Tag Archives: Burbank High

Burbank Girls Volleyball Lose To Crescenta Valley In Four Sets

By Rick Assad

It was only the first set and there would be at least two more sets for the Burbank High girls’ volleyball team.

In retrospect, this set proved vital because it helped catapult visiting Crescenta Valley to a 27-25, 18-25, 25-14, 25-18 Pacific League victory on Tuesday.

Hoping to get out quickly, the Bulldogs dashed ahead 23-16 when junior opposite hitter Tamryn Betts (nine kills and five digs) collected a spike.

“It’s a tough one to swallow, but with the mental toughness that we have and the resiliency that we have, we’ll bounce back, go back in the lab and work hard again,” Burbank coach Karl Rojo said of his team’s tough loss.

The Falcons would get to within 23-17 on a winner from junior outside hitter Jamie Santos.

A spike from senior setter/opposite hitter Isabella Doom would make it 23-18, but Burbank would ease in front 24-18 on a stuff from junior middle blocker Bianca Hudson (six kills with five blocks).

Katie Treadway, shown in a match against Providence, had a team-best 11 kills in a four-set loss to Crescenta Valley. Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Crescenta Valley drew within 24-20 on an ace from Santos and 24-21 on a kill from Santos.

When Doom and senior middle blocker/opposite hitter Laine Stubbs combined on a jam, the Falcons were within 24-22.

A tapper from Stubbs saw the visitors get within 24-23 as the Bulldogs (7-9 and 3-2 in league) asked for time.

Doom’s spike evened it at 24-24 and a service winner from Santos pushed the Falcons ahead 25-24.

A kill from senior outside hitter Brandice Hibbard (10 kills and six digs with an ace) leveled it at 25-25.

Crescenta Valley (19-8 and 4-1 in league) would capture the next two points including the set-winner by Santos (15 kills and four aces).

The initial set was close early on and included five ties before a winner from senior middle blocker Leah Tawil (four kills and one block) handed the Bulldogs an 8-6 lead.

A kill from Betts evened it at 10-10 and a spike from Tawil tied it at 12-12.  It would be deadlocked at 14-14 on Doom’s blast.

The Bulldogs would go on a 10-4 spurt and lead 24-18 that included kills from Hudson that made it 16-14 as the Falcons asked for time, and senior outside hitter Katie Treadway’s dagger for a 19-15 edge.

Senior setter Ashley Eskander, shown in a recent nonleague match against Providence, had 40 assists and 22 digs in a loss to the Falcons. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“The first set I thought we were doing good, but we were making little mistakes that kept adding up, so we kind of lost our momentum a little bit and we couldn’t get back into it. In the second set we did a lot better,” said Treadway, a senior outside hitter who had a team-high 11 kills with five aces and 25 digs. “We need to be calm and execute.”

Treadway then added: “For me, I need to remember this game and know what I did wrong and what we can do better,” she noted. “And what I notice that I can talk to the team about. And what we can do better for the next game. How we need to be on the same page mentally and our plays. But after this day, though, we forget about it.”

The second frame saw the Bulldogs bolt ahead 10-0 on a kill from Treadway. “If we lose a set, I try to get their energy up and try to get them excited,” she pointed out. “Me and Ashley [Eskander] try to calm each other down. We also need to know that we need to be more aggressive.”

Eskander is a senior setter and one of the team leaders who finished the match with 40 assists and 22 digs.

The Falcons answered with five straight points that cut the lead to 10-5, but Burbank still held a 14-7 lead when Hibbard added a kill.

A spike from Hudson gave the Bulldogs a 17-11 cushion and it became 19-11 on a service winner from Treadway as the Falcons asked for a halt in the action.

A kill from Betts made it 21-13, Treadway’s bullet pushed the advantage to 24-17 and a spike from Betts evened the match at one set each.

The third game was tied 3-3 on an ace from Burbank junior setter Kassandra Gonzalez, but the Falcons forged a 7-4 lead on a kill from senior middle blocker Ellie Song.

Crescenta Valley darted in front 10-7 on a kill from senior outside hitter Lizzy Kerman (match-best 17 kills with four aces) and 13-8 on a winner from junior libero Emily Boghozian.

“When we started out, we seemed a little rattled, a little nervous. We just kept telling the girls to stay calm. Stay calm. Take a deep breath,” Crescenta Valley coach Matt Simons said. “In that first game, the pressure came off because we were down so much. They stopped making silly mistakes. The girls played with a confidence that they didn’t play with earlier in the set.”

Simons went on: “When we were passing well, we were able to run our offense and the game is so much easier,” he said. “When we pass well, we’re able to run all aspects of the offense. It kind of stabilizes us.”

Doom’s kill made it 14-8 and when Doom (18 assists with four kills and four blocks) tossed in another spike, the Falcons were in front 18-8.

Back-to-back aces by Santos made it 23-11 as the Bulldogs needed time to regroup. A stuff from junior middle blocker Emma Glaza for the Falcons put them ahead 24-11 and a kill from Kerman salted the set.

An ace from junior libero Hannah Tanita handed the Falcons a 4-2 lead in the fourth set, but the Bulldogs rallied and moved ahead 7-5 on an ace from Gonzalez.

Crescenta Valley settled down and led 13-9 on a kill from Santos and 16-12 on an ace from Tanita.

