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inaugural issue

vol. 1. issue 1


mustang Blast prepares for soccer regionals

starring contra costa county athletes • june 10, 2010

and we’re off!

Deer Valley’s Chizoba Okodogbe sprints towards Olympic dreams El Cerrito baseball makes unlikely run Lauren Goerz helps Monte Vista lacrosse stay perfect

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June 10, 2010



get into it


june 10, 2010

meet 18 girls you likely won’t run into at the mall this summer. 22 Running the 400 meters is no picnic, contrary to how chizoba okodogbe makes it look. 12

First Pitch.........................................5 SportStar of the Week..................7

Photo finish. 30

Locker Room..................................8 Wally’s World............................... 11 Training Time................................ 21 Health Watch............................... 25 What’s Next................................. 28 The Numbers............................... 29


Advertiser Index......................... 29

Chizoba Okodogbe by Bob Larson



June 10, 2010

gritty Gauchos surprise everybody except themselves. 18 Upload photos and team stats!

PHONE 925.566.8500 FAX 925.566.8507 Editorial Editor Chace Bryson. Ext. 105 • Contributors Bill Kolb, Erik Stordahl, Mike Wolcott, Dave DeLong, Kelli Bryson Photography Butch Noble, Bob Larson Creative Department Production Manager Mike DeCicco. Ext. 101 • Publisher/President Mike Calamusa. Ext. 106 • Advertising & Calendar/Classified Sales Account Executives Mike Wolcott Ext. 109 •; Patrick McCormick Ext. 102 • Reader Resources/Administration Ad Traffic, Subscription, Calendar & Classified Listings • Deb Hollinger. Ext. 100 • Distribution/Delivery Distribution Manager Butch Noble. Ext. 103 • Information technology John Bonilla CFO Sharon Calamusa • Office Manager/Credit Services Deb Hollinger. Ext. 100 • Board of Directors Dennis Erokan, CEO, Placemaking Group Roland Roos, CPA, Roland Roos & Co Susan Bonilla, Contra Costa County Supervisor Drew Lawler, Managing Director, AJ Lawler Partners community SportStars™ Magazine A division of Caliente! Communications, LLC 5356 Clayton Rd., Ste. 222 • Concord, CA • 94521




your ticket to bay area sports admit one; rain or shine This Vol. #1, June 2010 Whole No. 1 is published by Caliente! Communications, LLC, 5356 Clayton Rd, Ste. 222, Concord, CA 94521. SportStars™© 2010 by Caliente! Communications, LLC. All rights reserved. Subscription rates: 24 issues, U.S. 3rd class $42 (allow 3 weeks for delivery). 1st class $55. To receive sample issues, please send $3 to cover postage. 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, self-addressed envelope. SportStars™© and STARS!™© Clinics are registered trademarks of Caliente! Communications, LLC.

Read Me. Recycle Me.

Let it rain! T here’s no shortage of motivational wisdom floating around the house when one is being raised by a pair of high school

coaches. As I recall my bedroom wall between the years of 1990-1994, between the large posters of Michael Jordan and Bo Jackson, hung a smaller item. It was a photo of a single basketball hoop in an empty gymnasium. The caption beneath read, “Opportunity: You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” At the time, I connected with it purely on a sports level. And, making the coaches in the house proud, I did become a fairly confident jumpshooter. As the small poster eventually made its way off the wall, replaced by something that was considered unequivocally “cooler” at the time, the message has always found a way to resurface in my life. One of those times came a little more than a month ago when I was approached about the editor position for a new magazine focused on teen athletes in Contra Costa County. This was a shot I had to take. And a good deal of the reasoning for that can be traced right back to having parents who coached. I’ve been around teenage athletes since before I can remember. As a toddler, I was a slightly-interested bystander while players from my dad’s football team provided the heavy lifting as my family moved into a new home. (It’s amazing the labor that four extra large pizzas can obtain.) As a fifth-grader, I learned how to break a zone press while completing my homework as my mom ran her girls’ basketball practice. (More knowledge was gained between whistles: That a bad hair day could be offered as an excuse for missing free throws, for instance.) As a ninth-grader, I managed to get myself onto the staff of my high school’s

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FIRST PITCH Chace Bryson Editor

Chace@ (925) 566-8503

newspaper and began writing about high school sports. (My access to the coaching staffs was unparalleled.) I haven’t stopped since. For the past nine years I wrote about teenage athletes for a newspaper here in the Bay Area. And while the job brought with it the occasional foray into collegiate and professional sports, I never found myself discouraged to return to preps. So when I was offered the keys to a full-color publication completely devoted to telling the stories of teen athletes — in a region rich with great programs, great coaches and communities starved for coverage of youth and high school sports — it seemed too good to be true. The (for now) very tiny and modest staff at SportStars is hoping readers will feel the same way. I have a hard time seeing how they couldn’t. The aforementioned staff, and contributors, includes some of the most experienced individuals I’ve ever been around: Bob Larson, who has roamed Super Bowl sidelines with his camera, was the man behind our first cover and many of the other images in this first issue. Mike Wolcott, who has more than 30 years of journalism experience behind him, will wear many hats for us. He specializes in making me laugh, which is why I asked him to provide a column each issue. We’ve also secured health and training professionals to provide content each week, and we’ll offer a number of odds and ends throughout. All under a slick design put together by the experienced, and talented, Mike DeCicco. However, the stars of each issue will always be the athletes, teams and coaches. They are what’s going to make this a great journey, one which we hope readers will take with us. I’m taking my shot, and I don’t plan on missing. (Thanks, Mom and Dad). June 10, 2010





June 10, 2010

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of the week

lauren goerz senior . monte vista . lacrosse

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On May 29, the Monte Vista High girls lacrosse team made history.They became the second team to finish its season without a loss or tie (23-0) since the North Coast Section started holding lacrosse playoffs in 2004.They also became the first girls team to repeat as champions. At the center of it all was senior, Lauren Goerz. In three playoff games, Goerz scored 13 goals and had two assists. In the final, a 6-5 defeat of Amador Valley, Goerz had a hand in every Mustangs goal. She will attend Cal-Berkeley in the fall. SportStars: What’s the best thing about being on a team that never loses? Lauren Goerz: Going into every game with confidence. SportStars: What’s the most fun you’ve had with a lacrosse stick when you weren’t playing lacrosse? LG: It actually didn’t happen to me, but my sister and I were at a tournament at Cal and a representative for STX lacrosse sticks told my sister he’d give her a free stick if she could get a picture of the Berkeley tree-sitters holding a lacrosse stick. My sister made it happen. SportStars: Undefeated teams undoubtedly deal with varying superstitions. Did your team have any good ones? LG: One of them, and it’s kind of random, but I wear No. 13. So sometimes when I’m eating Skittles or raisins, I tend to eat only 13. Lauren Goerz’s Quick Hits Most played song on your iPod: “All I Do Is Win,” DJ Khaled (It kind of became our team song, but it’s weird because we’re really not that cocky). Twilight or Harry Potter: Harry Potter What the average fan may not know: I’m right-handed, but left-footed. I discovered that playing soccer.

honorable mention

Chelsea Chenault In her first North Coast Section championship swim meet, the Carondelet freshman set an NCS record in the 500-yard freestyle.That was only icing compared to anchoring the Cougars’ 200 medley team to a nationalrecord time of 1:40.8.

zach coniglio The Alhambra senior won NCS titles in both the shot put and discus. He entered the NCS Meet of Champions ranked among the Top 10 in the state in both events, No. 4 in discus and No. 8 in the shot put.

mark kolding The senior pitcher for El Cerrito notched complete-game victories in back-to-back NCS Division III playoff games. Kolding had six strikeouts and no walks in a 5-4 quarterfinal win over Arcata. In a 5-3 semifinal win over Encinal, he struck out just two, but had a 2-RBI single at the plate.

June 10, 2010



she said what?!?

“In the first team meeting (of the season), the girls wanted to write ‘repeat’ all over their shirts. I said, ‘Well, I don’t know if we can do that.’ ... They definitely proved me wrong.”

