Tag Archives: Burbank High

Rick’s Sports Corner: Emily Seidel, Softball Sensation, Prep, College Coach

By Rick Assad

One of the last songs that The Beatles recorded was “The Long And Winding Road,” which was the group’s final No. 1 hit in the United States.

Written by Paul McCartney, but credited to John Lennon and McCartney, in it McCartney reflects about his own life and the fact the band was coming to an end.

This classic tune could be Emily Seidel’s theme song after what the Burbank native has been through.

Seidel was a four-year starter for Village Christian School, mostly as a pitcher who posted a 1.61 earned-run average over her decorated career.

Burbank resident and Village Christian School star, Emily Seidel, making contact as a hitter for Mt. San Antonio College. (Photo courtesy Emily Seidel)

Seidel was named All-CIF, Cal-High All-State, was a two-time Olympic League Most Valuable Player, three-time All-League and helped the Crusaders make the CIF Southern Section playoffs four times, including reaching the semifinals as a sophomore and junior and the quarterfinals as a freshman.

After one year at the University of Nevada Reno, Seidel, who also played third base, transferred to Mt. San Antonio College where the right-hander went 27-4 across 187 innings with 251 strikeouts and had a 1.83 ERA.

Seidel, who was selected Cal Segundo Tournament MVP in 2011 as a senior, capped her collegiate experience at Abilene Christian University, where she graduated in 2015 with a bachelor of science degree in Convergence Journalism after working two years on the school newspaper as a sportswriter and copy editor.

Seidel was an assistant coach for former Burbank High softball coach, Mike Delaney and became an assistant coach at Los Angeles Mission College before heading to New York, where she is currently an assistant coach for the Hamilton College women’s softball team, which is a Division III program.

Emily Seidel (second from right), a coach for former Burbank High coach Mike Delaney, shares a fun moment with some of the players. (Photo courtesy Emily Seidel)

“I made my verbal commitment to play for UNR when I was a junior in high school and I signed my National Letter of Intent in November of my senior year,” said Seidel, who is halfway through a master’s degree in Kinesiology. “I ended up leaving because it wasn’t the best fit for me. When I committed, it was a Top 25 program and seemed like the best offer I could ask for, so I jumped on it.”

Looking back, Seidel wishes she hadn’t.

“If I could go back, I’d tell myself to do some more research and wait for other schools who may have recruited me,” she said. “It would have been beneficial for me to weigh my options and find a better fit for myself.”

Seidel, a four-time National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-Academic, a two-time NFCA All-Area and two-time NFCA All-Region, said that playing at three colleges has been helpful.

“I’d say that I’m a better coach because I had such an atypical experience,” she said. “I believe I’m more empathetic and prepared to talk to recruits and players because I’ve been through everything an NCAA athlete can go through and working under so many different types of coaches taught me a lot about the kind of coach I want to be.”

Emily Seidel and her teammates at Abilene Christian University, huddle up to discuss strategy. (Photo courtesy Emily Seidel)

Being on the softball field was Seidel’s refuge.

“I would describe myself as an athlete as having a high softball IQ. I know the game and I know the strategy,” she said. “I couldn’t steal many bases, but in any situation, I could tell you what both the offense and defense were doing.”

Seidel, who holds the Village Christian School strikeout record of 29 in a tournament no-hitter as a sophomore, continued: “I was very competitive and focused during games, but I think my best traits were my leadership and my awareness,” she noted. “I also worked really hard to bring my best for my teammates every time we touched the field.”

When COVID-19 struck, Seidel was in New York.

“Our entire season was canceled before we got to play any games,” she said. “We were all devastated because we were only two days away from our Spring Break trip to Florida for our first games. The coaching staff managed to put together an intrasquad Senior Day game for our seniors the day before students had to leave campus. Now we are working on virtual recruiting until in-person events begin again and our campus reopens.”

Delaney was impressed with Seidel. “As a player, Emily set goals and worked hard to achieve them,” he pointed out. “She would stay after practice or come in over the summer to hit, condition and work on pitch mechanics. But most of all, she was a great teammate.”

Emily Seidel and one of her mentors, Mike Delaney, during a special moment. (Photo courtesy Emily Seidel)

Knowing what type of person Seidel is, Delaney jumped at the chance to put her on his staff.

“We had spent some of middle school and all of high school talking softball strategy, pitch count philosophy and she showed a general interest in learning and teaching,” he said. “Her senior season, she asked me not to retire from coaching so that she could coach with me after she graduated college.”

Delaney added: “I thought she was not really serious, but when she did graduate she called and asked,” he said. “Since she already understood what my philosophies were and how I coached, it was a no brainer. She took to coaching with the same determination and drive she had as a player.”

No one succeeds in a vacuum, and as such, Seidel wanted to thank those who were most influential and helpful during her long and winding road.

“I have about 10 “parents” who have been with me the whole way and are there to encourage me throughout my coaching career,” she said. “I would say those I have leaned on are my parents [George and Susan], Mike and Lydia Delaney, Kris and Jenny Jones, Chuck and Laura Phillips and John and Mary Stansbury.”

Relatively new to coaching, Seidel didn’t think it was in her future. “Coaching is not something I always wanted to do. We are told as softball players that college softball is as far as we get to go since we have such a small professional league, so we are always preparing ourselves for the real world,” she said. “I studied journalism in college and wanted to be a sportswriter, but my time coaching at BHS was the first time I realized I could still have a career in softball.”

Seidel now has her own softball philosophy. “Working with Mike and the other coaches at BHS was a terrific experience,” she said. “I had three great mentors with tons of experience who helped me find my own coaching style and supported me as I grew.”

Seidel went on: “Because our culture was built around respect and love of the game, I believe we gave ourselves and our players a great experience and it made me want to build my career around coaching because I found it so rewarding,” she said.

Rick’s Sports Corner: Julia Duarte’s Incredible Softball Ride

By Rick Assad

Athletes hardly ever think about getting injured, and even if they do, injuries happen to other people.

Julia Duarte had a wildly productive softball career at Burbank High, but fell short of duplicating those incredible feats as a member of the University of Pennsylvania women’s softball team.

