It’s a small community, after all

BY BLAKE DORFMAN, PRESIDIOSPORTS.COM

What a tangled web the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table can weave.

Let’s take Monday’s luncheon in the Ranchero Room at Harry’s as an example:

– The Sportsperson of the Month was Retta Slay, who founded the Dos Pueblos Little League Challengers Division, which provides children with special needs the opportunity to play baseball.

– Round Table board member Cara Gamberdella will be running the Boston Marathon with her sister next month to raise money for the Challengers Division.

– Luncheon attendee Bill Pintard is the manager of the Santa Barbara Foresters, who help run the Challengers camp every summer.

– Athletic trainers were being honored on Monday, including Bishop Diego trainer Kristy Lash, who has been a trainer for the Foresters for many seasons.

– Dos Pueblos tennis coach Liz Frech brought along team captain Andy Silverstein, who was an intern for the Foresters this past summer.

– SBCC slugger Abe Ruiz was named an honorable mention selection for Male Athlete of the Week after belting two homers and hitting over .500 for the week. He played for the Foresters over the summer.

That’s just a start. The six degrees of separation are more like one or two degrees in our athletic community.

SPORTSPERSON OF THE MONTH: Slay started the Challengers back in 2004 for her son, who has Down’s Syndrome. Beginning with 10 players, the program has since grown to 80 children who get to experience the joy of being on a team and competing. The next goal is to have an actually start a District 63 Challengers League with numerous teams.

“Even though it’s only Sportsperson of the Month, I think it should be Sportsperson of the Decade,” said Roxanne Nomura, who sponsors the award along with her husband Wade.

For more information about the program, visit its Web site at www.GoChallengers.org. Also, be sure to check out how you can support “Team Gamberdella” on their site, www.firstgiving.com/forgenaro2010.

BASEBALL

SAN MARCOS: Male Athlete of the Week Nick Stathopoulos led the Royals to their first win over Santa Barbara High since 2005 last week, as the senior pitched five solid innings while also going 3-for-4 with a double, two singles and a run scored in the 11-5 victory. He went 6-for-13 on the week with five RBIs and three runs scored.

Coach Rob Crawford also introduced Nick Villegas, whom he said “had the week of a lifetime.” Villegas, the Royals’ second baseman, went 7-for-12 with eight RBIs, three runs scored and a pair of stolen bases.

San Marcos plays at Buena on Tuesday.

SANTA BARBARA: “San Marcos beat us, we didn’t lose,” said longtime Dons assistant George Rempe. “I congratulate Coach Crawford and his team.”

The theme for Rempe’s talk was what a difference a day makes in sports. The Dons bounced back from the San Marcos loss in fine fashion, traveling down to play one of the state’s most perennially successful teams, El Camino Real, on Saturday morning. In an effort to preserve their front-line starting pitchers, they threw senior utility-man Alex Spatz out there for his first start of the season.

“Alex pitched a 7-hit, complete-game shutout against El Camino, and the Dons won 9-0,” said Rempe. “Like I said, what a difference a day makes.”

Santa Barbara faces Dos Pueblos in another rivalry matchup on Tuesday.

UCSB: Mario Hollands was named Male Athlete of the Week last week for a 16-strikeout performance against Northern Illinois, and he was on pace to do better than that on Saturday against New Mexico State. Hollands had 13 strikeouts before leaving the game in the sixth inning to preserve his arm.

The Gauchos won the game, but went 1-2 on the weekend. They have good reason to be distracted, however, as it was finals week out at UCSB.

“Taking finals during competition is quite a challenge. It’s championship week out in the classroom as well right now out at UCSB,” said coach Bob Brontsema. “It takes a lot out of you, it really does. There’s a lot of concentration, a lot of effort and a lot of focus that goes into these studies.”

It’ll take a lot of focus for the Gauchos to succeed on Tuesday, as No. 3 UCLA comes to town with a 16-0 record. First pitch is set for 2 p.m.

