Category Archives: sports

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

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

Houston, we have a problem

After Gorman Learning Center punked Lighthouse girls volleyball 12-25, maybe thought they had the match in the bag. After all, the scored showed a solid domination in Valencia Thursday.

But Allie Scribner got mad.

And game 2 was a role reversal. The freshman got mad and served a string of unreturnable serves. She smashed 11 blistering bowling balls down the alley (get it? For Allie). After rotating through, another six aces and near-aces to rack up points for Lighthouse Christian Academy.

How did Lighthouse answer GLC’s lopsided 12-25, a message of mercilessness and intention to humiliate?

Lighthouse responded by winning the second set 25-11.

They one-upped them by one point.

Houston, we have a problem.

Where did the dramatic turnaround come from?

There are two answers. The Saints complained the pacing of Game 1 was slow. They made sloppy mistakes and looked lethargic. They came alive in Game 2.

The second answer was the sweet-faced freshman-turned-furious-face Allie Scribner.

“I knew that we were playing slow. To get my team moving, I had to move and be excited and firey and wanting it,” she says. “You have to get mad to win.” Read the rest: Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica overturns volleyball match

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

Get ready for football. Played in a wheelchair.

When Michael Garafola dons his Rams jersey and Rams helmet on Sept. 10, he’ll feel a crush of pride to represent the L.A. team at its season opener in Phoenix. The lineman will be ready for some intense crashing of bodies and wheelchairs.

“The fact that we’re able to wear Rams jerseys and helmets is incredible,” Garafola told Patch. “To be able to put a Rams jersey on is incredible. I’m super excited.”

Garafola is part of the new NFL-sponsored, all-wheelchair football league. Yes, football for guys in wheelchairs.

“There’s something very alluring about football. It’s a contact-heavy sport,” says Rams manager Josh Lucas. “They get knocked over and rolled around. They get up, shake it off and get ready for the next play. When you see them bashing each other, you think they might be able to get hurt. But really they are at no more risk for getting hurt any more than fully able bodied players.”

Wheelchair football has existed in America since 1948 but play has been limited to starts and stops by various organizations until the new league gets underway in little more than a week. Organizers hope that with NFL backing, this league will be here to stay.

The Rams team is co-sponsored by the Westwood-based Angel City Sports. They need volunteers and take donations.

Michael Garafola

Garafola, 46, teaches adaptive sports at UCLA. It’s a natural job for him because he went more than a decade without sports, from an SUV accident in 1990 that left him with a spinal chord injury and depressed being deprived of athletics.

Then in 2003, he found out about organized adaptive basketball in Los Angeles. He loved basketball and immediately leapt at the opportunity to participate.

“I was blown away,” Garafola says. “I didn’t have any idea that this type of sport existed. These guys were playing and jawing… Read the rest: Wheelchair football in Los Angeles

Bronze-medal winner Gabby Thomas got her start in track by munch potato chips

The potato chip — that quintessential diet-doomer with its overkill of salt, fat and, yes, sugar — fed medal-winner Gabby Thomas’s running.

Gabby munched chips before getting on the track and burning everybody.

“My first love was soccer,” Gabby says on Humbl Nation. “A lot of my soccer skill was speed-related. My college recruit came to watch my soccer game. I was just doing it to do it. I kind of fell into track. In high school, I was just having fun with it. After my sophomore year, I started to take it more seriously. Then with college, it became an option.”

Gabrielle Thomas won bronze in the women’s 200-meter dash. In addition to track, she’s an academic — a graduate from Harvard University — and a born-again Christian.

Just weeks before the Olympic trials, Gabby got an MRI for a hamstring injury and doctors also spotted a tumor in her liver. It was a cancer scare, but the growth turned out to be benign.

“I remember telling God, ‘If I am healthy, I am going to go out and win trials. I’m going to do everything I can to live my life to the fullest,’” she says on the Today Show.

