Dreams take center stage at luncheon

By BLAKE DORFMAN, PRESIDIOSPORTS.COM

Everybody’s got dreams.

Martin Luther King Jr. talked about his in front of 250,000 people in August of 1968, and Monday just so happened to be the day our nation celebrates Dr. King’s legacy.

Monday is also the day when Santa Barbara’s athletic community gets together, and this week local coaches and a special-guest player stood at a a podium on a much smaller stage and shared some of their dreams.

UCSB forward Jesse Byrd is dreaming about two weeks from now, when he’s expected to return from injury and back into the Gaucho lineup. In the meantime, however, he came to Harry’s to address the crowd on what Dr. King means to him as an African American.

“Growing up as a kid, the only thing that Martin Luther King Day meant was another day off from school,” he said. “Of course, as I got older I realized that it’s about a lot more than that.”

Byrd, who writes a highly entertaining blog for the UCSB Web site titled “Jesse’s Journal”,  spoke about being a proponent of Malcolm X’s methods before realizing that King’s more peaceful practices are the most effective.

“It’s kind of hard to be a patriot when you feel like a second-class citizen in your own country, but the thing I like about him is that he was a great patriot,” said Byrd. 

“You have to work with the system to bring about change that can last.”

A particularly interesting point Byrd made was that King’s death truly solidified his work.

“Death is a powerful thing, and it really rallied a lot of people who were maybe in a grey area and didn’t really want to go out there and protest and push the Civil Rights Movement to really start doing some things, and I can’t explain how much I appreciate that,” he said.

Carpinteria boys basketball coach John Ward thanked Byrd for his words before discussing his own dream.

“I also have a dream that someday referees will recognize teams not for the color of their jersey, but for the quality of their play,” he joked.

The Warriors lost to visiting Oak Park last Friday, with the Eagles not being called for a foul in the last 11 minutes of the game. Ward said that Oak Park is a very physical team, and he’s still dumbfounded by the occurrence.

That’s not the only reason for the loss, he admitted, and the Warriors are still an impressive 12-6 on the year. The Tri-Valley League is an incredibly tough conference this year, and Ward said he is relying on the continual improvement of football players like Justin Alvarado, Isacc Cervantes and Graham Craddock to keep Carp in the TVL hunt.

Sandrine Krul’s dream, at least for this week, is to beat a team which has historically been all but invincible in Western State Conference women’s basketball: Ventura College.

Krul’s kids beat Ventura two years ago and shared the conference title with them, the only WSC title not owned outright by the Pirates since 1990. Ventura enters Wednesday night’s game at the Sports Pavilion (which will be broadcast on PresidioSports.com thanks to a partnership with HomefieldSports.com) with a 22-0 record and a 4-0 conference mark, coming off of a 103-57 win over Moorpark. Star Erica Ward scored 51 points recently in a win over Cuesta.

The Vaqueros are 18-8, 4-0 and have won five straight. Nikki Graham may not have had a game like Ward’s, but she did score 27 points and pull down 15 rebounds against L.A. Pierce last week. Local-product Janelle Wong, a freshman out of DP, has been coming off of the bench and contributing regularly as the team’s sharp-shooter, averaging over eight points.

“Janelle could go to any community college and start,” said her coach.

Krul tied in Tuesday’s inauguration of Barack Obama with her team’s quest to beat the Pirates.

“Things are changing, as (Byrd) spoke about Martin Luther King and our inauguration tomorrow, and I think it’s time that history comes toward Santa Barbara City College and we take down Ventura,” she said.

Sports Information Specialist Dave Loveton was at Harry’s to talk about Morris Hodges’ men’s team, which posted a memorable win over Pierce last week, coming back from a 19-point deficit to win in overtime. David Lane scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half.

Westmont women’s head coach Kirsten Moore will be in attendance at Wednesday’s SBCC game, as she told Krul she would be there to check out some of the Vaquero players. Moore started off the week in a dream-like situation, with the Warriors ranked 10th in the country — the highest ranking in program history.

“I think more than anything it means that over time, more than anything, our program has improved,” said Moore. “But we are in a league where on any single night a team can beat us.”

The Warriors won at rival Biola to kick off the week, then lost a tough one at home to Point Loma.

Moore wasn’t quite sure when the last time the Warriors beat the Sea Lions was, but Sports Information Director Ron Smith was ready with the assist, letting her know that it was February 17, 2003.

