Sue Carberry, athletic director at Cal State Dominguez Hills, separated a shoulder and fractured an arm in a home accident last week, but those were about the only bad breaks for the athletic department this year. The rest of the season was smooth sailing.
The Toro men's basketball and baseball teams got most of the attention, winning conference titles and advancing to NCAA tournaments, but across the board, the school had its best athletic year. After a long period of ups and downs, the program has stabilized, according to Carberry.
"We had a great year and I think next year will be even better," she said. "I think we've finally turned the corner. We have stability. I don't think we're going to take a nose dive."
Carberry's reasons for optimism are twofold: The coaching staff is the most stable it has ever been, and every Toro team matched or improved on the previous year.
"If the teams either move up or stay where they are, we're in good shape," she said. "This is the first time I can remember we didn't have a team finish last. That's not to say we're satisfied, but we have nothing standing in our way now, just time and improvement. We want to bring a championship ring home."
Dominguez Hills, one of the smaller schools in the California Collegiate Athletic Assn. with an enrollment of 7,500 (compared to Cal State Northridge's 28,000 and Chapman College's 1,600) and the second-youngest athletic program--19 years--plays eight intercollegiate sports.
In the recent year, the men's basketball and baseball teams won CCAA titles and the baseball team advanced to the Division II World Series, the soccer team placed second and the golf team sent a player to the NCAA national tournament for the fourth time in five years; and the women's soccer team, which is non-conference, was ranked in the national Top 10, women's softball was third, women's volleyball tied for fourth and women's basketball finished sixth.
The volleyball and softball teams made dramatic improvements under new Coach Jennifer Gorecki, and the men's and women's soccer teams, both coached by Marine Cano, may give the Toros the best combined program in Southern California. Cano, basketball Coach Dave Yanai and baseball Coach Andy Lopez were all recognized as regional coaches of the year.
Golf Coach John Johnson started the athletic program 19 years ago and women's basketball Coach Alice Textor has most of a young team returning.
Beyond that, basketball player William Alexander became the CCAA's all-time scoring leader and was named the conference's male athlete of the year. In women's soccer, junior Robyn Queen had 21 goals, ranking as the No. 3 scorer in the country.
"Our coaches have been here awhile, and our new coach, Jennifer Gorecki, did a great job with not much talent," Carberry said. "Now it's easier to recruit and the coaches have signed some good kids."
Carberry said the combination of winning teams and recruiting locally over a long period have finally earned Dominguez Hills a reputation with Southland high school athletes.
"It used to be very tough to recruit," she said. "Now we have a name. It's still a lot of work, but now we're recognized. We've never been really stable. We've had our peaks and come crashing down. I don't see that happening again. I see increased interest across the board, from the school president on down, on campus and in the community. It all follows suit with winning. You can talk till you're blue in the face but you have to string some W's on the board."
Carberry said the school would maintain its eight-sport schedule (by comparison, Northridge competes in 18 but is dropping two) and is more interested in becoming a CCAA contender.