It was Gabby’s mom, an academic in Massachusetts, who re-directed her into track. “I signed up for softball, and she said, ‘No, you’re doing track.’”

Mom says that Gabby used to eat potato chips — a snack not typically associated… Read the rest: Gabby Thomas Christian

Fiji’s rugby team celebrate gold with praise to Jesus

Some shed tears. Others dedicate their win to Mom. A few make political statement with clenched fists or whatnot.

Fiji’s seven-man rugby team broke into a song of worship when gold medals were hung around their necks at the Tokyo summer Olympics after they stunned New Zealand 27-12. It was their second, back-to-back gold, and for such a small nation in the South Pacfic, monumental. They sang:

We have overcome
We have overcome
By the blood of the Lamb
And the word of the Lord.

In a time of self-aggrandizing superstars and political propagandists, a showing of sheer joy and spontaneous rejoicing to God is refreshing. The words of their triumphal song come from Revelations 12:11 And they overcame the devil by blood of the Lamb and bthe word of their testimony.

Their victory is also a highlight to Fijians who are currently languishing under strict lockdown, being scourged by Covid.

“Last Olympics we gathered in numbers, tears flowed and bells were rung. Tonight in the middle of a pandemic and (with) Fiji under curfew, pots and pans ring, fireworks go off in yards and the cheers from every house can be heard,” tweeted Fiji Broadcasting Corporation presenter Jaquee Speight.

Due to Covid, Fiji players were called upon to practice 5 months in quarantine. That meant, they couldn’t go home and see their families, and some of the players barely stood the pressure of being away.

Captain Jerry Tuwai, who was part of the team that won five years ago, said his second gold was “more special because… Read the rest: Fiji rugby team praises Jesus at Olympics

When Morolake Akinosun Christian track star ruptured her Achilles

The end of her running — the end of her very identity — came when Olympian Morolake Akinosun hit a wall at the end of a race in 2018 and ruptured her Achilles tendon.

“The Achilles is the strongest tendon in the human body, and you need it to do literally everything: walk, jump, crawl, climb stairs, stand up, sit down,” Morolake says on an I am Second video. “I had it surgically repaired but I was being told, ‘Hey, you might never be the same runner that you were ever again. This may be a career-ending injury for you.’”

What rescued Morolake was her spiritual community.

“For the first time I realized that I was surrounded by people who believed in me and not only did they believe in me, they believed that God had a plan for my life and that He was still going to be faithful through it all,” she says.

Morolake Akinosun was born in Lagos, Nigeria, to parents who were Christian pastors. The family immigrated to America when she was two years old, and she flourished at track and field at the University of Texas at Austin, where she won consistently.

“Every training cycle is about figuring out how can I break my body,” she says. “We push ourselves to the limit, breaking your body apart and coming back the next day and doing it over and over again.”

In prelims for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, her teammates dropped the baton in between the 2nd and 3rd leg of the relay race. Morolake, who stood waiting at the 4th spot, was stunned.

“In that moment I had that thought of like, ‘Wow, I’ve trained what feels like your whole life for a moment that now seemed to be gone and stripped from me within the blink of an eye,’” she remembers.

As it turns out, the American women’s team was allowed to re-run the qualifying race. In the final competition, they took gold.

But everything she trained for her entire life was stripped away when she crashed into the wall on that fateful day in 2018.

Angry thoughts ran through her mind toward God: I thought this is what I was supposed to be doing and if this is what I’m supposed to be doing then why did You take it away from me? she questioned. My identity was built in track and field. Read the rest: Morolake Akinosun Christian track star ruptured her Achilles

Rod Carew gave out of his heart, then one of the youths he mentored gave him his heart

Ed Mylett was still smarting from a humiliating performance at the basketball championship game earlier in the day. That evening, he was hitting line drives — his true love – into center field.

He was holding and swinging the bat flat and choppy like his hero, baseball legend Rod Carew, when he heard a voice from behind the backstop. “Who’s the little lefty? I like this kid’s swing.”

