Angels pick up former Cypress College pitcher

The Angels have acquired left-handed pitcher Jason Vargas from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for infielder Kendrys Morales. The transaction was announced by General Manager Jerry Dipoto.Vargas, 29, finished the 2012 season with a 14-11 record with a 3.85 ERA and 141 strikeouts. The left-hander led the Mariner staff in wins and quality starts (22) while setting career highs in wins, starts, innings pitched and strikeouts. The Southern California native finished amongst the American League leaders in starts (T4th), quality starts (fourth), innings pitched (sixth), WHIP (1.178, 10th) and complete games (two, tied for 10th).A former teammate of Jered Weaver at California State University Long Beach, Vargas has compiled a 42-50 record with a 4.35 ERA over parts of seven big league seasons.Vargas was the Southern California Player of the Year in 2003 at Cypress College as the chargers captured the state championship.He was a co-MVP of that tournament — batting .414 with 7 RBI in the playoffs, and a 2-1 record on the mound as he recorded 21 strikeouts in 19 innings. Opening the championship series, Vargas struck out 11. In the final game, playing first base, he went 2-for-3 to help secure the championship.A member of Cypress College's Hall of Fame and one of 18 alumni to reach the Major Leagues, Vargas finished his collegiate career at Cal State Long Beach and debuted with the Florida Marlins in 2005."He was a big factor in us winning the state championship that year," said Scott Pickler, the Chargers' head baseball coach. "It's pretty unusual to have a guy hit .374 and strike out 101. It's never happened in the 28 years I've been here."In his lone season at Cypress College, after transferring from Louiana State University, Vargas recorded 11 wins, 1 shy of the college record, tying him for 4th place in the single-season record book. He's 10th in single-season strikeouts with 101, 7th on the career ERA list at 3.10.

AYSO VIP Soccer hosting sign-ups

AYSO Region 154’s VIP Soccer program, now celebrating its 16th season for special needs children and adults, opens registration Saturday and Sunday, March 23-24 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Season Ticket Family Pizza (6038 Ball Road) in Buena Park. Registration is just $25 and available for players from Buena Park, Cypress, Los Alamitos, La Palma, Rossmoor, Seal Beach, Westminster and West Anaheim. Online registration is required first and available at www.eayso.org until May.Additional in-person registration dates are Wednesday, April 10 from 6 to 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 21 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday, May 4 from 12 to 4 p.m.The AYSO Region 154 V.I.P. Soccer has served nearly 150 players since expanding in 2010. It is made possible through the support of UnitedHealthcare, the Bandai Foundation and CalOptima as well as other community-based organizations and individual supporters. Teams and schedules will be announced in early June. Practices begin in mid August. Games will begin the weekend after Labor Day in September and go into early December.Those registering players are asked to complete the online application including the e-signature. Then bring a printed copy of the completed form to one of the five registration dates in March through May along with payment. Those who do not have access to a computer, onsite assistance will be available at registration on a first-come/first-serve basis. A limited number of player scholarships are available for those seeking financial assistance.V.I.P. players receive uniforms, souvenir team photos, yearbooks and trophies at 'Celebrating V.I.P. Soccer Day' for the $25 registration fee. No prior playing experience is necessary.“This is our Sweet 16,” said Ben Singer, volunteer director of the V.I.P. program for AYSO, Region 154. “We're proud to be among the nation's largest programs serving the special needs community and look forward to growing even further next fall.”Region 154 V.I.P. Soccer invites local teenagers to volunteer as “buddies” for next fall. Those interested can complete a volunteer application online or at one of the five registration days.For more information on the V.I.P. program, visit www.Region154.org or contact Singer at benjamin.singer2@verizon.net or 562-936-1466.

