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BAY AREA EDITION SEPTEMBER 2019 VOL. 10 ISSUE 170


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More Than Football C

ontrary to what some may try to claim, we don’t just write about football here. Well, except for that four-week stretch that ended in the successful launch of our 10th Annual Football Preview Special Edition. However, it’s not hard for us to turn the page to the rest of the fall sports calendar. We have a lot to dig into throughout NorCal these next two to three months. That started this issue with our annual girls volleyball primer. We have cover features on two of the top teams in NorCal, plus a list of 20 teams to watch and more than 35 players to keep your eye on. In addition to football and volleyball, here’s a few other storylines we’ll be checking into across the rest of the fall sporting landscape. WATER POLO: Acalanes-Lafayette has one of the top girls players in the country in Jewel Roemer. She spent time with the U.S. Senior National Team this past July. There should also be plenty of competition for the CIF Northern Regional boys and girls championships this November. Something we missed last year when the tournaments were cancelled due to poor air quality. CROSS COUNTRY: The Sac-Joaquin Section has a pair of defending CIF State Champions in Del Oro-Loomis sophomore Riley Chamberlain (Div. III girls) and Jesuit-Carmichael senior Matt Strangio (Div. I boys).

What can they do for an encore? GIRLS TENNIS: Speaking of encores, the Los Gatos girls tennis team has been exceptionally good at them in recent years. The Wildcats enter the season as the threetime defending Central Coast Section champions, and the two-time defending CIF NorCal champions. However, will Los Gatos be able to maintain its momentum in 2019 after the graduation of its top two singles players: Ashley Yeah (Illinois) and Yana Gurevich (UC Davis)? If not, who is ready to step in and take the Wildcats’ place? GIRLS GOLF: It should be quite a race in the East Bay Athletic League this season. The league has provided each of the last six North Coast Section champions, and five of those have gone to either Dougherty Valley-San Ramon or Carondelet-Concord. Dougherty Valley is the defending NCS and NorCal champion. However, Carondelet returns senior Carissa Wu (pictured above) — the top medalist from the 2018 NorCal Championship. Amador Valley-Pleasanton, also in the EBAL, returns the top NCS medalist in junior Charlotte Ryoo. We’ll be keeping an eye on all of that, plus beginning a new 10-year anniversary project celebrating SportStars turning a decade old. More on that in the next issue. Until then, join us in trying to keep up with another year of NorCal sports. ✪

YOUR TICKET TO CALIFORNIA SPORTS ADMIT ONE; RAIN OR SHINE This Vol. #10, September 2019 Whole No. 170 is published by Caliente! Communications, LLC, PO Box 741, Clayton, CA 94517. SportStars™© 2010-2014 by Caliente! Communications, LLC. All rights reserved. Receive FREE Digital Subscription in your inbox. Subscribe at SportStarsMag. com. To receive sample issues, please send $3 per copy, or $8 total for bulk. Back issues are $4 each. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission of Publisher is strictly prohibited. The staff and management, including Board of Directors, of SportStars™© does not advocate or encourage the use of any product or service advertised herein for illegal purposes. Editorial contributions, photos and letters to the editor are welcome and should be addressed to the Editor. All material should be typed, double-spaced on disk or email and will be handled with reasonable care. For materials return, please enclose a stamped, selfaddressed envelope. SportStars™© and STARS!™© Clinics are registered trademarks of Caliente! Communications, LLC.

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Behind the Clipboard by Clay Kallam

Competing In Football’s

SHADOW Our volleyball team is really good, and our football team is really bad — but all anyone at our school talks about is football. Why don’t kids watch us instead? We’re a lot better. And what really bothers me is that girls don’t support other girls. They all go to the football games, and only a few of our friends come to our volleyball games. G.D., Santa Rosa

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here’s a lot to unpack in this answer, but let’s start with a simple historical/anthropological fact: Almost every human society and culture that we know about played some kind of sports, and the players were always young males. Maybe that goes back to groups of nine or ten young men going off to hunt, and being cheered when they brought back dinner for 50, or maybe it’s that young males are more competitive than young females, and we’ve gotten so used to that over the tens of thousands of years of human existence that we just assume that’s how it should be. So first, then, humans are wired, one way or another, to watch young males compete. We are, for whatever reason, not as interested in watching young females do so. And then there’s football itself, the quintessential American sport. It’s obviously violent, somewhat dangerous and a very simple game to watch and enjoy. If the ball is moving in the direction your team is going, that’s a good thing; if it’s going the other way, that’s bad — and that’s pretty much all you need to know to cheer at the right times. Volleyball is a good game as well, but it lacks any element of violence or physical contact, which, like it or not, are both attractive to many people (do action movies sell more tickets than romantic comedies?). But volleyball is fun to watch, full of momentum swings and should be, in my opinion, more popular than it is, for both boys and girls. It isn’t, though, and football rules the roost — though that may be changing. Participation in football nationwide has dropped 6.5 percent since its peak in 2009, while the American population has gone up by 9.8 percent. In fact, fewer boys are playing football now than in 1999, even though the population has gone up 17 percent. From another angle, football ticket sales are down as well, especially in the SacJoaquin Section, with last year’s playoffs generating more than $100,000 less than the 10-year average, a 17 percent drop. Much of that loss of participation can be traced to concerns about concussions and safety, but even at the collegiate level, Northern California attendance figures are way down for Cal and Stanford, compared to a generation ago. That trend doesn’t help you much now, though, as it’s still very likely students will flock to football games and only come to volleyball games in exceptional circumstances. And it’s especially sad that girls don’t support other girls by coming to games, but that’s true of all female sports, really. Women would rather watch young men compete than young women compete, which is just one of those brute facts that can’t really be avoided. So your best bet, unfortunately, is just to keep playing well, keep winning matches and do your best to get more students and adults to come to your games. And if the football team continues to struggle, maybe people will start to realize which fall team is really the one worth watching. ✪ Clay Kallam has been an assistant athletic director and has coached numerous sports at a handful of high schools throughout the Bay Area. To submit a question for Behind the Clipboard, email him at claykallam@gmail.com