Ed glanced back. It was #29 himself, Rod Carew, MLB’s hitting maestro for 19 seasons. Ed was flabbergasted.

“Hey, kid, how would you like me to work with you and train you? Can you make it to my batting cages every Tuesday night?”

Wilting before his hero, Ed struggled to find the words. Yes, yes, yes. He would be there.

In the following months, Rod altruistically gave of himself and mentored 8th-grader Ed Mylett, as he did selflessly with hundreds of other talented young people throughout Southern California. Not only did he provide technical expertise, but he also spoke words of confidence into the kids’ lives.

Rod is a born-again Christian. His generosity eventually proved the Bible’s admonition, “Give, and it will be given you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over will be put into your lap.” (Luke 6:38)

.

One of those hundreds of kids saved Rod’s life, Ed says on his Aug. 24, 2017 Elite Training Library video.

In September 2015, Rod suffered a massive heart attack on a golf course. Golfing by himself, he was on the first hole at the time. He drove his golf cart to the clubhouse and someone called paramedics. Read how the kid he mentored blessed Rod Carew with a heart.

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.

Apparently being good at chemistry helps you in basketball

Lighthouse Christian Academy Santa Monica basketball team.pngAfter winning its third straight basketball game, Lighthouse Christian Academy credits for its breakout success its science program, specifically, chemistry class.

“A young team playing their third game together is going to have to go through some growing pains every time a game starts, so the first quarter is going to be a little rough,” says David Horowitz. “But as we play, the team chemistry, the cohesiveness, begins to show up on the court and in the second, third and fourth quarter, the team bonds and does nothing but get better and stronger.”

Pilgrim School just west of Downtown Los Angeles of was fired-up. With a couple of towering players (one was 6’4″, another was 6’1″), the Patriots looked to notch their first victory against the inexperienced Saints, who debuted this year.

But Lighthouse tightened up its game by the end of the first quarter, down 13-17. In the second quarter, LCA took the lead with Pilgrim close behind 26-22. In the critical third quarter the Saints pulled away 45-35. Read the rest: the importance of team chemistry for 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.

One kid didn’t cry

dejection football loss lighthouse christian academy santa monicaPretty much everybody of the Lighthouse Saints was crying, or fighting back tears, after their football loss Saturday — everybody except David Hutchinson.

The 14-20 heartbreak loss against La Verne Calvary Chapel, a similarly small school, left Lighthouse Christian Academy dejected.

But David remained buoyant, perhaps because he has experienced worse losses, namely that of his parents, who went MIA. He’s now adopted by his grandparents. He wasn’t doing well in a previous school before coming to Lighthouse.

“Even when we lose, football is fun because it brings us all together like brothers,” the sophomore said after the game. “We played our hardest. It’s made me stronger and closer with all the boys. We know we’ve got each other’s backs no matter what. We have a love for each other.

“At this school, the teachers actually care. In other schools, the teachers don’t care. They’re just doing it for the money. And the students are the best. They’re like a family. It really touches you when the teachers actually care.”

Cue the warm fuzzies.

So not everybody went home dejected. It’s important to keep perspective: the battles won off the field or more important than those lost on the field. Read the rest of winning souls, not football games.

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.

Second straight playoffs for Lighthouse soccer

saints-soccer-tall-and-proudFor the second straight year, Lighthouse Christian Academy entered soccer playoffs — a decided break from a long past of never making post-season play.

But the Saints mechanics ran rough on Feb. 15 against delToledo High School, which dismissed LCA with a resounding 0-6 defeat.

For about a week, Lighthouse players were thinking their third-place standing in the league ruled them out of playoffs when they rather suddenly received the news they would get at least one more game to see far they advanced.

lighthouse-christian-academy-soccer-santa-monicaThe Saints season peaked in a shock defeat of last year’s league champs 2-1. In that game, players were passing, fighting and concentrating. The victory against Newbury Park culminated a winning streak of three and gave the Saints the intoxicating sensation of invincibility that lasted only a couple days.

