Gary Peterson: COC’s Wildly Successful Golf Coach

| Community, Sports | May 30, 2019

No California junior college coach has been more successful than Gary Peterson. He has guided College of the Canyons golf teams to 12 state titles (nine men, three women) in his 35 years. On the men’s side, that includes four in the last seven years and includes 2019, when the Cougars beat the field by 18 strokes. That matches what the women did last fall.

That’s not all. The men haven’t finished lower than second in seven years.

“We’ve had a pretty good run,” Peterson said.

Like any wildly successful coach, there is a method to his genius. John Wooden had his pyramid of success. Peterson has a three-pronged approach. Without giving away any trade secrets, Peterson said golf is a metaphor for life.

“You have to be honest, work hard and practice to be good,” he said.

A look at the three points:


“It’s easy to cheat in golf,” Peterson said. “Look at our president. He cheats all the time.”

But at Canyons, as is often the case on in golf, it is up to the individual to keep his or her own score, not drop a ball or kick it back into bounds. The honor system is in effect.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t any cheating going on. From time to time, a player will confidentially tell Peterson he or she saw a teammate do something outside the rules. Peterson will investigate by closely watching that player. He also will tell him/her that the behavior has been brought to his attention. If Peterson catches it, one of two things happen. If it’s during a practice, he will “rip them a new one, and if it happens again, they’re off the team.” If it’s during a match, the termination is immediate.

Peterson has kicked one player off a squad – not for cheating but for burying a putter on a green. The termination was still immediate.


Once, Peterson’s rosters were almost entirely made of local golfers. That was the case when the Cougars won their first men’s state title, in 1993. Four of the six that carded 792 at Monterey Peninsula Club were from Hart or Saugus high schools.

Earlier this month, none of the golfers were local; the winner was from Japan, two were Frenchmen, one was Australian and one was from Lancaster. There was only one Santa Clarita player on the roster.

“If I didn’t have to go international, I wouldn’t go international,” Peterson said. “If I could be assured of a local team, I wouldn’t go outside the neighborhood.”

The reason is simple: As the valley got bigger and golfers got better, they started receiving NCAA Division I and II scholarships. This makes Peterson have to work harder to fill a roster.

Not that he’s having too much trouble. He carried 23 this year, although not everyone played (more on that later).

Peterson also has to figure out where to play. Very few courses let the golfers tee off for free, meaning Peterson have to figure out how to stretch his $10,000 green-fee budget across two programs. He said golfers typically are charged between $10 and $18 per round, a deep discount to be sure, but if each player typically is on a course three to four days a week, fundraising is a must.

Of the 10 courses Peterson said the teams frequent, only Sand Canyon and Valencia country clubs allow free rounds. He said Sand Canyon has granted 10-12 days of free rounds, but Valencia only twice a month for a maximum six players.

“We have to watch it carefully,” he said. “I smile a lot and say, ‘Thank you, sir.’ ”

Players also are expected to volunteer at various events and tournaments, often at Valencia. Peterson said the men’s team typically engages in long-drive and beat-the-pro competitions but also might act as witnesses on certain holes or fill groups that have no-shows.


With 23 on the men’s roster but only six on the course for any tournament, the competition to actually play is fierce. Only the toughest can play, and only 12 played in tournaments this season.

It really is a survival of the fittest. In Peterson’s system, all the golfers play five days a week for four weeks, and every score is counted. The golfers with the six lowest scores play in the first tournament, which for the men is often COC’s lone home contest, the start of February at Valencia. Of the six, the three with the lowest scores automatically compete in the next match; the other three go back into what Peterson calls “the pit,” which is made up of all the golfers who averaged 76 strokes or better.

For the rest of the season, rounds on Wednesday and Friday are counted toward which six will play the next tournament. Again, the top three play the following match and the bottom three go back into the pit.

“You start out and go bogey-bogey-bogey, a young man’s inclination is to just give up,” Peterson said. “But to say, ‘I’m not going to give up. I’m going to focus. I don’t want to go into the pit,’ it hardens them. It will make them aware of their ability to recover. It makes them a strong individual because they don’t give up.”

This year, only four golfers competed in every match, but the competitiveness had its intended effect. By the time the state tournament came around, they were so battle-tested that the pressure of a state tournament was just another leisurely stroll around the course.

It also makes champions. Four times has a COC golfer won an individual state title (one woman, three men, including Nobuhiko Wakaari this year), and COC has become like a breeding ground for Division I and II schools.

It’s normal now for Peterson to recruit an international player who will come for one or two years – or in the case of Jones Comerford last year, one semester – and move on to a larger school. Comerford is now at South Dakota State, but Peterson said he has sent numerous players to San Diego State, San Jose State, Cal State Northridge, Cal State East Bay and Cal Poly.

“D-I coaches know we have an extremely internal competitive team,” Peterson said. “They have to compete against themselves to compete in a match. That’s why we’re so good.”

Lakers Hire Frank Vogel as Head Coach

| Sports | May 24, 2019

by Diego Marquez

In a stunning move amidst disheartening comments Magic Johnson made about the Lakers organization, and more importantly General Manager Rob Pelinka, the Los Angeles Lakers have signed former Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic head coach Frank Vogel to a multi-year contract with the terms not released on Monday.

