Baseline principals address All-League football debacle

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Has the ever been a worse debacle than what took place when Baseline League football coaches met to pick their All-League team? Probably not.

For those that haven’t been briefed, Upland won the league without losing to any of the other five schools.

When the coaches met, the first vote was for offensive player of the year. Two players were put up by their coaches – one from Chino Hills, one from Upland. The Chino Hills player won by a 4-2 vote.

That prompted Upland coach Tim Salter to get up and leave the meeting, putting the fate of the rest of his players in the hands of the other coaches.

Well the other coaches were worried more about lobbying for their own players. And with no one representing Upland in attendance none of those players were placed on the first or second team.

Once word got out, chaos ensued. Upland principal Garry Cameron and Athletic Director John McNally sent a letter to the principals asking them to address the situation.

They did. The compromise they came up with was to let Upland choose 21 players, 11 they can place on offense with up to 6 placed on first team. They get 10 selections on defense but the selection of players of the year would not be changed and no player previously chosen would be removed.

It helps give recognition to the players who were deserving but were first slighted. But EVERYONE looks bad.

Salter is most to blame because he got up and left. You don’t take your ball and go home because you don’t get your way. In fact coaches from another sport met just before and the player of the year didn’t come from the team that finished first. That coach didn’t pitch a fit and leave.

The other coaches don’t look good either. They may have personal differences with Salter and Upland. But you can’t tell me they couldn’t have taken a couple of the obvious choices and put them on the All-League team. In that situation Upland doesn’t get all the selections it probably deserve but some representation and there wouldn’t have been a total uproar.

Upland Unified School District Superintendent Nancy Kelly released a statement which addressed the compromise but part read: “Reconsidering players for All-League teams, but not Player of the Year awards, doesn’t make sense.”

Yes Mrs. Kelly it does. Your school got 21 selections, so pretty much every starter. And you want consideration for the top awards too? That would absolve Salter of any wrongdoing and he facilitated it.

The league looks bad for the whole debacle. And with now 50 or so players on the All-League team it waters down what should be an honor.

When we select our All-Area teams we’re careful not to overload it with players. The more you pick, the less of an honor it really is.

Was Salter upset because he never gets a Player of the Year? Not likely. He had a player given that top honor last year.

Lets hope everyone has learned from this bad episode and history doesn’t repeat itself.

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Alta Loma volleyball team closing in on a CIF title

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It’s one more to go for the spirited Alta Loma High School volleyball team.

The Braves (32-2) turned in a convincing 3-0 win over Garden Grove on Tuesday night in one Division 4AA semifinal to earn a spot in Friday’s title game against La Reina (29-8) which defeated St. Paul 3-1.

Many will say they’re making a run because they dropped from Division 1A to 4AA, the result of moving from a competitive Baseline League to a not-competitive at all Mt. Baldy League.

This one has been a few years in the making for coach Tishanna Pope who has eight seniors on her 10-person squad. It’s a tight-knit squad and has been since the core of the team arrived as freshmen.

But this team can play. I don’t care what division they’re in. Among their wins this season was one over Riverside King, which made the semifinals in 1A and eventually lost to top seed Aliso Niguel.

They also have a win over 2A finalist South Torrance.

One of their two losses was to Village Christian, the team that will play South Torrance for a title.

Pope has done a masterful job of bringing this team along and she had a pretty big challenge ahead of her this year. Yes she had an experienced team that seemed to poised to make a run. But she also had to find a way to keep this team focused and sharp when it had no equal in the league.

It’s a lot easier to get fired up and focused when you’re playing longtime rivals like Los Osos and Rancho Cucamonga. When you’re competition is the other schools in the Mt. Baldy, well, not so easy to get up to play every match.

Aeryn Owens has emerged as one of the area’s premier players. But the Braves a lot of solid players around her, all of whom have excelled in the role they’re asked to hold down.

This team has also been No. 1 all season and it’s not always easy to play with the target on your back.

They’re so close to finishing the job!

Alta Loma coach Tishana Pope talks about making it to the final

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Chris Salabaj to head Damien wrestling program

Chris Salabaj is the new wrestling coach at Damien High School.

He is no stranger to the school or the area, having taught computer science there in 1997 and 1998.

He played football at the University of La Verne in 1993 and 1994 and started his coaching career at Webb heading the wrestling program from 1997 to 1999.

He will be a a walk-on coach with his primary job being at Our Lady of the Assumption in Claremont which is one of the feeder schools to Damien.

“The schools draw on tradition and I think a little of that has been lost lately,” he said. “I really want to get back to embracing that and building on it.”

Salabaj has been pleased with the turnout so far with 32 athletes out for the team, even before football players reported at the conclusion of their season.

Salabaj is also a special teams coordinator and defensive line coach at La Verne.

 

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