Category Archives: Santa Monica

Wacky Wednesday, Whacky Tuesday

For WACKY Wednesday, Clara Czer wore impossible hair to school. For WHACKING Tuesday, the sophomore was whacking balls down upon her adversaries.

Lighthouse Christian Academy made full use of her hits (13) and kills (5) to beat San Fernando Valley Academy 3 sets to 1 in an intense girls volleyball competition Tuesday in Northridge.

“Clara was pretty consistent the whole game. She was almost flawless,” Coach Jessica Young said. “She has come a long way from junior high. She is able to control her emotions. She’s probably our best hitter right now. She has pushed herself harder and harder, and she can spike it almost straight down.”

In the last, hard-fought set that drew out to 30-28, Coach Jessica instructed the team to “play smart” in the last back-and-forth trading “just one point to win” moments. Just get the ball over and don’t try to be too aggressive.

Clara still did — successfully — back row spikes.

“I thought inside, ‘Oh she didn’t listen to me,” Coach said. “For her ‘playing smart’ is that aggressive. But she got it in.”

Nobody complains if you don’t mess up.

Lighthouse is now 8-1 and almost virtually guaranteed a playoff spot. Its last season game is Thursday against league-leaders Beacon Hill Classical.

“We had a lot of great team energy. I’m just really proud of us,” Clara said. “I think all of us are really improving. I’m so proud.”

Lighthouse struggled in the first set to adapt. SFVA hosted the game in its Northridge gym, a court covered with carpet. This took LCA off guard because the Saints usually dive for balls.

“At least two of our girls have rug burns,” Coach Jessica said. “They’re bleeding.”

The SFVA gym also had an unusually low roof, and the Saints lost more than one volley just because they hit with their accustomed strength. When the ball hits the roof or a fixture before going over, it’s the other team’s point. They lost the first set 20-25.

By set 2, LCA had recalibrated and won 25-23. “We came back really well,” Clara said. Read the rest: Wacky Wednesday at Santa Monica private school

Parkinson’s artist

Johnny Huerta now paints with his left hand. Parkinson’s attacked his right.

“Parkinson’s affects different people in different ways,” says Johnny, an artist from Santa Monica. “Mine is rigidity more than anything.”

A graduate from Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art in Van Nuys, Johnny, 32, did a mural in Casa Blanca restaurant in Venice, but mostly he sells paintings online.

He’s a local who played baseball for Santa Monica High School’s winning 2007 team. He sometimes works as a waiter at his family-owned restaurant Gilbert’s El Indio Mexican restaurant.

He’s right-handed. He noticed soreness three years ago but shrugged it off thinking it was just due to his heavy art workload while working on his bachelor’s degree in art.

Eventually, he realized it was more than simple soreness. “It was not like pain, it was a malfunction. It was scarier than a pain,” he says. “It wasn’t working the way it was supposed to.”

Parkinson’s is rare in younger people. But the brain scan showed dopamine deficiency, an early sign of Parkinson’s. Was his art career doomed?

Johnny didn’t waste time getting down about misfortune. He immediately started working on painting with his left hand. He’s semi-ambidextrous. He paints with his left now, sometimes guiding it with his right.

“You hear how you lose one sense and you gain another. It’s kind of like that. I’ve always done some things left-handed,” he says. “I batted left-handed and threw right-handed. I don’t know why. It was just natural.”

Johnny recently posted a time-lapsed video on Instagram @j_huerta310 of him painting a metaphor for his Parkinson’s. The painting served as a backdrop illustration for a speech he made in August to 500 youth at a church conference in Bakersfield. He told kids to not be held down by different difficulties and trials.

“We all go through fiery trials and tribulations, but they don’t have to define who we are,” Johnny says. “When something negative happens to us, we’re not rejected, we’re not a failure. I liked sports. In sports, there’s always a challenge, always something you have to persevere through. You have to adapt. It tests your faith and builds character.”

Johnny says the impairment won’t lessen the quality of his work.

“Maybe it’ll be less refined,” he says. “But there are beautiful pieces of art that are a lot more loose and there’s beautiful pieces of art that are a lot more refined. But yes, I probably have had to loosen my approach and brushwork, but that doesn’t mean the quality has go down.”

Johnny was so painfully shy in his childhood that teachers wondered if he was abused at home.

“I was always a quiet kid to the point in the elementary school teachers thought something was wrong with me. I was deathly afraid to say something stupid.” Read the rest: Parkinson’s artist

Gunslingers at volleyball in Santa Monica

Katherine (left) and Allie

Suddenly, the volleyball court disappeared and the scene of a hot and dusty Wild West town emerged.

As a tumbleweed rolled lazily along in the scorching breeze and innocent bystanders scampered for cover, Allie Scribner, hands readied for her quickest draw, squinted sternly at her rival, Westmark’s Katherine Abraham.

When the ref blew the whistle, the gunslinger Allie fired, a blistering serve… straight at the person best able to return it, Katherine.

“I wanted to ace their best player,” Allie explained afterward. “I wanted to make them feel pain.”

It might seem that to liquidate the game efficiently, it was in Lighthouse Christian Academy’s interest to target easy victims with the deadly gunfire.

But when the spirit of posse justice possesses her, Allie turns into a merciless marksman.

“Number 1 had really good serves and overall played really well with the girls,” admitted Katherine, who herself was a powerful player and struck fear into the Santa Monica private school’s heart. Read the rest: Christian private school near Venice, CA – volleyball

Reform school volleyball in Los Angeles

Two years ago, Heidy Hutchinson misbehaved in school and, looking for a fresh start, transferred to Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica.

On Wednesday, Heidy led the 2nd-string team to a 1st-rate victory against beginner’s team Summit View School to notch-up LCA’s record to 6-1.

“Me and my brother went to public school, we got in trouble, we had to come here,” Heidy says. “We kind of became better people and grew in school. I learned more about God. I got closer to God, and that’s it.”

The sidelines erupted in wild cheers for Heidy as serve after serve — underhanded serves — went over the net and — excuse the pun — netted points for LCA.

They weren’t cheering for Lighthouse, which was unyieldingly driving Summit into the depths. They were cheering strictly for Heidy. She’s come a long way. (Link to an article on Heidy from 2019.)

“I’m not really a sports person. I’m not very athletic,” Heidy says. “I didn’t really want to play volleyball, but Sarah (Montez) and Lakin (Wilson) pushed me to play. They begged me to. I’m really thankful they did because I wouldn’t be playing if they didn’t.”

Lighthouse is NOT a reform school. But they say God can re-form anyone who has taken missteps down the wrong path.

When Heidy scored the last point, players on the bench mobbed her, high-fiving and hugging.

“She got the last winning serve!” Sarah said. “She’s the team captain.”

Heidy is not team captain, but… Read the rest: Christian School Los Angeles sports program

Homage to the Queen

Every ball she hit was for her mother.

Her mother passed away just months ago.

“My hardest hardship was my grieving. My loss,” Dahlia Gonzalez says. “It makes me want to play better… for my mom.”

Mom inspired Dahlia, and the whole Lighthouse Christian Academy team, to victory Tuesday in three sets against Ojai Valley School.

“Dahlia did pretty well this game. She did have an injured finger, but it didn’t seem to hold her back this game,” says Coach Jessica Young. “They were all good. She’s a natural athlete. Some of her passes looked like collegiate level to me. They were beautiful like in a magazine. She made some last-minute saves on the sideline. She can hit ambidextrously.”

Ray Dalio may be the master of the market, but la reina Dahlia is the queen of the court.

She has overcome a lot. The loss of her mother was on top of all the difficulties of Covid and not being around friends and not practicing sports (her preferred is softball).

The Saints dispensed the Spuds (Yes, they call themselves the Spuds. No, potatoes are not a big crop from Ojai) empty-handed.

Playing on grass in the private school’s bucolic Ojai property, LCA team members had to adjust. Hits were affected by breezes. Jumps were harder without the hardwood base. Diving would not displace the fall with a slide of smooth wood surface. Read the rest: Santa Monica Christian school sports volleyball

Meth spiked with fentanyl killing homeless in Venice, Santa Monica

The beaches of Venice are mostly free of tents and people sleeping outside as lots of homeless have been given either bus tickets or housing in cheap hotels, says advocate Mike Ashman.

But meth laced with fentanyl is killing addicts at a quick clip, and getting a roof over their head is only part of the solution, says the man who’s become a fixture now in Venice handing out free food to the needy.

“People are taking methamphetamines cut with fentanyl, and it’s just nasty,” Mike told Patch. “It’s really cooking their brains. They’re walking zombies. They can’t string together a sentence.”

A month ago, Mike greeted one of his regulars, who stared back oddly without saying a word. Mike, who’s used to dealing with addicts, figured the guy would sleep it off. Instead, he watched police putting him, first with convulsions, on a stretcher just hours later via YouTube live stream.

“His body went completely limp. I swore he was dead,” Mike said but saw him again a week-and-a-half later and gave him a big bear hug.

The man considered himself to be lucky: “I’m so mad at myself for doing that stuff,” he reportedly told Mike, who’s been in Venice for three years with his non profit You Matter. “I lived through that one.”

But Mike hasn’t seen the man since. “I’m hoping he’s got some help,” Mike adds.

By Mike’s tally, a homeless person dies every week from overdose. He gets the news from his regulars who come and tell him about so-and-so found dead in a bathroom or on a street, he says.

Since June the LA Sheriff embarrassed Los Angeles officials… Read the rest: Homelessness in Venice, CA

Driving spikes

He drove spikes into Compton’s coffin.

“What turned this game around? To be honest, John Spikes, our captain,” Coach Kelly Ledwidth told Patch. “When he drove that conversion in and then that touchdown in he gave the team all the energy that it needed. They just started playing the way we knew they could. We gave him the ball and he got a hard-effort touchdown and a hard-effort extra point, and it sparked the energy the guys needed.”

Santa Monica downed the Compton Tartars in a decisive 46-18 to begin its league games brightly. After a several disappointing seasons, the Corsairs feel they have the team this year for a winning season, even though they played a sloppy loss to El Camino last Saturday.

“Second half we came and had to change the attitude when we came in and change the tempo,” Spikes said. “I feel like we can go places as long as we set the tempo like that every single time, the sky’s the limit.”

After allowing two touchdowns, Santa Monica’s defensive coach reconfigured their lineup on the field to stymie the Tartans, who had trouble driving the ball but capitalized on a few big plays to score.

At halftime, the Corsairs were losing 17-18, but they were patching holes. Compton didn’t score in the second half.

Receiving the kickoff, Santa Monica passed and ran the ball to the TD. That’s when John Spikes, fullback running back, made the inspirational, bruising 2-point conversion.

