Best Of :: Sports & Recreation
Located in the heart of Anaheim, Pearson Park is well-known to generations of Anaheimers, who take all of its treasures for granted. But if you haven't been, you're missing out on one of the more charming expanses of open space in the county, one that even drew in Huell Howser a couple of years ago. Whether it's tennis courts, old-school baseball diamonds, a garden featuring hundreds of cacti, a WPA-era statue of Madame Helena Modjeska, the historic amphitheater (hosting concert series again after decades of disuse) and ponds, Pearson Park is a great place to relax, play, grill carne asada, or just take peaceful strolls. And given it's just down the street from the police station, there's never any worry of bad guys messing up your evening. Imagine that—a stroll in the park in Anaheim that doesn't involve Disneyland!
It should've been a bad year for the Ducks. Newly minted captain Ryan Getzlaf took a puck to the face in a game against Phoenix in December, causing him to spend weeks on the injured reserve list and the team to lose its already-shaky focus. Perry, the Ducks' right wing, stepped up and brought the team to fourth seed in the West, allowing it to advance to the playoffs. Perry's no-holds-barred style around the opponent's net—he's one of the last power forwards and has a mean forecheck—paid off, even though he frequently had to be scraped off the ice by his teammates. All told, he scored 48 assists and a league-high 50 goals during the regular season, most during the last 20 games of the season, with an additional two goals and six assists during the playoffs. Not surprisingly, Perry got the Hart Trophy as the NHL's Most Valuable Player for the 2010-11 season; now that we know what he can do, the heat will be on for the upcoming season.
Yep, we're going with the Weave again, but this year, we're laying off the stats (which clearly indicate he's not only the Angels' best player, but also one of the best pitchers in baseball). This time, he wins for being old-school. We'll answer the back-and-forth about Weaver's response to two Tigers batters showing him up after their July 31 home runs with a quote, but not one about Weaver. "Barry Bonds?" ex-umpire Doug Harvey once said. "I'll tell you what: If he hit a home run off [Bob] Gibson or [Don] Drysdale and stood and admired it, they'd knock that earring out of his ear the next time up." But seriously, Jered, get a haircut.
If sports are really half-mental, the amount of emotional baggage in the mind of Lynn Walker would have crippled most collegiate athletes, leaving them on the floor, hugging their knees to their chest and bawling their eyes out. She lost both her father and her mother in traumatic fashion, and last year, she found out that what she thought was a lingering injury in her calf was actually a cancerous tumor. It seemed life had nothing but unfortunate circumstances to present to the now-50-year-old woman. Walker was once a promising junior tennis player in an area of Florida that churned out talent. (She once hit with John McEnroe, before anyone outside Florida knew his name; in true McEnroe fashion, he called her a cunt, and she left the court in tears.) During her senior year of high school, Walker was set to attend an out-of-state university on a scholarship when her father passed away in the arms of her mother; a femoral artery ruptured, and he bled out onto the family's white rug. Unwilling to leave her mother's side during such a tough time, Walker dropped out of high school and took a job with a high-end fashion company, rising quickly through its ranks. Six years after her mother passed away, Walker, then 47, decided it was time to get a college degree (she had already gotten her GED). She attended Santiago Canyon College before settling at Costa Mesa's Vanguard University and surprised even herself by landing a spot on the women's tennis team—after more than 20 years of not picking up a racket. In her final season of competition—when opponents still occasionally questioned whether a coach was on the opposite end of the court—she helped the team make it to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Women's Tennis National Championships tournament, competing in both singles and doubles. In May, Walker attended the graduation for the college degree she had long coveted. Next up for Walker: planning her wedding.
Skating, scars and skimpy clothing—we can't think of anything better to watch on a Saturday night. Since 2006, the OC Roller Girls have been bringing fierce fun to the county, always ready to suit up in knee pads and booty shorts and, their words, "knock a bitch out." For the gutsy gals, who have monikers such as Chick Norris and Ivanna Cocktail, the derby is more than a sexy exhibition on wheels; it's a movement. The organization is dedicated to helping community nonprofits, fostering teamwork and showing that women can, indeed, kick ass.
In the looming, elephantine shadow of NCAA Division I colossus Cal State Fullerton—and the somewhat-more-elongated, bushy-tailed shadow of the emerging UC Irvine program—Tom Tereschuk has quietly built his non-scholarship baseball squad into a pint-sized powerhouse. A former star pitcher and quarterback at Lakewood High and Long Beach City College, Tereschuk went on to pitch at University of San Diego. After building a stellar reputation as a high-school coach at Servite and Villa Park (he was honored as California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section Coach of the Year in 2000 and 2002), he debuted as Chapman University's coach in 2003 and promptly led his team to a national championship that same year (its first in 35 years). In 2011, his squad made it all the way to the final game before succumbing to Ohio's dreaded Marietta College. (Fucking Pioneers.) During that campaign, Tereschuk topped the 300-win plateau. That's exactly the kind of performance that got him named this year's American Baseball Coaches Association's NCAA Division III West Region Coach of the Year—to go along with the six other times he's earned that title. He has a reputation for toughness, but he also knows when to be supportive. "I remember as a freshman, during regionals, I struck out, and I was afraid that [Tereschuk] was going to be upset," infielder Tyler Hadzinsky told The Panther newspaper this year. "Instead, he gave me the confidence to keep going and was very encouraging. . . . I ended up hitting a home run that game." Good job, coach. And get those Pioneers next year.