Monte Vista girls lacrosse coach Dearborn Ramos, after her team completed an undefeated season to become the first girls team to repeat as champions since lacrosse became an NCS championship sport in 2004. Butch Noble

Thoughts going through Deer Valley pitcher Josh Eagle’s mind May 26 when he came back to save a game he had started and was in line to win: 1. Huh. A win and a save? I wonder what my fantasy value is right now? 2. I’m just askin’ you to save me (You might try savin’ yourself…)* 3. There’s no way the umpire can blow the call on this one. At least it’s not a perfect game… 4. But what I really want to do is manage. 5. I can’t believe I actually wrote ‘Have a nice summer and keep in touch,’ in that girl’s yearbook today. NOTE: We, the sports-knowledgeable staff members of SportStars know perfectly well that the Major League Rulebook specifically precludes a pitcher from recording a save in a game he stands to win. But you know what? We don’t care. Eagle left the game in position to earn a win. He played first base. The bullpen couldn’t quite seal the deal. So Eagle trudged back to the mound in a save situation, and closed it out. So there. For the record, we don’t know if Eagle likes or even listens to Dave Matthews, either. * Matthews, Dave (2003).“Save Me,” Some Devil. By Bill Kolb 8


June 10, 2010

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random acts of factness In the first two rounds of the North Coast Section Div. II and III high school baseball playoffs, seven games were played with one team using wood bats, and the other brandishing aluminum.Wood bat teams went 5-2 in those games.

where’d he go? Mike Stone, Acalances baseball Class of 2007

Bristling over bats There was a lot of reasonable conversation in the wake of Marin Catholic High baseball pitcher Gunnar Sandberg’s shocking injury during a March 11 scrimmage vs. De La Salle. Sandberg was struck in the head by a batted ball and ended up in a coma. He has since begun recovering from the incident. The bat has not faired as well. Following the incident, several Marin County Athletic League teams voluntarily switched from metal bats to wood.The league later voted to play the remainder of the season sans metal, and subsequently encouraged playoff opponents to follow suit. While sympathetic, those postseason opponents stuck with the tools that got them there. Some were criticized. Most, oddly enough, lost. All of this is sort of an aside to the ultimate truth:There is not a tremendous amount of evidence to support the notion that pitchers facing batters armed with wooden bats are significantly safer than those facing metal-wielders. One MCAL coach is ready to let the whole thing go. “Nobody won or lost because of what bat they used,” San Marin’s Mark Whitburn said after his team’s playoff loss to Alhambra.“I’m kind of tired of the whole story.We struck out too many times. It didn’t matter what bats we were using.” By Bill Kolb

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Teri Stone

When it came to hitting cleanup for the Acalanes High baseball team, Mike Stone took his job very seriously. Three years ago this month, in his final game as a Don, Stone hit a grand slam and had a career-best six RBIs to help lead his school to a 16-3 win over Albany in the North Coast Section 2A East Bay championship game. “I still like to think about it,” said Stone, who recently wrapped up a two-year stint with College of Marin.“It’s definitely a good memory.” As Marin’s starting catcher, Stone hit .280 this past season with two home runs and 20 RBIs. The Mariners won 10 of their final 13 games but narrowly missed making the playoffs. Coincidentally, Joe Wallace — a teammate of Stone’s on the 2007 Acalanes squad — reached the California Community College Athletic Association state championship game with San Mateo. Wallace hit cleanup in the final and went 1-for-5 as the Bulldogs lost 16-10 to Ohlone. Other seniors from that 2007 Acalanes team who continue to play collegiately include Jake Floethe (CSU Fullerton) and Mike Guglielmo (Sacramento St.).As for Stone, he’s mulling transfer options that include NAIA schools Oregon Tech and Fresno Pacific. By Chace Bryson June 10, 2010





June 10, 2010

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When youth sports parents attack!


he best youth sports coach I ever knew never watched a tryout. At least, not in the same manner as most coaches. If you’ve ever had a kid try out for a sports team, you know the drill: Dozens of kids running and throwing while a gaggle of dedicated, well-meaning coaches sit in a row, taking copious notes while armed with stopwatches, reams of paper and enough colored pens to stock a small army at an NFL combine. Not my man Ken Vaughn. He was usually busy looking in the other direction. “I’d always let the other guys worry about studying the players,” he told me one day in 1982, when I was about five years into a 30-year career as a sports journalist. “Not me. I was always busy looking at the parents, because they were the ones I was going to have to live with for the rest of the season. “I didn’t care how fast a kid was – if I saw his parents were going to be trouble, I’d never draft him.” Ken Vaughn’s teams won more than most coaches in his time. In the meantime – and most of the 30 years since – I’ve seen plenty of people lose, most notably a few parents in the stands. Don’t get me wrong - by and large, contrary to semi-popular opinion, parents generally do behave themselves while watching their kids play. And sometimes, rather than actually causing any long-term damage, what starts out as some potentially misplaced anger can turn into a priceless memory. Presenting, in no particular order, the Four Most Ridiculously Memorable Parent-Related Moments I’ve Personally Witnessed at Youth or High School Sporting Events. The names have been omitted to protect the guilty: 1. “The Mad Lady with the Shoe.”: At a Red Bluff High basketball game in 1986, a fight broke out among two players. The mother of one sprinted out of the stands, took off her left shoe (a high heel, no less) and started pummeling the kid who had been pummeling her kid. I’m not sure which kid looked more horrified – the one getting hit, or the one

WALLY’S WORLD Mike Wolcott MikeW@ (925) 566-8500, Ext. 109

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who would have to live the rest of his high school life known as the “kid with the mom who took off her shoe in the basketball fight.” I mean, it was vicious. I didn’t see anyone swing a shoe with such enthusiasm again until our tanks yanked down Saddam Hussein’s statue in 2003. Mom got escorted off the court, sans shoe, and the game continued without incident. After the crowd left, a lone high heel was spotted still resting in the front row of the bleachers, apparently ready for use in a future game. 2. “No Pictures, Please.”: You’ve all seen it on TV: a running back goes out of bounds and knocks over a photographer and both go tumbling to the ground. On this particular North State night, there was a big difference: the photographer got up, the high school running back didn’t, and a parent got angry. “You’ve got to learn to get out of the way! I think you just broke my son’s neck!,” the parent screamed at the photographer, as his son lay on the ground, holding his helmet. As if to drive home his point, the parent reached out to grab the photographer by the neck – and instead, tripped over his son’s head and landed right on top of him, twisting his own ankle in the process. So there you had it — a son clutching his head in pain (he was fine, fortunately), his dad laying on top of him clutching his ankle in pain and a young, frightened photographer desperately searching for a safe escape route. Fortunately, I did get away, and that’s the night I stopped taking my own pictures. 3. “Jaws of Steel”: You’ve all heard of the Little League dad who gets mad and punches an umpire or coach. Nothing funny about that right? Absolutely. Unless, of course, the guy throwing the punch ends up being the only guy who got hurt. I once saw a parent, mad because his team didn’t get selected to an AllStar team, throw a punch at the league president. He missed the quick-reflexed president, but connected solidly with a metal support pole on the backstop. Continued, page 26 June 10, 2010



DRIVEN Deer Valley’s Chizoba Okodogbe finds motivation at a 53-second pace


By Chace Bryson | Editor • Photo by BOB LARSON

hizoba Okodogbe finished second. Her decorated career of running the 400 meter dash for the Deer Valley High track and field team had lasted a mere half-second longer than she could afford. She crossed the finish line in the California Interscholastic Federation state championship final at Buchanan High School in Clovis on June 3 with a time of 53.42 seconds. Chimere Ezumah — a freshman from Serra High of Gardena —finished in 52.97. Yet a mere 10 minutes later, Okodogbe smiled as she answered reporters’ questions about the race. To those who know the 17-year-old, this smile is not a surprise. It isn’t forced. It’s there because Okodogbe is driven to make this day a mere footnote to her running career. That drive lead her to the state championship meet, which she entered with the nation’s second-fastest time of 2010. It made her the North Coast Section’s fastest female ever in the 400. It might just make her Deer Valley’s first Olympic athlete. Continued, page 14



June 10, 2010

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June 10, 2010



Continued from page 13 ◆◆◆ A first generation Nigerian-American, her name is pronounced Cha-zo-bah Oh-ko-doh-bee. However, she seems to pick up a new nickname every few weeks. She won’t hesitate to start listing them. “Chiblee, Chibibi, Zoba, Chibbles,” she said. “Whatever.” Nobody knew her name when she first enrolled at Deer Valley in the fall of 2006. Certainly nobody in the track community, as she had yet to do any competitive running. Jasmine Cox was the Wolverines’ premiere female sprinter in the spring of 2007. Specializing in the 400, Cox was working toward breaking through in the event. That year Cox met a freshman who immediately began to emulate everything she was doing. “She was very motivated,” said Cox, who is now in her second year running collegiately for CSU Northridge. “She would always try to beat me. She would keep saying, ‘I’m going to beat you,’ and I was like ‘No, you’re not.’” Nothing was going to convince Okodogbe that she couldn’t, however. “I did everything she did,” Okodogbe said. “She was the key. I would just follow her.” It didn’t take long for Deer Valley track and field coach Bernard Stephens to notice the hard-working runner playing Cox’s shadow. “What stood out?” Stephens said following a midMay practice, as his prized pupil listened in and awaited her chance to protest. “She was goofy. “And the other thing that stood out, that she will disagree with, I used to always tell her back then that she didn’t have any rhythm.” But Stephens recognized the talent, too. And his first goal became convincing her father that she wasn’t a pure sprinter. Peter Okodogbe was a pure sprinter. He first competed in the 100 and 200 meter dashes for the University of Arizona after immigrating to the United States in 1978. Then, in 1980, he competed in the Moscow Summer Olympics for his home nation of Nigeria. “Her dad and I had a long discussion about it,” Stephens recalled. “I told him that at that point in time, I just didn’t see her as a 100/200 sprinter. That didn’t mean she couldn’t be developed to be one, but at that time she just wasn’t a pure sprinter.” Dad yielded fairly easily. “I had talked her into being a sprinter,” Peter Okodogbe said of his daughter. “But the coach knows best.” Cox took ninth in the 400 at the state championship in 2007. One year later, she took fourth, and six-tenths of a second behind her — in seventh place, as a sophomore — was Okodogbe. ◆◆◆ One time around the track. It sounds simple enough, but for those who know it best, it’s the opposite of simple. Willie Evers, a Deer Valley assistant coach who has been working with sprinters in East County for more 14