“We are excited to add Frank Vogel as the next head coach of the Lakers,” Pelinka said in a statement sitting alongside the new Laker. “Coach Vogel has a proven track record of success in the NBA Playoffs, and he reflects the core qualities we were looking for in a head coach – including, detailed game preparation, extreme hard work, and holding players accountable to the highest basketball standards.”

Vogel was a career record of 304-291 in 595 games coaching the Pacers from 2010-16 and the Magic from 2016-18. In his time at Indiana, Vogel had the opportunity of coaching and building up an Eastern Conference contender, with the likes of Paul George, Roy Hibbert, David West, George Hill and Lance Stephenson leading them to five playoffs appearances and two straight Eastern Conference Finals between 2013-14.

Vogel will have his work cutout for him after rumors of LeBron James being a bit disgruntled with the antics of the front office and organization. He will have opportunity to mold and shape young players like Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart and Brandon Ingram into strong defensive minded team like he did for Indiana.

“I am very excited for this opportunity to join the Lakers, a prestigious organization that I have long admired,” Vogel said. “I look forward to coaching such a phenomenal talent and bringing my strategic vision to the team.”

Athletes of the Week

| Sports | May 23, 2019

Alli Hill has competed in several sports for Special Olympics, including swimming, tennis, floor hockey, bowling, and she is currently on the Diva Sharks basketball team. On May 11, 2019, Alli helped her team earn the gold medal at the Spirit Games.

“Basketball with my teammates!” Alli said. “I love my girls and my coach. Shooting hoops, making shots, and the Shoot-A-Thons! I made 50 baskets for the fundraiser.”

During the week, Alli works in a local day program and volunteers at the food pantry. She is also an actor in the Major Impact Theater group.


Tamara Wilson was previously highlighted as one of the Athletes of the Week from the June 22 issue of the Gazette. For the past two years, she has been a member of the Special Olympics Diva Sharks basketball team.

On May 11, 2019, Tamara helped the Divas take the gold medal at the Spirit Games.

“Tam always wanted to be part of the Divas, but due to health concerns, she had to wait,” said Tamara’s mother, Terri. “She loves being on the team and the other girls have been so helpful and kind in helping Tamara understand the game.”

Athletes of the Week

| Sports | May 16, 2019

Stefanie Silvers began competing in Special Olympics (SO) when she attended Saugus High School. She competed in track, softball and basketball. She took a break from SO for two years while she attended the Taft College Transition to Independent Living program, but returned to SCV after she completed the program.

Stefanie is a point guard on the Diva Sharks basketball team.

“I love hanging out with my friends. We are family and we have a whole lot of fun,” said Stefanie.

During the week, Stefanie works at a local SCV grocery store.

Jean Garong, now 37, joined Special Olympics (SO) at the age of 17. She has competed in soccer and is currently part of the Diva Sharks basketball team.

In 2003, Jean earned an invitation to attend and compete in the Special Olympics World Games in Dublin, Ireland for basketball. There, she competed against athletes from all over the world, including Africa, Japan and Guatemala.

In 2011, Jean was awarded “Athlete of the Year” by Special Olympics SCV.

Jean loves SO because, “I get to meet a lot of people. I was very shy and SO has made me more confident. It helps people to become who they really are. I don’t know where I would be without sports.”

Stefanie Silvers

Jean Garong

Balls Fall in Lakers’ Favor, Move up to No. 4 in 2019 NBA Draft

| Sports | May 16, 2019

by Diego Marquez

The Los Angeles Lakers did something that made most of the NBA world cringe at the 2019 Draft Lottery last Tuesday. Jumping seven spots, the Lakers organization landed the No. 4 pick for the impending June 20 NBA Draft.

The Lakers entered Tuesday’s draft lottery with a 2 percent chance of getting the No. 1 overall pick and a 9.4 percent chance of getting inside the top four picks. The Lakers had one thing on their side that the other 29 NBA franchises didn’t have — Kyle Kuzma. The New Orleans Pelicans wound up getting the No. 1 overall pick, who will most likely be none-other-than Duke freshman Zion Williamson, while the Lakers made a surprising jump and secured the No. 4 overall pick.

“We had scouting meetings with (Director of Scouting and Assistant GM) Jesse Buss and our scouts, and of course our focus was more around 11, because that’s where the huge probability was resting,” said Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka in an interview with Lakers Reporter Mike Trudell. “But now it shifts, what we can get at four. I will tell you there are some incredibly talented, impact players there that we’re going to study deeply. And then of course we’ll canvas the league and see what value that pick has. But either of those options is an extraordinary win for the franchise… I already talked to Jeanie Buss and she is just thrilled. I think it should really be exciting for our fans. It’s an unexpected event for the Lakers and we’re certainly really blessed.”

The projected top three picks will be a variation of Williamson, Ja Morant (Murray State) and R.J. Barrett (Duke). With that being said, the Lakers should have their eyes on Texas Tech sophomore shooting guard Jarrett Culver who has the ability to score at will and has elite defensive abilities that should translate into a great defensive stopper.

National Champion, sophomore forward De’Andre Hunter of Virginia is another option at the No. 4 spot. The 6-foot-7 forward adds immediate versatility to whatever organization drafts him with his 7-foot-2 wingspan that makes him a gaudy defender and a low post presence that can pop out around the perimeter and knock down long-range shots. Vanderbilt freshman guard Darius Garland seems to be flying on the storied franchise’s radar after tearing his meniscus five games into his NCAA college career. The 6-foot-3 heady guard is an excellent shooter, with the ability to command and control the offense with ease either off the fast break or in half-court situations.

