Bluff at the end of the month. “It really worked out well for our first time out,” Taylor said. “And we
made a deal with each that if one of misses than the other one can’t get mad. If we keep racking up points then we should be able to make it to the state event in June, which is all we want.”
things” too, like finishing sentences. And when they’re apart they miss each other. They don’t mind being apart, but they really like being together more.” The Fosters live on a 22-arce ranch in Penn Valley where they have eight Texas Longhorns (four steers and four cows) and seven horses. The Longhorns are raised not —Fallyn Foster only for roping (which has been a life-long passion for And while Taylor and Fallyn Tanya), but also for eating. have their own unique qualities, they “I’ve been riding and roping my don’t mind being the same. whole life,” Tanya said. “It’s funny to “They like to do their own thing think that 30 years later my daughto,” said Tanya, who herself is a Ne- ters are competing in the same high vada Union grad (class of 1977). school arena (Lincoln) that I did.” “But they have plenty of the “twin Mom’s expertise has not gone
“Team roping with her is a lot easier because we know each other so well.”
unnoticed by Taylor and Fallyn, who also compete in individual rodeo sports like goat tying, barrel racing and break away roping. “Having my mom around with her experience is definitely a leg up for us,” Taylor said. “She knows all the little secrets.” Those tricks of the trade coupled with that “twin thing” will no doubt come in handy as the girls embark on their high school careers. “Team roping with her is a lot easier because we know each other so well,” said Fallyn, who is two minutes younger than her sister. “I have a lot of confidence in her to hold up her end when we’re out there.” —Scott Johnston firstname.lastname@example.org Photo by Kathy Pendergast
INSIDE Prep Fencing
• Fencing is one of only four sports to be included in every modern Olympic Games, since the first in 1896. Albertson Van Zo Post of the New York Fencers Club led our early Olympic efforts by winning 5 Olympic medals in the 1904 St. Louis Olympics including 2 gold medals (1 team, 1 individual). • The tip of the fencing weapon is the second fastest moving object in sport; the first is the marksman’s bullet. • Fencing is the only combat sport with no weight classes. • Fencing is conducted on a 14m x 2m “strip” or “piste” to replicate combat in confined quarters such as a castle hallway. The end of the fencing strip represents the line drawn in the earth by duelists’ seconds: to retreat behind this line during the duel indicated cowardice and loss of honor. Foil is the only weapon that has always had “strip” rules. For many years, epee and saber fencers could move about with no restrictions.
Christian Brothers’ John Hallsten is among the world’s best fencers
ohn Hallsten was just 10-years old when he got into his first sword fight at school. No one was injured and neither combatant had to face the principal. In fact, the only person that received a call was Hallsten’s dad, Jeff. The message wasn’t that his son was in trouble; he was told he had talent. “I was attending the Merryhill Elementary School in Sacramento and a fencing club in Roseville came to my school and did a clinic for beginners,” Hallsten said. “They didn’t have real sabers; they had these plastic swords. After a few months, there was just me and a couple other kids left and they told my dad I had talent and I should start taking lessons at their club.” Hallsten began taking lessons from instructor Mihaly Csikany, a former Hungarian national champion. Soon, what had started out as innocent sparing using cheap, plastic swords quickly progressed to an international stage. Seven years later, Hallsten is now among the world’s elite competitors in the sport of fencing. He is currently ranked No. 6 in the world at the Cadet-level (under 17) and 2nd
in the United States. At the Cadet International Cup in Konin, Poland last September, Hallsten captured the gold medal with a 15-7 win over Alexander Trushakov of Russia. Hallsten beat Balint Kossuth of Hungary 15-13 in the quarterfinals and Andrey Korobko of Russia in the semifinals. The sport of fencing is divided
is simply your feelings and intuition.” Hallsten will move up to the junior division (under 20) next season, then precede to the senior division and a shot at competing for the United States Olympic team, which is his ultimate goal. “That’s probably five or six years away,” said Hallsten, who is a junior at Christian Brothers High School and plays catcher on the baseball
“I’d like to make it to the world championships and get into an Ivy League school.” —John Hallsten
into three different styles of weapons: The foil, epee and sabre, which is John’s weapon of choice. “Fencing is a physical chess match,” said Csikany, who, along with business partner Christian Hristov, runs the Csikany-Hristov Fencing Academy in Carmichael. “You have to have the physical ability to execute on the strip (measuring 6-feet-by40-feet), but it is very much a mind game too. For every single move, there is a counter move. Things happen in a split second. A lot of times, it
team. “But in the meantime, I’d like to make it to the world championships and get into an Ivy League school.” In addition to natural physical and mental ability, finding success at the international level also requires an extensive time commitment. Hallsten competes in Europe four or five times a year and travels extensively in the United States. Annual costs can run upward of $15,000 per year, including lessons, equipment and travel.