“On any given day, a different girl can be the hero,” Simons said. “We don’t have one girl that we rely on. That we lean on. That balanced attack really helps.”

The Falcons darted ahead 19-15 on a kill from Kerman and 21-15 on a service winner from Kerman.

Crescenta Valley inched in front 23-16 on a kill from Santos and Doom’s rocket was the set and match winner.

Senior defensive specialist/libero Morgan Bolger added 25 digs for the Bulldogs, while junior setter Cadie Carlson had 15 assists and two blocks for the Falcons.

Burroughs, Burbank Boys Water Polo Ready For Action

By Rick Assad

 

There’s a saying that it’s hard getting to the top, but it’s even more difficult staying there.

This axiom doesn’t necessarily apply to the Burroughs High boys’ water polo team because while it hasn’t always been at the very top of the Pacific League standings, the Indians have usually been in the top portion.

Looking at rival Burbank’s boys’ water polo program, the same can’t be said, but then again, matters can and do change.

If practice makes perfect, then the Burbank High boys’ water polo team is headed in the right direction. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

This season, Burroughs will pay a visit to Burbank’s pool on October 23.

Another important date is the league preliminaries which take place at the Arcadia pool on October 29.

The league finals is at the same site, but will be held October 31.

The CIF Southern Section playoffs will be contested on November 5, 7, 9, 12 and 16.

Coach Jacob Cook has built and sustained an excellent program at Burroughs and this year’s edition should at least contend for the top spot in the league.

“I have high expectations for the season,” Cook said. “We have a talented group this year with a lot of talent and potential. I’m excited to see what we can do.”

Last year the Indians went 13-10 overall and 5-4 in league action, but lost in the CIF first round.

Burroughs, shown in a 2018 match against rival Burbank, look to better its 5-4 record in the Pacific League. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The projected starters for Burroughs will be senior goalie Arthur Eldridge, senior attacker Chet Conlan, senior attacker Tobey Ho, senior center Matthew Mucha, senior utility Vahagan Sahakyan, junior utility Ryan Jaramillo and sophomore utility Xavier Turla.

Here are the rest of the Burroughs upperclassmen and they include Jon Paul De Fabry, David Karagezyan, Nathan Magdaleno and Aaron Meza.

The juniors on the team are Fox Melo, Miguel Martinez and Alex Lewin, while sophomore Andrew Chapman and freshman Ryan Rolando are also on the squad.

Mike Lucero is the Burbank Aquatics Director and the first-year coach for the boys’ and girls’ water polo teams.

Lucero has been around and was the assistant swim coach for the Burbank boys’ and girls’ programs the last two years.

Mike Lucero is in his first season as the Burbank boys’ and girls’ water polo coach. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

In order to compete with the better teams in the league like Hoover, Glendale and Crescenta Valley, Lucero said it’s important to get faster in the water.

“We’re working on having some speed work,” Lucero said. “You need speed to keep up with teams like Crescenta Valley.”

Lucero then added: “I want to see the water polo team be a year-round program and the players stay with their conditioning. I want to see more team unity,” he said.

Lucero also wants to build a program that will be viable and contend. “Some of these club programs, major swim programs, these swimmers are starting at nine, 10, 11,” he said. “Here they’re coming in at 14. And for the first time they’re learning the basics of water polo.”

Burbank is coming off a campaign in which it went 8-10, failed to make the postseason and doesn’t have many seniors, but it does have players familiar with each other.

A four-year starter and a 2018 Burbank graduate, Varuzhan Bilbulyan is the Bulldogs’ assistant water polo coach.

The Indians, shown in a match versus the Bulldogs, have the talent to do well overall and in the Pacific League. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“This year we see a lot of young athletes that we have on both varsity and JV contributing a lot of hard work and we see a lot more attentiveness and a bigger drive than in past years to get better and improve themselves,” Bilbulyan said. “We see a very good attitude and very good behavior. Everybody is trying their best and everyone is getting better day by day.”

Bilbuyan went on: “This year’s powerhouses are probably going to be Hoover. They always have a lot of club players,” he said. “Glendale is also going to be good and they have club players. CV’s been good the last couple of years. We can finish in the top five, but our goal is top four so that we’re guaranteed to make the playoffs.”

Seven seniors populate the squad and they include driver Hakop Pilavjyan, driver Sahak Khobiarian, driver Ashot Keshishyan, driver Artush Hovannisyan, driver Edward Bowman, driver Kourosh Dolatshahi and goalie Sarkis Terpetrossyan.

There are four juniors and they are driver Brian Di Mascio, driver Grigor Gasabian, driver Michael Mehserdjian and setter Anthony Sarafian.

Five sophomores are on the team and they include driver Avo Barsegyan, driver Pavel Tantchev, driver Jonathan Agazaryan, setter Robert Kharazyan and goalie Narek Galamdaryan.

Seryozha Soghomonyan is also on the team after being promoted to the varsity at the end of July.

Burbank, Burroughs Girls Volleyball Poised For Success

By Rick Assad

 

Getting to and then advancing deep into the CIF Southern Section playoffs is always a top priority for any coach.

This being the case, it’s crucial for the team to do extremely well in the Pacific League because this is how the selection committee places seeds the squads in the postseason.

So for the Burroughs High and Burbank girls’ volleyball teams, each wants to finish as high as possible in the league standings.

The Burbank girls volleyball team in a recent practice. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The Indians, who are coming off a 27-8 overall season and a 13-1 mark in league for a share of the title, always have high expectations.

