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Los Angeles Rams Pick Up Free Agents

| Sports | March 14, 2019

by Diego Marquez

The Los Angeles Rams have picked up two key free agents, including safety Eric Weddle on Friday, Mar. 8 and re-signing outside linebacker Dante Fowler Jr. on Sunday.

Weddle signed a two-year deal worth $10.5 million on the heels of reports that Lamarcus Joyner will be relocating to Northern California and sign with the Oakland Raiders. The six-time Pro Bowl safety will likely join Rams cornerbacks Aquib Tali, Marcus Peters and John Johnson to form one of the most formiddibale secondary units in the National Football League.

The 13-year veteran finished the 2018 season in his third year with the Baltimore Ravens with 68 total tackles, three pass deflections and one sack in 16 games played.

Re-signing Dante Fowler Jr. will cost Los Angeles $12 million for a one-year contract with incentives worth up to $2 million. Fowler returns to LA after getting acquired from the Jacksonville Jaguars in a mid-season trade, in exchange for third-round pick in this year’s draft and a fifth rounder in 2020.

In 15 games played last season, the linebacker combined to record 30 total tackles, four sacks and two forced fumbles between the Jaguars and the Rams in 2018.

With the two signings, Los Angeles fills key defensive positions and assures that Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips will have the proper tools to once again have a problematic 3-4 defense in 2019.

Former Paseo Aquatics Standout Julia Wolf Helps Lead Indiana Hoosiers to Big Ten Conference Swimming Title

| Sports | March 14, 2019

Former Valencia High School and Paseo Aquatics standout, Julia Wolf, left California for the state of Indiana with a few goals in mind: most importantly, helping the Indiana Hoosiers win the Big Ten Conference Championship and a national team title.

Wolf is halfway to realizing that dream, as Indiana toppled conference foe and No. 2 nationally ranked Michigan to claim the Hoosiers first Big Ten Conference Championship since 2011. Wolf, a freshman, did her part by finishing fifth overall in the 50 Freestyle, 10th in the 100 freestyle and led off the 200 freestyle relay that won a Bronze Medal and set a new Indiana University team record.

Wolf began her swim career with Paseo Aquatics, coached by Head Coach and team co-owner, Chris Dahowski. She was also a High School All-American for three years at Valencia High School, before leaving to spend her senior year of high school in Bloomington, Ind., to get a jump-start on her college training. Wolf set several school and area records, and is the current Foothill League record-holder in the 50 Freestyle.

Wolf and the Hoosiers next move on to the NCAA Division I Women’s Championships, which run March 20-23 in Austin, Texas.

Athletes of the Week

| Sports | March 14, 2019

Aaron Fox-Hanson and Jordon Hanson are brothers who compete in Special Olympics (SO). Aaron has been competing since he was 8 years old, but it took Jordon a little longer to get the competition bug.

Christine Fox, single mom to both young men, said of SO, “This program has given them encouragement, self esteem, and taught them how to interact with other athletes. They both love it.”

According to Christine, Aaron slowly but surely became interested in competing.

“It took a couple of years, but then Jordon tried track and field,” Christine said. “When Coach John Parks was coaching the younger basketball team, the Sharkies, Jordon decided to give basketball a try. Now Jordon wants to try every sport. I just had to be patient and let him get involved when he was ready.”

Brad Bowers, Aaron and Jordon’s current basketball coach, said, “Both of those young men enjoy basketball, and you can tell it when they play.”

Aaron is a huge Lakers fan and Jordon is a huge Kobe Bryant fan.

During the week, Aaron is in a local day work program and Jordon attends a local SCV high school.

Athletes of the Week

| Sports | March 7, 2019

Charlie Kayne is 16 years old and has been in Special Olympics (SO) for eight years. He competed in basketball, bowling, track and swimming.

Charlie’s mom, Faye, said, “We appreciate SO because Charlie gets to participate in sports. SO offers a social opportunity for children and parents where they are not judged.”

“Charlie is a fun kid who is always smiling and is willing to work,” Coach Scott Schaefer said.

Charlie also participates in horseback riding at Carousel Ranch and attends a local SCV school.