It should be exciting to see who the Lakers draft or if they use the draft pick as trade bait to acquire another superstar to play along LeBron James. The NBA Draft will be held on Thursday, June 20, and until then, we will have to see where this whirlwind takes the Lakers.

COC Men’s Golf Wins State Competition

| Community, News, Sports | May 16, 2019

College of the Canyons won the 2019 California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) State Championship by a whopping 18 strokes at the Silverado Resort & Spa on May 13.

The Cougars completed the day with a five-man, 36-hole score of (734-371/363) to finish 14-over-par. Canyons topped the eight-team field followed by runner-up Santa Barbara City College (752-381/371), third place Cypress (766-383/383) and fourth place Folsom Lake College (768-384/384).

The state championship is the program’s ninth overall (1993, 2000, 2002, 2006, 2008, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019), all coming under head coach Gary Peterson. COC has now won four state titles in the last seven years. The Cougars also finished runner-up at the state tourney in 2018, 2016 and 2014.

“This was not a year I expected to win a state championship,” said Peterson, about his team which featured four freshmen and two sophomores with limited tourney experience. “With six new guys it was surprising. I thought we would be building for next year, now I’m hoping we get some of these guys back.”

COC Freshman Nobuhiko Wakaari (142-73/69) won the individual state title after finishing two-under par for the tourney. His final round of 69 came after back-to-back bogeys on the final two holes but still represented the low score of the day.

“Nobu came into the clubhouse with a big smile on his face,” said Peterson, about the golfer from Niigata, Japan who he also described as a humble hard worker that always puts the team first.

His final round score capped a season in which Wakaari was named the Western State Conference (WSC) Player of the Year before finishing fourth at the Southern California regional tourney.
Wakaari becomes the third individual state champion in program history joining former Cougars Sidney Wolf (2014) and Ben Campbell (2016). Prior to Monday’s championship run Canyons had never won team and individual state titles in the same season.

Freshmen Jules Lavigne (146-72/74) and Anguerrand Voisin (146-75/71) finish third and fourth, respectively, in the final standings, with Lavigne’s opening round of 72 serving as the difference maker. Lavigne and Voisin both hail from France.

Wakaari, Lavigne and Voisin all earned All-State team honors. Sophomore Tom Sims (150-75/75) placed 12th and sophomore Matthew Mansholt (150-76/74) was 13th in the field of 60. Freshman Jack Greene (158-78/80) finished 40th overall.

“I can’t recall another state championship event where we had so many high individual finishes,” commented Peterson. “But this team has the ability to play all aspects of the game. They’re a great example of what we’ve tried to do here for a long time.”

The Cougars’ nine state titles are the most of any program in CCCAA history. The college has also won seven Southern California regional titles and 25 Western State Conference (WSC) championships.

Last fall, COC’s women’s golf program, also led by Peterson, won its third state championship. The Lady Cougars also have two individual state titles to their credit.

“We’ve had a really good run,” Peterson added, “I think the last 10 or 12 years have been a great success.”

The College of the Canyons Athletics department now boasts a combined 34 state championships (18 team and 16 individual) across 17 intercollegiate sports programs.

2019 CCCAA State Championship Final Scores:

1. Canyons (734-371/363) 2. SBCC (752-381/371) 3. Cypress (766-383/383) 4. Folsom Lake (768-384/384) T5. Mt. SAC (771-382/389) T5. Reedley (771-381/390) 7. San Jose City (788-398/390) 8. Fresno City (794-402/392)

Canyons Individual Scores:

Nobuhiko Wakaari (142-73/69); Jules Lavigne (146-72/74); Anguerrand Voisin (146-75/71); Tom Sims (150-75/75); Matthew Mansholt (150-76/74); Jack Greene (158-78/80).

Stay up to date on all this season’s action by following the College of the Canyons Athletic department on social media at @COCathletics on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

Athletes of the Week

| Sports | May 9, 2019

Lindsay Kautianen is 33 years old and has been in Special Olympics since she was 13 years old. She’s competed in bowling, soccer, floor hockey and is part of the all-women’s Diva Sharks basketball team.

Lindsay likes being in Special Olympics because “we have a good time and I am with my friends.”

Lindsay has been on the Divas for nine years. “Scott Norton is our coach and he does a good job,” said Lindsay.

In 2012, Lindsay was bicyclist Aaron Hasson’s inspiration to raise funds for Special Olympics. He cycled 4,600 miles in support of people with disabilities in a cross-country summer-long commitment with Push America, a nonprofit still run exclusively by the fraternity with the purpose of “instilling lifelong service in our fraternity members and serving people with disabilities,” according to its website.

During the week Lindsay works at a local SCV grocery store.

Patty Murdock is 35 years old has been in Special Olympics (SO) since she was 13. So far, she’s competed in soccer, softball and basketball. She is a guard on the all-women’s basketball team the Diva Sharks.

Patty likes SO because, “I get to meet other athletes from other teams.”

Patty’s mother, Deirdra Beller, encouraged her to be an athlete. “She has been my support my whole life, and if it hadn’t been for, her I wouldn’t be in sports. Thank you, mom.”