For much of the time, Duarte was sidelined because of an assortment of injuries that included two concussions, two herniated discs in her back, a sprained ankle and a sprained UCL [ulnar collateral ligament].

“I think that getting hurt my freshman year was difficult,” said Duarte, a four-year starter with the Bulldogs as a first baseman/third baseman, who was named All-Pacific League first team three times and second team once, was a four-time Scholar-Athlete and Female Athlete of the Year as a senior.

Burbank took the Pacific League title three straight seasons (2013-2015) and made the CIF Southern Section playoffs four times.

Julia Duarte (second from left) is a former Burbank High softball standout and recent graduate from the University of Pennsylvania. (Photo courtesy Julia Duarte)

“I had never really had to be on the sidelines before and really learned the meaning of being a teammate,” Duarte said.

Duarte, a recent college graduate who earned a bachelor of science degree in Economics with a concentration in Finance from the Wharton Business School, continued: “Although I was injured for the duration of my career and knew that a majority of my role would be from the sidelines, I always tried to pick up my teammates whenever I could whether it be by offering advice, keeping score or helping with drills I could no longer participate in,” she said.

Duarte, who will begin her professional career in September as an investment banking analyst for Cowen & Company in its Healthcare group in New York City, wanted to return to the field.

“I tried to do physical therapy and cortisone shots for my back injury, which was the one that kept me out. I recovered from my concussions after a few months for each one, but the injury never really healed. I was very immobile my freshman year, but every year got a little bit better,” she said. “Softball is a very repetitive sport and I found that I didn’t have the range of motion to field anymore. I tried to just hit [designated hitter] my senior year and although it was still painful, I was able to get through what season we had before COVID-19 sent us home for the first time in my career, as I was unable to play through a complete season my other three seasons.”

Duarte was devastated that the pandemic halted her career. “Sadly, COVID-19 cut our season short and the in-person academic year at Penn was canceled the day that we came back to Philadelphia from our week-long tournament that we had in Orlando, Florida (March 11),” she said. “We had the opportunity to play games in Virginia and Florida before the season was canceled, but we did not get to play any Ivy League games.”

Julia Duarte in her cap and gown after graduating from college. (Photo courtesy Julia Duarte)

Does Duarte ever look back and wonder how it would have gone minus the injuries?

“It is hard to say how I would have done had I not been injured, but I don’t like to ponder that,” she said. “I choose to focus on my experience at Penn as a whole and how I have come out a stronger person because of my experience. I think that my situation was unique and not a lot of people can say that they have gone through what I did, which gives me a different perspective on what it is like to be a Division I athlete.”

Duarte has no second thoughts about her time at Penn.

“Although my softball career didn’t go as intended, I do not have regrets given that the situation was out of my control,” she said. “I think that my position really taught me perseverance and the meaning of being a teammate. I think I would have had more regrets if I would have quit or stopped trying to play.”

So Duarte’s best times on the softball field occurred in high school. “I would say that just given my situation at Penn, I do cherish my moments that I had on the field at Burbank,” she said. “We were a really good and a scrappy team and had a level of determination and intensity that I miss.”

Duarte pointed at the city rivalry. “I don’t think I have been in such an intense game since Burbank-Burroughs,” she said. “Although I miss softball and remember specific games and plays, I think that Burbank also gave me some of my best friends. I am still close to both Lily Winn and Caitlyn Brooks, who were my best friends and teammates until they left for college after my junior year. But I also think that my experiences at Penn were very valuable – I learned a lot about myself through the process and wouldn’t have traded my experience.”

The Quakers’ women’s softball team with the Philadelphia skyline in the background. (Photo courtesy Julia Duarte)

One game between host Burbank and Burroughs during Duarte’s sophomore year is etched in stone.

“We rallied hard in that game, coming back from a few run deficit to win in a walk-off by Lily [Winn] in extra innings,” Duarte said. “The team had such incredible energy and determination to win that game. I think that the Burbank-Burroughs games in general were my favorite just because of the hype that surrounded the game.”

Mike Delaney, the former Burbank softball coach, knew that he had a special person and player in Duarte.

“Julia was an excellent role model both in the classroom and on the field,” he said. “Julia was a player you could count on to show up, work hard and compete daily. She was confident in her ability and was one of a handful of players that I’ve coached that really understood the mental approach to the game and could make game adjustments to the situations she was facing.”

Delaney added: “She won a couple of big games for us by making adjustments and trusting her talent,” he said.

Julia Duarte (far right) and her Bulldog teammates slap hands after a win. (Photo courtesy Julia Duarte)

It’s not as though Duarte doesn’t  have any fond memories of her time at Penn.

“Although I wasn’t in the lineup for the game, I think that our last game of this season against ranked, the University of Florida, was one of the most memorable of my career,” she said. “We went in as the underdogs, but really held our own and only lost 3-1, although we had bases loaded a few times and had the opportunities to take that game from them.”

Duarte continued: “I think that was proof of how strong our team was this year and how much chemistry we had,” she noted. “I wish that we would have gotten the opportunity to show that in Ivy League play, but our season was canceled less than a week from our league opener against Yale.”

The Quakers failed to make the NCAA tournament during Duarte’s tenure there.

Still, Duarte cherishes her time as an athlete. “I think that down the line I won’t remember the specific plays or scores of the games as much as I remember being with my friends and teammates both on and off the field,” she said. “I know that I have made life-long friends at Burbank and Penn. I think that being a part of a team is something really special and that all the hard work and grueling practices makes a special bond.”

Rick’s Sports Corner: OakLee Spens, Burbank High’s On-Field Catalyst

By Rick Assad

Maybe it’s because OakLee Spens batted leadoff and played center field for the Burbank High baseball that he was an on-field leader.

“I knew that I needed to be there day in and day out to help my team,” said Spens, a recent graduate who will play baseball at Lakeland University in Plymouth, Wisconsin, in the NCAA Division III, where he will major in Criminal Justice and Communications. “I was actually one of the captains of the team for my junior and senior year.”