Local teams battle on court in playoffs

Most of the local boys’ basketball teams that qualified for the postseason have been eliminated.That list includes Cypress High, which fell to Santiago in the second round of the CIF Division-IA bracket. The Centurions lost that matchup 52-49 on Tuesday, Feb. 19.The Centurions, who took second place in the Empire League, finished the season with a 21-8 overall record.In the first round, they bested Burroughs with a 50-40. Jalen Hall led the team with a game-high 22 points. Additionally, Jason Rouse, who played great at the boards on both ends of the court, ended with 11 pointsSantiago will now face El Tor in the quarterfinal round today, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m.A handful of other local teams have been eliminated from the postseason.Servite, which secured an at-large bid in Division-IIIAAA play, managed to advance to the quarterfinal round. It did this by topping Arroyo 60-47 in the first round on Wednesday, Feb. 13. It then returned to action against Sonora in the second round. This time it squeaked by with a 44-40 victory to face Brea Olinda. However, it finally fell 55-39 on Tuesday, Feb. 19.Most of the other local teams lost in the first round.Los Alamitos, which took second in the Sunset League, fell in Division-I action, losing 81-69 to Silverado.Savanna, the No. 9 seed in the Division-IIA bracket and champion of the Orange League, was bounced from the competition in an upset by Woodbridge, the third place squad from the Pacific Coast League. Woodbridge advanced with a 54-42 victory.Both Katella, which finished in second place in the Orange League, and Loara, the runner-up in the Golden West League, suffered opening round losses in Division-IA action. Katella was topped by Aliso Niguel, which took third in its league, with a 66-41 loss. Loara, on the other hand, fell 55-43 to Burbank, the No. 4 team from the Pacific League.Century, the No. 3 team from the Orange League, fell to Santa Margarita in the first round. That contest ended with a score of 59-29.The one team that remains alive is Tustin, the champion of the Empire League. It defeated Cerritos, San Bernidino and Bonita to reach the semifinal round, where it will face host Compton today, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m.

Boys & Girls Club of Cypress wins dodgeball title

The Boys & Girls Club of Cypress formed their first-ever dodgeball team this season. Team members were in fourth through sixth grade and practiced twice a week at the club. Over the past three months, the dodgeball team played over 15 games against a variety of other Boys & Girls Clubs in Garden Grove.On Thursday, June 5, the team competed against the Main Branch team from Garden Grove to win the championship. After losing the first three games in the seven-game series, the Cypress team came back and won the remaining four games. Coach and Boys & Girls Club of Cypress staff member Isaac Rivera commented, “The kids were so excited and nervous during the games. It was an intense championship! The kids played hard and came back to win it- it was awesome”. The club was awarded a trophy at the conclusion of the game.For more information about athletic activities at the Boys & Girls Club of Cypress, or for information about the club, please call 714-527-2697, stop by the club, or visit www.boysandgirlsclubofcypress.com.

JD Hobbies Inc. corners the memorabilia market

JD Hobbies Inc. is one of a kind. It’s actually sports memorabilia, hobby collectible and toy shop that is a dying bred. Sure, there are hobby, toys and sports collectible shops all over the place in Orange County and elsewhere. But none can stand up to the mighty collection and vast spread that is JD Hobbies Inc. JD Hobbies Inc. sits on close to 10,000 feet of property in the middle of downtown San Pedro.It is a two-level vacuum of antique die-cast model cars, hard-to-find World War II figurines, books and memorabilia that folks from as close as Orange County and as far as Europe come by to pick up these treasured artifacts. In between, visitors travel from East Coast cities such as Chicago and Detroit to step foot into one of the biggest hobby and memorabilia shops in the country.The sports part of the massive enclave of memorabilia can be found all around the store, whether in the form of the highly sought after McFarlane sports figures, in the form of vintage magazines such as Time, Life, Ring Magazine and through an assortment of sports trading cards. JD Hobbies Inc. (471 W. 6th Street, San Pedro, 90731) is a one-stop shop for everything that sports and memorabilia collectors can want and find.This is the Treasure Island when it comes to that particular genre. Oh, let’s forget about the uniquely, expansive model train set that used to lie in front of the store that customers would gasp at in jaw-wondering awe. Unfortunately, that particular item, which has come to define the essence of JD Hobbies Inc. was sold by owner Louis Lee for some change around $10,000 to a train engineer.As anyone knows, tracking down long lost memorabilia can be a sometimes fruitless chore. Lee says that JD Hobbies Inc. gives the ultimate memorabilia hawker or even the generic store shopper a little of everything that parlays on their wants and needs. The biggest thing that JD Hobbies Inc., open for business Tuesday through Sunday, does is get people thinking about what they used to enjoy during their childhood. It ushers in a sense of nostalgia for a lot people, Lee said.“Here, you don’t know really what to expect,” Lee said. “A hundred times a day, people say this invokes my childhood. What’s here cannot replicated, cannot be duplicated on a computer screen. If they’re looking for a water canteen from the Civil War that’s under lock and key…you get to see it, you get to see the condition of it, the weight. How can you duplicate that on a computer screen? It is so specific to the hobby, in all of its forms, in all of its genres. You have to touch it, people have to see.”One of the greatest allure of any hobby or memorabilia shop is recapturing or reminiscing about an era that is no longer here. Lee says he sees this all the time with his customers.“I got one collector who is a medical doctor. He’s a medical doctor. He collects model kits. He doesn’t build, doesn’t open the kits,” Lee said. “What he does is he puts it in his storage unit, and he opens the door and takes a big whiff of the plastic and it flashes back to his childhood. And he closes it up.”That kind of sentiment is missing today Lee says. It is an era that has perhaps said good-bye. However, Lee he is motivated when he and his talented staff tools around to gingerly tend to the products that line the shelves at JD Hobbies Inc. This makes JD Hobbies Inc. an even more of a hot commodity in the dying hobby industry, Lee says.“It’s gone. Not missing, but gone,” Lee said.With JD Hobbies Inc. operating in full force, it is safe to say that the hobby industry is still in good hands. Lee was studying pre-law when his uncle began asking him to help out with the shop in a myriad of ways, including looking over contracts, when he was younger. His uncle called him so much that Lee eventually got hooked in the hobby madness that he thoroughly enjoys.Amazingly, JD Hobbies Inc. has been able to thrive for decades by just word-of-mouth advertising. And that’s been the strength of collectible company.“We are one of the largest, independently-owned hobby shops in the United States. It is just under 10,000 square feet," Lee said. "The good news is that the barometer to all of this is that people from the East Coast travel. If you take the mix of current and out of production stuff and print items, well that creates a certain fascination and appeal. That to me is perhaps the most gratifying thing that I do.”

