Nakia Hill didn't feel much like playing baseball in the Cape Cod League this summer but he went anyway.
Hill, an infielder who last season led Cal State Northridge with a .414 batting average and 15 home runs, recently signed with the Dodgers after a scout watched him play for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox.
"[The Dodgers] came up with a good offer," Hill said. "I had my mind set on going back to school and playing another year of college ball."
Hill transferred to Northridge from Cal State Fullerton after a dispute with coaches following the 1997 season. He started the season at shortstop for Northridge. But he was shaky defensively and Coach Mike Batesole moved him to second base, Hill's position at Fullerton.
With Hill leading the way, the Matadors finished 37-19, a surprising record for a team Batesole slapped together after Northridge reinstated baseball and three other men's programs it had dropped last summer.
Hill expected to be drafted in June and waited by the phone. By the time the St. Louis Cardinals called in the late rounds with a token offer, Hill was upset and disappointed. He turned his thoughts to returning to Northridge for his senior season.
"It would have been in my best interest," Hill said.
In the meantime, Hill chose to play in Cape Cod, hoping to attract attention. The Dodgers noticed.
"I wasn't playing well in the league because I was kind of depressed and my attitude wasn't good," Hill said. "My mind was still on the draft."
Hill will attend classes and work out at Northridge until he reports to the Dodgers' spring training camp in Vero Beach, Fla. He'll finish school courtesy of the Dodgers but, come March, it'll be pro baseball first, books second.
"I didn't want any 'What ifs,' " Hill said.
All dressed up, soon they'll have somewhere to go.
College of the Canyons on Wednesday trumpeted the expansion of its athletic program by unveiling new uniforms for football and women's soccer, programs scheduled to begin this fall.
The Cougars, sans a football team since 1981, will be adorned in the school colors of navy blue and gold, with a Cougar-head insignia on the sleeves, pants and helmet.
The soccer uniforms sport the same color scheme with a striped design popularized by teams during the World Cup this summer.
Both teams will wear dark jerseys at home, white on the road.
"Basically, they're pretty close to what we had when I was playing here," said Coach Chuck Lyon, a former Canyons quarterback who scored the first touchdown in the school's stadium in 1974. "I wanted to stay with tradition, with what we had in the past, and incorporate some new things."
Canyons opens the football season Sept. 12 at Desert, plays at Antelope Valley and plays the first of five home game Sept. 26 against Compton.
The women's soccer team opens Sept. 3 at Sequoias and plays its home opener Sept. 11 against Santa Barbara.
The kickoff of both seasons will bring to fruition a 16-month fund-raising effort in which the necessary $200,000 in start-up costs was raised by the College of the Canyons Foundation, the school's fund-raising arm. The Santa Clarita Community College board of trustees approved the expansion in May 1997, provided funds could be raised.
Sophomores Sean Cogswell and Kevin Rhaburn cheerfully modeled the football uniforms for a gathering of photographers. Cassie Hencey and Tracy Passafiume suited up to display the new soccer threads.
"Yes, they are very sharp uniforms," Rhaburn said. "Thank you."
Chuck Ferrero, Valley College's athletic director and former football coach, was an assistant at Canyons in the 1970s and fondly remembers the Cougar uniform.
"It was very sharp," Ferrero said. "It was very conservative, but I've always been very conservative in my approach with uniforms."
Ferrero said the Cougars wore white jerseys with Navy blue and gold stripes at the bottom of the sleeves or blue jerseys with white and gold stripes. The pants were gold with a wide Navy blue stripe outlined in white and the helmets were Navy blue.
"I told Chuck he should bring that scheme back," Ferrero said. "There were some awful good football players who wore those uniforms."
Trivia time: Who was the last Canyons football coach?
Perhaps no college athlete in the region has a more unusual high school background than Julie Hershberger, a sophomore outside hitter on the women's volleyball team at The Master's.
Hershberger did not attend high school and was taught at home in Bozeman, Mont., by her mother, Marla.
"We lived in a very rural part of Montana until we moved to Bozeman," Hershberger said. "I hadn't played [volleyball] at all until [five years ago]."
Hershberger and other girls taught at home formed a team in Bozeman that competed in the Montana Christian Assn.
She learned about Master's through relatives who visited the school during a trip to Southern California. Hershberger said volleyball was the icing on the cake but not the main reason she went to the college.
Hershberger last season played in 10 matches for the Mustangs, who finished 15-18 under first-year Coach Karen Peterson.
Trivia answer: Larry Reisbig, now coach at Long Beach City. Lyon was one of his assistants.
Staff writers Fernando Dominguez and Vince Kowalick contributed to this notes column.