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Transferring Athletes Leave Behind Loyalty, Commitment

April 23, 1993|BARBIE LUDOVISE

As a father, he couldn't have been more proud. Not of his daughter, the basketball star, but of himself.

He was the one who moved his entire family--just so he could transfer his daughter to another school. He was the one who decided his daughter, then a freshman, deserved a varsity position--or else.

"The coach couldn't guarantee she'd play," the father beamed. "So I transferred her--just like that."

Just like that. For some parents--such as the Orange County dad mentioned above--that's all it takes. Snap your fingers, make a move. New school, new coach, new hopes. Not happy with Coach X? Check out Coach Y. Bounce around as if on a bungee cord.

Call it high school hopscotch or a sports-styled square dance. Athletes do-si-do from school to school these days, and in many cases, the Southern Section can't do a thing about it. As long as the parents move into a school's attendance area, the athlete is immediately eligible to compete for that school. Seems reasonable--until you witness the results.

Quarterbacks transfer for a bigger offensive line. Pitchers transfer for better offensive support.

Some parents undoubtedly will argue that they have a right to move their child into whichever school they desire. Why shouldn't my kid play for the best coach in the county? Why shouldn't my son or daughter be part of the most prestigious program? Why shouldn't we do anything and everything possible to see that our baby gets that full ride to USC?

Why? Maybe because by staying in one place, your kid might actually learn something about commitment and perseverance and making the best of any given situation.

Maybe because kids are not a commodity, and that, to a certain extent, is what all this business reduces them to.

And maybe--just maybe--because it's not fair. Some families can afford to pick up and move for purely athletic reasons, others are not so fortunate. Whoa. What am I saying? No one cares about being fair anymore. My apologies for suggesting otherwise.

Now, I don't want to give the impression that I am unable to see both sides of this issue. Certainly, transferring has its positive aspects. What would Southern Section Commissioner Stan Thomas do all day, for instance, if he didn't have stacks and stacks of transfer forms to sign? He might become a "Days of Our Lives" addict or something. Scare - eee .

Besides, we might as well face it. The trend to transfer is only going to get worse. Athletes are going to start changing schools as often as Michael Jackson changes his face. You know, like seasonally. That is why we have come up with a few concepts to help the process along.

In no particular order, we suggest:

* Personal ads. "Pitchers Seeking Catchers," "Receivers Seeking Run & Shoot," etc. Potential transfers can list themselves in a variety of ways, like . . .

RHP with 1.24 ERA seeks spot in rotation of high-visibility program. Connections to scouts, media a must. Uniforms must not be dorky.

* Computerized transferring. Like computerized dating, only sports-oriented. Plug in your stats. Push a button. The computer tells you which team you should pledge your loyalties to next.

* Infomercials. Imagine, an entire 30-minute segment televised for all to see. Athletes can demonstrate skills, discuss strategies and perhaps offer valuable tips on investing with no money down.

Of course, there is a possibility the trend to transfer will take a downward turn. Athletes--and parents of athletes--might realize that playing for the home team isn't so bad after all, that staying with a program, no matter how mediocre, is better than uprooting the family or disrupting the flow of a child's education.

Ask Eric Fegraus. He was one of the best wide receivers in the county a couple years ago. He played at Laguna Beach, one of the county's worst teams. Yes, he said, playing for a losing program sometimes got him down. But even though his parents gave him the chance to go to Santa Margarita, where he would no doubt catch the eye of college scouts, Fegraus refused.

He didn't want to leave the friends he grew up with. He didn't want to give up hope that Laguna Beach might be a success. No matter the outcome, he was determined to make a difference.

Fegraus wasn't the first athlete to hold that opinion. Hopefully, he won't be the last. Adolescence is a fine time to gain an appreciation for commitment and loyalty, something adults seem to lose sight of from time to time. Moving from school to school, changing teams as if they were dirty socks? What does that teach, besides looking out for No. 1?

Certainly, there are some exceptions. An abusive coach? A violent environment? No parent can be blamed for wanting to move a child from a potentially damaging situation. But when the motivation is for better stats or greater fame, perhaps it's time to stop and think about perspective.

Rooting for the home team will never feel better.

Barbie Ludovise's column appears Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Readers may reach Ludovise by writing her at The Times Orange County Edition, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, 92626, or by calling (714) 966-5847.


County athletes are becoming increasingly aggressive in seeking out new high schools. A1

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