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All Good Things Must End

Posted: March 3, 2008 1:33 a.m.
Updated: May 4, 2008 5:02 a.m.
Jordan Taylor, Valencia High PitcherMost fun to watch Jordan Taylor, Valencia High PitcherMost fun to watch
Jordan Taylor, Valencia High PitcherMost fun to watch
Kelli Lewis, Hart High point guardToughest Athlete Kelli Lewis, Hart High point guardToughest Athlete
Kelli Lewis, Hart High point guardToughest Athlete

The boss got two weeks notice. You readerfolk unfortunately are going to have to settle for three days.

It is with a lot of drum rolls and other noisy, annoying, drama-creating devices, that I announce that after 45 months as a Signal sports writer, Wednesday will be my final day.

This is my last column.

I've gone through four homes during my stretch as a reporter here, survived two desk changes, three different sports editors, three publishers, a new vending machine, a switch from Dish Network over to DirecTV and about 10,000 or so new door codes.

From the entire news, photography, sports and features departments and entire team of editors, there are currently only two working in this office who were with The Signal when I was first given a job.

So I've done my time.

I was here for the Paul Weinstein incident (and have his still-waiting-to-be-picked-up Most Controversial newsmakers trophy in a prominent spot on my desk to prove it), for national championships by both the College of the Canyons football squad and Valencia High softball team, for state titles for Canyon football and Saugus cross country, for the death of Mike Herrington's mustache and for the entire existences of both West Ranch and Golden Valley high schools.

But today, I want to pay tribute to my two longest standing Signal beats - softball and girls basketball.

As the names suggest, both are girls' sports. Before I started a career in sports writing, I never would have imagined being happy with either.

I got my news from Stuart Scott. From the front pages of newspapers that cover only Peyton Manning and Kobe Bryant. I thought female athletes were all-around inferior.

Here's a shout out to just a few of the people out there who changed my mind and made me stick around for as long as I stuck around.

Most Fun to Watch
Jordan Taylor,
Valencia High pitcher

Like I said just a few paragraphs earlier, before I started my career as a sports writer I never could have possibly guessed that I'd eventually be choosing a girl as the greatest athlete that I've covered in three-plus years.

Not with the football Santa Clarita has to offer every year.

That's the biggest lesson that's stuck with me from covering the ins and outs of high school sports. Female athletes, overlooked by the ESPN watcher in all of us, are capable of some pretty amazing things.

Especially Taylor.

First of all, it's important to point out that she is responsible for one my favorite quotes.

Of a 2006 no-hitter against Hart she said: "These are the same girls I've been striking out the whole game. They're up there yelling, 'She's nothing.You can hit her.' So I strike them out anyway."

It was her fifth no-hitter of that year. She finished with nine.

It was part of a junior campaign in which she had a 26-5 record, a 0.13 earned run average and 416 strikeouts.

As a senior, Taylor earned her third-straight All-Santa Clarita Valley Player of the Year award, with a California all-time best 32-0 record, a 0.19 ERA and 406 strikeouts. For leading the Vikings to their national title, she earned two separate California player of the year honors, had her number retired by the school and was an All-American first-teamer.

Biggest Character
Dave Munroe,
Hart girls basketball coach

Munroe's wife Jan told me a story about her husband which I think pretty much sums him up.

They were newlyweds and had just bought their first home.

"He had never used a weed-eater before so I showed him how to use one," she said. "Then a few days later I was using it and he asked me what I thought I was doing. He said Iwasn't allowed to use it anymore because he was better than me.

"He was being serious."

I believe her.

As the spring season approaches, I can honestly say that what I will miss the most about softball and baseball seasons are the former Hart girls basketball coach, as a spectator, coming up to me in between innings and telling me what the coaches are doing wrong.

The Southern California Hall of Famer who won 15 Foothill League titles in 18 seasons and is now retired in Colorado.

Iwrote once that a lot of people found him arrogant.

He wasn't. Just honest.

Toughest Athlete
Kelli Lewis,
Hart High point guard

Pardon the pun on this, but narrowing down this particular honor was actually very tough.

From this season alone.

Hart High senior middle linebacker Patrick Larimore made the gasoline companies an awful lot of money with the miles he put on his car, getting second and third and fourth opinions on the torn ligaments in his thumb to find a way to play one-armed football for the Indians.

It set up a dramatic ending, as a Larimore-inspired Hart team defeated Saugus in the last game of the regular season to win the Indians' first Foothill League championship since 2003.

Then along came Kelli Lewis.

The senior guard tore her left ACL before her sophomore year and then tore her right one during the offseason before her junior year.

Her senior year was her last chance to be a Hart starter.

An incredibly talented player before coming to Hart, she wanted to prove to people that she could play. Her goal was simple: All-League first-team.

Hard not to wish it for her.

Especially when, one day before Hart was set to start its season, she tore her ACL again.

Surgery would have knocked her out for the entire season.

Instead Lewis played on.

For the entire season, Lewis limped through the tear, breaking the press, defending opposing point guards and providing leadership in pain. Even though the look on her face often suggested she was on the verge of tears, she gutted it out until the end.

One week ago the All-Foothill League teams came out.

I have to admit I smiled when I noticed her on the first team.

Even if she is just a girl.

Andrew Barlam is a Signal staff writer. He can be reached at His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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