BY BLAKE DORFMAN, PRESIDIOSPORTS.COM
Kayla Smith grew up in the city of Orange as one of the only African American kids on the block. She was in the minority, to be sure, except for in the Baptist church she attended with her family.
“That was the one place where I knew I would be surrounded by people like me,” said the UCSB track-and-field standout at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon.
When kids at school would make fun of her skin color or “nappy hair,” she had a standard and confident reply:
“I am unique, and God made me this way.”
She spoke at the luncheon in honor of another African American Baptist — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — on his day of recognition. Dr. King left us with numerous inspirational quotes, and Smith chose one about faith to end her speech:
“Faith is taking that first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
CARPINTERIA GIRLS: Warriors coach Dan Mercer also shared on of his favorite quotes from Dr. King:
“It is not the violence of a few that scares me, but the silence of many.”
He added: “That being said, I brought two of my most aggressive girls.”
At the first practice of this season, one of last year’s starters came and told Mercer that she had decided to pursue other activities. At first the coach lamented, but the arrival of three new players eased the pain. Senior Kelci Jones is one of them, having finally taken to hoops after years as a leader on the volleyball team (She was the team MVP for the spikers this year).
“She’s brought us a lot on the court, including leadership,” said Mercer.
Junior Natalie Hipple also came out of the woodwork to hit the hoops hardwood. The junior — who also plays volleyball and runs track — is already making contributions in her first year of prep basketball.
The Warriors are having a winning year at 8-7 thus far this season, but Mercer said that it was last week’s 49-31 loss to No. 2 Santa Clara that was his team’s best game.
SAN MARCOS BOYS: Royals coach Jarrod Bradley thanked Smith for coming to speak, and said that the holiday helps us ‘to realize that we still have a ways to go” wen it comes to racial equality.
The Royals still have a ways to go in their season, but it’s so-far, so-good at this point. San Marcos is now 3-0 in the Channel League after a 59-46 win at Dos Pueblos on Friday. The Royals led by just one at halftime but won the third period 16-4. They ended up making more free throws than DP even attempeted, which was also a formula for success in a previous win over Buena.
Bradley introduced 6-foot-6 big man Josh Guild, whose long arms have proven to be very useful in the paint. Against the Chargers, he had 10 rebounds and seven points to go along with two blocks, and Bradley said that after watching the film he saw that Guild altered about six other shots as well.
Also present was Nate Reed, a senior who was cut by Bradley before the season but was recently invited back. His name drew some chants from the student section at Sovine Gym during the game, and he got in for some playing time at the end.
“No one averages in double-figures for us. We rely on everyone, and nobody exemplifies that more than Nathan,” said Bradley.
San Marcos has a showdown with Ventura, the Channel League’s other undefeated team, at the Thunderhut on Friday.
SANTA BARBARA BOYS: The Dons have just one win so far, but coach Chris Hantgin is not letting that dictate the mood of the season.
“The thing is, we have a really good character group of guys and they come to practice and work hard every day,” he said. “It’s as enjoyable an experience as I can remember having coaching.”
He brought along three seniors — Will Mankowski, David Vargas and John Medina.
“If we do things right we have a chance,” said Hantgin of Friday’s home game against Buena.
WESTMONT MEN: Coach John Moore recalls three significant events as a child that stick out. The first is the 1963 assassination of JFK, the second is his first break-up in the sixth grade and the third is the assassination of Dr. King in 1968. He was with his father when they heard the news, and both broke down in tears.
“It caused me to admire my father even more,” said Moore.
He also said that having a black president is something that we can directly attribute to Dr. King’s efforts.
Male Athlete of the Week Evan Haines put in a nice effort at Pallazio Restaurant before the Warriors’ trip down to play Point Loma on Saturday. At the team’s dinner, Haines put away a few too many of the restaurant’s garlic bread rolls and got to see them again in the locker room at halftime of the game. Moore thought that Haines would be done for the night, but he came back and finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds and a school-record eight blocks in the double-overtime victory.
Earlier in the week, he had 10 boards and nine points in a loss to rival Biola, helping to hold Eagles center Rocky Hampton to just three points.
Moore and his team were set to head through the snow up the Grapevine on Monday afternoon. They’ll play Fresno Pacific on Tuesday.