Leadoff hitter, OakLee Spens following through. (Photo courtesy OakLee Spens)

Spens continued: “I knew that leading off a game with a base hit or a walk would get the team rolling early,” he acknowledged. “I knew that everyone counted on me and trusted me to be in that spot to get on base with the most at-bats possible. I viewed my role on the team as a leader and a bar-setter. If I could get going early, it would only help the team.”

Spens was on the varsity for three years, collecting 30 hits, scoring 23 runs, driving in 16 runs with 13 walks and was a premier outfielder.

“I knew the pitchers and coaches had trust in me that whenever a ball was put into the air, that I would be there to catch it,” he said.

Bob Hart, the Burbank coach, thought Spens was the finest at the position.

“OakLee was the ultimate competitor,” he said. “Quiet, but measured. Always someone you could count on to work hard every day. In my opinion, he was the best center fielder in the [Pacific] league.”

Spens was a two-time winner of the Defensive Player of the Year and Utility Player of the Year and was recognized by the California Baseball Coaches Association.

OakLee Spens was a versatile baseball player for the Bulldogs. (Photo courtesy OakLee Spens)

“That’s a tough question because both are fun, especially when you love the game, but I’ll have to go with defense,” he said of whether he preferred being at the plate or in the outfield. “Sitting out in center field or really any position knowing that anything could happen is just exciting. Making diving catches or jumping the fence to catch a ball, or even throwing a guy out at home plate, just gives you a little bit of swagger in your mindset and it can really energize the team.”

Spens helped the Bulldogs reach the CIF Southern Section playoffs in 2019, a first-round loss, and said he was disappointed the season was cut short because of COVID-19.

Spens batted .273, with a .346 on-base percentage, scoring three runs and knocking in four across seven games this season.

“Having my senior year get shut down due to COVID-19 was horrible,” he said. “You grow up with dreams on how you want to live out your season. I went through a lot before the season this past year and to have it cut short due to the pandemic was gut wrenching.”

Spens went on: “I went through a knee surgery the first week of school and I was going to be lucky if I made it back by senior night, but I trained and worked through hours of pain with a great trainer in Claire [Coudray] and she helped me get back to the field just before the end of December,” he said.

Practice is over for OakLee Spens (on the right). (Photo courtesy OakLee Spens)

Spens added: “Mentally it has been very challenging, but physically it has made me want it more. I’ve been working out and running a lot to stay in shape. I’ve been doing drills to keep my game up and I have been finding places to go hit every so often so I don’t lose any progress in my game,” he said. “It hasn’t been easy, but it’s not impossible.”

Spens came to love and appreciate the game because of his grandfather, Vergil and his father, Randy.

“My grandpa started teaching me this game when I was two years old,” he pointed out. “Growing up having both my grandpa and my dad by my side to guide me into being a better player really made me fall in love with the game. My grandpa actually passed away on my 10th birthday and ever since then it was more than a game to me, it was my life.”

Baseball can humble even the best and Spens is well aware just how tough it is.

“I learned that it is okay to fail, in fact, you have to fail in order to succeed,” he said. “I play a sport where a great player is still failing 70 percent of the time. You have to fail to realize you need to work harder or keep working on a certain skill. I learned that it’s just like life. Sometimes you are going to fail and you are going to get beat down to the ground, but you have to be resilient in order to push back toward the top.”

Spens talked about being moved into the leadoff spot late during his sophomore season and going hitless in his last 17 plate appearances.

OakLee Spens seems pleased with the result. (Photo courtesy OakLee Spens)

“It really sucked, but I learned that I had to get back up and keep trying and keep working because failure is a part of this game and it is a part of life,” he said.

Spens said he tried to make baseball easier, if that’s possible.

“Slowing it down came with a lot of practice in the cages and on the field,” he said. “It takes a lot of repetitions to be confident that you can play this game. I really just took it one pitch at a time and tried to just focus my mind on that. It really helped me.”

Spens said a game during his junior season, one in which he batted .250 with 12 runs scored and a .343 on-base percentage over 23 games, still brings chills.

“One of the most important games I’ve played in was against Crescenta Valley,” he said. “We needed to at least split to help us get a playoff spot. We were playing at home under the lights and it was one of the best games I have ever played in my life.”

Spens added: “I scored two runs, one very important run in the fifth to tie the game at two a piece,” he said. “Then I believe in the top of the seventh, I threw one of their runners out at the plate, keeping the game tied which later ended up as a walk-off win for our team.”

Though professional baseball in America dates to 1869, it has changed, which is part of its appeal for Spens.

“Baseball is always evolving,” he noted. “Nowadays, pitchers are throwing faster and have more movement to the pitches, while hitters are working on proper launch angle to hit a home run. If you master one thing, it evolves and you have to remaster it, even at that you always have to keep practicing or you will lose your skills.”

After playing baseball four years including one at the junior varsity level, Spens said he will look back fondly on this time.

“High school baseball was what I envisioned it to be,” he said. “Besides the ending, I loved every moment that I was able to spend out on the field. It is something I will never forget for as long as I live. It was a great ride while it lasted.”

Rick’s Sports Corner: Bri Castro, Burbank High Sharpshooter

By Rick Assad

When the Burbank High girls’ basketball team trotted onto the hardwood, everyone in the building knew that at some point in the game, Bri Castro would launch one of her patented three-pointers.

When the first one trickled through the net, and they did 35 percent of the time during her senior season, the result would be that the Bulldogs student body rose from its seats behind hearty cheers, while the four other members of the squad and Castro herself, were wholly pumped.

At this juncture, fans and players realized that a big scoring game was possible and that Castro would unload the long-ball whenever she saw daylight. And even when there wasn’t much space to shoot.

This past season, Castro, a 5-foot, five-inch shooting guard, set the single game school mark for most three-pointers made in a game with nine.

Beside being a long-range shooter, Bri Castro was an excellent defender. She is shown in a game against rival Burroughs this season. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Castro, who played three years on the varsity, also established the Burbank record for most three-pointers converted in a career.