"If it is worth doing, it is worth doing right." These words are spoken by coach Mike Schade during soccer practices at Sunny Hills High School. They're also tacked on the wall of his classroom, where he teaches biology. He attributes his success in class and on the pitch to his parents, who taught him the importance of doing one's part to the best of one's ability. Schade's best has brought Sunny Hills 12 Freeway League titles in his 23 seasons of coaching. Each year, Schade scrimmages against Servite, his Division I alma mater, to ready his team for the new season. But he might have become too good of a role model for one player: His son, a Brea Olinda High Wildcat, scored the winning goal against Sunny Hills last year.
Determined to teach people of all ages the ultimate way to make music with the ocean every day, Steven "Sli Dawg" Chew became a coach at the Laguna Beach Surf School. Popular for his humor and artistic perspective about surfing, he shows his students the basics of riding a wave without forgetting to have fun, even if they become pros. Paying an hourly rate of $80 for private surf lessons might seem a bit steep, but this waterman's time is definitely worth it. The fee includes equipment; mind-opening lectures about marine biology, physical fitness, water safety and ocean awareness; and tons of laughter and fun at the mesmerizing beaches of Laguna. Along with Billabong, Sli-Dawg has founded weekly surf camps that take place during breaks and offer lessons for kids with genetic diseases and other special conditions.
The things Chuck Patterson does for fun are good fodder for answers to questions such as "How would you want to die?" Riding a stand-up paddleboard at one of the world's most frightening and technical waves, Teahupoo. "Hucking" oneself off a more-than-140-foot snow-covered cliff. Paddling with great white sharks, then going onshore to get a video camera to capture proof. Being dragged into a 30-foot wave at Maverick's, a revered big-wave spot that breaks along a rocky cliff, while wearing water skis and holding snow-skiing poles. While most of us would consider these exciting ways to depart this life, Patterson, a Dana Point resident, does them for the adrenalin rush. How badass does your bungee-jumping experience seem now?
In surf-speak, the Gudauskas brothers are perpetual "frothers." No, they're not foaming at the mouth like a rabid dog; they're just utterly excited about the lives they've created for themselves that circulate around time spent in the ocean riding waves. One renowned local shaper refers to them as "the mile of smile," for obvious reasons. Whether the trio is out at Lower Trestles for a free surf or in a post-contest heat interview, Pat, Dane and Tanner Gudauskas look like they're walking advertisements for Crest. Each of the San Clemente locals is a sponsored, talented surfer in a different realm of the game: Pat is competing on the Association of Surfing Professionals World Tour; Tanner is attempting to requalify for that tour; and Dane is the wild card, growing his white-blond hair long and chasing massive waves around the globe. Though they live together, if they are in town, it's usually just a brief stop to repack their bags, eat at their favorite spots and sleep in their own beds before departing on a swing through Australia or Europe, chasing rating points or for a sponsor's photo trip. We'd "froth," too, if it were our life.
What's a "grom"? Well, think of a kid riding waves and shredding hills just as well as—or better than—older pros. If you still don't get it, here's a good example: Born and raised in Laguna Beach, 14-year-old Chance Gaul is already a world downhill-skateboarding champion, as well as a junior national champion. His fearless competitiveness, enthusiasm and athletic skills have made him stand out in the worlds of professional surfing, skimming and skating, earning him 16 sponsorships with companies such as ABEC 11 Skateboard Wheels, XS Energy Drink, Grape Skimboards and Radar Skateboard. If this is how far he has gone as a grom, imagine what he can earn once he reaches the age of a pro.
No, the La Habra Heights native and current resident didn't get the big break he wanted. But he lasted seven shows into the Golf Channel's Big Break: Indian Wells before being eliminated. The exposure gave an enormous boost to his band, the New Grooves, who combine original songs with covers and what he describes as "California-soul" and for whom Lepak serves as lead singer/guitarist. But he considers himself a golfer first; he even offers lessons. He earned Pac-10 Freshman of the Year honors in 1999 while playing for Oregon State's golf team, and he has eked out a living playing small tours since turning pro in 2003. He landed the gig on Big Break, a Survivor-like reality-TV show in which contestants compete in golf-skill challenges, with one eliminated each week, by playing an original song he'd written the night before the audition. Though he didn't win the $55,000 and exempt status at the PGA Tour's Zurich Classic of New Orleans next year, he's only 31. Oh, and did we mention Lepak is also a painter?