Longtime Burroughs Coach Edwin Real is optimistic.

“We’re expecting to be competitive,” he said of the league season. “We have some kids who are somewhat younger and we lost several really good players to graduation and we’re trying to get better in those positions.”

A season ago, the Indians advanced to the Division III quarterfinals where they lost to eventual champion Village Christian in five tough sets.

This campaign, Burroughs is 2-1, having beaten Downey and Harvard-Westlake, but losing in five sets to Cypress, in tournament matches, which required three sets in order to determine a winner and not the customary two.

The Indians will pay a visit to Burbank on September 24 and then host the rival Bulldogs on October 17.

Spearheading the Indians will be senior outside hitter Lydia Grote, who has verbally committed to play volleyball for the University of California at Berkeley.

Grote’s older sister, Marin, is a sophomore on the University of Washington women’s volleyball team, and before that was a key cog and four-year starter for Burroughs.

Burroughs, which lost to Village Christian in a CIF quarterfinal match in 2018, is going to be one of the favorites to win the Pacific League. (Photo by © Ross A Benson)

Also key for the Indians will be junior defensive specialist Lily Rogers, who will be a floor leader and an important contributor.

Junior outside hitter Catie Virtue will also be asked to lead the troops, while senior middle blocker Camila Sanchez-Tellez as well as two sophomores, setter Meagan Lynch and defensive specialist Charlotte Hobson, will be vital if Burroughs is to go far, according to Real.

There are several other upperclassmen who will also have a significant hand in the team’s success and they are opposite hitter Joelle Burras, setter Milana Abrahamian and defensive specialist Natalie Hooper.

The rest of the team includes junior middle blocker Emily Caneday, junior outside hitter Camila Palma, junior outside hitter Mariah Bowman and junior defensive specialist Reese Coblentz.

Being in tip-top shape is always a key to winning. Here the Bulldog girls’ volleyball team is racing down the floor. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Rounding out the Indians’ squad will be sophomore defensive specialist Kylie Colton and middle blocker Bella Lomet.

This is Karl Rojo’s fifth season as Burbank’s coach and in the four previous campaigns, saw his squad make the postseason.

“I believe it’s going to be a good season, almost similar to the one before and maybe better than that,” Rojo said. “With the core that we have, they’re pretty experienced and with the young core that we have, they’re learning a lot from the experienced players. It’s working out pretty fine. They’re working hard each day and that’s all I can ask from them.”

Rojo then added: “They’re improving. It could be small improvement. It could be big improvement, but they’re improving,” he said.

Rojo said he likes the attitude of this squad. “They’re all good teammates towards each other,” he said. “But I think it’s drama-free. Not as much drama. It’s going to be positive.”

Burbank posted a 14-16 record and a 9-5 mark in league, but Rojo would like to see definite improvement on those numbers.

Lydia Grote, a senior outside hitter for the Indians, will be one of many weapons. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“I see us making a big statement in the Pacific League,” he said. “I think we should finish in the top three. But we have a lot of competitive teams. I think we’ll proceed past the first round this year.”

There is enough talent to reach the playoffs according to Rojo and several mainstays will have to play well.

The Bulldogs are 1-3 this season with a sweep over visiting Chatsworth and losses to visiting Providence in four sets, a four-game loss at Saugus and a three-set defeat at Calabasas.

Burbank was swept over three games in a Division IV wildcard match in 2018 against host Calabasas.

Burbank’s top-shelf players are senior outside hitter Katie Treadway, senior libero/defensive specialist Morgan Bolger, senior middle blocker Leah Tawil, senior setter Ashley Eskander, junior middle blocker Bianca Hudson and junior libero Mikayla Kim.

Also expected to contribute for the Bulldogs will be senior setter Kassandra Gonzalez, senior middle blocker/opposite hitter Ava Danesh, senior outside hitter Brandice Hibbard and senior opposite hitter/setter Andrea Paun.

The remainder of the team includes junior opposite hitter Tamryn Betts, sophomore outside hitter Alaina Melgar and sophomore middle blocker/opposite hitter Gabriella Damroze.

Burbank Girls Volleyball Falls in Four Sets To Providence

By Rick Assad

 

One set does not a match make, as the Burbank High girls’ volleyball team learned in its season opener, a nonleague affair against Burbank-based Providence on Monday afternoon.

After winning the initial set, the Bulldogs struggled over the next three as the visiting Pioneers earned a 14-25, 25-22, 25-20, 25-14 victory.

Was what happened to Burbank merely taking its foot off the gas pedal or merely taking Providence lightly after a relatively easy first-game win?

It may not have been either, but something happened after the first set as the Pioneers seized control and never let up.

Burbank’s Gabriella Damroze rises and spikes the ball in a four-set loss to Providence (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The first game saw the Bulldogs dart ahead 5-3 on a kill from senior outside hitter Katie Treadway, who had a solid outing, per usual.

“I think we really lost our energy there and I think we just lost our momentum and with their serves, we couldn’t get back to it,” Treadway said of the struggles the Bulldogs encountered during the last three sets.

Treadway added: “After the first set, I think we did really good and we were just expecting to do the same thing, but it didn’t play out like that,” she noted. “Providence came out and they were scrappy.”