WESTMONT: The Warriors faced a tough 4-game series with Golden State Athletic Conference foe Vanguard (20-4) last week and ended up with one win. Former SBCC pitcher Greg Pellici, who also made an appearance for the Foresters last summer, tossed seven solid innings in the series opener but the Warriors stranded too many runners. In the second game, the Warriors gave up solo homers in the seventh and eighth innings and lost 8-7. They finally broke through with a win in the third game, 10-8, before dropping the fourth.

“It was definitely a step in the right direction,” said coach Robert Ruiz.

SBCC: The Vaqueros went 3-0 last week thanks to Abe Ruiz, who hit for a .538 average and knocked two home runs during that stretch. SBCC is 11-8 overall and 4-0 in the WSC North. The Vaqueros have 32 home runs in 19 games and are on pace to break their single-season home run record of 49 set back in 2007.

SWIMMING

DOS PUEBLOS: The Charger girls picked up a nice win over a strong Ventura squad in their league-opener, and the pair of athletes that coach Leslie Roth brought to the luncheon combined to score 40 of the team’s 119 points in the victory. Emily Rose Williams won the 50 and 100 freestyle races while also swimming on the winning 200 freestyle relay squad.

Freshman Janelle Nguyen was a winner in the 500 butterfly, the 500 freestyle and the 200 medley relay.

SAN MARCOS GIRLS: Coach Roth’s husband, Brian, led his Royal girls against those very same Ventura Cougars on Friday.

“We lost by 15 points, but we swam one of our best meets that we’ve had in years. We went in knowing that everyone was going to have to perform at a certain level for us to even have a chance at winning,” said Roth. “They have a lot of club swimmers…and we’re pretty much composed of a high school water polo team.”

Roth showed his team a documentary about his former UCSB roommate, Beijing Olympic hero Jason Lezak, as motivation and it apparently helped.

He brought two of his brightest stars from the meet. The first, Emilia Wakamatsu, is a 4-year swimmer in the program.

“She’s a great, phenomenal kid who’s turned into a very good high school athlete,” said Roth.

The second, Sarah Twing, has a truly inspirational story. A case of infantile botulism left her nearly paralyzed, and she needed a feeding tube. As a result, she was left with scar tissue in her throat that makes it hard for her to speak loudly or clearly. Her trachea is also about half the size of a normal one, yet she still gives it 100-percent effort in the water. Her split time of 26.0 seconds in the 50 freestyle is evidence of that.

“When she finishes, usually she can’t even get herself out of the water because she’s so depleted… It takes her about 10 minutes to recover from a hard performance,” said Roth. “She makes our team stronger every day, in and out of the water.”

SAN MARCOS BOYS: Jeff Ashton’s boys team lost its meets against Oxnard and Ventura last week, but had some good swims nonetheless.

“The two guys I brought today are two guys who just always do the right thing. They always are there, they always work hard, they listen, they ask questions and really try to improve,” he said.

The first is all-purpose freestyle Abhi Frandsen, and the second is top back-stroker John Ericco.

SANTA BARBARA: Dons coach Christine Moore started by thanking Dos Pueblos and San Marcos for sharing their pools while Santa Barbara’s is being worked on. Santa Barbara was supposed to swim at DP last week, but it was postponed due to a baseball game being played simultaneously on the adjacent field (foul balls can find the water).

The boys swimmer she brought, Brendan Kerwin-McElroy, is no stranger to Harry’s after coming numerous times during his water polo career at SBHS. He’ll probably be back more, as he recently signed to play for the Gauchos next year.

On the girls side, Moore introduced UCSD-bound senior Leah Gonzales and second-year diver Montana Marshall.

TENNIS

UCSB MEN: The Gauchos have the highest GPA of any men’s athletic team at UCSB, and they haven’t played for two weeks due to finals.

“Being idle for two weeks has dropped us out of the national rankings. That’s not a problem, because we’ve got a lot of opportunities. We’re going to play five matches in the next eight days,” noted coach Marty Davis.