 

Vanessa Planas has been in Special Olympics (SO) for nine years. She competes in bowling and basketball. Vanessa feels that SO helps her make friends.

“She is a very talented basketball player and has good skills,” Coach Scott Schaefer said.

Vanessa also competes in VIP soccer and is an animator. She attends a local SCV high school.

Lakers’ and LeBron’s Playoff Chances Fading

| Sports | March 7, 2019

by Diego Marquez

After Monday night’s 113-105 loss to the Clippers, the Los Angeles Lakers’ chances of getting into the playoffs are slim to none. The Lakers sit in the No. 10 seed in the West 5.5 games in back of the eight and final playoff spot, with 18 games left to play in the regular season – and the road doesn’t get any easier.

Los Angeles has the seventh-toughest remaining schedule, facing just five teams that have a sub.-500 winning percentage, and since the Lakers lost to the Clippers for a second time in a year, they cannot own the tiebreaker or the better division record and sneak into the playoffs.

The performance sparked rumors that LeBron James will “shut it down” or be on a minutes restrictions the rest of the season, with the possibility of making the playoffs in the rear-view mirror. Following Monday night’s loss James had this to say in a post-game interview with ESPN:

“That would take a lot of convincing from Luke [Walton] on up,” James told ESPN, referring to the Lakers coach, as well as (most likely) everyone from general manager Rob Pelinka, to president Magic Johnson, to governor Jeanie Buss. “Unless I’m hurt, I’m not sitting games.”

It is still unclear whether or not the Lakers will seriously look at shutting down James or pulling back his minutes the rest of the way, but with James averaging 40-plus minutes in five out of the eight past games, it looks likely that the king will be sitting on his throne a lot more as the season winds down. The Lakers host the Denver Nuggets at the Staples Center at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and then host the Boston Celtics at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Local Team Wins State Cup

| Sports | March 7, 2019

A local club soccer team won the prestigious Cal South State Cup tournament over the weekend. It’s the first such title for the club, the coach said.

The girls 2007 team from Fútbol Foundation Santa Clarita outscored its opponents 31-5 in eight games to capture the Governors Division. Sixty teams started the tournament, and FFSC was left standing after beating the Apple Valley Soccer Club Storm 3-2.

Kayla Lugo led all team members in goals, and goalie Sierra Cordola amassed five shutouts and even scored a goal in the final.

Other top players include twins Gianna and Bella Costello. Gianna assisted on Bella Bruno’s goal in the final, and Bella Costello helped anchor the defense. Ava Magana scored the first goal in the final.

At this age, the teams field only nine players at a side and play on smaller fields. Coach Adam Waddell said FFSC will move up to 11-on-11.

Athletes of the Week

| Sports | February 28, 2019

Jenny Barlog is 14 years old and has been in Special Olympics (SO) for five years. Not only does she compete in SO bowling and basketball, she is also involved in VIP soccer and rides horses at Carousel Ranch.

Jenny’s grandmother was a college basketball player and taught Jenny how to play the game.

“Special Olympics made Jenny a better basketball player. We love the coaching and Jenny loves them too,” said Jenny’s mom, Jo Ann. “Special Olympics helps with Jenny’s social interactions and the program gets her out of the house and keeps her active.”

During the week, Jenny attends a local private school.

 

Derek Schaefer began his involvement with Special Olympics at the age of 8. Now, at 13 years old, he competes in basketball, golf, softball and bowling. Derek loves golf and the Dodgers.

“Special Olympics helped Derek come out of his shell,” said Derek’s mom, Cindy. “He was a bit shy.”

Derek’s dad, Scott, not only coaches Derek’s basketball team, but his golf team, as well.

“I am really impressed with his interaction with the other athletes,” said Scott. “He has really blossomed.”

Derek attends a local SCV school.

Free Agency Talks: Harper and Dodgers

| Sports | February 28, 2019

by Diego Marquez

The Los Angeles Dodgers and free agent Bryce Harper contract negotiations continue to build steam after news that the Colorado Rockies and Nolan Arenado agreed to an eight-year $260 million contract that would dish out $32.5 million annually to the third basemen. The deal would surpass Miguel Cabrera’s record deal that paid him $31 million average per year and is only second to pitcher Zack Greinke. The signing of Arenado is precarious because that gives the Dodgers more wiggle room and a bigger offer now that Arenado is out of the picture.

