Damien and Bishop Amat baseball are two of the biggest disappointments in the CIF-Southern Section this season. The Spartans, 11-9 overall and 4-6 in the Sierra League, boast UCLA bound pitchers Grant Hockin and Jonathan Olsen, but may miss the playoffs entirely. If the Spartans, ranked 9th in the CIF-SS preseason Division 2 poll, fall again to South Hills on Thursday, not only will their playoff hopes be on life support, they could find themselves finishing last if they continue to free fall. This is a team that was so highly thought of, online’s Perfect Game ranked Damien No. 23 in its preseason NATIONAL rankings. I can hear the conspiracy theorists now. Is Damien throwing in the towel to prove it should remain in the Sierra League. Of course not, but it would help with their position while they fight the move to an all private school league. Bishop Amat, ranked fourth in the preseason Division 4 poll and ranked fifth in the L.A. Times’ preseason Southern California Rankings, climbed over .500 to 11-10 with a 7-3 victory over La Salle on Tuesday. The Lancers are fighting St. Paul for third-place and the final playoff spot in the Del Rey. What happened to our private school baseball giants that have a combined record of 22-19? And what does this say to all the public school complainers that private school’s have an advantage that public school’s don’t? What it tells me is a free education is a pretty strong advantage as well.
UPDATE: Diamond Ranch vice principal and athletic director Candace Cayer contacted me via email with this response on James’ explanation that he was asked to resign: “As you know, I am unable to comment on a personnel matter. At this time, we are going in a different direction.” In addition, Cayer wrote they have not named a new coach and will fly the position in house. In other words, they’re hiring an on campus coach.
By Fred J. Robledo
One of the areas most highly regarded coaches, Diamond Ranch High School’s Mike James, said school officials gave him the option of resigning or being released in favoring of hiring an on-campus coach.
James, who teaches at nearby Walnut High School and who has led the Panthers to four CIF-Southern Section semifinals and three league titles during his six-year tenure, opted to resign this week.
Phones messages left for Diamond Ranch athletic director and vice principal Candace Cayer seeking an explanation were not returned.
“What it boils down to is that they want an on campus coach,” James said. “I’m really disappointed because I thought next year would be a really good year for us.
“We had all of our leaders coming back. It’s a strong group of kids … glue kids who work hard and do all the right things.”
James was not completely stunned by the decision. He says there is a teacher on campus who wants the job, but didn’t feel it was his position to mention his/her name.
He understands that in an ideal scenario, schools prefer an on campus coach, but he felt his resume and reputation as a coach should have allowed him to continue.
“I think they had the best of both worlds,” James said. “Obviously, you want to have someone that’s on campus, but if you don’t the next best thing is to have a credential teacher who is passionate and dedicated to the kids. I thought I was that.”
Bishop Amat girls basketball coach Richard Wiard is in a similar situation. Wiard is a teacher at Charter Oak High school, but has been a walk-on head coach at Bishop Amat for more than a decade, where he has won five CIF-Southern Section titles and two state titles.
Wiard has grown fond of James over the years, and was disappointed to learn what happened.
“You don’t find somebody better than Mike,” Wiard said. “You want what’s best for your kids, and I can’t believe they’ll find someone better. He’s dedicated to his kids, he’s been successful, and nobody’s ever had a bad word to say about him.
“I’ve done this a long time and what you want for your kids is the best possible coach and Mike James is the best coach for those kids.
“But who knows, maybe they have John Wooden on campus, I don’t know. But whoever it is, they’ve got some pretty big shoes to fill.”
James said he will not rush into another coaching position, but looks forward to the day he’s in charge again.
“I would be open to coaching next year, but I’m not going to just take any job,” James said. “I want to go somewhere where’s there’s a chance to build something to be successful.”
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Well, with the re-leaguing process in high gear and coming down the stretch. I thought I would put my two cents in, which is to do it strictly by geography. I talked to a local coach last week who said its just more fun to play schools you are in close proximity with, mainly because the kids know each other and get a kick out playing each other. I couldn’t agree more, so here is my re-leaguing proposal, which is based on pure geography. Now some school’s don’t have region partners, like Northview, South Hills and Covina, or Wilson and Los Altos, but I did try to keep them close to their general area, because I think that’s important. If that puts a team or program at a disadvantage, then do it the good, old American way — get back to work and get better.
1-Diamond Bar, Diamond Ranch, Rowland, Nogales, Wilson, Los Altos, Walnut
2-Covina, Northview, South Hills, West Covina, Edgewood, Charter Oak,
3-Glendora, San Dimas, Bonita, Azusa, Gladstone, Duarte
4-La Puente, Workman, Bassett, Sierra Vista, Baldwin Park
5-Ayala, Chino Hills, Chino, Don Lugo, Claremont,
6-Colony, Chaffey, Montclair, Ontario, Pomona, Garey, Ganesha
7-Upland, Rancho Cucamonga, Los Osos, Etiwanda, Alta Loma
The Catholic Athletic Association voted to approve a releaguing proposal for all sports except football that was submitted by Bishop Amat, Bishop Montgomery, Cantwell Sacred Heart, Cathedral, Don Bosco Tech, La
Salle, Mary Star of the Sea, Serra, St. Bernard, Saint Joseph, St. Monica, and St. Paul. Barring lawsuits, the new league approved by the CAA will begin in the 2014-15 cycle. I’m posting only the league that directly affects the San Gabriel Valley area, with Damien, Bishop Amat, St. Lucy’s, La Salle, St. Paul and Pomona Catholic all grouped in the 16-team Co-Ed Association league. The CAA will next vote on a football only proposal.
CO-ED ASSOCIATION A (16 SCHOOLS): Bishop Amat, Bishop Montgomery, Cantwell-Sacred Heart, Cathedral, Damien, Bosco Tech, La Salle, Mary Star of the Sea, Pomona Catholic, Serra, St. Bernard, St. Bonaventure, St. Joseph, St. Lucy’s, St. Monica, St. Paul.
How it works: With 16 teams in the association, it is now up to the association to group teams into League A and League B by sports, taking into consideration geographic proximity and competitive equity. Chances are, Damien/St. Lucy’s, Bishop Amat, Bosco Tech/Pomona Catholic, St. Paul, Cantwell Sacred Heart, La Salle, Cathedral/St. Joseph and Mary Star will be grouped together in most sports because of geography.
TRIBUNE/STAR-NEWS ALL-STAR CLASSIC
Where: Damien High School
Time: Girls game 6 p.m., boys 8 p.m.
By Aram Tolegian, staff writer
It’s been a few years now since Gary Prestesater left the local spotlight.
From legendary athlete at Glendora High School to legendary basketball coach at San Dimas to legendary but brief program re-builder at West Covina, Prestesater has spent his entire life building himself into a local stalwart.
A probably forgotten chapter in the story of Prestesater’s athletic and coaching prowess came in 2006 when he was selected to be the head coach of the Tribune team in that spring’s Tribune/Star-News All-Star Classic.
I say selected because to this day I’m not sure Prestesater ever officially accepted the assignment.
In fact, the phone call to get him to coach the game went something like this.