What made Castro so good at drilling three-pointers was that she was able to get off the shot quickly, especially during transitions.

And let’s be clear, Castro, who could also drive the lane and settle for easier shots, but found a home beyond the three-point arc, wasn’t shy about hoisting her long-range bombs which could turn a deficit into a scoring run or add to a lead.

“My role on the team was to be the shooter,” said Castro, who averaged 12 points per game this past season, which led to her being named All-Pacific League second-team despite the squad not making the CIF Southern Section playoffs after going 10-18 overall and 3-11 in league play.

Castro said that even if the trey wasn’t finding the hoop, she was sure it would eventually.

“I would also go in [to a game] confident that my shots will hit,” said Castro, who averaged five rebounds, one steal and two deflections a game as a senior and drilled 65 percent from the free-throw line.

Whether it was shooting the basketball or coming away with a victory, Castro was always confident.

“Before a game, I was always thinking we are going to win,” she said. “I never went into a game with a losing mentality because that won’t be good for the team.”

The Bulldogs basketball team huddles during a time out. Bri Castro (standing on far right with hands on hips) listens. Photo By: Edward Tovmassian

In the other two seasons that Castro was on the varsity, the Bulldogs went 15-13 and 6-8 in league and 10-18 and 5-9 in league and didn’t qualify for the postseason.

As a junior, Castro scored about nine points a game and as a sophomore, she knocked in just under seven points.

While the spring sports were wiped out because of COVID-19, the basketball season was spared the same fate.

Burbank coach Jett Del Mundo spent two seasons with Castro and felt she set the offensive tone for the team and developed into a solid all-around player.

“In the short time that we were together, Bri went from a one dimensional spot-up shooter who didn’t know what it meant to play championship defense to a more complete player who played on both sides of the ball,” he said.

How was Castro able to transform herself into being more than just a long-range jump shooter?

For Del Mundo, it was sweat and dedication. “She put the work in at our team practices and put in time on her own, committing herself to becoming a more complete shooter who can not only hit the open three, but also relocate and attack the basket,” he said.

Del Mundo went on: “In doing so, Bri not only put herself in the conversation of All-Pacific League players in her senior season, she also became the focal point of our team offense,” he said. “I consider her a Top Three shooter amongst every opponent we played this past season and rightfully earned every accolade in her final season.”

Castro, who will attend college, but isn’t sure which, and likewise isn’t positive she’ll play basketball, concurred with her coach.

“The best part of my game besides my shots were my passes,” she said. “I believe I always gave the ball into my posts whenever I saw them available. My defense also improved this year.”

Even without having gone to the CIF playoffs, Del Mundo believes during Castro’s tenure at Burbank, she and the other seniors set in motion better and brighter days for the Bulldogs.

“We are confident that we are building in the right direction,” he said. “Any future success started with Bri’s class.”

One thing Castro enjoyed was helping the underclassmen players. “I liked being one of the team leaders because I loved being that support to the younger girls and always help them if they need something,” she said.

Castro said she will have fond memories of her time on the basketball court. “Looking back at my high school career, I will mainly remember the relationships I built on the court with many of the girls,” she said. “They were such a great group of girls to play with from beginning to end.”

While every game was taken seriously, especially in league play, few were more exciting and compelling than when Burbank met Burroughs because it brought out students from both schools, family and friends, cheerleaders and the bands.

“Playing Burroughs was different each year, but I’ll always remember those games,” she said.

Castro said playing hoops for four years including the junior varsity as a freshman, was an enjoyable experience.

“I liked basketball because it was a fun getaway from reality and I got to be active,” she noted.

Castro also has some sage words of wisdom for first-year players. “Advice I’d give an incoming freshman is to play their game,” she said. “Find ways to improve it. Also to give it their all on and off the court.”

Castro’s father, Steve, was also vital in her enjoyment of the game. “My dad was my main reason for playing the sport, so I’d say he was my family inspiration, but Steph[en] Curry was my inspiration for the sole fact that he can shoot, which is exactly what I do,” she said.

 

Rick’s Sports Corner: Katie Treadway, Burbank High’s Two-Sport Standout

By Rick Assad

Playing one varsity sport at a high level can be an extremely daunting task, so toiling at two, by definition, is twice as hard.

For three years, Katie Treadway was a standout softball and volleyball player at Burbank High.

So just how difficult was it for Treadway, who will attend the University of Oregon and major in human physiology, to compete in both sports?

Katie Treadway was a potent outside hitter for the Bulldogs and a floor leader. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“I’ve played softball since I was four, so I knew I would play softball for sure,” she said. “I played volleyball for only three years before high school, but I loved the sport so much I knew I had to play. There were times when it was difficult managing two sports and not having much off-time in between each.”

Treadway went on: “At the end of each volleyball season, I would be on the field by the next week; however, I am very glad I chose to play both sports because I met really great girls that soon became my best friends and I truly loved being on the court and on the field,” she said. “So although it was difficult at times, it was worth it.”

Like so many seniors, Treadway was hoping to cap off her prep career in style, but the spring sports were wiped out because of COVID-19.

The Bulldogs did play eight games, going 4-3-1 and 1-1 in the Pacific League before the season was halted.

At the plate, Katie Treadway was a dependable and feared hitter. (Photo courtesy Katie Treadway)

“I was very devastated when I heard our season got canceled,” said Treadway, a shortstop and outfielder who batted .279 across 59 career games and was named All-League first-team as a sophomore and second-team as a freshman. “I came back to play my senior year because I missed the sport, so it was heartbreaking for me to hear I couldn’t fulfill that.”

Treadway continued: “I feel sad for myself and my fellow seniors that we couldn’t finish our last year of playing ball, but I am thankful for the new players that I got to meet and to have been coached shortly by some great coaches,” she said.

Reflecting on her career, does Treadway, who made All-League second-team while playing outside hitter as a senior on the volleyball team after finishing with 192 kills and 238 digs, feel pleased with how it went?

“I am satisfied with how my high school athletic career progressed,” she said. “I think I was given great opportunities in both sports to embrace my potential. Throughout my years, I was grateful to have been taught by coaches that truly wanted me to succeed, so I think it helped me become more confident in both sports. I was able to learn a lot about both games, which I will cherish in my life.”

