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CHRIS FOSTER

Mater Dei at Heart of Issue

October 18, 1994|CHRIS FOSTER

Welcome to the Mater Dei Section.

No pushing.

No shoving.

No Rialto Eisenhower.

On your left is a life-size wax figure of basketball coach Gary McKnight. Notice the 10 championship rings. Why only 10? He only has 10 fingers. There's 10 more in those freebie sneakers. Next year, the nose.

On your right, is football coach Bruce Rollinson. Check out the snarl and the authentic foam bubbling from his mouth. It's Bruce getting the team pumped up for another championship game. That Bruce, he sure keeps people in stitches.

Here in the Mater Dei Section, we believe in a smooth operation. The Monarchs play. The Monarchs win. Everyone is happy.

Sure, we have championship games. Lots of them. Last year, Los Alamitos lost. The year before, Esperanza. The year before . . . oh, I forget. But they lost to the Monarchs.

Cha-ching.

What's that, you say? Why it's our cash register. And just look at this photo of sold-out Anaheim Stadium. Boy, Mater Dei won big that night.

Isn't red a pretty color?

Or . . .

*

Welcome to the Orange Section. Please come in. Please, we beg you.

You noticed the man with the tin cup outside? That's Katella basketball coach and our de facto commissioner, Tom Danley--the guy holding the cardboard sign: "Will run a section for food."

Yes, we waited years to have our own little playground. Sixty schools, all from Orange County.

Champions? We got champions.

Last year, Santiago was our football champion. Well, not on the field. We couldn't afford to have actual playoffs. So we had the coaches play a video game.

Those Cavaliers were sure tough.

Basketball? Laguna Beach won. No, not the game. The coin toss. The Artists called heads. We held it outside The Pond. It's cheaper.

You know, those Laguna Beach kids really went nuts. We had to let them cut down the nets. It was after a Clipper game. We sneaked in. We couldn't afford tickets.

Roooooooaaaaar.

What's that, you say? Oh, that's the Mater Dei-Eisenhower Southern Section championship game over at Anaheim Stadium. Yeah, 35,000 people. But, you know, we can't stand crowds.

That's why we're in the Orange Section.

*

There it is, choose your poison?

Come Thursday, a little vote will be taken at the Southern Section Council meeting. An Orange Section, to be or not to be?

It has been building for a few years. County superintendents want it. Well, most of them. A couple still straddle the fence. The Anaheim and Fullerton districts are holding out, waiting for the CIF strategic planning committee to finish its work. By the way, all three of its proposals have county sections.

Even then, many coaches are against such a section. They see it as a little too neighborly, with a devalued championship trophy as the reward.

But a passive observer can see a bigger flaw. That cash-cow of a school known as Mater Dei.

The Orange County diocese met a couple weeks ago to discuss whether the three large Catholic schools would join the secession movement or remain with the Southern Section. A key question.

Lose Mater Dei and you lose some big bucks in your cash-crop sports. Keep Mater Dei and you play for second place. With the Monarchs, financial security. Without them, competitive equity. Tough choice.

Yup, the Monarchs are a double-edge sword. Love them or hate them, people pay to watch them.

The bottom line:

An Orange Section will either be parochial or very parochial. You'll either be in the red or see it.

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