Los Angeles is in a serious standoff with the Philadelphia Phillies, but rumors have spread that Harper and the Dodgers were able to meet in Las Vegas over the weekend with the hopes that Harper would come to a decision by the end of the week. The outfielder is currently batting .279 for his career, has hit 184 home runs, 521 RBI and was named the MVP in 2015. Harper’s agent Scot Boras has not only praised Harpers work on the field, but also highlighted some of his off the field contributions to an organization in a statement earlier during free agency.

“Harper’s bazaar has begun and it’s fashionable, it’s historical, it’s elite and global,” Boras said in a statement earlier during free agency. “You’re in a category of talent that is rare, a generational player, an iconic player. For his past franchise in Washington, the attendance went up over 600,00 fans and remained there. There TV ratings have nearly tripled. Their franchise value went from $480 million to over $2 billion. You’ve seen an owner’s dream happen before you. For an owner to know the rocket ship of economic opportunity is just blasting off because the player is just entering the prime of his career — you’re talking about just a unique and rare opportunity for an owner.”

The 25-year-old All-Star is in the prime of his career and looks to continue his legacy with a strong franchise for a long time. Will Harper end up being a Dodgers, we will just have to wait and see.

UCLA Baseball Begins 2019 Season with Sweep of St. John’s

| Sports | February 21, 2019

by Diego Marquez

The Bruins baseball team got off to a fast start, beginning the 2019 season with three consecutive victories against St. John’s to sweep the three-game-series between Feb. 15-17. The No. 4 ranked UCLA team allowed just three runs over the three-game span, while bringing in 23 runs to cross the plate. Two of those three runs came in the season opener where the Bruins came away with a 3-2 victory. Down 2-0, the Bruins battled back in the sixth and seventh innings thanks to First Team All-American Chase Strumpf and Jake Pries, who each brought in a run in the come from behind victory.

In the second game of the series and the series clincher, UCLA’s hitting woke up scoring nine in the shutout victory for the Bruins. Matt McLain, Pries, Kreidler and Noah Cardenas all finished with RBIs in the second inning to extend the Bruin lead to 4-0. In the sixth inning, Jeremy Ydens singled allowing Kreidler to score to extend the lead to five runs. With the lead, Hart High grad and Bruin pitcher Jack Ralston pitched a brilliant game throwing six shutout innings, allowing three hits while striking out seven and walking one. UCLA would score four more runs in the seventh to add insult to injury to secure the series win with one game left.

Missing their season total by one run, the Bruins had 11 batters cross the plate in the final game of the the three-game series with St. Johns in an 11-1 victory. Kyle Cuellar, Chase Strumpf and Garrett Mitchell all finished the game with two RBIs apiece, while Ydens, Toglia, McLain and Will McInery all had one UCLA batter cross the plate. Pitcher Jesse Bergin pitched a six-inning beauty, allowing just two hits while striking out nine batters over the course of facing 21 batters and allowed the bullpen to do the rest of the work.

Just three games into the season, the Bruins are proving to the rest of the NCAA why they should be mentioned among the league’s best programs, scoring 23-3 runs over 27 innings while not allowing any earned runs to cross the plate.

Los Angeles Lakers Busy During Trade Dealdine

| Sports | February 14, 2019

by Diego Marquez

The 2018-19’ NBA trade deadline came and went and still the Los Angeles Lakers find themselves without one of their most prized targets, New Orleans Pelicans center Anthony Davis. Instead the Lakers turned their attention towards other key role players. The Lakers got the ok when Davis intentionally made a trade demand 10 days before Thursday’s trade deadline. All indications pointed to a clear and cut decision that Davis wanted to join the Lakers and play alongside fellow superstar, LeBron James.

Things didn’t go as planned.

The Lakers’ initial lowball offer stunned the Pelicans organization and Los Angeles raised their offer to multiple first-round picks along with much of their young core like: Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball. Still New Orleans wanted to get more out of the trade for their superstar. It is reported that they wanted a couple of first-round draft picks, something that the Lakers were not willing to give up. The Lakers wound up turning their attention to acquiring established role players to try and fit around James and the rest of the young Lakers core by trading for guard Reggie Bullock and center/forward Mike Muscala.

