Archive for the ‘Sports/Fitness’ Category

UCLA Bruins Head for College World Series

June 9, 2012

A fan mugs it up in front of the UCLA bruin on campus

By Marcia E. Gawecki

It’s too bad that the LA Times doesn’t cover college baseball.

The UCLA Bruins have made it to the NCAA Super Regionals, and if they win tonight, they’re headed for the College World Series.

So Bruins fans are forced to follow their team by other means, such as streaming on UCLA’s web site ( or Bruins Nation, a blog site that’s manic about all UCLA sports ( And since the Bruins have made it this far, tickets are hard to come by. Forget finding them  on eBay.

So that left one Bruins fan from Idyllwild with only one thing left to do: Go to the game and stand outside the fence.

On Friday afternoon, Jeffrey Taylor, Green Cafe Internet (and a UCLA Chemistry major), went to the Jackie Robinson Baseball Stadium in Westwood. Since 1981, UCLA has called Jackie Robinson its home stadium.

“It was the best time I’ve had all year,” exclaimed Jeffrey. “The place was packed, and everyone I met was talking UCLA baseball. There was a definite electricity in the air.”

UCLA Bruins fan Jeffrey Taylor with Sara Karloff. Monster art by Marcia Gawecki

Since Jackie Robinson Stadium, with only 1500 seats, is located on the grounds of the Veteran’s Administration, many of the fans at Friday’s game against TCU were military veterans.

“I think Jackie Robinson must’ve made it a provision that veterans get tickets to see the games,” Jeffrey said.

Jeffrey took his camcorder along with him and captured the game. But he also got some candid interviews with veterans he met standing outside the fence.

Jeffrey plans to post the interviews on his Green Cafe web site (, and show before his Movie Night on Friday at 7 p.m. in Idyllwild.

“I fought in Vietnam, and was proud to serve my country,” one vet said. “Now I have cancer, but I’m not down about it. I just take it day by day”

Then he broke into a wide smile and said, “But tomorrow, I got a ticket to the game!”

Jeffrey met another veteran who has been a Bruins baseball fan for years. Even before the team was hot, he would watch them every Tuesday night.

UCLA campus

“It used to be that you could get any seat in the stadium,” he said. “Now, it’s not so easy.”

As Bruins baseball fans, the lack of tickets didn’t matter. They came to see the game.

“I could have paid $25 to stand behind Center Field looking through a peep hole,” Jeffrey said, but he found a better place standing with about 25 others on the grass looking over Home Plate.

LA police officers would drive by occasionally, calling out for scores, and cheering when they were ahead. Jeffrey, who was double parked, only got a smile from one of the officers who asked about his truck.

“I just wanted to see the game,” Jeffrey said, avoiding a ticket.

He met several others, including professors and former college baseball players, all hanging outside the fence.

“Their play-by-play was better than any announcer,” Jeffrey said, marveling at how much the fans knew about the players and the game.

“They were using terms that I didn’t even know of,” he added.

Dennis Wohlman, the uncle of Bruins outfielder, Beau Amaral, lives in Idyllwild, so Jeffrey took a video of Beau at bat.

“Beau got out, but his hits allowed another player to steal second,” Jeffrey said.

The Bruins beat TCU 6-2.

Before the Bruins made it to the Super Regionals, the only way Dennis could have watched his nephew play was to go to the game and watch outside the fence like Jeffrey did. But now, the Super Regionals are televised.

“Just our rotten luck, the Bruins are playing tonight, opposite the Stanley Cup Finals,” Jeffrey said with a groan.

Yet, the LA Times has covered all of those hockey games.

If the UCLA Bruins win tonight against TCU, then they’ll go to the College World Series in Omaha. If not, then they play again on Sunday.

“Next to Cornhusker home games, the College World Series is one of the biggest events of the year in Omaha,” said Jeffrey.

Of course, College World Series tickets are impossible to get too. But, the games will likely be televised. And the daily newspaper, the Omaha World-Herald, will cover the games. So UCLA Bruins fans can follow their team to victory across the country.

However, if the LA Times had covered Bruins baseball, then maybe Jeffrey would not have made it to the game. He would have missed the camaraderie and a chance to clear his head from business for one afternoon.

“After the game, we were all best buddies, cheering and giving High Fives,” Jeffrey said. “No one wanted to leave. They just wanted to linger for awhile.”

But he’ll likely get season tickets for Bruins baseball next year.

“Where else can you watch a game for under $10, and with hot dogs only costing a buck,” Jeffrey said.

Bruins vs. TCU at 6 p.m. on ESPN2 tonight.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Idyllwild Whole Body Karate

January 10, 2011

John King of Idyllwild teaches youngsters about staying fit

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Karate shown on TV and on the big screen often  glorifies the fight, and downplays the martial art part. However, there’s a karate instructor in Idyllwild who teaches “whole body karate.” In his classes, students learn to reach their goals and even walk away from fights.

At age 50, John King earned a black belt in Kung Fu San Soo, and continues to study with Master Steven Gregoire. John started learning karate years ago with his family, but keeps it up to stay in shape. For the past eight years, he’s taught beginning and intermediate karate to youngsters and adults in Idyllwild.

“I love to see the smile of confidence on a kid’s face when he’s finally learned something of value,” John said. “Karate is a lifelong journey.”

In his classes, students get some exercise, but also learn discipline, self respect and more about martial arts. In short, it’s not a class for wimpy kids who want to get back at schoolyard bullies.

John's classes had to move out of Strawberry Creek to make room for the library.

“I talk to these kids about how to walk away from fights, if they can,” John said.

He too, was bullied as a child.

“I used to be meek and walked around with my head down all of the time,” John confessed. “But through Kung Fu, I learned to walk with self confidence.”

John also talks to his students about their goals, namely the ones they want to reach within five years. Some the goals they’ve mentioned to him include: getting better in math, learning how to ride a skateboard,  and earning a black belt in karate.

“Earning a black belt was my goal too,” John said. “It’s an achievable one for anyone. I got mine at 50.”

However, the black best test takes about three hours, and it can be exhausting, he said, like running a marathon. He’s run marathons too, including the Long Beach and Las Alamitas Marathons. During the day, John paints houses, and on Friday nights, he sings and plays fiddle for Change Required at the Lumber Mill. But his great love is teaching.

John demonstrates his kicking ability

At first, his middle-aged and older adult students were apprehensive about learning karate.

“They tell me that they’re too old to be kicking their feet in the air,” John said. “But most times, they’re younger than me.”

John’s classes are affordable and are now held at the Spiritual Living Center in Idyllwild. (After 1 1/2 years, he moved from the large studio next to Curves to make room for the Idyllwild Library). The sign-up fee is $40, which includes a uniform. The monthly cost is $65, which averages to about $8 per class, he said. He’s also willing to work with families with financial hardships.

To sign up, call John at (951) 659-3785 or email him at

Cpyright 2010 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

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