June 10, 2010

bob larson

Chizoba Okodogbe’s opponents are nothing but a blur in the 400 meters during the North Coast Section Tri-Valley Area Championship in Livermore on May 22. than 25 years, doesn’t sugarcoat anything about the 400 meters. “There is a lot of pain there. A lot of kids can’t accept that pain. “You’re going to run good for that first 200 meters. It’s not going to be too bad. But once you get to that second half, you’re going to feel that burn and you’ll feel that lactic acid building up. It’s all about the more your body can tolerate it, and the longer you can run without breaking down.” Those who are good at it know the only way to succeed is by accepting that pain. “It’s still a sprint event, and it’s just so far,” says San Ramon Valley senior Sarah Griffith, who finished third

to Okodogbe at the NCS Meet of Champions on May 29. “You have to run so far. It just kills you.” The bottom line: It’s a race which requires the ultimate buy-in. “The 400 is something that you have to want to do,” Stephens said. “If you don’t want to run the 400, you’re not going to do well in the 400.” How exactly did it become Okodogbe’s favorite race? Well, idolizing Cox was probably a start. The encouragement from Stephens likely made a difference, as well. And, perhaps, because it didn’t take her long to become very good at it. “It’s hard, but it’s my favorite race,” she said. Continued, page 15 Upload photos and team stats!

Continued from page 14 That doesn’t mean she can actually tell someone what is her favorite part of the 400. “It’s not the beginning. It’s not the backstretch. I feel like it’s all a pain. There’s nothing good about it until the end. “If I’m winning, that’s the good part.” After her seventh-place finish at the state championships in 2008, Okodogbe won at the 2009 NCS MOC and went on to finish fourth in the state finals — despite battling a strained quadricep muscle. How was she able to find that kind of success so quickly? “It’s very simple,” Evers said. “She’s a practice athlete. A lot of kids don’t understand that when you’re running for certain times (at a meet), you need to have your practice times at a certain time. “She understands practice. She understands that the practices are going to take her body to a certain pain level, and the race is going to take her to a certain pain level. So if she can reach that pain level in practice, it won’t affect her in the race.” Okodogbe simplified it even more. “I really don’t put much thought into it,” she said. “When I get to a certain point, it just happens...It’s mostly mental to me.” ◆◆◆ It’s not hard to imagine that running has always come natural to Okodogbe. She’s the youngest of four with three older brothers. Some might say that alone precluded her to be good at running. “I just always liked it,” she said. “It was just an assumed thing that I would run.” Running has always been the easy part. Being a normal teenager, at least during track season, that’s been a different story. “I walk through school in a daze,” she admits, although her 3.8 grade point average suggests she snaps out of it when it matters. “Track. School. And sleep. That’s pretty much it.” And when she’s home, as the only daughter, she feels the pressures of the roles expected of Nigerian women. “In Nigeria, women can have a job but they’re still expected to follow these traditional housewife-like roles,” Okodogbe said. “I just feel that that’s not what I was put on this earth to do. I know that I can do more than that. I feel like I can do more than just lean over a stove.” Running is likely going to afford her that opportunity. Her junior year alone was enough to attract the attention of the University of Oregon, among the gold standard when it comes to collegiate track and field programs. She’s accepted a scholarship offer and is anticipated to run the 400 for the Ducks, as well as the 1600 relay. But her sights don’t end there. The week after her graduation she’ll be visiting Nigeria for the first time since she was five-years old. There she’ll run time trials in an attempt to make one of the country’s national teams. She represented Nigeria last summer in the World

bob larson

Big Fish:The Bay Area’s track and field community often comes to a stop once Chizoba Okodogbe has her running shoes on.That includes the occasional looks of envy from her competitors.

Two Days in Clovis Obviously, Okodogbe wasn’t the only Contra Costa County athlete to haul her spikes south for the weekend. Thirteen individuals and two relay teams made it through Friday’s preliminaries and qualified for their respective finals on Saturday night. Six of those individuals, and both relay teams, placed sixth or higher to earn a spot on the medal stand. On the boys side, the highest finisher was Antioch’s Evan Grimes.The Panthers’ basketball star took fourth place in the long jump with a leap of 23 feet, 2¼ inches. Kevin Griffith of San Ramon Valley placed fifth in the 800 meters, and Freedom’s Kenneth Walker III grabbed a sixth-place finish in the 110 high hurdles.The San Ramon Valley 1600 relay team also took a sixth-place finish.Alhambra’s Zach Conigilio reached the shot put finals and finished seventh. In the girls competition, Pinole Valley’s Strangenae Campbell qualified for both the 100 and 200 meter finals. She just missed the medal stand by finishing seventh in the 100, but later came back to place fifth in the 200 with a time of 24.08 seconds. Distance runners Alycia Cridebring of College Park and Grace Orders of Campolindo each grabbed a Top 10 finish in their respective races. Cridebring came in ninth in the 1,600 and Orders finished ninth in the 3,200.The Deer Valley 1,600 relay team took fourth. Youth Games in Bressanone, Italy, and was a finalist in the 400. These trips only reaffirm to Okodogbe that her Olympic goals aren’t as far-fetched as they sound. “I really want to (think about London in 2012),” she said. “I don’t know if I can make the U.S. team by then, but I might try out for Nigeria.” Stephens, who has coached a great deal of talent at

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Deer Valley, isn’t shy to acknowledge the possibility. “She’s set that as a goal for herself,” the coach said. “And she takes her goals seriously, so I’d venture to say she’s probably going to be Deer Valley’s first Olympic athlete.” Dad is a believer now, too. According to Stephens, Continued, page 16 June 10, 2010



Continued from page 15 Peter Okodogbe was officially on board following Chizoba’s fourth-place effort at the 2009 state championship meet. But after seeing his daughter bolt to victory in the prestigious Arcadia Invitational this past April — setting the state’s fastest, and the nation’s secondfastest, 400 time of the year to that point (53.31) — the former Olympic sprinter was close to overwhelmed. “I almost fell out of the stands during that race,” he said. “She is very confident, and I believe her coaches have done a lot. My daughter is a hard-working girl and I do believe that she will do more.” ◆◆◆ Her ritual before every race is always the same. There’s very little talk, unless it’s to herself. She’ll jog lightly to warm-up, but often it’s quiet pacing. Usually, there’s a quick prayer with teammates, or a coach. This is the exact routine she followed prior to the NCS Tri-Valley Championships on May 22 when she ran a 54.52 to set a new meet record. The previous meet record holder before Okodogbe? Jasmine Cox. One week later, at the NCS MOC, Okodogbe quietly paced in the holding area at Edwards Stadium on the Cal-Berkeley campus. She then emerged to run a personal record of 53.06. The mark broke a 31-year old standard by Berkeley High’s Frieda Cobbs, making Okodogbe the section’s fastest girl ever in the event. Her response after such a feat? “I wanted a 52.” Of course. Finally, at the state championship meet, she broke out of the blocks and was running sixth after the initial curve. Through the second curve she moved from fifth to third, and then glided into second as she came out of the turn and into the final straightaway. Ezumah, who finished third in the race that Okodogbe won at the Arcadia Invitational, had roughly a threestride lead. Usually, this is the moment when Okodogbe has shined brightest. “One thing I love about her 400 is that last 100,” Evers said. “When you don’t think she has anything left, she’ll come up with something.” Only, on that day, Ezumah came up with something, too. “She was pushing it,” Okodogbe said of her younger, and on that day, faster counterpart. Still, she smiled. “I’m happy, I can’t be mad at myself right now because I tried my best,” she said. “I’m sure I’ll be thinking later on that I should’ve won and wish that I’d won.” And for a moment her eyes make it look as though she’s already re-running the race in her head. Perhaps she was thinking of the last 95 meters. Or perhaps she was wondering how Ezumah got the 52 that continued to elude her. Behind the smile, the wheels were turning. “I’ll see her again,” Okodogbe said of Ezumah. “It might take some time, but it’s still going to happen.” And just then, the smile gets just a little bigger. 16


June 10, 2010

“I’m happy, I can’t be mad at myself right now because I tried my best. I’m sure I’ll be thinking later on that I should’ve won and wish that I’d won.” Chizobe Okodogbe

Kelli Bryson

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High school bowling league competes in obscurity Haven’t heard of the Contra Costa County High School Bowling Challenge? That’s ok, neither had Collin Wenrich. Until this year. Now, Wenrich and De La Salle teammates Ross Hillery and Sean Sweeney are the reigning champions of the club bowling league featuring five other high schools. The Spartans trio defeated Clayton Valley’s Evan Lutz, Derrick Satterfield and Katie Williams in the league finals May 17 at Clayton Valley Bowl. “We just learned about it last year,” said Wenrich, who also took home individual honors with the season’s high handicap series score of 764. “We sort of just joined it for fun, then we turned it into something serious and we’ve had a blast.” The league has been in existence for 12 years, and has remained in relative

“We just learned about it last year. We sort of just joined it for fun, then we turned it into something serious and we’ve had a blast.” Collin Wenrich obscurity outside of the local bowling alleys. Other season-ending awards went to Concord’s Zach Lopez for the boys high scratch game of the year (258) and College Park’s Sean Torrez for the boys high scratch series of the season (670). Concord’s Sam Pruter took both of those honors on the girls side (255 game, 694 series).