“I just had some dog in me,” said Spikes, a student who aims to be a nurse and has overcome personal tragedy and a frustrating ineligibility last season due to a course load snafu.

When the Corsairs kicked off, they stopped Compton’s runback deep. It was Spikes who made the tackle. Of course. Read the rest: Santa Monica College football 2021

Duty? Who believes in duty any more?

Lighthouse Christian Academy unrelentingly buried volleyball rivals Hillcrest, which fought fiercely for life in the third and final set, battling each rally up to a minute. The final 30-28 meant Hillcrest returned home without consolation.

With solid hits, serves and life-saving digs, Sarah Montez led the mostly freshman team in the 3-set sweep.

But there’s something funny about her leadership. The 5’3″ senior only took to volleyball only out of a sense of obligation.

“I have to make it my duty to serve my school and team because they are my family at the end of day,” Sarah says.

DUTY?

After modernism, postmodernism and existentialism staged a coup on our intellectual framework, the antiquated concept of duty has fallen into almost complete disuse. Ridiculed and deconstructed by philosophers, literary titans and intelligentsia, the concept of duty is a quaint castoff gone the way of knights and lances from the times of chivalry.

Duty.

Sarah committed to volleyball out of duty to her school. She practiced assiduously, joined a summer beach volleyball program and hit the gym.

All that commitment paid off Wednesday. She whacked the ball, rallied her players, guided the team to a hard-scrabble superiority.

Secret recipe Pho

The secret is the in the Pho.

Namely, Roxy Photenhauer — or simply “Pho” — who smacked the volleyball with vengeance to inspire her team, the Lighthouse Christian Academy, to fight until death in their attempt to repeat their season opening win.

In a thrilling 5-game match that saw Lighthouse teeter on the brink of losing in three close sets, LCA lost to always-tough rivals Newbury Park Adventist Academy in varsity volleyball Thursday. Two days earlier, Lighthouse handily defeated Pilgrim School of Burbank.

In set 3, the Newbury Park crowd erupted in cheers as one of their champion hitters thundered a ball down upon their rivals, only to be silenced by an impossible dig that fired it sneakily over the net unanswered.

The astonishing response came from sophomore Roxy Photenhauer, the last-born in a chain of same-named athletes and artists who have graced LCA’s hallowed halls.

“Roxy dug a ball pretty much as good as an Olympian could do it,” remarked Coach Jessica Young. “The other team was cheering for her.”

Roxy’s digging and serving — along with some mental toughness from her fellow Saints — sparked a comeback drive.

After losing the first two sets 21-25 and 24-26, the Lighthouse Saints rallied to squeak through with a 27-25 win in Game 3. Read the rest: Lighthouse Christian Academy Santa Monica

Before there was Corona, there was crisis in Venezuela on border of Colombia

dr. bob hamilton and ligthhouse medical missions in columbia 2020Some of them walked 10 days to cross the border into Colombia in search of food or medical supplies they could take back to socialism-starved Venezuela.

Johnny Huerta and a team of six doctors, eight nurses and 24 other volunteers were in Cucuta, Colombia, on a temporary medical and feeding mission to show the love of Christ in a tangible way.

“We were swarmed by people,” said Johnny, who’s a painter and baseball player from Santa Monica. “They were grabbing us, grabbing us, like, ‘Pray for me. Pray for me.’”

food for venezuelan refugeesThe pleas for prayers grew to a fevered pitch after some miraculous healings and exorcisms, Johnny says.

The Lighthouse Medical Mission, which got its start 25 years ago in war-torn West Africa, landed on the border of Venezuela on March 7th — before most of the U.S. got locked down over Coronavirus fears. The humanitarian crisis of 40,000 daily border crossings there has been essentially eclipsed.

The Santa Monica-based team provided medical attention and drugs and handed out 3,000 meals a day in conjunction with World Central Kitchen in three areas: in Cucuta, in a Yukpa village on the outskirts of town and in nearby Pamplona. The 39 people divided up in teams to minister in each area.

Johnny Huerta Cucuta Columbia

Johnny Huerta shares fun with the kids.

Johnny was assigned logistics, took pictures, but mostly got roped into translation. The stories he heard of dead family members and left-behind family members appalled him as well as the squalor he witnessed. In the Yukpa village, there were no bathrooms and people lived in huts fashioned with tree limbs and plastic tarp.

“People can live with little and still be happy, but this was not healthy,” Johnny says. “They bathe in an unsanitary river, and that’s why they get lots of infections. They also drink out of that river.

“They have makeshift huts built out of garbage. Babies are walking around naked. They pretty much have nothing. It was one of those shocking situations where you say, ‘Wow people are waking up and living like this every day with unhealthy conditions.’”

The team brought two chefs, but they were prevented from serving until they scrambled to obtain Columbia food preparation licenses.

When they arrived at the border on the first day, “we weren’t sure how they were going to respond as we got out of the van to serve the food,” Johnny says. “They were desperate for food and outnumbered us. Immediately they ran over and we tried to get them in a line, which eventually became a crowd.

“As we tried to transport apples from the back of the van to the food serving area they began to crowd the back of the van as well. We ended up handing out the apples from the van as we were never gonna get through. The next couple of times we fed at the border we organized police protection in advance and were a bit more organized. Even then it was still a bit chaotic.”

Short-term missions are highly recommended because they can impact American church-goers forever: they broaden horizons, impart vision and erode entitlement.

“I was just thankful they gave me the privilege of being able to go with me,” Johnny says. “You feel like you get more out than you put into it. I’m more mature in my faith and in my life than I was before.”

As busy as he was being pulled this way and that, Johnny still found time to share his passion for painting with the kids. It was a personal connection he’ll treasure for life.

In Pamplona, the team attended 3,000 patients.

Many people are losing their eyesight because of rampant infections, Johnny says.

While the doctors saw patients, the pastors and lay leaders were praying for people, many of whom got healed even before they received medical attention, Johnny says.

That’s when they started getting swarmed.

Because witchcraft is widely practiced in the region, several people were delivered from demonic spirits, Johnny says.

“One lady was released from demon possession. She looked super oppressed beforehand and was all smiles afterward,” Johnny says. “They practice witchcraft and spiritism because of their circumstances. They’re reaching out for help. But when we came to them with the gospel, they were open.” Read the rest: Venezuelan refugees Christian response

Gotta keep your cool

IMG_6230Coach poured coolant into the radiators at halftime.

Down 5-18, Lighthouse Christian Academy performed better in the second half, though not good enough to beat its amaranthine rival Hillcrest of Thousand Oaks in a foul fest of a basketball game on Friday.

“These guys have to learn to handle their frustrations with referees, with contact in these games,” said coach David Horowitz. “I’m trying to remind them that when you play with the power of God, you answer to that. You don’t have to get fired up about it.”

Senior Marcus Scribner was bringing competition to Hillcrest with speed and physicality. He was beating players and putting up shots. Others on the Lighthouse were missing and misunderstanding passes.

After the half time pep talk from coach, others calmed their nerves and began to score, including the ever-calm Pat Cannon, who uncharacteristically reacted a ref’s call in the first half, resulting in free throws for the opponents.

Senior Zachary Brewer found his rhythm, and Daniel O’Neil, the tallest player in the court, lurked into the key to receive passes and score. The Santa Monica Christian school hit 25 points in the second half.

But its defense leaked.

“We definitely played better in the second half. Our energy was better,” said Coach David. “But we didn’t have the defense we wanted to be able to shut (them) down. Our defense didn’t hone it down.

“We had no business being that ugly early. We’re just better than that,” he added. “We put ourselves in a hole, and you start playing the other team’s game and you give them confidence. We had the ability and the skill to not only compete with these guys but to overcome it. Read the rest: Gotta keep your cool to win basketball.

He got his life back with God

God and basketball Lighthouse Christian Academy Santa MonicaSince he got his life back, Daniel O’Neil has got his academics back on track and something even more meaningful to him: basketball.

Lighthouse Christian Academy has to be grateful. The 6’3″ center won almost every rebound in LCA’s 36-68 loss to AGBU Vatch and Tamar Manoukian High School of Pasadena, last year’s league runner-up.

“I’m not used to playing this good. I’ve always been real hesitant with the ball but I’m getting confident with boxing people out on rebounds and stuff,” Danny says. “I was sent to wilderness (rehab camp) over the summer, and I really got connected with God.”

Danny’s loved basketball since the fifth grade, but when he started to get in trouble in his sophomore year, he dropped the sport. When he got his life back on track, basketball rebounded too.

“Basketball means a lot to me. I stopped playing in my sophomore year because I got into a lot of trouble,” he says. Camp was a lot of hiking, therapy and work. It was hard and only God helped he get through, he says. He enrolled in Lighthouse which looks out for spiritual side in forming maturity in young men and women. LCA offers a three strand cord: academics, sports and Christianity. Read the rest: God in basketball Santa Monica school.

On point as point guard

zach brewer Lighthouse Christian Academy Santa Monica basketballJerry Ballard’s buddies rued his absence on the football team this year, but he’s making up for it by starring at point guard on Lighthouse Christian Academy’s basketball team, which won yesterday against Highland Hall Waldorf School in Northridge.

It wasn’t the successive concussions from boxing that kept him out of football, he says. It was the wrist and ankle injuries from the year prior.

An uninjured Jerry was darting nimbly all over the court, stealing balls, pressing forward, firing off passes, shots and layups. He led LCA to 55-20 victory Tuesday.

Marcus Scribner Lighthouse Christian Academy Santa Monica basketball“We expected to be a little rusty coming out of the (winter) break,” said Coach David Horowitz. “We didn’t have any practices. We focused on working together, getting our team chemistry early. The guys executed the play well. They didn’t get upset if they made a mistake. They learned from it, recovered from it. I saw them grow over the course of the game.”

The Saints dominated on rebounds and snuffed Highland Hall on defense. They stole balls and made fast breaks for layups. Read the rest: Lighthouse Christian Academy Santa Monica basketball.

Even with few players, Lighthouse of Santa Monica wins

Saints basketball 2nd game 2019Lighthouse Christian Academy was missing three starters for Tuesday’s basketball game because the seniors went to Six Flags Magic Mountain for an unauthorized ditch day and were disqualified from league play.

Naturally, players were glum. Having won its first game, LCA didn’t expect — with only six players (half the roster) — to be able to muster much.

But Highland Hall also showed up with only six players, and so the Santa Monica Saints won 43-22 in the Northridge game.

Merry Christmas.

At the first quarter, Lighthouse was sloppy. The score was 7-7. The Saints gave up easy turnovers.

In the second quarter, LCA picked up the pace and recovered its game somewhat, but still the score at half time was tight: 14-12. Read the rest: Santa Monica basketball private school.