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A

ggression. Intimidation. These are not words usually associated with girls volleyball — after all, there’s a net separating the two teams, and contact is not only infrequent, it’s forbidden. But Bishop O’Dowd-Oakland, a defending North Coast Section and CIF NorCal champion, is all about power, and all about attack. “We’re always swinging,” senior outside hitter Annabella Pirotta said. “We don’t like to tip.” “We have a lot of power, a lot of big hitters,” said setter Alexandria Hoglund, another senior (one of seven on the 13-girl roster). The most powerful, though, and the biggest hitter, is UC Santa Barbara-bound senior Michelle Ohwobete. “Her power and strength set the tone,” O’Dowd coach Nova Bramed said. “She’s one of the best players in Northern California.” “She’s all power,” said Campolindo-Moraga coach John Vuong, who saw that courtside in a loss to O’Dowd in last year’s NCS Division II final. Ohwobete, though, is just 5-11 and in fact, the Dragons roster has just one player taller than 6-0, so they lack the size of some opponents. “Big teams can smother you on the block,” said Bramed, so he emphasizes attacking in different ways. “It’s all about speed and getting faster at the net,” he says. Of course, volleyball teams must defend too, and Bramed, a former Moroccan national team player with plenty of professional and international experience, doesn’t want his team to get too focused on just smashing the ball at every opportunity. “Every single ball should be returned,” he says. “We are after every ball — we hustle every single play.” That too is part of the O’Dowd aggressive mentality. “We’re all about digging balls — we’re not big in the middle,” said Bramed. That makes the margin for error a little smaller for the Oakland school than it is for other elite teams — and in the Division I state championship match against Temecula Valley, the Dragons lost 3-1 with every game decided by three or fewer points. “It hurts to remember that,” laughed Bramed when reminded of the scores, but it was O’Dowd’s first trip that deep in the playoffs. “There are no regrets.” In his first season, when he co-coached with Lynn Hall, the Dragons won NCS but lost in the first round of NorCals. Last year, again co-coaching with Hall, the team rolled through North Coast, defeating El Cerrito 3-0, Alameda 3-0, CarondeletConcord 3-0 and Campolindo-Moraga 3-0 — that’s right, without losing a game. In NorCals, the story was much the same with a 3-0 win over California-San Ramon, 3-1 wins over Archbishop Mitty-San Jose and St. Francis-Mountain View, and the only five-set match of the postseason, a 3-2 squeaker over St. Francis-Sacramento. And then came Temecula Valley, and the 3-1 loss. “Our team had never been that far, but we know what to expect now,” said Hoglund. “We know what it takes. Our entire 12

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“SHE’S ALL — Campolindo-Moraga coach John Vuong talking about Bishop O’Dowd’s Michelle Ohwobete, above

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POWER” Story by Clay Kallam Photos by Berry Evans III

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team is motivated.” “A lot of us still feel it,” said Pirotta about the state championship defeat. “We have extra focus.” Bramed, though, sees the bigger picture, as coaches are supposed to do. “The journey’s more important,” he says. “The players may think ‘If we don’t win a state championship, the season’s a failure,’ but you can’t go with that mentality. “It’s a process,” he says. “You have to improve and get better every year. You have to enjoy the journey.” And this year the trip begins by replacing four graduated seniors, including Jasmine Powell, who’s now playing at Portland State. The schedule, as usual, is loaded with NorCal powers such as Campolindo and Sacred Heart Cathedral-San Francisco, and there are tough tournaments on tap, including the Nike TOC in Arizona. “My first year, we weren’t prepared mentally (for NorCals),” said Bramed. “Last year, we played better teams, and it helped.” “Volleyball is a rhythm sport,” said Bramed, “and it’s mentally very challenging. You have to connect on the court — you don’t have time to hold the ball and think.” And players have to build those vital connections during high-stress moments during the games. “Sometimes you have to let the kids go through it,” said Bramed, “and challenge themselves.” And unlike basketball, say, there’s less time for coaches to communicate during a match. “A 30-second timeout won’t do much for you,” said Bramed, and though coaches can signal to servers where to attack, after that the game becomes fluid and it’s up to the players to react to whatever happens. Which means integrating the new starters into the lineup and adjusting to new positions — this is Pirotta’s first year on the outside — is critical if O’Dowd is to win its third straight NCS title and get back to the state championships. “We’re already starting to gel but communication can always get better,” said Hoglund. “It’s going to take some time to adjust.” That’s a potential weakness that other teams will try to exploit. “You have to get them out of system,” said Campolindo coach Vuong, “then they have to scramble. And you have to serve well.” But Vuong, whose program is consistently one of the best in Northern California, acknowledges O’Dowd’s strength. “They’re a power team,” he says. “That’s what they’re known for.” And as on all good teams, the O’Dowd players understand their strengths. “We’re all physically strong,” said Pirotta, and first in line in that regard is Ohwobete, who started lifting weights in seventh grade. “We have a culture.” “We have a lot of power,” said Hoglund, using that word again. “We can intimidate some teams.” “Once the other teams fear your hitting,” said Bramed, “you’re in a pretty good spot.” And coming off a 62-15 record in the past two seasons, with the experience of playing for a state title already in the bank, Bishop O’Dowd is in a pretty good spot as well, ready to take the next step on the journey to a California championship. And they’ve got the power to make it happen. ✪ 14

