Wes Welker to the Denver Broncos

Posted: 23rd May 2013 by admin in Uncategorized

The original article can be seen here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/fernando-stepensky/wes-welker-to-the-denver-_b_2882217.html

When the infamous Adam Schefter tweeted on Wednesday that the Broncos were in “serious talks” with then New England Patriot Wes Welker, and that a decision was “expected today,” I immediately thought it was a smoke screen.

All things Wes Welker:

There was just no way that Wes Welker was leaving the Patriots, right? We all knew that Welker was not happy with the evaluation the team was giving him, but I think few thought he would actually leave. So, naturally, I thought this report was simply to scare New England and get a bigger and better deal. I was wrong. And I admitted it, with no excuses.

I am going to take you into the mind of Fernando Stepensky for a second, and the mind of countless others who were as appalled as I was to hear that Welker was officially a Denver Bronco.

Tom Brady had just given the Pats $15 million in cap relief two weeks ago, for, what I thought, was so the team could spend more. And who better to spend on then your irreplaceable quarterback’s best friend, and favorite target?

Welker was coming off a 118 catch, 1,354 yards receiving, six touchdown and 619 yards after the catch season.

He was fourth in the league for targets (174), second in the league for receptions (118), eighth in the league for receiving yards (1,354), sixth in first downs among receivers (72) and first in YAC (619).

Welker also had the most catches in the past six seasons combined.

Welker had a 112 catches a year, on average, in his six-year Patriot career, only missed three games in those six years, and was paid $18 million in his first five years with the team.

Can you see why we, I mean I, didn’t believe the news at first?

The Ravens, Steelers and Patriots have made it very clear in the past that they don’t pay old guys who they believe are either washed up or washing up, and I greatly respect that, but Welker was not washing up just yet, despite his 31 years of age. The guy has the go-to receiver on a Super Bowl contending team for many years.

What happened?

Wes Welker made slightly north of $27.5 million the past six years. Clearly undervalued, to say the least. With those numbers, you know he wants his big payday to finally come, and it didn’t. Reports indicated that the Patriots were offering somewhere around two years and $10 million, which people, including myself, called “laughable.”

When the fat lady sung, Welker took the Broncos’ offer of two years, and $12 million dollars (with a $150,000 incentive every season he catches 90 passes).

You might think that those two million dollars shouldn’t have been enough for Welker to be swayed away from his home, and it wasn’t. A source had warned NFL.com columnist Adam Schein, before free agency, “if team X offered him 100 bucks and the Patriots offered him 100 dollars, he would leave New England.” This was because Welker had felt “disrespected for a few years in New England.”

So it wasn’t about the money, it was about respect, and getting what he deserved. Andaccording to ESPNBoston.com’s Mike Reiss, who did a hell of a job on this entire story, an AFC team offered Welker two years and $15 million. Needless to say, Welker also chose his team based on fit, and talent as well.

A few bullet points on the deal, and Danny Amendola:

— Wes Welker agreed to the deal without visiting the Broncos.

— Welker himself said that he pitched the Broncos’ vice president of football operations, John Elway, more than Elway pitched him.

-According to Tom E. Curran of Comcast SportsNet New England, Amendola’s contract with New England, for a ludicrous 5-years and $31 million, with $10 million guaranteed, was signed on Tuesday. Meaning, contrary to popular belief, the signing of Amendola was not made as a result of Welker going to the Broncos, but more likely the other way around.

— Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels worked with Amendola in St. Louis at one point.

— Since 2009, Wes Welker has missed three games to Danny Amendola’s 23. Not to mention, games played aside, Welker crushes Amendola in receptions per game, yards per game and average YAC per game.

I would like to finish this article with an excerpt of an article by Sports Illustrated‘s Peter King, because I could not have said it any better:

The Patriots have made it abundantly clear that only Tom Brady is irreplaceable among players in their world. They’re going to have to figure a way to tell the Irreplaceable One how they let his favorite weapon get away after Brady did the team such a favor two weeks ago.
Bad, bad decision by New England.

What’s Next for Alex Smith?