Butch Noble

De La Salle students, from left, Collin Wenrich, Ross Hillery and Sean Sweeney won the team championship of the Contra Costa High School Bowling Challenge on May 17 at Clayton Valley Bowl.

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June 10, 2010



It’s who they are that got them here Despite what they aren’t, Gauchos usually found a way to win By bill kolb | Contributor Here’s a partial list of things that the members of the El Cerrito High School baseball team aren’t: ■ Very fast ■ Very athletic ■ Especially potent hitters ■ Notably overpowering pitchers ■ Quitters ■ Afraid ■ Intimidated ■ Backing down for anyone Some things that the Gauchos are: resilient, determined, scrappy, efficient. They don’t get all that many opportunities to score runs, but they don’t often waste the opportunities they get. “We don’t have a lot of guys that run well. We don’t have bunch of guys with strong arms. There is not a whole lot of athletic ability on this team,” head coach Brian Nichols said. “What we have are kids who work hard, 18


June 10, 2010

get the most out of their ability and love to play baseball. We have a lot of really intelligent players. We do anything we can to score runs. Bunt, hit and run — to do that, you have to have a bunch of intelligent guys.” Despite that dearth of obvious talent, El Cerrito somehow managed to go 20-6-1 and reach the North Coast Section title game for the first time since 2003, when it dropped an NCS 2A East Bay final 2-1 to top-seeded Las Lomas. And though they ultimately lost a bizarre, extended 3-0 decision to defending NCS Division III champ Miramonte in the 15th inning of a three-day epic, not one of the team’s defining characteristics is altered by the outcome. The championship game at Saint Mary’s College’s Louis Guisto Field was something of a microcosm of the Gauchos’ season. It started off looking pretty good, had some dicey moments in the middle, lingered a

El Cerrito’s Tino Lipson celebrates a fifth inning double play during the North Coast Section Division III Championship game at Saint Mary’s College in Moraga on June 5.

bob larson

Continued, page 19 Upload photos and team stats!

suddenly use a clock for some obscure rule during the most important game of the season…”

in 74 and 55 innings pitched, respectively. Hardly the kinds of eye-popping numbers one has come to expect little longer than expected, meandered a bit, and ended from high-level high school baseball programs. not quite the way the Gauchos would have chosen. Still, the Gauchos themselves, from Nichols to twoWhen the game began (way back on Saturday, June Entering the season, not many folks outside of El time defending ACCAL Most Valuable Player Lipson, 5), El Cerrito starting pitcher Sam Winter went headCerrito — or outside of the Gauchos’ locker room, re- to the last guy sitting on the end of the bench, started to-head with Miramonte ace Raul Jacobson for fourally — expected all that much from this year’s squad. the year believing they had a shot at winning the league plus innings before running into a jam in the fifth. But Look at the earlier bulleted list. It’s accurate. title. Gauchos ace Mark Kolding came into a bases-loaded, The Gauchos don’t really pass the ‘eye’ test as a base“I don’t thing anybody expected us to make a run no-out situation and promptly induced a fielder’sball team. They’re mostly pretty short — with a few tall, — but we did,” Nichols said. “We were all very disapchoice groundout to third and an inning-ending double lanky exceptions — and mostly pretty slow. There isn’t a pointed that we didn’t make a better run in league. We play to keep the Matadors off the board. thought we could win it.” El Cerrito threatened in the fifth, sixth, It didn’t quite work out that way. After seventh and eighth, but couldn’t get that romping to a 6-1-1 mark in early nonone hit it needed to break into the runs league action, the Gauchos lost two of column. their first three ACCAL contests — 4-1 The Gauchos’ best chance came in the to Berkeley at home on March 26 and eighth, and was surrounded by contro4-1 at Pinole Valley on April 16 — all but versy. Leadoff man Winter (since moved eliminating themselves from the leagueto center field) was hit by a Jacobson pitch title hunt. A 3-1 loss at Berkeley on April and scurried down to first base. But Mi30 sealed the Gauchos’ fates, clearing the ramonte coach Vince Dell’Aquila argued way for Alameda to take home another Winter had not made any effort to avoid ACCAL crown. Berkeley placed second, being hit. The umpires conferred, and with El Cerrito falling to third. It was the Winter was sent back to the plate. He kind of disappointment that has submagrounded out to short, which meant he rined lesser teams. wasn’t on base to score when third baseNot so, the unsinkable Gauchos. man Tyvon Price followed with a knuck“After that third loss in league, Berkeling infield single, and Lipson rifled an ley had two games left vs. Alameda and opposite-field line drive to left. Jacobson Pinole Valley, and, we knew we were wriggled out of the jam by inducing a flydone,” Nichols said. “We just refocused. out to left and a weak grounder to first. We talked about, ‘Hey, listen; we’re not The NCS had imposed a two-and-agoing to win the league. Everybody get half hour time limit on Saturday’s title better every day. Concentrate on wingame. Repeated announcements of this ning NCS. In the meantime, let’s play fact were made over the public-address spoiler.’ system throughout the game, but nobody “We played great baseball after that until the last game of the year.” — fans, coaches, media — seemed to take bob larson Despite losing 8-3 to Alameda to close them too seriously. No inning would beMiramonte’s Drew Jackson looks the ball into his glove for the out as El Cerrito’s the regular season, the Gauchos secured gin after that time limit had been exceedCharlie Caccamo goes head first into second base in the fifth inning during the the No. 2 seed in the Division III bracket. ed, which ended up falling right around NCS Division III Championship game at Saint Mary’s College in Moraga on June 5. That earned them a first-round bye and, the middle of the 10th scoreless inning. weirdly, a five-hour road trip to Arcata. The Matadors and the Gauchos finished By NCS rule, No. 10 Arcata, as a desout that frame, then pressed pause for all of Sunday and much of Monday before resuming their bona fide slugger in the lot. Their pitchers are the kinds ignated league champion, was allowed to host its first of guys who are less likely to strike fear in opposing bat- two playoff games (even though it was seeded behind tilt at 4 p.m. at Saint Mary’s College. both Acalanes and El Cerrito). So the Gauchos hit the El Cerrito finally succumbed right around 5:45 p.m. ters than they are to lull them to sleep. road and prevailed 5-4. Again they were rewarded with “We don’t have a lot of tools, ” shortstop Tino Lipson — almost two days and five hours after the championa road trip — this one much shorter. El Cerrito played said shortly after going 3-for-5 in the first 10-inning ship contest began — when the Matadors scratched out three runs in the 15th inning of what had been, up until stretch of the NCS title game on Saturday. “We don’t a semifinal game at Encinal (another league champ) in have star athletes. We just figure out ways to win and Alameda, and again eked out a win, this time 5-3. that point, a scoreless tie. “As the No. 2 seed, we had to go all the way to ArBut that was after the Gauchos turned double plays really pick each other up as a team.” cata to play a really talented team that swings the bats,” To a certain extent, the UC Davis-bound Lipson is to wriggle out of jams in the 11th, 12th and 14th just to Nichols said. “Then came back and played at Encinal – a keep the game alive, despite not putting a single runner the anti-Gaucho (meant in the nicest possible way): a No. 3 seed. They swing the bats. But we played good in scoring position themselves once the game resumed fast, silky-smooth defender with a strong, accurate arm D[efense] and took advantage of our chances. Still. We and a bat that seems to have a never-ending supply of in the 11th. were on the road as a two-seed for two games. It hasn’t “The thing is, we didn’t score a run in 15 innings, so line drives in it. been the easiest of roads – but it’s been a lot more fun The season’s statistics bear out just how scrappy this we didn’t deserve to win,” Nichols said. “But the dethis way. We had a great time in Arcata. We like spendcision to stop a brilliant game after 10 innings, to be team has been. El Cerrito hit eight home runs. As a ing time together.” played two days later? The NCS really has to address team. In 26 games. And Lipson and Price had three Continued, page 20 that. … We play the whole season with no clock at all, to apiece. Kolding and Winter struck out 53 and 57 batters Continued from page 18


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June 10, 2010



Continued from page 19 Good thing, considering the 10-hour round-tripper up the coast and back. Good thing, too, considering El Cerrito’s season ended up lasting two additional days thanks to the time-limit ruling on Saturday and the restart on Monday.


