Category Archives: Sports
By Geoff Holton with Finn Collom and Elizabeth Wells
On the weekend of June 4th and 5th, Berkeley High School’s club Ultimate Frisbee team, the Berkeley High Coup, piled into vans and traveled to the USA Ultimate Western Regional Championships in Corvallis, Oregon. Conditions there were grueling — temperatures hovered near 100 degrees both afternoons – and tournament directors moved final matches on Saturday into the early evening in an unsuccessful attempt to beat the heat.
Led by a close-knit group of 14 seniors, and standout performances across the board, the Coup persevered, and went 4-2 on the weekend, making the finals against the defending champions, Roosevelt High School of Seattle. As they have all year, the Coup played with skill, spirit and speed in the final. They brought a deep roster, a balanced attack, great coaching and a positive, pumped-up sideline presence, but eventually fell to Roosevelt 13-10 in a physical, emotional match. … Continue reading »
Although he gets paid to play football, Berkeley High graduate Cameron Fuller’s biggest talent just may be his positive outlook.
The life of a professional football player is one that is often coveted. Young men sit in the stands and dream of the fame and fortune that accompany such an occupation, hoping that, one day, they too can feel that sense of importance and attract such admiration. It will likely never come. According to the NCAA, only 1.7% of college football players play at any professional level.
When one successfully defies those odds, it’s easy to understand their sense of accomplishment. What better example than Berkeley High graduate Cameron Fuller? Despite the doubters and naysayers, failures and forks in the road, Fuller has found himself doing exactly what he always expected he would do: playing professional football. … Continue reading »
Jim Corr, Berkeley lawn bowler — and a periodic contributor to Berkeleyside — won the 2016 PIMD Men’s Singles Championship title last weekend at Sunnyvale Lawn Bowling Club. (PIMD is the Pacific Inter-Mountain Division of BowlsUSA, comprising clubs in Northern California, Utah, and Hawaii).
The competition was a two-day affair involving 16 players from all over the Bay Area. The semifinal featured Jim and Cris Benton, a fellow Berkeley bowler (as well as a noted kite aerial photographer), which turned into a nail-biter.
Corr took an early lead only to see Benton draw level and then surpass him to reach 17-13. With 18 points being the winning goal, Corr had to dig deep, but eventually managed to prevail by the narrowest of margins, eking out an 18-17 victory. … Continue reading »
After a stellar undefeated regular season, the Berkeley Rhinos high school rugby club defeated Sacramento’s Kennedy High School in the first round of the Norcal playoffs on Saturday, 33-31.
The Rhinos entered the playoffs ranked third, and had home field advantage for the game at Gilman Sports Fields.
The Rhinos’ high-powered offense proved to be too much for the Cougars’ defense, scoring three tries within the first 25 minutes of the game. Seniors Alex Glover and Efe Ustenci were on a mission to make their presence felt and were responsible for the first three scores for the Rhinos. … Continue reading »
Scoring two 3-pointers in the final minute, a team of Berkeley Police officers narrowly bested teen players from the Young Adult Project’s Twilite Basketball program in the “Battle of Berkeley” Friday night. The officers will now get to display a large trophy commemorating the win, at least until the teams face off again this summer.
The youth team was down by 12 points at half time, then fought its way to a 1-point lead with less than 2 minutes to go. Officer Kelvin Gibbs, who played professional basketball in Europe for nine years, scored two baskets from behind the arc in the final minute to claim the victory. … Continue reading »
After a long hiatus, Twilite Basketball returned this year to the Young Adult Project in South Berkeley. Friday night, local youth and Berkeley Police officers who have been coaching them are set to face each other on the court as the program winds down for the season.
The winning team will get bragging rights, as well as a large trophy to display until the next match up, slated for the summer.
Though the “Battle of Berkeley” — where officers and youth compete on the court — has happened in the past, this year will be the first time Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan plans to play.
Officers credit Ginsi Bryant, recreation coordinator at the Young Adult Project, or YAP, for bringing back the Twilite Basketball program in January. Though it began in Berkeley in the early 90s, participation dwindled in recent years and it was no longer active.
YAP itself was founded in 1972 in South Berkeley to help keep local youth off the streets and give them a safe, positive outlet for their energy. The organization, at 1730 Oregon St., offers a variety of programs including sports, arts and crafts, and leadership skills building.
Don’t miss our feature from January on YAP’s popular boxing program.
The 10-week Twilite Basketball program is aimed at pre-teens and teens. There are three practices a week, with games on Friday and Saturday nights. Bryant runs the program, which has about five coaches of its own. But Berkeley Police officers are also a key part of the equation.
That’s because one goal of the program has been to help police and youth build relationships that can help them off the court. … Continue reading »
Battling one of the nation’s top-ranked teams for the state title, the Berkeley High boys basketball team recovered from a 34-23 halftime deficit to grab a narrow 37-36 lead in the third quarter. But a dream ending for the underdogs wasn’t to be as Crespi-Encino went on a 9-1 tear and led the rest of the way.
