November 19, 2015
By Amanda Scurlock
View Park Rugby player Nia Toliver has received the title, High School Athlete of the Month by Sports Illustrated. Representatives from the US Marines and members of the men’s and women’s Rugby national team attended a special ceremony for Toliver at the campus of View Park Preparatory Accelerated Charter High School on Friday November 20. Toliver’s mastery of Rugby has given her numerous accolades and camp invitations.
The honors student has been invited to Olympic development training camps and made ties with the USA men’s and women’s national teams, Sports Illustrated reports.
“They were really nice and supportive, they treat me like a younger sister,” said Toliver. “They’re just accepting, especially because I proved myself to them.”
Before high school, Toliver would watch her sister, Rashida, play Rugby. Toliver tried basketball, but her playing style conflicted with the rules of gameplay.
“She’s aggressive and often fouled when she was playing basketball,” said Toliver’s mom, Sheri.
Toliver began playing Rugby in the eighth grade and received an invitation to travel with View Park’s team to New Zealand. Although she was unable to attend the trip, Toliver seized several travel opportunities as a high school student at View Park.
“Nia has been a phenomenal athlete right from the start. We knew that she had huge potential,” said head coach Stuart Krohn.
During her junior year, Toliver lived in New Zealand for five months to get “intensive” training, according to Krohn.
“She played on a city championship basketball team when she was nine years old,” said Toliver’s father, Nick. “She’s been accustomed to winning for a long time, developing a winning attitude, the discipline that it takes to move forward. The hard work is always there.”
While playing with the high school All-Americans, Toliver injured her shoulder. To help rehabilitate the injury, Toliver and her father created exercise equipment for her to use in their backyard. One apparatus is a power sled that gives Toliver the pushing power needed to play Rugby.
“A power sled basically is a full body workout you can’t really over exhaust you muscles when you do that, so I can do that everyday,” said Toliver. “That’s a really big help.”
The View Park rugby team plays for the southern California conference of an organization named USA Rugby, the governing body of the sport in America. The boys Rugby team reached the finals two years in a row, according to Krohn.
“We played against Saint John Bosco in the finals last year,” Krohn said.
Krohn is also the director of Rugby for Inner City Education Foundation Public Schools. Rugby season starts in December and ends in April. Toliver believes that both teams have strong players and their advantage is the strong sense of comradery among players.
“Every time we go on a trip together, we become like a family,” said Toliver. “We all bond really well because of Rugby.”
November 12, 2015
By SCHUYLER DIXON
Running back Joseph Randle was suspended four games by the NFL under the league’s personal conduct policy Tuesday, one week after he was released by the Dallas Cowboys.
Randle was already away from the team to deal with unspecified personal issues when he was released by the Cowboys last Tuesday. As a third-year player in Dallas, Randle started the first six games this season.
The NFL had investigated Randle’s arrest in February in his hometown of Wichita, Kansas, though police declined to pursue charges against the running back after a domestic disturbance complaint.
It was the second arrest in four months for Randle, who was detained on a shoplifting charge at a Dallas-area mall when police said he tried to take a bottle of cologne and a pack of underwear from a department store.
He got deferred adjudication in the case from October 2014, and the misdemeanor could be dismissed if he stays out of trouble for the next two months.
Randle, who cleared waivers and can sign with any team, backed up DeMarco Murray for two years and was the Cowboys’ first choice to replace the 2014 NFL rushing champion when Murray left for NFC East rival Philadelphia in free agency.
After averaging 6.7 yards per carry in limited duty behind Murray last season, Randle rushed for 315 yards with a much-lower 4.1 average as the lead running back this year.
Randle left the team’s facility Oct. 28 after coach Jason Garrett announced Darren McFadden as the starter following the team’s first 100-yard game of the season against the New York Giants. Garrett said Randle’s absence was excused, and Randle didn’t return to the team before he was released almost a week later.
A fifth-round pick out of Oklahoma State in 2013, Randle ran afoul of the coaches in the offseason when he said “there was a lot of meat on the bone,” a suggestion that Murray could have done more despite breaking Emmitt Smith's franchise record with 1,845 yards rushing last season.
Randle has 822 career yards with nine touchdowns in 35 games, including eight starts.
November 05, 2015
By HOWARD FENDRICH
Dusty Baker got another managing job, this time with the Washington Nationals. And Major League Baseball got another black skipper, something the man in charge of the sport called “encouraging.”
The Nationals announced Baker's hiring on Tuesday, nearly a month after firing Matt Williams when the club missed the playoffs.
With Baker joining the Nationals, baseball avoids what would have been its first start to a season since 1988 with zero black managers.
“I am certain that the Nationals, like all of our clubs, hired the best person for the job. It is encouraging that in this case the best person turned out to be African-American,” baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred wrote in an email to The Associated Press. “This is a positive step and I am intent on making continued progress on diversity in the managerial ranks going forward.”
When the Seattle Mariners fired Lloyd McClendon last month, it left no black managers in the major leagues. No season had started without at least one since 1988; in April that year, Frank Robinson replaced Cal Ripken Sr. with the Baltimore Orioles. Robinson later managed the Nationals.
“Dusty Baker is highly qualified, has years of managerial experience and is a proven leader,” Manfred wrote.