However, the travel and experience that it brings will give Hallsten a sizable advantage as he makes his way toward his goal of making the Olympics. “His ultimate goal is the Olympics,” Csikany said. “And all the experience he’s gaining will put him ahead of the curve. He’ll have a huge advantage by the time he is 19-20, which is the average age of the Olympic qualifier. Other teams in this zone, like Canada, Mexico and the South American teams, just don’t have the means to travel and that hurts them from an experience standpoint.” A fencing team is made up of four fencers – three competitors and one alternate. The fast-paced bouts go to 15 points, which can be scored in less than a minute. “You can prepare for days and hours and be done in two minutes,”Csikany said. “But it’s all about how well you prepare, how well you handle the competition, and John has shown the ability to do that. He’s come a long way from that little plastic sword.” —Scott Johnston email@example.com
INSIDE The Right Strokes
onna Eastman laughed as she recalled a day eight years ago. Her 5-year-old daughter, Hannah, while accompanying her older sister to the local pool, had climbed up on the block for the first time. There was no hesitation. As she stared out over the water, there was no way of knowing at the time that she was not only launching herself into the pool, but also a sport that would become her passion. However, things got off to a lessthan-spectacular start. Landing with a splash, Hannah went under, came up and then proceeded to start swinging, not quite swimming, with every ounce of mite her tiny body could muster. “She dove off the blocks for the first time and it was the funniest thing,” Donna said. “It looked like she was fighting the water and the water was definitely winning.” Since that knockdown-drag-out introduction, Hannah’s swimming style has taken on a much more streamlined stroke, refined to the point where she has become one of the top distance swimmers in her age group in the country. An eighth-grader at Elk Grove’s Harriet Eddy Middle School, Hannah, 13, is currently ranked 30th in the United States in the 1000 meter freestyle and 1-mile events for her age group. She has made five sectional cuts (achieved by swimming a certain distance in a certain time) and recently swam a 400 individual medley event in 4:39, a personal best. She swims six events, but her best stroke is freestyle. But as with any success, Hannah’s has not been without its sac-
rifices, sacrifices that go beyond the constant smell of chlorine and require her to be as streamlined out of the pool as she is in it. On a typical day, Hannah is up and out the door by 4:30 a.m., headed to the Arden Hills Resort Club and Spa where she completes a dry land workout until 6:45. On average she swims close to 25 miles a week. Following her morning workout, she then returns home, grabs breakfast and is in class by 8:40. School ends at 3:20 p.m. and it’s back to the pool from 4 to 5:45. She’s home by 7, and spends the next hour catching up with her family over dinner and finishing up any leftover homework. Her head hits the pillow by 8. She repeats this process five days a week with the only exception being certain days she sleeps in until 7:30, when she doesn’t have morning practice. “You have to be very organized to get everything done,” Donna said. “She maps out her schedule on her own. I don’t help her at all. There’s a lot of school work and she has a lot of accelerated classes, so she does her homework during free times in class and during her lunch hour because she goes to bed early. She’s very taskoriented.” Mastery of multitasking is a skill largely ingrained in the Eastman DNA. Hannah’s father, Scott, owns and operates Eastman Building Products in Elk Grove, a business that has been in the family since 1962. And Hannah’s older sister, Lindsey, was co-valedictorian of Franklin High’s class of 2008 and is now a junior at UC Berkeley where she studies integrated biology and art history. “To keep everything going
smooth, you have to have a lot of responsibility and make sure everything else gets done,” said Hannah, who admits swimming was purely recreational at first. “But when I turned 11, I joined a USA team and it started getting more serious. Keeping this schedule really forces me to take on a lot, and I like that about it. It doesn’t feel that hectic and
“It was a lot more serious than any other meet I’d been to,” said Hannah, who hopes to follow her sister to Berkeley one day. “It was scary at first because everyone there was huge and a lot older than me. In some events, I was swimming against 17- and 18-year-olds. I went more for the experience, but as the day went on, I was more relaxed and
Photos courtesy of the Eastman family
13-year old Hannah Eastman among nation’s elite swimmers
Hannah Eastman is ranked 30th in the country in the 1000 meter freestyle.
