Sunday, February 20, 2011

Keeping Track

Time again to check in on some friends…

Congratulations to the University of Puget Sound for making the very wise decision to accept Allie Seligman to its freshman class in the fall. Allie was accepted as an early-decision applicant, so she already knows she’ll head to Tacoma, Wash., to become a Logger…

Most other high school seniors I know haven’t yet finalized their college decisions, because many institutions haven’t yet sent their acceptance or rejection letters. I’ll try to update a few others in a month or so, including my son Sam, who continues to give consideration to several universities…

Among those who have committed is Marie Bradvica, who will play softball at Boston College in the ACC next year. Marie’s already a bit of an entrepreneur as a senior at Carlsbad High, after developing “Marie’s Words,” a vocabulary flash card product to assist high school seniors memorize and retain SAT vocabulary words. The cards have an illustration on the front with the word, and the pronunciation, part of speech, definition, sentence, synonyms, and antonyms on the back. 
Marie’s Words is actually a family affair, with other Bradvicas taking on various roles in the promotion and marketing of the product, as explained by her brother Nick in this video at the Student Innovator Showcase at USC, where he’s currently a sophomore. Maries’ Words has its own website, Facebook page and the product is available online

Speaking of USC, Kristen DesCombes is galloping along as a member of the Trojan Equestrian Club Team, when she’s not on stage at the USC School of Theatre…

Her brother Jack had a bit of an eye-opener when he anchored a relay team during a recent swim meet. As he waited for his turn, he looked to the next lane to find seven-time Olympic medalist Jason Lesak, who anchored the 2008 Olympic Gold Medal-winning 4x100 freestyle relay, where he swam the fastest 100 split in history. Jack couldn’t catch Lesak, but his team did finish second in that relay…

And while we’re in the pool, the DesCombes family alerted us that our good friend and former Upland neighbor Nick Hadinger currently has the 29th fastest 100-meter backstroke time in the nation, swimming for the University of Arizona. Nick is also 33rd fastest in the 200 backstroke, and ranks 30th fastest 100 freestyle 56th in the 50 freestyle, according to College His University Of Arizona team is currently ranked sixth in NCAA Division I.

The Hadingers were among the original owners on our cul-de-sac in Upland when we all moved into our new homes in 1986. They moved to Tucson in 1993 as part of the General Dynamics reorganization, and have been there ever since. Nick’s brother Kyle also attends the U of A. When our kids were younger, we made our annual trip to visit the Hadingers and take in some spring training games, as well as Arizona Wildcat events, but it’s been a few years since we’ve made that journey. Son Sid dropped in for a quick visit during his New Orleans road trip over the holidays…

Great to see nephew Kevin Bosson on the mound again for Cal Poly Pomona. After sitting out last year because of an injury, he started this season 2-0 before dropping a decision to Chico State, in which he started and pitched into the seventh inning. A couple of Sam’s one-time teammates are also on the Cal Poly roster…

And Richard Brehaut is doubling up his activities at UCLA, trying out and making the baseball team after a couple of years away from the sport. He doesn’t figure to see a lot of action, but it’s still remarkable that he made the team, given the heavy demands of his role as the Bruins quarterback. Football remains his priority, but I’m sure it’s great to be back on the diamond again…

From a fan’s standpoint, it’s just nice to see baseball again. I’m sorry we weren’t able to get in the annual alumni baseball game at Claremont High this year because of the weather. But the season is just ahead. Yep, baseball’s back, and so is volleyball, which will help make the spring sports season a welcome relief from the current “down” period after football ends.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Rained Out

The Claremont High baseball alumni game scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 19, has been canceled because of rain (and a lot more anticipated rain on the way). We'll try it again next year instead.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Claremont High alumni baseball game on Saturday, Feb. 19

The Claremont High baseball program will host its annual alumni game again this Saturday, Feb. 19. This is a great event, as former CHS players from many eras return to re-acquaint themselves with old teammates and guys from other eras. It's just a great day of guys hanging out and sharing a lot of laughs. This year, former longtime Claremont coach Jack Helber will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. This event has become a nice tradition, and I hope we have a few surprise participants this year. In the meantime, take a look at my post from last year with first-person accounts from former players Mil Pompa and Rob Haerr. 