Posted: 23rd May 2013 by admin in Uncategorized

The original article can be read here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/fernando-stepensky/alex-smith_b_2672702.html

The Super Bowl is over for the San Francisco 49ers, and for Alex Smith. The 34-31 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the Superdome was likely the last game that backup quarterback Smith will ever play as a 49er.

You remember Smith, right? The quarterback that helped the 49ers get to a 6-2 start to the 2012 season before getting injured against the St. Louis Rams and, ultimately, losing his starting job to second-year player Colin Kaepernick? The quarterback who was also the NFL’s top rated passer (104.3) through those 10 weeks? The quarterback that completed 18 of 19 passes in his final game, a hair away from a perfect 19 of 19? Yeah, that guy.

Well, reports seem to indicate that Smith will indeed be leaving the Bay Area, and joining a new team, as a starter. The 49ers will try and get something out of Smith by attempting to trade him away, but if that proves impossible, they will likely drop him and allow him to pick his team — out of some form of respect for the quarterback that literally lost his job because he got a concussion.

Even with a lot in Smith’s favor, trading him won’t be easy. Despite the fact that there are numerous teams that need a new starting quarterback, and that these teams won’t just be able to pick a quarterback in this year’s awfully weak quarterback draft class, his new team will still have to pay him $8.5 million in 2013, and offer the 49ers some value in the trade. That is unless Smith agrees to restructure his contract, which Smith has yet to comment on. It could even be in Smith’s best interests to just hit the open market, where he could make over $8.5 million.

The likely suitors for Smith are among the likes of the Cleveland Browns, Arizona Cardinals, Minnesota Vikings and Kansas City Chiefs. It seems as though the favorites are the Browns and Chiefs.

Chiefs head coach Andy Reid was said to have pursued Smith while he was the coach of the Eagles last year, and there seems to be no reason why he wouldn’t still be interested now. The Chiefs have a mess at the quarterback position, but are a talented team that Smith should have no problem joining.

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said that there will be a competition for the starting quarterback job this year, which will put Brandon Weeden head-to-head with another player. That was hint one, hint two was when Smith praised the work of now Browns offensive coordinator, Norv Turner. The Browns are not as talented as the Chiefs, but nonetheless are an up-and-coming team.

In terms of the Cardinals and Vikings, those are just two teams that could be in the swinging for Smith. The Cardinals have an absolute mess at quarterback, the worst in years, and would be dumb to not at least try and get Smith. The Vikings, however, still have Christian Ponder at quarterback — a player that has yet to fully prove himself, and has yet to be supported fully by the organization for starting in 2013.

My guess is that Smith will either end up with the Browns via trade, and I have no idea what the 49ers would get in return, or he’ll end up with the Chiefs via free agency. Wherever he goes though, he will be able to make an immediate impact on his new teams winning percentage.

The following article was published in the May issue of the Torrey Pines Falconer: 

NBA center Jason Collins announced he is gay in the Sports Illustrated cover story he wrote earlier this month. The story marked the first time an active male athlete in a major U.S. sports league has come out as gay, though Collins, a 12-year veteran, is currently a free agent. Collins made history with his announcement, illuminating the path for gay athletes to come out publicly, which will lead to a world more accepting of homosexuality.

A professional male athlete in a major U.S. team sport identifying himself as gay should not warrant a headline every time it happens, but it was inevitable that the first athlete to come would be heralded as a superhero, as he well should be.

There are thousands of male athletes in major U.S. sports leagues, but Collins is the only person who is openly and publicly gay. Collins had to know that this meant coming out would lead to a media circus, with extensive commentary, both positive and negative.

The ignorant comments included those from Mike Wallace, a wide receiver for the Miami Dolphins, when he expressed confusion as to why males are attracted to other males. Atlanta Falcons cornerback Asante Samuel also said that there is no need for Collins to flaunt his sexuality, since straight people do not announce they are straight. Both of these observations show people’s lack of understanding of why Collins’ announcement is so significant, and sounds a lot like Wallace and Samuel recommend a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which has been in place in sports for years. This leaves more players trapped in the closet, unable to truly share who they are with the team and connect with their brothers as do  their heterosexual teammates.

