Learning from the Pros

Story and Photos by Rick Sloan  |  2016-07-21
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The Dusty Baker Baseball School, in its 33 year, is currently under instruction at Hagan Park this week.  Student players between the ages of 12 and 17 are being instructed on the basic fundamentals of the game by an outstanding group of coaches. The instructional school is under the direction of CEO Bruce Carmichael.  The coaching staff is made up of former Major Leaguers Bob Oliver, Rowland Office, Rich Murray, and Jim Barr, along with outstanding high school coaches Guy Anderson, Ralph Rago, Cliff Rold, Hal Steinback, and Cliff Brill.  During Wednesday’s workouts special guest instructor and former Major Leaguer Shooty Babbitt stopped by to assist.  The baseball camp runs through Friday, July 22nd.


Success Continues for CHS Boys Hoops

By Mike Bush  |  2016-07-21

The Cordova High School boys basketball, which goes by its AAU name as Cordova Smooth, won the championship of the Sacramento Athletics League Summer Slam with a 4-1 record at the Rancho Cordova Rec Center. Calvin Augusta, shown above during last season play made the all-tourney team. 
--File photo by Rick Sloan

Chalk up another successful summer tournament run for the Cordova High School boys’ basketball.

Last weekend, Cordova, which goes by its AAU name as Cordova Smooth, won the championship of the Sacramento Athletics League Summer Slam with a 4-1 record at the Rancho Cordova Rec Center.

To capture the title, Smooth knocked off the Sac Superstars, 57-53. “Three-point shooting, good ball movement,” said Fletcher Johnson, the Cordova boys basketball coach who oversees Smooth. “On defense, we played good man-to-man, keeping teams out of the paint. We did a great job of that.”

Other teams that Smooth beat were the Superstars, in pool play; the Sacramento Athletic League Warriors and the Sac Force.

Making the all-tourney team for Cordova was Markell Briggs. More Cordova players who shined at the tourney were Calvin Augusta, Najee Clark, Jose Hernandez, Mike Brown, LeAndre Ward, Joe Danielyan and Sam Danielyan. Half of the Smooth players played on last winter’s Cordova boys basketball team that won.

Winning the title also brings Cordova’s summer record to 30-15.

Last month, Smooth also competed at the 9th annual Sheldon-Franklin Summer Jam in Elk Grove. Cordova went 3-1 in pool play, but then lost its first game in the Gold Bracket of the three-day tourney.

The tournament also raised money for school supplies and clothes for homeless children in the Rancho Cordova area.


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USTA Names Sacramento's Alan Criswell a Local Hero

Source: Steve Pratt  |  2016-07-13

The Sacramento Community Tennis Association, founded in 1999 by Alan Criswell, offers affordable junior tennis programs to more than 300 young-sters in the Sacramento area. 
--Photo courtesy of Sacramento CTA

The United States Tennis Association recently named Sacramento resident Alan Criswell as the USTA Northern California Local Hero.

The Sacramento Community Tennis Association, founded in 1999 by Criswell, offers affordable junior tennis programs to more than 300 youngsters in the Sacramento area, with a focus on underserved kids. Criswell’s work continues to boost the sport in Northern California, and in 2015, the Sacramento Community Tennis Association was named the section’s Outstanding Community Tennis Association.

Criswell focuses on all players. In 2010, he was awarded the Wheelchair Tennis Outstanding Volunteer, which goes to an individual that has gone above and beyond in providing outstanding service to the wheelchair tennis community.


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Women’s Pro Tennis to Grace Gold River

Source: Michael Burchett, Gold River Racquet Club  |  2016-07-08

Anhelina Kalinina. For the third year, the tournament is will be part of the US Open Wild Card Series.

Some of the world’s most promising women tennis players will descend on the Gold River Racquet Club to battle for $50,000 in prize money and valuable ranking points at the 5th Annual FSP Gold River Women’s Challenger/USTA tournament from July 17 through July 24.

The tournament, part of the USTA Pro Circuit, is the only $50,000 event scheduled for the Sacramento region in 2016. It’s expected to attract players ranked between 100 and 600 in the world from 8 to 9 different countries.

