Anyone out there scouting for Boise State University?
That’s the question of the week: Samantha Nickell, an elite swimmer from Redlands East Valley, committed to that campus back on Nov. 13. That same day across the wash over in San Bernardino, Aquinas softballer Bobbiann Pratt committed to the same campus.
There’s San Bernardino High’s running back Alexander Mattison, now with the Minnesota Vikings, who spent three seasons in the Broncos’ backfield.
Yucaipa volleyballer Janell Walley just finished her senior season.
Autumn Bennett, another REV product, plays on a Boise State infield.
Distance racing star Claire Graves, from Citrus Valley, is running track and cross country.
Redlands High’s Gabby Gillespie played her way onto the Lady Broncos’ soccer roster.
San Gorgonio’s Tyreque Jones is on the current Broncos’ football roster. So is REV’s Billy Bowens. Let’s not forget REV safety Isaiah Bradford, who had committed to Boise State despite a season-ending injury in Week 3.
Added up, that’s nine athletes covering six sports that’ll be taking that Delta Airlines flight from Ontario to Boise ‚— stopping in Salt Lake City, no doubt — for college classes and an athletic career.
This is way too much of a coincidence. Who’s spying on these kids for Boise State from this area? Who’s responsible for giving all these kids a huge opportunity?
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Last year’s settlement between Redlands schools leadership and its teachers finalized in one crucial point: Only three years credit for time served from another district upon beginning Redlands employment. It used to be eight.
On the salary scale, three years credit instead of eight results in thousands per year less in the paycheck.
Here’s what that means: Coaches with experience and success will be less likely to enter Redlands Unified school system.
It’s bound to offend some people, so let’s be delicate.
A young local coach with an eye on, say, Estevan Valencia’s Redlands High baseball job (which has now opened upon his move to school athletic director), or Bill Berich’s Redlands East Valley basketball job, or Citrus Valley’s football post now manned by Kurt Bruich will have a better opportunity.
(Those guys will have to retire some day, right?)
It’ll mean a highly successful out-of-district coach will be less likely to apply here under the new procedures.
Truthfully, Valencia, Berich and Bruich would have probably not applied here — all three came here from other districts — if Redlands Unified was only offering three years credit on the pay scale when they originally arrived. Of course, we’ll never know.
All three launched sensational careers in the local district.
Safe to say that plenty of coaches are scoffing at this.
Best example I can think of in recent years? Derrick Dial, the 2017 interim football coach at Redlands upon Jim Walker’s retirement, wasn’t rehired as permanent coach.
He led the Terriers to their last post-season appearance in 2017, didn’t get hired at either Redlands or REV.
Beaumont head coach Jeff Steinberg, who came to Redlands for a chat with Dial at Starbucks (the one next to RHS, of all places), eventually hiring him as Cougars’ defensive coordinator on the spot.
Dials’ Redlands chances might’ve been better if this new rule had been in place. This district, virtually closed down to outsiders, will be wide open for young coaches looking to create opportunities.
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Throughout the 2019 Major League Baseball season, Redlands’ Ronnie Warner stood in the third box coach for, as it turns out, last season’s National League Manager of the Year Mike Shiltd.
“I’m very happy for him,” said Warner.
“Well deserved. (I) really haven’t spoken to many people in the organization, but I’m sure everyone is proud.”
Left unsaid, perhaps, is that Warner is part of a Cardinals’ coaching staff that contributed mightily toward the St. Louis Cardinals’ 91-71 playoff season.
Warner, the former Redlands High shortstop (1988 graduate), had his own range of assignments — bunting, outfield play, etc. — while working from the third base box.
Shildt could easily be grateful to a coaching staff that helped make it all possible.
“Thanks,” Warner said.
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A chat with Kim Aiken, who is one of this area’s best-ever basketball players, was asked to recount his top memories during his Wildcat days.
He stumbled a bit before saying, “I have two.”
One was, of course, the countless big games, playoffs, All-CIF honors and on-court spotlight.
Then there was Jana Bailey. Bailey, who is married to Citrus Valley basketball coach Yon Okorodudu, is REV’s site leader for its AVID program.
AVID is an acronym for Advanced via Individual Determination or, more specifically, for kids whose parents didn’t attend college.
“She was always on me,” said Aiken, who is now at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, “to apply … to visit different campuses.”
Aiken went on AVID group trips to various campuses in order to fire up high schoolers for college dreams. Even without basketball, Aiken might’ve wound up at the University of Oregon or various other campuses — via AVID.
Aiken, who not only fit well into Bill Berich’s Wildcat basketball program, also fit well within the structure of Bailey’s AVID program.
“Without Ms. Bailey,” said Aiken, “I might not have made it to college.”
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