With implementation of tougher grading policies and standardized test scores by the NCAA, a high school athlete's most important statistics may not be his scoring average or number of touchdowns but his Scholastic Aptitude Test scores.
That's where the Olympias Girls Development League basketball program comes in.
The only off-season basketball program for girls in the South Bay stresses not only athletic excellence but classroom skills. The program particularly focuses on the SAT. The NCAA's new minimum score of 700 on that test tripped many college-entry athletes this year. Those who didn't achieve that score were declared ineligible for the school year.
The Olympias program, run by John Anderson, a Carson resident and assistant principal at Monrovia High School, offers girls ages 9 to 18 weekend competition at Victoria Park in Carson, travel to tournaments around the country and more: weekend seminars on preparing for the SAT and free tutoring and counseling.
Anderson's stated goal is to stress self-improvement rather than wins and losses. But he points out that college scholarships are available to players with the desire and talent.
He hopes to strengthen the players' standing by stressing the balance of athletics and academics. He also said players' statistics are sent to college coaches around the country.
The league fee for the September-June program is $50, which includes shoes, uniforms and athletic bags. Anderson said fees can be reduced or waived for girls with financial hardship.
The program is run in conjunction with the Carson Community Development Center and Victoria Park Sports Assn. Anderson said the program's administrators include coaches from Los Angeles City and CIF schools.
Cal State Dominguez Hills golf Coach John Johnson has lost All-American Pat Burke, his top tournament player the last two years, to another school.
But Johnson is optimistically predicting a stronger all-around team this year led by his "international brigade."
The team's captain--and probable top player--will be senior Mike Strlekar. After him come 27-year old Kanwaljit Kochar, the team's top player in the second half of last season; 29-year-old Daniel Kemp out of Thunder Bay, Canada, and 17-year-old sophomore John Pak, of Korean descent.
The team also returns Brian Carson, who tied for Toros low scorer last spring; seniors Alex Quintana, Kurt Bilben and Shawn McManaman, redshirts Vincent Shack and Scott Rawley and freshman Jeff Manore.
Burke was a second-team All-American in 1985 but battled a bad back last spring and failed to qualify for the NCAA tournament. He decided to pursue his degree in business administration at Cal Poly Pomona, closer to his home. Johnson agreed with his decision.
"But we'll be a better all-around team," Johnson said. "We'll have six players who can score."
The golf season is officially in the spring but Cal State will play in fall tournaments.
Loyola Marymount University women's volleyball Coach Nancy Fortner begins her seventh season Tuesday when the Lady Lions play an alumni team at 7:30 p.m. in Gersten Pavilion.
The team does not return to Gersten until Sept. 16, to play UC Riverside in its official home opener. The Lions play their first three matches on the road: Sept. 5 at Cal State Fullerton, Sept. 9 at Cal State Northridge and Sept. 12 at Fresno State.
Fortner, who has guided the Lady Lions from small-school, independent status to a full-fledged Division I program, is second in tenure on the Loyola coaching staff to tennis Coach Jamie Sanchez, who has been there since 1973.
Her husband, Ron, who used to assist her at Loyola, now coaches women's basketball at West Coast Athletic Conference rival Pepperdine.