Treadway said the team felt good about itself after the initial set. “I think there was a little bit of overconfidence because in the first game we did really good,” she pointed out. “We need to have that confidence, but we need to stay with the game and don’t think too big. Just keep how we’re playing.”

Providence evened it at 6-6, but Burbank then moved ahead 11-8 on another winner from Treadway.

Getting the ball to the hitters is one key to winning. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Back-to-back kills from Burbank sophomore opposite hitter/middle blocker Gabriella Damroze made it 15-8 and Damroze’s blast made it 19-9.

The Bulldogs drew within a point of the game on a rocket from senior setter Kassandra Gonzalez and then took the game on an ace.

Burbank actually led 6-2 on senior setter Ashley Eskander’s service ace in the second set and 10-3 on senior middle blocker Leah Tawil’s winner.

“I think we kind of just got in our heads,” said Eskander of the latter portion of the match. “I think maybe we got a little over confident. We thought it was going to be easier than it ended up being and kind of just fell apart. We weren’t very united.”

Eskander continued: “I think it’s more about the execution. Providence is kind of really scrappy and that’s what got to us. I think the game just got to us,” she said.

From there, the Pioneers cobbled together an 11-3 blitz as they moved in front 14-13 on a tandem block by senior outside hitter Liana Artunuan and sophomore middle hitter Sophia Guerrero.

The Bulldogs took the first set, but the Pioneers rallied and grabbed the next three. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Burbank led 15-14 on Treadway’s kill, but the Pioneers retook the lead 18-15 on a mishit from Burbank senior libero/defensive specialist Morgan Bolger.

Providence led 22-17 on Artunian’s winner and 23-20 when Burbank senior outside hitter Brandice Hibbard’s hit sailed out of bounds.

The Bulldogs pulled within 23-21 on Damroze’s kill and 23-22.

The Pioneers evened the match at one game apiece when Damroze hammered the ball out of bounds.

Often times when a match is deadlocked at one game apiece, the third set is crucial and it was Monday.

Providence swiftly took control 6-3 on a mishit by Burbank junior opposite hitter Tamryn Betts. The Pioneers then led 9-4 on an ace from senior libero Isabella Mahan-Mesa, who had nine digs.

Burbank senior outside hitter Katie Treadway played well, despite the loss. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Providence bolted in front 14-8 on a tapper from sophomore outside hitter Ashley Davis, who delivered 11 kills.

The Bulldogs then came within 14-13 on a spike from Damroze as the Pioneers asked for time out.

A kill from Davis made it 16-13, however, consecutive service aces from Tawil brought Burbank to within 18-16.

Providence forged ahead 20-18 on a smash from sophomore outside hitter Dolce Prieto (eight kills) and captured the game on Tawil’s hitting error.

“I just think we needed to just settle down after the first set. Once they remembered that they can play at a high level, that was it,” Providence Coach James Jimenez said of the final three sets. “Once we got our passes to our setters we were going to be fine because we have four hitters who can put the ball away.”

The set clincher saw the Pioneers lead 4-2 on a kill from sophomore libero Mia Madariaga and 8-4 on Prieto’s winner.

Prieto’s kill made it 15-9 and Providence dashed in front 19-9 on back-to-back hitting miscues by Damroze.

Prieto’s bullet made it 21-9, Hibbard’s winner trimmed the advantage to 23-11, but a clean spike from Prieto gave the Pioneers the set and match.

Senior setter Jennifer Tolentino, who had 11 assists, was a key contributor for the Pioneers.

Burbank High Welcomes Dr. Tom Crowther to Top Job

Burbank High School’s new principal, Dr. Thomas Crowther, former Principal of Toll Middle School in Glendale, is ready to take the helm.

(Photo by Ross A Benson)

As a former Burbank High School Assistant Principal, it was always a passion of his to return to Burbank High School, so when the opportunity presented itself he readily applied for the position. His children currently attend Burbank schools and he is also happy that they will have the same schedule as the rest of his family. He is also a product of the Burbank school system.

As a previous classroom teacher for ten years and working in school administration for nine years, Dr. Crowther is more than qualified to be Burbank High’s Principal. He said the biggest initial challenge he has at Burbank High School is getting to know the faces of 2500+ students as well as the 100+ staff and faculty and to form a more cohesive family atmosphere.

(Photo by Ross A Benson)

Burbank High School just underwent a WASC Accreditation process and received amazing test results which are very exciting news. He is proud of the caliber of the Burbank High teaching staff and administrators and looks forward to working closely with them.

When asked of the growing concern about drugs and vaping, Dr. Crowther said he plans to meet with all authorities concerned to eliminate misinformation and educate parents and students of the legitimate dangers of vape products to curb or reduce usage. “We will work with BPD School Resource Officer Dustin Rodriguez, the District Office, the Director of Student Services, faculty and staff to develop consistent messaging and consequences when students make bad decisions, as well as getting support for those already hooked who want to stop but don’t know how to.”

In a perfect world, social media and cell phones would have their place and not occupy the majority of students free time although he understands how difficult that would be. Addiction is not too strong a word for this usage. Also, students should know that once you put it out there on social media it remains there forever.

(Photo by Ross A Benson)

Burbank High School has an excellent sports record and Dr. Crowther, being a big sports fan, expressed the importance of being visible and supportive of the school’s sports programs.

