Leaving on a winning note

Edgar Melik-Stepanyan

As the tears flowed, Jana Kovar announced her resignation in front

of a surprised group of players at the Sun Valley Village Christian

School softball team banquet.

Kovar, 28, -- a Burbank resident -- said the reason for her

departure is to pursue her teaching credential at Cal Lutheran

University.

"There isn't enough hours in a day to cram everything in," she

said.

However, she will remain at the school, teaching human anatomy and

biology.

"I thought about my resignation since February," Kovar said. "I

wanted to let them know and not hear it from other people.

"It was hard, but I know I'm making the right decision to benefit

myself."

Kovar mentored the varsity softball program for two seasons. In

her first season, the Crusaders went 22-5 -- 5-1 in the Alpha League

-- and tied with Lancaster Paraclete for the league title.

Village Christian advanced to the 2001 CIF Southern Section

Division V semifinals for the first time in the program's history.

The Crusaders lost to eventual champion, Orange Lutheran, 1-0, when,

in the bottom of the sixth inning, the home-plate umpire called an

illegal pitch with runners on second and third, allowing Laura

Schmitt to jogg home as the game's only run.

"[The semifinal game] is one of my most memorable moments," Kovar

said.

This season, the Crusaders went 21-7-1. The team also put together

a 5-1 league mark and tied L.A. Baptist for the league championship.

They entered the playoffs as the No. 2 seed, then lost to Van Nuys

Montclair Prep, 1-0, in the second round.

Kovar helped mold junior-to-be pitcher Lauren Nydam into one of

the most dominating pitchers in the region. Nydam earned first-team

All-CIF Division V honors for the second straight year. In her

two-year career, Nydam has a 0.35 earned-run average with 416

strikeouts in 322 innings.

The Village Christian team boasted a talented group of seven

players from Burbank. The group included Julie and sister, Laura,

Patricia Servillo and sister, Amy, Amy DuBois, Alexis Walker and

Meghan Hanna.

"It's going to be very difficult and sad to see someone else

coach," Kovar said.

"The lasting memory I will take is the relationship I've built

with them. I've built relationships that last outside of softball."

Kovar, who graduated from Village Christian before attending the

University of Hawaii, said resigning was one of the hardest things

she has done.

"A piece of me is with them," she said.

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