Sinking shots in Santa Monica as smoothly as he skates

christian school santa monica basketball teamFirst skating. Then quarterbacking. Now shooting hoops.

Is there anything Pat Cannon can’t do?

Lighthouse Christian Academy won its basketball season opener against Summit View School 48-33.

Calm, cool, collected, the senior sunk shot after shot after a shot. Pat’s better know as Sk8erpat on Instagram where’s his magic with the skateboard has ranked up 19.6K followers.

Then, he was throwing around the football on LCA’s river rafting trip, and coach saw he had an arm. He got tapped for quarterback, where he led the Saints into playoffs this season.

Turn in football gear. Receive basketball uniform. Continue the same smooth execution. (Pat also golfs, but that’s another story.) He scored 15 points.

Lighthouse previously had a soccer team, but after almost a decade, the guys who kick the ball disappeared like the biblical transitory vapor.

Basketball, suddenly, was born at LCA. There were no coaches able to continue the soccer legacy. Instead, coaches stepped forward for basketball, and there was ample interest in the student population. Read the rest Lighthouse Christian Academy Santa Monica basketball team.

My wife swears by Go Greek, and I’m pretty convinced too

Go Greek Santa MonicaIf I were a frozen yogurt sommelier, I could tell you why Go Greek is superior. But since I can’t place my finger on it, I’ll just say Go Greek tastes healthier. Supposedly the ingredients are all imported from Greece. There’s no corner cutting. And yes, it tastes a bit more tart, a bit more yogurty, a bit healthier.

My wife swears by it.

Go Greek toppings naturalActually, I’m a bit of a cuisine curmudgeon. Just because something is more expensive does not mean it tastes better in my book. Hence, I frown upon her notion that Menchie’s (more expensive) is better than Yogurtland. They taste exactly the same to me.

Go Greek convinces me, the cynic.

Go Greek natural yogurtThey have nontraditional flavors: peanut butter and jelly, passionfruit, rose, hazelnut, carrot. Greek honey is a perennial. They have rotating flavors.

The toppings are noticeably different from your traditional frozen yogurt joint. Chocolate goes in the form of dark chocolate cacao nibs, dark chocolate espresso beans and unsweetened carob chips. There are raw, sliced almonds and fresh fruit. No sprinkles, no whipped cream, no other cheap American unwholesome frills.

Go Greek Santa Monica interiorThey don’t offer chocolate syrup, which apparently is too sugary for their healthy pretensions. Instead, they have sour cherry syrup, which is spectacular; Greek honey and rose petal sauce (which I haven’t tried).

Go Greek yogurtThere are three Go Greeks in Los Angeles and one in Las Vegas. No doubt they will expand across that nation, at least to places where sophisticated tastes prevail. They need more in L.A.

Go Greek frozen yogurt toppingsIf we are in Santa Monica, we usually stop in there.

1431 Ocean Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 310-2167
$ (more expensive than the average frozen yogurt place)

bamboo steamers Chinese thumbnail[Advert: The author sells 10-inch bamboo steamers on Amazon to broaden your culinary cooking experience. They are great for vegetables, fish and especially Chinese buns and dumplings that can be picked up frozen in specialty food markets and warmed to perfection, almost as good as the restaurant.]

It’s over

pummeler 8 man football in santa monica

They call them the twins: Hosea Ashcraft (my son, at left) and David Hutchinson.

They may have wanted the story of the Athenians against the Persians or Charles Martel against the Arabs, but Lighthouse Christian Academy‘s battle — despite a dazzling display of force and finesse — was that of Col. Custer.

“We laid the boom on the other team,” boasted head coach Zach Scribner. “But it was the classic David vs. Goliath. When they were looking at the schedule, probably the other team was happy to play us because we were 2 and 6. But I can guarantee that walking off the field they wished they could have played anybody else because nobody is as physical as us. Nine guys against 40. If we just had a few more guys, we would have been able to beat them. At the end of the game, they were all limping.”

LCA got its playoff spot unexpectedly. The Saints had lost most of their games, but those losses were against high-ranking division 1 teams. In their own division 2, they were 2-2. The surprise playoff call-up also meant they were matched against a top bracket team.

Pat cannon TD Lighthouse Christian Academy football santa monica“We knew what we were up against,” Coach Zach said.

Lancaster Baptist School had both an offense and a defense. Most Lighthouse players played every single down. Given the uneven match-up, the result was nothing to be ashamed of: 27-68.

It wasn’t realistic to believe the impossible dream. Still the Saints played brash ball. Hosea Ashcraft — who has been the team’s enforcer all season — was again at his antics of laying hard hits on key players, sowing misgivings and intimidation in their hearts.

“I felt like I hit the Great Wall of China,” said the battering ram, who was taken out of play in the third quarter because a face guard penetrated and hit his bridge of nose, drawing blood and momentarily impairing his vision. Read the rest: Santa Monica private school sports program.

Sk8erpat now is famous in football too

sk8erpatHe could have mangled his fingers, broken his toes, fractured his ribs… any number of ER trauma from high school football.

Pat Cannon — known on Instagram is Sk8erpat with 19K followers worldwide — wants to go pro skateboarding, so what was he doing playing football for the Lighthouse Christian Academy?

On Saturday, the senior scored a touchdown, handed off and passed for touchdowns as quarterback to help the Saints win 34-30 against Cal Lutheran Wildomar in LCA’s season closer.

He gambled with jeopardizing his true passion for somebody else’s.

“I just wanted to help my teammates out. I wanted to help my school,” Pat said. “It was worth it. It was one of the best decisions of my life.”

Lighthouse christian academy football santa monica private schoolThe Saints’ high hopes for its 2019 season were dashed in the first game of the season.

That’s because Levi Photenhauer, a slick runner with unflagging tenacity, went down with a torn ACL. It was as if LCA had lost its queen early in a game of chess.

The Saints still had Seniors Marcus Scribner and Hosea Ashcraft to marshal the defense and ramrod the offense. But their core horsepower was cut by one-third. LCA only won two games all season.

Out of the crater of the first game, coaches asked soldiers to rise up and (attempt to) fill the gap.

Josie Bowen was a notable revelation. The sophomore was a beast on kickoff returns and tackling. He scored a TD Saturday that was called back because of an illegal block.

Sophomore Steven Lahood, who grew like Gulliver over the summer, rose to the challenge and became an offensive threat and a stolid defensive player. He blocked a key pass in the final moments of the game to assure LCA’s victory.

Rob Scribner, an unobtrusive freshman, exploited his unmenacing frame, to surprise with touchdown catches. David Hutchinson, a newbie to football, became a solid lineman and tackler. Brandon Farah learned how to do in real life what previously he had done only on video games, and Luke Mammana performed pinpoint kicks under pressure.

“We didn’t have all the pieces on defense, so we had to decide where we were going to bend,” said Assistant Coach Josh Scribner, father to Marcus and Rob. “Marcus is our backer or end, but we decided to put him deep so there was never a breakout. Our game plan was give them a 5-yard play, give them a 7-yard play, give them a 3-yard play. But we never give up the 60-yard breakout blow.

“For their touchdowns, they had to drive it all the way down, and time went off the clock, and we scored fast. Bam, bam, bam,” Josh said. “We’d get up, and maybe they’d make a mistake, and we’d get the ball back, and that’s when the game was played. I think the key to the game was we had a lot of people that we’re involved. Everybody made great plays.”

In the first five minutes, Lighthouse scored two touchdowns. Rob intercepted a pass, and immediately Marcus caught the pass on LCA’s first play to burn defenders and run for a touchdown. Then LCA came in for hard hits on kickoff, provoking a fumble, which Brandon recovered. On the first play, a pass to Hosea brought another TD. Read the rest of sk8erpat on football.

 

Bad blood among brothers — a football rivalry between Christian schools in LA

bad blood among brothersThere hasn’t been so much bad blood between Christian brothers since the Baptists accused the Pentecostals of being of the devil about 100 years ago.

The last time Lighthouse Christian Academy beat their perennial archrivals Hillcrest Christian in 8-man football was 2014.

That year, Ricky Rand cheekily snatched the ball out of the cocked arm of the quarterback, who was ready to throw, and ran for a touchdown. That snarky steal typified a game of gleeful humiliation.

Hillcrest never forgave Lighthouse and each year since then has exacted new revenge. Both teams are called “the Saints” but appear to think each other “the Satanists.”

On Saturday, Lighthouse lost 25-56, and at the final whistle Hillcrest ran into its corner and gloated and howled while Lighthouse glowered and hurled insults. Coaches stood midfield to make sure words didn’t come to blows.

“Let’s go! Let’s play one more game right now!” Hosea Ashcraft yelled across the field.

They weren’t just hollow words.

Lighthouse tends to compensate its inexperience and lack of execution with pure stamina and hard hits that bring results in the third and fourth quarter. They wear teams down. Even if they don’t win, they send opponents home with some real stingers — and a measure of respect.

In what amounted to the last significant play of the game, Josie Bowen rocked Hillcrest quarterback from his blind side, foiling a conversion attempt.

Hosea hit a kid so hard that he knocked the ball free late in the third quarter for a turnover that the blood-sniffing Saints thought marked their turnaround point.

The crash and kill strategy wore down mighty Milken Community School on Sept 20 and earned the praise of opposing coach of Downy Calvary Chapel Christian School on Sept. 8. He called tiny Lighthouse, with enrollment 45, to the military last stand of the 300.

Read the rest of football rivalry among Christian schools.

Administration 101: A+ Volleybal: meh

Lighthouse Christian Academy Santa Monica volleyball team 2019For administration class, A+. Actual volleyball, a C, at best.

Lighthouse Christian Academy of Santa Monica won four out of nine games this season in varsity volleyball. Girls from all different levels banded together and put forth their best effort. On Wednesday, the Saints limped out of its season against Westmark School of Encino.

“We all got in our heads,” says Sarah Montez, sophomore. Our emotions got to us. When somebody wouldn’t do good, we would think, Oh, well, she’s not going to get anymore. We got frustrated with each other. That was our worst game we’ve ever done.”

But while LCA’s volleyball has fallen off from the years when the slashed their way into playoffs, other skills associated with participating on team soared.

Namely, Sarah Montez became an entrepreneur.

When she found out that LCA wasn’t going to even have a team due to lack of interest among the girls, she spearheaded a move to assemble a team.

“Sarah and her parents were a major driving force in wanting to make sure there was a team this year,” says LCA Principal Josh Young.

Sarah, with the help of her parents and her close friend Laken Wilson, communicated with all the school’s girls and encouraged, cajoled, persuaded, spammed by text until enough players relented from the low self confidence and agreed to integrate on the squad.