(Photo by Ross A Benson)

He was pleased to note that we are already competing for CIF every year. He was also pleased to note that Steven Hubbell (Assistant Principal, Athletics & Activities) is supporting their hard-working coaches. Bruce Breeden and Patrick McMenamin (The Schools Athletic Directors) are also working to support the students

Dr. Crowther expressed the importance of every student making the most of their time at Burbank High School, making every day count, and leaving with a goal, understanding that there is a whole world at their fingertips.

Caitlyn Brooks, Notre Dame Graduate, Caps College Career In Style

By Rick Assad

 

There are certain qualities or assets that one needs in order to be successful in life and in sports.

In the case of athletics, physical and mental gifts are essential and they go a long way. But even if one possesses these attributes, it’s also helpful, and perhaps necessary, to put in the time and hard work in order to get better.

For Caitlyn Brooks, who played four seasons on the University of Notre Dame women’s softball team and before that was a highly-decorated standout on the Burbank High softball squad, had all three in her tool box, but like the very best, always wanted to improve.

Caitlyn Brooks swinging from her heels. The former Burbank High star hit 48 homers over her career at Notre Dame. It’s tied for the second-most all-time.

“Caitlyn put in a lot of hard work other than just normal practices,” said Mike Delaney, who was the Bulldogs softball coach who oversaw Brooks during her tenure at Burbank which began in 2012 and ended in 2015. “Extra hitting lessons and pitching lessons weekly.”

Delaney, who recently stepped down from that post, added: “She had a great work ethic and was always quick to praise her teammates,” he said. “She loved the individual matchups. Pitcher versus pitcher. Pitcher versus batter. Caitlyn understood her swing and pitching motion extremely well.”

There is a small percentage of people talented enough to play sports for the Fighting Irish. What was that experience like?

“Being at Notre Dame exceeded my expectations for sure,” said Brooks, who capped off her college career by being named the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year in 2019 after breaking the school’s single-season home run record with 20 and leading the team in five offensive categories. “It is such a magical place and I really started to understand and experience that throughout my four years.”

Brooks was also an effective pitcher for the Fighting Irish and before that a stellar hurler for the Bulldogs, where she went 80-17 over a four-year career.

Getting selected ACC Player of the Year had to be an unexpected surprise for Brooks.

“Being named ACC Player of the Year was a total shock to me,” said Brooks, who was also named to the ACC All-Academic team. “I never look at stats and this year I knew I was doing well, but that wasn’t anything I thought that I would achieve. Earning that title was really cool and I remember calling my parents [Shari and Roger] and we all were so excited and cheering. It was also really cool to see all of my teammates excel too and also support me. They are what made it special because this team was so amazing and special.”

How difficult was college compared to high school, both scholastically and athletically? “The hardest part of transitioning was the academics,” said Brooks, who received a bachelor of arts degree in film/cinema and video studies and will work in social media marketing. “For me that was the hardest part of Notre Dame. Softball was the most consistent and smoothest transition.”

What was it like for Brooks, who carved out a staggering 80-17 record with 1,011 strikeouts as a high school hurler, to actually put on the spikes for Notre Dame?

Brooks was selected Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year in 2019 after leading Notre Dame in homers with 20, the most in a single season.

“I was definitely nervous my first time putting on the Irish uniform, but I wanted to compete and that was really exhilarating,” she said. “Once I got my first hit, I felt completely comfortable.”

Brooks said she was at ease from the outset. “Our team is like a family and that starts from the moment you’re introduced when you’re a recruit,” she noted. “I always knew Notre Dame was for me because of the team culture which is cultivated by our amazing coaches. From the moment you first speak to them, you know that they are great coaches and even better people. I felt part of the Irish team as a recruit and from the moment I stepped on campus as a freshman.”

This feeling of security and care begins with Deanna Gumpf, the Notre Dame head coach.

“She is so inspiring and is like a second mom to us all,” said Brooks, who paced the Fighting Irish in homers with nine and runs batted in with 38 as a junior. “I love how direct and passionate she is. She truly wants to see us succeed on and off the field. Notre Dame develops us into great athletes and even better women and that starts at the top by always being an example of excellence and kindness. Coach Gumpf knows us better than we know ourselves sometimes and that is what makes her such an incredible coach and person. She is definitely a role model for me.”

Brooks was a threat in the batter’s box and in the pitcher’s circle at the high school and collegiate level. Which one was more appealing?

“For sure the batter’s box. Being in the box I can fully relax and be laser focused, but have no pressure,” Brooks said. “Or at least I tell myself that there is no pressure. I also know that the girl behind me is going to get it done and having that confidence and support takes all of the pressure off. I found my stride in the box and really loved softball and the game.”

Brooks ended her college career tied for second place all-time with 48 home runs. “Most of it was from this year,” said Brooks of her senior season. “I wasn’t trying to hit the ball out, but I was really focused on my timing, pitch selection and mechanics this season and I had a great result.”

There was a lot of celebrating when Brooks was at the plate. Here Brooks (No. 16) crosses the plate and is congratulated by teammates.

Brooks, who clubbed 21 homers during her final three seasons as a Bulldog, then added: “When it came to pitching, I definitely put too much pressure on myself, but I loved competing. I think my role as a reliever and just come in and do my job on the mound took the pressure off and really let me focus on hitting during the game,” she said.

Brooks said her approach to hitting was vastly different from pitching.

