After a weeklong break following a 2-1 showing at the ITA National Team Indoor championships in Charlottesville, Va., the USC women’s tennis team will return to action today with a home matchup against San Diego State at 1:30 p.m.The Trojans are undefeated this year at Marks Stadium and will look to continue that home winning streak against the visiting Aztecs, who hold a respectable 3-2 record on the season but have yet to play away from home.Following a weekend in which the Women of Troy played matches against three ranked teams, there is an understandable concern that the squad would look past an unranked San Diego State team, especially with a rematch against the No. 7-ranked Cal Golden Bears on the horizon.USC head coach Richard Gallien, however, did not think that overlooking an opponent would be any cause for concern among his players.“Certainly we talked about that and we’ll find out,” Gallien said. “More than anything, with a week and a half off, we’re tired of practicing with each other and ready to go compete against someone else.”Following their first loss of the year in the quarterfinals of the ITA’s against No. 8 North Carolina, the Women of Troy dropped from No. 4 to No. 6 nationally. However, the USC was impressive enough two weekends ago that three members of the team rank in the top five nationally.Senior Danielle Lao jumped from No. 14 to No. 3 overall (in addition to winning Pac-12 player of the week, the third Trojan to do so this year). Meanwhile, sophomore Sabrina Santamaria found herself ranked No. 1 in singles and doubles play. She and her doubles partner, junior Kaitlyn Christian, are undefeated on the year. Santamaria and Lao enter the matchup against the Aztecs with the highest singles rankings in either of their USC careers.Santamaria’s accomplishments are especially impressive and, rather than attempting to keep the sophomore away from her press clippings, Gallien decided to let her enjoy the accomplishment a bit by showing off the rankings in his office. He insisted that he was not concerned about the possibility that the adulation would distract her.“We decided to have fun with it. It’s pretty cool to say you were No. 1 in the nation in something,” Gallien said. “I would be more worried if Sabrina wasn’t such a grounded kid, but she is.”USC will look at this matchup as a tough test before beginning Pac-12 conference play this weekend with a rematch against Cal. The Trojans won the first matchup against the Golden Bears in Charlottesville in dominating fashion, 4-1, but the Pac-12 conference is notorious for being a daunting exercise with top-notch competition every few days.Gallien himself believes that four teams in the Pac-12, including USC, are among the top six in the nation when healthy. Defending their conference title will be tough, but the Women of Troy are certainly up to the challenge.Following the match against Cal, the Women of Troy play twice more on the road — against San Diego on March 1 and UCLA on March 8.
The Ghana Rugby national training squad has started preparations for their international friendly encounters against Niger and Togo in September.The international friendlies were initiated by Mr Herbert Mensah, President of the Ghana Rugby Football Union (GRFU) in an attempt to increase the quality and competitiveness of Ghana’s national team, the Eagles.“The only international exposure for Ghana Rugby has been the annual Africa Rugby tournament that is either a sevens or a fifteens tournament which is totally inadequate to prepare us for getting into higher levels,” Mensah said.In 2015 one friendly international was played in Accra against Togo that was won by the Ghana Eagles.The Ghana Eagles managed to win the bronze cup during the Africa Rugby men’s sevens tournament earlier this year in Lome, Togo.According to Mensah he had discussions with various other Rugby Federations from West Africa during last year’s Rugby World Cup and the idea is to establish a West Africa Rugby Series (WARS) was received with great enthusiasm. He continued to say that the idea behind the WARS is to launch a tournament similar to a combination of the Super Rugby and Rugby Championship tournaments between the Southern Hemisphere Rugby greats of New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina.“Such a tournament will include both fifteens and sevens matches and will cater for both men and women. It is also envisaged that a regional schools tournament will eventually become part of WARS,” he said.Mensah added,” The big challenge is always to obtain funding for such a venture and we hope that we will be able to interest a global corporation doing business in the West Africa to make use of this opportunity to build brand goodwill and awareness.”The September friendly internationals are at this stage scheduled to take place in Accra between Ghana and Niger on the 4th of September as a fifteens match, while the encounter between Ghana and Togo on the 10th will be a sevens event.The technical team under guidance of the President has started with gym training and both the fifteens and sevens players will undergo match preparations in Accra and Cape Coast. According to the head of the technical team, Mr Simba Mangena, the international friendlies will help the players to think beyond local Rugby and hopefully inspire them to continue with keeping themselves in shape for greater things to come.Clubs have also in the meantime started with preparations for the 2016/17 Ghana Rugby Club Championship (GRCC) that normally takes place between November and February every year.Internationally Rugby is also in the limelight with its re-admission to the Olympics after an absence of 92 years. The women’s matches are currently being played in Rio de Janeiro and the men’s sevens matches will start on the 9th of August. The Ghana Rugby national team, the Eagles, preparing for the international friendlies against Niger and Togo in September 2016. Gym work such as squats, deadlifts and bench presses form a large part of the Ghana Rugby Eagles strength programme in preparing for the upcoming friendlies against Niger and Togo in September.