Then, having mastered the business strategies of forming “a staff” and motivating them to their optimal performance, Sarah forayed into a search for a CEO. (There was no coach, which is a volunteer position.)

She held brainstorming session with interested parties. She formed a search committee to identify and recruit a ideal candidate. (She got her parents involved.)

They used software to scoure LinkedIn. Just kidding. They thought of who might pitch in from the Lighthouse Church, LCA’s oversight organization.

They zeroed in on Felipe Rodriguez for all his merits: He had time. He liked working with the youth. He was an expert at sports and teams.

There was only one drawback: Felipe didn’t know a thing about volleyball.

But options were few, and Felipe had the will to serve — even if he didn’t know how to serve (a volleyball).

Felipe contacted his good friend and fellow youth worker, Xiovana Moraida, who assists her husband, Lucas Moraida, as youth leaders in the Lighthouse Church of Santa Monica.

X — as she prefers to be called — agreed immediately to be head coach while Felipe was assistant. X had played volleyball in high school and played soccer in college, so she knew about competition and team dynamics. Read the rest: Learning business schools at a small school in Santa Monica.

Growing confidence leads to win at Santa Monica Christian school in volleyball

santa monica private school girls volleyballOverconfidence preceded lack of confidence.

We would start most games cocky. Then when we started to make mistakes or face tougher-than-expected competition, the false confidence gave way to self-defeatism.

We would jinx ourselves.

But on Tuesday, Lighthouse Christian Academy decided to start the game different: with humility and determination.

As is the case with most sports, the psychological game wins the game.

We won against Hillcrest Christian School of Thousand Oaks in three sets, confirming dominance started in a pre-season face-off.

In the first game, a big hit against our confidence was a ref’s call. We saw the ball as clearly landing in, but the line ref said it was out. Even an opponent volunteered to the ref that the call was wrong, that it was in.

But the head ref ruled it out.

It blasted our momentum. Read the rest of Psychological game wins the game – Santa Monica Christian school.

Not succumbing is overcoming

Lighthouse Christian Academy Santa Monica volleyballHeidi Hutchinson wasn’t too upset by Lighthouse’s loss Wednesday.

That’s because she’s winning, though losing.

Heidi comes from a rough background. So now, not only does she attend a school she says loves her, she’s part of a team actually playing league sport.

“I’m learning about being on a team instead of just working by myself,” says Heidi. “They never gave up on me when I couldn’t hit the ball straight. When I first started, I didn’t know how to do anything, but now we’re playing actual games. I have some real friends.”

Lighthouse Christian Academy lost in three sets to Delphi Academy of Santa Monica 21-25, 14-25 and 17-25. LCA’s record is 3-4.

But Heidi knows that winning has many measures. If you’re a school that regularly churns out batches of Ivy League-bound college kids and draws from club team sports, then congratulations, you’re a winner.

But for others in life who don’t get the supportive, nurturing start of a dual parent home with no financial lack, just making the decision to not succumb is to overcome.

Eventually, Child Protective Services intervened for Heidi and her twin brother David. After years of neglect and abuse, they are now adopted by their grandparents, who enrolled them at LCA.

The last time Heidi saw her mom was 2017. And her dad? When she was 4.

This is not a sob story. This is a story of how people can be winners. All of society is a winner for every kid who chooses to rise above hardship, process and hopefully heal from the trauma and not spiral out of control with some pernicious coping mechanism.

“It wasn’t until the middle of 9th grade when I came to the Lighthouse, and me and my brother finally felt cared about by teachers and friends,” Heidi says.

Good things happened because Sarah Montez and I wanted to play volleyball badly.Read the rest: Not succumbing is overcoming – Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica.

The X-Factor in Santa Monica Saints volleyball

X Factor on LCA volleyball teamXiovana Moraida doesn’t even want to call herself a volleyball coach. Her sport was soccer, and she was really good at that. She was team captain of Santa Monica College’s women’s soccer team in 2014. But she was pressed into it.

“I knew that if I didn’t step up and coach that there wouldn’t be a girl’s volleyball team,” says Xiovana, who goes by the easier-to-pronounce “X.”

Nevertheless, Xiovana has become the X factor behind Lighthouse Christian Academy’s resurgence into varsity volleyball after the sport was dropped out of the Saints’ offerings a few years ago.

On Monday, the Santa Monica Saints beat San Fernando Valley Academy from Northridge in five sets 25-19, 13-25, 25-23, 24-26, 15-13. LCA now has two wins and three losses.

Xiovana was born in Lodi but was raised in Lockeford, California.

santa monica volleyball christian high schoolStarting at the ripe old age of 5 years old, she played and loved soccer.

In 2013, Xiovana came to live in Santa Monica to live with her aunt for soccer while attending SMC. She was the captain of the SMC soccer team in her sophomore year (as well as being the captain of her high school soccer team). 

As Xiovana stayed in LA after college, she met her now husband Lucas Moraida. Lucas was from Arizona and was attending the Lighthouse Church. As her and Lucas began to talk more, X became a Christian and got more involved in the church. Read the rest of X-Factor in Santa Monica volleyball.

Gamer turns the tide to the (real) game

brandon farah, hero of lighthouse christian academyBrandon Farah hadn’t figured prominently in any play this year. Or last year.

But on Friday, the senior — who’s 99 parts gamer and 1 part football player — came up big in the third quarter with an interception that hammered the nail into the coffin of Beacon Hill Classical Academy. His heroics, in the red zone, preceded a 70-yard touchdown run by Marcus Scribner that left no doubt that tide had turned. Lighthouse Christian Academy won 56-28.

“I didn’t know the ball hit me until I got it, until I looked down,” Brandon said, projecting modesty in his moment of glory.

Brandon Farah, the softie, played hard. The cocoon burst, and the kid who always said he loved football was finally playing real football. Not just on a monitor.

“It was a great game. It was a great four quarters,” said Justin Kayne, offensive coordinator filling in for head coach Zach Scribner who was out sick. “We came out and it was a battle. We scored, they scored, we scored, they scored. We made a few adjustments. Our guys answered the call, and look what happened when we played four quarters of sound, hard-hitting football.

“This was a statement game,” Kayne added. “We made a statement. This is what Lighthouse football is all about. This is one win. We are going to build on this win. We’re going to continue to build on this.”

The Saints now have one win and two losses in CIF Southern Section 8-man football.

No one could have predicted a landslide victory by half time. Both teams seemed pretty even, score for score, man for man, plays for plays. One ref called the high-scoring 1st quarter a “track event” because there was so much running for touchdowns. LCA was ahead by a slim 22-20.

When the Saints fumbled in the 2nd quarter, it gave the Gryphons a chance to pull ahead.

However, the team from Camarillo failed to capitalize on that gift. In response, the Santa Monica boys scored. It was 30-20 at half time.

In the second half, both teams wanted to come out strong. LCA got the upper hand.

Marcus Scribner was running rampant with the ball. He was burning opponents with speed, breaking ankles with cuts and punishing with stinging hits when Gryphons were making tackles. He smashed them, strong-armed them and ground down their will to put up a fight. Every WWF body slam was an injection of intimidation for opponents.

While Marcus was playing the unstoppable superhero, his LCA teammates were stepping up and making contributions.

Senior Hosea Ashcraft, alternating with Marcus, ran the ball to keep the Gryphon defense guessing. Originally a soccer player who never really understood the intricacies of football, Hosea was dashing with speed, power and cuts that he had never made before.

Quarterback Pat Canon was making unaccustomed tackles on defense, and secret weapon Steven Lahood was catching passes when the opponents concentrated too much on countering the “thunder and lightning” attack of Marcus and Hosea.

Even the kid brother, freshman Rob Scribner made a 2-point conversion reception. Overwhelmed with excitement that as a slender and small freshman he had succeeded in varsity football, Rob spiked the football, a violation that penalized the Saints kickoff 10 yards.

The offensive and defensive lines are to be credited. The Gryphons couldn’t make a single sack.

But the runaway surprise was Brandon. Read the rest of Making men out of boys through football at Christian school in Santa Monica.

300 (how a small Christian school in Santa Monica puts up a fight in football)

Lighthouse Santa Monica footballThis was not King Leonidas’ battle. It was Gideon’s.

After witnessing Lighthouse’ undermanned but courageous stand against his team, Downey’s coach Mike Nuño compared his Santa Monica opponents to the Old Testament hero who vanquished the Midianites with an army of just 300.

“You’re like Gideon’s warriors,” Nuño told them after Saturday’s game. “You guys are the 300 that stayed and say, ‘Man, we’re going to go out there and do this thing.’ It takes heart. You guys battle and battle and battle. You guys come out with a small group year after year after year and fight until the end.”

If Lighthouse Christian Academy got compared to Gideon’s 300, it lost like Leonidas’ 300, overwhelmed by the endless swarming hordes of the Persian Empire. Despite a late first-half, valiant but quixotic surge, the Saints lost 21-62 against Calvary Chapel Christian School of Downey in CIF’s Southern Section 8-man football league.

“I coached 16 players one year, and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” Nuño said. “You come out with 10 or 12 players. I applaud you guys for that.”

LCA and the Grizzlies were roughly even at the beginning of the game as players sized each other up, identified strengths and weaknesses and sought to exploit opportunities. Realizing their superior firepower, the Grizzlies began to pull away, making the score 6-24.

But then a short kickoff gave Lighthouse a short field to drive for a touchdown. Senior Marcus Scribner caught a pass in the 2nd quarter for a touchdown to make it — with the subsequent 2 point conversion — 14-24.

Downey discovered they could essentially block Lighthouse as long as they needed to make the long bomb pass and quickly added a TD.

When Lighthouse tried to reply, the Grizzlies stymied their advance. Despite a dazzling one-handed catch and subsequent power scramble from senior Hosea Ashcraft, the Saints were unable to capitalize and had to punt.

The Grizzlies shot their effective long pass down the right side to 1st and goal. It seemed they would pull away definitively in the scoring. But sophomore David Hutchinson tackled a running back for a 2-yard loss, and two passes bounced off the receivers hands brought an unexpected stop to the Downey steamroll. Read the rest of Christian school Santa Monica football fight.

The quiet kid is heard in football

lighthouse christian academy football santa MonicaHe was the quietest of five brothers. While his older brothers fought and his younger brother was being the mischievous clown, Steven Lahood was the quiet — and obedient — of the siblings, both at home and at school.

But Friday, Steven made himself heard, first with a touchdown on the second play of the game and then by stripping the ball from Teach Tech Charter High player and running almost for a touchdown in what was Lighthouse’s last chance to overtake its opponents.