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Bishop O’Dowd senior setter Alexandria Hoglund distributes a pass during a late August practice.

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NORCAL VOLLEYBALL PLAYERS TO WATCH HITTERS Sofia Aguilera, California-San Ramon, Sr. | Totaled 348 kills, 270 digs for Grizzlies in 2018. Paige Bensing, Homestead-Cupertino, Sr. | Ripped off 425 kills with 216 digs and 68 aces last season. Julia Cabri, Archbishop Mitty-San Jose, Sr. | Athletic middle provided 204 kills, 85 blocks last season; beginning third year on varsity. Abby Castillon, Central Catholic-Modesto, So. | Provided a staggering 583 kills as a freshman a season ago. Kennedy Crane, Rocklin, Sr. | Led Thunder with 426 kills in 2018. Naomie Cremoux, Los Altos, Jr. | Sophomore season included 466 kills, 342 digs and 68 aces. Zippy Dudziak, Berean ChristianWalnut Creek, Sr. | She’s rewriting school record book; had 318 kills, 167 digs and 51 aces last season

EVEN MORE TO WATCH Brya Ashley, Dublin, Jr., OH

Alexa Edwards, St. Francis-Sacramento, Sr. | Amassed more than 500 kills (572) for third straight season; also added 431 digs

Karis Carter, Stagg-Stockton, Sr., MB

Kari Geissberger, Marin CatholicKentfield, Sr. | 6-foot-2, LMU-bound star is among NCS’s most feared hitters

Vivian Light, Pleasant Grove-Elk Grove, Jr., OH/OPP

Emily Casner, Vanden-Fairfield, MB Madison Kremer, University Prep-Redding, Jr., OH Hannah Hoffman, Menlo School-Atherton, So., OH Morgan McClellan, Carlmont-Belmont, Sr., OH

Kirra Kellerman, St. Francis-Mountain View, Jr. | The 6-1 middle is poised for a giant junior year for talented Lancers. Olivia Keller, Beyer-Modesto, Jr. | Delivered 460 kills, 237 digs and 69 aces as a sophomore. Mikela Labno, Hilmar, Jr. | 521 kills, 234 digs, 75 blocks help lead Yellowjackets to state final. Sara McBride, Benicia, Sr. | Returns to Panthers as the reigning DAL-Valley MVP Abby Miller, Notre Dame-Belmont, Jr. | Powered Tigers offensive attack with 342 kills. Sadie Peete, California-San Ramon, Sr. | Paired with Aguilera for dynamite 1-2 punch (437 kills in 2018). Michelle Ohwobete, Bishop O’Dowd-Oakland, Sr. | Dragons’ thunder arm provided 493 kills to go with 260 digs. Elena Radeff, Sacred Heart Prep-Atherton, Sr. | Imposing middle had 201 kills, 78 blocks last season Jazmyn Tubbs, Turlock, Sr. | Bulldogs star surpassed 300 kills and 400 digs in 2018.

SETTERS Jordan Bennett, Pleasant Valley-Chico, Sr. | One of Northern Section’s top setters, she posted 1,087 assists, 296 digs and 84 aces in 2018. Haley Burdo, Cosumnes Oaks-Elk Grove, Sr. | Averaged nearly 10 assists per set en route to 1,112 on the season; added 259 digs, 67 kills and 66 aces. Emma Martin, Hilmar, Sr. | Dropped an astonishing 1,383 assists in 2018 to go with 263 digs. Lauren McGinnis, Christian Brothers-Sacramento, So. | Held her own with 922 assists, 218 digs as a frosh last season. Audrey Pak, Campolindo-Moraga, Sr. | UCLA-bound setter was 2018 Diablo Athletic LeagueFoothill Co-MVP. Ruby Santos, James Logan-Union City, Sr. | Helped lead Colts to state final with 821 assists, 203 digs and 66 kills. Alden Standley, Sacred Heart Cathedral-S.F., Sr. | Was first-team All-WCAL for league champs. Alexandria Hoglund, Bishop O’Dowd-Oakland, Sr. | Dished out 1,033 assists (9.1/set) and 75 aces for state finalists.