The Yellowjackets had upset the odds three times in their drive to a long-awaited NorCal Division 1 championship, beating Jesuit 62-59, Monte Vista 64-52 and Menlo-Atherton 61-51. But SoCal champions Crespi proved too tough at the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento. Berkeley finished its season with a 24-9 record. … Continue reading »
When the Yellowjackets boys basketball team last won a NorCal championship, Woodrow Wilson had just handed over the White House to Warren Harding, Babe Ruth had completed one season with the Yankees, and the founding of the precursor to the National Basketball Association was still 24 years in the future. But memories of 1921 can now be safely shelved at Berkeley High, because the Yellowjackets are the 2016 Division 1 NorCal champions after defeating Menlo-Atherton 61-51 at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento on Saturday night.
On Thursday, the team travels back to Sacramento to face SoCal champ Crespi-Encino for the state title. … Continue reading »
Sometimes bad things happen to good people, changing the trajectory of their lives with no notice. For Jorden Johnson, a 17-year-old senior at Berkeley High School, this moment came while attending football practice in the summer of 2015.
Johnson says it was like any other day. He was prepping for the first preseason game of his senior year. He had spent most of the summer preparing for that moment, and was eager to show his coach how he had developed as a player since the prior season. He went through his normal routine: stretching, team jumping jacks, and a few other exercises to get warmed up. It was when the team transitioned to position drills that Johnson began to notice something was wrong.
While going for a pass, Johnson watched the ball as it left the quarterback’s hand, soaring through the air and eventually eclipsing the sun. As the ball passed in front of the sun, Johnson recalls seeing a glare and not being able to relocate the ball, which caused him to drop the pass.
“It was nothing new. I had done this drill a million times,” said Johnson recently. “I had lost the ball in the sun and been blinded by the glare, so I thought nothing of it.”
Johnson says he apologized to the coach for the dropped pass and determined he would make up for his mistake. His turn came around once more, and just as he had done so many times before, he took off for a pass. Again he was blinded by a glare and again he dropped the ball. This time he wasn’t sure the glare was a result of the sun.
“After that second drop I realized something was off,” said Johnson. “The glare began to turn into bright spots. I didn’t know what it was from, but I knew it couldn’t be good.” He was worried but not terrified, and he left practice thinking that some rest would do the trick. … Continue reading »
Warriors basketball star Draymond Green came to Berkeley today to serve up coffee at Peet’s on Shattuck Avenue, and the line was already stretching down the block long before his arrival at around 1:45 p.m. A TV helicopter hovered overhead to catch footage of the event.
The line from Shattuck extended onto Kittredge almost to the Touchless car wash at Oxford. Traffic in the area appeared slow, according to Google Maps.
Berkeleyside’s Lance Knobel reports that it was a “mob scene” outside 2255 Shattuck before Green’s arrival at around 1:45 p.m. His shift behind the counter was slated to begin at 1:30 p.m. and run through to 3 p.m.
Green is helping promote the release of Peet’s limited edition “Warriors Grounds” blend. Peet’s will donate 5% of each purchase of “Warriors Grounds”, up to $10,000, to the Warriors Community Foundation.
… Continue reading »
Walk into the gym at Berkeley’s Young Adult Project on a Monday afternoon, and you might see some heavy bags hanging from the walls around the basketball courts. In front of the bags are boxers, pacing themselves through combinations shouted by the small, forceful voice of head trainer Ginsi Bryant. Around the gym, the whipping sound of a jump rope hits the floor, as participants who aren’t on the bags work on cardio as they wait for a turn to throw combos of their own.
“When I first started working here, we were trying to find creative ways to teach the kids discipline,” said Bryant, who has been with the Young Adult Project (YAP) for 16 years and is also its recreation coordinator. “We had a lot of kids who were fighting in school and/or on the streets, so we figured: Why not give the kids what they want? Just in a positive manner.”
The philosophy behind the boxing program is called “Having a Vision of Choices,” or HAVOC for short. Participants, age 10 and up, focus on basic boxing techniques as well as strength and conditioning. On a deeper level, HAVOC aims to help youth understand cause and effect, and that there are consequences for their actions.
“Young people need to have a better vision and understanding when it comes to decision making,” said Bryant. “One of our key ‘coachisms’ is, ‘you’re only one bad decision away.’ We want our kids to understand how important the power of choice is.” … Continue reading »
On Sunday, Anna Bretan of Berkeley took first place in the women’s race of the 2015 Berkeley Half Marathon for the third consecutive year. Bretan, whose time was 1:18:34, has also finished first in the San Francisco Marathon for the past three consecutive years.
There was also a Berkeley connection for Oakland resident Sam Robinson, who placed first in the men’s race, with a time of 1:12:22. Robinson is a student at UC Berkeley, finishing his Ph.D. in history.
For a college student athlete, there is no season more important than your senior year. It’s the year when everything could soon be coming to an end: the long practices, the extra work on weekends, the countless hours in the library. For many, it is a bittersweet reality.
For Arizona State Sun Devil and Berkeley High graduate Elisha Davis, senior year is an opportunity to live out dreams she has worked for since she was a child. Through her hard work and dedication, Davis has become an honor roll student with WNBA potential. She enters this season with pro aspirations and graduation right around the corner.
Davis, who graduated from Berkeley High in 2012, was introduced to basketball at the age of 6 by her father, and has been in love with the game ever since.
“My first love was really football,” said the 21-year-old Oakland native. “My dad wouldn’t let me play because I was a girl. So he gave me a basketball and basically told me to stay off the football field.” … Continue reading »