Players seldom come out because they live in fear of reduced playing time, poor treatment by opponents and a change in the locker room dynamic, among other things. Those thoughts forced players like former NBA center John Amaechi not to come out until they retire, and almost led rugby star Gareth Thomas to commit suicide; and these thoughts are reinforced by any reaction to Collins’ announcement that is not fully supportive. One does not have to approve of Collins’ decision to reveal his sexual identity, but his fellow athletes even suggesting that Collins is flaunting his sexuality with his announcement is ignorant and perpetuates the insecurity and reluctance to come out among professional athletes.

NBA great Charles Barkley recently acknowledged that he played with gay teammates, and that all NBA players have played with gay teammates. Barkley  added that a player’s sexuality is not spoken about unless the person comes out to someone personally, which Barkley says happened to him three or four times in his 16-year career.

Sure, supportive statements by the NBA office and countless players from different sports will lead to slightly less uncertainty about coming out among gay players, but individual teams must also come out in support. Although professional sports leagues tried to soothe some of the fears homosexual athletes have by demonstrating their support for Collins, nobody can force players to come out.

Former tennis superstar Martina Navratilova, who is the most influential and important athlete to ever come out, called Collins a game changer in her article on sportsilustrated.com, and said that 1981 was her year, and 2013 is Collins’. For Navratilova to call Collins’ announcement a game changer is no small statement, but this will not just make any athlete comfortable with coming out.

Given that coming out must be a natural process, and is a huge personal decision, the NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL can do much to encourage gay players to come out by fostering a supportive environment in all ways possible. The leagues can demonstrate support for players that do come out, so that gay players within each league are aware of the kind of support they will be given. Once a player does come out, all the league has left to do, besides show its support, is to notify all teams that they cannot discriminate against the player, and that any trash talking directed at the player’s sexuality, or decisions based on the player’s sexuality, like reduced playing time, will result in major fines. The leagues that do that would also be wise to release a statement explaining fines to the media, so players can feel the full weight of league support even before they come out.

As Navratilova said in her article, “Any revolution starts with a small step. . . One of the last bastions of homophobia has been challenged.”

The following article was published in the May issue of the Torrey Pines Falconer: 

The Falcons (13-17) were unable to maintain their early lead, and fell victim to the Poway High School Titans (14-14) 7-6 in extra innings to close out TPHS’ regular season.

The Falcons  got on the board and picked up speed right off the bat. Mark Detrow (12) had the first hit of the game, on a ball that skipped off the mound to get past Poway’s second baseman.  Catcher John Remick (12) drove Detrow home on a line drive double over the third baseman.

“Our coaches [signaled] a hit-and-run,” Remick said. “Luckily, the pitcher gave me a good pitch I could hit, and I pulled it down the line to get Mark [Detrow] in.”

Remick scored from second on a sharply overthrown attempt to stop the steal at third base by Poway starting pitcher Ian Peppers.

“[Scoring in the first inning] is huge and really destroys the pitcher’s confidence out there,” Remick said. “It probably put them down, and they struggled for the first couple innings.”

The Falcons were able to get the Titans off the field quickly in the bottom half of the first inning with a Titan fly out to right field on Henry Grow’s (12) first pitch of the game, which was then followed by a walk and a ground ball double play.

“I was able to move the ball in-and-out really well,” Grow said. “Later in the game is where I started lofting it and couldn’t get any calls.”

With a man on base, Detrow helped to widen the Falcons’ lead when he hit the first homerun of his varsity career and put the Falcons up 4-0.

“He left it too far inside, catching a big part of the plate, and that’s my kind of pitch,” Detrow said.

After two scoreless innings, the Titans scored three runs between the third and fifth innings, while the Falcons scored two, making the score 6-3 going into the sixth inning.

“We let them back in the game,” TPHS coach Kirk McCaskill said. “As soon as momentum turns, which it really did, especially when you’re at a visiting ballpark, it’s hard to get momentum back.”

That would prove to be true as the Falcons did not score another run, and Poway was able to tie the game at 6-6 in the sixth innings to force the game into extra innings.

McCaskill made his first call to the bullpen in the eighth inning when he substituted Julian Harris (10) into the game for Grow.

“I was just hoping I could put my team in a position to win,” Harris said.