Cypress local runs LA Marathon

Nick Troutman didn’t let the end of his college career stop him from trying new things. The twenty-three year old physical therapy aide graduated from the University of Oregon last spring with a degree in human physiology, but he wanted to find something new and exciting to do when he moved back to his hometown here in Orange County. Growing up in Cypress, and lettering in football at Cypress High School, Troutman had done a couple local 5Ks, and did triple jump in track, but never had much running experience.“One of my co-workers told me he had just signed up for the LA Marathon and that I should join him. I decided the marathon would be the perfect challenge and signed up that week.”Troutman signed up in November and began his 18-week training program just a couple of weeks later. He had never run more than a 10K, never even a half-marathon, yet Troutman planned to shoot for a time of three hours and forty-five minutes in the LA Marathon.The twenty-six mile course began at the historic Dodger Stadium and concluded at the Santa Monica Pier, passing by several Los Angeles landmarks along the way, including City Hall, the Pantages Theater, and Rodeo Drive. Throughout the race, entertainment stops cheered runners along their way, with DJs, a stilt walker, and longtime marathon entertainer, Drum Beats.As runners left Beverly Hills and headed toward mile 18, they were met by more than 600 local cheerleaders from teams across Southern California, making noise to encourage participants.Troutman mentioned that people along the route came outside to squirt runners with their hoses, handing out oranges, bananas, and water, but some encouragers stuck out in his mind:“One group had chili cheese dogs at mile five, and another group had beer at mile twenty-two…they were a good morale boost,” he said.Family members had the opportunity to track their runner through the Asics LA Marathon app, as well as sign up for race-day tracking to receive updates as their runner made his/her way along the course. Despite all of the supporters and efforts to entertain runners and make the morning an enjoyable one, the run was one of the hottest in history, hitting 75 degrees at the 7:00 start, and reaching a temperature of 87 degrees by the finish line in Santa Monica.Downtown Los Angeles reached a record high at 92 degrees, surpassing the previous 1978 record of 85 degrees. Troutman said the excessive heat didn’t give him any extra headache. Constant email updates, and marathon precautions from the LA Marathon staff gave him the reassurance he needed in the week leading up to the marathon, but his mother, Karen Troutman, still had her concerns.“I was nervous, yet excited! The weather worried me most…Nick is driven and competitive so I had no doubt he would finish, but when he crossed the finish line, it was quite a relief!” she said.Troutman’s training changed his diet and connectedness to his body. Following an 18-week program designed by legendary runner, Hal Higdon, Troutman ran five times per week with a long run on Sundays, cross training on Mondays, and rest on Fridays. He incorporated cycling, swimming, and weight lifting. After eight weeks of training, Troutman said he began to feel different.“I could feel the runs becoming easier and the long runs didn’t feel so long anymore. The training was no longer something I had to do but instead something I waited all day to do.”Troutman craved sweets less, and instead felt satisfied with healthy alternatives like fruits.Despite all of his training, Troutman felt nervous the night leading up to the race.“I knew all the training I did would pay off, but I couldn’t stop thinking about how far I was going to be running,” he said.On March 15, Nick Troutman ran the LA Marathon, and finished with a time of 4:30:42.“I was bouncing off the walls with excitement. I get a huge adrenaline rush from competing, and being surrounded by 26,000 people who were chomping at the bit to do the same made the moment even better. All I could think about was passing each mile marker and just enjoying all the cool sights and sounds along the route,” he recalled.But as soon as Troutman passed the finish line, he was ready to rest.“I have never been so physically and mentally exhausted at the same time,” he said.Troutman says finishing the marathon left him feeling like he could do anything he set his mind to, and encourages anyone who wants to run a marathon, to sign up and start training.Troutman’s father, Bruce, who has run five marathons told his son along the way,“…go out there and enjoy the experience, listen to your body, and drink as much water as you can get your hands on…”Troutman says he plans on doing the Surf City Marathon in Huntington Beach next year. He hopes to use that one to qualify for the Boston Marathon, so he can “check it off his bucket list.”