Despite the sophomore’s eruption on the football field, Lighthouse Christian Academy of Santa Monica lost its opening game 25-38 in its sputtered bid to establish league dominance this year.

2019 was supposed to be the year for the Saints. With a crop of talented, speedy and big seniors, LCA hoped to win by big margins.

But key man, Levi Photenhauer, injured his knee in the first quarter and went out for the game. Without the speed of “Cheese” (as coach calls him for his shock of red hair), the Saints’ offense centered pretty much around hulkish Marcus Scribner, who trains constantly and wants to crack the NFL.

“We became one-dimensional,” said Head Coach Zach Scribner, Marcus’ uncle.

Marcus delivered.

After a controversial ref’s call annulled a Lighthouse touchdown because of a smart block by Marcus, the blond-haired kid returned undaunted to the offense and caught a pass to not be denied the TD.

But it was not enough. At the end of the day, the Tech’s Rams from Los Angeles, weaved and wobbled their way through the Saints enough times to secure the win. Read the rest about Small Christian School’s football team.

He astounded with his viral video to calm crying infants. Now Dr. Bob Hamilton has a book

dr bob hamilton holdBob Hamilton was still a college student in the throes of getting a medical degree and becoming a doctor when his young wife delivered shocking news.

She was pregnant.

“How did this happen?” he wondered almost out loud. “What are we going to do now?”

A line of well-meaning friends and fellow students began to lecture them: having a child at such a young age, while in medical school, while scrimping finances, would “destroy us both, along with any career plans,” he remembers. They spoke “with great authority.”

“What we discovered was quite the opposite,” says Dr. Bob in his new book 7 Secrets of the Newborn: Secrets and (Happy) Surprises of the First Year.

51pTEm-HXZL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_The stated goal of the book is to reassure overly-worried newlyweds that parenting is still possible in the perfection-obsessed 2010s and that having children is delightful. It might as well have been a how-to guide as he delves into the nitty-gritty details of changing diapers, scheduling sleep and coping with colic.

Robert Hamilton is a Christian pediatrician in Santa Monica who has led medical teams into Africa and Latin America for 20 years. His viral video “The Hold” — showing how to stop an infant’s crying by wrapping his arms and holding him at 45 degrees — created a sensation and put him on the world’s radar. Currently clocking 37 million views, the 4-minute video earned him the moniker “The Baby Whisperer.”

First he calmed babies, now he’s calming anxiety-ridden parents: Relax and enjoy the cute critters.

The book spends considerable time describing the wonder and beauty of babies in scientific detail. With elegant prose, it evokes images as if it were a documentary inside and outside of the womb. It leaves the reader with a sensation of awe and wonder.

The book also includes fascinating scientific discoveries in the form of excerpted nuggets scattered throughout that are worth a read by themselves. Hamilton could have aimed at the abortion debate directly, but he wisely avoids polemics. Read the rest of  7 Secrets of the Newborn: Secrets and (Happy) Surprises of the First Year.

Barely — miraculously — escaped from rebels in Sierra Leone

pa gbino

Pa Gbani

When the Sierra Leonean rebels swept through Kabala torching houses and government buildings, Pa Gbani decided not to run. In his room, he read his Bible, prayed and waited for the inevitable.

As a detective at the police barracks, Pa was among the targets as 30 rebels trained by Libya’s Colonel Muammar Gadaffi doused buildings with gas and fired rocket-propelled grenades during the 1994 attack.

church kabala sierra leone

Pastor Ralph’s church Kabala, Sierra Leone, circa 1994

Miraculously, the fire died down before reaching his room. In fact, the same thing happened for everybody in his church.

“Nobody was killed or injured or had property loss that was in our church,” says Pastor Ralph Bowen, a missionary from Santa Monica at the time in Sierra Leone. “God just protected them. It was a day of miracles.”

It was Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego all over again.

One church member hid in a banana tree. Two guys lay quietly on top of a thick wall hidden in the dusk. Pastor Ralph had the good fortune to have a vehicle, in which he fled with his wife and a few disciples.

ralph bowen missionary africa

Pastor Ralph and Brenda Bowen

At one point on the road out of town, a total stranger came out to him and warned him to head down an alternative route. The rebels were ahead, he warned. Ralph found out later it was true.

There were an estimated 50 deaths in the rebel attack on Kabala.

The deliverance of the American missionary’s church members was extraordinary because they weren’t known for caution. The fact of the matter is that Ralph and his street-preaching disciples courted danger as a result of their boldness. Read the rest of the dramatic details of American missionary under attack by Sierra Leonean rebels in 1994.

A different kind of success

josh young santa monicaStraight out of college, Josh Young worked for Veneklasen Associates, a transnational multimillion dollar sound engineering firm. He bought a house in Santa Monica for his beautiful bride and budding family.

Then all of sudden, he jumped from the corporate ladder and ditched his enviable success.

“I felt unfulfilled at the engineering firm. I wanted to make an impact in people. But that was not financially feasible until there was a miracle in my finances,” said young-looking LCA teacher. “My mortgage went down. Instead of saving more money, I decided to take a pay- and benefit cut to work for the church and school.”

Now, Josh Young is poised to take over the Lighthouse Christian Academy as principal, as long-time chief Jack Mefford steps aside to pursue his calling to start a church in Pismo Beach this June.

LCA new principalSome would say Josh sabotaged his own financial security, but he is completely happy with his decision for people over pay.

“I’m living the American dream,” he insisted. “Well, if it’s just money and moving up the corporate ladder, no, I don’t miss that. It was stressful. It was very demanding. I wasn’t happy. Coming over here to try to help people, I’m healthier, happier. I have more freedom with my time. I’m able to pursue more interests like being a chaplain.”

For two years now, Josh Young has been the Chief Financial Officer of the Lighthouse Church schools and church planting machine. He was ordained as a pastor in 0000. He teaches government, guitar, economics and history at LCA.

And, he’s a chaplain for the Santa Monica Fire Department, which means he gets called out of the office (or his bed) whenever there’s a first-responder’s emergency and has to be on hand for victims of fire or violence in the moment of shock when tragedy just struck.

“It’s a great opportunity to help people that are experiencing very difficult moments in life. Usually it’s a death or a near-death, some life-altering event,” Josh said. “They are alone or scared, and just to be a compassionate person ministering to them and helping them is a privilege.”

How did he get roped into the unpaid chaplaincy? As with most great things that great men do, his great wife signed him up.

“She worked in the Santa Monica UCLA emergency room, and firemen came by and said they were starting a chaplain program, and they asked her if her husband would be interested,” he related. “The next thing I know, I got a phone call and they wanted to meet and talk about being a chaplain.”

Getting yanked from bed for a 3:00 a.m. fire may not be fun, but he gets to wear a cool fireman hat.

Josh Young was a child of divorce. His mom moved him and his two older sisters to Santa Monica. This may be hard to believe, but he was a rebellious kid.

As a punishment for misbehavior, he was forced to go to youth group at the Lighthouse Church.

Yup, that was the start of everything. (So don’t despair, parents, when your kids are disciplined.)

Ironically, his “punishment” led to friendships. He was in middle school and started making friends among the Lighthouse youth. This led to him accepting Jesus into his heart and becoming a disciple.

When he was about to enroll in high school, his mom asked: SaMoHi or LCA?

The rest is history.

As a scrawny freshman, he took PE, which at the time was working out with the football team. Weighing less than 100 pounds, Josh had absolutely no intention of playing 8-man varsity football with all the kid crushers in CIF’s Southern Section.

But before he knew it, he was being handed football pads and a helmet and found himself, bewildered and asking what happened, on the gridiron with guys three times his weight running at him and looking to crush him like an aluminum can.

“Let’s just say, I wasn’t a starter,” Josh recalled. “The greatest thing I did was I stopped a two-point conversion.”

LCA was going through something of a purge at the time with a slew of well-behaved kids being expelled, so his graduating class in the year 2000 was a mere four students. (Josh likes to brag that he graduated among the top four.)

Among his God decisions during high school, Josh bailed on the estrogen environment of his mom and sisters and moved into Pastor Rob Scribner’s house in north Santa Monica. Read the rest of LCA’s new principal.

Parachute students bring firepower to Lighthouse Christian Academy’s 7th straight soccer win

Japanse-students-in-AmericaIt really came as no surprise that it was LCA’s Japanese students who finally picked the lock to the Santa Clarita Valley International’s defense Thursday to spark a win at Westwood Recreational Center.

Shun Fukushigi — who plays the type of soccer they play in Heaven – laser-directed a corner to countryman Akihiro Oku, who headered into the net, breaking a defensive deadlock that had lasted half an hour.

SCVi is a new charter school with a new soccer program, so it’s understandable that their team was in bit of a disarray at the first meetup with our Santa Monica Christian school. Lighthouse Christian Academy — undefeated this season at seven games — expected to steamroll again Thursday but they hit roadblocks.

SCVi Coach Ken Erenberg had his troops dig in trenches and hold off an onslaught of blistering fire.

“We did a few little changes. This is a first year team,” Erenberg said. “Unfortunately, we look like a first-year program. I couldn’t be more proud for the first 30 minutes being scoreless. I’m like wow, these guys are great. I have a new goal keeper, and he was unbelievable. I think he made 20 saves. I was proud of the way our team played.”

But once Shun and Aki worked their magic, the goals started flowing. The final scoreline — 8-1 — doesn’t do justice to the real story of what happened on the pitch. The Stallions were like a totally different team, more organized and determined, than the away game. Read the rest: foreign high school students in Santa Monica bring success to soccer team.

Is that you, Messi?

santa-monica-christian-school-soccerThe singular sensation of watching Erhan Meric, who led Lighthouse Christian Academy to a 6-3 victory over Pilgrim Lutheran yesterday, is that one is witnessing the sublime soccer of a type of Messi.

He has Messi’s slight frame, his shyness and unselfishness. Erhan’s never boisterous, not given to braggadocio.

But when the ball falls to his feet, expect to hear an exquisite symphony.

Erhan, a senior at Lighthouse, is unobtrusive on the field. He lurks in open spaces and projects the image of the most unthreatening player.

But when he carried the ball up the right and single-handedly threaded his way through three defenders to slot on goal in the early minutes of the game, he put on notification the other team — indeed, the whole league — that he is not a man to be underestimated.

Erhan scored three and set up one. His header off a Beckham-perfect free kick brought the fourth goal in the second half in the Glendale Sports Complex.

And the good thing about this years Saints varsity team is that Erhan is not the only star. Actually a lot of technically skilled players combined yesterday to overwhelm Pilgrim Lutheran.