Harris inherited two baserunners with one out and was not able to retire his next two batters. Harris walked the first batter he faced and then walked in the final run of the game, on a controversial call, in which the second base umpire claimed that batter Kyle Dean checked his swing on a full count.

“I thought he swung,” Poway coach Bob Parry said. “You can’t  really argue [that call] because it’s the umpire’s judgement, like a ball or a strike.”

The Falcons’ concluded their regular season with a Palomar League record of 8-7. TPHS will enter  postseason  play next week.

The following article was published in the April issue of the Torrey Pines Falconer: 

The Falcons (6-13) outlasted Mount Carmel High School (7-11) in extra innings, winning 2-1 and ending their nine-game losing streak.

A passed ball on the first pitch of the game started a shaky defensive inning  for the Falcons. The three straight singles that followed led to a Sun Devils run and a deflated Falcons pitcher.

“I kept at it after those few tough, tough hits early in the game,” pitcher Pete Mitchell (11) said, “”I just got in a groove and kept going, I felt stronger as the game went on.”

After the first inning, Mitchell did not allow another runner to touch home and threw a quick three-up, three-down second inning; however, the Sun Devils were able to counter with a 1-2-3 third inning of their own.

After the strong defensive performance by the Falcons in the fourth inning, the offense was able put runners on base, but could not manage clutch hits to convert to runs.

“We had the bases loaded and almost scored,” second baseman Jackson Gentes (12) said. “It was disapointing, but we knew we’d get ‘em.”

The Falcons’ consistency at the plate paid off in the fifth inning, when the Falcons tied the game up at one apiece off a double by designated hitter Mark Detrow  (12) that scored shortstop Cole Klemke (10), who had bunted for a hit and stolen second base.

“[The run] was good because it got our momentum started and we really needed the run,” Klemke said. “It just felt good to come up for the team.”

After two more scoreless innings pitched by Mitchell, the Sun Devils made a mistake that coincidentally led to an accidental pitching change.

“The kid just went out there and started throwing, thinking he was in the game when he hadn’t been told [to go out and pitch],” Mt. Carmel head coach Chachi Mueller said. “If you go out and throw one pitch from the hill, it’s an automatic change. The umpires and [TPHS] coach [Kirk] McCaskill got it right.”

The Falcons were then given the opportunity to close the game out before extra innings with a man on second and third base, but John Remick (12) flew out to center field.

“John [Remick] flew out to center, but we still kept Pete  [Mitchell] in the game because he had been playing well,” Detrow said. “We were confident he could shut them down one more inning, and we knew we could hit the pitches they were throwing, so we knew we were going to win that game.”

Detrow and the team proved to be right when pinch hitter Jake Cline (11) got a walk-off hit to end the day with a 2-1 Falcon victory in the eighth.

“I just wanted to get a hit, and I knew I would,” Cline said. “I didn’t hit it that well, but it got the job done.”

McCaskil admitted the signficance of the win, while still discussing things that need work.

“It’s a big win for us,” McCaskill said. “Our situational hitting has to be better, but anytime you win a ballgame after you’ve lost nine in a row, that’s big.”

The Falcons will play Mt. Carmel again in a double-header tomorrow.


Feeling Lucky

Posted: 23rd May 2013 by admin in Uncategorized

The following article was published in the April issue of the Torrey Pines Falconer, and cowritten with Crystal Park: 

The thrill of victory is the most appealing — and at the same time, the most dangerous — aspect of gambling. Addiction to drugs and alcohol can ravage someone’s life in that they cause physical deterioration of the body. Addiction to gambling, though, can indirectly harm other parts of someone’s life. Although teenage gambling does not cause physical harm like drug or alcohol abuse, teenagers are not immune to the adrenaline rush from winning.

“Gambling is hidden; it’s not so pervasive,” said Azmaira Maker, a San Diego psychologist. “It’s less present than other addictions. People think it’s fun, and they get rolled into the addiction.”

Just as adolescents can find ways to obtain drugs illegally, they can also find ways to gamble. Some students, like Eddie*, have gambled at Barona Casino, which allows entry for 18-year-olds because alcohol is not served on the same floor as the casino. Eddie has been going to Barona with friends since he was a sophomore and spends his weekends there without worrying that he will get caught despite being underage.

