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McCobb Is Realizing Potential Where It Is Important: in Class

When Chancellor McCobb attended Ontario High, he readily admits, he wasn’t a very good student.

For that matter, he says, he wasn’t much better academically when he went to community college at Chaffey in Ontario.

Even though he was an All-Foothill Conference basketball star at Chaffey, McCobb says his grades probably scared away a lot of recruiters from four-year colleges, many of them representing NCAA Division I programs.

“I was heavily recruited at first, but then, when they heard I was having grade trouble, nobody wanted to lend me a hand and help me out,” McCobb said.

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That is, nobody except Cal Poly Pomona’s Coach Dave Bollwinkel.

“Coach Bollwinkel took me aside and talked to me about my problems,” he said. “He knew what my situation was, and he was the one who really stuck with me and took me step by step to see that I went to school and worked on getting an education.”

Since arriving at Pomona, McCobb has not had many difficulties on the court. The 6-foot-3 guard earned All-California Collegiate Athletic Assn. second team honors as a junior in 1990 and, after red-shirting last season, ranks among the conference leaders with a 14.7-point average and 10 three-point baskets.

But McCobb, 23, may be more excited about what he has accomplished away from basketball.

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A business major, McCobb is about a year away from graduating, and he gives Bollwinkel andothers at the school much of the credit.

“The people at Cal Poly have always been here to help,” he said. “When I first came here, they were always there to help, and that’s still true. If not for that, I wouldn’t be in a position to graduate. Coach Bollwinkel always insisted that basketball was a way to help you get your degree, and I’ve tried to follow his words.”

It has not been easy for McCobb, though. After falling behind because of poor study habits, he spent long hours developing his skills in reading and writing laboratories at Cal Poly Pomona.

“In the 16 years I’ve been coaching in college, I’ve worked with better students than Chancellor McCobb,” Bollwinkel said. “But I’ve never worked with a man who, through hard work and dedication, has pulled himself up by the bootstraps and worked as hard as he has at getting an education.”

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That is why Bollwinkel says he has nothing but the utmost of respect for McCobb.

“Champ is a C student, but he’s gotten the utmost of his abilities,” Bollwinkel said. “He is not going to graduate Phi Beta Kappa, but he’s going to graduate and I thinkpeople who knew him in high school would probably be amazed by that.”

Although McCobb is quick to praise others for his improvement, Bollwinkel says McCobb deserves most of the credit.

“I’ve helped him, and Kevin Patterson (assistant coach) and so have a lot of others, but he’s actually gone out and done the work,” Bollwinkel said. “His mother, Barbara, and his girlfriend also get a lot of the credit for giving him incentive. But even if you provide all the incentive in the world, somebody still has to make the effort and do the work.”

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McCobb’s basketball career at Pomona has not been without its problems. After his success as a junior, he was looking forward to his senior season until he broke his jaw less than two weeks before the start of the season.

“It happened in practice,” McCobb said. “I just ran into a blind screen (by former teammate Andy Bojarski) and broke my jaw.”

The injury forced him to sit out last season, although he was determined to turn his bad fortune into a positive result.

“A lot of hard work went out the door when that happened, but it kind of made me work hard for this year,” McCobb said. “Doctors said I couldn’t play basketball or have any physical contact for six months. But after the fourth month, it was better and I was practicing again.”

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The time away from basketball also gave him an opportunity to spend more time on his studies.

“We were able to give Champ a little more time away from the team because of the injury,” Bollwinkel said. “So, in that sense, the injury did benefit him.

“Don’t get me wrong. I wish we’d had him last year. But, at the same time, I’m glad we have him this year.”

But the coach says the most gratifying moment for him will be next year’s graduation ceremonies.

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“When he walks down the aisle in that green robe, there are going to be a lot of very happy people,” Bollwinkel said.

It has been a season of change in the athletic program at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

In November, the SLO student body approved a fee increase that will help finance the school’s move from the NCAA Division II to Division I. The transformation, which will get under way in earnest next season, is expected to be complete in three years.

San Luis Obispo also announced last week that Ken Walker, who has been the school’s athletic director since 1985, will resign, effective next Aug. 1.

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Walker will take a one-year leave of absence and return to teach in the school’s philosophy department, where he began in 1973. Before leaving the department, Walker will work with the school in its move up to Division I.

“Cal Poly greatly appreciates Ken Walker’s contributions to the university’s intercollegiate athletic program during a difficult period,” said Robert Koob, the school’s vice president for academic affairs. “We look forward to his contributions to our efforts to reorganize the program.”

The Westmont men’s soccer team, which won the Golden State Athletic Conference title, has placed four players on the National Assn. of Intercollegiate Athletics All-Far West Region team, selected by the National Soccer Coaches Assn. of America.

The players are defender Kevin Smith, midfielders Jeff Hulseweh and Justin Wall and forward Darin Fishman.

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Midfielder Greg Olson of Southern California College and forward Erik Schultz of Biola also made the squad.

The Cal Poly San Luis Obispo men’s basketball team suffered its first defeat of the season, 81-58, against Mankato State of Minnesota last week.

But the Mustangs and California Collegiate Athletic Assn. rival UC Riverside still share the best record among College Division teams in the Southland at 8-1.

Redlands has the best mark of Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference men’s basketball teams at 6-1, and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps is 6-1 in women’s play.

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Sophomore forward Maril Davis of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, who set a school record with 25 goals last season, has been named to the NCAA Division III All-American second team by the National Soccer Coaches Assn. of America.


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