Last minute drama, fundamental basketball

Cypress youth basketball’s summer league crowned it’s Division A, B, and C, champions on Wednesday July 23. Cheering parents rocked the walls and bleachers of Lexington Middle School’s gymnasium as each division’s top two squads duked it out for a trophy and the title of division champions.Division C, which featured 7-9 year-olds, started off the day with a match-up between the Kings and the Gators. The Gators edged out a 25-23 win regaining the lead late in the game to a Kings squad that looked to have the title won with five minutes to go. Kings player Jacob Sanders helped his side overcome the lead that the Gators held for the first three quarters of the game.Scoring crucial buckets from middle range shots, Sanders and his team felt the division title within grasp as they took a substantial six point lead in the fourth quarter.However, under the leadership of Coach Roger Roussell, the Gators were able to resurge for the win late in the game after some shaky moments.“The Kings pushed us to our limits as it was the first time we were losing in the fourth quarter,” said Roussell. “But our boys held it together and played that solid team defense as they’ve done all year.”Gator players Kason White and Andrew Noquez provided crucial points late in the game to help their side get the victory.Division B’s final saw the Eagles and Clippers face off, which comprises 9-10 year-olds.The Clippers pulled away in the end achieving a 30 -24 victory over an Eagle squad that let the pressure get to them.Both benches where opposite in coaching styles. Clippers Coach Mike Song’s quiet but focused leadership was nothing like Eagles Coach Johnny Lee’s boisterous commands from the bench.The lead changed quite a bit in the first three quarters of the game. Both sides were attacking with intensity, and taking advantage of every fast break opportunity.Clipper players Ryan Zamarripa and Miles Song were the driving forces of the offense. Both held great poise outside the arc and directed the offense nicely when in the point guard role.Andrew Ramos of the Clippers, held it down in the paint for his team scoring many points down the lane. On one occasion, when Ramos got held up outside the arc his father stoop up in the bleachers and yelled “take it to the hole”!The Clippers did just that, taking a comfortable six point lead late in the fourth quarter, and holding off the Eagles offensive threats Brandon Lee and Ethan Tieu.Division A’s championship game was played between the Bulls and the Lakers, and was the final contest of the night.In a close 32-31 victory, the Bulls out-nudged their opponents with some last minute drama to gain the title for their division.“My boys played their hearts out,” said Bulls Coach Eddie Haro. “I trained them…to play hard regardless of winning or losing. We [won] the championship and that comes from being prepared and being committed.”Haro says his loud coaching style stems from his passion for his team to excel in the fundamentals.“I know I yell a lot,” said Haro in his team’s acceptance speech. “But it’s never in a negative way. I yell because I want them to play the game right and play fundamental basketball.”The Bulls’ Twin Towers, as Haro called them, Joshua Kung and Nathan Fung were the deciding factor in the game. They rose over the opponents with ease in offense, and towered over them in defense.In the point guard position, Benjamin Tarn directed things for the Bulls and helped set up many plays that ended in a bucket.However, the Lakers were no pushovers the entire game and made the Bulls earn every point they got. Laker player Enrico Hernandez scored most of his sides points but just came up short in the end.Cypress youth basketball starts up again in the winter. Cypress Residents can begin signing up their children ages 7-14 on October 6 and up until October 24. Non-Cypress residents can begin registering their child Oct. 13 and up until Oct. 24.