“My main thoughts were to focus on my breath and my approach,” she said. “I watch a lot of film before a game on the pitcher and saw what they threw and adjusted my plan to the pitcher and my strength. Usually I was looking inside and attacking that pitch if it was a strike. In the circle, I would just focus on my routine and breath. I would visualize the pitch when I got my sign and go for it.”

Brooks, who batted .304 with eight homers and 39 RBIs as a sophomore, said even if the team struggled, which was rare, they were always unified.

“I really relied on my teammates and talking it out with the sports psychologist. A lot of athletes benefit from the sports psychologist and it was a resource that is always very encouraged,” Brooks said. “It really helped me with the challenges of softball and life.”

Did one hit or game stand out for Brooks, who batted .335 with a .416 on-base percentage and 55 RBIs, the most-ever by a Notre Dame freshman?

“I think the game that I broke the single-season home run record was huge,” said Brooks, who bashed a team-high 11 homers with a team-best .639 slugging percentage as a freshman. “It was against Pittsburgh, and when I broke the record it was my first collegiate grand slam which was super cool. It also could be the farthest ball that I’ve ever hit.”

Brooks continued: “After that game they gave my mom the ball and having her and my dad there to see it was awesome,” he pointed out. “My team was so pumped for me and seeing them at home plate going crazy is something that I will never forget.”

Did Brooks have targets she wanted to reach? “I set goals with myself and our coaches,” she said. “My plan had more to do with my approaches and learning from the previous year. For pitching, it was understanding my role and really capitalizing when I was called upon. Being that consistent force to get us out of a jam and always be ready. For hitting, my approach was about attacking the first two strikes. Once I started doing that I noticed a massive difference in my swing.”

Because of their lofty status, youngsters often look up to athletes. There may be local girls who admire Brooks, who posted an 18-5 mark, with a 0.66 earned-run average, 264 strikeouts, 18 walks in 149 and one-third innings as a high school senior, and would like to emulate her. Does Brooks have any advice?

“I would say that you should get the best grades that you can because grades get you into any school you want and you can always try out,” she said. “I would also say to go to camps and get on the best travel team that you can. If you get great grades and compete at the highest level, with the best competition, then you are marketing yourself in the best way that you can.”

Delaney thinks that Brooks is an inspiration to young girls who want to play softball, even if they don’t play for Notre Dame.

“Caitlyn is a great example for younger athletes in Burbank,” he said. “She was a great student and a great athlete.”

Looking back and reflecting on her college career at Notre Dame, Brooks is extremely thankful for the opportunity and wouldn’t do anything differently.

“So far there isn’t anything I regret during my four years,” she said. “I did more than I expected to academically and athletically.”

Melissa Sanchez Chosen As Next Burbank Softball Coach

By Rick Assad

 

Melissa Sanchez has been named as the next Burbank High girls’ softball coach.

Sanchez replaces Mike Delaney, a longtime softball coach in Southern California, who recently stepped down from the position.

For Sanchez, it’s a homecoming of sorts after playing for the Bulldogs and now stepping in as coach.

“I’m so excited for the opportunity,” said Sanchez, who played for East Los Angeles College and then won a scholarship to Cal State University East Bay where she played center field. “I can’t wait to start. This is not a hobby. It’s a full-time job and I’m going to give 110 percent.”

Melissa Sanchez will lead the Burbank softball team. (Photo credit Melissa Sanchez)

At this point, Sanchez, who has been a travel ball coach, is just getting her feet wet, but thinks the future is going to be bright for the Bulldogs.

Under Delaney, the Bulldogs were usually in the top half of the Pacific League standings and more often than not advanced to the CIF Southern Section playoffs.

This is Sanchez’s first head coaching job, but played for Burbank beginning with her freshman season in 2006 and capping it off in 2009 when she graduated.

“My values and philosophy are to push the girls hard in order to be the best players that they can be. They will be confident and will have a winning mentality.”

Sanchez they added: “There’s going to be structure during practice and it’s going to be regimented. I’m going to develop the girls. It begins at the junior varsity level. That’s why you need a good JV coach in order to bring along the young ones.”

Sanchez was asked what’s the main difference between coaching travel ball and high school.

“The difference in travel ball is you can pick and choose the players,” she said. “In high school, you get what you get. But on the softball field, I control the energy level.”

Sanchez said loyalty is a key. “I think it’s important to learn loyalty,” she said. “Loyalty to the program is important. To make that commitment. I’m from Burbank. I want to build the program.”

Sanchez continied: “I know that it takes time to build that trust. But as long as I’m prepared, I think that I’m going to build a solid program that’s going to be good. I want to show that they made the right choice in hiring me.”

Sanchez believes it’s the coaches responsibility to get the team pulling in one direction, as Tom Lasorda, former Dodger and Hall of Fame manager famously once said.

“It’s the coaches job to motivate the girls to play,” she noted. “To explain why it’s important to work hard, to be excited and want to go to practice.”

In Sanchez’s system, everyone on the team will contribute, and that includes the substitutes. “The bench will have a big role,” she explained. “It’s going to be a positive environment.”

James Williams Inaugural Football Camp Is Success

By Rick Assad

 

Football is a very physical game that requires not only brute strength, but also uncommon speed.

There are two types of speed. Straightaway or vertical that wide receivers, free safeties and cornerbacks have and quick bursts that also sometimes demand a change of direction that elite running backs possess.

James Williams, the best tailback in Burbank High’s long football history, had the latter and it was on display during a standout three-year career for the Bulldogs.