In addition to the normal trials and tribulations faced by any team during the course of a season — like the extended loss of Kolding to injury early in the year — the Gauchos also dealt with a genuine tragedy this year. On April 15, El Cerrito prep sports legend James “Pops” Mitchell died of an apparent heart attack at the age of 44. “Pops,” in addition to being probably the greatest athlete in school history — a star on both the football and baseball fields who lead the 1983 nine to a 27-1 record and the State Team of the Year award from Cal-Hi Sports — was Nichols’ best friend, sometimes assistant coach, and one of the team’s biggest supporters. “He was in my wedding,” Nichols said. “We played Little League together since we were nine. We played or coached together for 19 years. We were really, really close friends. … I haven’t really talked to the team about Pops, but they know how close we were. I think I personally still haven’t acknowledged [his passing] yet. “We didn’t really do anything, like put his number on our hats or jerseys. But the day after he died, we played Pinole and I wore his number (No. 5). And we paint a 5 in left field before every home game.” There is currently a Facebook movement to have El Cerrito’s football field renamed for Pops.



June 10, 2010

“(James ‘Pops’ Mitchell, right) was in my wedding. We played Little League together since we were nine. We played or coached together for 19 years. We were really, really close friends. … I haven’t really talked to the team about Pops, but they know how close we were. I think I personally still haven’t acknowledged [his passing] yet.” ­El Cerrito coach Brian Nichols contributed photo

“That would be good,” Nichols said. “Everybody that knew him just loved him. He had a Magic Johnson smile. He lit up a room.” Nichols strove to keep what he considered a personal tragedy from becoming the focal point of the year for his young charges. “The kids didn’t really know him,” Nichols said. “He was really sick. He only came to one game because of diabetes and dialysis. But I told him that we were going to be good as long as the coach didn’t mess it up.” Despite Nichols’ efforts to downplay his loss, his players knew their coach was hurting. “Some of the players and their parents

came to the memorial service,” Nichols said. “They’d heard stories about him and some of them had met him. That was nice.” Lipson was one those players who attended the services. “I met him a couple of times,” the shortstop said. “He was just a great guy. He always kept our spirits up. He used to get on (Nichols) for being on us too much. … Those first three games (after Mitchell’s death), we said, ‘We’ve got to win these for Pops.’ But Coach would tell us, ‘Life goes on.’ And I don’t think Pops would have wanted that.” Nichols said he never gave his team anything remotely resembling a ‘Do it for Pops’ motivational speech.

“Pops wouldn’t have wanted that,” Nichols said. “He would have said, ‘When I played in high school, we won everything. Don’t do anything for me. Win it for yourselves.’ ” Ultimately, El Cerrito didn’t win it — for Pops, or anyone else. But it took the equivalent of just over two full games for Miramonte to put them away. True to their nature, they put every ounce of ability into the effort. “They went out there and gave the most they could,” Nichols said. “They have all season. “Whether you win it all or you’re a .500 team, that’s really the most a coach can ask.” Contact Bill Kolb at bkolb@SportStarsMag. com.

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Do coaches teach or train?


o coaches teach or train young athletes? Most coaches I am familiar with tend to “train” young athletes as a means to elicit biomotor improvement. They work on various forms of sprints and jumping in order to develop “blazing speed”. They have the young athlete lift weights, or perform bodyweight exercises to increase “maximum strength”. They set out cones and have young athletes practice elaborate movement drills as a way of improving their agility. These types of exercises in themselves are not problematic or bad per se. But they are extremely narrowscoped, especially if coaches aren’t looking to teach young athletes the skills they need to perform these drills and set them up to move on to the next level. In youth sports, the majority of coaches overemphasize winning and succeeding during the early years of development. What that means from a training or coaching perspective – coaches often look only to this year when considering the growth and evolution of their young athletes, instead of developing specific or general skills in a teaching format that lays the foundation for continued success and future improvement. Many coaches take a short-sighted approach and look to make changes now, so that the benefit and gain is immediate. This is in large part due to the considerable attention we place on testing and assessing performance markers with young athletes. Many training facilities for instance, conduct both pre- and post-testing batteries that will show the degree to which the training regime improved the athlete’s basic elements of speed, strength and flexibility. Young athletes, as do their parents, become mentally conditioned to “buy into” a given trainer or facilities training program when they see improvements being made – even in the pre-adolescent years! What should become the goal of every trainer, coach, parent and young athlete is to learn and systematically improve on his or her skill levels. I believe coaches must move to a more practical and reasonable method of both programming for, and testing, our youngsters. Markers for improvement should be monitored by using a system that allows the coach to observe and record the technical ability of a young athlete during specific exercises or movements. Tim Rudd is the owner of Fit 2 The Core Training Systems located in Concord.You can contact Tim with questions or feedback at

Training Time Tim Rudd

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June 10, 2010




Full Blast For members of one elite soccer team in Danville, the ordinary carries extraordinary expectations


By erik stordahl | Contributor

he sun has begun to descend below the Blackhawk foothills; the weather remains at a comfortable 70 degrees and summer is clearly right around the corner – an ordinary night in late May. But “ordinary” is defined differently by Shelby Cota, Alyssa Alarab, Ryan Walker or Rachel Feldman. At this hour, most typical 15-year-olds would be shopping at the mall, scarfing down dinner while cramming for a math test, or eagerly anticipating the finale to American Idol. Not these girls. They’re spending this picturesque evening at soccer practice. They’re members of the Mustang Blast, the girls U-15 team of Danville’s Mustang Soccer Club. Playing for the Blast means yielding results that are far from ordinary, as evidenced by currently ranking it the No. 3 team in the country for its age group. And if you haven’t figured it out by now, this practice is anything but ordinary. Even though it’s the middle of the season, that doesn’t stop coach Neil McGuire – whose day job just happens to be as head women’s soccer coach at the University of Continued, page 23 Butch Noble

Rachel Feldman, right, dribbles up the sideline during a May practice for the Mustang Blast as teammate Ryan Walker prepares to give chase. 22


June 10, 2010

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Continued from page 22 California – from starting things off with rigorous conditioning drills. Staying in prime physical shape is an important component for tournament success. And tournament success is a way of life for Mustang Soccer teams, certainly for the Blast, which is preparing to defend the national championship it won as a U-14 team a year ago. The first step in that defense begins June 21 at the Far West Regionals in Albuquerque, New Mexico. As practice unfolds, if McGuire yells ‘jump’, the girls jump. If he commands pushups – often a result of an errant pass or a player being out of position – the team hits the deck without any worry of breaking a nail. “It’s hard work but it’s nothing I would want to go without,” said Feldman, a center midfielder who attends California High. “It’s more exciting than sitting at home pigging out on the couch.” It’s this discipline and commitment that allows the Blast to boast quite the trophy case. In 2009 alone they won the NorCal Premiere State Cup, the Far West Regionals and the U.S. Youth Soccer National Cup Series. Not a bad resume. The word “machine” might come to mind. In fact, it does. “The way I think of it, we’re just this machine that works so well together because we’ve just been working so hard,” says Alarab, a defender who attends San Ramon Valley. The practice continues. Drills that include sprinting, detailed footwork between cones, and somersaulting, eventually make way to intense scrimmaging. The play, as one might expect, is at a very high level: precision passing, good spacing, and the kind of communication expected of players who have been playing together for such a long time. A handful have been with the Blast since the days of U-9: Alarab, Lynsey Hromatko, Reilly Parker and Alexa Vandevanter. Others, like Walker, have been with the team for just a couple seasons. Make no mistake, though. These girls have shared the same soccer field quite a few times over the years. Sometimes as teammates, and sometimes as opponents. Though eight high schools are represented on the roster, the majority of the girls attend Monte Vista, San Ramon Valley or California – bitter rivals, espe-

“The way I think of it, we’re just this machine that works so well together because we’ve just been working so hard.” Alyssa Alarab, defender

Butch Noble

Shelby Cota, a Granada High student, is one of a handful of Blast players to be a U.S.Youth National Camp invitee. cially the first two. But instead of letting those rivalries divide them, the players actually say it benefits their chemistry on the Blast. “It’s so much fun playing against your teammates because you just see them on

