Tuesday, April 21, 2009


There is something about the month of April that is a strange cocktail of the joy of sport and the realities of money. After all April 15th is the government’s red letter day, unless your investments are actually in the black. Fund raisers and fund drives abound yet the drive for gold medals, trophies and the like is frequently obscured by the stats of matches, games, and tournaments. And this April for Long Beach State, the prospects of preparing to pay the quickly rising scholarship bills for their 300 student athletes is once again shaken and stirred by post season expectations.

Last weekend the amazing women’s tennis team picked up their Big West gold, the men’s volleyball team qualified for the MPSF tourney and the diamond sports of baseball and softball kept their hopes alive, softball sweeping UCSB on national TV and baseball winning a series against Northridge. Celebration first and cost accounting when we get around to it. Perhaps that mean’s the month of May.
In April however it is about fun and games. This weekend the Dirtbags (17-18, 4-5) are in bucolic Stockton somewhat puzzled by the normally toothless Tigers weekend series win over Fullerton. Light hitting LB did win their series over pitching-smart CSUN but clearly has a lot of work to do.

Softball has a nice overall record (27-17) and a shot at first place Fullerton this weekend on the campus diamond but those three one run losses to Cal Poly are hard to forget. A strong finish, bolstered by that nice TV showing, should set up at least a NCAA at-large berth.

In men’s volleyball Coach Alan Knipe isn’t ready to talk about his new post guiding the USA to a medal in the 2012 London Olympics. The jut-jawed Irishman will have nothing to do with future thinking; he is very much in the present with his talented but occasionally inconsistent 49er team who earned a quarter-final berth in the MPSF tourney Saturday at second ranked Pepperdine. Alan’s quotable colleague Andy Read is optimistic. “All the adversity the guys have stared down throughout the season has hardened our spirit and resolve. The team has sharpened its game in the crucible of fire” Send me in coach.

Enough of sports. It is time for low, medium or high finance. Tennis is one under-budgeted outfit that has to raise a lot of their own dollars or Euros, (if you check the passports.) If you have a dream of being a millionaire tennis dad like Richard Williams, sign up your children for the Beach Youth Tennis Camp, a series of one week sessions ($145) June 22--August 14. Not only will this investment in your 401 K kids allow the progeny to learn from Jenny Hilt-Costello and other college level coaches, but also from 49ers all-time great Hannah Grady. Hannah and her team whipped arch-rival UC Irvine last weekend to win their sixth straight Big West championship.

Camp sessions run from 9 until noon on the brand new LBSU courts and instruction meshes with afternoon session of the classic 49er camp. Enrollment (call 562-985-4336) is $145 for each week with a family discount available. Next up for Hannah and the Beach gals is their automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament beginning May 8.

More on the star watch, the questions I get the most these days are from down in the dumps boosters who measure the program only by MLB draft choices. Well that lineage won’t end this spring. Junior pitcher Adam Wilk was just named the Big West Pitcher of the Week for the week of April 13-20 as announced by the conference office Monday. Adam is not only settled in as a solid starter but for the pro talent scouts he has a big bonus, a lefty. Last Friday he had another impressive performance in the Dirtbags 1-0 shutout win over Northridge with eight scoreless innings. Fanning six, giving up just four hits and retiring the last 12 batters he faced.

Last number note, the 2009 LBSU Annual Fund Drive is underway with an added sense or urgency in light of the state’s overall fiscal crisis, increased costs for room, board, tuition and fees, and the student body’s reluctance to tax themselves more for athletic scholarships. A salesman or woman will call but in the mean time --enjoy the fun and games.—DR. DAN


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