UCSB WOMEN: Assistant coach Jaida Williams paid a wonderful compliment to her fellow Gaucho Smith, saying “you make me proud to be an African American woman, so good job.”
Williams reported that the Gauchos are “going back to the basics” after suffering two losses last week, including Cal State Long Beach’s first victory in the Thunderdome since 1991.
“It’s been pretty rough, but we had a great 9 a.m. practice today,” said Williams.
The Gauchos (5-12, 2-3 Big West) play at Cal State Fullerton on Saturday.
SBCC: Sports Information Specialist Dave Loveton reported that Lucky Teeguarden had games of 14 and 18 points last week, but the Vaqueros lost both contests and are now 4-13 overall and 0-3 in the WSC North. Coah Morris Hodges said that the team needs to work on allowing less offensive rebounds as well as making free throws.
The Vaquero women are 10-10, 2-1 after losing to top-ranked rival Ventura last week. The team defeated L.A. Pierce earlier in the week thanks to 32 points from Francesca DeAngelis. Oxnard pays a visit to the Sports Pavilion on Wednesday at 5 p.m., and the men’s game will follow that.
DOS PUEBLOS: Molly Imel brought five of her athletes to the luncheon. The Chargers are currently 1-1-1 in the Channel League. Erin Ristig is one of the best all-around athletes at DP, and was able to slow down Santa Barbara star Briana Lopez in the Chargers’ scoreless draw with the Dons last week. She has three goals and three assists on the year.
Misty Soto is a hard-nosed sophomore in her first year with the varsity squad. Actually, her nose isn’t so hard — she’s currently out with broken cartilage in her nose as well as a slight concussion. Imel said that she “just gets beat up out there” but is remarkably tough.
Marina Pleasons is a starter who can play every position except goalie, exemplifying Imel’s description of “utility player.” Michelle Gee is “a magician in the middle,” with the skills to dominate someone twice her size, and goalie Megan Bellefeuille has racked up eight shutouts on the year, including two crucial ones in league play.
The Chargers host San Marcos (rain pending) on Tuesday.
CATE: It was a wild one up on the Carpinteria Mesa on Saturday, as Cate edged rival Laguna Blanca on a goal by Georgina Walker in the final minutes, 3-2.
“Both teams played their guts out,” said Athletic Director Wade Ransom. He particularly highlighted the play of goalie Grace Gail, Annie Weis and Brennan Cusack. Gail has three shutouts on the year, sophomore Weis is one of the school’s best athletes and is always around the net, and Cusack is a team leader who led the celebration for Walker after the big goal.
Ransom also thanked Laguna Blanca for a great game and offered a favorite Dr. King quote of his own:
“You can kill the dreamer, but you can’t kill the dream.”
CARPINTERIA: It would be a dream come true for the Warriors to beat Oak Park, a team which Carpinteria had never even scored a goal on (that’s about two decades of games) until this past week.
Lucy Carleton’s squad scored three on the Eagles in the first half, but lost 4-3.
“We’re really not competitive with them usually,” said Carleton in an understatement. The Warriors had just one substitute available, while Oak Park’s program is known for being packed with top-tier players.
The coach introduced Nikki Graham and Leticia Ramirez, who are both also competitive cheerleaders, as well as emotional leader Erin Harris.
HALLECK/LEE TO BE HONORED: San Marcos’ recently renovated gymnasium is affectionately referred to as the “Thunderhut,” but two official names will be associated with it after Friday night’s ceremony before the varsity basketball game. The gym will officially be named after legendary basketball coach Maury Halleck and the court will be named after longtime volleyball coach Jon Lee.
The ceremony honoring the two Royal heroes will take place at 6:30 p.m.
On Saturday, San Marcos will host its women’s alumni volleyball game at 10 a.m., followed by the men’s volleyball alumni game at 11:30 a.m. and the men’s alumni basketball game at 1 p.m.
On Saturday evening, a dinner will be held at The Carriage Museum honoring Lee and Hallock. There will also be a special presentation and silent auction heald for the “Field of Champions” campaign, which is in place to bring a turf field to Valley Stadium.
For additional information, call Athletic Director Abe Jahadhmy at 967-4581 x 228.