“We had good passing and good pressure,” said Coach Jack Mefford. “It was an exciting start to a promising season. We have a lot of new additions who know how to play soccer from the Bowens who grew up in Africa playing soccer to Shun (Fukushige) and Aki (Akihiro Oku) who played in Japan.”

Marcus Scribner, a sophomore, proved a bunker buster on offense, putting his football physique to good use against defenders. He scored two goals.

“Marcus’s two goals show how much he has matured because he struggled to finish last year,” Mefford said.

Aki, a junior, scored one, and Shun launched the goal-scoring free kick – a work of art – that connected with Meric’s head and past the hapless goalie. Read the rest: Saints soccer Santa Monica.

Geeking on a wave at a Santa Monica private school

surfing-elective-santa-monica-high-schoolBy Kayla Armstrong, LCA sophomore –

Can you imagine getting up at 6:00 am in the cold dark morning?! Especially if you have trouble waking up and feeling like a mummy walking around and putting on swimwear to get in the cold ocean! Well, at the Lighthouse Christian Academy, Pastor Josh Scribner teaches a surfing elective us Christian high school students! It’s nice to have a school right next to the beach of Santa Monica.

His surfing class is a very fun experience for me.

You won’t like the fact of getting up in the morning, but when you get to the beach and just looking at the gigantic waves you get very geeked and excited and it’s lots of fun.

surfing-class-lighthouse-christian-academy

Some heart-beating moments is when you are getting ready to catch the wave and sometimes the wave is so big that when your laying down riding on the wave you can see the sand that is at the bottom of the water and it’s a heart beating moment cause you are so high up that it feels like you are going to fall right into the sand and it the floor but you don’t because as soon as you stand up your weight pushes the surfboard down a little bit to where you are able to ride it and you feel accomplished.

Some funny moments is when looking at one of your classmates, and they don’t see a big wave coming and they get wiped out (the wave knocks them down) and it is very funny because you can’t do anything about it but watch the wave wipe them out. Some people don’t like getting wiped out because sometimes if the wave is really big or another one comes after it you constantly are underwater but as long as you are not scared and know you are going to come back up then you are fine! Because you are able to stand back up.

Surfing class is not for everyone Read the rest of surfing elective at a Santa Monica private school.

A water roller coaster

no-bullies-christian-high-schoolMost people think of camping as something they would never want to experience: Sleeping on the dank ground, eating only unsavory camp food, days without showering and nothing to do. But going on a trip at Lighthouse Christian Academy will change that.

I came to the Lighthouse when I was in seventh grade. They also offer the rafting trip to the students who attend our gradeschool counterpart the Lighthouse Church School, but it wasn’t until my freshman year that I decided to go on the rafting trip. What shocked me was the lack of people that wanted to go. With the urging of Mrs. Lisa Clancy, I decided to go and had a great time.

rafting-tripNow during my sophomore year, the trip rolled around and no one seemed like they wanted to go. Granted some people had other engagements but the group of people that went was small.

Even though the group was small, it was a fun time. The drive to the campsite seemed short because you bonded with the people in the car — or slept. When we arrived at the campsite, all of us from the Santa Monica Christian school were all taken aback by the breathtaking nature around us.

The campsite that the school goes to every year was better than any campsite I had been to before. There was indoor plumbing, a pool, and a small shop if you wanted to buy snacks. This made the camping part of the trip so much easier.

The rafting part of the trip was both frightening and entertaining. We rafted one of the more harder rivers, and though some people had a better time than others, the scared feeling before you rafted is worth it. There is an adrenaline rush you feel when you’re riding a literal water roller coaster. Read the rest of the rafting trip story.

Passion for teaching. Compassion for students.

jordan-payton-kathy-payton

Kathy Patyon’s son, Jordan, plays for the Cleveland Browns in the NFL. He, too, is a strong Christian.

Today Mrs. Kathy Payton is the fountain of love and advice for many of the girls at Lighthouse Christian Academy. Maybe the reason why she’s so understanding was she went through some struggles as a young lady.

Born in the “Windy City” of Chicago, Mrs. Payton was forced to go to Catholic mass, and it became a boring chore. As a teenager, she drifted away from God and starting drinking and going to parties. She didn’t care or think about if it was wrong.

She moved to Los Angeles and found true love in her quiet husband, Jerry. Still something didn’t feel right. A voice kept telling her to grab a Bible and read it. But she didn’t understand the sentences she read.

Her husband used to turn on the TV, and there would be a preacher relating to exactly what they were going through in her family, but she would say, “I don’t need to watch that.”

Her life was starting to get stressful and all she wanted was some peace. “I did pray once or twice, but I felt like God wasn’t working fast enough, like there was some type of wall blocking my prayer.”

Her life was falling apart and her relationship with her husband wasn’t the same and she wanted to leave.

Then one day, she walked into a store, and this lady invited her to church and prayer meetings. She went to church and felt like God was speaking to her in a way she couldn’t explain. The words filled her spirit. She became a “different person.” Read the rest about LCA’s Independent Study Program teacher.

Left him in the dust

santa-monica-trackBy Abraham Morales, LCA junior

My experience on the track team has been really awesome!

I’ve never been on a track team before, so I was excited about the first couple of meets on behalf of the  Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica.

I always get complimented on how fast I can run, so this year I decided to join the team. This is my junior year.

Christian-school-track-Santa-MonicaTurns out I’m not too bad. I ran my 100 meter dash in 12.57 seconds and my 400 meter dash in 59.44 seconds.

Because this is my first year, I wasn’t really sure on what to expect, but everything was so much fun! I never thought I could beat in a race Levi, one of our fastest runners. But with a dedicated mindset and some training, I was able to gain confidence and leave him in the dust. Read the rest about LCA’s track team.

Mustard Seed Budget’s Note: Abraham Morales is my student at the Lighthouse Christian Academy, a small Christian school in Santa Monica. It’s so small that we rejoice over every small accomplishment.

Now landing goals, not punches

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His shots went high and wide.

Junior Abraham Morales, who showed plenty of speed and skill, couldn’t put the ball into the net to save his life.

Then in the second half of the season, things suddenly came into focus for old blurry-shooter. He nailed a shot against Westmark from the left flank.

And on Tuesday, in the highest tension game of the 2017 season, when his team needed him most, Abraham proved in top form. He sunk two torpedoes to unnerve the reigning league champs, Newbury Park, in a game that ultimately Lighthouse Christian Academy lost 3-5.

“As a little kid I would just pass the ball around with my family members. I was a pretty short kid. I used to tell them, ‘One day I’ll make it big in soccer,’” Abraham said.

He’s big in our eyes, now one of the top scorers for the season and officially listed in the Lighthouse ledger of soccer history.

Because of soccer, Abraham transferred to Lighthouse. His middle school teammates jeered and bullied him for his flubs on the soccer field, a habitual provocation that drove him to yelling and even fist fights. The nastiness continued into his freshman year of high school in the public school system in South Central Los Angeles, where he lives.

“I told my mom, ‘Can I go to another school because I don’t feel right here?” Mrs. Morales found Lighthouse online.

Even though he was raised in a Christian home, Abraham thought he wouldn’t fit in at a Christian high school.

“I thought it was going to be super strict and all that,” he admitted. “I knew there was going to be some sort of dress code. I didn’t want to wear a uniform.” Read the rest of the story.

We shook them up

img_4605Since they steamrolled us in our first game, Einstein Academy expected to win handily on the rematch Friday. One player even heckled a Saint: “I guarantee that there is no way we will lose this game.”

Well, Lighthouse Christian Academy made them sweat to earn their win. LCA rattled their nerves and hacked their hubris. And even though the Saints went down 1-6, the Christian kids from Santa Monica could hold high chins by the final whistle.  With only one club player and a former club player, the Saints had stood tall against a high school team of 10 club players of varsity soccer.

“You guys don’t give up,” said Einstein coach Ken Erenberg. “I thought that was great about your team — the whole game they kept fighting through, no matter what the score was. They kept fighting. You got that goal at the end. It was the never die. It was nice to see that.”

Indeed, it took the Rockets 25 minutes to break down the Saints dogged defense.

In the first match, the Einstein players had notched two goals in the first 10 minutes. And then they stepped off the gas pedal and coasted to an easy 0-6 victory.

But on Friday, Coach Erenberg sounded frustrated as his team couldn’t manage to open the deadbolt. The Rockets keeper too scolded his team.

It was a different Saints team. On the first matchup, the Saints were presumptuous. They were on a 3-game winning streak that included the shock defeat of last year’s champs. As they oozed confidence, they lacked concentration. Since they took to the field thinking they’d win without even having to play, the Saints crashed and burned terribly. They committed enough errors to make the discriminating soccer observer turn his nose inward face palms.

The scoreline –0-6 — was a humiliating wake-up call and could have been far worse, except that the Rockets sent on their second string for some practice in the second half.

On Friday, the fierce determination of the underdog Saint was back with a vengeance, and a growing alarm in the voice of the shouts from the sidelines and on the field was evident.

Ultimately, the Saints committed an error, and the Rockets buried the ball in the net for their first at 25 minutes. By halftime, they had three goals, all products of a lapse of concentration and the lack of experience.

As the score crept upward, Coach Jack Mefford noted that Einstein did NOT take off their star player, #43, this time — a move that credits LCA’s improved performance.

“I’ll take that as a badge of pride,” he said.

As the minutes crept towards the final, the Saints refused to cower like a dog with its tail between its legs. They continued to press, and their resilience paid dividends. Read the rest of the article.

Reprise of miserable faces (the 2nd conjugations test)

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No, I don’t enjoy torturing poor children. I derive no joy in seeing them squirm and cry over impossible tests.

img_3394No. What I want to do is drill in solid Spanish, get kids to pass the AP test, form bilingual students. But sometimes my motivation exceeds theirs.

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This was try #2 to get these victims pupils to conjure up present, preterit, imperfect and commands — all in one test. 😦  Apparently, I ruined their day at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica.

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I’m going to stop giving this test and hope they catch it in the future. This time I went blue too.

How to resurrect a volleyball program | Lighthouse Christian Academy excited

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Well, that didn’t take long.

Supposedly the reconstruction of the Saints volleyball team would be an arduous haul through a string of disheartening losses. But the resurgent Saints won their first set against a league team Tuesday against Pacific Lutheran 15-11 on the sand of Manhattan Beach.

“What an exciting game!” said Coach Delores Hively. “They won the first set, we killed it on the second set and the third set was close, but they won. We need to focus a bit more on our serves now and I think we might have a chance at winning next game.”

santa-monica-girls-volleyball-private-schoolLighthouse players smashed their serves. They dove for balls. They screamed communication. Hively, who had timidly offered to be assistant coach, has whipped the mostly inexperienced group into a tangible team, with a credibility to re-enter league play next year. For now, Lighthouse Christian Academy is playing only scrimmages.