Patty is so dedicated to SCV SO that she commutes from the San Fernando Valley so she can practice with the Divas every week.

During the week, Patty works as a caregiver.

About the Special Olympics

According to sosc.org, “Special Olympics Santa Clarita & Tri-Valley Regions enrich the lives of 1,400 athletes with intellectual disabilities and their communities through sports, education, and athlete health.

“Special Olympics is the world’s largest sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities: with 4.4 million athletes in 170 countries – and millions more volunteers and supporters. Special Olympics is also a global and social movement.

“Through the power of sports, people with intellectual disabilities discover new strengths and abilities, skills, and success. Our athletes find joy, confidence and fulfillment –on the playing field and in life. They also inspire people in their communities and elsewhere to open their hearts to a wider world of human talents and potential.”

For more information about Santa Clarita Special Olympics, visit https://www.sosc.org/sctv.

Los Angeles Dodgers Hyun-Ryu and Justin Turner Have Memorable Nights

| Sports | May 9, 2019

by Diego Marquez

The Los Angeles Dodgers had a lot to cheer for after Tuesday’s 9-0 shutout of the Atlanta Braves at Chavez Ravine. Hitting his first homer since April 30, third baseman Justin Turner continued his hitting dominance going yard three times in the shutout win. Equally impressive, Ryu pitched his third-ever career complete game and Los Angeles’ first complete game since Rich Hill did it back in 2017 in a 10-inning loss to Pittsburgh.

Turner’s three home run monster night makes him the fourth MLB’er to homer this season and breaks his drought of 146 appearances with only one homer. He has been heating up, as of lately reaching base safely in nine of the 10 past games and overall this season the Los Angeles third baseman has batting average of .302, on-base percentage of .391 and a slugging percentage of .434 with four home runs and 17 RBIs.

Ryu did his part on the mound throwing a gem of a shutout game in a 93 pitch, four hit and six strikeout performance. The Dodgers pitcher now has five quality starts under his belt and an ERA of 2.03 this season. What is even more impressive is that Ryu hasn’t walked a batter at home since Aug. 26 and stretch that spans 63 innings and nine starts.

The truth of the matter is, with the pitching rotation that the Dodgers have and the dominant hitters that they have on the roster, it should be no shock as to if the Dodgers will have another pitching and hitting performance like the one Ryu and Turner delivered, but when the next one will be.

The Diva Sharks

| Sports | May 4, 2019

Meet the Diva Sharks, the all-women’s Special Olympics basketball team. They play any team they are paired up against – and this is how they became the “Divas.”

Wendy Ellet, Senior Manager Sports and Programs for Special Olympics Central Division, explained how it all began.

“Special Olympics had a women’s basketball team when I started in 2003. Three of our female basketball athletes went to World Games Ireland for basketball. The team dissolved for a few years, but as soon as we had 10 female basketball athletes, we brought it back,” said Ellet.

“When we started the team, Scott Norton was the head coach. I wanted to name the team the Diva Sharks and Scott wanted to name them the Land Sharks. I said, ‘I’ll make you a deal, after the first practice, if you don’t think the Diva name fits, we will call them the Land Sharks.’ Next day, Scott emailed me and said ‘Diva Sharks.’”

The women’s teams compete at SOSC (Special Olympics Southern California) Summer Games every other year. Each player of the Diva Sharks will be highlighted in the coming weeks.


Front row, left to right: Stefanie Silvers, Patty Murdock, Tamara Wilson
Back row, left to right: John Austin (coach) Alli Hill, Valerie Middleton (coach), Kayla Livermore, Darci Price, Tiffany Cross, Jean Garong, Lindsay Kautiainen, Scott Norton (head coach)

Ronnie Wald: The Voice of High School Baseball

| Sports | May 2, 2019

If you were to call Ronnie Wald the Vin Scully of high school baseball, he’d be flattered.

Wald has found his calling as a play-by-play man doing high school and junior college football, basketball and baseball. Those affiliated with West Ranch High know Wald well, as he has called all 28 Wildcat games this season, plus 16 other fall and winter ball games. West Ranch was scheduled to play at Foothill in the first-round of the California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section Division I playoffs on Thursday.

This is Wald’s sixth season behind the West Ranch mike. Fans know he’s the guy who has a “press box” on a scaffold above the bleachers behind the plate. It’s just him, sitting on a chair at a table, speaking into his microphone and broadcasting the game over the internet, usually on Facebook Live.

“A high school game being broadcast?” West Ranch coach Casey Burrill said. “He’s a topic of conversation. People ask who he is.”

Wald, 59, grew up in the San Fernando Valley and felt spoiled listening to Scully, Chick Hearn and Dick Enberg calling Dodgers, Lakers and Angels games. He went to Cal State Northridge and got a political science degree, but his love was broadcasting, and he later worked as a news reporter for KGIL-AM 1260.

At first, the idea of doing play-by-play scared him. “That was off the radar for me. It was the hardest thing to do,” he said. “I’d rather read a script.”

But he grew to love the drama of a live event. Now, 37 years later, he has done hundreds of games “that feel like hundreds of years,” he joked.

It wasn’t an easy gig. He had to contract with radio stations in which he would pay to broadcast the games, and then he would have to sell his own ads to make money.

Then came the internet and the ability to turn a telephone into a microphone. Suddenly, it was cheaper to broadcast.

