Athletic community readies to rally around Ward

Sometimes bad things happen to the best of people, and the local sports community was given an unfortunate example at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon.

San Marcos tennis and basketball coach Jarrod Bradley announced that local coaching legend John Ward has been diagnosed with advanced colon cancer, and has been in the hospital receiving chemotherapy treatments. Ward, the current Athletic Director and boys basketball coach at Carpinteria High, has been one of the athletic community’s most beloved figures for decades.

“He’s had an impact on thousands of student-athletes, and he’s had a tremendous impact on a lot of coaches as well. I’ve learned a lot from coaching against him and watching him coach,” said Bradley.

Many other coaches at the podium extended their well-wishes to Ward, a math teacher who also spent years at Bishop Diego and San Marcos.

“He’s always a guy of utmost integrity,” said Dos Pueblos golf coach Rob Schiff. “He’s fun to be around, and to me he’s just the definition of a coach — he just lives the life of a coach. He loves being around the kids, and he loves talking sports.”

Bishop Diego Athletic Director Dan Peeters played basketball for Ward and the Cardinals back in 1986, when they won a league championship.

“I’ve seen how much dedication he has to his family and the kids he works with. It’s just tremendous,” said an emotional Peeters. “He consistently does the right things for the right reasons.”

A website has been set up by the family so that updates can be posted and people can leave well-wishes as Ward continues his battle. You may visit it at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/johnward.

Here’s hoping he knocks down cancer like he does his famous half-court hook shot.

Round Table founding member Jerry Harwin was present at Harry's on Monday.

ALL HAIL HARWIN: Jerry Harwin, one of the original founders of the SBART back in the 1960s, made an appearance at Harry’s on Monday, but he told President Catharine Manset-Morreale that he almost didn’t come.

Why? Apparently, he “was at a party in Montecito dancing late into the hours of the evening.”

Not bad considering he’ll soon be turning 99.

PAPA SAM: SBCC’s football team lost another close game over the weekend, and it was four turnovers that were the main culprit. The Vaqueros fumbled it away three times in the third quarter alone, and have turned the ball over seven times in the past two games.

Coach Craig Moropoulos brought his star defensive player, San Marcos High grad Sam Shipley, who leads the state in tackles. Shipley, 23, and his wife Kaisey welcomed a son, Bentley, into the world last week.

Moropoulos publicly asked Shipley to bring his son to practice and show his teammates how to properly hold a baby. He’s hoping it’ll influence the other players on how they hold the football to prevent fumbles.

“I need those guys to realize that the ball is as special to them as Bentley is to you,” he joked.

PAPER TRAIL: One of the many accomplishments of Kelsey Stimson, Bishop Diego’s Scholar Athlete of the Year, is that she resurrected the school’s newspaper, The Red Press, after it went out of print for many years.

Ironically, two audience members at Harry’s are distinctly tied to the Cardinals’ paper. Santa Barbara News-Press columnist Mark Patton founded the paper with his older brother Greg during the 1970-71 school year. News-Press contributor Mike Takeuchi, who was also at the luncheon, was Sports Editor of The Red Press during the 1983-84 school year.

Male Athlete of the Week: Josh Bartley, Dos Pueblos Football

THEY’RE COMIN’ HOME: The SBCC women’s volleyball team, ranked 18th in the state, has played 13 matches thus far and is 9-4 on the season. That’s particularly impressive considering the Vaqueros have yet to play a home match. They finally make their debut at the Sports Pavilion on Tuesday night at 6 p.m. against Bakersfield.

OWLS LOOK SHARP: Laguna Blanca’s 8-man football team is of to its best start since the Owls reached the CIF semifinals in 2005. Laguna Blanca is 2-0 after two routs, the most recent a 33-6 stomping of Santa Maria Valley Christian.

Coach Ray Robitaille introduced versatile junior Andrew McCaffrey and standout Austin Rusack, who scored three touchdowns and made eight tackles on defense.

Things could get tough in a hurry for Laguna, however, as Condor League rival Cate is ranked No. 4 in CIF and league foe Thacher is at No. 7.

ROYALS GET ONE: Two struggling football programs squared off on Friday as San Marcos went down to Hueneme for a non-league showdown. The Royals took a 28-0 lead into halftime and picked up their first win of the season, 35-21.

“Now I did read on Saturday that it was a pretty ugly win or whatever, but I think everyone in the room would agree that the ugliest win is still better than the prettiest loss, any time,” said coach Jeff Hesselmeyer. “We’ll take ’em all as ugly as we can get ’em if we can just get ’em.”

Female Athlete of the Week: Vanesa Villa, Dos Pueblos Golf

He was joined by quarterbacks Joe Rivera and Andrew Griffin. The Royals play Oxnard this Friday.

CLUB WEST: Next Saturday, October 2, will be the Club West Master’s Track Meet at UCSB. Club West’s Beverley Lewis was at the luncheon to announce the event, which is open to all those who wish to compete (at any age or skill level) this year. For more information, contac Ms. Lewis at 969-5852.

SCHOLAR ATHLETE OF THE YEAR – BISHOP DIEGO

Kelsey Stimson is a dynamo on the basketball court for Bishop Diego, and it doesn’t stop once she steps off the hardwood. She carries a 4.5 GPA with a slate of classes including AP Calculus BC, AP Government, AP Spanish, AP English, AP Art and Campus Ministry. As previously mentioned, she also resurrected the Bishop Diego school newspaper Not surprisingly, she enjoys writing and hopes to be an author of children’s books one day.

First, however, she hopes to play basketball at Dartmouth.

ATHLETES OF THE WEEK

Vanesa Villa, Dos Pueblos Golf — Villa was a three-time medalist on the week, firing rounds of even-par, one-over and two-over for the Chargers, who are 6-1 on the season. Villa’s family showed up at Harry’s in full force, with five family members there to see her receive her plaque. Villa is small in stature, but her short game is exceptional and Schiff said she can still put some power behind it.

“She pounds the ball for somebody her size,” he said.

Josh Bartley, Dos Pueblos Football —The Chargers picked up a 45-21 win against a strong Lompo team on Friday, and Bartley was outstanding for the second straight week. The running back racked up 210 yards on 16 carries with two touchdowns. Coach Jeff Uyesaka said that the speedster picked up big yards even on broken plays.

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