Bullock was acquired on Feb. 6th from the Detroit Pistons for Svi Mykhailiuk and a future second-round pick. With Bullock, the Lakers add some depth at guard while he is avergaing 12.1 points, 2.5 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game in his sixth year in the NBA. On Feb. 7th, the Clippers and Lakers made a in-city trade, the Clippers traded away center Mike Muscala and received Lakers forward Michael Beasley and center Ivan Zubac. Muscala is an interesting add because he can stretch the floor for the Lakers shooting 34.2 percent from 3-point range and attempts 6.9 3-point shots per game. Muscala also has an expiring contract meaning that the Lakers could go after another prized free-agent this off season if things did not work out after this year.

Clippers Trade Tobias Harris and Company to 76ers in Surprising Deal

| Sports | February 7, 2019

by Diego Marquez

With the trade deadline right around the corner on Thursday, Feb. 7 at 3 p.m. ET, the Los Angeles Clippers front office made a surprising move to trade Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic and Mike Scott to the Philadelphia 76ers in return for Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala, Landry Shamet. The two first-round picks and two second-round picks when news broke late Tuesday night and into the early morning on Wednesday.

Los Angeles will receive Philly’s 2020 first-round pick, along with Miami’s unprotected 2021 first-round pick, which the 76ers acquired last summer during the draft. LA will also get the 2021 and 2023 second-round picks. The news comes as a little bit of a shock for Clippers fans, as Harris and Marjanovic seemed to be crowd favorites because of their chemistry on and off the court. Not to mention, Harris just hit the game-winning jumper in the lane with 4.3 seconds left to rally and take down the Charlotte Hornets 117-115 on Tuesday.

The Sixers receive another all-star level talent in Harris, who is in the middle of a year that he is averaging 20.7 points and 7.9 rebounds per game and 42 percent from 3-point range. Harris slides right into the 76ers starting lineup alongside Ben Simmons, J.J. Redick, Jimmy Butler and Joel Embiid forming arguably one of the most potent and intimidating starting lineups in the NBA.

Los Angeles, after trading away super-star Blake Griffin last year, has positioned themselves to try and land upcoming free agents like Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant. The Clippers also walk away winners because they received a lot of picks in the upcoming years, the two expiring contracts of Chandler and Muscala, as well as a handy point guard that is still on a rookie deal in Shamet. Long-term, Los Angeles has enough ammunition and assets to try and offer up a trade proposal for that guy in New Orleans, Anthony Davis. Things will all play out in the coming hours as the trade deadline approaches, but for now, it looks like the Clippers have positioned themselves to be a contender to land a top free-agent in the coming months.

Athlete of the Week

| Sports | February 7, 2019

Ali’i Vasquez competed in Special Olympics (SO), participating in track and field and bowling. He was a participant in the Hart Games for four years while in high school.

Ali’i likes to be in SO because he can be surrounded by his peers. Right now, he is limited to only bowling, due to an increase in seizures that are affecting his health. However, he still gets outside with his family and goes for walks or strolls in his stroller, and he is a familiar face in the community.

“Special Olympics is about real athletes who demonstrate genuine sportsmanship and achievement, all with a smile on their faces,” said his mother, Kellie.

Ali’i participates in a day program during the week.

USC Men’s Basketball on Three-Game Winning Streak

| Sports | January 31, 2019

by Diego Marquez

Since dropping two straight games between Oregon State and Oregon University on January 6 and January 10 respectively, the University of Southern California men of Troy have gone on a three-game Pac-12 winning streak.

USC defeated their crosstown rival UCLA 80-67 on January 19. The Trojans achieved this with tough, hard-nosed defense and great play from their center Nick Rakocevic, who finished the game with a double-double scoring 21 points and 12 rebounds in the win. Along with Bennie Boatwright, who did his part scoring 21 points while Prince Ali and Jaylen Hands chipped in with 15 points each.