Below is the press release with details about the game, and here's a story that appeared in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin. If you know any former Wolfpack players who'd like to participate or just say hi to old friends (no matter when they played), encourage them to come out on Saturday.

Claremont High to host “opening day” and alumni baseball game Feb. 19
The Claremont High baseball program will kick off its 2011 season with special "opening day" ceremonies, an alumni game and a family barbecue on Saturday, Feb. 19, at Claremont High School.
The CHS varsity baseball team will take on former Wolfpack players in the annual alumni game Saturday as a preview to kick off the 2011 season. The game will culminate two days of special activities at the CHS varsity field to open the new baseball campaign.
Festivities are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m., followed by the game and a home run derby.
The CHS junior varsity and freshman teams will play at 3 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 18.
On Saturday, Feb. 19, the varsity will take to the field against Wolfpack players from the past. All former CHS baseball players are invited to participate in the game or in pre-game batting practice. Former longtime Wolfpack coach Jack Helber will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the game. 
The Saturday activities also will include special opening ceremonies and introductions on the field of all players on the freshman, junior varsity and varsity team, followed by first-pitch ceremonies.
A family barbecue will take place throughout the day, and refreshments will be available. In addition, Wolfpack baseball merchandise will be on sale. A home run competition will follow the alumni game.
Alumni game participants should arrive at the CHS varsity field on the Claremont High campus by 9 a.m.
Additional details are available on the Claremont High baseball Web site at
Former CHS baseball players interested in participating should contact Sid Robinson at (909) 227-9589 or

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts...

...Can’t Lose.

Unfortunately, too many people did lose, because they weren’t part of the relatively small portion of the public that tuned in regularly to watch the television series “Friday Night Lights.”

For those of us who were loyal viewers, we may have lost our TV companion from the past five years, but we definitely went away winners.

The series concluded its final season this week on DirecTV’s 101 Network (but the final season will air on NBC beginning in April). Friday Night Lights may have been the best television drama I’ve ever seen.

If you haven’t watched, or were only a part-time viewer, take the time to rent the DVDs on Netflix and watch the full seasons. All of them (the final season will be available on DVD in April, too). The TV show picked up where the novel and film of the same name left off, and it brought you in and out of the lives of the people in the fictional town of Dillon, Texas, as they struggled to get by. There was nothing forced about this program. It was as real as I can possibly imagine life in the heart of Texas could be. Football is a sacred religion, but the show wasn’t just about the football. It was about life the way they know it. The Dillon Panthers, and later the East Dillon Lions, simply provided the backdrop for the rest of life in the slow, country pace of the rural south. Even for those characters who managed to move on, their lives were entrenched in “Texas forever,” by choice or by circumstance.

If you’ve ever read the critics, Friday Night Lights really may go down as one of the greatest television dramas of all time. But it was never successful in the ratings (it even failed in a brief syndication run on the ABC Family network). It has been critically acclaimed and has won its share of awards). Like films such as the holiday classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” it may take years before it finally catches on.

No other show left me shaking my head every week for the past five years saying, “wow, that is a quality program.” Every episode. It was heavy and humorous at the same time. It broke our hearts and lifted our spirits. The characters were seemingly real people living real lives with real problems and real happiness. It was about good people in small-town Middle America trying to do the right thing.

Over the years, the writers did a brilliant job of moving characters out as they graduated from high school and moved on with their lives. As Friday Night Lights came to its final weeks, some of the characters who were stars in the early years found their way back into the storyline. Not as cameo performers, but in primary roles. They were all part of the Dillon family, even if their characters had moved on. They came back gracefully and found their place among the current season’s new personalities.

When the curtain came down on the final episode, the series ended the way it was supposed to end. In its own unique way, the ribbons were tied perfectly and there were no loose ends. It left me smiling, but sad that it was over. But I wasn’t longing for more. The game ended.

The pinnacle moment of the final football game in the closing episode couldn’t have been done more appropriately, even though you never see it. The closing segment that followed was a captivating look forward to the next chapters in the lives of the people of Dillon. It was nothing short of what you would expect from Friday Night Lights.

In the end, it was just a TV show, but a great one that stood above most. Coach Eric Taylor’s frequent inspirational call to his players summed up what the show was all about: “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose.”