“I go to Barona because it’s the only place I know that really doesn’t check for anything or card,” Eddie said. “You just have to dress nice and walk in because they never card.”

Representatives of Barona Casino did not return phone calls inquiring about the nature of the casino’s age-enforcement system. Other casinos were also unwilling to comment or did not respond to inquires.

Maker said that winning reinforces the act of gambling because of its adrenaline rush.

“If you are gambling, you are getting rewarded by wins intermittently, and that’s why it’s so addictive,” Maker said. “Winning is a mechanism that increases the probability of engaging in that behavior again and again.”

In other words, the feeling that someone gets from winning once will far outweigh the discouragement from any losses in between wins. Barona’s website sports a banner that reads: “LOOSEST SLOTS. MORE WINNERS!” Maker said that the pattern of chasing a high reward at a perceived low cost is the same for any other addiction and that it applies to both teenagers and adults alike.

“Like any other addiction, [gambling] can take over your life,” Maker said. “It can cause financial problems. It can cause emotional problems because you want to be gambling and not be at home. It can cause physical problems, smoking and drinking [from being at casinos], sleep problems from being on the computer late at night.”

However, TPHS student Christopher* said that, although he does feel on top of the moment when he wins at blackjack or roulette, he knows that he will not necessarily win every time.

“I still wonder why parents are okay [with teenagers gambling],” Christopher said. “I won $30 from $5, but I know that most people who go don’t win, get addicted and lose all their money.”

Like alcohol, gambling is arguably harmless in moderation. Student Richard*, for example, controls his gambling by going infrequently and with very little money. He said he is able to minimize any negative effect gambling has on his life by making sure the risks are small.

“The risk was not a very harsh one; it was calculated,” Richard said. “The reward was to get to go to Barona and have fun, so I decided to take the risk. The benefits outweighed the negatives and I think most people that are underage feel that way [about gambling].”

Although many parents are against allowing their children gamble, Richard’s mother Anna* is fully aware that her son gambles. She does not forbid him from gambling, though, because she knows that gambling is more social for Richard than anything else.

“I know how [Richard] is and I know that he goes with a very little budget and just spends a little bit of time there and never spends more than he designates to spend,” Anna said. “You spend $20 going to a movie or whatever, that’s how he looks at it, and that is why I am at peace.”

Regardless of the law, adolescents are just as vulnerable to the lure of winning as adults are. The degree to which they gamble, though, ultimately affects them and the people around them, and they are wise to draw the line between healthy moderation and dangerous addiction.

Big Cleats to Fill

Posted: 23rd May 2013 by admin in Uncategorized

The following article was published in the April issue of the Torrey Pines Falconer, and cowritten with Mahan Chitgari.

At TPHS, “band of brothers” has nothing to do with a humvee or an M-16, nor with the popular HBO mini-series; it represents the bond, forged with blood, sweat and tears, between Falcon football players.

Offensive lineman Jake Ashby (12) and linebacker Kyle Ashby (11) do not need a slogan to band them together. Not only are the boys brothers, but their father, Scott Ashby, is the head football coach and defensive coordinator.

“When you’re putting in 20 hours a week you’re going to get close with every one of those guys, so it has made me and my brother closer,” Jake said. “The competitiveness is always there between us, but at home I know he has my back, and I always have his.”

While they lifted weights and ran together before the season, they are now often pitted against one another during practice.

“There was one play where [Kyle] was blitzing the A-gap, and he knocked me back a little bit on that play,” Jake said. “I told coach, ‘Let’s run that play again,’ and then I knocked him back, and then we just got fired up with each other.”

Until they both made the TPHS softball team, Lauren Bower (12) and Andrea Bower (10) had never played  on the same team. Now they work together to enterain the Lady Falcons whenever the girls are feeling down, according to Lauren.

“We make up handshakes and wrestle,” Lauren said. “If she’s picking something up, I’ll push her, and she’ll fall down.

Andrea said that once her sister leaves, although she does not anticipate breaking out of her shell any more, she will become more serious because she will not have anyone to mess around with.