The Trojans then headed off to Arizona to face off against the Wildcats and the Sun Devils in back-to-back games. The Bruins kept on rolling, defeating the Wildcats 80-57 on the road in dominant-style, defeating the Wildcats in the largest margin of victory since 1978. Rakocevic had a career game, tying his career-high with 27 points and 12 rebounds, finishing with his ninth double-double of the season. Boatwright recorded 12 points and 12 rebounds for his second double-double of the season. Kevin Porter Jr. returned to action after a thigh injury sidelined him earlier in the year and finished with 14 points.

Moving on to Tempe to take on the Sun Devils on Saturday, Boatwright continued his scoring, pouring in 17 points and the game-winning three-pointer with 14 seconds left to sweep the Arizona teams, thus defeating the Sun Devils 69-67. The Trojans finished the game with four players in double digits as Rakocevic scored 15, Shaqquan Aaron’s 13 and Jonah Matthews with 11, along with Boatwright’s 17. With the current three-game winning streak, the Trojans move into a tie for second place with Utah, with a 5-2 record in Pac-12 play and behind the undefeated 7-0 Washington Huskies.

Athletes of the Week

| Sports | January 31, 2019

Jerry Chandler has been in Special Olympics (SO) since he was a teenager. He has been in basketball for at least 10 years, with softball, bocce ball, floor hockey and bowling filling out the rest of his seasons.

Jerry is a high-scorer in floor hockey. His teammates are his friends and the coaches help him with skills and game rules.

“Jerry likes to be a role model for the other players,” Coach Stephanie Liedblad said. “Last year, he went through the SO coaching training and became a coach. This season he wanted to play again.”

During the week, Jerry is part of a day work program.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ray Crouse has been in Special Olympics since he was a teenager. He competes in floor hockey, track and field events, and soccer. Ray prefers sports that “let him run.”

“Floor hockey is my favorite,” Ray said. “I like to shoot the puck into the net.”

To Ray, the best part about Special Olympics is that the teams travel to tournaments. “Ray is team-oriented and loves applause,” said Coach Stephanie Liedblad.

Ray attends a work day program during the week.

Athletes of the Week

| Sports | January 24, 2019

Rene Barcena has been in Special Olympics for over five years. He competes in floor hockey, basketball, soccer, swimming and bowling.

“Rene likes to take the initiative to help,” said Coach Steve Bratzel. “He is always ready and willing to help in practice and in games.”

During the week, Rene works in a local day program.

 

 

Tim Auten started competing in Special Olympics (SO) as a teenager in Van Nuys. He now competes in floor hockey and basketball in the Santa Clarita Valley.

“I like SO because it gets me out of the house,” Tim said.

“Tim is a competitor and steps up to do the best he can for his team,” Coach Steve Bratzel said.

During the week, Tim works in a local day program.

Los Angeles Rams Headed to Super Bowl for First Time Since 2002

| Sports | January 24, 2019

by Diego Marquez

After Greg Zuerlein sent a 57-yard field goal kick through the uprights in overtime, defeating the New Orleans Saints 26-23 in NFC Championship game on Sunday, the Rams are headed back to the Super Bowl for the first time in over 15 years.

For the first time since 2002, and the first time a Los Angeles team has made an appearance in the Super Bowl since the ‘80s, the Rams will face off against the New England Patriots in Atlanta in Super Bowl LIII. But, in spectacular L.A. fashion, there was controversy surrounding the win.

In the fourth quarter after Ted Ginn Jr.’s big third down catch, Saints quarterback, Drew Brees, threw a pass for TommyLee Lewis, who by the naked eye looked like he got hit before the ball was even close to getting there, but no “pass interference” call was given. If the call was given, the game would have been essentially over. The Saints could run down the clock to near zero and kick the game-winning field goal.

Instead, Brees threw an incomplete pass, stopping the clock, and let the Rams keep their precious timeouts. After the Saints kicked a field goal to put them up 23-20 with 1:41 left, the Rams took over to try and score on the last possession in regular time.

The Rams marched down the field and Zuerlein kicked a 48-yarder to send the game into overtime. The Saints won the coin flip and began to drive down the field, but just when things were going right, and after advancing to their own 40 yard line, Brees was hit in the backfield by Rams defensive end, Dante Fowler, throwing up a duck and allowing Joe Johnson III to get underneath the ball for the interception.

