Thursday, December 24, 2009

EGUSD All-Decade Team

I forgot to mention here that with the help of many, many coaches I put together a list of the Elk Grove Unified School District's All-Decade Team. We narrowed it down to the top ten men and women athletes that attended a EGUSD school between 2000 and 2009.

That was a hard thing to do, narrow the list down. It came down to, frankly, what accomplishments on the field/floor/track the student/athlete did not only in high school, but in college and beyond.

Please read it online at

Merry Christmas

This will be a special Christmas for all of us. It's the first Holiday with our son-in-law, Jack. He'll get his first taste of our annual tradition on Christmas Eve, go to church, come home and have dinner that consists of lots of different finger foods, then open presents.

Jack and Sylvia now live in Mountain View. Sylvia graduated from Sacramento State Univ. on the 18th in Interior Design. She interned at Lazy Boy furniture. She hopes to find a job in the Bay Area soon. Jack works for Sony Playstation.

Marcia's ministry continues to flourish. She has many children coming Wednesday nights. Most of their families don't even attend church. Marcia will be ordained in the Church of the Nazarene in April.

Joel got some good news over this Christmas break -- he's been hired as a Resident Advisor at one of the dorms at Menlo College. He returns to school on Jan. 2nd to move into his new dorm room. Baseball practice starts the next week and the season opens Feb.1.

Max is playing basketball for Kerr JHS. His real love, though, is in baseball. The Elk Grove School District is still talking about dropping all freshman-level athletics in 2010-2011 because of revenue projections that look bleak.

I wish all of you a Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ed Lombardi Retires

One of the true gentlemen of local sports told me last Friday he's retiring at the end of the football season.

Ed Lombardi, Sheldon's head coach the past seven years, said this is it. He's coached his final regular season home game.

Now that the Huskies are starting the playoffs in El Dorado Hills (vs. Oak Ridge) he's probably going to coach one or two more football games.

If there's been anyone willing to be honest about his team's performance after a game, it's Ed. He always as a very quotable quote for you and is quick to compliment his opponent, no matter who that was.

All of EGUSD football will miss Ed Lombardi

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My Opinion On EGUSD's Proposed Budget Cuts

Elk Grove Unified School District Board of Education Member Pollyanna Cooper-LeVangie has a frightening prediction on the future of funding schools locally.

“We are facing cuts that are very undesirable and frankly will change the quality educational program we are accustomed to in Elk Grove,” she wrote in an email to the Citizen recently.

The latest figures out of the Robert Trigg Building predict a $39 million shortfall in revenue for the next academic year here in Elk Grove. Cooper-LeVangie and other members of the Board must submit a balanced budget for 2010-2011 to the County Office of Education by the end of the month.

That's likely to be voted on Nov. 17.

The most noise being made about proposed cutbacks has come from the sports community. They are being faced with about $800,000 less for athletics. A committee of administrators, athletic directors and coaches have determined that it would be better to cutout freshman sports, varsity swimming, water polo, golf and boys' volleyball along with junior varsity soccer, wrestling and track and field rather than doing an across-the-board slice on every sport. Plus, transportation and security costs would be limited at each high school, along with the elimination of one assistant athletic director position at every location.

To try to alleviate some of these cuts, a voluntary “Athletic Contribution” program has been proposed. EGUSD officials admit details need to be worked out, but the idea is that each participant would be asked to pay about $125 per sport per year. California Ed Code won't allow the “pay to play” arrangement to be mandatory for participation in athletics or any activity. Thus, a parent may refuse to pay, yet insist their child play for their school.

If there's full participation in the “Athletic Contribution” program, EGUSD could realize more than $600,000 in revenue.

Several booster clubs have already gone to work, most notably in swimming and water polo, to bring money to the District and make it hard for officials to drop their sport. Local golfers even obtained a reported $35,000 donation from Senior PGA Tour member Loren Roberts to keep that sport alive in Elk Grove high schools.

One local athletic director told the Citizen that former Elk Grove High School and Olympic soccer player Stephanie Lopez-Cox is working to raise funds to keep junior varsity soccer.

But, educators around Elk Grove are frankly more concerned about the future of the staffing of their schools than their sports.

Perhaps rightly so.

In order to save the other $38 million needed for next school year, EGUSD staff has proposed to the Board the elimination of 24 vice principals, virtually all school counselors and all the librarians. Also there would be no bus transportation provided for middle and high school students.
When it comes to school discipline, teachers rely on the vice principals to wield the heavy hand on the malcontents. And to avoid further disruption in the classroom, those same students are generally sent to counselors for intervention sessions.

It's these staff members most responsible for keeping the peace at the local school. Teachers already bear much responsibility in running a classroom and preparing the curriculum. Having to deal with a discipline problem is a huge distraction and can completely disrupt the best lesson plans. Those who suffer the most when discipline problems occur are the students that really want to learn.

The school librarian is the one who maintains an important place in the school where learning is key, the place where there are the resources of information available to all students. It's generally a job at a school that goes unnoticed, yet is so important for learning.

Whereas parents of athletes have a right to be impassioned about the prospect that their child's interscholastic sport may be dropped, the proposed loss of these other key parts to the fabric of a local school may deteriorate the quality of education in Elk Grove to a much greater degree.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Cutbacks In Athletics At EGUSD

I just wrote a story in the Elk Grove Citizen ( in which I had Elk Grove School District Athletic Director Jim Smrekar talk about his committee's thinking process over a proposed $800,000 cutback in funding for the 2010-2011 school year.

But, in looking through EGUSD's website I saw in a copy of a powerpoint presentation given to the Board of Education on Sept. 15, a list of programs, etc. throughout the District on the cutting block for 2010. Right there in the middle was the complete elimination of funding for high school athletics.

Whereas that seems contradictory, what I've learned is that athletics will likely be cut by 1/3 next school year, but the District - perhaps in showing the severity of a projected $42 million shortfall - is willing to cut ties with sports.

What would happen if that occurred?

Lots of ticked people.

But, in truth, it means that all parents who have children in sports would have to "pay to play."

It may be something like $250 per sport per child (and that's my guess on the amount).

Friday, August 07, 2009

My Daughter Gets Married Today (8/7/09)

Not too many dads get to do this. Today I get to give my daughter's hand in marriage. Yesterday, during the rehearsal, I began to well up in tears and I don't cry!

It's a honor any man should do once in life (this is my only daughter). Even though as I write this the ceremony hasn't occurred, I am already enjoying this very much. Not just because of seeing the joy in my daughter's face, but this is the first occasion in which virtually everyone in my wife's family and my family are in one place at one time. This is like reliving vacations of years' past over the past couple days.

Vacations for us, because our family members live in other parts of the country, usually mean visiting someone in Wisconsin, Louisiana, Oklahoma or Missouri. Now everyone is here. The laughs we all had sitting around until past midnight last night after the rehearsal dinner were really great.

So this evening it is don the tux and escort my daughter down the aisle.

There will be lots of teary eyes.

Mine will be right there with all of them.

I look forward to more laughs afterwards during the reception dinner.

Family is great. Treasure those moments.