crazy because I like being around my teammates. It doesn’t feel like work at all.” From Dec. 18-21, Hannah competed at the esteemed Speedo Sectional Open Championship in Long Beach where she had a chance to test herself against some of the nation’s top swimmers. Open to swimmers from California and Nevada of all age groups, Hannah swam in six events and often found herself competing against competitors much older than her.
started swimming better each event.” And she hopes to use her experience in Long Beach to better prepare herself for bigger things in 2011, since she has her sights set on the upcoming Junior Nationals. Through it all though, her main priority is having fun doing something she loves. “I’m with my team so much it feels like they’re my family,” Hannah said. “I just like being in the water.” —Scott Johnston firstname.lastname@example.org
McDougal in Motion
Franklin Elementary School’s Lauren McDougal has a very long ‘likes’ list
sk 11-year-old Lauren McDougal what she likes to do for fun and the answer is simple – everything. In fact, the talented youngster seems to be in a perpetual state of motion that rarely leaves enough hours in the day to participate in her laundry list of interests. The fifth-grader at Franklin El-
ementary School has a ‘likes’ list long enough to make Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg look twice. She counts school, singing, running track and playing sports like softball and basketball as being among her many passions, but two of her talents clearly rise above the rest on Lauren’s list of favorites: Dancing and soccer.
Photos courtesy of the McDougal family
Lauren McDougal is a standout for Everton, an under-11 competitive team based in the family’s hometown of Elk Grove.
“Just the other day, I asked my mom if colleges offer dance scholarships,” said Lauren. “That’s something I’ve always wanted. But I know those are hard to come by.” Luckily, she has other options, one of which is soccer. “She hasn’t really defined herself yet. She wants to try it all,” said her mother, Kim, who always figured her kids would play sports. After all, she and her husband, Tim, were both accomplished athletes at Yuba City High, with Kim playing softball and basketball and Tim excelling on the basketball court. So it came as no surprise when their oldest daughter, Jordan, gravitated toward athletics. The surprise was Jordan’s choice – soccer. Lauren followed suit. Like her parents, Lauren enjoys basketball and softball, but it is soccer, a sport neither parent ever had any interest in, that she took to the most. “When I was growing up, soccer wasn’t offered in our community,” said Kim, who eventually landed a softball scholarship from the University of the Pacific in Stockton and also dabbled in field hockey. “And it was the one sport that I really didn’t like.” Ironically, both of the couple’s daughters have excelled at the sport. Jordan, 17, a senior defender/ midfielder at Cosumnes Oaks High School, is entertaining scholarship offers from four different colleges after helping the Wolfpack to an 111-1 record last spring. Lauren, who also plays defender, is a standout for Everton, an under-11 competitive team based in the family’s hometown of Elk Grove. “Even though my mom never played soccer,” Lauren said, “my sis-
ter has been playing since she was little like me and her accomplishments have helped motivate me because I want to be like her. She helps me a lot. I’d really like to get a soccer scholarship like my sister.” With Lauren anchoring the backline, Everton captured the U-10 State Cup in 2010, capping the run with a 2-1 victory over the Santa Rosa United Tremors. “Winning State Cup was amazing,” said Lauren. “It was the most unbelievable thing and I’m excited to have a chance to do it again.” The State Cup tournament cumulates in February and will mark Lauren’s final game with her coach of three years, Ralph Cazel. “He’s been my coach since my first competitive year in 2009,” Lauren said. “He’s really helped me a lot. I’ve been with him for awhile and I will really miss playing for him.” Lauren credits Cazel’s intense coaching style with preparing the team to see success at a high level. “He’s played at high levels and he pushes us to play at a high level,” Lauren said. “It’s nice to be with someone who has that experience and knows what we’re going through. We’re a really close group. We hang out at school, after practice and games. We’re always together. Even though we’re only 11, we practice and play like a much older team. We feel very comfortable together.” Even with the completion of another State Cup run, Lauren’s days will be far from empty. Competitive soccer season is a year-round ride and she hopes to join a dance team as well. “It seems kind of crazy sometimes,” she said, “but the more stuff I do, the more fun I have.” —Scott Johnston email@example.com MARCH 2011