Katie Treadway will attend the University of Oregon and major in human physiology. (Photo courtesy Katie Treadway)

There were highs and some lows, but was it worth the effort?

“I don’t think I would change anything if I got to do it all over again,” Treadway said. “Every bad game that I had was a lesson for me and every good game gave me the drive to want to win more. I truly loved my experience in both sports and every win or loss was important in my growth as a player.”

Which sport did Treadway feel was her best?

“I think I was a better softball player because I knew the sport better,” she said. “Although I was able to learn a lot about volleyball over the years I played, I think I was a smarter player in softball and knew what to do in certain situations. I feel like I could execute better in softball and had a better range of skill throughout.”

What will Treadway remember about her time on the field and on the court?

“When I look back at my athletic career, I’m most proud of always giving 100 percent effort,” she said. “Even if I wasn’t having the best game, I always knew I couldn’t let up or let my teammates down. I don’t regret any games because I knew that I tried my best for myself and my teammates and I am very proud of that and playing every game like it’s my last.”

A sure-handed shortstop, Katie Treadway also played in the outfield. (Photo courtesy Katie Treadway)

Treadway was also versatile which made her adapt to any situation.

“I think my best personal traits were being open-minded,” she noted. “If my coach put me somewhere on the court or field that wasn’t as normal, I went with it and did my best because I knew that they had the best intentions for the team. I also think I’m able to connect with players easily to understand them better and create good relationships throughout the team.”

Though different, Treadway said that volleyball and softball are alike in a few respects.

“I think volleyball and softball are similar in the amount of attention you give it,” she said. “If you put in the work, you will see results. Both sports require dedication and the strength to be able to learn from your failures and come back the next day even stronger.”

Katie Treadway mastered two sports and gave everything she had, including the classroom. (Photo courtesy Katie Treadway)

Treadway added: “Both sports require a lot of focus on goals for yourself and your teammates,” she pointed out. “Another similarity is the necessity of playing as a team. “We’re only as strong as our weakest link” is very true and important to keep in mind. In volleyball and softball, helping your teammates will help your entire team as well as yourself grow to be a better player.”

What lessons did Treadway learn from participating in athletics?

“Being in sports taught me how to play and interact with different kinds of players,” she said. “It taught me that not everyone thinks the same as me and people have different outlooks on the game and that everyone is important in the game. If one person gets left out, we can’t play.”

Treadway explained further: “Being on teams allowed me to develop better perspectives on each sport and it helped me better myself with their knowledge and watching everyone play with me,” she said. “In short, it made me realize that no one can be left behind on a team because each player is important in their own way to the team’s success.”

Individual and team success are nice, but there are sometimes people in the background that are overlooked. Who was that for Treadway?

“I think the people that helped me most during high school were my parents,” Treadway said. “My parents [Raulie and Theresa] attended every volleyball and softball game. They always wanted me to do the best that I could and supported me in everything, whether it was comforting me after my bad games, celebrating on the good games or even offering me their time to help me put in extra work. Seeing them in the stands every game made me want to make them proud. They were my biggest fans.”

Rick’s Sports Corner: Miguel Malonzo, Amateur Boxer, Tough And Determined

By Rick Assad

Taking the walk from a stark dressing room and then ascending a few steps up a short ladder and then stepping foot into a boxing ring requires a great deal of mental toughness and intestinal fortitude.

Being a pugilist isn’t easy because it can often be savage, extremely brutal and can result in permanent damage or in some cases, even much worse.

Miguel Malonzo is a local amateur boxer and a 2016 Burbank High graduate who has more courage than most.

This wasn’t initially evident during Malonzo’s time in high school. “Back in Burbank High I didn’t play sports at all,” said Malonzo, who has carved out a 9-4 record while fighting at 132 pounds and has claimed a Golden Gloves Regional title and the state championship in 2019.

Burbank High graduate and local resident Miguel Malonzo is a rising amateur boxer. (Photo courtesy Miguel Malonzo)

“I was really unathletic and not anywhere in shape. I was in the marching band for all four years and in jazz band for the last two,” he said. “I was in the percussion section and although I knew how to play the bass drum, the quads and the drum-set, my specialty was the marching snare drum.”

Malonzo continued: “I would say that all those years studying and playing music has really helped me in boxing because rhythm and timing are two really important things to have and understand if you are a fighter,” he said.

Malonzo was born in the Philippines and has lived in Burbank for the last nine years, but didn’t begin his ring career until he was 20, which is rather late.

In March, Malonzo, who trains at the Burbank Boxing Club which was founded by Steve Harpst in 1996, was supposed to compete in a Golden Gloves competition.

But like so many sporting events, it was canceled because of the worldwide coronavirus outbreak.

“COVID-19 has really been a major obstacle in me pursuing my boxing goals this year,” he said. “The biggest example was me training and dieting for eight weeks for the Golden Gloves, which is one of the top tournaments an amateur boxer can participate in. I was really amped-up for it and was really upset when it was announced to be canceled due to the coronavirus concerns.”

Harpst, who is Malonzo’s trainer, chimed in: “This virus hit home when we were leading up to this year’s Golden Gloves and the message came in that both Northern and Southern California had been canceled,” he said. “Miguel had a really good camp getting ready, so it was natural for him to be disappointed.”

Nonetheless, Malonzo finds ways to keep in shape. “Despite all the gyms being closed I still manage to train at home,” he said. “I shadow box for 30 to 40 minutes a day. Also, every three days I run from my house all the way up to the Castaway restaurant and back which is about four miles.”

Miguel Malonzo is ready for action in the boxing ring. (Photo courtesy Miguel Malonzo)

Malonzo wants to continue and make a name for himself in boxing.

“My immediate goals during this quarantine is to stay in fighting shape so that as soon as this whole corona thing is over, I will be able to pick up where I left off and not take a month or two to get back in rhythm,” he said. “I am aiming to coast at 129 pounds during this quarantine so that cutting down to 123 pounds wouldn’t be as hard as last time.”

