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Mission Backers Circulate Petitions

May 13, 2000|DAN LOUMENA

The grass-roots effort to bring back baseball and softball at Mission College by next spring has come to a petition drive.

Community activist Duke Russell rallied support Friday at San Fernando High by asking community members, high school players and coaches to fill out petitions, which will be delivered via fax to Gov. Gray Davis and Assembly members in Sacramento.

While Tom Oliver, Mission College interim president, has said the school will bring back four sports in the 2001-02 school year, Russell is attempting to restore baseball and softball by next spring. Men's and women's soccer will be restored in the fall of 2001, Oliver has said.

The deadline appears to be Wednesday, when the Western State Conference will set schedules for next school year. One source close to the scheduling process has said it would take "a miracle" for the WSC to schedule in a new conference member for next spring.

Russell told about 100 people that "if you [fill out the petitions], you have a chance of winning, but if you don't fill it out, you won't have baseball back in 2001, maybe not at all."

Speakers at the rally included: Jim Brownfield, president of the California Coaches Assn.; Phil Pote, a scout for the Seattle Mariners and former L.A. City College coach; baseball coaches Manny Alvarado of Kennedy, Gary Donatella of Sylmar and Armando Gomez of San Fernando; Jimmy Gonzalez, a staff member of Assemblyman Tony Cardenas.

Cardenas, who represents the communities surrounding Mission College, said he has been working with the school and state lawmakers to bring back sports and to make sure they have proper funding. But he can't guarantee when the sports will be restored.

"I've been urging the college, respectfully, to bring [sports] back," he said. "We lost several hundred full-time students as a result of the removal of the sports program. I'd like to see them bring it back incrementally or in full as soon as possible.

"We're trying to restore much more funding than they've had in the last few years in our budgeting process. I look forward to bringing them the resources so that they can bring back the sports program and many other things."

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