“That’s why he’s the MVP of the athletic department,” said Moore of Smith.

The Warriors host Fresno Pacific on Tuesday before traveling to face No. 2 Vanguard on Saturday.

Smith came up and pinch-hit for men’s coach John Moore — a legendary Round-Table orator — and announced that the team had nabbed a big-time recruit in Jordan Sachs, a 6-4 guard who is averaging 28.6 points per game for La Habra High School, and has had three games of 40 or more points.

Tuesday night will be a tough one for the Westmont men, as they face a Fresno Pacific team that is 7-0 in the Golden State Athletic Conference.

Lloyd Biggs, a native of London, gave a gracious comment to our nation before discussing his San Marcos girls soccer team.

“Coming from the educational background back home, the high school standard here and the athletics is just a credit to you guys. Back home it’s very poor, it really is. The players don’t realize how lucky they are,” he said.

The Royals lost 10 seniors from last year’s team, but Biggs is happy with their progress, particularly last week’s 4-1 win over Dos Pueblos.

“It was a tough start of the season, to be quite honest, because I came in with a little bit of naivete that we were going to play ‘the beautiful game’,” he said. “Then I stepped out on San Marcos’ surface and realized that we couldn’t.”

The pitch at Valley Stadium is in need of a facelift indeed.

Captains Jenny Ann Martinez and Ali Raack were present along with coach Christy Lozano. The Royals play Ventura on Wednesday.

Dos Pueblos’ coach, Kymberly Williams-Evans, discussed how coaching the younger generation is a dream come true for her, particularly with players like Nicole Gee and Meagan Bellefeuille on her team.

“They are part of the reason that I enjoy coaching, even when we lose to (throat clearing) Marcos for the last time,” she said. “The reason I love coaching has to do with the fact that every time I’m with these girls — these two in particular — I am reminded that our future looks fantastic.”

DP plays Santa Barbara next.

Lucy Carleton’s short-term dream on Monday was to regain feeling in her cheek. The Carpinteria girls soccer coach was fresh out of the dentist’s chair, where she received three shots of Novocaine. Throughout her talk, she managed to refrain from drooling, which is certainly an accomplishment to be proud of.

She’s also proud of her Warriors, who went 1-1 last week, including a 3-1 comeback win over Fillmore. Carleton recognized juniors Ariana Martinez and Leticia Ramirez. Ramirez has been the team’s starting sweeper since her freshman year and has not been called for a single foul this season, while Martinez is a standout stopper who scored a goal from the defensive position against La Reina recently.

It was a day to celebrate diversity, and coach Jeff Burich has been celebrating the diversity in his team’s scoring column. The Bishop Diego girls hoopsters have had five different leading scorers so far this season, going 1-2 last week including a tough four-point loss to Nordhoff in which point guard Ariel Perez scored 14 points.

After six games in 12 days, Burich’s dream is coming true with a week’s worth of practices before a big game against Carpinteria on Saturday.

Ernie Quiroz has done a great job turning around the Laguna Blanca girls hoops program, as the Owls are now 7-3 on the year after a 3-16 campaign last season. Four of Laguna’s players are in Washington D.C. for Obama’s inauguration.

“We’re historically moving ahead right now, and I think it’s a wonderful time to be an American,” he said.

The UCSB women’s basketball team remained undefeated in Big West play on Saturday in a comeback-win over visiting Cal Poly. the Gauchos were down 16 just before halftime. Santa Barbara High graduate and current Director of Basketball Operations Araceli Gil — who hadn’t been to a luncheon since she was a player for the Dons — said that the team’s defense is the reason for its success. The Gauchos play Davis and Pacific this week.

— ATHLETES OF THE WEEK: Santa Barbara High boys soccer coach Todd Heil picked up his 200th career win this week when the Dons crushed Buena 6-0. Male Athlete of the Week Peter Aguilar scored two goals in that game, and in the match before he scored three. The hat trick came against No. 2 Ventura, whom the top-ranked Dons almost beat before giving up a last-minute goal to settle for the 3-3 tie.

The Dos Pueblos girls water polo team won one of the most elite prep volleyball tournaments in the country over the weekend at the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions, and star sophomore Kiley Neushul played a big part in the title. She scored five of DP’s 12 goals on the final day, including one with just a few ticks left that sealed the championship win over Los Alamitos.

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