Los Al volleyball to play for CIF State title

The Los Alamitos High girls’ volleyball team swept Mater Dei to capture the CIF South Regional Championship on Tuesday, Dec. 3. Senior Crissy Jones sealed the 25-23, 25-16, 25-20 victory with a block from the corner of the net inside the Falcon Gymnasium at Cerritos College. That point sends the Griffins to the CIF State Division-I Championship final, where they will face Granite Bay, the Northern California representative.“It’s a great feeling,” said Jones, who played on the squad that lost in this game two years ago. “It’s absolutely incredible … but now we got to go to practice and put this behind us.”Jones led the Griffins with 20 kills. She also finished with 10 digs.“She really stepped up,” Los Alamitos head coach Dave Huber said.Additionally, Rylee Hunt ended with 16 digs. As a team, the Griffins collectively made seven blocks and six aces.In the third game, the Griffins captured three straight points to eliminate the Monarchs, who they also bested in the CIF Southern Section title game. Annie Hale came through with a block to jump start that final run.Los Alamitos has captured three state titles, collecting them in 2003, 2005, and 2006. Its opponent upcoming opponent, Granite Bay, bested St. Francis (San Jose) to reach the North Regional Championship. Los Alamitos will face Granite Bay on Saturday, Dec. 7 at Santiago Canyon College. That contest will start at 8 p.m.

Griffins reach title game of South Coast Tourney

The Los Alamitos High girls basketball team made a solid run in the South Coast Tournament, reaching the championship game before falling short to Mater Dei for the title, 58-41, on Saturday at University High. Just getting to the title game is such a high-quality field of teams shows a lot of potential for a Griffin team that head coach Rich Alvarez admits is still trying to find an offensive rhythm. The Griffins reached the title game by holding opponents to no more than 37 points. “We’ve been focusing on defense first,” Alvarez said. While the defense was key, it was a big three-point shot that finally propelled them to the title game. With the score tied at 33-33, senior guard Brianna Flynn drained a three-pointer from the right angle that lifted the Griffins to a 36-33 victory over Woodbridge in the semifinals on Friday night. The Griffins led 26-23 at the end of the third, but the Warriors went on a 9-2 run to take a 32-28 lead a little more than two minutes left in the game. Miranda Ta’Amu was fouled while driving for a layup and made both free throws to pull the Griffins within 32-30. After a defensive stop, senior guard Dani Iwami hit a three pointer to tie the game at 33-33, with 1:08 left in the game. The Griffins again made a defensive stop to gain possession, which set up the game-winner by Flynn. Against Woodbridge, senior center Sarah Hermann led the offense with 10 points and Iwami had nine. Flynn finished with seven and sophomore guard jade Galloway added six. Iwami, Flynn and Hermann are returning starters and the Griffins have seven returners all together from a team that went 22-7 last year, won the Sunset League title and reached the CIF-SS quarterfinals. They have the potential and their sights set on defending their league title and making another strong run in the CIF-SS playoffs. In the South Coast quarterfinals, Iwami had 18 points to lead the way in a 41-37 win over Tesoro. In their opener, it was Hermann who led the way with 15 points in a 53-35 win over Trabuco Hills. Ta’Amu added 11. In the finals against Mater Dei, Flynn had 21 points, but the offense struggled in the second and third quarters, as Mater Dei took the title with a 58-41 win. The Griffins are back in action this week at the Ocean View High Hawk Holiday Classic. They opened on Tuesday (past our deadline) against Mira Costa and will face Trabuco Hills on Wednesday, Dec. 9.

Griffins pummel Chargers heading into spring break

The Los Alamitos High softball team jumped out to a big early lead and cruised to a 10-0 win over Edison as the Griffins head into spring break.Senior pitcher Ryan Denhart pitched just three innings before leaving with an 8-0 lead, as Brianna Jewett pitched three innings in relief, with Sarah Ladd closing out the seventh inning.Denhart allowed three hits with a strikeout, while Jewett allowed just two hits and struck out two.The Griffins broke the game open early with four runs in the first inning and four more in the second as they took control early in the road game. Cami Sellers had a home run and four RBIs, while Danielle Lew also homered. Jazzmyn Loe had an RBI double and Mary Iakopo had a hit, two RBIs and scored a run.Andrea Gonzalez had a hit and scored a run.The Griffins were ranked No. 1 in last week’s Orange County poll and No. 2 in the CIF-SS Division 1 poll behind Norco. The Griffins battled Norco in the championship of the Michelle Carew Classic on April 8, coming up short, 1-0. Denhart pitched seven innings, with just three hits allowed and five strikeouts.The Griffins are 17-3 and 3-0 in league play, with Huntington Beach second in the Sunset League at 3-1. The Griffins will be off until April 25, when they will play at Huntington Beach, at 3:15 p.m.