In the 66-year-old Baker, the Nationals get someone who has worked 20 seasons as a manager in the majors and whose 1,671-1,504 record — a .526 winning percentage — includes the second-most victories among active managers. He led the San Francisco Giants to the 2002 World Series and reached the postseason a half-dozen other times.
He becomes the second-oldest manager in the majors at the moment, a few weeks younger than Terry Collins, who just led the New York Mets to the World Series.
Baker also managed the Chicago Cubs and, most recently, the Cincinnati Reds, who fired him in 2013. He has a reputation for being able to handle different clubhouse personalities, including managing Barry Bonds while with the Giants.
Baker won NL Manager of the Year honors in 1993, 1997 and 2000. He retired as a player in 1986 after 19 years in the majors, winning a World Series title with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1981.
“We were looking for a manager to help us achieve our ultimate goal of competing for a World Series championship,” Nationals owner Ted Lerner said in a statement. “During our broad search process we met with many qualified candidates, and ultimately it was clear that Dusty's deep experience was the best fit for our ballclub.”
The Nationals were said to have settled on hiring former San Diego Padres manager Bud Black last week before contract talks with him broke down.
Washington said general manager Mike Rizzo and Baker will wait until Thursday to hold a news conference; Rizzo spoke about Williams’ firing on a conference call.
In the news release about Baker's hiring, Rizzo said: “We are excited to bring him to Washington and put his steady demeanor, knowledge and many years in the game to work in our favor.”
Rizzo let Williams go a day after Washington, which had World Series aspirations, finished the regular season at 83-79, seven games behind the New York Mets in the NL East.
Williams, who played under Baker with the Giants, had never managed in the majors when he was hired for the 2014 season. The Nationals won their division and he was voted NL Manager of the Year; a division series loss to San Francisco followed.
Williams then presided over a 2015 season filled with defeats, discord and the embarrassing spectacle of a dugout dustup between NL MVP front-runner Bryce Harper and teammate Jonathan Papelbon during a game the day after the team was eliminated from playoff contention.
Williams said he had no idea of the extent of the skirmish until much later in the day, even though he was in the dugout at the time, Williams said he hadn’t been aware of exactly what happened — including that Papelbon grabbed Harper by the throat. None of his players or coaches told him about it right away, and he said he hadn’t asked to know more.
On the day he announced that Williams would not return, Rizzo was asked what sought in Williams’ replacement.
“Communication in the clubhouse, communication within the coaching staff, is vital,” Rizzo said on Oct. 5. “Experience is always helpful. It always adds a layer of expertise to anybody’s resume. We feel that where we’re at in our timetable of winning a championship, we certainly would lean toward someone that has some type of managerial experience, especially at the major league level.”
AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum in New York contributed to this report.
October 29, 2015
By Shannen Hill
Basketball player Chris Paul brought tears to the eyes of a group of teenagers in the Brotherhood Crusade afterschool program when he partnered with State Farm and Jordan Brand’s WINGS to donate a computer lab with state of the art equipment on Monday, Oct. 26.
The Brotherhood Crusade is a community center located near Leimert Park that raises offers youth job training, teen counseling, scholarships and more. The computer lab will feature state of the art technology that will allow the students to work on their research and presentation skills. “This small token is for you guys to learn and enjoy because one of the things that we always talk about is just because a kid is on this side of town, doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t have the same advantages as kids from another side of town,” Chris Paul said. “So you guys have it which comes with the responsibility of taking care of it. And the only other thing I’m going to ask y’all to do is teach me how to use it!”
The computer lab comes complete with 25PC and iMac desktop computers, along with 25 Macbook Pros for mobile learning. The computers have various programs, including Microsoft Office and programs for music and graphic design. The lab also comes equipped with two promethean smart boards, which are touchscreen and full of software to create flip charts, use hypertext to virtually write on the boards and to overall grow the students’ presentation skills.
“Technology is the new age and having up to date technology will give the students the opportunity to really strive and get access to things that they need access to,” said Hope Robinson, a youth advocate with Brotherhood Crusade.
The students were excited and honored to have the basketball superstar spend the hour with them, figuring out how to work the smart boards, signing T-shirts and speaking to them about responsibility.
“And the event wasn’t just about the technology. It was also about the impact that Chris Paul had on the youth and it seems like they were really impacted by what he had to say to them,” Robinson said.
This event was the first under the new Exist to Assist Community Program partnership between the State Farm, Jordan Brand’s WINGS and the Chris Paul Family Foundation. Throughout the next year, the program will reach multiple US cities to identify local needs like refurbishing schools to building new basketball courts and everything in between.
“Getting here wasn’t done on my own. I had my parents, uncles, aunts, cousins, friends, coaches, teachers,” Paul said. “Everyone played a role in getting me to where I am and we do this strictly to provide an extra tool for them to achieve what they want to achieve.”
The event was full of smiles as students surrounded the computers and explored ways to use the smart boards. Not only were members of Brotherhood Crusade appreciative of the partnership, but all of the foundations involved appreciated being able to give to the community program.
“We thank Chris Paul and his foundation. We thank State Farm. We thank Brand Jordan,” said Curtis Silvers, executive director of Brotherhood Crusade. “They are now members of the Brotherhood Crusade family, we believe that we’re a part of their family and it was a great day all in all.”
For more information on how you can get involved with Brotherhood Crusade, visit www.brotherhoodcrusade.org. For more information on Exist to Assist, visit www.chrispaul3.com.