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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | ERIC SONDHEIMER

Resilient Webb Reaps Rewards

February 25, 2001|ERIC SONDHEIMER

The highs and lows of coaching can be seen in the treatment Bob Webb has received at Montclair Prep.

Two years ago, Webb was forced out as boys' basketball coach after a 7-18 record. Several parents were so belligerent that hiring Phil Jackson wouldn't have calmed them down.

This year, Webb took over coaching the Mounties' girls' team. Their record is 25-0.

Suddenly, he's a genius.

It makes him smile and remember the story his former coach at UCLA, John Wooden, told him about a fan's reaction after the Bruins won their 10th NCAA championship in 1975.

"You didn't let us down this year," the fan said.

Sports competition brings out the best and worst behavior in fans and parents.

At one point during the 1998-99 season, Webb's home phone was tied up for hours because a fax machine from one of his basketball parents was sending over and over. It was never proven that the incident happened on purpose, but others believe it was intentional.

"Collectively, they were a different breed of parents than I had been affiliated with," Webb said.

Webb played on Wooden's 1973 unbeaten NCAA championship team. He helped coach boys' basketball at Montclair Prep from 1983-94, then became girls' coach for four years before returning to the boys' program.

"Bobby is somebody who cares more about building character than winning games," Athletic Director Greg Reece said.

The parent revolt made Webb ask, "Am I doing something wrong?"

He sought guidance from Wooden.

"He said, 'Bobby, you have to understand, things you don't have control over, you can't be concerned with,' " Webb said. "Coach Wooden asked, 'Are you doing things differently?' I told him I don't think I'm doing anything different. He said, 'That should let you know it's entirely not your fault.' He was very helpful."

Webb sat out last season, preferring to watch his daughter, Marley, play for the Mounties. When the girls' job opened, Webb didn't immediately jump at the position. He first needed to find out if Marley wanted to be coached by her father.

"We kind of got an agreement," Webb said. "On the court, I'm her coach. Once we're off the court, it's all forgotten. I had to decide if I could leave it at the door."

Webb got Marley's approval, took over the girls' program and it has become a family affair. Marley, a junior, starts at guard. Son Bobby, 12, films the games, and wife Diane keeps score.

It has helped that Webb gets to work with Eshaya Murphy, one of the best sophomore players in the region, but the Mounties' success is also a tribute to a man who found the courage to not let a bunch of out-of-control parents send him into retirement.

"It's fun and we're having a great time," he said.

*

Start calling Juan Plascencia "The Singing Goalie."

The former Notre Dame High and Cal State Northridge soccer player sat out this season to work on a singing career. He trains with a voice coach twice a week and has been doing demos.

"It's going slowly but surely," he said.

Twice he sang the national anthem before Northridge soccer games. He started at goalie as a freshman and sophomore and plans to return to the team this fall.

He said his music has a "Latin rhythm with pop sound." He let his hair grow long. He was known for his flashy goalie clothes and intends to wear "some flashy stuff" as a singer.

Asked if his Northridge teammates have sought autographs, Plascencia said, "Jokingly, yes."

Plascencia, 20, used to practice his singing during soccer matches.

"When I played club and we were up by a lot, I'd take requests from my defenders and just sing," he said.

Besides stopping goals, Plascencia hopes to receive his teammates' support in another way.

"Hopefully, they'll pay to go to one of my concerts," he said.

*

First-year baseball Coach Zac Miller of Agoura has imposed a preseason news blackout on his team in the apparent hope they will sneak up on opponents and reverse their losing ways.

But news is leaking out that the Chargers have some top players. First baseman Paul Farinacci hit six home runs and had 26 runs batted in last season. Second baseman Adam Hersh signed with Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and is reported much improved. Junior pitcher Brandon Canning is supposedly showing potential.

Miller, the son of Hueneme football coach Larry Miller, might want to speak with his father on dealing with the media. Keeping the names of top players quiet isn't an ideal way to attract future players. . . .

A jury in Vista awarded $38,955 to a former San Diego County high school basketball player who was hit in the head with a marking pen during a coach's tirade.

If a basketball player could receive almost $40,000 for taking a marking pen in the head, what could a sportswriter get? . . .

Basketball opponents of Thousand Oaks should know by now one certain fact: Don't mess with Kyle Kegley. The 6-foot-4 senior is one of the region's best clutch players. It was no surprise that he scored 16 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter on Friday in the Lancers' 52-50 Division I-AA quarterfinal victory over Cajon.

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