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SPORTS NOTEBOOK / PAUL McLEOD : Retiring Schurr Principal Honored for Support of Prep Sports

June 10, 1993|PAUL McLEOD

SOUTHEAST AREA — Known for a charismatic smile and open-door policy, James D. Douglas was a favorite among coaches and athletes during his long tenure at Montebello and Schurr high schools.

Douglas, 58, has received a Gold Life Pass Award--the CIF Southern Section's highest honor--for his support of prep sports during a 32-year career as coach and administrator in the Montebello Unified School District.

A business and history teacher, Douglas started at Montebello High in 1960. He later became activities director and then an assistant principal. He coached swimming, basketball, baseball and football. His baseball teams won six league titles.

From 1980 until he retired in 1992, he was principal at Schurr, which, under his leadership, won a California Distinguished School Award in 1988. It was not uncommon for Douglas to roll up his shirt sleeves and paint bathrooms, plant flowers or unplug clogged storm drains while telephone calls from the district office were put on hold.

"The part of the job I didn't like was going to meetings and getting on committees," Douglas said. "If you are not careful, you'll get involved in so many of those things away from school that you won't get to know your staff or your school."

One morning, when his secretary arrived for work, she found Douglas removing graffiti on the second floor of the school while hanging by a rope suspended from the roof.

"He has extreme energy," said secretary Bobbi Leggett, who worked with Douglas for 17 years. "He would try to attend every school event. He knew every kid by his first name."

Douglas visited band rooms and student council meetings, but was best known for his interest in Spartan athletics.

"He was very supportive of the program," Schurr Athletic Director Ken Davis said. "Any time there was controversy, he stuck by me. He was loyal to my beliefs and philosophies, even if he didn't always agree with them."

In the late 1980s, declines in state funding and a growing district budget crisis made it difficult to field the kind of teams that the principal wanted, Davis said. That frustrated Douglas and caused him to take early retirement. The Hacienda Heights resident now works for an Orange County title insurance company.

"Coming out less and less with a first-rate program was hard to take," Douglas said. "It became very difficult to get myself to accept the reality of less funds."

He said the growth of outside youth organizations in sports such as basketball and soccer are a result of hard economic times in the schools. He does not care for these groups, he said, because many coaches stress winning rather than teaching fundamentals.

"Often they are not well-trained and their motives are not the best," he added. "Whenever a program gets out of the school's hands, there is some concern about who is running it and what they want to do with your kids."

Less funding for sports usually means that a school must drop or scale back teams. "The kids who are cut out are not your prime athletes," Douglas said, adding that the ones who lose are the ones who would be kept off the street and away from gangs by participating in sports.

Despite retirement, Douglas is scheduled to help run Schurr graduation ceremonies June 17.

Karate Kid, 7, Ranks 1st in State in 2 Events

Life revolves around karate for the Macias family of Norwalk. Their 7-year old, Aaryn, is making a name for himself nationwide.

Aaryn ranks first in the state in two categories of Pee Wee Division karate. Two of his sisters also compete in the sport, which means their parents, John and Kim Macias, spend most of their spare time at practices or tournaments.

"This is a big ol' family act," Kim Macias said. "It has become more than just an activity."

Kim Macias, a department manager at a credit union, and John Macias, a printer, have found that two full-time jobs are necessary for a karate family.

"Before we began, we priced it around and it is quite expensive," Kim Macias said. "It's not something you want to delve into quickly."

Weekends are spent taking the children to karate events, and there have been plenty. Aaryn has won 28 first-place events and five tournament titles in the past year. He is expected to be one of the favorites at a national tournament in New Orleans in November.

Their son began pleading to take karate lessons after he watched the movie, "The Karate Kid," but his parents did not sign him up for two years.

"He told us that is what he wanted to do and we said, 'Yeah, sure,' " Kim Macias said. "But he persisted."

Aaryn took classes offered by the city of Norwalk and now trains at a private studio in Stanton. As he has improved, the number of days he trains has grown from two to six. But the extra work is paying off. He is ranked first in California in the forms and showmanship divisions.

"I like his ability," said Dave Torres, president of the Tournament Promoters Assn., which puts on karate tournaments. "He kicks, punches, blocks and enjoys it."

Aaryn is a fierce competitor.

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