Sports seasons may end, but memories and lessons endure

first_imgGraduation is a wonderful time for just about all seniors, but for those who’ve now played organized sports for the last time, the moment can be bittersweet. You can imagine some of the athletes rise this morning and ask themselves all kinds of questions: You mean the focus of my family’s world is not about Canyon football? You mean there are no longer plans to spend every waking moment waving the purple flag for Valencia softball? You mean Hart baseball’s annual historical booklet, meaty as it is, isn’t my bible anymore? It’s official. No more Hart-Valencia football Fridays. No more eager Canyon moments anticipating how many touchdowns J.J. DiLuigi will score that night, or if free-swinging baseball star Johnny Hay is going to hit a home run. No more standing near the finish line as Saugus track standout Shannon Murakami fends off oncoming opponents to win the race again. But it’s not all bad. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2Cherish the moments and always look back fondly at sports memories that truly never lose importance as the years move forward. More important, embrace the principles sports gives its citizens about the things so crucial in the game of life: teamwork, camaraderie, spirit and most of all friendship. Trust us adults on this one: The lessons you learn today about being a good teammate will come in handy sooner than you think. Don’t look now, but Valencia softball coach Donna Lee’s much-publicized impending retirement might not happen after all. Again. The league’s most successful coach (Valencia has now won six Foothill League titles in a row) changed plans after announcing her retirement last year, too. “I just don’t know. I’m going back and forth on it,” Lee said. “I’m going to make a decision later this summer.” Valencia graduates just one senior. Among the returnees is star junior pitcher Jordan Taylor, who won a league- record 26 games and struck out more than 400. China McCarney, a former baseball phenom who threw 94 mph at tiny Acton High in Vasquez two years ago, plans to rebound from a surprising one-year hiatus from baseball by pitching for College of the Canyons next season. That is, unless McCarney is drafted by a major league team in this week’s amateur draft. After taking a year off for personal reasons, the right-hander has been working with Santa Clarita private coach Jim Wagner, and because McCarney’s fastball again exceeds 90 mph – and Wagner has some connections – perhaps McCarney will be picked the Florida Marlins or San Diego Padres, both of whom have expressed interest. McCarney’s former teammate at Vasquez, Curtis Leavitt, just signed a deal with the Minnesota Twins that included a hefty signing bonus, so perhaps now it’s McCarney’s turn. “China will probably be a draft and follow, which means he goes to Canyons and the team has a year to sign him,” Wagner said. “That’s essentially the same thing that Leavit just did. After being drafted by the Twins, he played a year of JC baseball, and I heard he signed for $112,000 right before the deadline.” Perhaps former Hart baseball player Brandon Montemayor will be Canyon’s next baseball coach, replacing the retired Scott Willis. An official announcement hasn’t been scheduled, but Montemayor has expressed interest and is overseeing Canyon’s summer program, so that’s got to give him an upper hand. “He played for me, and I’d like to see Brandon get that job,” College of the Canyons coach Chris Cota said. “It’d be a good opportunity for him, and he’d be good for the district.” Montemayor works as a substitute teacher at Saugus. He could work as a full-time teacher at Canyon if he receives an emergency credential based on plans to attend college courses. In other Canyon news, three new coaches have been appointed. Elisa Pokorney (girls’ tennis), Melissa Davis (girls’ golf) and Keelie Paden (girls’ soccer). A great comeback story is nearly in the works for Curt Turley, a Canyons baseball pitcher from La Ca ada who’s close to committing to BYU after taking a three-year Mormon mission since his last season. “I’ve talked to BYU, and I think it’s going to happen,” Cota said. “That’s his dream.” Canyons teammate Sebastian Miles, a first baseman, is going to North Dakota State, and outfielder Trevor Davidson (ex-Canyon) could commit today while visiting first-year program Cal State San Marcos. In Hart baseball news, Matt Valaika finished eighth on Hart’s career list with 94 hits. After fracturing her elbow by a hit pitch early in the softball season, Saugus’ Alicia Junker should finally be back soon. Pins have been removed, and Junker has begun therapy to straighten her arm and to regain strength. Junker should be back within a month or two in time for summer travel ball. Gerry Gittelson’s column appears in the Daily News three times a week. 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