What brought him to West Ranch was the Wildcats reaching the sectional semifinals in 2012. Wald had secured the rights from the Southern Section office to broadcast the semifinals and finals, so he called West Ranch’s game.

Ever the hustler, he contacted Burrill about possibly calling more Wildcat games. Burrill was interested but wasn’t sure how to pay for it. Nor was he sure a public high school could afford it. But in 2014, Wald started calling West Ranch games. At first, he only did audio broadcasts because, as Burrill discovered, the CIF charged nothing for audio but $150 for video of regular-season games (playoff games cost $150 for audio and $250 for video, Burrill and Wald said).

There also were some growing pains, Burrill said. Players complained they could hear Wald as they batted. Burrill responded, “Isn’t it a distraction for the other team, too?”

Parents also sometimes objected to Wald describing that their minor sons committed an error, even though Wald would describe it as neutrally as Scully. One time during a road game, a mother didn’t like how her son the pitcher was being described (he was giving up a lot of runs and hits), so Wald stopped, and Burrill decided to have Wald work only home games until the playoffs.

In 2014, Wald called another West Ranch playoff game, at Chaminade. Burrill was still impressed, and it finally became clear the parents liked it, too. The next year, he started calling all the games, and it’s become so popular that Valencia and Saugus also have sought him to call their games.

Wald also dabbles in football, calling El Rancho High games in Pico Rivera, and Bakersfield College basketball games. He’s also worked for Hawaii- and Alaska-based teams that travel here but don’t bring their broadcast personnel. And he’s in talks to broadcast College of the Canyons men’s basketball games next year, he said.

“I found a nice little niche,” he said.

Registration Now Open for 2019 Howard Fisher’s Cougar Basketball Camp

| Sports | April 25, 2019

The College of the Canyons men’s basketball program invites boys and girls in third to eighth grade to participate in the 2019 Howard Fisher’s Cougar Basketball Camp, with two sessions running this summer.

Open to players of all skill levels, each four-day camp session will provide attendees with a unique opportunity to learn new techniques and strengthen current skills.

Camp meetings will be led by COC men’s basketball head coach Howard Fisher, his staff of assistants and intercollegiate players from the eight-time Western State Conference champion men’s basketball program.

All major areas of basketball will be covered in detail, including: shooting, passing, ball handling, individual offense, defense, rebounding, and team play. Each camp session will be highlighted by fundamental instruction, skills contests, guest speakers and team competition.

Taking grade and age into account, each camper will be evaluated on the first day of camp and placed into groups that will allow them to maximize their opportunity to improve.

“This event is one of my most enjoyable responsibilities as a coach,” said Fisher, who just completed his 19th season at the helm of the COC men’s basketball program. “The Cougar Basketball Camp provides a fun, fast-paced environment for young people to learn the game, as well as meet new friends. Our staff strives to instill confidence in every camper, while making sure the sport of basketball is always fun.”

The 2019 Cougar Basketball Camp will run during the following dates and times:

July 8-11 — 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. (M/T/W/Th)
July 15-18 — 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. (M/T/W/Th)

All camp sessions will take place in the college’s East P.E. gymnasium, located on the COC Valencia campus. A $225 per-player registration fee applies to each session. Campers that register prior to the May 15 early registration date will save $25 per camper (registration must be received by 5 p.m. PST Wednesday, May 15, 2019).

Families with more than one camper can receive a discount of $20 for each additional child that registers by entering the promo code “Cougar2” at checkout.

All campers will receive a camp T-shirt. A written player evaluation and camp photo will also be provided at the end of the weekly session.

Campers are encouraged to bring their own lunch, but may also purchase a box lunch at an additional cost. A Jersey Mike’s box lunch option can be added for an additional $30 per camper per session (includes lunch for all four days of camp).

All proceeds directly support the COC men’s basketball program. To register for the 2019 Howard Fisher’s Cougar Basketball Camp, visit the COC Athletic website and complete the online registration form. Space for this year’s camp is limited.

For more information, contact COC men’s basketball head coach Howard Fisher at (661) 362-3201 or [email protected]

Athlete of the Week – D’Angelo Williams

| Sports | April 25, 2019

D’Angelo Williams is 22 years old and has been competing in Special Olympics (SO) for five years. He played softball (middle field position), floor hockey, flag football (line backer), and basketball.

D’Angelo’s brothers CJ and Laron have been instrumental in helping him play basketball. LeBron James of the Lakers is one of D’Angelo’s idols.

“Special Olympics has been good for me. I have autism and being in SO helps me meet a lot of new friends.”

D’Angelo attends College of the Canyons four days a week and has a job at a local SCV business.

Lakers Search for New Head Coach Begins in The Midst of Magic and Walton Controversy

| Sports | April 25, 2019

by Diego Marquez

It’s no doubt that the Lakers have been a hot topic for the NBA in the past couple weeks, but not in the way that most would expect. The President of Basketball Operations, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, stepped down from his position abruptly on Tuesday, Apr. 9 informing Lakers owner, Jeanie Buss, and the world through of his decision through Twitter.

Then the news broke on Monday about former head coach and now new head coach of the Sacramento Kings, Luke Walton, being accused of and sued for sexually assaulting a female sports reporter while he was part of the Golden State Warriors organization, according to TMZ.com. Even though Walton is not with the Lakers anymore, the recency of the split from the organization still intertwines the two. The Sacramento Kings have since released a statement saying they are aware of the situation.