The next game Jan. 27 against Einstein Academy brought LCA back to reality with a humbling 0-6 thrashing. The prior passing went up in smoke with predictable results.

The Saints finished league play 5-3. Against the better teams, LCA — which has 1-and-a-half club players — can compete when they play like a team linking up with passes. Individual juking runs don’t work. But would players listen to coach and stick with selflessness?

If only players in our Santa Monica Christian school would apply the Bible to the soccer field: It is better to give than to receive.

In some games, passing became so scarce that when finally a through-ball was sent, the intended player wasn’t expecting it and invariably reacted slowly.

How hyperactivity turned to a Lighthouse Christian Academy soccer win

santa-monica-soccer-private-high-schoolOften, Brandon Montes overflows fidgety energy in the classroom. He’s drumming on the desk, snapping fingers, sneering at classmates across the room, clowning around. Believe it or not, through it all he’s paying attention too.

On Jan. 19, 2017, of an extraordinary week of soccer, Brandon was paying attention and put his gush of energy to good use. At left defense he was alert to a ball opponents were clearing on a corner kick. It was headered wide, out of the danger zone. It was coasting safely towards the line.

But solid defensive tactic fell apart because of Brandon’s energy boost and attentiveness. The sophomore ran up and smashed a low shot through a muddle of players that apparently blocked the goalkeeper’s view of action. By the time he jumped, it was too late. The ball went into the net.

“Whenever I see a ball that close to the goal, my main idea is to shoot it,” Brandon said. “I saw the ball was going over. I ran up on it. I heard Junior say ‘chip it in the middle,’ but I wasn’t taking into account what he said because my first instinct was to shoot it.”

Brandon’s effort was richly rewarding. His first goal of the season (and that from a defensive position!) was the winner. The Lighthouse Christian Academy beat the Newbury Park Gators 2-1. Brandon’s goal capped off an equalizer from freshman Levi Photenhauer in the second half to give the Saints the unexpected victory.

“I tried to do what I was learning in practice: keep my head over the ball, to kick a ball with power low and on the ground instead of having it blast into outer space,” Brandon said.

Brandon has played some untiring and intelligent soccer this season. He fights for ever ball and doesn’t concede anything. He runs hard and fast.

“Whenever I see a ball coming towards me, I have to get it,” Brandon said. “If a ball gets passed me, I get extremely angry. I attack it by any means necessary.”

It was Brandon’s long switch from defensive position that set up Levi’s goal.

On Tuesday in a game against Westmark that our private high school also won, it was Brandon at center mid that sunk a billiards shot into the path of Marcus Scribner to notch up one assist.

“I look for whoever is open and try to make the pass,” he said. LCA won 7-2 on Tuesday.

On Wednesday in school, students fell into braggadocio, boasting about their heroics and jeering teammates who remained so far goalless. Brandon searched for the words to defend his play, which had sparkled more than that of some of the goal-scorers. He decided to not answer their boasts. He had played well. His actions spoke for him. He would answer them in Thursday’s match. Finish reading the article.

Dwight Howard flies high with Jesus in NBA

dwight howard jump

When Dwight Howard was 15 years old, he had national coaches admiring his basketball skills, friends galore following him around and lots of girls throwing him kisses.

Then he broke his leg, and the coaches, the friends, and the girls all disappeared as if by the rapture.

“God said, ‘Dwight I had to humble you,’” he said in a YouTube video. “After that I told God, ‘I will never ever be cocky again. I will always be humble because I never want this to happen to me again.’”

dwight howard at baptism

Dwight has proven the naysayers wrong who figured he would never make the NBA after that accident. An eight-time NBA All-Star and three-time Defensive Player of the Year, Dwight led the Orlando Magic to three division titles and one conference title. At 30 years old, he just finished his 12th season as center for the Houston Rockets.

