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Even Bad Health Can't Keep Bilowitz Down

May 01, 1997

Lou Bilowitz might have more endurance than any other high school coach in Southern California.

The veteran La Canada High boys' soccer coach, who turned 50 last week, has never been sidelined despite a history of health problems dating to 1989, when he suffered a massive heart attack.

Over the years he has had several bouts of pneumonia, and he was hospitalized for a bleeding ulcer in 1996.

Bilowitz, a former financial investor, has persevered. In his 10 seasons at the school, La Canada is 194-14-23, including three Southern Section titles and a state-record 59-game winning streak.

The Spartans were upset in the first round of the playoffs this past season, and two weeks later Bilowitz suffered the first of two strokes in March.

The strokes were the result of a blood clot in his heart. He temporarily suffered partial paralysis and speech loss and was hospitalized for several days each time.

Increases in medication have allowed Bilowitz to return to a fairly normal schedule, including exercising at the local YMCA and coaching his youngest son's soccer team. He also expects to return to La Canada for his 11th season.

"I feel invincible," said Bilowitz, who must have his blood regularly checked and has been told to stay close to home. "It just isn't my time."

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Fred Cuccia, another veteran coach recovering from a stroke, won't be allowed to return as football coach at Sepulveda Monroe next season.

Monroe Principal Joan Elam told Cuccia earlier this month that because of health concerns she plans to hire a new coach.

"It's a very hard thing for me . . . to call me in to the office and [have her] say, 'I'm going to let you go,' without even discussing it with me," said Cuccia, who turned around football programs at Glendale Hoover, South Pasadena and Sun Valley Poly before taking over at Monroe in 1994.

Cuccia, 52, took a medical leave of absence from Monroe after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage last July. He returned to a limited teaching schedule in January and planned to return to the football field this spring.

"He is certainly on a good road to recovery, but I don't think he's 100% yet," Elam said. "I'm very concerned about the health and safety of Fred and of the students."

*

Pasadena Muir track standout Obea Moore, sidelined for two weeks because of a deep bruise in his right thigh and hip, competed at the Penn Relays in Philadelphia last weekend.

The senior sprinter was selected the high school athlete of the meet after anchoring Muir's 1,600-meter relay team to a victory in a meet-record time of 3:08.71 before nearly 50,000. Moore received the honor for running a relay split time of 45.1.

Muir also was scheduled to run the 400 relay but arrived too late for the preliminary heat Friday.

Coach Clyde Turner said Moore was put on a strict low-sugar diet and given new stretching exercises to help heal his injury.

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Seniors Brady Beaubien of Coronado and Cathleen Sullivan of North Hollywood have been selected the CIF state scholar athletes of the year.

The awards, given by CIF title sponsor Arco am/pm, include a $5,000 scholarship for each winner.

Beaubien was a four-year varsity letterman on the school's water polo team, which won three San Diego Section titles. He has a 4.65 weighted grade-point average and scored 1,400 on the Scholastic Assessment Test. He will attend either Harvard or Stanford.

At North Hollywood, Sullivan helped get the girls' soccer team started two years ago and is also a standout on the track team. She has a weighted grade-point average of 4.33 and scored 1,510 on the SAT. She will attend Amherst College in Massachusetts.

*

Since there aren't state playoffs in football, the CIF is discussing the possibility of postseason bowl games involving all 10 sections. Various proposals are being considered, including one game for each of five enrollment-based divisions.

Profits would be earmarked to support specific CIF projects designated by the Executive Committee. School participation would be voluntary and the proposal is contingent on corporate sponsorship.

A bowl selection team would consist of one representative from each section and five representatives of statewide media.

Although the CIF council won't consider that proposal until next fall, the Southern Section council will discuss it at a meeting today.

"It's a tough sell down here because most of our schools already feel like the season is too long," Southern Section Commissioner Dean Crowley said.

*

The Compton boys' basketball team, which two months ago won its first Moore League title since 1978, recently found out it played the entire season with an ineligible player and will have to forfeit all of its victories.

Starting guard Marcus Herring was playing in his fifth season of high school competition, a CIF rules violation. Compton administrators became aware of the infraction during the Southern Section playoffs, and Herring sat out a semifinal loss to Villa Park.

The matter was reported to Crowley.

The Tartar Lions go from 24-6 to 0-30. Officially, Long Beach Poly becomes the league champion.

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