“We didn’t expect to win,” admitted Lyric Edwards, a freshman. “But everybody played their best game, and we won.”

Indeed, nobody was expecting a win. A prior article bemoaned the lack of club players for LCA’s league re-entry bid. It turns out, however, that there were not one but TWO club volleyball players lurking in the Lighthouse Christian high school — and one of them played Tuesday.

You could say the Saints stung the Stingrays from Torrance.

Morale soared as players dug deep to hit every ball. Read the rest of the article.

Having fun teaching

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I’m posing with my colleague Kathy Payton.

Why not enjoy teaching? Once a year, the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica holds Spirit Week, every day a new costume theme. Actually, I have all the creativity of a spore, so I usually opt out and wear my normal clothes.

I enjoy bringing motivated kids to the aha! moment. I teach English (literature, syntax and writing) and Spanish. I’m a believer in making things accessible, of focusing on the simplest understanding first and then taking complications that broaden understanding.

Literature is not just art. It is also psychology and helps students empathize with their fellow human, as well as learn not to make the mistakes of engaging protagonists.

Down with the grammarians! They have made it too difficult for too long! We need simple explanations for students. Students can learn syntax!

When it comes to writing, I believe thinking comes first, structure second. I challenge students to take controversial opinions and defend it with passion. You get a low grade with me in you’re Captain Obvious.

Well, then Spanish. I love to explain the why-the-heck of all idiosyncrasies of morphology and grammar. Languages are fascinating, funny and bizarre.

And we do all this in a Christian environment. What could be more fun?

 

3 jobs, 2 happy, 1 tired guy

img_2306Finally, I’m pastoring again. The doors opened — after six years off — through an apartment managing job in Van Nuys. As a gimmick, I called myself the #ValleyBoyPastor, and God brought souls in immediately (cosa rara). So I’m happy.

I’m still teaching at the Lighthouse Christian Academy. That’s always a thrill because I’m constantly either bringing people to Christ or reinforcing the faith of youth at a critical juncture in their lives. I appreciate everybody’s prayers and attribute to y’all the blessings God has poured out starting in June. I definitely need to pace myself to not run ragged. I just need to remember that God is in charge and He never expects me to do more than what is possible. After all, it was God who prioritized rest right into the Ten Commandments.

The tiniest guy on the football field just became the target (Yes, that’s my son)

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He’s been called Mighty Mouse, a bulldog, a pinball and a Rubik’s Cube (he’s about as tall as he’s wide). Teachers and students have mistaken him for a sixth grader.

Lighthouse Christian Academy‘s freshman center, Hosea Ashcraft, became its predominant running back Friday against Cornerstone Christian of Wildomar. He had 20 carries for about 70 yards and one touchdown in the 12-58 loss to the Crusaders.

LCA’s fearsome football program has been reduced to this: its core is four freshman, its quarterback is a scrawny sophomore, its lone senior is an artist who really doesn’t want to play but goes to games just to help the guys field an 8-man football team with nine players.

Successive lean enrollments in recent years have shrunk the quarry from which they cut their tough stuff. So they resorted to the 5’1″ pre-pubescent fresh meat, Hosea.

img_1958“Defensively, we were terrible,” said Coach Zach Scribner. “We’re not doing what we told the kids to do in terms of making their reads. Everybody’s looking around trying to figure out where the ball is instead of making the read and reacting off the read.”

Indeed, the Crusaders overran LCA’s defense like Fort Apache. By the second quarter, they had racked up 38 points. They may have even stepped off the gas pedal in anticipation of an easy shutout when the Santa Monica Saints surprised them.

LCA players made some key blocks — something coaches are working intensely to improve with the team of football neophytes. The Saints drove upfield, and Hosea crashed through to the end zone to give the electrons on the visitor’s side of the scoreboard some work.

“Hosea keeps his feet running. He has a low center of balance,” observed Lighthouse Pastor Josh Scribner, himself an accomplished football player. Read the rest of the article about Santa Monica Christian school football.

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25 years later, I’m still teaching at Lighthouse

lighthouse-christian-schools-then-and-nowI oppose being promoted, even though kids I taught are now colleagues.

Actually, I was principal and owner of a school in Guatemala. But I kept getting out of office work and into the classroom. That’s where the real action is. That’s where people are. That’s where souls are won to Christ. You can have the administration, if you want.

Kids still need love. Where in other schools there’s bullying, we offer a safe place of vibrant acceptance. Where in other schools there’s ONLY college prep, we offer also Heaven prep. Where in other schools there’s ONLY keys to college entrance exams, we offer keys to interpersonal skills and successful marriages and families. We are a family. Where in other schools, a teacher works for his salary, we work for little or no salary. We have a much higher motivation.

It is my lifelong joy to see kids turn from sin to God, choose the path of success, flout the headlong rush of the world towards false happiness and select the enduring joy and peace of wisdom in Jesus.

And when these kids see you 25 years later, they thank you because you helped them at a critical juncture in life, the life-deciding moments of the teenage years. This, I feel, is more gratifying than a fat paycheck.

I’m going to go even further — at risk of dipping into narcissism. When you see kids 20 years later, you see a little bit of you in them. Because you helped their formation. And hopefully that little bit of you is a good thing.

And then you know that you didn’t make a lot of money. You didn’t buy a house. You weren’t the most beautiful or famous or adored.

You made a difference in this world. And so you can continue making a difference until you get your reward in Heaven.

And that is the reason why, after 25 years, I’m still teaching in a small Christian school in Santa Monica that is making a difference one life at a time.

Picture: left 1992, grades 7-11; right Sept. 14, 2016, just the sophomore class, my world lit students.

Coffee is critical

img_1773One urgent matter I brought up twice during our pre-semester meetings at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica was: Will there be coffee this year?

Last year, I lived next to the school and could easily go over to my home for another cup. Not this year. Now I live in Van Nuys, where I’m pioneering a church under the moniker Valley Boy Pastor.

The boss doesn’t drink coffee. Other teachers bring expensive cups of coffee.

Twice the boss tried to dodge my pressing issue with dismissive remarks: The pot used to be around here somewhere. The message: Don’t interrupt important proceedings discussing lofty plans with such banalities.

But no. This was urgent. This was that tasty and needed pick-me-up. I don’t want to become the grumpy, draggy, ugly version of myself when I’m coffee-deprived. The kids deserve my best.

Don’t get me wrong. All the strategic plans, policies and regulations are critical.

I’m just saying coffee is critical.

Serious about studies, willing to efface ourselves

At the Lighthouse Christian Academy, we want to make kids feel comfortable. Gone are the days when teachers could simply command respect by the virtue of their position. Today teachers need to be friends of their students.

The change is not all bad, despite woe-sayers. Teachers were always primordially about others. Respect was just a traditional element that worked for decades (centuries) but doesn’t need to be present under our current zeitgeist. Kids take first place.

We teachers are facilitators of learning. What’s important is not that kids respect their teachers but that kids learn, progress, achieve their goals. In this new change of environment, teachers do well to make themselves relateable. Hence, the self-effacing humor.

It is my experience that kids respect you if you work at understanding and loving them. If they see you make an effort to reach out to them, they’ll appreciate that. So such a video is no loss of teaching credibility. It’s a boon.

Our Chinese students loved surfing at our Santa Monica Christian high school

Chinese international student Santa Monica

The author, left, is a student in my World Literature class and completed this article as an assignment

By Jasmine Zhang, Lighthouse Christian Academy sophomore

The first time Brenda Liu and I, students from China, surfed and felt the crash of the waves, we thought we were going to die.

“I was so scared,” said Brenda Liu. “The big waves almost killed me. I saw how the big waves could whirl people away.”

I am from Yunnan, a highland in Southern China. I had only seen the sea in pictures and video before.

The sea exercised a wonderful attraction over me. I love the sea and swimming. I like surfing, even though I am not very good at it. So when I enrolled at Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica, I opted for surfing elective. Actually quite a few of us Chinese foreign exchange students took the class, which in the Fall semester had seven students.

美国留学Brenda agrees with me about surfing. “I thought: ‘I am young. I should try something new and different and keep learning,’” Brenda said. “I knew how to swim and snowboard, so I thought surfing would not be so difficult.”

It turns out it WAS difficult for us international students. But it is fun.

“At the beginning, I was so excited and felt that I was going to do something very marvelous,” Brenda said. “I was surprised by how the sea is really salty. I basically didn’t even stand on the board the first time.”

Even though at our first outing we didn’t surf too spectacularly, we did see a dolphin, something we had never seen before. “That was the most interesting thing,” Brenda said. Read the rest of the story 美国留学.

More than just a winning streak at Santa Monica Christian school

Saints soccer santa monicaThe significance of this article is for Christians. Previously, the high school I work at (Lighthouse Christian Academy) formed its soccer teams haphazardly, as an afterthought among too many things to do. The new winning streak represents years of effort to actually build the program. This will attract students to our school and, consequently, to Christ.

With back-to-back victories, the Lighthouse Christian Academy soccer team has found its feet to rewrite recent history of missing playoffs.

Without normal forward Will Clancy, the Saints subbed Abraham Morales into the striker position, and the new LCA student rewarded coach’s confidence with two goals, to bring the 4-2 victory over Westmark School in Encino yesterday.

“I never pictured myself making a goal, let alone two,” the sophomore said coyly. “But after I made the first one I was determined to make the second.”

Morales was deadly on the left, scoring his brace within the first 20 minutes.

Lighthouse Christian AcademyWestmark scored next with some brilliant passing between two Lions stars. With the ball at the goal line on the left, one player found unmarked in the box his counterpart, who didn’t bungle the shot. It was 2-1.

In the second half, Turk Erhan Meric, a fleet-footed sophomore, ran up the right on a through ball from midfielder Colby Thomas to get behind the Lion’s defense and shoot powerfully home.

Again Westmark sent the ball to a player in the area, and he punctured the net. It was 3-2.

With the minutes ticking away, Lighthouse kept pressing to bury the match. Senior Shane Berry launched a throw-in into the area on the narrow field, and a Lions defender trying to clear the ball also controlled it with his hand.

Erhan Meric, a magician with the ball.

On the resulting penalty, Senior Adrian Brizuela, a powerhouse in the Saints midfield, blasted the ball past the goalie to remove the match from reach of the Lions. It finished at 4-2.

Coach Jack Mefford, who is also Lighthouse’s principal, credited the Saints’ progress with the time players have worked together. With a number of new students coming from schools other than its feeder middle school (Lighthouse Church School), the teammates needed to learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

“They are working together. Especially this game, we just began to gel,” Mefford said. “They’re starting to know each other play with each other better. We’re growing in confidence.”

