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Verbum Dei Nun Has That Team Spirit

October 10, 1986|John Dreyfuss

Verbum Dei High School has a 5-foot, 2-inch high-jump coach and a gray-haired football trainer who wears a dress.

She is Sister Vincella Lake, 44, and she's a favorite among athletes at the South-Central Los Angeles school.

"She's very caring, and she's there all the time, both physically and emotionally," said Teddy McMillan, 17, the school's football-team captain. "She's there for personal problems and counseling. She's like a family member," added the linebacker, who towers over his trainer by 11 inches.

Sister Vincella got her start in sports in the streets of St. Louis. "I played stickball in the alley with the guys," she said. "I played football until I was about 16 and my mom made me stop. There wasn't much in the way of girls' organized sports then."

Four years ago, when she came to Verbum Dei, there was a need for someone to "help organize on the sidelines--to be sure there was always water available, to be sure when the kids got hurt someone could help." She took first-aid and CPR courses and became the team's trainer. When there was a need for a high-jump coach, Sister Vincella took a course in track coaching and went to work.

When she took over three years ago, her best jumper cleared 5 feet, 8 inches. Today her best leaps 6 feet, 2 inches, which, the sister says proudly, "is good for our league. We've always taken firsts in dual meets."

But there's more to sports than winning, in Sister Vincella's view. "I really believe the total person needs to be worked with," she said. "So if I want to be a good teacher and a good nun, I need to know my kids. For teen-age males, sports is a big part of their world. It's a good way for me to meet and understand them better."

Managing Save the Books

"My wife's a library docent," Darrell Ten Eyck said. "When I retired two months ago, she nabbed me and I became a docent."

The nabbing led to Ten Eyck's appointment as manager of the Save the Books Store, part of the Save the Books Campaign to raise $10 million for the fire-torn Central Library.

Mayor Tom Bradley and Arco chairman Lodwrick M. Cook are heading the fund-raising effort, supported by a 47-member Blue Ribbon Committee whose membership ranges from Los Angeles Dodgers' Manager Tommy Lasorda to Far East National Bank chairman Henry Y. Hwang.

The Save the Books Store, which opened this week on Level B of Arco Plaza, sells 13 items, including a $3 leather bookmark and a $16 sweat shirt. Every item is emblazoned with a Save the Books logo and silhouette of the classic downtown library building.

"We hope to raise $2 million from the store," Ten Eyck said, noting that selling hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 to 8 p.m., weekdays. Technically the store will be closed Saturdays, but Ten Eyck and his wife Madelyn will be there and "if anyone knocks on the door, we'll make a sale," said the 71-year-old former communications engineer.

Trivia in Support of PTAs

If you want to stump your kid and help the PTA, the game for you may be The Great American Trivia Challenge--California Style. Of course, if you don't have a mind in pursuit of trivia, your kid may stump you. In any event, Donetta Spink, president of the California State PTA, says, "We're hoping the game might generate as much as $3 million for all the PTAs and schools in California."

The game sells through participating PTAs for $19.86, of which $10 stays at the local level for the PTAs, $1 goes to the state PTA and the manufacturer gets the rest. If you buy it in a store--and you'll be able to by December--the cost jumps to $29.95

Questions for five different age levels from kindergarten through adult come with the board game, explained Gail Wolin, project director for the venture. As they have in five other states where PTAs have sold the game (tailored to the individual states), Pepsi-Cola bottlers are underwriting the effort. In California, the Pepsi grant is $90,000. Apple Computers Inc. has divided the state into five regions. In each region the company will give one Apple IIe computer to the school where the most games are sold and another to the school with the highest percentage of sales relative to enrollment.

For those who want to test their skill before spending their money, Wolin provided a couple of sample questions from the game:

What amusement park is the home of Shamu the Killer Whale?

What California mountain used to be a volcano?

If you said Sea World and Mt. Shasta, go to the head of the class.

Great Books in a Flash

John Moschitta would like to tell you a little about 10 books:

"We have 'Moby Dick': big whale, even bigger book; 'Gone With the Wind': great movie; 'The Grapes of Wrath': really depressing, and 'Romeo and Juliet': Shakespeare, what a writer! . . . 'The Great Gatsby': short book, lots of parties; 'A Streetcar Named Desire': S-T-E-L-L-A!; 'Alice in Wonderland': really weird; 'Oliver Twist': crazy plot, millions of characters, and 'The Odyssey': . . . Those Greeks could write."

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