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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | ERIC SONDHEIMER

Thumbs Up Given to Hanging 10 at New Skate Park

March 21, 2001|ERIC SONDHEIMER

Everyone has been frustrated with government representatives at least once in their life, whether it was by a traffic cop, the garbage collector, the DMV, the IRS, the park superintendent, a school board member or the President of the United States.

It seems appropriate to praise government officials when they have done something smart and effective.

The opening of the Pedlow Field Skate Park in Encino is a success story.

It's the first skateboard park in Los Angeles approved by the city council and built with funds from the 1996 voter-passed Proposition K bond measure.

It had its one-month anniversary last week and is drawing skateboarders en masse.

Some go to the park to watch skateboarders racing back and forth trying to avoid carnage. Thankfully, the fire department has responded only twice for minor injuries.

The 8,500-square-foot concrete facility, located on Victory Boulevard near Birmingham High, is too small for the number of skateboarders who want to use the ramps, handrails and steps, but that doesn't diminish its importance.

Government builds parks and recreation facilities hoping they will be used by families. Pedlow is fulfilling every expectation.

From the time gates open at noon on weekdays and at 10 a.m. on weekends, skateboarders of all ages race around the concrete structure. The park's master plan calls for another 11,500 square feet of skating, and it can't be built soon enough.

Veteran skateboarders complain the facility doesn't measure up to some private and public parks.

"There's no flow to the walls and the cross traffic is dangerous," said a 38-year-old skateboarder.

"They need to have an area for small kids," said another skateboarder.

Others recommend that the concrete surrounding the upper rim of the bowl be widened. A promised pay phone for emergencies hasn't been built. And many want the park's hours extended on weekdays.

All are good suggestions that park officials should consider.

But even park critics say they are in heaven having a skateboard park in the middle of the San Fernando Valley.

The amateur skateboarders who have been chased away from parking lots and schools by merchants and school police view Pedlow as their backyard sandbox.

"It's perfect," said 16-year-old Dario Revk, a Granada Hills High student. "I love it."

Politicians like to make speeches about trying to help young people stay out of trouble, but Pedlow is proof government can play a role in giving teenagers a safe place to enjoy something they think is cool.

Now, if only it were a little bigger so the parents could skate, too.

"We were thinking of buying some time at 3 a.m.," said one adult skateboarder.

*

Big Game Geery. That's a fitting nickname for Kennedy High pitcher Adam Geery, who is becoming as unbeatable in big games as Randy Wolf, former El Camino Real pitcher.

As a sophomore, Geery pitched a complete game in the City Championship at Dodger Stadium to defeat El Camino Real. This season, he pitched a complete game to defeat top-ranked Westlake. Last week, he pitched a complete game to defeat West Torrance, considered the top team in the state.

"I thrive on it," Geery said of pressure games.

After he gave up a two-out home run in the seventh inning against West Torrance that made the score 9-1, a West Torrance player taunted him.

"Some kid in their dugout was mouthing off and I was standing there on the mound with a big smile on my face, 'I'm one out away from getting a victory,' " Geery said.

Chatsworth defeated Kennedy last week in a nonleague game, but the Chancellors didn't face Geery. Until they do, they should hold off putting down a deposit on any City Championship rings.

*

Sophomore pitcher Cody Collet has a promising future at Newbury Park. He pitched five shutout innings of relief against Westlake, striking out five. . . .

Michael Frost, former Campbell Hall pitcher who is a freshman at Trinity University in San Antonio, is 1-1 with a 2.30 earned-run average in 15 2/3 innings. . . .

Outfielder Brian Horwitz, a freshman at California and a Crespi graduate, leads the Golden Bears with a .368 batting average, including a team-high 10 doubles. . . .

Jennifer Sharron, former Thousand Oaks pitcher, is 10-2 with a 2.08 ERA for the University of Notre Dame. . . .

Rob DiMuro of Notre Dame High and Rob Bloom of North Hollywood have been selected to coach in the Battle of the Valley all-star basketball game May 12 at Cal State Northridge. . . .

Who says you can't go home again? Shayne Berry, who transferred to Chatsworth from Taft two years ago to play basketball for the Chancellors, has returned to Taft to complete his senior year. Kris Govea, who transferred to Taft last fall from Granada Hills to play football, is trying to return to Granada Hills to graduate with his friends.

*

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

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