All four Ingwells have been swimming since they were little and after Milan Ingwell (12) graduates this year, Kian Ingwell (10) will be the last of the line.

“When my sister leaves, there will probably be a loss of competition between us, and her means to motivate me will be gone, but I will always know she will support me wherever she is and that is all I need to keep swimming strong,” Kian said.

According to Kian, he and Milan used to bicker about swim times at practice but they have learned to accept their separate skills, especially because Milan swims breaststroke and Kian swims freestyle.

Likewise, Jake does not want the team to hear him calling Coach Ashby “dad.” Jake said there is a difference between when they are on the field and when they are just hanging out as a family.

“We do a good job of keeping things away from the house,” Scott said. “I played for my dad, and I played for my uncle, and we leave that all here.”

Scott said that he alternates between the fatherly role and the coach’s role to create a fair and productive environment for his sons and the other players.

“Sometimes I watch film as a dad and other times I watch it as a coach,” Scott said. “On the field I look at what I need to look at, like a coach would. I make a conscious decision to separate the two roles. When you look at [the videos] from a fan’s perspective, you’re just happy if it goes well, and from a coach’s perspective, you can always find something they could have done better.”

According to Milan, her coaches never play favorites between her and any of her siblings.

“I just like kids who listen and give their best effort, and it doesn’t matter who they are beyond that,” head swim coach Richard Contreras said.

It would be hard to prove that Scott has a favorite, but it is not hard to tell who Jake and Kyle’s favorite teammates are.

“On the drive home from one of the games he said, ‘Jake, I just had a really bad game,’ and I said, “Don’t even worry about it,” Jake said. “We have that relationship where we talk to each other right after the game, and we start to analyze the game for the other.”

Blood, sweat and tears are a big part of sports, but when it comes to the Ingwells,  Bowers and Ashbys, blood provides that extra support that every athlete needs to succeed.

Jim Abbott speaks to TPHS students

Posted: 23rd May 2013 by admin in Uncategorized

The following article was published in the March issue of the Torrey Pines Falconer, and cowritten with Alex McCracken: 

The TPHS Foundation hosted former Major League Baseball player and motivation speaker Jim Abbott on March 6 in the lecture hall to benefit the TPHS baseball team.

“He’s a professional speaker now,” head varsity baseball coach Kirk McCaskill said. “He gladly donated his time to talk to us as a fundraiser for our program.”

Abbott, who was born without a right hand, had to make unique adjustments on and off the baseball diamond. During the speech Abbott devoted little time to talking about his condition, but mixed humor with sensitivity when addressing the struggles that came with it.

The speech, titled “Perserverance and Overcoming Adversity,” was focused on the word “adapt,” which Abbott used as an acronym to represent  primary elements of his speech that he said enabled him to persevere and overcome adversity: A for adjustability, D for determination, A for accountability, P for perseverance and T for trust.

Abbott stressed that “adapting” could apply to both children with disabilities and baseball players.

“I was inspired to see a man who had such a difficult obstacle to overcome, and was still able to succeed at the highest level of baseball,” varsity baseball player Christian Gange (10) said. “It made any other problem I could have seem like nothing.”

Gange feels that Abbott’s speech will help the team through their own struggles.

“I would like for people to believe in what’s possible, and I really would like to give back in the way that people gave to me as a kid,” Abbott said.

According to McCaskill, Abbott, a certified professional speaker, has spoken to numerous audiences and tailors his speeches to accommodate the perspectives of his audiences. In this case, Abbott tailored his speech to apply to the lecture hall filled with baseball players.

“I think its powerful when Jim raises his [right] hand in the air,” McCaskill said. “When he puts  it in the air, people really lock in on that. It becomes really real, and his message becomes even louder.”

Throughout the speech, Abbott referenced his close relationship with McCaskill, who is a retired baseball player himself. They first met at the Anaheim Angels winter workouts. They became closer over the next four years, when they were teammates playing for the Angels and the Chicago White Sox. Abbott came down from his home in Orange County to speak to the Falcons at McCaskill’s request.

“If I could give back … and help people [achieve] what might be possible in this world, then I feel like I’m moving toward a worthy purpose,” Abbott said.