Through it all, he has consistently talked Jesus. In a recent video, he wore a T-shirt emblazoned with the words: “Y’all need Jesus.” When he was drafted straight out of high school (the #1 pick!), he declared he would use his fame in basketball to “raise the name of God within the league and throughout the world.”

As a kid, his parents always took him to church in Atlanta, Georgia. When he was 12, he had his first real encounter with God. He was at home asking God what his purpose was in life. Then he heard an audible voice saying, “Dwight.”

There was nobody else at home at the moment, so Dwight was more than a little frightened. He heard his name again: “Dwight.”

Half afraid and half marveling, he went into the bathroom. There, God told him his purpose: to glorify Him in the NBA.

Yet he doubted the supernatural encounter. Find out what he did. Read the rest of the story.

Bombings made him a good tennis player

novak-djokovic

By Michael Ashcraft and Mark Ellis

To win the Australian open, a tennis player needs composure – something Novak Djokovic, 28, developed when his city was bombed by NATO for 78 consecutive nights in 1999.

A Christian of deep faith, Djokovic – also known as Super Novak – made use of his poise under pressure to take the Jan. 31 open by storm. He slammed contender Andy Murray 6-1, 7-5, 7-6 in a display of dominance proving why he’s tennis’ new #1 ranked player.

Djokovic grew up playing tennis in Belgrade when NATO imposed an embargo and bombed the city during the Kosovo War in 1999, causing great shortages of food.

us open 2015“We started the war living in fear, but somewhere during the course of the bombings, something changed in me, in my family, in my people,” Djokovic wrote in his memoir, Serve to Win. “We decided to stop being afraid. After so much death, after so much destruction, we simply stopped hiding. We decided to make fun of how ridiculous our situation was. One friend died his hair like a bulls-eye, a target.”

Young Djokovic himself stumbled and fell while scrambling to a bomb shelter one night. He looked up and saw a fearsome F-117 bomber release its cargo upon a hospital, he said.

If you can play tennis while dodging bullets and standing in long lines for bread and milk, then nothing can unnerve you. After facing the hardships of war, the psychological games played by opponents on a tennis court are relatively tame to Djokovic. His inner resolve has resulted in many come from behind victories.

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His opponents seem befuddled next to his highly-trained concentration level that screens out distractions of any form.

When Djokovic did the unimaginable and recovered from a breakdown in the fifth set to beat Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open of 2013, the Australian news.com.au proclaimed it an act akin to turning water into wine or opening up the Red Sea.

“No one does that,” the reporter wrote. “Djokovic wins a lot of matches he should lose.”

Djokovic, jubilant over a triumph that made the world stand up and notice, tore off his shirt to celebrate. The wooden cross around his neck bore visible testament to his faith.

Other players choke. Djokovic brings out his best tennis when the heat is on. At the 2011 U.S. Open he played 16-time major winner Roger Federer and returned a mind-boggling ball on match point  that seemed impossible to retrieve – now memorialized as “the shot” – that shocked Federer and the entire tennis world. Federer was reportedly upset about it for months.

Once upon a time, Djokovic was the upstart among tennis champions. He was the “third man” behind Federer and Nadal. Now, he stands alone. He has won 11 Grand Slam singles titles – four of the last five. In 2015, he won 82 of 88 matches – a 93% win percentage.

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My son Hosea wins with Mar Vista Park soccer final

mar vista park soccer

Flynn Roe expertly turns in a cross to open scoring for Chelsea

Andres Barahona hoped to engineer his second upset in Mar Vista Park soccer finals Saturday with his nervy energy and treacherous left foot, but ultimately his team, Aston Villa, fell to the superior firepower of Chelsea.

Andres,15, blazed twice down the left with feints and burst of speed to pass four and five defenders to slot home. But he was playing a game of keep-up in the “sweepers division,” age 13 to 15, against an onslaught of goals. Chelsea took the championship 6-3.

“We played pretty hard,” Andres said. “The penalties weren’t penalties. I wanted to win, but we couldn’t win.”

