COLLEGE NOTES / ALAN DROOZ : Westhead Tells Grads Not to Be Afraid to Take a Shot
Basketball coaches aren’t often chosen to give commencement addresses, but then coaches don’t often have the academic background of Loyola Marymount’s Paul Westhead, who has a master’s degree in literature.
Westhead was a popular choice as the featured speaker at Loyola’s graduation ceremonies Saturday, and mixed literary and sports allusions in his speech. “Don’t be afraid of failure,” he told the graduating class, which included scoring players Bo Kimble and Jeff Fryer from this year’s team that made the NCAA’s final eight.
“So what if you miss,” Westhead said. “Look at our basketball team. Do you think Bo Kimble or Jeff Fryer ever worried about missing a shot? . . . Whatever you endeavor go out and take a whole bunch of shots--the next one will go in. There will be times in your future when you will feel whipped, beaten, done. It’s OK to call a timeout, to get away from the action; but come back refreshed and running the system faster than ever.
“There is no limit if you believe in yourself. On paper our basketball team should not have won a game in the NCAA--we won three. All of you graduates are about to be given your varsity uniforms. The world awaits your jump. It will be better than you have done so far. You are well prepared, well trained. You are the best. You are Lions.”
Westhead then bid a sentimental farewell: “As a teacher of writing, I searched for the exact word to fit my meaning. Au revoir-- too much like perfume. Ciao --too quick. Arrivederci --sounds like lunch. Sayonara --too sad, and Marlon Brando beat me to it. Goodby--goodby makes the journey harder still (a Cat Stevens lyric). And then I found it. My collegiate years of studying--or should I say struggling with--German provided me with the exact words. Auf wiedersehen. Till we meet again. And we will meet again.”
Toro Awards: Cal State Dominguez Hills pitcher Armando Gomez, outfielder George Scott and infielder Fred Camarena were named to the all-California Collegiate Athletic Assn. baseball first team, and first baseman Darrell Conner received second-team honors. Toro catcher Mike Gabbani was given honorable mention.
Top award winners in the CCAA were UC Riverside’s Pete Weber, player of the year, and Jack Smitheran, coach of the year, and Cal State Northridge’s Craig Clayton, who was pitcher of the year.
Dominguez Hills also announced its annual award winners, with soccer players receiving four of the five honors. Joe Flanagan won the male student-athlete award, Kristi White won the female student-athlete award, Mark Lincir was named male scholar-athlete and Jeanine Charroux was named female scholar-athlete. Lincir and Charroux are both nominees for Academic All-America honors.
The only winner from another sport was basketball player Kevin Shaw, who received the Richard Butwell Senior Award. That award, named for the school’s late president, is given to a senior who has lived up to academic and athletic standards and shown community involvement as well.
Loyola Marymount’s Tim Williams, the baseball team’s top left-handed power hitter, said references to his 5-foot-9 stature do not bother him.
“One (scout) told me, ‘If you were 6-2, you’d be a top-five pick,’ ” Williams said. “A couple scouts have told me, ‘We hope you grow a little.’ I used to worry about it. Now I look at (major leaguers) Rickey Henderson, Brett Butler, Lonnie Smith. Height doesn’t mean anything. It’s all in the mind.”
In fact, Williams is taller than recent Hall of Fame inductee Joe Morgan, one of the top power hitters of the 1970s, and 1930s star Hack Wilson, who still holds the National League record for home runs in a season with 56.
“I’m 5-9,” Williams said. “What’s wrong with that? The thing that helps me is I’m left-handed. There’s a scarce supply of left-handed guys in the outfield. I’m seeing more and more smaller outfielders than before. They say if you’re small you’ve got to be twice as good.
“I say the best player and the way you perform should be the deciding factors. I look at Howard Johnson (of the Mets)--he’s 5-10 and he’s a 30-30 (homers-steals) guy. (Expos outfielder) Tim Raines . . . they aren’t all 6-footers, but they have heart. They don’t let people’s expectations bother them. If you can play, you can play.”
Stat of the Week: Taking a page from the basketball team, the Loyola baseball team has scored in double figures in five consecutive games and six of eight. The Lions, who average 8.7 runs, have scored 60 in the past five games.
College Notes--Loyola Marymount radio station KXLU-FM 88.9 will broadcast Saturday’s baseball double-header at Pepperdine. The broadcast, featuring play-by-play by Brian Berger and color by Chris Kelly, will begin at approximately 10:50 a.m. Today’s 2 p.m. game will be shown on Prime Ticket at 5 p.m. . . . Loyola outfielder Rick Mediavilla has tied the Loyola and West Coast Conference record for hits in a season with 105. He leads the WCC in batting at .423. . . . Catcher Miah Bradbury leads the WCC in runs batted in with 63. . . . Pepperdine baseball Coach Andy Lopez might be on the sidelines for the Pepperdine series. Lopez has chickenpox. . . . Loyola forward Per Stumer has filed for hardship status and made himself available to the pro draft, according to Loyola coaches. Stumer, a Swedish native who started for two seasons, will probably play professionally in Europe while helping the Swedish National Team try to qualify for the 1992 Olympics.