The first of those matches will be against nationally-ranked Washington at home on Tuesday at 11 a.m. The Huskies’ roster includes former San Marcos standout Matt Stith. Davis reminded everyone that there is free pizza for all fans at UCSB matches.

SAN MARCOS: Speaking of Stith, his former coach Jarrod Bradley was happy to report that the Royals are off to an impressive 7-1 start, mostly thanks to their prowess in doubles. Four of their wins have come via 10-8 decisions.

The doubles team he brought has gone 19-2 thus far this season, and they’re also impressive in the classroom. Nick Kilpelainen has a 4.37 GPA and Garrett Timmons has never gotten a B in his life, according to Bradley. As a team, the Royals have a GPA of 3.82 and should be in contention for a CIF academic title.

They’ll play DP on Thursday and Cate on Friday.

LAGUNA BLANCA: Athletic Director Mike Biermann was pinch-hitting for first-year Owls coach Trevor Thorpe. The team is currently 2-2 on the young season.

Troy Ritter, who also came to the luncheons as the quarterback for the football team this fall, is a sophomore standout who recently saved a 9-8 win over Villanova by pulling out the day’s final set. He trailed 4-1 but eventually took the set in a tiebreaker, 10-8. Also introduced was Max Hong, the team’s lone senior, who has been the Owls’ top singles player all four years. He was recently accepted at Cal Poly.

BISHOP DIEGO: Cardinals Athletic Director Dan Peeters spoke on behalf of tennis coach Ray “Slash” Vazquez, who has earned his nickname do to coaching tennis/basketball/cross-country at Bishop. The Cardinal netters are 0-1 after dropping a 10-8 decision at Oak Park, and will open Frontier League play this week against St. Bonaventure and Santa Clara.

Peeters brought along Andre Kohansamad, who plays on the No. 2 doubles spot, and junior singles player Sean Stratford-Jones. Together, he pointed out, they have an 8.43 GPA.

DOS PUEBLOS: The Chargers are 5-4 despite playing a very tough early season schedule and not having their full squad in action all season. Silverstein, a captain, was referred to as the team’s “philosopher” by coach Liz Frech, and he has formed a solid tandem with his doubles partner Erik Katz. Frech said one of the best things about her top doubles squad is that they are always in a good mood.

WESTMONT: Sports Information Director Ron Smith reported that the Warrior tennis teams are coming off of a 4-match road trip in which they faced all ranked opponents. The women unfortunately went 0-4 on the trip, while the eighth-ranked men split by picking up victories over No. 23 Lewis & Clark as well as No. 11 Point Loma Nazarene.

SBCC: Sports Information Specialist Dave Loveton reported that both the Vaquero men and women are tied for first place in the WSC North. Dos Pueblos graduate Amy Sagraves has won four of her last five matches for the women’s squad, which is 8-1 overall.

FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE WEEK: Dos Pueblos junior track star Erin Campbell broke a 33-year-old school record in the 800 meters at Buena last week. Her time of two minutes, 16 seconds bested Wanda Burke’s 1977 time by over a second.

WESTMONT TRACK OPENING: After nearly two years of renovations, Westmont’s sparkling new track/soccer complex will be open for all to see on Saturday when the Warriors host their first meet.

TRAINING DAY: Mike Martinez is a trainer at UCSB who was there Monday to be recognized along with his colleagues for their tireless efforts in helping athletes stay healthy and injury-free. Martinez urged everyone to support a new bill, AB 1647, which will help trainers to deal with concussions with more caution and safety measures.

“For the overall safety of our athletes, I think it’s very, very important that we take this into consideration,” he said.

The other trainers present were Wendy Whitehead (Dos Pueblos), Kristy Lash (Bishop Diego), Jonathan Sanders (Laguna Blanca), Charlene Vandaele (SBHS) and Susan Davis and Nate Donnelly, both of SBCC.

There will be no luncheon next week.

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