By Blake Dorfman, PresidioSports.com
One step backward, two steps forward.
Actually, for David Powdrell, it was one stroke backward and a whole bunch of them forward as he kayaked the entire California coast.
Powdrell, the recipient of the Sportsperson of the Month Award at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table Luncheon, suffered a stroke at the age of 49 which required brain surgery. He ran, literally, out of the hospital a month later and hasn’t stopped yet. Aside from his paddling journey, which helped raise $17,000 for Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital, he ran the L.A. Marathon a year after his stroke. He said he is often moved to tears by the accomplishments of patients at the Rehabilitation Hospital, where he was a patient and now volunteers.
Powdrell is a CPA, an accomplished musician, surfer, kayaker, author, family man and much more — and he owes a lot of it to one of the darkest times of his life.
“As difficult as (the stroke) was, it opened up a whole bunch of new doors for me… I’m truly blessed,” he said Monday.
UCSB MEN: The Gauchos have yet to take a step backward, improving to 4-0 after an 89-84 win at Loyola Marymount on Saturday. This year’s squad is young — starting three sophomores — and also very deep.
“We have 13 guys that suit up, and all 13 of them played in the first half against LMU,” reported assistant coach Dave Campbell.
Campbell said that this year’s squad plays a remarkably up-tempo game and is a lot of fun to watch. Fans can go check out the Gauchos for themselves when Santa Clara pays a visit to the Thunderdome on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
DOS PUEBLOS GIRLS: Campbell may think his Gauchos are young, but the Chargers’ roster consists of nine sophomores, and none of them are even old enough drive. Coach Maynard Pilapil described how keeping the team a little late after practice is simply not an option.
“You’ve gotta be on time, because mom is sitting in the car,” he joked.
Four of those sophomores are returners, including luncheon attendees Jasmine Mata and Jessica Escalante. Pilapil said Mata is one of the most disciplined players on the squad, while Escalante’s star-power on the offensive end will draw significant attention from opposing defenses all year.
DP was set to host Santa Ynez Monday night in its season-opener.
SANTA BARBARA HIGH GIRLS: Like Escalante, Dons guard Rebecca Griffin can rack up points in a hurry. Coach Andrew Butcher is so confident in her offensive prowess that he predicted that the sharp-shooting senior will produce more than one 30-point performance this season.
Also introduced was Jackie Kerns, the team’s best defender, and Tess Emerson. Butcher has been coaching a long time at SBHS — so long that he also coached Emerson’s mom. His dry humor has only gotten better with the years.
“The injury problem has gone away. Tess is no longer hurting anybody in practice,” he quipped.
The Dons kick off the season at the Lompoc Tournament, which begins on Thursday.
CARPINTERIA BOYS: Like Butcher, Carpinteria boys basketball coach John Ward has been coming to the Round Table luncheons for decades. The CIF Champion Dos Pueblos girls volleyball team, which showed up in its entirety to be recognized at Harry’s, had to leave early and shuffled out just a few minutes before Ward’s turn to speak.
“As usual, half the crowd walked out before I got up to speak,” he joked.
The Warriors are off this week, but have already had a 5-way scrimmage with Bishop Diego, Moorpark, Cabrillo and Dos Pueblos so that the coaches could get a good look at how their teams stack up against a variety of different styles. Ward already knows how the two young men he introduced stack up after their stellar seasons last year.
Post player Manny Rodriguez returns to patrol the paint after averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds last season, and Kevin Lusterio returns to run the point after averaging 13 points and five assists last year with an assist-to-turnover ration better than 2-1.
His numbers are good, and he’s also good with numbers. His 4.4 GPA has earned some recruiting attention from Cal Tech.
BISHOP DIEGO BOYS: Coach Ray “Slash” Vazquez also brought along a couple of academic standouts to represent his young Cardinals team. Ted Sleep will be the team’s most experienced post player and carries a 3.4 GPA, while Hayden Slaught sports a 3.8. It might have something to do with the physical environment the school provides.
Vazquez gave a nod to Father Tom Elewaut, who was in attendance along with other principals who were recognized on Monday, saying that the developments on the campus since Elewaut took over have made it “look like a small liberal arts college.”