USTA Pro Circuit tournaments are a series of entry-level professional tournaments offering prize money from $10,000 to $100,000. Challenger- level events are stepping stones to WTA Tour events and Grand Slam tournaments like Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. Each year, more than half the players in the U.S. Open Women’s draw have either played or are currently playing on the USTA Pro Circuit.

For the third year, the tournament is will be part of the US Open Wild Card Series. The American player with the best performance over the course of three consecutive tournaments will receive a Wild Card entry into the Main Draw of the US Open in New York at the end of August. FSP Gold River Women's Challenger is the 2nd tournament in this series with Stockton, CA and Lexington, KY being the others.

Sacramento-based FSP (Freight Solutions Provider) has again signed on as the tournament headline sponsor. Founded by Lielanie Steers in 1989, FSP is the nation’s largest female minority-owned freight forwarder in the United States. An award-winning company that embraces the diverse talents, backgrounds, cultures, and lifestyles of its employees, FSP is consistently recognized as one of the top employers in the Sacramento Metropolitan Area.

All proceeds from the tournament will be donated to the Sacramento Regional Tennis Foundation, which promotes the sport of tennis among youth in the Sacramento region. Programs are held after school and during school hours. The Foundation provides all of the necessary equipment and leadership. The tournament also supports Faces of Tomorrow and St. John’s Program for Real Change with special evenings for each of these charities.

The FSP Gold River USTA $50,000 Women’s Challenger features a singles main draw of 32 players and a doubles main draw of 16 teams. Main draw play begins Tuesday, July 19, and concludes with the final matches on Sunday, July 24. The qualifying tournament begins Sunday, July 17.

Matches will be scheduled throughout the day and evening during the tournament. General admission for spectators is free during qualifying rounds and all main draw day sessions. Admission is $10 per person for evening sessions Thursday – Sunday. Tickets are available at www.goldriverchallenger.com and Gold River Racquet Club during the event. Gold River Racquet Club is located at 2201 Gold Rush Drive, Gold River.

For more information about the FSP Gold River USTA $50,000 Women’s Challenger Tennis Tournament, go to the website at www.goldriverchallenger.com.


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Strong Showing for Cordova Boys Hoops

By Mike Bush  |  2016-07-06

Cordova boys basketball head coach Fletcher Johnson, shown here talking to his team during a Sierra Valley Conference game last winter, had his squad take part in the 9th annual Sheldon-Franklin Summer Jam toward the end of last month. 
--Photo by Rick Sloan

In recent weeks, the Cordova High School boys basketball team has been playing in many weekend tournaments.

But toward the end of June, the Lancers played in one of their biggest tourneys this summer.

The 9th annual Sheldon-Franklin Summer Jam tipped-off that featured 70 high school boys’ basketball teams. The teams taking part are not only Cordova and Sacramento area squads, but also from the Bay Area. The tourney is being played at five Elk Grove high school and middle schools.

“It’s the biggest local tourney we’ve been in,” said Cordova head coach Fletcher Johnson prior to the tourney. “We’ll be playing teams that have guys who are 6-foot-8, 6’7. We’re not seeing guys like this in (the Sierra Valley Conference). We’ll be playing some of the better teams in Northern California.”

The Lancers went 3-1 in pool play action; Cordova played all of its games at Franklin High School of Elk Grove. Cordova played Freedom of Oakley, Brookside Christian, McClatchy and Turlock.

Their winning record moved the Lancers into the Gold Division of the tourney; there were a Platinum, Silver, Bronze and Copper. Taking on Sierra Foothill League power Del Oro, the Lancers’ run in the tourney came to an end with a 44-28 loss.

Going into the tourney, Cordova has produced an above .500 record in preparing for the upcoming winter season.


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Lancers Shine at Passing Tournament

By Mike Bush  |  2016-07-06

Cordova football head coach Darren Nill watches over his players in drills at Lancers Stadium last week. 
--Photo by Rick Sloan

In the last three seasons, the Cordova High School football teams have lived by the pass, with keeping the ball on the ground at times.

Although the names have changed, the theme of an air attack continues for the Lancers, who competed at the Rosemont 7-on-7 Tournament last month. The passing tourney featured eight area high school football teams putting their quarterbacks, running backs, tight ends and wide receivers on offense against opposing team’s defensive players at outside and inside linebackers, defensive backs and safeties.

