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NOTEBOOK : Recruiting Did the Trick for Tech

March 21, 1993|CHARLES SMITH and KIRBY LEE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Trade Tech's basketball season came to a bittersweet end March 11, but the men's team can look back on a number of accomplishments with pride.

The team, which fell 93-90 in overtime to Columbia in the quarterfinals of the State Community College championships, set a school record with 26 wins on the season and marked its first appearance in the State quarterfinal playoffs.

"(The team) really thought it was going to win it all," co-Coach Ollie Jones said. "This is not the way we wanted our year to end, but we had an excellent season."

That season included a nine-game winning streak, a second-place finish in the Southern California Athletic Conference, and victories over top community colleges such as Santa Monica, Saddleback, Long Beach and Compton.

The resurgence of Trade Tech's basketball program can be credited to the school's bold approach to recruiting.

"We send people down to a lot of the local parks to watch the games," Jones said. "If we take interest in a certain player, we ask other kids about that individual. After all, who would know better than someone (who) plays with that person on a daily basis?"

Point guard Eric Fuller, who averaged 19 points and 10 assists a game and was named to the All-Conference team, was spotted showcasing his skills in a pickup game at the Central Recreation Center. Fuller, a sophomore, ran the show for Trade Tech this season, and his floor leadership has drawn attention from college programs including Oregon, Oregon State and New Mexico.

Freshmen Terry Green and Greg McDowell, starters last season, are Detroit natives who were likewise discovered on the playgrounds. "A lot of these kids wanted to come back to school after they realized that they wanted more out of life," Jones said. "They are helping us, and we are helping them."

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Tech talk--Fans who attended Trade Tech basketball games this season were introduced to a novel technique in sports announcing.

Pool custodian Walter Nichols and student Veronica Fortillo shared the microphone as announcers during Trade Tech home games. But unlike other announcing teams, Nichols did the play-by-play in English and Fortillo translated it into Spanish.

Nichols, 49, who has been announcing basketball games for two years at Trade Tech, used to do play-by-play at YMCA basketball games and Pop Warner Football League games. Fortillo, 20, is a sophomore and will attend USC next semester to study pre-law.

Nichols developed the bilingual announcing concept after he recognized Fortillo's eloquence.

"Veronica was a little nervous at first, but once she caught on, she was a natural," Nichols said. " We realized something needed to be done to reach a larger audience. A large percentage of the people in the area are Spanish-speaking, so it seemed like a smart thing to do."

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Back to nature--The artificial turf at East Los Angeles College's Weingart Stadium will be replaced with grass as part of a five-year, $1-million renovation agreement with L.A. Promotions.

The football field will be reconfigured to allow for both soccer and football as part of the first phase, to be completed in May. The soccer team had been playing in a field next to the football stadium.

Other improvements in the 22,000-seat stadium, which was used for the 1984 Olympic field hockey competition, include refurbishing the locker rooms, press box and bleachers. The parking lot will be resurfaced, and gates will be added to the stadium tunnels.

The turf and an all-weather track were installed for the field hockey competition during the Olympics but had deteriorated over the years.

The field is used by the East L.A. College football team and several local high schools. The 43-year-old facility is also used for graduations and other community events.

As part of the agreement, the stadium will be leased to L.A. Promotions for five years. The firm's productions include international soccer at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, a Mexican Independence Day Parade in East Los Angeles and family concerts.

"It's a partnership which benefits the private and public section," said Dennis Lee, vice president for business services for the L.A. Community College District.

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Inside track--Marsha Guialdo and Janet Hill helped the Cal State Los Angeles women's track team to a third-place finish in the NCAA Division II indoor nationals in Vermillion, S.D., on March 12-13.

Guialdo, a senior who advanced to the semifinals in the 1992 U.S. Olympic Trials in the 100-meter hurdles, won the 55-meter hurdles in 7.76 seconds and placed second in the 400 in 55.41 seconds.

Hill, a junior transfer from Odessa, Tex., set a meet record in winning the shot put with a put of 52 feet 6 1/2 inches, eclipsing the old mark of 51-9 1/2.

The Golden Eagles totaled 28 points, finishing behind champion Abilene Christian, which scored 57 1/2 points, and Norfolk State, which had 33 points.

In the men's competition, which also was won by Abilene Christian, Cal State L.A. finished 10th.

Dale Johnson and William McCoy were third and fourth, respectively, in the triple jump with leaps of 49-4 1/2 and 49-4 1/4. Keadrick Washington was seventh in the 55-meter high hurdles in 7.70.

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