Readers of ClipperBlog are aware that for the better part of the last two seasons, D.J. Foster has been doing the heavy lifting at this site. In that role, D.J. has done far more than just write up recaps and offer the combination of pathos, guarded optimism and hard-boiled x’s & o’s you’ve come to expect from ClipperBlog. He’s infused this place with a fresh voice. His generosity and smarts have allowed me to pursue other goals while still maintaining ClipperBlog.
The fact that Los Angeles is primarily a Trojans and Bruins town is certainly not lost on most native Angelenos.
Consider for a moment, however, that the large majority of Los Angeles-area college students attend schools other than USC and UCLA, and that these schools produce professional talent and championship level teams every single year. In the last few years alone, Long Beach State has produced major league baseball stars in Evan Longoria and Troy Tulowitzki. Perennial powerhouse Cal State Fullerton has reached the College World Series sixteen times and has brought home four NCAA titles in their illustrious history. UC Irvine, Pepperdine, Long Beach State, Cal Poly and the aforementioned Cal State Fullerton were all in, or received votes to be in, the USA Today/ESPN Preseason Baseball Top 25 poll. The Big West conference, which houses seven Los Angeles area schools in total, just may be the best college baseball conference in the entire nation.
And it’s not just about baseball.
UC Irvine is the reigning Men’s Volleyball Champion. UC Santa Barbara is only a few years removed from an NCAA Men’s Soccer title. The Cal State Northridge Men’s Basketball team was shockingly close to upsetting Memphis in last year’s NCAA Tournament. Keion Bell of Pepperdine dropped 34 points on nationally ranked Gonzaga…in the second half alone.
With USC already out of the tournament due to self-imposed sanctions, and UCLA looking rather shaky, there’s a strong chance Los Angeles will be solely represented in March by one of these lesser known teams. In a lot of ways, these teams exemplify what college basketball was always supposed to be about. They seem to reside in this untainted vortex where one-and-done players don’t exist, where the term “student-athlete” remains relevant. And there’s something inspiring about watching the underdog operate under the ultra-realistic premise every game could be his last.
This blog is here to give those underdogs their due, detail the Cinderella stories, and provide these schools with the in-depth coverage they deserve.
I hope you’ll join me for the ride.
You’d be crazy not to, whether you’re a Fullerton baseball fan, a Pepperdine basketball fan, or just someone who loves witty, heady sportswriting.
D.J. will still be active on ClipperBlog, but many nights you’ll find him at Blair Field covering the Dirtbags or at Gersten Pavilion watching WCC hoops. That means we’re looking for some reinforcements here at ClipperBlog which, this week, enters its fifth year. We need new voices like Krai Charuwatsuntorn who can provide readers with game analysis, unique perspectives and the kind of testimonials that only a Clipper partisan can express.
If you’d like to be a part of ClipperBlog, please send us an email at clipperblog -at- gmail.com. Tell us why you’d like to come aboard and what kind of stuff you’d like to do for the site. Please feel free to share some sample work, idle thoughts, graphic illustrations or recipes. Whatever inspires.
Congratulations to D.J.
You’ve earned this.