DEFENSIVE SPECIALISTS/LIBEROS Peyton Dueck, Aptos, Jr. | Super versatile athlete had 271 kills in addition to 357 digs, 428 serve receives. Julia Gonsalves, Hilmar, Sr. | Piled up an absurd 613 digs for the state finalists. Madison Hall, Pitman-Turlock, Jr. | Ranked among top 30 in the state with 542 digs as a soph. Abigail Viado, James Logan-Union City, Jr. | Unsung star of Colts passing game finished 2018 with 518 digs, 51 assists. Delaney Walsh, Notre Dame-Belmont, Sr. | Back row star had 410 digs, 523 serve receives. ✪

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istory has been made with the addition of men’s volleyball to the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association, thanks to a $1 million grant from First Point Volleyball Foundation and USA Volleyball. The news was announced Sept. 3 by USA Volleyball and the SIAC. The move, which champions diversity and inclusion in the sport, means men’s volleyball begins in the SIAC with the 2020-21 season. SIAC member colleges adding men’s volleyball are Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio; Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina; Fort Valley State University in Fort Valley, Georgia; Kentucky State University in Frankfurt; Morehouse College in Atlanta and Paine College in Augusta, Georgia. “We are extremely pleased to receive this generous investment from the First Point Volleyball Foundation and USA Volleyball,” said SIAC Commissioner Gregory Moore in a statement on the conference website. “I am convinced that the impact of this gift will not only be felt on the campuses of those participating SIAC member colleges and universities, but this gift could also serve as a catalyst for increasing African American participation in men’s volleyball throughout the United States.” The addition of the SIAC schools fosters diverse collegiate volleyball opportunities as players from the Northern California Volleyball Association and other regional volleyball associations advance to the next level of their educational pursuits. It comes at a time of great popularity for boys volleyball, the fastest growing team sport in the nation for high school boys, which has seen 22 percent growth over the past five years. NCVA officials are encouraged and proud to see the news, which addresses strategic initiatives for diversity set as priorities by both First Point Volleyball Foundation and USA Volleyball. The SIAC is a Division II conference comprised primarily of historically black colleges and universities that were established before the Civil Rights Act of 1964. “USA Volleyball is proud to be supporting this SIAC initiative to bring men’s varsity volleyball programs to six HBCU schools,” USA Volleyball CEO Jamie Davis said. “As the national governing body for volleyball, we strive to increase the diversity and inclusion in our sport. I applaud the leadership and vision being shown by Commissioner Moore and all six of the schools’ presidents and athletic directors which will surely increase the participation of African American men playing volleyball and lead to new athletic and academic opportunities for young boys.” The six SIAC schools will receive $150,000 over three years from First Point Volleyball Foundation and USA Volleyball as part of the grant program. First Point Volleyball Foundation is a nonprofit started by UCLA and U.S. Men’s National Team head coach John Speraw. “It has been terrific working with Greg (Moore) and the SIAC Conference,” Speraw said. “We are thankful for the many generous volleyball donors from across the country that have supported First Point Volleyball Foundation and allowed us to provide support to the SIAC and to new college programs to come.”

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NORCAL VOLLEYBALL 20 TEAMS TO WATCH EDITOR’S NOTE: Because several teams will already have completed games prior to our publishing date, this isn’t a traditional Preseason Top 20. These teams are not ranked, but are teams we expect to be ranked over the course of the season. All records are from 2018.

ARCHBISHOP MITTY-SAN JOSE (24-14) OUTLOOK: The Monarchs’ run of state championship titles ended in 2018, but a young nucleus gained plenty of experience — while still reaching the CIF Div. I Northern Regional final. The team’s top three leaders in kills from last season all return, including sophomore Kendra MacDonald (207 kills in 2018). Senior middle Julia Cabri (204 kills, 85 blocks) also returns along with both of the team’s top setters.

BISHOP O’DOWD-OAKLAND (34-7) OUTLOOK: The Dragons are the team that defeated Mitty in the Div. I NorCal final a year ago. Star outside hitter Michelle Ohwobete (493 kills) returns to power an offense that runs smoothly through senior setter Alexandria Hoglund (9.1 assists/set). Senior Annabella Pirotta will be switching to outside hitter to replace the graduated Jasmine Powell (438 kills)

CALIFORNIA-SAN RAMON (29-6) OUTLOOK: The hitting tandem of Sofia Aguilera and Sadie Peete has combined for 1,340 kills and 59 wins over the past two seasons. They gear up for one last run with the Grizzlies aided by junior hitter Genevieve Bane (218 kills in 2018) and sophomore setter Payton Lee (934 assists, 64 aces).

CAMPOLINDO-MORAGA (27-9) OUTLOOK: Coach John Vuong lost just three seniors from a team that finished as the North Coast Section Div. II runner-up to Bishop O’Dowd. UCLA-bound setter Audrey Pak is back to lead an offense that also includes returning first-team all-league hitter Sophia Newman.

CARLMONT-BELMONT (23-14) OUTLOOK: The Scots program is about as consistent as they come. This year’s team will be led by a pair of returning first-team All-PAL (Ocean Division) outside hitters, seniors Morgan McClellan and Alisha Mitha. Junior setter Jules Tan will feed them. Sophomore libero Grace Xu anchors the backline defense.