Tuesday’s victory came on the heels of a win Monday, improving LCA’s record to 4-1-3. The Saints are beginning to feel the excitement of possibly getting a playoff birth for the first time anyone can remember.

Abraham Morales was deadly in front of goal.

Abraham Morales was deadly in front of goal.

On Monday, Lighthouse beat 2-1 Einstein Academy for Letters, Arts and Sciences from Santa Clarita for the second time. The Penmar Park game put on exhibition the Saint’s powerful defensive line, which has speed, technique and physicality.

Senior Tex Hagoski, at stopper, made crucial saves and passes despite playing with an injured foot. Since his preferred sport is football, he brings a fearlessness and muscle that will intimidate some forwards. Don’t underestimate his speed.

At sweeper, Abraham Kennedy has been a potent defender. Big and strong with a lifetime of soccer experience, Kennedy, a sophomore, doesn’t win balls by hand-crafting them. By mass production, he foils opponents’ attacks.

On Friday in the away game against Einstein, Kennedy led the charge to overturn a 0-2 deficit with a stunning rocket from 40 yards. After seeing the shocker, the Saints seemed moved to believe they could beat their opponents and rallied to finish 3-2.

There’s no surprise the sophomore Alex Cervantes, given his soccer pedigree, holds the left back position impeccably. What surprises is how well senior Shane Berry contains on the right. He’s not really a soccer player. His game is basketball. But his quickness and the similarities between basketball and soccer have helped him adapt.

LCA goals were produced by Brizuela and Meric, locked in a friendly competition to see who scores more by season’s end. They are tied at six goals each. Einstein got a late consolation when refs awarded a penalty kick for a foul in the box.

Also last week, the Saints came from behind to tie Newbury Park Adventist Academy.

With the newfound momentum, the Saints face Concordia in Sylmar Friday, their penultimate season game.

*Photo: Adrian Brizuela goes for goal against Westmark yesterday. Credit: Jamie Roman, who is a sophomore at the Lighthouse Christian Academy. Jamie wrote this article for the Santa Monica Patch here, and I edited it. I always re-post my students’ articles on my blog since I’m heavily involved in the final product.

Getting stronger mentally, Lighthouse soccer comes from behind to tie

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From the looks of LCA’s come-from-behind 2-2 tie against Newbury Park Adventist Academy Tuesday, the Saints are getting the mental toughness needed to step up their competitiveness.

“We had a good attitude when we went down 1-0,” said Captain Adrian Brizuela. “I was really surprised we kept our composure.”

Coach Jack Mefford started Brizuela in goal because he’s as brilliant as he is fearless between the posts. Preferring Brizuela over freshman Justin Berry was a strategic decision to lock down the final approach to goal.

Jelove mira Lighthouse Christian academy santa monica soccerBut in classic give-and-take, it also hobbled the Saints’ ability to advance forward with possession. Brizuela is an irreplaceable motor in the midfield, in tandem with new sophomore Erhan Meric, a crack from Turkey.

At half time, the Saints were losing 0-1 from a free kick when the Saints bungled a wall set-up.

In the second half, Newbury again struck on a corner kick when Lighthouse midfielders failed to get back to mark up. The shot sailed over the goalie’s head and was chested into the net on the far post. Newbury was winning 0-2, and they cackled as they sniffed blood.

The last time the Lighthouse Christian Academy faced Newbury in December, the Santa Monica Christian high school conceded four goals in the second half to lose a half-time advantage of 2-0. The meltdown resulted, in part, from emotional weakness.

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Soccer is, after all, a psychological game as much as any other sport. Since it’s a low-scoring game, even one goal is enough to sink a knife in the heart of players. They slow down, they stop fighting, they stop pushing for goal. They pray for the final whistle to come, and they scurry off the field with their tails between their legs. But Lighthouse mustered a resilience not seen before.

Coach switched Brizuela into the midfield and the balance of the game shifted. Newbury couldn’t find an answer to the reconfigured 11 men on the field. And Berry owned the Lighthouse goal, applying the quick reflex he inherited from growing up in a basketball family.

With 25 minutes to time, Newbury defenders fouled Lighthouse striker, Will Clancy, in the area, and Brizuela didn’t fail on the penalty kick making it 1-2.

Within five minutes, Brizuela again performed his magic. On a throw-in from the left, Brizuela chested the ball expertly, spun and fired with no bounce into the top left corner. Newbury players were shocked.

Lacking the tough and speedy Tex Hagoski (out due to sickness) to hold the defensive line, sophomores Abraham Kennedy and Alex Cervantez worked overtime to stymie the Newbury attack. And the tie score remained.

In Southern California’s Omega League, Lightouse is now 1-1-3.

“Our defense really helped us,” Brizuela said. “Abraham and Alex really stepped up to the plate.”

Editor’s note: This article was original published here. Jamie Roman wrote it, and I edited it.

Look who’s #2 at Lighthouse Christian Academy soccer!

willWill Clancy, an LCA junior, had never in his life touched a soccer ball before high school. Today he’s the second highest goal scorer for the Lighthouse Saints with the season almost half over, an unlikely hero for our Santa Monica private school.

“I definitely feel intimidated by more experienced players and how they do all those weird foot maneuvers,” Will said. “But I did score more goals on them, and I definitely hold it against them a lot from time to the time.”

Being serious is not Will’s forté. Nor is soccer, for that matter. Nevertheless, he’s scored three goals in four games, one behind midfielder sophomore Erhan Meric, the Turkish phenom on the Lighthouse Christian Academy squad. He’s one goal ahead of soccer superstar Adrian Brizuela. He’s sandwiched between soccer magicians, and six games remain.

Will watching“Usually before the game, I get butterflies because it’s just natural,” he said. “I do get nervous before games. Scoring a goal myself is always exciting because – I don’t know – it’s scoring a goal. I’m just one goal behind Erhan.”

Will loves the family-feel and the hype of being on the team. It gives him, as well as the team, so much joy playing on the field and scoring goals.

“Usually, if someone scores a goal, it’ll boost the morale of everybody on the team and everyone gets more confident in the play,” he said. “When I’m in the game, I’m not really that nervous. I’m more just kind of tired and exhausted.”

Will started soccer his freshman year, immediately after playing on LCA’s 8-man football team.

will goes for goal“Freshman year was easiest for me physically-wise because I just got out of my first season playing football, so I was in a kinda ok shape from football,” he said. “So it wasn’t that bad.”

But he didn’t score many goals – just one all season. During his sophomore year, he found the net twice. With so many matches ahead, he doesn’t plan to stay at only three goals this season.

The Saints are currently 1-2-1 in Southern California’s Omega League. Three years ago LCA belonged to the highly competitive Coastal League. Between those two, Lighthouse belonged to no league and free-lanced games.

Lighthouse has only 50 students, so they don’t hold traditional tryouts. Anyone who joins is basically on the team, as long as they’re academically eligible. Well, if the truth can be told, coaches beg students to play. Yeah, if you want a chance to play, go to Lighthouse.

You’ll discover the after-game elation that motivates Will.

“After a game, I usually kind of feel — even when we tie– I feel accomplished,” Will said. “I get a good feeling inside because of the camaraderie you get with the other players and the satisfaction of doing something and the feel, I guess, is always nice.”

Will also enjoys the after-game traditional sharing of In-n-Out burgers. “The food does not hurt, too,” he quipped. “I love getting food after the games.”

Soccer was not his ambition; he wanted to form a tennis team at Lighthouse – a dream that has yet to materialize. “I like sports just in general and, although I really did push for a tennis team and still am pushing, I just thought it’d be a fun experience to try and so I did.”

“Scoring goals makes me feel nice though, it makes me feel like, ‘Hey I’m doing something to be part of the team!,” he stated. “So I don’t need those fancy foot maneuvers!”

Editor’s Note: This article was written by my journalism student at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica and originally was printed here. I’m proud of Petrina Gratton’s accomplishment in journalism class, and I like soccer. Will likes to brag. He’s a funny guy.

Can’t keep Jack in the box

jack and nicoleneJack Mefford, principal of Lighthouse Christian Academy, doesn’t only teach. He preaches, administrates, swims, plays water polo, coaches soccer, makes movies, raises four kids and…

Maybe it would be shorter to list the things he cannot do. Did I say he double-minored and played trumpet in UCLA marching band?

IMG_9010The debonair summa cum laude graduate has a long resume typical of Ivy League graduates who command top pay at top jobs. So what is he doing leading LCA with its (less than) ordinary pay scale?

“Money doesn’t mean anything,” he said. “When I was a youth and didn’t know God and prayed to see if he was real, the first thing I asked Him was for love and the second was a purpose in life. He has given me both – my purpose is here serving the kids.”

lighthouse christian academy“Meff” – as LCA kids call him – accepts anyone who has made a mistake in life and wants a second chance. He believes everyone is entitled to one.

Raised in a farm town called Dinuba near Fresno, California, Mefford learned from his air force dad to work hard, be disciplined, value family and to achieve. He didn’t learn about God until he reached early adulthood.

The early trappings of success didn’t satisfy. “I had everything the world had to offer, and I felt something missing. I was doing everything they told me to do. I was following the script, and it was not enough,” he said. “I felt there had to be something more, something eternal.”

He began attending a church and later got linked up with Pastor George Neos at UCLA. Neos was pioneering a church at UCLA on campus. Mefford received a flyer and decided to attend only because his car broke down.

He was quickly impressed with Pastor George Neos’s over-the-top earnestness and how Christianity affected his life.

The on-campus church migrated to Yale Street, Santa Monica, and Jack came along with his sweetheart, Nicolene. They married and when they graduated, they didn’t go where their careers would lead – they stayed where their God had led.

Instead of scooping up a lucrative job, Jack immediately began teaching in the Lighthouse Church School (which is LCA’s older brother, having kindergarten to middle school). He would also join his pastor on mission trips to Guatemala.

When Pastor George accepted a new assignment as the Hesperia pastor, Jack took over administration of the LCA.

Sadly, Mefford struggled with an inner sadness that he shared with not many; his wife couldn’t have children. His dream of having a large family was floundering from early marriage. Nicolene suffered four consecutive miscarriages until, after a lot of praying, God finally granted a miracle.

He has now been blessed with four kids. Mefford’s first daughter, Emma is six years old, his second, Jackson is four, Ethan is two and Weston is 11 months. He claims all children are miracles and is thankful to God everyday for his offspring.

Man of many abilities, Jack Mefford has done many wonderful things for Lighthouse.

Editor’s Note: This article was first published here. It was written by Petrina Gratton, my journalism student at the Lighthouse Christian Academy.