Sunday, May 22, 2005


Sometimes you have more time than the time you want. This is that time.

The last Niner team standing, albeit like me with a little wobble in their stride, is Long Beach Baseball. My wobble came courtesy of arthroscopic surgery on my right knee. The Dirtbags limp came courtesy of Cal State Fullerton.

Everybody else is done, commencing you might say, or waiting until next year. The commencement ceremonies this week on campus is the official goodbye to about a hundred sporting seniors who join their President, Robert Clinton Maxson, is saying farewell to the college life.

Almost all of the kids now polish resumes instead of trophies. Very few go on to pro careers; a few will coach and teach. The CSULB Center for Student Athlete Services (CSAS) works with a total of about 450 individuals a year, 300 currently enrolled and about 150 coming back to finish up. Even the CSAS is graduating, from the old boiler room in the PE building to new offices built with part of the recent $2.1 million endowment by the Walter Family.

The teams and the coaches now go their separate ways, packing up seasons of hope, planning and plotting for the New Year. Softball returns a lot of offense and loses pitching. Water polo, tennis, golf and soccer are still knocking on the door of post-season glory. The gap is narrowing but not by much. For hoops, it’s not so much about crashing the trophy room as gaining respect. That gap is still wide.

So this weekend we will hear from the NCAA what the travel plans will be for the Dirtbags, maybe to see cousins at Arizona under the Tucson sun, dodging raindrops with Oregon State in Corvallis, cooking with Rice in Houston. Ruled out, mercifully, trips to Fullerton or Palo Alto. In the mean time, everybody will just sit and watch and wait for the next time.

WRAPPING DUST-The next home games at the Beach will come from the indoor setters and spikers of women's volleyball. Their schedule for 2005 features 19 matches against teams that advanced to last year's NCAA tournament including the opener just around the corner on August 26 against Long Island. A wrinkle this season for the Beach will be three tournaments, Michigan and Ohio State in the Ohio State tourney Sept 2-3, then off to the UNLV tourney, and then the University of San Diego tournament.

The ranked teams on the schedule (based on their final 2004 rankings) are #6 Ohio State, #12 San Diego, #13 St. Mary's, #16 Louisville, #21 UCSB, and #25 Florida A&M. The Beach finished the 2004 season un-ranked, return front row stalwarts Alexis Crimes and Erika Chidester, but has a major question mark at setter.

Last add baseball, the NCAA will announce the 16 regional sites this Sunday and the full 64-team bracket on Monday, Memorial Day at 8:30 a.m. With a strong RPI and a 3-3 season outcome against Fullerton, the Beach goes into the tourney through the front door. If you’ve got the time, the team and coaches will gather at Cirivello’s, 4115 Viking Way, for the announcement of the first hurdles on that rough and rocky road to Omaha. Breakfast and beyond.—DR. DAN


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