COSUMNES OAKS-ELK GROVE (27-12) OUTLOOK: Close to 800 kills graduated along with the tandem of Amaria Kelley and Dalia Mays. However, the Wolfpack still have one more year of star setter Haley Burdo. She will be delivering balls to a new senior duo of Ramonni Cook (206 kills in 2018) and Ella Nerli (196 kills).

JAMES LOGAN-UNION CITY (32-8) OUTLOOK: The Colts are the defending NCS Div. I champions after sweeping Foothill-Pleasanton in the 2018 final. Logan has 109 wins over the past three seasons and should remain an East Bay power behind hitter Josephina Tuinauvai and three-year starting setter Ruby Santos.

LOS GATOS (18-16) OUTLOOK: An already strong returning roster gets a big boost with the arrival of 6-foot-1 freshman outside hitter, Hannah Slover. Her impact will complement the efforts of senior hitter, Ella Weider. Junior setter Adrina Tang runs the show.

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MARIN CATHOLIC-KENTFIELD (37-4)

SACRED HEART CATHEDRAL-S.F. (31-7)

OUTLOOK: Loyola Marymount-bound, 6-foot-6 hitter Kari Geissberger returns for her fourth and final varsity season with the Wildcats. Senior Olivia Cooper (6-1) is also an imposing presence at the net. Replacing graduated setter Leah Pease will be key.

OUTLOOK: The first team all-league senior tandem of setter Alden Standley and Megan Lenn

NOTRE DAME-BELMONT (27-13)

SACRED HEART PREP-ATHERTON (13-18)

OUTLOOK: Junior outside hitter Abby Miller has the potential for 400-plus kills in 2019. Fellow junior Kelly Schackel will also be a net presence. The Tigers serve receive game will be strong behind senior libero Delaney Walsh. Sophomore Caitlin Musich takes over at setter.

OUTLOOK: Senior Elena Radeff returns as the Gators’ dominant net presence. The 6-foot-1

OAK RIDGE-EL DORADO HILLS (21-13)

ST. FRANCIS-SACRAMENTO (34-6)

OUTLOOK: Four-year program stalwart Gracie Rowland (351 kills in 2018) has graduated, making way for the hitting tandem of senior Kealini Kuykendall and junior Kylie Kirtland. Regan Hoppe and Claire Kuykendall return after combining for nearly 1,000 assists in 2018.

OUTLOOK: University of Pacific-bound senior Alexa Edwards will look to add to her career kill

PLEASANT GROVE-ELK GROVE (27-8) OUTLOOK: Sisters Vivian and Jade Light are back for the second of what will be three years powering the Eagles attack together. Sophomore Savannah Risley takes over at setter, replacing standout Riley Tishlarich who is now at Humboldt State University.

PLEASANT VALLEY-CHICO (30-7) OUTLOOK: The defending Northern Section champions return all kinds of talent. That includes the hitting tandem of Julia Shepherd and Makenna Joyce. Junior setter Jordan Bennett returns after a dominant 2018 that included 1,087 assists, 296 digs, 77 kills and 84 aces.

ROCKLIN (25-11) OUTLOOK: The Thunder began 2019 ranked No. 1 in a poll of Greater Sacramento-Area coaches. Three of the team’s top four attackers return, including junior Kennedy Crane and senior Ivana Erlandsen. Allison Mick (a 6-1 middle) and standout libero Lulu Leppek both return as well.

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are both back to power the defending West Catholic Athletic League champions. In fact, the 31-win team lost just two seniors to graduation.

hitter had 201 kills and 78 blocks in 2018. Expect more this season. Millie Muir will facilitate the offense after posting more than 700 assists as a freshman setter.

totals that already exceed 1,600 through three varsity seasons. Junior hitter Chloe Henning will complement her on the other side. Both of the Troubadours’ top setters return as well.

ST. FRANCIS-MOUNTAIN VIEW (22-14) OUTLOOK: The Lancers should be squarely in the WCAL title chase with Sacred Heart Cathedral and Mitty. Watch for the hitting tandem of 6-1 junior Kirra Kellerman and senior Taylor Tullo. Junior libero Maggie Curtis will solidify the back row.

ST. MARY’S-STOCKTON (35-7) OUTLOOK: After reeling off 35 wins, the Rams graduated just three seniors. Hitters Emma Miller and Anya Green combined for 749 kills as juniors a year ago. Chloree Baptiste had 102 blocks and Allison Eberhardt posted more than 850 assists.

