The Cal State Dominguez Hills athletic department is bullish these days, and you can't blame them.
The Toros completed their best athletic year ever, are finally gaining respect and are hoping their success will be reflected when the new school budget is unveiled in July.
The athletes and coaches have gotten the maximum out of a budget President Reagan could love.
Here's all they accomplished the past year on a shoestring:
- Teams in virtually every sport won or contended for team titles in the California Collegiate Athletic Assn., considered the nation's toughest all-around Division II competition. The men's soccer team, men's and women's basketball teams, baseball team, softball team and golf team had national ranking at some time during their seasons.
- Athletes made all-West Coast teams in men's and women's soccer, women's basketball, baseball, softball and golf.
- Coach John Johnson's golf team won the first-ever NCAA Division II Western Regional and made its first appearance in the national tournament, placing seventh. Sophomore Pat Burke (second team) and senior Mack Smith (third team) earned All-American honors.
- Sprinter Leonard Graham, half-miler Arnold Fisk and high jumper Rena Wright became the first Toros to score in the Division II track and field national meet, automatically becoming the school's first track All-Americans.
All this was done on an operating budget of $90,000 (not including scholarships and coaches' salaries). Athletic Director Susan Carberry said another $40,000 goes into scholarships for about 150 athletes, none of whom gets a full ride. And all the full-time coaches carry teaching loads.
By comparison, conference rival Cal State Northridge, which bills itself as the most successful all-around Division II school in the nation, had an operating budget of $182,000 for men and $98,000 for women, according to Athletic Director Bob Hiegert. The South Bay's Division I program, Loyola Marymount, had an operating budget of $182,000, plus another 41 full scholarships, which would equate to more than $400,000 at the private Jesuit institution, according to a school spokesman. And that's small-time for Division I, where most universities play football.
"We have the lowest budget in the conference," Carberry said. "We haven't really increased our resources (in any recent fiscal year). We've done it on determination and good recruiting and a little luck. Now I hope the resources will come to make us even more successful. I'm optimistic we will (get a larger allotment).
"If you could put the money into our program comparable to other schools, it would be interesting to see how we would do."
Carberry attributes the program's recent success to good coaches who've done good recruiting, plus her own conviction not to push one sport at the expense of another.
This year "shows we've finally come of age as an athletic program," she said. "We've got the right coaches and they're recruiting the right athletes. We've always had one or two good teams (but) now we're a well-rounded winning program, which is what I've been striving for. Now we're winning consistently."
Basketball Coach Dave Yanai, the dean of the coaching staff with eight years' service, has always had success at Dominguez Hills, compiling a 123-86 record on a fast, pressure defense style. The team was 20-8 last season, finishing second, a game behind Northridge. Center Kevin Burrell earned all-league honors.
Tall Team Next Year
Yanai said recruits were more receptive this year than ever before. With a solid returning nucleus and five promising recruits, Yanai will have his tallest team ever next season. His recruits include all-stars Darrell Gordon from Morningside High and Tony Martin from Fairfax.
"We're always obviously fighting with limited resources, fighting from underneath compared to our opponents," Yanai said. "Any coach here who goes .500 in this league should be commended. But I feel real good--I think the kids we've recruited were very receptive. Even kids we didn't get were very receptive. It's nice when you don't have to scratch for one or two, when you have maybe a dozen or so on the line and can pick and choose."
Why the increased respect? "I think we're getting a little bit more visible," Yanai said. "I definitely see us making headway with the administration. They see us as an integral part of the campus community in terms of visibility. I think we're ready to take the next step, have some funds earmarked for athletics through student fees. That's what the other schools have. Also Sue and (Associate Athletic Director) Dan Guerrero have done a tremendous job and supported all of us. They should be commended."
Baseball Coach Andy Lopez just finished his third year by placing a strong second in the CCAA despite crippling injuries to his pitching staff. His 34-23 record earned him conference coach of the year honors. Pitcher Jim Pena was named conference pitcher of the year and an all-district selection.
JC Stars Signed
Lopez has signed five recruits so far, including two all-state junior college players, Frank Bellino from Mt. San Antonio College and Brian Ayers from Long Beach.
Lopez said the successful season is the paramount reason for his recruiting success. "The program is gaining some respect in being able to contend in the toughest Division II conference in the country," he said. "I also hope word is getting out that we're going to try to help them through college, that we try to treat people fairly.
"The realistic side of me says it's success. The optimistic side of me hopes people know we'll make them go to class, challenge them as students and as college athletes. Little by little I do see things going in a positive direction."
Some teams made rapid strides this season. The women's soccer team, in its first season, often played with the bare minimum of players but unexpectedly won several games under Coach Marine Cano, who will coach both the men's and women's teams next year. Sophomore goalie Sandra Powers even earned all-district honors. The women's volleyball team showed vast improvement and sophomore Samaria Niu became only the second Lady Toro to earn first-team all-CCAA honors.
Women Cagers Did Well
The men's soccer team, normally a contender, struggled after Coach Jeff Friedman was in a serious auto accident. Defender Greg Logan earned first-team CCAA honors for the second straight year.
The winter season found the women's basketball team as competitive as the men. Featuring seniors Adrienne Harris and Deadrea Johnson and sophomore Sherrian Ellison up front, the women had their most successful season under Coach Alice Textor. Harris earned all-district honors.
The success of the baseball and golf teams and the track and field stars capped the year.
"It was a marvelous year. Never before in 18 years have we had a year like we had," Carberry said.
Dominguez Hills, one of the newest schools in the California state system, has been competing in athletics for 18 years with sporadic successes outside of Yanai's consistently sound program.
The campus, tucked away on several rolling acres in Carson between the San Diego and Harbor freeways, didn't have on-campus housing until three years ago and is just now overcoming a lack of identity.