Competing at the tourney with Cordova were McClatchy, Davis, Valley, Laguna Creek, Monterey Trail, Natomas and host Rosemont. In pool play of the one-day tourney, the Lancers played Valley and Laguna Creek, going 2-0 in pool play.

“They were pumped up,” said Cordova head coach Darren Nill of his players.

Cordova beat Monterey Trail in the semifinal game of the tourney.

“We had a great game,” said Nill of his squad playing the Mustangs in the title game. “It really was competitive.

Advancing to the title game, Cordova faced Davis, which plays in the Delta League. The Lancers won the game for the passing tourney title.

The Lancers was faced with defending and running against the Blue Devils’ tight end/defensive end Tucker Fisk. Standing at 6-foot-4 and 255 pounds, Fisk has committed to Stanford after he graduates from Davis next spring. His father, Jason, also played football at The Farm in the early 1990s and later played in the National Football League (NFL).

“He’s a monster,” said Nill of the younger Fisk. “He was a handful for my guys.”

One of the pluses Nill liked about this tourney was he and his assistant coaches had recognized was speed.

“We’re going to be a fast team,” Nill said. “Last year, we had several good receivers but our depth wasn’t that great. This year, we have nine receivers that can run in and out of the game. We have a lot of depth at receiver.”

For the last three seasons, Unique Perez was the Lancers’ quarterback who passed for 3,085 yards and 35 touchdowns. Now that Perez has graduated from Cordova and is planning to attend and continue to play football at American River College this fall, the battle for the Lancers’ new signal caller has begun with in senior Justin Martin and sophomore Xavier Johnson, who started on the Cordova JV squad as a freshman last fall that posted an 8-2 record. Johnson took all of the snaps at the 7-on-7 passing tourney.

“We have pretty good competition at quarterback,” said Nill of the duo.


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CHS Football Finding Success in Weight Room

By Mike Bush  |  2016-06-16

Strength & Conditioning Coach Vince Mini talking to Sophmore Receiver Raymond Fite. Spotting is Sr. Linebacker Isaiah Wimberly. 
--Photo by Rick Sloan

In January, returning players on the 2016 Cordova High School football team, along with freshmen who will be sophomores playing on the junior varsity squad, started their season in the weight room.

But in recent weeks, the Lancers have stepped up their workouts – with the help of a former NFL player and friends.

For the last two weeks, Cordova gridders have been put through intense workouts with Vince Mini, who runs Mini’s House of Pain in El Dorado Hills, inside CHS’ weight room. Mini and his staff have worked out Lancer players at CHS’ weight room three days a week.

Since the 2000s, Mini and his staff have trained current and former high school and college student-athletes, as well as adults. Mini is a former NFL lineman who played for the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1980s, and also played in the defunct United States Football League.

“Vince comes in three days a week and trains our guys,” said Cordova coach Darren Nill, entering his second season at the helm. “He’s train the best athletes in the world. The weight room has been crowded.”

Nill noted that there were approximately 60 varsity and JV Lancer football players who were in the weight room with Mini and his crew on Monday.

“He’s extremely motivational,” said Nill of Mini, who is overseeing the workouts with his assistant Gabe Jackson. “What we have is their A team. Those two guys are awesome motivators. My guys are responding.”

The response has been positive that goes outside the weight room, Nill explained.

“My kids take that positive influence out of the weight room and onto the field,” Nill said.

There are 44 players on the CHS varsity football team taking part in the weight room and field workouts, and 40 on the JV squad. Nill expects the number to increase on the latter squad in upcoming weeks.

Nill and his coaching staff will continue to work out their squads in the weight room and football field through July 1st through July 9th. That’s when the players and coaches will take a week off.

The varsity Lancers, however, will be taking part in Rancho Cordova’s Fourth of July parade on Monday, July 4th. After the week off, the players and coaches return for two more weeks before the dead period begin for all Sac-Joaquin Section fall sports teams.

On Monday, Aug. 8th, the squads will officially begin practices for the season. Cordova will play three of its five non-league games at home this season that includes the Week 0 opener against Rio Americano on Aug. 26th.

Note: This is the first part of upcoming stories on this year’s Cordova High School football team preparing for the upcoming season. Stay tuned for next Friday’s issue.


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