How did Malonzo, who describes his boxing style as very similar to Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao, his hero, in that he’s quick with his hands and feet and aggressive, begin his path to the sweet science?

“I first got started in boxing during the spring break of my senior year in Burbank High,” he explained. “Finally free from homework and school events, I decided to try out the boxing class offered in the gym that I go to. A couple classes later, I was obsessed with getting better and being more in shape. I chose to do boxing because growing up I remember every time Manny Pacquiao fought, our household, and the whole country stopped to watch. Every fight he had was an event and I guess that’s why in the back of my mind it was the most exciting sport to try.”

When did Malonzo first remember Pacquiao in the ring? “My earliest memory of him fighting was when he fought Erik Morales for the first time,” he said. “Soon as the fight was over, I got out of the house and started talking with my neighbor who said that it doesn’t matter that Pacquiao lost. The important thing is that we support him no matter what.”

Malonzo then added: “Pacquiao is such a big inspiration because for a man who looks like a regular person from where I grew up, ended up becoming one of the greatest boxers of all time, having won world championship titles in eight weight categories, the most of all-time,” he said.

Malonzo getting instructions between rounds from trainer Steve Harpst. (Photo courtesy Miguel Malonzo)

That fight took place on March 19, 2005 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and was the third loss for Pacquiao, who has compiled a 62-7-2 record with 39 knockouts.

Malonzo believes that after 10 to 15 more amateur bouts, he’ll be ready to turn professional and that in three to four years, he’ll be a top prospect in the 123-pound weight class.

Humble, just like his idol, Malonzo said he owes Harpst much credit. “Everything I know about boxing I learned from Steve Harpst,” he said. “He spends his free time running with us on the Burroughs track and field and gives good one-on-one coaching when we do go on our runs. He also spends his free time getting us sparring with other gyms in the Southern California region, where sometimes we drive all the way to the Reseda/Winnetka area.”

Malonzo said that Harpst’s words of wisdom have helped him in so many ways. “Some of the things that he teaches are not just boxing related. He teaches us that no matter how sore you are, you still have to show up to your fight or training without complaining,” he said. “That lesson will stick with me long after I retire from boxing because that is a mindset. And I think that it is more important than any other boxing technique that any coach can give their students.”

Harpst sees a very bright future for Malonzo in the ring and out because of his high boxing IQ and willingness to work with others.

“His work ethic and passion for the game is contagious in the gym,” he said of the 22-year-old. “It really inspires the new boxers and he will take time to work with them. I can see him being a successful coach for us.”

Rick’s Sports Corner: Burbank High’s Jakob Duarte, A Triple Threat

By Rick Assad

There aren’t too many things that Jakob Duarte can’t handle on a baseball field or for that matter in a classroom.

A gifted defensive third baseman for Burbank High, the senior right-handed hitter was equally deft on the pitcher’s mound as cracking open a book and turning out A-plus work.

Though he doesn’t pitch as much and his season has come to an end because of the COVID-19 pandemic, does he prefer being a position player or a hurler?

Jakob Duarte takes a big swing. The Burbank High third baseman will attend Cornell University. (Photo courtesy Jakob Duarte)

“I don’t think one was necessarily more fun than the other,” said Duarte, an honor student who will attend Cornell University where he’ll major in applied mathematics. “I really enjoyed both while playing them equally. Unfortunately due to repeated injuries, pitching just became too painful to continue, but I’m glad I got the opportunity to do it during the first two years primarily.”

Duarte, who also played first base, said that he would love to play baseball at Cornell, and that sometimes he thought too much on the mound.

“I think the most difficult thing for me as a pitcher was the mental aspect,” he said. “I am a very big overthinker and perfectionist, which made pitching difficult at times, as you have to learn to move on quickly.”

Bob Hart, the longtime Burbank coach, was pleased to have Duarte in his program.

Burbank High’s Jakob Duarte was a dual threat on the diamond and an honor student. (Photo courtesy Jakob Duarte).

“Jakob is a super-bright, hard-working, high-character, student-athlete,” he said. “He is one of our captains and is definitely someone for younger players to look up to and aspire to be like.”

It seems that athletic ability and scholarship runs in Duarte’s family.

His older sister, Julia, is a former Bulldog softball player who played for the University of Pennsylvania, and like so many others, as a senior, had her season halted.

Duarte was batting .238 with two runs batted in across seven games for the Bulldogs, who were 3-4 and 0-2 in the Pacific League this season.

Was playing prep baseball what Duarte, who hit .245 with 13 RBIs and six doubles in 21 games as a junior, what he expected?

“Playing high school baseball was definitely what I thought it was going to be,” he shared. “I was extremely excited about the opportunity to play in the BHS program during my eighth grade year. I knew it was going to be a lot more demanding in terms of my devotion to conditioning, practices and individual work, but I knew I was ready for that challenge.”

It’s been said and it’s likely true, that baseball is the toughest sport to master. Has Duarte, who started playing on the varsity as a sophomore, found this to be the case?

“In my opinion, baseball is the most difficult sport to play because of how smart you have to be to play it,” Duarte said. “Baseball requires acute mental focus and adaptability as well as physical ability, where in other sports you can beat someone by brute strength. In baseball, no two plays are ever the same, so you have to be ready to adapt to any situation on the field and at the plate.”

Duarte is highly analytical which helped him differentiate between offense and defense.

Duarte and the Bulldogs face city rival Burroughs. (Photo courtesy Jakob Duarte)

How would Duarte break the two down? “I think there’s a different mindset offensively versus defensively,” he noted. “At the plate, especially after I had matured more during my junior and senior year, I was always thinking “attack.” I was constantly trying to hunt for a pitch to hit.”

Duarte clarified this thought. “When playing good teams like the Arcadia’s and Crescenta Valley’s of the Pacific League, you have to be prepared to jump on a good pitch to hit, as it might be the only hittable pitch you get during an at-bat,” he said.

Duarte then defined how he approached defense.

“On the field, I was always thinking of what I was going to do with the ball dependent upon the situation at hand,” he said.