After the speech, Abbott signed autographs for attendees, and he passed out and signed copies of his book, “Imperfect,” for those who attended the private reception following the main event.

Each ticket cost $25. Tickets to a private reception after the speech could be purchased for an additional $75.

Falcon offense falls flat to Wildcats 3-1

Posted: 22nd May 2013 by admin in Uncategorized

The following article was published in the March issue of the Torrey Pines Falconer: 

The Falcons (2-2) fell to El Camino High School (2-2) 3-1 in the Pirate/Falcon Classic preseason tournament, unable to string together offensive plays after the second inning.

Both teams managed to get runners on base in the first inning, but failed to follow through with any runs. By the second inning, TPHS earned its first and only run of the game on a fielder’s choice.

“We got [designated hitter] Mark [Detrow] (12) as our five hitter who led off [the second inning] with a hit and got us going,” left fielder Christian Gange (10) said. “Then  [catcher] John Remick (12)  had a good hit to the wall for his double, and then Henry Grow got the job done with the ground out to get just what we needed to get the run in.”

After the Wildcats had been  inactive on offense, they were able to come together in the third inning and take advantage of Falcon errors. The first runner got on base on a pass ball, followed by  two singles, a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly for the first two runs of the game.

“It was kind of tough giving up those first two runs,” shortstop Cole Klemke (10) said. “We needed to get the momentum back in our favor, so getting a quick solid out at the end of the inning like that let us go get our bats and battle back.”

The score remained unchanged through the fifth inning for both sides, leaving the Falcons with just two innings to tie the game.

“At that time we were down 2-1, so we were just trying to get a run,” Remick said. “What the leadoff batter is probably going to try and do on that is just try and get on. Then the next guy will come up and try and move him over. It’s more of a job at that time and not a selfish play; it’s more about trying to get a run in to tie the game up.”

The Falcons first three batters all got out, on a strikeout, ground out and pop up.

“This was a big game for us, especially early in the year,” El Camino head coach Jason Schmeiser said. “We had a very confident pitcher on the mound and a very confident catcher. They both work very well together, and when you get that matchup there is a good chance we are going to be in the ball game.”

The dominant pitching in the sixth inning seemed to come at a  very inconvenient time for the surging Falcons, who did not have a strong enough offense to match the Wildcats’ defense.

“That was probably our best chance to do it [because the top of the lineup was batting], but we just couldn’t come through at the time,” Remick said. “The energy on our sideline was kind of low; there probably wasn’t a lot of confidence either, and we couldn’t execute.”

With two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, El Camino was still up by one run, with a man on second base, when a pop up was hit.

“It was a pretty shalllow pop up,” Gange said. “I was going for it, I had run a long way and I didn’t know if I was going to get called off by my center fielder or the shortstop.”

Gange said he did not hear from his shortstop or center fielder, so he called for the ball at the last second. Gange said he lost sight of the ball in the sun for a second and was unable to make the snag.

“I felt bad for my pitcher and that I couldn’t make a play to save a run for him,” Gange said. “[Nolan Weinberg] (12) pitched a good game and deserved not to have that run score.”

The seventh inning included a leadoff double for the Falcons, but the offensive surge was overpowered by the consistent defensive front of the Wildcats, who made several run-stopping plays,  leading to no runs being scored in the inning and a final score of 3-1 in the Wildcats’ favor.

“I think we battled, and Nolan pitched a hell of a game, and our defense played well besides a couple of slip-ups,” TPHS coach Kirk McCaskill said.

Although McCaskill praised Weinberg’s pitching, Weiberg was a lot harder on his performance.

“I was just trying to throw strikes because I knew they only had like one pretty good hitter, so I wanted them to put the ball in play,” Weinberg said.

Weinberg said that this may have been a fault in his strategy because the El Camino lineup had better hitters than he had anticipated.

TPHS traveled to Carlsbad High School on March 14 for another Pirate/Falcon Classic tournament match, after the Falconer went to press. The game had been rescheduled because a game scheduled at an earlier date was rained out.