James Williams, a former Burbank High tailback and onetime Washington State standout, talks to the campers. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

In his junior season, Williams ran for 1,469 yards in 164 carries and set a school record with 22 touchdowns.

For good measure, Williams added 482 yards on 22 receptions with five scores.

Williams helped Burbank finish 10-3 overall and advance to the CIF Southern Section semifinals in the Southeast Division playoffs that campaign.

The ability to change direction on a dime was also evident when Williams, who redshirted as a freshman, played in the Washington State University backfield for three seasons.

For the 11 eager boys ages six through 16 at the first day of the three-day inaugural James Williams Football Camp at Kemp-Kallem Field on Tuesday, they learned how to explode off the ball and change direction.

Williams, an undrafted free agent who signed with the Kansas City Chiefs in late April, but was ultimately released, said it’s one of the most important things anyone who wants to play football can learn.

James Williams instructing young campers on the finer points of football. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“I went there for a month,” said Williams of the Chiefs camp. “I was hurt the first three weeks. I pulled my hamstring. The playbook was crazy. But I was getting it. Everybody had the playbook a week before I did. I made the most of it.”

Williams, who is also expecting a baby, said there’s a possibility the Arizona Cardinals or Tampa Bay Buccaneers may call, but if they don’t, he has no regrets.

“I want to keep my options open. I want to finish school. I can’t look back,” he said.

Williams, who was a two-time All-CIF Southeast Division first-team pick, said that when he went to summer football camp, he felt somewhat out of place and a little bit lost because he didn’t know what to expect.

The youngsters are eager to learn about football, especially when it comes from James Williams. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“The reason why I wanted to do it [his camp], I was sitting back and I was thinking about when I was a camper and I didn’t know a lot of the fancy things they were doing at the Notre Dame and Crespi Camp,” Williams said. “I was in the back of the line just trying to figure out what they were doing. I want to do a condensed version of the drills that I did in college and the league.”

Burbank coach Adam Colman, who played quarterback at Burbank, helped out during the day’s activities which began at 11 a.m.

“When James reached out about doing a camp, it was an awesome opportunity for the city and the kids especially,” Colman said. “Growing up here, there’s always a couple of camps here and there, but they’re usually parks and rec camps. And now you get a guy like James, who played at the highest level and has those experiences and someone all the kids look up to.”

James Williams hopes to continue his dream of playing in the NFL despite being released by the Kansas City Chiefs. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Colman continued: “He wanted to make sure to make it happen for them. To see the guys who came up from Burbank and represent the city and being really proud of being from Burbank and going to Burbank schools,” he said. “It’s not every day you get a guy who played at the college level and the pro level and pass on their knowledge and hope it trickles down.”

The three-hour camp commenced with the boys stretching and exercising for 25 minutes.

Williams, who came to Burbank from Toledo, Ohio, finished with 3,090 all-purpose yards for the Cougars, wants to give back and hopes to make his camp and annual event.

“My time here, it was amazing,” he said. “Burbank gave me a lot. So that’s why I’m doing this right now. They treated me like I belonged here. The same with Washington State. They treated me like I was already at home.”

Running drills and sprint drills were next on the agenda. Then four half-rounds were laid out on the field, one yard apart and were used for agility drills.

One of several water breaks followed before the youngsters faced their next challenge.

There were three cones set apart three yards. Williams, who ran for 1,443 yards with 17 touchdowns and tacked on 101 yards on 11 catches as a sophomore at Burbank and was tabbed the Pacific League Offensive Player of the Year, would then yell out a number which corresponded to the shortest distance, the middle distance and the longest distance.

For instance, Williams would say 3, 5 and 7. That meant they would run to the shortest distance and back. The middle distance and back and finally the longest distance and back.

Williams, who had 27 career touchdowns at Washington State, the fourth-most, would then change the numbers to make sure they knew which to run to.

For this drill, Williams said the key to doing it well and for maximum speed is to keep as low to the ground as possible.

The next assignment was to move between an obstacle with the football as they zig-zaged back and forth and then run toward a cone about 10 yards down the field. Again, this would help them with change of direction.

What followed next was one offensive lineman trying to hold off an oncoming defensive lineman who tried to get around his man and knock the football that was atop a tackling dummy.

The final event was a game between three receivers versus three defenders with Williams, who capped his time at Washington State with 1,583 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns along with 202 catches for 1,437 receiving yards and eight scores, dropping back and finding an open receiver. The ball moved down the field and eventually into the end zone.

Mike Delaney, Burbank Softball Coach, Resigns Position

By Rick Assad

 

Upon initial inspection, it appears that being a high school softball coach is a pretty easy job.

You simply gather your players for a pregame drill and then the team plays a game. Then you conduct another pregame drill and play another game. Add a few more practices and that’s it.

But in reality, it’s far more complicated and nuanced than that and it’s also very time consuming.

For Mike Delaney, the longtime Burbank High skipper, the job simply demanded too much of his time on and off the field. On Monday, he stepped down from the position.

Mike Delaney stepped down as Burbank High’s softball coach. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“I had been mulling this over for a couple of months,” Delaney said of resigning. “I made up my mind two or three weeks ago.”

Delaney informed Burbank principal, Dr. Michael Bertram of his decision a while ago and said he had the full support of Bertram and the entire athletic department staff during his tenure on the clock.