Last week, 3rd-placed Aston Villa upset 2nd-place Norwich to bid for a surprise championship Saturday. But Chelsea, a team full of forwards, was too lethal in front of the net.

The Blues’ deadshot aim was unusual for parks leagues, where all kinds of clumsiness and lack of definition prevail among the lot of mostly beginners.

Some 650 kids aged 5-15 played in Mar Vista’s 9 divisions in spring league, said Soccer Director Kiswani Dumas, better known as simply “Kiwi.” With the largest park soccer program on the Westside, Mar Vista has produced stars for European soccer, he said. One kid has a contract for a Turkish team, he added.

“Our soccer program is growing every season,” Kiwi said. “We hope to have 1,000 kids next season.”

Sign ups, boys and girls, start on July 1 for fall soccer, which initiates Sept. 12. For $130, kids get a uniform, a trophy, training and a lot of competitive fun.

Mar Vista Park’s turf field, installed eight years ago, has been the field of dreams, where kids can learn soccer and soar. They learn teamwork, discipline and hard work. They can experience the exhilaration of victory and the crush of defeat.

In Saturday’s final, Chelsea, the highest scoring team among the older kids’ division, started what they do best early when Flynn Roe, 13, turned a free kick in past the goalie after only a few minutes after the starting whistle. It was a smart goal, uncharacteristically classy for parks soccer.

But Aston Villa responded quickly. Andres, of Honduran descent and with the Latino flair for el futbol, tore down the left flank, ghosting past four defenders, to fire home and tie up a game that promised to be highly competitive and highly entertaining.

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Hosea Ashcraft fires from amid three defenders. From the outside of his foot to the inside of the net.

Then for Chelsea, Hosea Ashcraft, 13, fought off three defenders to shoot clinically past a hapless Aston Villa goalie.

Mar Vista park soccer

Aston Villa’s goalie is not going to block the shot.

Before the first half was over, referees cited a defender’s handball, and Daniel Garcia, 15, the league’s highest goal-scorer, blasted a blistering penalty kick for Chelsea, making it 3-1.

youth soccer Westside Los Angeles

Daniel Garcia rockets a penalty kick right past the goalie.

In the second half, it was Aston Villa who opened scoring. Again the always-dangerous Andres blazed down the left flank and slotted home.

Chelsea responded almost immediately. Midfielder Daniel, who was Andres’ equal in domination, whipped in a cross from the right that Samuel Mikhail, 15, turned smartly in. It was impossible for the keeper to bat away.

Down 4-2, Aston Villa refused to let this game slip out of hand. From the feet of Andres came a through-ball that Donovan Brizuela sprinted on to fire from the left for another score, keeping the game within reach at 4-3.

If only Chelsea could cancel out the constant threat of Andres, they could win. Seeing the need, Flynn offered himself to coach to track and defend against Andres. He promised coach that he wouldn’t be beat by the fleet-footed youth.

“Ok, go ahead,” Coach Mario Ortiz told him. Andres didn’t make any more key plays.

All season, Chelsea had been a scoring machine, and Saturday’s game proved no different. A through-ball left Samuel in a one-on-one face-off with the goalie. He fired low, a shot that shanked the goalie’s shins and glided into goal.

Another defensive handball in the area gave Chelsea its second penalty kick, which Daniel didn’t miss with a rocket fired from the spot. The game ended 6-3.

With about 15 goals this season, Daniel was named the most valuable player.

“He covers all the midfield,” Coach Ortiz said. “He can shoot. He can pass.”

After taking possession of the field, the boys — and girls — in blue retreated to the park picnic tables for their banquet. Coach Ortiz handed out medals and praised each player as they munched sub sandwiches, chips and cupcakes.

After clashing against the tiny titans of soccer, the kids fell to playing Clash of Clans on their phones, trading strategies.

As the sun fell, another soccer season receded into glorious memories.

*Reprinted from http://patch.com/california/santamonica/chelsea-confirms-its-dominance-mar-vista-soccer