A dependable hitter who could hit for power, Duarte held his own in clutch situations against the top-tier teams in the league.

“Off the top of my head, I immediately think of the walk-off win against Burroughs last year and also beating them twice,” Duarte said of the games that stood out. “I also think beating CV for the first time in nearly a decade in walk-off fashion was also a very special moment for me and the team.”

Athletics are often teaching tools. Were they for Duarte? “All of the most valuable lessons I have learned in life are rooted in baseball in some way,” he said. “I have played this game nearly my entire life and along the way have learned to hold myself accountable to my own mistakes, to lead by example, and most importantly, I’ve learned how to learn from my own failures.”

Slumps are something that baseball players have to live with. How did Duarte handle his?

“Many of my slumps stemmed from me being too much of an overthinker,” he admitted. “I’ve always liked to think of success as a measure of confidence in baseball and when you’re not confident, it’s nearly impossible to succeed at the plate. As a younger player, I let my failure eat me up at times and worried about what others thought about my performance; however, as I’ve matured as a player, I learned to reflect upon my failures and fix what went wrong. If I ever felt like something was mechanically wrong with my swing, I would go and hit in the cage off the tee or the machine and take a few buckets worth of swings.”

Having succeeded as a baseball player and a student, what advice would he offer to someone interested in playing hardball.

“If someone wants to try out for the team, I would wholeheartedly encourage them to,” Duarte said. “I think the guys on the team would agree when I say that playing in the program has been an experience of a lifetime, leading to a lot of personal and athletic growth. I have met some of my best friends and made some of my best memories during the last four years. Playing baseball at BHS is a special opportunity that you simply cannot miss out on.”

Burbank Baseball Blanked 11-0 By Visiting Arcadia

By Rick Assad

For the second time this week, the Burbank High baseball team faced a very good pitcher and for the second game the Bulldogs fell short.

Burbank managed just one hit against senior Dustin Allen on Friday night and lost 11-0 in a Pacific League match at home.

Ian Schenk (shown) came in a relieved Ryan King, who went four innings for the Bulldogs against Arcadia. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Senior Dominik Severo’s leadoff double to left center in the sixth inning was all Burbank could manage versus the hard-throwing left-hander, who struck out seven and didn’t issue a walk.

“After we take this, I feel like it’s better for us. It’s going to motivate us more to push through the season and come out with a win every single time we come out and play harder,” said Severo, the catcher. “I think they’re [Arcadia] some good competition, but they’re not better than us. So if we just bring it to every team we play, we can win this all.”

Junior Mikey Easter, who pitched one frame, replaced Allen and was able to strike out senior Aidan Gonzalez, looking.

Junior Ian Scheck then bounced back to Easter and then induced senior Oaklee Spens to ground out to third base.

Ryan King is about to tag Arcadia’s Alex Dolan, who was caught in a rundown. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“We just missed out on a couple of opportunities,” said Spens, the center fielder. “We just gotta get back to practice and fix it. I think we’ll come back tomorrow and have a team meeting and we’ll bounce back. We’re a good team.”

The final score looked lopsided, but the Bulldogs (3-4 and 0-2 in league) only trailed 1-0 in the second inning and 3-0 after five frames.

“Sports is a lot about having a short memory,” Burbank coach Bob Hart said. “You have to learn from your mistakes, but at the same time you have to turn the page. We’ll come back. We’ll practice hard. It’s next man up.”

The contest fell apart when the Apaches, who knocked off the Bulldogs 9-0 on Tuesday, tacked on five runs in the sixth inning and added a three-run seventh for a 11-0 lead.

It’s a close play at first base as Jaden Rez is about to apply the tag. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Junior Ryan King was Burbank’s starting pitcher and allowed a one-out single to senior Gavin Vogel (two hits).

King rallied and fanned Easter looking and saw senior Preston Howey fly out to right.

King took the loss after toiling four innings, surrendering five hits and one run with four strike outs and two walks with a hit batter.

Arcadia (4-2 and 2-0 in league) pulled ahead 1-0 in the second inning when senior Justin Rios (four hits) slapped a one-out, run-scoring single to left field that plated junior Brandon Nguyen, who reached on an error.

Three frames later, the Apaches extended their advantage to 3-0 when they sent seven batters to the plate.

It’s wild and wholly at third base as Jakob Duarte tries to get Alex Dolan out. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Sophomore Alex Dolan’s force out scored Easter, who walked and a run-tallying single to left field by Rios brought home Howey, who was safe on an infield hit.

The next inning put the game out of reach as Arcadia trotted nine hitters to the dish.

The key hit was a two-out, three-run double to deep left by Rios that made it 8-0.

Two batters earlier, junior Matthew McIntire walked with the bases loaded for a 4-0 edge and it became 5-0 when Dolan (three hits) was safe on an infield single.

A three-run seventh capped off the evening for the Apaches as nine batters went to the plate in an inning that featured two Burbank miscues.

Two of the three runs were scored on bases-loaded walks to Howey and pinch-hitter senior Sean Jackson.

Senior Jared Hunter entered the contest in the seventh inning for Arcadia as senior Adam Loera hit back to the box, junior Jaden Rez lined out to left field and senior Troy Lee fanned swinging to end the game.

Burbank Baseball Takes Out Kennedy, 3-1, In Easton Tournament Finale

By Rick Assad

A potent and effective lefty-righty pitching combination was simply too good when the Burbank High baseball team faced visiting Kennedy on Tuesday afternoon in the final matchup of the prestigious Easton Tournament.

Josh Balos went five and two-third innings and Ryan King worked a flawless one and one-third in a 3-1 triumph over the Cougars.

Senior Josh Balos went five and two-third innings and picked up the win over Kennedy. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“Solid pitching and no free passes. Put the ball in play and a little situational hitting. Good things happen,” Burbank coach Bob Hart said. “I liked my guys’ energy today and they were in the game and I liked it.”

The Bulldogs (3-2) scored all of their runs in the fifth inning as eight batters made their way to home plate.

Senior Troy Lee led off the fifth with a line-drive base hit to right field.