THE IMANI CHRISTIAN ACADEMY SAINTS WITH SPECIAL GUEST BASKETBALL LEGEND AND FORMER DUQUESNE UNIVERSITYALL-AMERICAN B.B. FLENORY. I think it was Biggie Smalls who said, “If you don’t know … you don’t know” and somebody else famous added, “If you don’t know, you better ask somebody.” (Don’t laugh; you’re lucky I knew who Biggie was.) Anyway, I am here to help you have a better understanding about both. If I ask you who has the best basketball team in Pittsburgh, you would probably say Pitt, ranked #4 in the nation. Or you might say Duquesne, who had their best season in 30 years. Maybe you’re thinking Gateway, Allderdice, Schenley, Peabody, Char-Valley…who? You would be wrong on all counts. Thus, “You don’t know what you don’t know!” The best team in town is “The Saints” of Imani Christian Academy. (Okay, they may not be better than Pitt or Duquesne but I bet you this, when it’s game time, they will show up and play and play well!)So to further your lack of knowledge, Imani means “Faith” in Swahili and represents a faith inspired break in the cycle of poverty, broken homes, drug addiction and violence for the children of Pittsburgh’s urban core.Under the spiritual covenant of Petra Ministries and leadership of Bishop Donald Clay and the superior vision of Elder Milton Raiford, Connie and Jim Balthrop, the school has become a national role model for its process and success.Since 1993, ICA has accepted the most neglected and rejected in society and showed them a different vision, a vision that we all should be awakened to. How about this for starters…Did you know that in Pittsburgh less than 50 percent of African-American males finish high school and less than 19 percent go onto post-secondary education. ICA has a 90 percent plus graduation rate and over 60 percent go on to college. Again, what you don’t know…you don’t know.It has been said that “Faith is a gift” and the ultimate level of faith was delivered in the form of a gift that would prove to be just heavenly. Several years ago as a part of Petra’s ever-growing concept to enhance and improve the quality and condition of the area and community surrounding the church, the possibility of purchasing and redeveloping the vacant East Hills Elementary School became a reality.Now in their second year of operation, with student enrollment of 205 plus for K-12 and a faculty of 25 and growing, ICA is steamrolling into the Pittsburgh educational future with an operating budget of $1.8 million and growing and the true blessing of it all is that 97 percent of the students are African-American, 98 percent receive scholarship support and nearly 60 percent go onto college. Furthermore, nearly 90 percent come from single parent families.To no one’s surprise, the development and success of the school is due in part to the leadership and guidance of Dr. Marilyn Barnett, a highly successful, well respected educator of the highest degree and, of course, her talented and caring faculty and staff (which as a matter of fact has a student/teacher ratio of 9 to 1) working side by side with her.Heading up the athletic department is Elder Enos Scott, school administrator and superintendent of athletics. Deacon Harvey Smith, athletic director, who brings “Big Time” athletic, competitive coaching and leadership skills; Minister Kevin Miller, assistant headmaster; and big brother Coach Jimmy Brunett make up a powerful family team that is hard to beat on any level. ICA also has an outstanding and exciting girls basketball program that is coached by Rema Hard and is also upward bound in a competitive program.Okay, okay, I know you’re waiting for me to get back to the basketball part of this story, but to be honest with you, if I didn’t get this in the story, Elder Raiford, aka “Milt” would get Elder Tim Walker, Officer Kevin Head and Roland Slade and take me behind the church and wear me out! (And yes, he would need them!)Why would I suggest to you that “The Spirit” are the best team in town? You may not want to take my word on it. Just talk to Oak Hill Academy who had their hands full. More importantly, talk to anyone of the