Delaney then added: “It’s been a really time consuming job,” he said after serving as the head coach for six years.

Delaney gathered the team on Monday before exit meetings and told them he would not be back next season.

This is the letter Delaney sent to the players’ parents.

“There are a few reasons that I made this decision. First and foremost the position of head coach had become extremely time consuming off the field,” he wrote. “Resolving and or mediating conflict between boosters and parents regarding fundraising became an almost nightly occurrence with either phone calls, texts or emails.”

The letter continued: “This along with [the] district’s inability to resolve the majority of our [Title IX] concerns, and my concern that neither could be resolved quickly or without a bigger off field time commitment from me were major factors in my decision,” it read. “I could no longer rationalize the amount of time I was taking away from my family.”

Burbank finished 11-13-1 overall this campaign and went 8-6 for fourth place in the Pacific League.

In a CIF Southern Section first-round playoff match on the road, the Bulldogs lost to Pomona Catholic 10-2.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time with each and every team,” Delaney said. “But the job took up too much of my time.”

On most weeks, Delaney and his staff put in no less than 15 hours and as many as 18 hours.

“Now softball is practically a year-round sport,” he pointed out. “It begins in August and runs until the end of the year. When I first started, it began in January and went until the end of the year.”

If one considers travel ball, softball is indeed a year-long sport, but Delaney wasn’t a travel-ball coach.

One point, of the eight league schools, only Burbank and Burroughs don’t have an on-campus softball field and a batting cage.

Still, the Bulldogs were successful despite this under Delaney, making the postseason five of the six seasons.

Delaney, who also coached at Village Christian for nine years, said that core values are an essential lesson the girls will take with them.

“Every year is different and every year is a challenge,” he said. “Teaching the core values was important from the time they were freshmen.”

Delaney added: “I always felt it was a privilege to be the head coach and a huge responsibility to those athletes.”

Delaney said that when he drove home, it hit him that he’s not the coach. “Those are great memories,” he said. “There are some who are part-time players and there are travel-ball players and they want to get to the next level. But to see the joy in each of them is what makes it so rewarding.”

Delaney summarized his feelings: “Every team wants to win, but there is only one team that’s going to win in each division,” he said. “Of course I want them to compete. But having core values is what they’re going to take with them.”

Burroughs Softball Takes Out Host Burbank 7-1

By Rick Assad

 

There were two vastly different emotions on display after Thursday night’s Pacific League softball game at McCambridge Park.

After the final out was recorded on a grounder to third base, the Burroughs High team and its faithful were elated after a 7-1 win over city rival Burbank.

Of course, there was dejection in the Bulldogs’ dugout, but at least one game remains when the CIF Southern Section playoffs begin with sites and matchups to be determined in the next few days.

Isabella Kam allowed five hits across seven innings for Burroughs, which won 7-1 over Burbank. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The Indians (12-10 and 10-4 in league) also have an important postseason game next week.

The contest was nip-and-tuck after three innings as the Indians led 2-1, but a run in the sixth inning and four runs in the seventh would put the game out of reach.

Junior pitcher Isabella Kam was in the circle and hurled with cool confidence, allowing no hits in the second, fourth, fifth and seventh inning.

“Yes, honestly I was in the beginning because it was my first actual Burbank-Burroughs game where I’m pitching,” said Kam, who went seven innings with five hits yielded, five strikeouts and two walks of her early nerves. “It was kind of nerve-wracking for me, but I had a few girls calm me down and that was the most important thing, calming down.”

The Indians forged ahead 3-1 with a tally in the sixth inning as junior Sabrina Englebrecht’s single to center field off senior Alyssa Porras scored junior Chloe Bookmyer, who drew three walks and led off with a base on balls.

Alyssa Porras gave it everything she had in her last game against Burroughs. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Porras has been a workhorse and was on Thursday, touring seven frames, giving up eight hits, walking three and striking out two.

“Last year Allie [Benson] motivated me so much because I always wanted to be the pitcher. I always wanted to start every single game. This season, everyone was hurt. Savannah [Benson] was hurt, Alex [Davis] pitched, played center and short,” Porras said. “I have to act like I wasn’t tired even if I was just so I could finish the game.”

The next inning was the backbreaker as Burroughs trotted eight hitters to the plate that included a two-run single to right center from senior Sierra Harvey (two hits) and a two-run base hit to left field by senior Megan Williams (three singles).

In the third, the Indians marched ahead 2-0 on a two-run homer by Kam as junior Memorie Munoz came around to score after reaching on an error.

“I’m just so happy that I did really well,” said senior Mia Storer, the center fielder who had tears in her eyes. “I’m so happy. I’m a four-year player and this means so much for me and to play really good in the last Burbank-Burroughs game. This will stay with me forever.”

Storer had two sensational catches including a running grab off the bat of senior Amaya Broyls in the fifth inning for the first out and a diving stab off the bat of senior Sarah Garelick in the sixth for the first out and sophomore Erika Montoya on base after an infield single.

The Bulldogs (11-12-1 and 8-6 in league) shaved the lead to 2-1 as Montoya’s hit brought home senior Desi Gomez, who singled.

“It’s always tough to lose your final league game on your home field,” Burbank coach Mike Delaney said. “At some point we didn’t do what we were supposed do to.”

Davis singled in the first inning and left with an injured shoulder and Broyls also singled in the first inning.