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THE HIGH SCHOOLS / VINCE KOWALICK

Called Onto Carpet, Blum Would Like to Sweep It Under Rug

April 21, 1996|VINCE KOWALICK

Steve Blum would like to apologize. And you can quote him on that.

Blum, girls' track coach at Buena High, has spent much of the past week making verbal and written amends for comments he made after a Channel League track meet April 11 in which his team trounced rival Ventura, 86-39.

"Excuses are for losers," Blum was quoted as saying in The Times.

Blum was referring to the absence of Nicole Campbell, Ventura's top competitor who sat out the meet because of a pulled leg muscle. Among other comments, the coach also remarked that the Bulldogs "wanted to come in here and kick their butts."

These days, it is Blum--figuratively speaking--whose behind is a bit sore.

Blum, 40, in his 12th season as track coach, was officially reprimanded last week by the Ventura Unified School District for his remarks. By his own accord, Blum said, he also has written formal letters of apology to the Ventura team, the school's administration, the school's teaching staff, Ventura Coach Hudson Scoggin and, most important, Campbell.

"I do accept his apology," said Campbell, whose injury prevented her from competing in the Mt. San Antonio College Relays on Saturday.

Campbell, a junior who placed fourth in the 800 meters in the 1995 State championships, said she has not spoken with Blum since the incident but considers the matter closed.

"It was nice, and he had the right idea," Campbell said of the letter. "I was pretty upset about it, but I had a lot of support from the teachers and students. I've forgotten about it and I'd like to get better and start running again."

Blum said he regrets the episode and that in addition to angering others it has caused him considerable personal grief.

"I've been getting the business around school," Blum said.

Stress has mounted and Blum has had some sleepless nights.

"Even my 6-year-old daughter asked me what was wrong," Blum said.

Blum said he never meant to imply that Campbell was a loser. Moreover, the coach claimed--albeit not too vehemently--that his comments were taken out of context.

"That's not really what I said and definitely not the way I meant it," Blum said. "It was just one of those things that happened and I'm sorry. In all the letters, I said I was sorry for any hard feelings. [The responses] have been cordial. I give a lot of credit to people for not jumping to conclusions."

A source of Blum's outburst is the district's decision to restructure attendance boundaries effective this fall for the two schools. Restructuring, Blum has complained, will result in some attending Ventura rather than Buena.

Blum also remarked after the meet that his relationship with Scoggin has become strained because of the situation.

"The whole thing stems from that boundary dispute," Scoggin said. "He's just an intense competitor."

Scoggin this week said he wanted only closure to the issue.

"This thing has been talked about and talked about and I'm tired of talking about it," Scoggin said. "His apology has been accepted and we're going to go on."

*

Winning, as the saying goes, isn't everything. But it sure beats losing. And it promotes harmony.

Suddenly, Simi Valley High is among the hottest teams in the area after Friday's 9-8 Marmonte League upset of Camarillo, ranked No. 1 in The Times' area poll.

The Pioneers (11-8-1, 3-5 in league play) stretched their streak to eight games while ending Camarillo's 15-game winning streak on Robert Comeau's run-scoring double in the seventh inning.

Simi Valley, which lost its first five league games and was 3-8-1 three weeks ago, has consecutive league victories over Agoura, Channel Islands and Camarillo. In between, the Pioneers went 5-0 to win the Gold Division championship of the Birmingham tournament.

First-year Coach Tom D'Errico said he is happy for his players, not because it has helped silence those critical of the coach and the team's slow start.

"I told the kids, 'Even if I'm the worst coach in the world, don't let me affect your play,' " said D'Errico, a 20-year science teacher at Simi Valley in his first season as a varsity head coach.

"[People] should be as interested in the science program as they are in baseball," D'Errico said.

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