TURLOCK (14-18) OUTLOOK: Jazmyn Tubbs leads a trio of hitters that are all back in the fold for the Bulldogs this season. Tubbs and Mary Padilla are both seniors while Ava Chiesa is a junior. Plenty of experience and firepower should lead to a much tougher squad in 2019. ✪

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“At the end of the day, they know they cannot afford it, they scratch and claw to get something for their kid. The only way they can do it is by scholarship.” — Stacey Harris, NSR

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hen high school athletes need to seek a scholarship, a daunting number of factors are often in play. Location, climate, compatibility with the coach, cost, career goals, campus size and academics are just a small part of a wish list that can go on forever in finding the right college. And you thought trigonometry and physics were tough! With an internet saturated with profiles and videos of hundreds of thousands of athletes, companies which help guide students and parents through the recruiting jungle can be so valuable. There are a variety of organizations that offer help in that often-difficult process. Costs, approaches, philosophies and styles differ from company to company. Established groups like Next College Student Athlete (NCSA) and National Scouting Report (NSR) have recently been joined by smaller, more localized companies such as Tompkins-Gould College Athletic Consulting out of Fremont and SPEAK Leadership Consulting from Las Vegas. Some offer online platform-building, others focus on connections with schools and/or coaches, some work to grow personal skills or give direction to parents. A number are straight-up consultants and others act like de-facto agents. Like anything with the educational work, work ethic is the key. “A lot of kids are committing to going to schools without doing their research,” said Julian Jenkins, Senior Director of Regional Recruiting for NCSA, which was founded in 2000. “You have to physically get on that college campus. I see kids wanting to go to the Florida Everglades who have never set foot out of Fresno or Richmond.” Sometimes the effort is factored by financial need. “Sometimes that family that doesn’t have the money sees the value in it,” said Stacey Harris, NorCal Area Director for NSR, which began in 1980. “At the end of the day, they know they cannot afford it, they scratch and claw to get something for their kid. The only way they can do it is by scholarship.” Figuring out how to start is a big piece of the puzzle. “You get a reasonable list of target schools, work with them to reach out,” said Rick Gould of Tompkins-Gould College Athletic Consulting, which launched earlier this year. “Bring the numbers down and hold their hand through the process … Part of it is what school the student likes the best. But there is also which coaches like the student the best.”

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The internet is a double-edged sword for college-seekers. It’s easy to create a presence, but it becomes just another in a saturated web sea, because anyone can do that, said Jenkins. He began his career as a prep football star in Georgia, made his way to Stanford and then the NFL with Tampa Bay and Denver. “With all the social media, there are still the same number of spots on a basketball team that there were 20 years (ago),” Jenkins said. “The same number of spots, while tuition is much higher.” That can be a very difficult dart throw. “Every college coach has social media, so they think if they just put their info on Instagram and Twitter, what is the percentage that the coach sees it? Pretty low,” Harris said. And waiting until senior year to start the process makes it even more overwhelming. “I truly believe that this should be started no later than sophomore year, because you still have one year before you get bombarded by colleges and recruiters,” said Bill Teel, co-founder and president of SPEAK, which began two years ago. There are many reasons for late entries. “Yes, you have a group of people, either they didn’t seek information soon enough, or kids are late bloomers, and just now showing the coaches they are making the commitment or have grown into being that athlete who coaches want to recruit,” Jenkins said. Likewise, it can be a trap to close the deal too soon. Gould said committing early on, or even before high school starts, is detrimental to both the athlete and the university.. “Typically, an athlete in 9th or 10th grade doesn’t know what they want in a college,” he said. “It sounds great when they are a freshman. Three or four years later when they are going to college, things have changed.” Teel discovered how lost some parents could be when his daughter was playing with a club soccer team and suddenly it was time to embark on college searches. “We were thinking about what needed to be done to get her into the recruitment world,” Teel said. “We asked others, and the predominant response was, ‘Are we supposed to be doing something?’” That response led to the creation of SPEAK, in which Teel and his associates created virtual profiles for soccer athletes, with a 100 percent success rate in attaining college scholarships, he said. “We helped them focus on schools which would consider them, areas of importance, what region of the country would you like to live in, what is the specific climate, specific program, your educational program, what do you want to get from your college experience?” he said. “If you want to live in the area you went to college, what is the job market like there?” It can be a challenge to get a dedicated athlete to look beyond sports. “I tell the athlete ‘Picture yourself at this school without the sport. … Would you still attend?’” Harris said. “You need to look at it socially, geographically, financially and academically.” The pitfalls of making a wrong college choice are starkly evident. In July, NCSA released an extensive State of Recruiting report, which found that over 45 percent of underclass athletes are not listed on their college roster the following year. NCSA analyzed roster data from 2012-17 of more than 1,400 NCAA and NAIA schools. The study didn’t pinpoint reasons for athletes dropping off a roster. Possibilities are many — becoming homesick, not fitting in academically or socially, not getting along with a coach, seeing the coach who recruited you depart, or an injury. When venturing out into the adult work, people skills are important for the prospect. “For anywhere, for sixth-graders or seniors in HS, it is about developing a student who is ready to attend college.” Gould said. “Some athletes look good on paper, but don’t look you in the eye when they shake your hand. They don’t say ‘Thank you,’ they are mumbling, they don’t manage their time well,” Gould said. “That’s an overlooked aspect.” Jenkins’ own quest began with sending VHS video tapes to over 100 colleges. While technology has changed, the notion of casting a wide net remains a useful approach. “The first time I was stepping on those college campuses, they were like Sewanee in Tennessee, Furman College in South Carolina, then to Clemson and North Carolina,” Jenkins said. “By the time I got to Stanford and Notre Dame, I was ready for the process. Just like a player wouldn’t have gone into a game without having practice, I don’t know how a lot of parents can go into recruiting without doing the practice, doing the reps.” Gould has seen the recruiting process from three perspectives. His father, Dick, had a legendary tennis coaching run at Stanford. Rick was a recruited collegiate swimmer and swam for Stanford. Most recently one of his daughters emerged from the recruiting process. “People don’t naturally know how to do this,” Gould said. “Everyone is pushing so hard on academics, so it’s hard to differentiate yourself. Achieving excellence in a sport is a way to differentiate yourself.” In the end, athletes, parents and coaches will seek out resources they trust. “This is all about getting the info in front of the coaches,” said Harris, who has worked at NSR for 13 years. “If it’s coming from a proven established company, they are going to look at it.” ✪ Follow us on Twitter & Instagram, like us on Facebook!

