The Cal State Dominguez Hills golf team earns its share of double takes when its No. 4 man strolls the greens in a turban. "He gets some stares," Coach John Johnson said, laughing.
There is a good reason for the turban--the golfer is Kanwaljit Singh Kochar, a Sikh of Indian ancestry. As for the stares, "I don't mind," Kochar said.
Kochar's moniker is a bit much for teammates to handle--they call him K. S. or K-Man--but he has a firm handle on his golf game. The 27-year-old junior has improved steadily through the season and is one of the reasons Johnson's Toros hoped to defend their NCAA Western Regional Division II title last weekend at Lake Shastina Country Club near Weed in Northern California. But they placed third behind winner Cal State Northridge and Cal State Sacramento.
Kochar was among the Toros' most competitive golfers in recent matches, placing second on the team in the Cal Lutheran Invitational. He was a stroke behind team leader Pat Burke at 145 (73-72) to place sixth individually.
Kochar has made a steady climb despite giving priority to a heavy course load and sitting out two years because of visa complications.
Kochar grew up in Uganda where he began golfing with his father at age 9. The family moved to England when he was 11 after Idi Amin's rise to power. In England, Kochar preferred field hockey, but two knee operations later, he said, "I figured, 'Go back to golf, it's safer.' "
Kochar came to California in 1981 to visit relatives, liked it and stayed. He walked on the golf team at Cerritos College, played two seasons, then tried to transfer to Long Beach State. He found himself in a Catch-22 situation: He couldn't get his student visa updated until a school accepted him, and Long Beach wouldn't accept him until his visa was updated.
The matter took two years to clear up and Kochar landed at Dominguez Hills, where he is studying computer science and getting to see some of the state with the golf team. "In England there was no opportunity to do this," he said. "I guess golf is pretty small here, but it's big to me. I'm getting to travel. I'm doing OK--I've got a lot of studies to do but I can't complain."
Even when he draws curious stares.
Loyola Marymount University basketball coaches have been busily signing bodies for next season. Two more have committed to Paul Westhead's men's team--6-9 Jeff Roscoe from Puyallup (Wash.) High School and 6-8 center-forward Marcus Slater from nearby Banning High. Roscoe led his league in scoring with a 20.1 average and pulled down 9.4 rebounds per game. He was also an all-state selection as a goalie in water polo. Slater, a Carson resident, averaged 6 points and 5 rebounds as Banning's sixth man and may still be growing. He sprouted four inches in the last two years.
Slater and Roscoe join three previous recruits: guard Jeff Fryer from Corona del Mar, center John Veargason from San Jose City College and center Marcellus Lee from Pomona.
Women's Coach Todd Corman has signed four players, three of them freshmen. The tallest is 6-1 Michelle Betencourt from Hughson High in Hughson, Calif., where she was named the state's Division III (1,000 enrollment and less) player of the year, averaging 20.1 points and 15.4 rebounds. The only out-of-stater if 5-9 guard Jenifer Horan from St. Pius X High School in Albuquerque, where she averaged 16.8 points, 7 rebounds and 9 assists. She was all-state the last two seasons.
The other freshman is 5-10 guard/forward Stephanie Fleishaker from Foothill High in Orange County. The most valuable player of the Century League averaged 12 points and 8.9 rebounds. Corman's local addition to the team is El Camino College transfer Sylvia Bauer, a 5-5 sophomore guard. She played at Mary Star of the Sea and was on the Times All-South Bay team in 1984. She averaged 17.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 6.2 assists at El Camino, where she is also the center fielder on the softball team and recipient of the school's Scholar-Athlete Award.
Another Loyola recruit, baseball player Steve Surico of Tustin High, is rated among the top 10 high school players in the country by Baseball America. Surico, a left-handed pitcher, had struck out 102 of 223 batters and had a 6-1 record with a 0.77 earned-run average through last weekend.
Loyola Coach Dave Snow is now sweating out the pro draft in June. If Surico is a No. 1 draft choice, Loyola officials fear he'll forgo college.
This week Snow also signed Miah Bradbury, a catcher/first baseman at Mt. Carmel High in San Diego. The 6-4 senior batted .447 as a junior and is hitting .393 this season.
Palos Verdes High School soccer Coach Alan King has been named regional coach of the year by the National High School Athletic Coaches Assn. King is one of eight coaches selected nationally. His selection came from among coaches in California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Hawaii. The award makes King eligible for the national high school coach of the ear award that will be announced June 27 at an awards banquet at Orlando, Fla.