Rancho Cordova’s PAL rugby program provides many life lessons for kids
by Scott Johnston | Total Sports Magazine
ordan McGuire was looking for a challenge. Oscar Alvarado was looking for a chance. Two kids, traveling two separate paths, discovered one intersecting passion – rugby. McGuire is an eighth-grader at Rancho Cordova’s Mills Middle School. He gets straight As and plays football for the Junior Lancers in the fall. After hearing about the Rancho Cordova Police Athletic League’s (PAL’s) rugby program while at school, he thought, why not? “I knew it was a tough sport,” said McGuire. “I’ve played football for five years, but this is a lot rougher than that. It’s great for getting out any anger you have inside and it’s a sport I’d never tried before. It’s amazing.” Matt Foster and Sacramento County Sheriff ’s Deputy Zach Hatch feel the same way. Hatch, overseeing the PAL program, met Foster in 2009 when Foster, a former high school and college rugby player, asked about possible ways he could contribute. Photos by Jeff McPhee
PALs on the Pitch Despite Foster’s lack of coaching experience, both agree the union has been productive. “PAL offers a lot of different programs,” said Foster, who was a member of Jesuit High’s first national championship rugby team in 1999 and played five seasons at Sacramento State. “And Zach wanted to add a rugby program. It worked out perfectly.”
After a rough start, Foster’s group ended the 2010 season with a tournament win in Dixon. Ending on a victorious note was not only a nice way to cap the season, but also proved to be a momentum-builder heading into their current campaign (the team began practice Jan. 18). “It means the world to me to see the enthusiasm on their faces,” Foster said. “I had parents coming up to me after games saying, ‘My kid can’t stop taking about it, they’ve never been this excited about something.’” While the program is geared toward boys and girls who have been in trouble or are seen as at-risk, it is open to anyone. “Last year was our first season and we had 40 kids on the team,” Hatch said. “ The team was a mix of at-risk kids, kids who have been in trouble and kids who are good students. We try not to turn anyone away.” Hatch visited schools in the
Above, Jordan McGuire, right, attempts to evade a would-be tackler during a recent practice with the Rancho Cordova Police Athletic League’s rugby team. The program run is run by Matt Foster, at left. community and asked counselors and principals to recommend kids who might like to play rugby, with the goal being to keep them motivated by their participation in the program. “In order to play, you have to do well at school and stay out of trouble,” Hatch said. The temptation of trouble got the best of Alvarado at one point last season when he and four teammates allowed their good judgment to stray. Instead of being cast off the team, the boys were instead asked to apologize to their teammates and attend Folsom State Prison’s Youth Diversion Program, in which participants take an all-day tour of a local prison. While there, they received a heavy dose of what life is like behind bars, eating the food, touring the cells and exercise yard and talking with the prisoners. “It scared me,” said Alvarado, who is too old to play this season, but hopes to contribute as a coach’s assistant. “I know I don’t want to end up there. I came out of it knowing I shouldn’t make bad choices.” After completing the program, each of the five gained reprieve from
the team, knowing that further trouble would jeopardize one: playing time and two: being part of the team. “I’m glad I didn’t blow it completely,” said Alvarado, who is a freshman at Cordova High. “If I wasn’t playing rugby, I’d most likely be getting into trouble. Now, if I have a chance to get into trouble, the first thing that goes through my mind is the team.” Reaching individuals is the PAL’s ultimate goal, and along the way, many of the barriers constructed by culture and class differences are also flattened. Participants discover quickly there is no place for cliques on a rugby pitch. “The great thing that we get to see with these kids is when you become a member of a team, especially a rugby team, it’s a close-knit group,” Foster said. “When we first started out, a lot of them would only hang out with certain kids, but by the end of the season, we had 40 kids all spending time together. There are a lot of barriers broken down, and it’s nice to see these kids taking the lessons they’re learning from rugby and applying them to the rest of their lives.”
