November 17, 2022

By Amanda Scurlock

Sports Editor

 

West Los Angeles College track and field athlete Chandler Smith has been competing in sprints since an early age. At six-years-old, she started playing tennis, but seeing her brother compete in track piqued her interest in the sport.

“Then, I instantly fell in love with it,” Smith said. “It’s been track ever since then.”

Growing up, Smith was a member of the Rancho Track Club, which allowed her to compete in the Junior Olympics. She mentioned how her experience with the Rancho Track Club is something she will not forget.

“It taught me so much at a young age, like how to work with other people and teamwork,” Smith said. “It created really strong relationships that I still have today.”

Smith took her talents to Palisades High School where she helped the Dolphins girls’ track and field team reach the CIF State Championship for two consecutive years.

As a freshman, she reached the State meet as a member of the 4x400m relay team. She returned the next year with the 4x100m relay team. Smith noted that reaching the State championship is an achievement that she is the proudest of.

“That was a pretty big deal for me because I used to watch it on TV before I got to high school,” Smith said. “So, actually being there and running on the track felt really surreal.”

Along with relays, Smith has competed in the 100m, 200m and 400m along with hurdling events and the long jump. While she was a successful athlete at Palisades, Smith also had to speak up for the needs of the Black students on campus.

“At my school, it was a very small group of Black people, so we were kind of not being represented as well as other places,” she said. “It made me a stronger person and really to take things with a grain of salt.”

Smith is a business major; she was inspired to pursue business after going on a field trip to an agency in Century City during her middle school years. A Black sports marketer worked at the agency.

“I thought it was so cool seeing somebody of my color in a nice job, loves to go work every day and I was like ‘that’s cool,’ ” she said. “I’ve always wanted to do something connected to sports since I’ve always been in sports.”

Business 101 at West L.A. was one of Smith’s favorite classes. The professor of the class made it interesting and she was fascinated with learning about marketing.

“It helps me communicate with my parents better because they know this information already,” Smith said. “I can expand my knowledge by talking to them as well.”

Outside of athletics and academics, Smith enjoys drawing. Another favorite class was an Advanced Placement art class she took while in high school. Smith taught herself how to draw in the fourth grade.

“My teacher recommended me for advanced art my sophomore year,” she said. "That was more challenging than A.P. Art actually, but it was with the same teacher. It was just more drawing in advanced art.”

Category: Sports

November 17, 2022

By Amanda Scurlock

Sports Editor

 

With the Olympic Summer Games in Los Angeles being six years away, the City Department of Recreation and Parks is providing inclusive athletic opportunities for young Angelenos with the PlayLA program.

The PlayLA Youth and Adaptive Youth Sports Program is an initiative that offers sports programming for youth from 5-17 years old of all abilities. The LA28 Olympic and Paralympic Games Organizing Committee and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) helped create the initiative.

PlayLA recently partnered with Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) to host a para surfing clinic at Venice Beach.

“Back in 2018, the mayor, the council, and the International Olympic Committee negotiated funding for programming leading up to the Olympics in the tune of 160 million,” said Recreation and Parks General Manager Jimmy Kim.

 

“This program is just going to grow and more youth will have access to this type of program.”

Arelle Middleton, 14, competes in wheelchair basketball and recently joined the varsity track and field team at Los Osos High School. She was invited to the clinic by her teammate.

“I like that it’s something I usually never do, it’s something very new to me,” Middleton said. "I think it’s good because it shows kids more opportunities and new things they are able to do.”

The CAF implemented the para surfing program for the participants, the organization supports over 100 different sports, according to CAF programs manager and two-time Paralympic gold medalist Rudy Garcia-Tolson.

 

“There’s never been a better time to be an athlete who has a physical challenge because there’s a level of support that is out there, the number of clinics that we’re putting on,” Garcia-Tolson said.

“It’s just great to continue to build that movement.”

Prior to the clinic, a grant was presented to 13-year-old Andrea Cifuentes who was born with Spina Bifida.

She noted how being in the ocean makes her feel calm.

“I like how peaceful it makes me and I like to ride the waves,” Cifuentes noted. “When I went to the last program, I saw two dolphins and I found that really amazing.”

CAF Athlete and Team USA World Para Surf champion Liv Stone also spoke to the participants about her experiences training and competing.

Over the summer, PlayLA offered wheelchair tennis and para-equestrian along with para surfing. During the fall, their programming includes blind soccer, para-equestrian, and adaptive skateboarding.”

Category: Sports

November 10, 2022

By Amanda Scurlock

Sports Editor

 

Carter Morgan enjoys sprinting and has the skills to compete in elite track meets.  Over the summer, he was a contender in the 7-8 100m and 200m events and he also competed in the javelin throw.

Morgan is a member of the Elite Diamonds track club, he noted how the club gave him the skills to excel.

“If I make a mistake, they helped me out,” Morgan said. "I’m glad that I have a track club to work with … my coach taught me how to run properly.”

A valuable lesson Morgan learned is to run on his toes, which helped him run faster. When he competed in the California State games in July, Morgan made a personal record in the 100m with a 14.45-second time and in the 200m with a 31.25-second time. His PR in the 200m put him in second place.

During that track meet, Carter also competed in the Javelin.

“It was a bit complicated at first,” he said about learning the technique of throwing the javelin. “There’s actually a few ways to hold the javelin.”