All the while, the storied Los Angeles franchise is still searching for a replacement for Walton who complied a 98-148 record over the past three seasons. On Tuesday, the Lakers formally met with longtime NBA veteran and Hall of Famer, Jason Kidd, who most recently held a head coaching position for the Milwaukee Bucks. Kidd was fired in Jan. 2018 after going 139-152 in his four years with the team.

Kidd is said to be the third head coaching candidate interviewed for the the Lakers position after speaking with Tyronn Lue, the former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach, who was LeBron James’ most recent coach. Los Angeles has also reportedly met with Philadelphia 76ers assistant Monty Williams, who was once at the helm for the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Lakers last made the playoffs in 2013 and were bounced in the First Round of the Western Conference playoffs. And before the recent six years playoff drought had only missed the missed the playoffs four other times since moving to Los Angeles in 1961.

Ride the City Shuttle Directly to Dodger Stadium

| Sports | April 19, 2019

The City of Santa Clarita will be providing a bus service for SCV Dodger Day attendees this year. The SCV Dodger Day Shuttle will stop at two pick up locations on May 11. The first pick up location will be the Santa Clarita Metrolink Station, located at 22122 Soledad Canyon Road, with a bus departure time of 3:45 p.m. The Via Princessa Metrolink Station, located at 19201 Via Princessa, will be the second pickup location. The departure time for this stop is 4 p.m.

Depending on traffic, shuttle passengers can expect to arrive at Dodger Stadium at 5 p.m., enough time to collect your giveaway and find your seat before the 6:10 p.m. start time. After the game, passengers will have 45 minutes to make their way back to the bus before it departs for Santa Clarita.

The fare for the SCV Dodger Day Shuttle is $3 each way, and passengers can pay in cash, use a TAP card or pay through the Token Transit mobile app when they board the bus. To purchase tickets for the game, or for more information on SCV Dodger Day, visit SCVDodgerDay.com or contact Elizabeth Arambula at (661) 250-3734.

Athlete of the Week – Alfred Hernandez

| Sports | April 18, 2019

Alfred Hernandez is 58 and has been in Special Olympics (SO) for eight years. He has competed in soccer, basketball, and now flag football.

Alfred likes Special Olympics because, “I have made a lot of friends and I like to play sports.”

Alfred lives with his sister Annabelle Hernandez and she said, “SO gives him motivation and he does not forget a practice or game. SO puts me at ease that Alfred is happy. I am so grateful that the coaches and everyone involved are giving their time to volunteer.”

During the week, Alfred works at a local SCV day program.

Special Olympics (SO) Santa Clarita & Tri-Valley Regions enrich the lives of 1,400 athletes with intellectual disabilities and their communities through sports, education, and athlete health. For more information, visit www.sosc.org/sctv.

Magic Johnson Steps Down From Lakers Front Office

| Sports | April 12, 2019

by Diego Marquez

An NBA legend and revered businessman, Earvin “Magic” Johnson called a surprise news conference ahead of the Lakers regular season finale against the Portland Trailblazers on Tuesday, announcing that he was stepping down as the President of Basketball Operations for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Johnson’s departure from the front office comes just two years after he agreed to come on and help the Lakers get back to their winning ways. Over the past couple years, Johnson has had a tumultuous time serving a role on the Lakers’ front office and has run into some problems with the league’s tampering policy – and has the fines to show for it.

“The fines and the tampering and the this and the that, I can’t help the young men who want me to help them, or I can’t tweet out,” Johnson said in an interview with ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. “Like Russell Westbrook, that was a great feat the other day. I couldn’t even tweet it out to say, ‘Hey, congratulations.’ If I had did that, everyone would have said, ‘He’s tampering.’ I don’t like that. I like to be free.”

What was more shocking, other than the announcement itself, was that Magic did not inform his boss, nor Lakers owner Jeanie Buss of his decision to step down – noting that it would have been too hard to tell her face-to-face because of how close they are.

The move comes in the beginning of a very crucial offseason for Los Angeles, with the impending future of current Lakers head coach use Walton after going 98-148 over the past three seasons. What ever the case may be, LeBron and the Lakers will be looking for a bright spot in what seems likely to be a turbulent 2019 offseason the Los Angeles Lakers.

Athletes of the Week

| Sports | April 11, 2019

Special Olympics (SO) Santa Clarita & Tri-Valley Regions enrich the lives of 1,400 athletes with intellectual disabilities and their communities through sports, education, and athlete health.

This past weekend, SCV Special Olympics held the city’s first flag football tournament at Central Park. Four teams competed on two fields including teams from the South Bay, SFV, and SCV. The two highlighted guest athletes are from the SFV and they are best friends.

Jacob O’Sullivan

Jacob O’Sullivan (#39) is 23 years old and has been competing SO for three years. He loves sports and has been on the bowling, softball and flag football teams. The Sea Hawks and the Dodgers are Jacob’s favorite teams.

Jacob’s parents, Michael and Tammy, said, “The best part of SO for our son is that he is making friends and playing on a team. The best part for us as parents is the networking we do with other parents.”

During the week Jacob is in a Career Transition Center (CTC) where he rides the bus to work to his job at a local SFV market. He will graduate from that program in a few months and will then be looking for a permanent job.