The interception proved costly for the Saints, as the Rams drove 15 yards and kicked the game-winning field goal in overtime to send the Rams to Super Bowl LIII. Since the conclusion of the game, the NFL front office contacted New Orleans head coach Sean Payton and accepted responsibility for the blown call. Unfortunately, that’s how the year ended for the New Orleans Saints, as the Rams got revenge from earlier in the season when the Saints handed the Rams their first loss of the season in Week 9.

The Los Angeles Rams will face-off against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII on Feb. 3 from Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Kickoff is slated for 6:30 p.m. ET.

Lakers’ LeBron James Still Out Due to Hamstring

| Sports | January 19, 2019

By Diego Marquez

The Los Angeles Lakers will have to deal without NBA All-Star veteran LeBron James for a couple more games due to a nagging hamstring injury. He has been suffering with the injury since Christmas Day, when they Lakers defeated the Golden State Warriors. Being re-evaluated sometime this week, James will most likely have to sit out for games against Oklahoma and Houston, bringing the total of games missed due to the injury to 13. Prior to this absence, the King never missed more than 13 games in a row during his 15-year NBA career.

Since suffering the injury on Christmas Day, the Lakers have gone 4-7 with the King not in the lineup, and they also took down the Chicago Bulls 107-100 on Tuesday. The Lakers currently sit in the last and final playoff spot in the Western Conference standings, sitting 6.5 of first-place Golden State Warriors. And, according to FiveThirtyEight, they have the second-most difficult strength of schedule, as they will have to take on the Warriors and Bucks twice, with Toronto and Denver once each.

Before the injury occurred, James was off to yet another outstanding start to his career with the Lakers. James is the sixth-leading scorer, sitting at 27.3 points per game along with 8.3 rebounds and 7.1 assists. If the playoffs were to start today, James would be guiding the Lakers to their first postseason berth in five years. Some good news broke on Monday, however, as the Lakers found out point guard Rajon Rondo has been cleared by doctors to resume dribbling with his right hand. He broke his hand on the same Christmas Day game that James suffered the hamstring injury. Rondo is expected to be out for another four to five weeks.

Athletes of the Week

| Sports | January 18, 2019

Larry Kim

Larry Kim has been in the Santa Clarita Special Olympics since he was 11 years old. He is on floor hockey, basketball, bowling, golf and swimming teams. His favorite sport is floor hockey, and he likes the uniforms.

He has many medals for his sports competitions, and the gold medals are his favorite. Larry wants to continue to try different sports.

“He is a new athlete and we are very excited to have him join our team,” said Coach Steve Bratzel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chad Childers

Chad Childers has been involved with Special Olympics in the Santa Clarita Valley since he was a teenager. He is playing floor hockey this season and likes to play defense to “stop the other team from making goals.” He also plays bocce ball, basketball, and is on a bowling team.

Chad likes his coaches in all sports because, “They teach me the sports and my teammates are my friends.”

“He is an honest and loyal friend to those he loves,” said Coach Steve Bratzel. “He is all about Special Olympics, and even trains on his own time.”

Chad is in a local day work program and is currently an actor with Major Impact Theater.

Athletes of the Week

| Sports | January 10, 2019

Jesse Corralejo attended Valencia High school and has been in Special Olympics since he was in his teens. He competes in soccer, basketball, softball, and floor hockey.

Soccer is his favorite sport because he likes to run, and his position is forward. Forwards are the players who play nearest to the opposing team’s goal, and are most responsible for scoring goals.

“My teammates are my friends. We have fun and we work hard,” Jesse said.

During the week Jesse works in a local day program.

Jason Carreon began his involvement in Special Olympics when he was in high school. He plays softball, floor hockey, and basketball on the Makos team.

Jason had this to say about his coaches: “They are really nice to me and they teach me the sports. My teams are like my family.”

His motto is, “Do the best you can.”

Jason works at a local restaurant and at local business.

No Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Programs Ranked in AP Poll for First Time This Decade

| Sports | January 10, 2019

by Diego Marquez

The Pac-12 men’s basketball conference is having a down year.