If I wasn’t playing rugby, I’d most likely be getting into trouble. Now, if I have a chance to get into trouble, the first thing that goes through my mind is the team. — Oscar Alvarado
For more information, visit www. www.rcpdpal.com
Grant High’s back-to-back state titles
hen Connie Zuercher took on the Grant High girls basketball coaching job in the summer of 1987 the position came with one caveat: “You just need to win a state title,” Principal Larry Brown told her. Zuercher and Brown shared a laugh, neither knowing just how prophetic that tongue-in-cheek remark was at the time. In just two years at the helm, Zuercher guided the Pacers to back-toback CIF State championships in the 1987-88 and 1988-89 seasons, a feat that has not since been accomplished by any school in any sport in the area. The Pacers had lost the previous two Division I state championship games.
Zuercher’s solution in the days of practice leading up to the championship game was to bring in two players from the Pacers’ boys basketball team to run a scout team defense as the Burge twins. She also made it clear there would be no “taking it easy” on her team. “I told them to block anything that came their way,” Zuercher said. “And they ended up being worth their weight in gold.” As a result the Pacers were not fazed when they faced the Sea Kings at the Oakland Coliseum. Several times Grant players would recover blocked shots and re-deposit them for scores. The Pacers, following Zuercher’s game plan, limited Palos Verdes secondchance opportunities by out-rebounding the Sea —Connie Zuercher Kings. former Grant High head coach Tina G r e e n “It was a really fun time,” said had a record-setting performance, Zuercher, now a health science pro- scoring 36 of the Pacers’ 52 points. fessor and faculty senate president It’s still the best single-game perat Sacramento City College. “They formance in D-II championship were a really great group of young game history and is the fourth-most people to work with.” ever scored in a state championship Though only nine players strong game behind Cheryl Miller’s 41 in the Pacers were led by the Green the 1982 D-I game, Candice Wigtwins, Tina, the shooting guard, and gins’ 38 in the 2002 D-V game and Tesia, a forward. Grant went 27-7 Courtney Paris’ 37 in the 2004 D-IV in 1987-88 and reached the state game. championship game, winning each Tina had extra motivation in NorCal playoff game by three points, that game because of an episode that against a Palos Verdes High squad occurred in the second half involvfeaturing 6-foot-4 twins Heather ing her twin. Tesia went down with and Heidi Burge, both of whom an apparent ankle sprain and was went on to play in the WNBA. writhing in pain in the key while the “They didn’t have a starter under Pacers had an offensive possession. 6-foot,” Zuercher said. “My average This went on for five or so seconds, height was maybe 5-foot-7.” according to Zuercher, who was
It was a really fun time...they were a really great group of young people to work with.
imploring the officials to do something, anything. In the late ‘80s the so-called “seatbelt rule” was in place, meaning coaches could not stand up during play without risk of picking up a technical foul. Finally Zuercher had seen enough and stood up, instantly drawing the technical foul, which stopped play. As Tesia was helped to the Grant bench, Zuercher pursued the officials to half court to plead her case. “I told them that should not have been a technical,” Zuercher said. “Call an injury timeout, call three in the key, call anything.” She drew another technical, sending Palos Verdes to the foul line for four free throws, but the ball didn’t lie. All four shots missed. “Poetic justice,” Zuercher said. Incensed, Tina took over.