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the field and it’s not really that intense,” Alarab said. “You just kind of look at each other and laugh.” Cota, a sophomore at Granada, adds: “If you’re on the field and something funny happens, you’ll just be standing

there and you’ll nudge each other and you’ll both start laughing.” Yeah, chemistry is not a problem. Often when powerhouses are described, they can be characterized by player egos and selfish play. Nobody wants to take any credit on this team. “One person doesn’t get credit,” says Walker, a forward from Bishop O’Dowd. “Forwards: they score. Well, you need your midfielders and you need your defenders to get the ball up to them. It’s really just a team effort.” That’s not just talk, either. It’s clear that the players on this team believe what they’re saying when they continue to repeat the mantra that everybody plays a role in their success. It’s also clear why each player believes it. There is no star treatment on the Mustang Blast. Nothing is handed to these players, including a roster spot. The National Cup Series typically wraps up in the final weeks of July, and the Surf Cup Tournament in San Diego plays out in early August. Afterward, the rosters shuffle again within the Mustang Soccer Club and new teams are selected at each age group. Approximately 75 girls try out for the U-15 Blast and typically three separate 17-player rosters are kept – a gold team, a first silver team and a second silver team. It’s the gold team which travels to the elite tournaments across the U.S. The cuts for each squad are unforgiving. “You could be the best player on the team, scoring 150 goals a year,” Blast assistant coach Doug Norvelle said. “You still have to try out.” That rule even applies to players like Reilly Parker. Set to be a junior at San Ramon Valley in the Fall, Parker is a team captain who has already orally committed to the University of North Carolina. A women’s soccer scholarship to UNC is right on par with a men’s basketball scholarship to Duke or Kentucky. It’s a big deal. But what makes the Blast so unique – and so tough to beat – is that opposing teams can’t just build a game plan to stop Parker. “We’re a very complementary team,” Norvelle said. “As an opposing coach, you can’t just focus on one or two players. Try to take them out and we’ll kill you some other way.” The following are just a few weapons the Blast coaches have at their disposal. n Parker: She committed to one of Continued, page 24 June 10, 2010



Continued from page 23 the most prestigious collegiate soccer programs in the country – as a sophomore – does anything more really need to be said? n Cota: She’s a youth national camp invitee, and has been a member of the Olympic Development Program (ODP) North State Team for three years running. n Beth Ritter: The team’s goal keeper is one of the best in the East Bay, regardless of age group. The San Ramon Valley student was the “Golden Glove” Award winner in the 2009 National Cup Series. n Alarab: She was selected to the ODP North State team each of the past two seasons. n Stephanie Amack: She only just finished her freshman year at Dougherty Valley, but — like Parker — is already part of the U-15 National Team Player Pool. n Walker: Cracked the ODP North State team last season. Four other players on the roster have ODP North State team experience already on their resumes. So, when exactly do these girls have time to be regular teenagers? Well, if it’s the school year, or soccer season, or both, then the answer is “not often.” Between Alarab, Cota, Feldman and Walker, none could come to an agreement on when their busiest time of the year was. Some said it was during finals in the winter when high school soccer is going full throttle. Others said it was the end of the school year when the Blast’s elite tournament schedule was just kicking into the gear, followed by the hot summer when two-a-day practices can be the norm and tournaments come on the weekends All could agree that there is rarely an escape from the grind. There’s always an assignment that needs to be completed, and always a coach who expects them to be at practice on time. A typical day during the school year consists of waking up early, attending classes, playing soccer, doing homework and going to bed. Catching one’s breath is optional.



June 10, 2010

DIABLO FC BOYS MAKE RUN AT CONCORD CUP In the 18th playing of the Concord Cup, one of the largest youth soccer tournaments held in the East Bay each year, local and out-of-state clubs came together in mid-May to comprise 19 different brackets for boys and girls ranging from ages 10 to 19. The Diablo Futbol Club U-14 boys nearly claimed a title. After destroying its competition in three games over the weekend, Diablo FC met its match in the championship.The Stockton Cougars proved to be the better team, handing Diablo FC a 4-0 loss. Diablo FC made quick work of its opponents, outscoring them by a combined 18-3 leading up to the title game, but failed to get into a rhythm offensively against Stockton.The Cougars constantly hounded Diablo FC in the open field and controlled possession and tempo throughout the match.“We’re a new team,” team manager Al Hernandez said after the loss to Stockton.“We’re newly formed, so we haven’t gotten people into their positions.This was a good trial run.” Hernandez admitted tired legs played a factor in the final match. Obviously, to play at optimum level for four games in two days is a tall order for any team.“We just started our season and that was our first run,” he said.“It was good to take the car out for a test drive.” Two local teams took home Concord Cups in the U-16 divisions.The Concord Invasion won the boys, and the Mt. Diablo Soccer Club won the girls tournament. By Erik Stordahl “If you procrastinate on school work at all, you’ll spend nights staying up until four in the morning,” Feldman said. “And then you have to wake up and go work out the next day, too.” The payoff, though, is being part of a nationallyranked soccer team and criss-crossing the country to play the best competition. And that’s something members of the Blast take very seriously. Which brings us back to the Far West Regionals. Actually four girls teams from the Mustang Soccer Club qualified for the regional tournament this year, but only the Blast carry the pressure of being defending champions. And not just defending regional champs, but defending National Cup champs as well. The Far West Regionals is one of four regional tournaments that take place (Region I: East, Region II: Midwest, Region III: South, Region IV: West), with the winning teams from each tournament attending the National Cup series in Overland, Kansas. The Blast will spend the week in Albuquerque with the top teams from Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii and Colorado amongst others. Sixteen teams qualify and are di-

vided into four pools. The first three days of the tournament consist of grueling round robin play. Then, the top two teams from each bracket take a day off and square off in the quarterfinals. From there, it’s single elimination until a champion is crowned. Just because the Blast were the last team standing in 2009, don’t think they aren’t showing up in New Mexico hungry for a repeat. They are smart enough to know that they don’t have a choice. If they don’t want it enough, there are 15 other teams which will gladly take it. “I think it’s so important (we stay hungry),” Alarab said. “Because once you’ve won it one year, no one expects you to win it again And they’re always gunning after you, trying to beat you because you’re the reigning champion. So if we win, it just proves that we meant to win last time and we deserved to win.” And who could argue with them? More importantly, who would be bold enough to bet against them? Contact Erik at

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Less bench, more play


n ever-growing number of young athletes are participating in competitive sports at younger ages. Children and adolescents are involved in sports at schools, sports performance centers, and club teams. Regular participation in sports can facilitate improved academic performance, weight control, strengthen bone, and establish the young athlete’s good health habits well into adulthood. But there is a downside to the rise in sports participation. Healthcare providers are seeing a growing number of sports-related injuries in the young athlete. The challenge is to manage these injuries efficiently, and more importantly, to prevent them. Total elimination is an unrealistic goal, but an appropriately designed training program can reduce the likelihood of sports-related injuries in the young athlete. By addressing the risk factors associated with these injuries, both acute and overuse injuries could be reduced by up to 50 percent. The main risk factors include: Low fitness level for the demands of sport, muscle imbalances, poor movement technique and errors in training (think: “too much, too soon”) There are many mechanisms to help reduce the risk of these injuries. Coaching education, safe equipment, proper nutrition, and proper recovery (rest) cycles all contribute to the healthy athlete profile. However, the cornerstone of preventative measures is to enhance physical fitness for school-aged youth. There is not one combination of exercises or set program that is optimal. The most effective strategy should include a multifaceted program that increases muscle strength, optimizes movement technique, and focuses on functional demands of the sport. Designing a training program to make a young athlete more resistant to injuries should take into account both the physical development and the psychosocial uniqueness of the adolescent. Consider the following: ■ Have qualified instruction and supervision. ■ Begin with an active 5-10 minute warm-up. ■ Focus on developing proper exercise technique. ■ Include multi-joint exercises that coordinate the upper and lower body. ■ Use balance and coordination to train core control. ■ Cool down with less intense activities and stretching. ■ Vary strengthening program with elastic bands, athlete’s body weight, free weights and medicine balls.

Health Watch Michelle Cappello

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June 11 Concord, CA Swim Stroke & Racing Skills Clinics Clinic #1: Freestyle & Racing Skills. Ages 9-18, 6 p.m.-7:15 p.m. at Concord Community Pool. Offered by Terrapins Swim Team. $25/one clinic; $80/all four clinics. Info. and registration: www.

June Concord, CA Bowling Summer at Clayton Valley Bowl Junior Adult Mixed 4’s, 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays; Junior League for kids 12:30 p.m.Thursdays; Junior Scratch, 5:30 p.m.Thursdays; “Digital Thunder” for kids, 4-6 p.m. Fridays. Fees, registration: 925-6894631, June Brentwood, CA Golf B.A.Y. Junior Golf Camps Instruction for beginning, intermediate and advanced skill levels, 9 a.m.-noon, MondaysWednesdays. $120 per session. Jr. Green Fees June-August for intermediate and advanced program participants, $5. 925-5162837. Online registration: www. June 1-24 Concord, CA Swim Lifeguard Clinic Become a professional rescuer. Course No. 84511, ages 15+, 6 p.m.-9 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at Concord Community Pool. Offered by City of Concord. $201 residents/$206 nonresidents.