For the first time sine the 2011-12 season, no Pac-12 schools are present inside the AP Top 25 polls. The last team to fall out was the Arizona State Sun Devils, who were ranked 17th during week 8 and have since fallen out thanks to an upset home-loss by Princeton. They are tied for the second best overall record in the conference sitting at 10-4 overall, but a mediocre 1-1. The Sun Devils have since dropped a road conference game to Utah by 10 points.

There’s no doubt that the Pac-12 is dealing with some hard-pressed issues of it’s own, with the firing of former UCLA head coach Steve Alford season after an embarrassing upset home-loss by 16 points to Liberty. Murry Bartow has since been named interim and has rebounded to lead the Bruins to two straight conference wins against Stanford and Berkeley.

Oregon sits at 1-1 in the conference after losing Bol Bol, their prized freshman and son of NBA legend Manute Bol after he suffered a stress fracture to his navicular bone on his left foot. Bol has decided for surgery and will be out the remainder of the season. Arizona, USC, Washington State and Oregon State, along with UCLA are the lone unbeaten teams in the Pac-12 with Arizona State being the last ranked team and the last Pac-12 team to receive a vote in the AP Poll with one vote during Week 10.

It’s still early enough in the season for the Pac-12 to turn it around, but they need to take a look around the league and figure out what they need quickly, before they are forgotten amongst the top Power Five conferences in the country.

Athletes of the Week

| Sports | January 3, 2019

Nathaniel French is originally from Antelope Valley, but he has lived in Santa Clarita and has participated in Special Olympics (SO) since he was a teenager. Currently, Nathaniel is training for the floor hockey season, but he also competes in soccer, basketball (Tiger Sharks), bocce ball and swimming.

Nathaniel enjoys SO because the “coaches are nice and do a good job.” He works well with his teammates while they train and compete, and he has the medals to prove it. He also traveled to Long Beach to compete in basketball at the Walter Pyramid.

“Nathaniel is one of the fastest and assertive players in making goals and taking the puck down the court,” Coach Chris Bratzel said.

During the week, Nathaniel is in a local day work program.

Scott Strauss has been in SCV Special Olympics (SO) for over 25 years. He is currently training for the 2019 floor hockey season, but he also competes in basketball, softball, bocce ball and soccer.

Scott ran the Torch of Hope for the Law Enforcement Torch Run at the opening ceremonies of the Santa Clarita SO summer games at Hart High School.

He loves winning gold medals in his competitions, and he is also a fan of the LA Kings.

“Scott has a lot of energy and makes practice and games fun for all,” Coach Chris Bratzel said.

During the week, Scott is in a local day work program and is active in Major Impact Theater.

About the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics

The Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) is the largest public awareness vehicle and grass-roots fundraiser for Special Olympics. Known as Guardians of the Flame, law enforcement members and Special Olympics athletes carry the “Flame of Hope” into the Opening Ceremony of local competitions, and into Special Olympics State, Provincial, National, Regional and World Games.

The LETR for Special Olympics engages law enforcement worldwide championing acceptance and inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities, starting first with their own communities. Over the years,the Torch Run has evolved and now encompasses a variety of innovative fundraising platforms to include Plane Pulls, Polar Plunges, Tip-A-Cops, and more. Since inception, LETR has raised over 700 million dollars and changed millions of attitudes.

For more information, visit www.letr.org.

UCLA Men’s Basketball Parts Ways with Head Coach After Shaky Start

| Sports | January 3, 2019

by Diego Marquez

The UCLA men’s basketball team has decided to part ways with six-year head coach Steve Alford on Monday. Alford’s firing comes on the heels of a home blowout 73-58 loss to Liberty in which the Bruins turned the ball over 24 times on Saturday. The loss drops the Bruins to 7-6 on the season as they open up Pac-12 League play on Thursday against Stanford.

Since Alford took over the Bruins program in 2013, signing a seven-year $18.2 million contract, the men’s basketball team has a 124-63 record over the span, ending his career with a winning percentage of 66 percent. Alford also won a Pac-12 tournament title and made four trips to the NCAA tournament.

“I’m extremely appreciative to everybody at UCLA for what has been a tremendous run and the chance to work with such special student-athletes and coaches,” Alford said in a statement issued by the school. “While I wish we could have had more success, my family and I are so grateful for our time in Westwood. We wish the program nothing but the best. I sincerely hope that the UCLA community will rally around this team, its players and the coaching staff as Pac-12 play begins.”