During the California State Games, Morgan made a personal record of 57’11 and came in fourth place in the event.

Along with competing on the track, Morgan works hard on his academics. His favorite subjects are math, social studies, spelling, and reading. Over the summer, he worked on a book report on his favorite book “Fantastic Mr. Fox” by Roald Dahl. The eight-year-old Morgan typed his report on his own. He noted how typing makes him feel like an adult.

“I’m learning a lot of stuff, I got through a lot of stuff,” Morgan said. “Now I know more so now I’m kind of glad that I have homework.”

 

Morgan also competes in flag football and golf. Outside of academics and athletics, Morgan enjoys singing, dancing, and acting.

“I’ve been on a movie called “The Long Weekend,”” he said. “I’ve been on a few commercials, a Ball Park Franks commercial, Mcdonald’s commercial.”

While Morgan experienced success in track and field, he also endured challenges. He recalled a time when he came in last during a race.

“On the next practice, I was trying hard to get better,” Morgan said. "I started overcoming it and I got way faster.”

Morgan desires to become an Olympian when he gets older. The athletes that he looks up to are Sha’Carri Richardson, Usain Bolt, and Michael Jordan.

Category: Sports

November 10, 2022

By Tim Reynolds

Associated Press

 

Nike has suspended its relationship with Kyrie Irving and canceled its plans to release his next signature shoe, the latest chapter in the ongoing fallout since the Brooklyn Nets guard tweeted a link to a film containing antisemitic material.

The shoe giant announced that it will halt its relationship with Irving, who has been suspended by the Nets for what the team called a repeated failure to “unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs.''

The Nets banning Irving without pay for at least five games, and a day later, Nike made its decision. Those actions followed widespread criticism – from, among many others, the Anti-Defamation League and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

“At Nike, we believe there is no place for hate speech and we condemn any form of antisemitism,” the Beaverton, Oregon-based company said. “To that end, we've made the decision to suspend our relationship with Kyrie Irving effective immediately and will no longer launch the Kyrie 8.”

Irving has had a signature line with Nike since 2014.

“We are deeply saddened and disappointed by the situation and its impact on everyone,” Nike said.

Irving signed with Nike in 2011, shortly after becoming the No. 1 pick in that year's NBA draft. Irving's first signature shoe was released three years later, and the popularity of the Kyrie line led to him making a reported $11 million annually just from the Nike endorsement.

The Kyrie 8 was expected to be released in the next week. Previous models of his shoes were still for sale on the Nike website.

Irving posted a tweet – which has since been deleted – last week with a link to the documentary “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America,” which includes Holocaust denial and conspiracy theories about Jews. In a contentious postgame interview session last Saturday, Irving defended his right to post what he wants.

The fallout only continued from there. The NBA put out a statement over the weekend that didn't name Irving but denounced all forms of hate speech. Fans wearing “Fight Antisemitism'' shirts occupied some courtside seats at the Brooklyn-Indiana game on Monday night, a day after he took down the tweet.

The Nets and coach Steve Nash parted ways Tuesday, Nov. 1, a development that has been overshadowed by the Irving saga.

Irving said he opposes all forms of hate, and he and the Nets each announced that they would each donate $500,000 toward groups that work to eradicate it. Silver then issued a new statement calling on Irving by name to apologize, and Irving refused to give a direct answer when asked Thursday, Nov. 3, if he has antisemitic beliefs.

That, evidently, was the last straw for the Nets, who suspended him. Hours later, Irving posted an apology on Instagram for not explaining the specific beliefs he agreed and disagreed with when he posted the documentary.

“To All Jewish families and Communities that are hurt and affected from my post, I am deeply sorry to have caused you pain, and I apologize,'' Irving wrote. “I initially reacted out of emotion to being unjustly labeled Anti-Semitic, instead of focusing on the healing process of my Jewish Brothers and Sisters that were hurt from the hateful remarks made in the Documentary.''

A day later, Nike - which had also been criticized for not moving more swiftly - took action.

Irving becomes the second celebrity in less than two weeks to lose a major shoe deal over antisemitism. Adidas parted ways with Ye - the artist formerly known as Kanye West - late last month, a move the German company said would result in about $250 million in losses this year after stopping production of its line of Yeezy products as well as halting payments to Ye and his companies.

For weeks, Ye made antisemitic comments in interviews and on social media, including a Twitter post that he would soon go “death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE,'' an apparent reference to the U.S. defense readiness condition scale known as DEFCON.

Irving has expressed no shortage of controversial opinions during his career. He repeatedly questioned whether the Earth was round before eventually apologizing to science teachers. Last year, his refusal to get a COVID-19 vaccine led to him being banned from playing in most of the Nets' home games.

The Nets played at Washington on Friday, Nov. 4, winning 128-86 without Irving. The 42-point win matched the fourth-largest in Nets franchise history.

Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks said earlier Friday that Irving's apology was a step forward, but many other steps will be required before he can resume playing.

“There is going to be some remedial steps and measures that have been put in place for him to obviously seek some counseling ... from dealing with some anti-hate and some Jewish leaders within our community,'' Marks said.

“He's going to have to sit down with them, he's going to have to sit down with the organization after this, and we'll evaluate and see if this is the right opportunity to bring him back.''

Category: Sports

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