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“We knew we had to tell him something. We looked him in the eye and told him ‘You’ll be able to do everything you want to do in life, but you will have to work very hard.’ ” — Rick Gillilan

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aseball was the last thing on Trevor Gillilan’s mind as he lay critically injured flying hundreds of feet above ground in a medevac helicopter. He was being rushed to The Firefighters Burn Institute Regional Burn Center in Sacramento where doctors would frantically try to save a young man with second- and third-degree burns over approximately 67 percent of his body. After a successful year with the Freedom High freshman baseball team, the Oakley teen was hoping to make an impact on JV as a sophomore. The plan was to keep developing his skills — but playing college ball was always his dream. But after a freak accident on Aug. 30, 2013, even the most obvious things in his life were no longer guaranteed. On a Friday night, two weeks into their sophomore year, Gillilan and two friends were enjoying a backyard campfire. As the flames began to dim, one of his friends poured accelerant on the existing flame. Unexpectedly a fireball projectile shot out from the fluid container, dousing Trevor’s lower body. “All I remember thinking was STOP, DROP and ROLL,” Gillilan said. “But it didn’t work”. The flames continued to thrive, gaining fuel from his clothes and the fresh accelerant. They quickly progressed from his legs to his torso, stopping at his neck, just under his chin. With quick thinking, his two friends ran in opposite directions: one grabbed the hose while the other turned on the water. Eventually, they were able to put out the flames. Gillilan’s adrenaline took over. He was numb to the pain. He read the expressions on his friends’ faces and remembered having one thought. Don’t look down. Six years later, Trevor stands on the mound and looks down — at the baseball in his glove. He’s pitching for the Santa Rosa Athletics in a college summer league as he prepares for his 26

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sophomore season with Sonoma State in 2020. “We couldn’t be prouder,” said Rick Gillilan, Trevor’s father. “Watching him overcome and play the game he loves, it has given us the courage to recover as well.”

A LIE THAT HEALED It was courage that helped Rick and his wife Joelle relay a message of hope to their son as he lay fully bandaged in the burn center. Even if it may not have been entirely truthful at the time. “I would ask a lot of questions, when I first woke up,” Trevor said. “I wanted to know what my future was, how bad of shape was I really in?” His legs were far and away the most impacted area. They were burned so severely the medical staff strongly believed walking normally again would be a long-term battle. Furthermore, his right arm — his pitching arm — was severely burned to the extent that contracture had begun to form. Burn scar contracture causes the skin to pull together near the damaged areas. It can lead to long lasting problems if not treated immediately. Permanently shortened range of motion is one of those problems. Baseball players, especially pitchers, rely on extended range of motion in their arms. Using a dry-erase board because of the 4-foot long intubation tube in his throat, Trevor didn’t take long to ask his parents if normal life — and baseball — would ever be an option again. When the medical team told Rick and Joelle the answer was no, they agreed to give Trevor a different answer. “We knew we had to tell him something,” Rick said. “We looked him in the eye and told him ‘You’ll be able to do everything you want to do in life, but you will have to work very hard.’ ” It was years later when Trevor discovered this was not his medical team’s diagnosis. By that time, Trevor had already returned to the diamond.

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DEFYING THE ODDS It was a week before the ventilator tube was removed. Ditching the white board and using his voice again was a big morale boost. But reality never strayed for too long. Life inside the ICU of a burn hospital is like playing a never-ending game of tug of war. And pain. Pain was a constant theme, not only for Trevor as he healed, but also the sounds he heard each day of new patients arriving. “The dressing changes were brutal,” Trevor said. “The pain was unbearable because the bandages would stick to my body. Twice a day I had to feel something so excruciating, I could only deal with the pain because I had no other choice.” Every experience he endured was slowly creating the mental strength that would push his recovery forward. At the six-week mark he was cleared to begin in-bed rehabilitation. Simple tasks like using his arms and hands to play card games would be his first step. Most of his muscles had deteriorated — even standing on his own two feet was far beyond the pain he could have imagined. “Getting carried was a tough reality,” he said. He wasn’t getting carried for long. What started as assisted bicycle kicks on his back quickly escalated to slow walks down hospital hallways. Nearing three months inside the hospital, and making amazing progress, the hospital allowed him to spend a night with his parents in the hotel across the street. Rick and Joelle had stayed there every night since he’d arrived. “It was awesome to walk out of those hospital doors” Trevor said. “Even if it was just for the night.” After two more weeks, plans were made for his release. The nursing staff marveled at the recovery time. The term “miracle” was used more than once. On Nov. 9, after 72 days, Trevor left the Sacramento facility 25 pounds lighter and six weeks ahead of schedule.

