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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | ERIC SONDHEIMER

Borchart Doesn't Join Club, Still Gets Scholarship

October 01, 2000|ERIC SONDHEIMER

"Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, I'm free at last!"

That's how Scott Borchart of Chaminade High should feel after accepting a college basketball scholarship to Santa Clara without having played for a travel team or club coach the last two summers.

Borchart has demonstrated some of the greatest chutzpah by a high school athlete from the region in recent history.

He chose not to play the game of letting himself fall under the control of a club coach, thus opening himself up to scornful whispers, bad mouthing and hurtful rumors that could have derailed his scholarship prospects.

He made his decision two summers ago, fed up with the politics of travel ball and the lack of team play. A hand injury in June left him on the sideline for another summer.

In the end, Borchart had the courage to stand up for what he believed and was able to convince college coaches he was good enough to receive a scholarship based on his high school performances.

"I did what I thought was right and it worked out the way I wanted it to," Borchart said. "I'm going to a place I really wanted to go to and did it the way I wanted to. I know I like basketball better the way I did it."

Borchart certainly had some advantages. He's 6 feet 9, which made it easier for him to say no to travel ball than if he were a guard and needed to separate himself from dozens of others with similar skills.

But he took a gamble in deciding not to play against top players during the summer. He deprived himself of exposure to college recruiters and opened himself to ridicule from those club coaches who think they have the power to make or break a teenager's college dream.

Borchart, a three-time All-Southern Section honoree, knew what he was doing.

"You don't have to rely on that stuff," he said. "There are certain things you have to do. You have to get your name out there, but I had done that at a young age. For me, it was the best situation. It might not be for everyone."

The power of club coaches is recognized by many as a "necessary evil" if players want greater exposure during the summer. But for every player who bucks the system like Borchart, it brings a smile to those who believe in the theory that no matter where you play, if you're good enough, you'll be found.

Club coaches won't lose a wink of sleep worrying that Borchart's success might diminish their influence.

But he proved it can happen. He did it under his terms, ignoring the potential consequences and accepting the risks.

"Here's a kid who could have taken a trip to Georgia in a week and played for Jim Harrick and seen a Tennessee-Georgia football game," Coach Jeff Young said. "He said, 'Coach, I don't need to do it.' He's sticking to his guns. He's made a decision he believes in. You have to give people credit for that."

*

The trials and tribulations of John Campanella, former Crespi baseball player, continue.

Last year, the 22-year-old Campanella was scheduled to play for UCLA but learned he couldn't enroll because some class units didn't transfer. Instead, he attended Cal Lutheran last spring but didn't play.

Now he's trying to enroll at UCLA for a fifth and final year of college. UCLA is expected to file an appeal with the NCAA trying to gain Campanella's eligibility. It's not as if he can't qualify academically. He had a 3.8 grade-point average at Glendale and 4.0 at Cal Lutheran.

"I'm not an idiot," he said.

Campanella graduated from Crespi in 1996 and spent a year at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo before transferring to Glendale, where he was Western State Conference player of the year in 1999 as an outfielder.

Asked what college he'll graduate from, Campanella said, "At this point, I have no idea, but I sure hope it's UCLA."

*

The surest bet to win a City championship this season is El Camino Real's boys' soccer team. If the Conquistadores don't go unbeaten, they will be disappointed.

"These guys need some pressure," Coach David Hussey said. "Let's see if we can live up to it."

El Camino Real lost only two starters from a team that won 20 games last season and has added two top players from the Mission League, midfielder Ori Adrabi, a transfer from Chaminade, and goalie Raul Calderon, a transfer from St. Francis who might be the best in the region.

Jason Lara, who scored 21 goals in 21 games, has returned from a knee injury. Also healthy is defender Victor Choi, who broke his ankle last season. . . .

Who has the toughest schedule in NCAA Division I basketball? Try the California All-Stars, run by Dana and David Pump of Chatsworth. Their six teams will play exhibition games against 17 of the nation's top 25 teams as rated by The Sporting News.

Pete Cassidy, former Cal State Northridge coach, will guide one of the teams. Also coaching for the Pumps is Pat Knight, former Indiana assistant. . . .

Family genes should help freshman Trevor Newman run cross-country at El Camino Real. His sister, Jamie, was a standout runner for the Conquistadores. . . .

For the second consecutive year, Granada Hills has gained an excellent catcher via transfer. Brendan Bartholomew, a senior from Birmingham, has joined the Highlanders. Last year, Granada Hills got John Voita from El Camino Real. Also transferring to Granada Hills is Doug Gallaher, an infielder from Monroe. . . .

The football coaches at Kennedy (3-0-1) and Granada Hills (4-0) deserve lots of credit for the rapid improvement of their inexperienced quarterbacks, Adam Geery and Bobby Baca. Both are baseball players who have taken only four games to master the position. They meet in a nonleague game Friday at Kennedy. . . .

More than 150 athletes from nine Mission League schools attended a sportsmanship summit Thursday at Chaminade High. Officials intend to make it a yearly gathering and involve coaches and parents.

*

Eric Sondheimer's local column appears Wednesday and Sunday. He can be reached at (818) 772-3422 or eric.sondheimer@latimes.com.

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