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Memories That Help Define the Prep Sports Year

Family Matter

June 11, 1996|PAUL McLEOD

Although I have lived in the county for 20 years, I had reservations about reporting on high school sports when I transferred here after The Times closed its zoned editions in Los Angeles County. I worked in those zones 12 years, mostly covering college teams.

I was apprehensive because I have first-hand knowledge of interviewing teenagers: My 14-year old daughter played two varsity sports as a freshman this season at Marina and I have a preteen on the way up.

Among themselves, these kids babble forever. Many times, though, they don't have much to say to a guy who could be their father.

Following some of my daughter's contemporaries was also eerie. I remember many of them as kids in youth leagues, not as big-headed media megastars that the overexposure in the county has a tendency to create. Now, in some cases, I was writing about the same players who competed against my very own kid.

That made conversations at the dinner table intense. Sometimes I heard things I didn't want to hear. Other times I knew things I couldn't reveal in front of the family.

My wife was out of town on the night of my first high school football game--Savanna vs. Kennedy at Glover Stadium--and our daughter was going to her first school dance. She had to be picked up no later than 11:30 p.m.

I wrote the game story on a laptop at a burger joint near Glover. At 11 p.m., with several shady characters looking on, I sent the story over the wire on a pay phone.

Then I hit the road at speeds of 70 miles an hour. Southbound in Cypress, a cop pulled me over on dark, deserted Valley View Avenue at 11:25.

The beam from his flashlight found the laptop on the rear seat. He eyed a press credential on the carrying case.

"L.A. Times?" he said.

"Yep."

Who played?

"Hell, I don't remember."

Who won?

"Man, I don't remember that either. I have to pick up my kid."

I got off with a warning.

At 11:45 p.m. the parking lot at Marina was still full of noisy teenagers.

"How was the dance?" I asked my daughter.

"Fine."

"Fine? "

"Fine."

I sighed.

One of the side benefits of all this, I guess, is all the great job experience I get at home every day.

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