With one out, junior Ian Schenk drew a walk as Lee trotted to second base.

When senior Aidan Gonzalez walked, it filled the bases and after senior Tyler La Marsna reached base on a fielder’s choice, Lee scored the tying run.

Junior Andrew Wright replaced senior starter Jonathan Arrieta on the mound for the Cougars (3-2) and was greeted by senior Oaklee Spens lofting a deep fly ball to center field that plated Schenk and made it 2-1.

Ryan King earned a four-out save against the Cougars. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

King then stepped up and laced a hard-hit smash that grazed the shortstop’s glove and found a home in left field for a 3-1 cushion as Gonzalez scored.

The only inning that Balos, who picked up the win, struggled was the fourth when Kennedy sent five hitters to the plate.

The key hit was a one-out double down the left-field line by senior Vince Esparza that scored junior Chris Hosegera, who was safe on an error as the Cougars led 1-0.

Balos then composed himself and was able to get junior Daniel Tovar on a fine defensive play by senior third baseman Jakob Duarte for the second out and senior Joel Castillo on a terrific scoop by junior first baseman Jaden Rez on Duarte’s throw for the third out.

Balos worked two perfect innings including the first frame as the senior left-hander induced junior Manolo Tafolla to foul out to Rez, saw junior Jonathan Gonzalez ground out to second baseman La Marsna and fanned Hosegera swinging.

“My approach out there was to attack every batter,” said Balos, whose best pitch is a changeup. “Throw them a lot of off-speed and keep them off their feet and attack, attack, attack.”

The Bulldogs managed four hits in a 3-1 triumph over visiitng Kennedy. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Balos began the second inning by getting Esparza to ground out to La Marsna, but allowed a single to center to Tovar, who promptly stole second base.

Balos then induced Castillo to fly out to Lee in right field and sophomore Alex Olvera to line out to Spens in center field.

Senior Tommy Mendoza opened the third frame against Balos by drilling a hard-hit ball at Rez, who made an excellent leaping grab.

Balos fanned junior Brandon Alfaro swinging and Tafolla grounded out to King at shortstop for the third out.

In the fifth inning, Balos surrendered a one-out bloop single to left center by Mendoza, who was later picked off and caught in a rundown. When Alfaro bounced out to Duarte, the inning came to an end.

Balos began the sixth inning by getting Tafolla to line out to Spens and getting Gonzalez to ground out to King.

Balos then walked Hosegera, which brought Hart to the mound, who then replaced Balos with King.

King responded by striking out Esparza looking as the threat was vanquished. “I felt confident in myself and I felt confident in my team,” said King, a junior, who picked up the save. “I knew I was going to get that [out].”

King was even better in the seventh inning as the power-throwing right-hander fanned Tovar and Castillo, both looking and secured the last out when Olvera looped a ball to short right field which Lee grabbed a gunned to Rez for the final out.

Duarte led off the second inning by lining a single to center field, but was left stranded. Spens opened the third by smacking a single to left and then swiping second base before moving to third on a grounder.

 

Burbank Boys Basketball Hangs On For 46-42 Win Versus Burroughs

By Rick Assad

Ebbs and flows are a small part of basketball and it is just one aspect of the game that makes it so exciting.

In Thursday night’s Pacific League boys’ finale between Burroughs High and visiting Burbank, this was evident from the outset.

Kevin Sarkes scored eight points for the Bulldogs. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Trailing after the first quarter by three, the Bulldogs forged ahead by 12 points at the half, fell behind by one point heading to the fourth quarter and then rallied for a thrilling 46-42 victory.

In that final period, Burbank (9-18 and 5-9 in league) hammered in only four of 14 shots from the field and made two of three from the free-throw line.

But it was on the defensive end that Burbank shined, limiting the Indians, who are tied for third place in league with Muir, to one of seven from the floor and six points.

The Indians will qualify for the CIF Southern Section postseason and the pairings will be announced this weekend.

Burbank junior point guard Vartan Avetisyan poured in five of his co-game best 16 points in the fourth quarter.

Corwin Smith had 16 points to lead the Indians. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Senior center Kevin Sarkes tossed in four of his eight points in the fourth period.

“It’s my last game as a senior,” Sarkes said. “We have to come out and win it today. They beat us at our house. It was time for us to beat them at their house.”

Sarkes added: “In the first half, the offense was good and the defense was good,” he offered. “I feel like we picked it up defensively in the fourth quarter. We got stops. We got deflections, steals. We got big plays. It was great.”

Sarkes was asked if beating Burroughs is extra sweet. “Definitely,” he said of the triumph over city rival. “You have a bigger crowd. The gym is loud. You have to take it up another level, another notch.”

The Indians (19-9 and 7-7 in league) leaped ahead 10-7 heading into the second quarter as senior shooting guard Carson Cardenaz, who scored 11 points, tallied a hoop and a three-pointer.

After scoring two points in the first frame, center Corwin Smith added a bucket and a free throw in the second quarter for the Indians, who converted 17 of 54 for 31.4 percent on the night.

Swarming defense was one key to Burbank’s 46-42 win over Burroughs. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Burroughs shot 25 percent from the field in the opening half after making eight of 32.

Burbank converted on 41.3 percent of its shots (12 of 29) and dashed ahead 31-19 at the break.

Smith dropped in five points in the third quarter and senior forward Emery Goulet tacked on six of his eight points.

Smith was the only Burroughs player to score in the fourth frame after tallying six points.

In the third quarter, the Bulldogs, who drilled 18 of 53 for 33.9 percent, managed only four points with sophomore point guard Phoenix Mosley scoring two and Avetisyan also dropping in two and fell behind 36-35.

Junior shooting guard Elmer Reyes scored two points in the third quarter after dropping in eight at the intermission that included a pair of three pointers in the second quarter and finished with 12 points for the Bulldogs.

Junior small forward/shooting guard Kelton Shea contributed four points for Burbank, which outrebounded Burroughs, 42-34.

Guard Blake Ballard knocked in seven points that included a three-pointer in the first quarter for the Indians.