SDUHSD holds safety walkthrough

Posted: 22nd May 2013 by admin in Uncategorized

The following article was published in the February issue of the Torrey Pines Falconer, and cowritten with Alex Jen: 

Campus-wide safety walkthroughs took place Feb. 12-13 to assess TPHS’ precautions for a natural disaster or lockdown.

Principal Brett Killeen has been a strong advocate for crisis boxes — which are storage bins that contain first-aid kits, hydraulic jacks and flashlights that could be used to extricate people from dangerous locations.

“I think the safety boxes are necessary,” Simon Ilko (10) said. “If something happened, like an earthquake which could easily hit San Diego, we could be trapped in our classrooms without any food or water. So it’s good to spend money on those.”

According to Killeen, some batteries stored within the crisis boxes had “exploded” recently, and other materials were in poor condition. All damaged equipment has been replaced.

“[Previously], the boxes were in one location, but it made more sense to spread them out to one per building area,” Killeen said.

Assistant Principal Rob Coppo, who is in charge of safety at TPHS this year, said there are four crisis boxes on campus: in the health technician’s office, custodial services, the World Languages building and the administration building.

“[The crisis boxes] were actually the idea of a previous assistant principal, and we didn’t know they need restocking until custodial services told us recently,” Coppo said.

According to Killeen, TPHS still needs a portable water supply on campus, along with foods with long shelf lives, in the case of a water line break or other emergency.

“When the water line broke in September, we were waiting for bottled water, but something like [the water tanks] could have dispensed, emptied and refilled the water so it was fresh.”

World Languages Department Chair Leonor Youngblood said water tanks spread around campus are ideal.

“I think it makes very good sense to know that we have a central location for water,” Youngblood said. “It makes sense to have a huge container of water in the case of an emergency.”

In addition to supplies in case of an emergency, TPHS has also considered fortifying security around and inside the campus. After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December 2012, other schools across the United States have put more measures in place to discourage future school shootings, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Some students do seem to think that more security, although not necessary, certainly would not hurt.

“I think our security now is good, but you can always do a little extra, like with the bins, or maybe adding more security,” Natalie Aroeste (10) said.

However, Killeen believes such intimidating additions to safety would have negative effects.

“It’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Killeen said. “The more you make the school look like a prison, the more dangerous it becomes. The safer schools are more spread out, more trusting, more accommodating, like TPHS.”

Indeed, no students have expressed serious concerns about security to the school administration despite recent shootings like that at Sandy Hook.

“I feel pretty safe at school,” Ilko said. “There is always a cop at school during lunch. So if anything ever happened you could just go to them, and I’ve never needed to go to them, so that’s good.”

According to Killeen, Southern California is more susceptible to fires and earthquakes than a shooter situation.

With the Northwestern Division of the San Diego Police Department just one mile away on El Camino Real and Fire Station 24 a couple hundred yards from campus, TPHS is, according to Killeen, in “a very good geographic location,” and has all the resources necessary for fire or other natural disasters.

In case of a situation similar to Sandy Hook, Killeen said the police would take control almost immediately, and the administration would be responsible for communication.

“Assuming everyone gets in safely and the police are pursing the suspect, we’re sending out alerts to our parents via ConnectED and our staff through mobile devices so they get updates from us,” Killeen said.

Killeen’s belief that the school would be prepared for natural disasters resonates with his students.

“This school is secure and we would know what to do if an actual situation went down,” Aroeste said.

This year, Coppo said a new lockdown drill will be implemented. The drill will simulate an emergency in which staff members would have to get students safely back inside.

“During a lockdown, that’s when the water tanks really come into play,” Coppo said. “When you’re locked in for six hours, you’re going to get thirsty. We need some sort of at least baseline minimum for water.”

Before coming to TPHS, Killeen was the principal of “a [school] where the neighborhood was much more dangerous … surrounded by walls, had seven Kevlar-vested security guards, 50 cameras [and] some pan-tilt zooms.”

“But I felt much more unsafe there, and part of that was because the community had gangs as part of their everyday lives,” Killeen said. “Safety in that environment was always on my mind. We’re lucky, statistically, to live in a super safe place.”

Additionally, Coppo said TPHS has the benefit of having three ways to leave campus and, after the school is locked down during an emergency, there would be an organized evacuation to ensure everyone can get out.