Noah Croy

Noah Croy (#23) is 22 years old and has been in SO for 12 years. He loves sports and has been competing in basketball, swimming, tennis, golf, and flag football.

Noah’s mother, Tammi, said, “Special Olympics is so special because it gives our athletes something “typical” to do. Be on a sports team! Noah’s brothers have been on sports teams and now they can talk about his teams and how they are doing. We are very thankful for the opportunity SO has given Noah and all of the athletes.”

Noah is a huge fan of the Rams, loaded nachos, and he enjoys playing sports videos. He also attends the CTC program in the SFV and makes the drive to SCV to attend Young Life activities.

Paseo Aquatics Relay Teams Break Santa Clarita Records At SoCal Junior Olympic Championships

| Sports | April 11, 2019

Two Paseo Aquatics relay teams broke Santa Clarita Valley records and several swimmers had notable performances at the recent Southern California Junior Olympic Championships at the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center.

Facing some of the nation’s toughest competition, the 13-14 girls’ 200 Free relay swam the second-fastest time in SoCal Swim history with a time of 1:35.70, also in the process they broke both a Paseo Aquatics and Santa Clarita Valley record. Team members included: Riley Botton, Teia Salvino, Sydney Zancanaro and Cameron Snowden. The previous record was held by Canyons Aquatics (1:37.86).

In addition, Salvino earned her winter Junior National time in the opening leg of the 50 free with a time of 23.45 in the 200 Free Relay.

Boys’ 200 Free Relay team from left to right: Bryant Lee, Michael Lee, Daniel Jo, and Luke Bezanilla.

In the same 13-14 200 Free Relay event on the boys’ side, the team made up of Michael Lee, Luke Bezanilla, Daniel Jo and Bryant Lee took fourth place, breaking a Santa Clarita Valley record with a time of 1:31.10.

Individually, all four of the girls made the finals in the 50 Free with Paseo placing three in the Top 10. Salvino led the way with her second-place finish with a time 20th (25.53). In prelims, Snowden went a 24.80 to earn her first Sectionals time, which is the first stepping stone to national level swim meets.

In the Boys’ 50 free, two Paseo swimmers made the Top 15 overall, with Lee placing second with a time of 21.88 and Bezanilla 14th at 23.17.

The Girls’ 13-14 400 Free Relay team was seeded fourth heading into the finals race but was able to improve on that with an outstanding second-place finish with a time of 3:33.86.

Botton was fourth overall in finals in the 13-14 200 free with a blistering time of 1:52.33. Botton finished sixth in the 13-14 girls’ 100 Free (51.92) while Salvino was just ahead of her in fifth at 51.75. Salvino turned in an impressive time of 2:07.15 in the 200 IM, good for fourth place.

In the boys’ 100 Fly final, Lee was also fourth overall with a time of 53.41 and fifth in the boys’ 100 free final with a time of 48.34 while Bezanilla was 16th (49.88).

Luke’s younger brother Bret Bezanilla finished third in the 10 and Under Free with a time of 1:04.10. The 7-10 boys’ 200 freestyle relay team placed in the top 16 with a time of 2:08.05. Joining Bret on that relay team were Ian Ma, Josiah Cerera, Chase Renno.

Athletes of the Week

| Sports | April 4, 2019

Michael Goodman is 20 years old and has been competing in Special Olympics (SO) for six years. He has participated in softball, bowling, floor hockey and basketball. Now he is apart of the new sport offered through SO, flag football.

“Special Olympics is a great community and all of the people are like a family,” Michael said.

Michael is on the Blue Sharks basketball team and is a point guard. He likes his basketball coaches, and says they have helped teach him how to dribble with his left hand. Michael practices at home so he is prepared for practicing with his teammates.

During the week, Michael works at a local SCV business.

Roberto Garza has been in Special Olympics (SO) since he was 9 years old. He competes in bowling, basketball and floor hockey.

This week, SCV Special Olympics is offering flag football for the first time, and Roberto will be on that team as well.

“I brought him to SO to be involved and to be sociable,” said Roberto’s mother, Alejandra. He has grown so much from SO and he has made great friends. I have met a lot of great people too, and SO is like another family.”

During the week, Roberto attends a local SCV school.

Dodgers Hit MLB Opening Day Record with 8 Home Runs

| Sports | April 4, 2019

by Diego Marquez

The Los Angeles Dodgers 2019 MLB season started off with a bang on Thursday – literally.

Our boys in blue hit eight home runs on their way to a 12-5 dominating victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks. Two home runs shy of the MLB record (10) hit by the Blue Jays in 1987, the Dodgers tied the franchise record in a single game and set a new club record for most home runs on Opening Day as well as the most number of home runs hit by players, also an MLB record.

“I think last year we spent a lot of time — not only with you guys [in the media], but within the clubhouse — talking about what happened in October,” said Dodgers second baseman Enrique Hernandez in an interview with ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez. “This year we didn’t really do that much of that, if any at all. We were really focused from day one, and focused on this year, and taking care of the business that we have to take care of.”

Hernandez and Joc Pederson each hit two home runs. Austin Barnes, Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager and Max Muncy each hit one of their own in the Dodgers win. Their eight home runs matched the club record set back in 2002 and continue last year’s hot streak as the Dodgers led the National League with 235 home runs, setting a new franchise record in the process of making it to their second straight World Series.