June 11-12 Oakley, CA Cheer Two-Day Camp #3 9 a.m.-9 p.m. daily at Freedom High School. $175 per participant; one coach per team is free; $75 each additional coach. Contact Morton Bergue, 866685-7516, June 11-13 Concord, CA Basketball 2010 Saint Mary’s Basketball Team Camp Weekend session. Use Division I Facilities, including weight room, Madigan exercise facility and pool at the Concord Hilton. Hotel reservations: 925-827-2000, SMC Team Camp Rate. Info: Mark Campbell, 925-631-8268, June 12 Concord, CA Cheer Coaches Camp 2010 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. at Pyramids Gym. $100 adult coaches, 18+; $55 student coaches, 14-17. Contact Morton Bergue, morton@cheergyms. com. 866-685-7516,


June 12 West Sacramento, CA Soccer Sacramento Cup soccer match San Jose Earthquakes vs. Chivas, 7 p.m. at Raley Field. MLS exhibition. Tickets, $25-$35, or June 13 Windsor, CA Soccer NorCal Premier Soccer Hosted by Sonoma County Alliance U8/U9/U10 is FULL - Teams being placed in ‘wait list’ status. Total of 15 fields available for Play Date, total of 120 teams. All games will be played in following two locations: Windsor High School & Wilson Ranch Soccer Park. Info: June 13 Rio Vista, CA Fundraiser Rio Vista Country Fun Run. Rio Vista High School Booster Club’s Country Fun Run in the Delta Country, 8 a.m. Get tee shirt and refreshments with entry. Fundraiser for Rio Vista High School. Entry: $30. Lenese Coughran, 707-374-5911. June 13-17 Moraga, CA Basketball Saint Mary’s College Traditional Camp 1 for Boys 8 a.m.-8 p.m., ages 8-14. Day/ Overnight-camper, $398-$495; Half Day option, $150; shorter Full Day option, $250. Info: 925631-4386. Registration: www. June 14-17 Moraga, CA Basketball Saint Mary’s College Girls Basketball Day Camp 9 a.m.-5 p.m., ages 7-17. Individual instruction, group instruction, game experience. $300. Info: 925631-4637, Registration:

June 14-17 Moraga, CA Softball Saint Mary’s College Softball Day clinic, 9 a.m.-noon daily. Ages 11-18. $230. 925-6314386, smccamps@stmarys-ca. edu; June 14-17 Moraga, CA Softball Saint Mary’s College Softball Traditional camp, 7:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m., overnight campers; 9 a.m.-8 p.m., day campers. Ages 8-17. $495/$398. 925-6314386, smccamps@stmarys-ca. edu; June 14-17 Moraga, CA Tennis Saint Mary’s College Tennis Day Cinic, coed, 18+. 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m. Monday and Wednesday. Specify NRTP Level. $50/wk. 925-631-4386,; www. June 14-17 Moraga, CA Tennis Saint Mary’s College Tennis Junior Tennis, 9:45 a.m.-noon. Ages 7-18. Specify Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced. Players of all abilities. $150/wk. 925-6314386, smccamps@stmarys-ca. edu; June 14-17 San Ramon, CA Basketball Girls Basketball Camp 9 a.m.-noon daily at Dougherty Valley High School. For girls in grades 1-8. $100. 925-321-0993, dvanderhorst@ June 14-17 San Ramon, CA Basketball Girls Basketball Camp 9 a.m.-noon daily at Dougherty Valley High School. For girls in grades 1-8. $100. 925-321-0993, dvanderhorst@

Michelle Cappello is a physical therapist with Sports Medicine For Young Athletes. If you have a question for Michelle or her staff, contact her at Support Your Local Business • Say You Found Them In SportStars™

June 10, 2010



twenty-four7 June 14-18 Walnut Creek, CA Basketball Excel In Basketball Session 1 Day Camp For grades 4-12 at Tice Valley Recreation Center. $165. 925-798-6502,; excelcamp@ June 14-18 El Cerrito, CA Basketball Golden State Warriors Basketball Camp 9 a.m.-3 p.m. daily at El Cerrito High School. For boys and girls ages 7-15. 510-986-5310, www. June 14-18 Orinda, CA Water polo Lamorinda Water Polo Brown Water Polo Camp 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. daily at Miramonte High School. For players ages 9-13. $150. 925-280-3930, Ext. 3501,; camps.html. June 14-24 Walnut Creek, CA Soccer Soccer Intermediate Level Camp California Adventure Camps for ages 7-13. 9 a.m.-noon Mon-Thur; extended day/week available with Deluxe Sport package. Prerequisite applies. $35/$65 per week. Information and registration:, 925-952-4450, June 15-18 Walnut Creek, CA Baseball Bronco Baseball Academy Advanced Camp, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. daily at Northgate High School. For those entering grades 7-9. $120. Info. and registration: 925-938-0900, Ext. 2166, BenCampopiano@; June 15-19 Alameda, CA Basketball Youth Basketball Camp 9 a.m.-3 p.m. daily at Alameda High School. For boys and girls ages 8-14. $125-$175. 510-823-6477, bthomas@; June 19 Pleasanton, CA Tri For Fun #1 7 a.m., Shadow

Cliffs Regional Park. Lake swim, bike flat loop, run on rolling fire road. For beginners and for more experienced. $65. Info: 209-795-7832,, June 19-20 Concord, CA Basketball Excel In Basketball Guard Camp For grades 5-9 at De La Salle High School. $90.; excelcamp@gmail. com. June 20 Pleasanton, CA Rotary Spirit Run 5K/10K 8 a.m., Main Street, downtown, under the arch. $30/$35. Info: 209-795-7832,, June 20-24 Moraga, CA Basketball Saint Mary’s College Girls Traditional Basketball Camp 9 a.m.-5 p.m., ages 7-17. Half days/full days/overnight camper available. $150-$495. Info: 925-631-4637,lral@ Registration: June 21-24 Walnut Creek, CA Golf Dave DeLong Junior Golf Camp 2010 For junior golfers of all abilities. $295, payable to DeLong Junior Camp. Info: 925-997-3683, ddelongolf@, Registration: June 21-24 Moraga, CA Tennis Saint Mary’s College Tennis Junior Tennis, 9:45 a.m.-noon. Ages 7-18. Specify Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced. Players of all abilities welcome. $150/ wk. 925-631-4386, smccamps@; www.smcgaels. com. June 21-25 Antioch, CA Camp 2010 Summer Mega Camps for Kids Cheer, dance, hip hop. 9 a.m.-noon daily at Dozier Libbey High School; Jr. Golf at Roddy Ranch Golf Club. Ages 4-17. $125. Contact Casey, 510-282-4986, casey_c@ Online registration: June 21-25 Walnut Creek, CA Basketball Excel In Basketball Session 2 Day Camp For grades 4-9 at Tice Valley Recreation Center. $165. 925-798-6502,; excelcamp@



June 10, 2010

sportstars DeLong Shots

Dave DeLong is the Director of Instruction at Boundary Oak Golf Course in Walnut Creek. He has been teaching, coaching and instructing for nearly 15 years. Tip of the week: Boys can learn feedback by making full swings at half speed.You can feel where the club is during your swing and improve rhythm. Girls, turn the club around so you swing the handle. Make the club “whoosh” through the air with the sound occurring as it’s entering the impact area.This improves club speed so it’s accelerating at the right time. DIVOTS ■ NCPGA Junior Tour Summer Circuit begins June 14-15 at Contra Costa Country Club ■ Dave DeLong Junior Golf Camp begins June 21-24. For more information and registration, go to Contact Dave at WOLCOTT Continued from page 11 I saw him again a week later at the All-Star Game with a nice, big cast on his right hand, sitting just a few feet away from a backstop that, I must admit, had a pretty impressive dent. 4. “Tom! Tom! Tom!”: This one haunts me. It always will. I never knew the man’s name. I just knew he had a son named Tom who played in a Contra Costa County youth soccer league. Like a lot of parents, he liked to show his support during games by yelling at his kid. But there were never any instructions attached. (For example, “Hey Tom! Pass the ball!” Or “Nice shot, Tom! Good effort, Tom!”) It was always just his name. Over, and over, and over. And I mean, loud. “Tom! Tom! Tom! Tom! Tom!” One game I started keeping track. (Old statisticians die hard.) Over the course of one soccer game, the fellow yelled “Tom” while his kid was in action no fewer than 137 times. Broken down per minutes of actual playing time, I determined the guy yelled “Tom,” on average, 6.85 times per minute, usually in bursts of four or five “Toms!” at a time. “Tom! Tom! Tom! Tom! Tom!” I kept dreaming of the day Tom would stop, look at his dad and scream “What do you want?” but sadly, it never happened. Got a good story to share on youth sports in Contra Costa County? Contact Mike Wolcott at 925-566-8500 or mikew@ Upload photos and team stats!

performance marketplace Soccer Camp for 3rd-8th Graders: Sponsored by Clayton Community Church Youth Ministry, Soccer Camp is run by Felicia Fernandez and her coaching staff made up of all-collegiate team members from San Jose, Holy Names, Cascade and Davis. Held on Tuesday & Thursday evenings for 3 weeks in July from 6:308:00 p.m. at the Diablo Valley Middle School soccer fields. Cost is $65, which includes a soccer ball, snacks, certificates and field rental.There will be a short inspirational talk each evening, and players will be invited to a family picnic on Sat July 31st at the Clayton Valley Pumpkin Farm as a grand finale! Check out our Photo Camps and Dance Camps, too! Contact (925) 673-9060. Go to and click on calendar for July. Oikos University School of Nursing: Open House, Friday June 11, 4pm – 6pm.Admission for July 6, 2010. Board Approved Accredited School. LVN in 1 Year! Low Tuition $22,000. Payment Plans Available.Well-qualified instructors.

