Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Back at you to sprinkle a little Autumn Dust on your sporting plate, this time coming to you from deep in the heart of the south where football lives and the Top Ten is just a bulls-eye on your back. Matter of fact, the topsy-turvy gridiron deals happen everywhere, in the north, west and east, not just the south.

Enough of the oblate spheroid chatter, for most of 49er-ville it is the time of year for tracking the ladies of volleyball, tennis and soccer, the gentlemen of water polo, secret practices for basketball teams and the scoreboard on fundraising to keep all of the above in uniform.

Soccer 2009 has become an enigma of sorts with some impressive wins and puzzling defeats. Last week the Niners (4-5) lost at LMU 1-0, but are still perfect (0-0) in the Big West since they open the conference season today (Thursday) hosting Pacific in the Big West opener at 3 p.m.

Volleyball (8-3, 1-0) is still basking in the shutout beat down of the UCLA Bruins two weeks ago which was followed with a workmanlike conference opening 3-0 win over Fullerton in historic Titan Gym. Next up are Friday and Saturday night visits from UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly. Buy tickets and bring friends-- it is a great way to stimulate the LBSU athletic economy and become a neighborhood hero.

Same book, different chapter. I am guilty of teasing Niner women’s basketball coach Jody Wynn about 6-4 volleyball all-American Naomi Washington coming out for basketball (ala Danielle Scott a number of years ago. This could happen January 2nd when the Big West hoop season begins. Calling my own bluff I asked Naomi if she would consider joining the basketball team this Spring. “I will be playing for money overseas and I think I have had enough of school for a while.” Imagine that, pro volleyball cash over another semester at the Beach! Washington’s siblings both played college hoops, her sister at Oklahoma and her brother at Texas Tech.

My memories of the late Long Beach State football player Darryl Wright are many but perhaps the fondest are Dirtbag road trips with the big offensive lineman. Darryl was tasked with finding a fine, yet inexpensive, gourmet dining stop for our post-game. Driving around one weekend night I saw a fancy restaurant with a big (and almost empty parking lot.) “We don’t go there” Darryl would admonish, “you got to find a place with a line outside the door.” I was hungry, as usual, but DW was right as usual. His memorial celebration will be October 9 between 2 and 5 p.m. at Tantalum.

NAME DROP DUST—Fall colors are changing. For 23 seasons before stepping down longtime LB assistant coach Debbie Green was wearing the Black and Gold. This weekend she will sit on the Gaucho bench as a volunteer assistant mentoring her daughter Dana Vargas, all with the blessing of LB coach Brian Gimmillaro. “I can’t think of [anything] better. ... We’ve talked about it for years.”

Only two of the expected 18 Dirtbag newcomers, Matt Wallach, the son of former Fullerton Titan and Dodger Tim Wallach, and Millikan senior Jon Singleton decided to pass on college in favor of pro ball. The incoming LB group has nine pitchers and, coincidentally, nine pure freshmen. Best of the pitchers is San Jose native Nate Underwood but for the wide open spaces of Blair Field, Coaches Mike Weathers, Troy Buckley and Andy Rojo have a lot of speed but must find some reliable offense because as of press time you still can’t steal first base.—DR. DAN


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