Assistant coach Murray Bartow will take over as the interim coach for the rest of the season while UCLA searches for a permanent replacement for Alford. Bartow has some previous coaching experience, serving as the head coach at Alabama-Birmingham from 1996-2002, compiling a 103-83 record over the six seasons. Bartow was in his first season as an assistant under Alford and served as interim head coach at the University of South Florida during the 2016-17 season.

The Bruins are expected to begin the search for a replacement immediately with former NBA coaches Fred Hoiberg (Chicago Bulls), who also held the head coach position at Iowa State, and UCLA alumnus Earl Watson (Phoenix Suns). College coaches Tony Bennett (Virginia), Mike Brey (Norte Dame), Jamie Dixon (TCU) and Bobby Hurley (Arizona State) are all expected to be in the mix for the position, as well.

Athletes of the Week

| Sports | December 28, 2018

Gerry Haughnberry has been in Special Olympics (SO) for over 20 years. His list of sports includes floor hockey, soccer, track, bocce ball and swimming.

Gerry is proud of his medals, – especially the gold medals. He enjoyed going to the competition in San Diego where he was able to spend the night in a hotel with his fellow athletes and enjoy all of the activities SO had planned for them. “Special Olympics teaches me how to be a good player and to how to be a goalie,” Gerry said.

Gerry’s roommate also plays on his floor hockey team.

“Gerry is a team player and really likes to score goals,” Coach Chris Bratzel said.

During the week, Gerry is in a day work program.

 

When speaking to Patricia Vare for the first time, it takes a moment to realize that she is speaking French, which is a challenge for a non-French speaking interviewer. Through her coach, Chris Bratzel, Patricia said that she has competed in Special Olympics with bowling, bocce, basketball, tennis and softball teams. She now plays on the Thresher Sharks floor hockey team for the season.

She has “a lot” of medals from competitions, and says she likes her coaches because they help her learn the sport and they make the learning fun.

During the week, Patricia is involved in a work training center.

Dodgers Continue to Make Moves in December

| Sports | December 27, 2018

by Diego Marquez

The Los Angeles Dodgers are continuing to make moves before the end of 2018. The team will be trading away starting pitcher Alex Wood and outfielders Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp to the Cincinnati Reds on Friday. Los Angeles’ President of Baseball Operations, Andrew Friedman, was able to acquire right-handed pitcher Homer Bailey along with other prospects, including infielder Jeter Downs, right-handed pitcher Josiah Gray and catcher/ infielder Kyle Farmer. The Dodgers will also send $7 million in cash considerations to the Reds. The move significantly opens up salary cap space and allows Los Angeles to position themselves to make a bigger splash in free agency moves and acquisitions.

Trading away their two most expensive outfielders, Kemp and Puig, the Dodgers clear enough room for their suspected move to pursue free agent Bryce Harper, along with other suitable players. Los Angeles is reportedly trying to stay under the luxury tax threshold, but trying to pick Harper would not fit into that mindset, since the free agent will probably demand a contract upwards of $300 million for 10 years. If the Dodgers decide they want to go elsewhere, A.J. Pollack, the former Arizona Diamondbacks centerfielder, will be a suitable fit as well. Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto could also be a viable addition to the Dodgers lineup, as well.

It’s bittersweet for Dodgers fans who endured a “frustrating” relationship with Puig during his time in Los Angeles. He fell out of favor with the organization in 2016 after not living up to the hype with the promising flashes he showed as a rookie. Picking his game back up over the last two years, Puig was able to figure out a way to be a productive staple in the Dodgers lineup. Despite Puig’s departure, Los Angeles still has Joc Pederson, Cody Bellinger, Enrique Hernandez, Chris Taylor and Andrew Toles who can all play in the outfield.

There is no telling what Los Angeles’ next move is, since the Dodgers made two very aggressive moves this in the last two weeks: picking up former Boston Red Sox reliever Joe Kelly last week, and now this seven-player trade. The rest of the league will just have to wait and see what’s next for the defending National League Champs.

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