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Call Now, Student space is limited. (510) 639-7557 x 108. 7850 Edgewater Dr., Oakland, CA 94621 Huntington Learning Center: Use this summer to put your child on the path to better grades. If your child has struggled with schoolwork this year, take action now to make his or her grades better. Realizing your child needs tutoring is the first step to success. Huntington Learning

Center can help. Our certified teachers can pinpoint your child’s strengths and weaknesses and tailor a program of instruction to meet his or her needs. Individualized tutoring in reading, phonics, writing, math and study skills. 1399 Ygnacio Valley Rd. Ste. 8,Walnut Creek, CA 94598. Call Huntington today.Your child can learn. 925-944-8774.

sportstars Evolution Soccer Camps: Camps at Northgate HS and Las Lomas HS; staff includes Northgate and Las Lomas coaches, players, who will focus on improving skills, conditioning. Regular camp is for ages 6-13, but there will be special training session for teams up to U19. Begins in June and runs through August. Half-day: $150. Full-day: $215. Register online at www.

Consumer word ads: $5, Business: $25. Up to 50 words. Add photo: $15. Frequency discounts: 4-6x 10%, 7-12 20%, 13-24 30%

Business directory ads grab more attention!

List your business in the print and online directory, advertise services and sell your new and used sports gear. Print neatly or type and include payment.

E-MAIL: PHONE: 925.566.8500 (10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday). FAX: 925. 566.8507 MAIL: SportStars Marketplace, 5356 Clayton Rd, Ste 222, Concord, CA 94521


Payment must accompany copy. • Sorry, no refunds available on classified ads. Deadlines: 15th and 30th of each month. SportStars™ is published twice a month.

Name______________________________ Phone_________________________

Consumers: Up to 50 words................................................................. $5


Businesses: Up to 50 words................................................................$25

Address_______________________ City______________ State____ Zip_________ ❒❒




Additional words: 50 cents each.................................................._______ Photo: $15........................................................................................._______

Expiration date__________

Minus frequency discount (see chart above)............................_______

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Discount: _____%.............................................................................._______

Support Your Local Business • Say You Found Them In SportStars™

TOTAL AMOUNT ENCLOSED................................................. $_______ June 10, 2010



what’s next

news on the latest products

Rod Carew Baseball presents GAPHitter

Rod Carew, a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, has launched a new company titled, Rod Carew Baseball. The company’s objective is to develop and manufacture training products to improve the hitting skills of aspiring baseball players. (And considering Carew was a lifetime .328 hitter, SportStars™ thinks he might be on to something). The first product RCB is introducing is called the GAPHitter. The GAPHitter sets up as a lightweight, steel device which is placed behind home plate. A speciallydesigned GAPHitter ball is secured by Velcro to a ball

attachment device tethered on a suspended pendulum. It’s used by pulling the ball back to the catcher’s position and releasing it. The ball swings forward and then returns to the strike zone where the batter can hit it. The ball then releases on contact. “For experienced players, it will help hone their hitting skills and allow them to practice situational hitting,” Carew said in the product’s press release. “For younger players, it will greatly improve their eye-hand coordination and teach them the dynamics of hitting a moving ball.” To get more information on the device, check it out at

Bay Area Businesses step up to sponsor elite athletes Contra Costa County athletes featured in SportStars™ Magazine as the “SportStar of the Week” will be receiving gifts and prizes powered by four generous Bay Area



June 10, 2010

businesses. With the launch of the new all-sports magazine, Sports Basement, Clif Bar, Rocco’s Pizza and The Shirt Girlz are stepping up with prizes. The winner, and the three honorable mentions, will receive a prize package valued at more than $80. “Commitment to community and local neighborhoods is more than just a nice gesture, it’s an integral part of who we are as a company,” said Denise Huynh, marketing coordinator at Sports Basement in Walnut Creek. At the Walnut Creek store, Denise and her team hold clinics, host fundraisers and allow local teams to hold meetings, sign-ups and gatherings. Check them out at Clif Bar has been providing energy to local athletes for more than 15 years. Each bar is made with whole grains, and contains 12 essential vitamins and minerals kids need every day. What you won’t find is all the junk! Dig in at The generosity and community involvement of Rocco Biale, owner of Rocco’s Pizzeria, is arguably unmatched in Central County. Rocco has been supporting sports teams with parties, fundraisers and sponsorships since opening in 1999. He’s a Concord native having played baseball at Mt. Diablo High, which makes him a natural to stay connected to the sports scene. Get connected with Rocco at Finally, for SportStars™ gear, The Shirt Girlz will throw down the threads. “We especially love doing work for schools, swim teams, churches, bands and special events,” said Erikka Reisinger, owner and operator of The Shirt Girlz. Visit for screen printing, embroidery, and all types of promotional product printing. Upload photos and team stats!

the numbers

june 10, 2010


Here you’ll find the statistical whims of the staff here at SportStars. Items that may appear include team rankings, player rankings, league standings, team stats or player stats. This week, we offer our season-ending team rankings for high school baseball and softball.Thus, here are the county’s Top 10 baseball and softball teams.


Bob Larson

Pinole Valley’s Nicole Kuykendall smacks a two-run triple against Clayton Valley during the NCS Division II softball quarterfinals on May 28. Pinole Valley won 5-1.


1. Concord


1. Campolindo


2. Freedom


2. Heritage


3. Heritage


3. Deer Valley




4. Miramonte


5. Pinole Valley


5. California

6. California


6. San Ramon Valley


7. Clayton Valley


7. Clayton Valley



8. Berean Christian


8. El Cerrito








10. Northgate


Get the information you crave from SPORTSTARS advertisers. Just by checking the boxes on the form below and mailing or faxing it in, you’ll get the product and service information you need! ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒ ❒❒

Absorber,The . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Alameda County Fair . . . . . . . . . . 3 Antioch Indoor Sports Center . . . 24 Big O Tires . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 CaliPrint. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28

❒❒ Clayton Community Great Labor Day Derby . . . . . . ❒❒ Clayton Fitness Center . . . . . . . ❒❒ Conco Companies . . . . . . . . . . . ❒❒ Dave DeLong School of Golf . . .

25 27 26 11

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Farmer’s Insurance . . . . . . . . . . . Fit 2 The Core . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Heavenly Greens . . . . . . . . . . . . Kaiser Permanente. . . . . . . . . . . Renaissance ClubSport . . . . . . .

27 20 10 31 17

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Sitzmann Chiropractic . . . . . . . . 20 Smokin Okie’s B.B.Q. Joint. . . . . 27 SportStars . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Togo’s . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Wooden’ It Be Nice. . . . . . . . . . 28

Name_________________________________________________ Phone________________________ E-mail_________________________________________ Address___________________________________________________________ City_____________________________State_____________ Zip_ __________ ❒❒ Hey, while I’m at it, sign me up for a subscription! For 24 issues, U.S. 3rd class $42 (allow 3 weeks for delivery). First class $55. ❒❒




Expiration date_______________ Card #________________________________Total______________

Mail: SPORTSTARS Interactive, 5356 Clayton Road, Suite 222, Concord, CA 94521 • Fax: 925.566-8507 Support Your Local Business • Say You Found Them In SportStars™


June 10, 2010



photo finish

California High athlete Andra Rawls clears 6 feet, 2 inches on his way to winning the high jump during the North Coast Section Tri-Valley Area Championship at Granada High on May 22. Rawls would win the event with a jump of 6-3, edging out Northgate’s Zach Privitera. One week later, Rawls cleared 6-4 at the NCS Meet of Champions, a height which placed him fourth and qualified him to compete at the California Interscholastic Federation State Championships. Photo by Bob Larson 30


June 10, 2010

Upload photos and team stats!


Support Your Local Business • Say You Found Them In SportStars™

June 10, 2010



To be a champion... Train like a champion. Think like a champion. Grab every entry li ke a champion. Dry off like a champion.


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©2010 CleanTools • 1-888-ABSORBER •


Issue 1, 6.10.2010  

First issue

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