“I thought one of their players had hurt her on purpose,” Tina Green said. “There were a lot of emotions. It got me mad and I guess I got hot.” Interestingly enough, the state tournament was the only one all year that the Pacers won, having lost in several preseason tournament finals and dropping the section title game to Capital Athletic League cohort Del Campo. “Kind of ironic,” Zuercher said. “But state is the one tournament you want to win.” Zuercher characterized the 1988-89 season as “a much smoother sail” as the Pacers returned all key players, including the Greens, from the 1987-88 squad. Highlights included a close home win over defending D-I state champion Fre-
mont in Del Paso Heights and a game against Morningside, featuring an already-renowned junior named Lisa Leslie, in a tournament at Miramonte of Orinda. “We were familiar with the name ‘Lisa Leslie,’” said Meshal Washington, then-Pacers’ point guard, now a teacher and varsity girls volleyball coach at Foothill High. “But in our minds she was no more than an opponent we were going to conquer.” Though the Pacers lost to Morningside they rolled to a 32-3 overall record, including a perfect 12-0 in the CAL, claiming a second-straight section title and then a resounding 59-43 win over Katella of Anaheim in the state championship game. —John Parker firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos and design by Tim Huynh | Total Sports Magazine
Buzzer At The
Adversity must be met head-on R unning away from your problems is never the answer. Sacramento High boys basketball coach Derek Swafford removed the team’s point guard, leading scorer, and University of Arizona signee Josiah Turner from the Dragons’ roster just hours before their Common Good Classic showdown with Sheldon on Jan. 15. Swafford’s decision ended over a week of speculation and rumors after Turner had been a no-show at several practices and the Dragons’ Metropolitan Conference opener against rival Burbank. Now we’ve learned that Turner has bolted for Quality Education Academy in Durham, N.C. The Fighting Pharaohs basketball team is ranked No. 16 in the country by ESPNRISE. There is not a player on its roster shorter than 6-foot. You can connect the dots. “I wish him luck,” Swafford said. “I think he’s a great talent, he’s got that part. I just hope he gets the other part wherever he goes.” Interpret “other part” as accountability. QEA is Turner’s fourth high school in less than four years. He started at Cordova as a freshman before enrolling at Sac High prior to his sophomore year. For the first nine days of his junior year he was at Sheldon – which now with Turner’s absence is home to this year’s two top area hoops recruits, cousins Ramon Eaton and Darius Nelson – before scooting
back to Sac High as the Sac-Joaquin Section made it clear it would rule him ineligible because the transfer was perceived as athletically motivated.
John Parker Total Sports Magazine
Neither young man, or any other with similar elite talent, will reach the heights they so desire in this game until they learn a little humility. You can’t run from your problems, as the old saying goes, they’ll eventually catch up to you. I believe Swafford had Turner’s best interests at heart all along – pulling him from
blowouts, enforcing team rules as if he were any other player and eventually dismissing him from the team. “Basketball is just a microcosm of what I get to do as a teacher,” Swafford said. “(I teach) civility, how to be a young man and accountability. So when it gets beyond that and we start saying ‘I’ – I’m not from ‘I.’” Turner is going to face adversity in college, he signed a National Letter of Intent to play on scholarship at Arizona last November, and for the rest of his life. If Turner (or his family) was unhappy with Swafford’s treatment of him, how will he react when (yes, WHEN) Wildcats coach Sean Miller reprimands him? There is a reason public schools like the University of Arizona weigh heavily on the extra-curricular pursuits of prospective students. They want to see that these young adults, whose education the state subsidizes in some form, can respond to and eventually overcome adversity since they’ll see their share of it in the four, five or six years they matriculate. Just consider the case of current Mississippi State forward Renardo Sidney. That name may sound familiar as he won a state title at Arco Arena as a sophomore with Artesia of Lakewood in 2007 and oh, yeah, he was caught by ESPN cameras brawling with former Bulldogs teammate Elgin Bailey at a Christmas tournament in Hawaii.
Sidney, like Turner, attended three different high schools in his first three years. Like Turner, he moved to the other side of the country (from Jackson, Miss., to Los Angeles) in the name of basketball. Like Turner, he was a national Top 10 recruit. Like Turner, he bolted from an adverse situation. And another. And another. Like Turner, there does not appear to be someone – whom he listens to – to tell him he isn’t above the team. Neither young man, or any other with similar elite talent, will reach the heights they so desire in this game until they learn a little humility. “No” isn’t easy for anyone to hear, especially when all you have heard since you could dribble is “yes” and unfortunately some gifted young athletes are not held in check. Instead, from ages as young as 10 and 12-years old many are flattered into thinking that they can succeed on talent alone. The problem with that is that we are raising young men and women who are ill-equipped to respond to adversity. If sports are a microcosm of life, as Swafford alluded to, you have to take the foul calls – and there are often many more – along with the game-winning buckets. Maybe the move will do just that for Turner, going from being the best player on the floor any given night to “just one of the guys.” But the circumstances surrounding it sure don’t indicate that. Here’s hoping.
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