Friday, November 4, 2016

Best of my Work (September/October)

Okay so that idea of writing more sports on here? A lot more difficult when you're working 12-hour days and driving for three of them. Ambition is a wonderful thing.....execution is a lot harder as I've learned from my running/exercise journey.

Either way, I figured I'd give you guys a chance to see what I've been up to for work. Since I'm not writing here. Here's some of the best stuff I've written since late August. I'll try to do this every month.

1986 Crespi: Part 1 and Part 2
As a prep sports scribe, I've always been fascinated by Russell White, one of the greatest running backs in California history. He's the only sophomore named State Player of the Year and that 1986 Crespi High School team is the only team from the San Fernando Valley to win a title at the highest division.

Crespi coach Troy Thomas, left, and former Celts coach Bill Redell, right, show off the school’s memorabilia from the 1986 championship season. Thomas played defensive back on that team. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

White went on to an All-American career at Cal (still their all-time leading rusher) but I wanted to study his team. Coaches and players from that team became successful around Southern California. So I wanted to know what drove them to be great. The first story is a general reflection. The second is short snapshots of three guys from that team I didn't talk to in Part 1.

Oh and I did speak to White, which was a pretty cool interview seeing him at peace with his life after football.

Chaminade-Birmingham family battle
Usually in sports, we may cover angles of fathers coaching sons and daughters. Sometimes, they may be on opposite sides. Before this fall, I never covered a mother coaching against her daughter. Here's an example of where the game was secondary to a cool family angle. Chaminade volleyball player S'Mara Riley facing her mother, Birmingham coach Dr. LeAnne Bennett-Riley. (Video above)

Darnay Holmes' All-American day
Once again, this story is an example of turning a game story into a bigger feature. Calabasas High senior Darnay Holmes is one of the top players in the country and the day he received his Army All-American jersey, he had a great night in Calabasas' win. You can also watch it above.

Student sections balance passion with good behavior
Thanks to social media and television, high school student sections are bigger, more creative and are eager for attention. We as media have helped encourage this but it also means kids can go too far. I wanted to not only shine a light on the bad but how administrations help promote the good as well. What I found is a well-sophisticated strategy at several schools that I think builds school spirit as well as encourages leadership to curb bad behavior.

Valencia's Jayvaun Wilson vs Hart
Why do I like this game story? 1) Cool angle of a kid shining against a team his older brother had an amazing performance against. 2) A rivalry game always lends itself to better drama. 3) Just watch my highlight video above and enjoy the performance as well.

The Unbeatens
I took the snapshot angle I did for that Crespi story (Part 2) and extended for the four last unbeaten football teams in our area heading into the regular season finale. Each team has their own thoughts on it. One is a group of only 18, one hasn't done it in three years, a third is 9-0 for a third straight year and a 4th is simply meeting expectations.

These stories are fun and creative but they also highlight the process. I hate when winning leads to cliches about staying in the moment, hard work paying off, it forces me to ask better questions, find context and see if they're aware of that more than just the usual chatter.

(As a bonus: I dusted off my music critic hat for a couple of anniversary pieces if you're interested. The first is the 25th anniversary of Nirvana's Nevermind, A Tribe Called Quest's Low End Theory and Red Hot Chili Peppers' Blood Sugar Sex Magik. The 2nd is a similar 25th anniversary piece on Ice Cube's Death Certificate - one of my favorite albums of all time and my pick for the greatest West Coast solo album)

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