West Sac youth leagues are mature

DON SCHATZEL: former West Sacramento Parks Director and occasional News-Ledger columnist

NEWS-LEDGER — JAN 30, 2013 —

By Don Schatzel

I hope everyone had a great holiday season and Happy New Year!  All the best to you for the upcoming year.

Congratulations to U-12 (under age 12) Arsenal girls soccer for making it to the finals of the Presidents Cup for the second year in a row! Unfortunately, after winning three games in a weekend, they lost the final 3-2 to British American Club.  Laura Garcia and Julyana Lara did the scoring for Arsenal, completing another great season.

The Under-16 Hooligans12 completed their Presidents Cup, and after completing a season with 40 practices and 14 games, are poised to move into River City High School’s soccer season with high hopes and confidence! Taylor Jacky and Andrea Saucedo were captains of Hooligans12 and Taylor lead the team in scoring.

Now, local soccer teams are on the way to the indoor season at “El Azteca” and “Off the Wall” facilities to prepare for next season.

In the last article, I mentioned a lot of softball players and  you know how it works when you start mentioning people: you forget some. I forgot a few, including Hayley Luna and Cameron McGinnes, who are terrific local players.

I was reviewing my list and 90 percent, if not all, the girls  on the all high school all star list  had their beginning  softball training in the West Sacramento Girls Softball Little League – now registering for the upcoming spring and summer season. I know my family had a great time in that program.

Girls softball starts here in West Sac, and league president Frances Lara will do a great job as usual!

“Soccer is basketball played on grass with feet and with twice as many players.”

Johan Cruyff, a great Dutch soccer player from the past, said that.

It is fun to watch the Washington Unified girls after-school basketball program again this year. It’s a league where the coaches coach to teach basketball, not just win games. The quality of play has improved so much. Picks, press, zones in-bounds plays, 4-5 passes then the good shot, are the norm now.

The players have reached the point where sometimes seem better than the referees. The refs can no longer chat with the parents on the way down the court.

The girls know the rules and know when they got away with something. Just watch the little smiles on their faces that show up on occasion. The coaches can coach, the girls can play and  they no longer just give the ball to the best player to go coast to coast then throw up a 20 footer.

Not any more! Yours truly and a Recreation Supervisor for the City of West Sac started the basketball league years ago. Supervisor Troy Turner is no longer with us, but the City Parks and Rec program has 350 boys and 139 girls playing in their program. I think Troy would have been very proud, as I am. (Editor’s note: sadly, Mr. Turner is deceased.)

  In the “Wow” category I happened to be visiting relatives in Gilroy and they have a new high school, “Christopher High School,” named after Don Christopher of Christopher Garlic. The Garlic Festival  brings in 100,000 people in a weekend to Gilroy for their festival and Don was big motivator behind its creation.

The school district needed two million dollars to complete their sports complex at the high school,  and according to the Gilroy newspaper, Christopher called and gave them 1 million dollars then called back, and asked “How much do you need?”

When told another million was needed, Christopher answered, “OK, put me down for two million!”

Life is good in garlic but, many of us know the Klein family here particularly Alyssa Klein (everyone calls her “Lulu”” is moving to Gilroy and she will attend Christopher School. Gilroy already has great softball players, so I really wish they take ours away. We will miss the Klein family and wish them the best!

Blast from the past!

Watching UCLA football linebacker Coach Jeff Ulbrich:

Before UCLA, he played for the 49ers. Before that University of Hawaii, and before that, Live Oak HS in Morgan Hill. Before that, he was a starting center forward on a U-12 (under age 12) team I coached. We would probably pass each other on the street now and not recognize each other, but it’s great to see young kids grow up and be successful!

More community involvement: Centennial Rotary Club of West Sac just donated $200 to the youth boxing club in town. West Sac has  a great boxing history and tradition and if the donation gets more kids involved, yahoo! Centennial also donated  $1,000 to the West Sac Relay for Life which is coming up and planning  is underway.

An interesting piece of community history was shared with me recently. Who was the first person in West Sac to get on base and score the first run at Memorial Park, the site of Little League games?

It was Jim Thompson in 1956! Jim is an outstanding member of the West Sacramento Trail Riders Association. Ron Morazzinni, the president of the horse riding group, is now working with the City of West Sacramento  on its bike and pedestrian path update to remember the equestrian community in town..

Great stuff, and that’s why we love living here.


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