WESTMONT WOMEN: Westmont is precisely that — a small liberal arts college — but the Warriors have some big-time potential when it comes to women’s hoops this year. The 18th-ranked Warrior women were upset at Redlands 75-74 on Tuesday due to a long-range bank-shot at the buzzer, handing them their first loss of the year. Coach Kirsten Moore told Powdrell that she would share his story with her team at Monday’s practice because “we did just take a big step back.”
Westmont will be back in action with its Golden State Athletic Conference opener at home against Concordia on Thursday night.
UCSB WOMEN: While the Warriors were loathing their first loss, the Gauchos were celebrating their first victory. The Big-West favorites were 0-4 heading into Sunday’s game at the University of San Diego, but Female Athlete of the Week Emilie Johnson stepped up and led her team to its first win.
Johnson, a sophomore point guard, scored 29 points as the Gauchos defeated the Toreros 75-65. Her previous career high was just 14. It was the most points by a Gaucho since Jessica Wilson scored 30 back in 2006. Her performance, as well as a team-leading 14 points in a loss to Kentucky earlier in the week, also earned her Big West Player of the Week honors.
Assistant coach Jaida Williams said that an inspirational speech by coach Lindsay Gottlieb before the game also had a big impact on the team, which heads to Oregon for road games against Portland State and Oregon State next.
WESTMONT MEN: Like the Westmont women, the Westmont men are 4-1 and are coming off of their only loss thus far. Like the UCSB women, the Warriors picked up an Athlete of the Week performance after a player scored a career-high. Blake Bender exploded for 36 points in a win an 80-70 win over Carroll (Mont.) at the Westminster Thanksgiving Classic on Friday.
The junior went 15-for-22 from the floor and also chipped in seven rebounds, three rebounds and three assists. The Warriors went on to lose to ninth-ranked Westminster the next day in an 84-51 blowout.
Coach John Moore’s message on Monday was for coaches to never give up on a player. He said Bender was a very hard player to coach when he first came to the program, but has blossomed into “one of our finest players.”
The men’s team also hosts Concordia on Thursday.
SAN MARCOS GIRLS: Like Dos Pueblos, Kristyn Miller’s Royals squad features just nine players. Miller reported that the team has done well in its two scrimmages, including a 5-point win in an alumni game. She introduced point guard Kimi Sanchez and described her as “as reliable as they come,” and also brought along returning starter Marissa Unzueta, a senior post player.
SAN MARCOS BOYS: Miller pinch-hit for boys coach Jarrod Bradley, who was unable to attend. The boys team fell in its alumni game thanks to 25 turnovers, but got two strong performances. Chad Ridnour had 25 points, including a 6-for-8 outing from beyond the arc, while Christian Mkpado went 6-for-7 from the floor in the post.
BISHOP DIEGO GIRLS: Numbers are up for Jeff Burich’s Cardinals. The team is up to 11 players after fielding just eight last year, and six players are returners.
“The practices are just a lot better than they’ve been in the past couple of years,” said Burich of the benefit of having a good core of experience.
Two of the Cardinals’ key seniors — Janelle Kohler and Ariel Perez — came along with their coach. Kohler is a 4-year varsity post player who averaged 10 points and 10 rebounds last season. Perez is in her second year as the team’s starting point guard and will run the offense this season.
SBCC MEN AND WOMEN: Sports Information Specialist Dave Loveton reported on both Vaquero teams. The women are ranked 18th in the state and play in the Sequoia Tournament next. The men, meanwhile, got a couple of big performances from sophomore David Lane en route to a consolation title at the Oxnard Condor Classic. The Vaqs beat Oxnard and Ventura in the tourney, having not beaten the Pirates for many years.
SBCC: The Vaquero women finished off a tremendous season just one step short of the state’s Elite 8 after a 5-set loss to Cypress at the Sports Pavilion on Saturday. SBCC finished with a record of 21-3, going 14-1 at home and posting a school-record 12-straight wins at one point as well. With 12 freshmen on the team, expectations for next year will no doubt be very high.
DOS PUEBLOS: Coach Todd Garrett said that the Chargers haven’t even had a chance to celebrate their CIF-SS Division I-A Title because they’ve been on such a roll in their quest for a state title. DP hosts Division I-AA champ Newport Harbor in the regional title match at 7 p.m. on Thursday. Should they win that, the state title game will be held at the Bren Center in Irvine on Saturday.
Garrett introduced assistant coach Greg Novak as well as each player. The audience held its applause until the end, but the players were having giggling fits the whole time through.