BACK BETWEEN THE LINES Normal comes slowly for burn victims like Trevor. His first few months required mandatory pressure garment clothing as his wounds continued to heal. Readjusting to school life wasn’t a snap either. He was steadfast that he wasn’t going to worry if people looked at him differently. “These scars are a part of me. They make me who I am,” Trevor said of his mindset. “I wear them every day and use it as fuel.” In April 2014, not even nine months after the accident, Trevor was back in a competitive baseball game as a pitcher in the Brentwood Pony League. “I was nervous, but mainly excited to play the game again,’’ Trevor explained. “Being able to 28

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step on the mound and compete was something truly special.” Freedom High’s coaching staff placed him on junior varsity the following year. They wanted to give him an opportunity to play regularly and regain muscle memory. “I really wanted to play varsity right away, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise,” Trevor said. “I made great friends and big strides in my game.” He played varsity as a senior, but it was a frustrating season for the Falcons. The team finished under .500 and Trevor only pitched 18.2 innings. Facing the reality that baseball likely wasn’t going to be a part of his future, he hung up his spikes and began considering school and career options. To no surprise of anyone who knew his story, he went to Los Medanos College and enrolled in its Fire Science program — getting his California EMT license in the process. “He’s a driven guy. That has been clear over the past six years,” said his cousin, Drew Gillilan, a firefighter in Stockton. “He will do great at the college level and in the fire service if he chooses.”

ONE LAST GO Studying for fire service was stirring a new passion. “I really enjoyed the brotherhood and camaraderie that the fire service provides,” Trevor said. “I liked learning how to help people in need. The same way the crews helped me when I got hurt.” Just one month before he was to begin the fire academy at LMC, his old passion flickered. Two years from his last time stepping on a baseball field, an opportunity presented itself. After mentioning to his dad he’d love to give baseball one last go. Rick Gillilan found a pitching skills coach and connected him with Trevor. Dominoes fell quickly and suddenly Trevor found himself throwing in front of Sonoma State head coach John Goelz. After battling nerves, rust and a few wild pitches, his tryout ended with Goelz encouraging him to enroll at the school and try out as a walk-on for the 2019 season. Remembering all that he’d gone through to get back to this point, Trevor knew saying no wasn’t an option. He had to take his shot. He made the 60-man fall roster and spent the 2019 season as an off-roster redshirt. “We love the kid,” Sonoma State pitching coach Dolf Hes said. “He’s a great person. The only thing that you can control on the baseball field is attitude and hustle, and he has both.” As always, Trevor will enter the 2020 season as an underdog. He’ll push himself through training sessions, grind in the weight room and work constantly on his craft. He’ll know the odds are against him. He’ll remember what he’s been through. The odds will have an 0-2 count — and Trevor Gillilan will wind up for his best fastball. ✪ Follow us on Twitter & Instagram, like us on Facebook!

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Shoulder Stigma health watch: jamie Faison

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ootball is a collision sport, and unfortunately, shoulder injuries are common. When a football player hurts his shoulder, a number of different structures can be injured. The area and mechanism of injury can change the diagnosis and rehabilitation plan dramatically. Here is a quick summary of some common football shoulder injuries. ›› DISLOCATION: This is an injury to the “ball and socket” of the shoulder joint. With a shoulder dislocation, there is enough force to push the head of the humerus (the ball) out of socket from the glenoid of the scapula. Often times the shoulder will stay out of the socket or be “dislocated” and those structures that stabilize the shoulder joint may be stretched or torn. It is important for this athlete to be examined by a doctor, who will assist in putting the shoulder back in the socket safely. ›› SUBLUXATION: This is similar to a shoulder dislocation. The head of the humerus is shifted in the socket, but the shoulder then spontaneously pops back in. While normally less severe, this may injure the stabilizing structures of the shoulder joint similar to a dislocation. After a dislocation or subluxation, your shoulder may be put in a sling. After the pain has decreased, exercises can be given to improve range of motion and shoulder stability. ›› SEPARATION: This is an injury to the top of the shoulder, and is not an injury to the ball and socket joint. A separated shoulder is a term for a sprain of the joint between the scapula and the clavicle, also known as the AC joint. This will often occur after a fall or impact to the top of the shoulder. The pain is localized to the top of the shoulder, especially with overhead reaching and lifting activities. The treatment for this injury is normally icing, bracing/padding to the shoulder and eventually exercises to return full shoulder mobility. While these injuries may be common, they do not necessarily mean your season is over. With a comprehensive rehabilitation program that focuses on restoring range of motion, improving scapular stability and restoring shoulder strength, football players who suffer a shoulder injury can come back within their season if they are persistent and diligent. If you have any questions about shoulder injuries or rehabilitation strategies, come check us out at ucsfhealth.org. ✪ Jamie Faison is a Physical Therapist Assistant and Athletic Trainer at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital’s Sports Medicine Center for Young Athletes.

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Profile for Caliente! Communications

Bay Area Issue 170, September 2019  

Bay Area Issue 170, September 2019  

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