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High Schools | Eric Sondheimer

Lokar Finding a Way to Fit In Everything

January 20, 2004|Eric Sondheimer

Heather Lokar might need to put a computer chip in her shoe or hire a private eye with a cell phone so family members can keep track of her daily activities.

A senior at Covina Western Christian, Lokar is the student body president; a candidate for valedictorian; an all-leaguer in girls' volleyball, basketball and softball; the homecoming queen; and is active in her church.

How she gets around without a driver's license and stays in touch with her parents without a cell phone is a tribute to teenage ingenuity.

Finding her at home is futile, unless it's late at night when she's studying.

"I like to keep busy," she said. "I don't watch TV and don't spend time doing things I don't think are important."

High school is so important to Lokar that any invitation to participate on a team or join a gathering is usually accepted.

"I'm going to high school once, so I figured, why not go for it all?" she said.

A 5-foot-8 shooting guard in basketball, an outside hitter in volleyball and a shortstop in softball, Lokar has used sports to open doors and to test herself in unconventional ways.

"It teaches me discipline and teaches me confidence," she said. "I've learned how to get along with a lot of people and how to compromise."

How Lokar has been able to turn into such a determined, well-rounded teenager has a lot to do with her mother, Diane, and father, Ray, who's the boys' basketball coach at La Puente Bishop Amat.

Heather lives with her mother, but Ray lives a mile away and has never stopped being a major part of Heather's life, despite a parental separation when she was 5.

"It's important when the going gets tough in the middle of a game and the player glances into the stands for emotional support that they don't have to look at two different spots, but look at one spot and find mom and dad are there," Ray said.

Ray has since remarried and has a 2-year-old son that Heather is turning into a basketball player.

"He has a nice shot," she said.

One of Lokar's favorite moments of high school came when she was asked to speak at an elementary school as part of a drug education program. A young girl asked how she was able to resist the temptation to drink or smoke when others were doing it.

"I wouldn't drink to be popular," she said. "They have to like you because of you. You don't have to fit into anyone's standards."

Lokar is hoping to continue playing basketball at an NAIA school and later become a doctor, though she probably won't be a pediatrician after her experience going to an emergency room at 3 a.m. and "seeing kids crying."

Ray said he's proud of Heather's accomplishments, but his greatest satisfaction has been knowing that she never stops exploring new adventures.

"A lot of kids bail out on opportunities, and she seeks to seize those opportunities," he said.

Friends have come up to Lokar and asked why she does so much and how she pulls it off.

"Why? Because I love it and how, I don't know," she said. "Prayer and because I'm focused and dedicated."

And those who think she acts differently depending on the audience, forget it.

"I am who I am and people have to accept it or not," she said.

*

With only a few weeks left in the winter baseball season, Valencia has displayed the required pitching, fielding and hitting to be a contender for No. 1 in Southern California.

The Vikings have twice beaten last year's national champion, Chatsworth, and pitcher Jared Clark is on his way to becoming a high draft choice.

In the City Section, the three powerhouses from the West Valley League -- Chatsworth, Woodland Hills El Camino Real and Reseda Cleveland -- will start freshmen at key positions.

Chatsworth has two freshmen starters on the left side of the infield, shortstop Mike Moustakas and third baseman Matt Dominguez. El Camino Real has outfielder Tyler Kolodny. Outfielder Andrew Lambo of Cleveland might be the league's best first-year player since Chatsworth's Jason Dominguez, Matt's brother, three years ago.

In its December ranking of the top 100 pro prospects, Baseball America listed six from Southern California. Pitcher Trevor Plouffe of Encino Crespi was No. 12. Others were No. 17, pitcher Phil Hughes of Santa Ana Foothill; No. 38, pitcher Mark Trumbo of Villa Park; No. 69, pitcher Brad Meyers of Anaheim Servite; No. 78, outfielder Chris Jones of Mission Viejo; and No. 80, outfielder Jason Dominguez of Chatsworth.

*

Whether Westchester wins or loses its appeal of sanctions this week, the Comets (14-1) have two critical boys' basketball games ahead. First up is the nation's No. 1 team, Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill Academy, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Loyola Marymount as part of the Nike Extravaganza.

Then the Comets play host to Fairfax (13-2) on Jan. 28 in a Western League game.

It's a chance for Southern California fans to gauge the improvement of Westchester guard Gabriel Pruitt.

"Pruitt is playing phenomenally," Coach Ed Azzam said.

*

Eric Sondheimer can be reached at eric.sondheimer@latimes.com.

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