“It’s probably not going to always be like that,” Bellinger said. “But it’s great to start off the season like that.”

Athletes of the Week

| Sports | March 28, 2019

Pierce Harlin is 17 years old and has been in Special Olympics since 2013. While he has competed in tennis and bowling, basketball is his specialty. Pierce is the youngest of five children and developed his athletic skills watching his big brother Brett play basketball.

Pierce’s position on the team is point guard. “Pierce has a good basketball IQ and we welcome him to our team,” said Coach Brad Bowers. Coach Dana Bowers said, “Pierce is eager to be a better player.”

“Special Olympics is where Pierce is allowed to participate and be fully engaged and not sit the bench,” said Pierce’s mom, Cheryl. “He is a part of a team.”

When there is a break in the action, Pierce can be seen on the sidelines dancing and doing his impersonation of Michael Jackson.

Pierce attends a local high school during the week.

Josh Cioffi has been in Special Olympics for 20 years. He has competed in basketball, bowling, track, soccer, swimming and floor hockey. Basketball is his favorite sport to compete in, although football is his favorite spectator sport – and the Chargers are “his team.”

Participating in Special Olympics is fun for Josh because he has made many friends and he likes his coaches. “I enjoy having Josh on the team. He is a good perimeter shooter,” said Basketball Coach Brad Bowers.

“He is very dedicated to his team,” Coach Dana Bowers said.

During the week, Josh is a member of a local day work program.

Athletes of the Week

| Sports | March 21, 2019

Matheson (Mat) Walker began competing in Special Olympics during his junior high school years. Over the past 13 years, he has participated in track, bowling, and his favorite sport, basketball.

For the past four years, Mat had been out of SO, as he participated in Independent Living Skills (ILS) programs. The first program was UCLA Extension’s Pathway, where he lived in an apartment and attended ILS classes. The Pathpoint Community Independent Living Program was another program where Mat lived in an apartment, attended classes at Pierce, and received ILS services.

Mat attended the Taft’s Transition to Independent Living for the past two years, staying in the dorms and then out in the community in a house, again receiving ILS services.

“While we were happy that Mat was exploring his options for the past four years, we are very excited to have him on our team again,” Basketball Coach Brad Bowers said. “It is really amazing to see the progress he has made in those years. He is a go-getter.”


Micah Molacek, now 24, joined Special Olympics (SO) when he was 8 years old. He started out competing in swimming and now competes in basketball, bowling, floor hockey, and golf. Golf is his favorite sport and his father, Mike Molacek, coaches him.

“Micah is easy to coach and he loves to participate,” said Mike. Micah had a unified partner in golf and they won the gold medal.

Special Olympics Unified Sports, according to their website, “is an inclusive sports program that combines an approximately equal number of Special Olympics athletes (individuals with intellectual disabilities) and partners (individuals without intellectual disabilities) on teams for training and competition.”

Micah likes SO because he gets to meet new people and develop friendships. During the week, Micah belongs to a local day work program.

Freshman Rachel Bowers Gets Playing Time with Boise State

| Sports | March 21, 2019

by Tom Pedersen

Canyon High grad Rachel Bowers has been a key contributor to the success of the Mountain West Champion, Boise State women’s basketball team. The freshman forward has played off the bench for the Broncos in every game, with 104 rebounds and scoring 195 points while leading the team with a .559 shooting percentage.

As league and league tournament champions, Boise State earned an automatic bid to the “The Big Dance.”

Boise State, 28-4 overall, plays the first round of the national championship tournament this Saturday in Corvallis Oregon. Their opponent will be Oregon State, 24-7 overall.

Angels Sign Mike Trout to Richest Sports Contract in History

| Sports | March 21, 2019

by Diego Marquez

The Los Angeles Angels are wasting no time in reassuring the stability and future of the organization. On Tuesday, the Angels and the superstar center fielder Mike Trout agreed to a 12-year extension that is said to be worth more than $430 million and will probably be the place where he will finish his career.

The deal is set to make be the most expensive contact in not only Major League Baseball, but the biggest in sports history. Trout would make $36 million per year and comes on the heels of the Philadelphia Phillies signing Bryce Harper to a 13-year, $330 million deal last month. Trout is entering the fifth year of a six-year, $144.5 million extension and if he stays for the duration of the supposed contract, Trout will be near 40 years of age.

Over the course of 1,065 games, since his debut in 2011, Trout a .307 batting average, .416 on-base percentage and a .573 slugging percentage while accruing 1187 hits and 240 home runs.

The Angels are known more hefty contracts, signing Albert Pujols to a 10-year $240 million contract and Josh Hamilton to a five-year $125 million dollars contract. Hamilton is no longer with the team. Pujols on the other hand is, and showed his contentment with the signing in an interview with ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

“It’s well-deserved,” Pujols said. “I don’t think there’s anybody in baseball besides him that deserves that [contract]. Trout is the best and the number speak for itself.

“I got mine in my time, and [I’m] just really excited, really pumped up for him and his family, for his mom and dad… just real exciting. To sign and be here hopefully for the rest of his career is gonna be pretty special, too.”

For the third consecutive year, the Angels are set to begin the season visiting the Oakland A’s for a four-game series beginning on March 28-31. Their home opener will be on April 4 against the Texas Rangers.

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