teams in the SWCAC (South Western Christian Athletic Conference) that they beat on average by 25 or more points … and I mean a beat down of biblical proportions. (Sorry, I don’t know if I can say that or not. I gotta be careful here. My arms are too short to box with God.)Athletic achievement always begins with leadership, guidance, and quality coaching and this team is no different under the firm, but free style method of coaching of Head Coach Khayree Wilson and assistants LaRoi Johnson aka “Franchise,” a former standout City League football and basketball player, as well as Connie Hawkins Summer Basketball League All-Star (now playing professional arena football in Utah); Robert Hart; and Marcus Robinson, a former great high school and college player and one of “the elite high flyers” from the Hawkins League.To a man, the players will all tell you pretty much the same thing. They play for Coach Khayree because he cares about them and puts their individual success ahead of their basketball objectives. To the players, ICA is about family, people who care about their personal well-being and educational success and give them the individual attention sometimes lacking in other schools.Coach Khayree, a strong man of mind, body and spirit, (small in size… mighty otherwise!) as well as a dedicated family man, made it very clear to every player coming in, “This is about family. It’s about graduating and it’s about going to the next level, no matter what it takes.”The evidence speaks to that. Past grads include Danny Wright, a Div. I star player at South Carolina and Andrew Smith who played at Div. II Mercyhurst University and played pro ball in Europe.This year’s class presents the same opportunities. Tom “T.J.” Jackson, point guard and team captain who averaged 20 pts., 10 rebounds and 8 assists a game, has several Div. I offers and is in my opinion the best guard in Western Pa. His co-captain “Big Zo” Alonzo Murphy stands 6″8″ and weighs in at around 250 lbs. of solid basketball force and dunks. Trust me when I tell you very soon you will hear “big” things from him as he moves onto a Div. I school as well.“T.J.” and “Zo,” as well as the other players, talk about how much they love being at ICA, that they would not want to be anywhere else. Some have left city and WPIAL schools and have not regretted their decision to relocate. They speak well of their past schools and maintain their social ties but, for most of them, ICA offered a new and different start, a new beginning both on and off the court and most especially, in the classroom.With a 22-8 overall record, 11-0 league record and some of the area’s best players, Imani wrapped-up the season in the top level of local basketball and more importantly, are now primed after a stellar fifteen year history to move into the WPIAL for the 2012 season.For all that you now know that you didn’t know at the start of this story, know this! Imani “Spirit” basketball, Imami Christian Academy coaches, staff, administration, Petra ministries, the entire operation is about God, the enhancement of our most precious gift…our children, family and community. Their ideal is that our society must address the problems of the inner city and the disadvantages that exist within and they are poised to make the difference now and into the future.“To know Imani, is to have your heart changed.” Fred Fetteroff, board chairman.Now you know what you don”t know!!(To join Imani’s circle of faith giving program which offers additional ways to fund and support their programs and tax credits for business and corporate gift matching, please call (412) 731-7982 for more information.)
Facebook7Tweet0Pin0Submitted by Oly Town ArtesiansOly Town Artesians forward Eli Boatright has been voted Western Indoor Soccer League Offensive Player Of The Week for his game tying goal with 17 seconds left and an assist in the Artesians’ 4-4 draw against the Snohomish Skyhawks on Saturday night.After playing their best quarter of the season in the third quarter of Saturday’s game at Snohomish, the Artesians found themselves down 3-2 early in the fourth quarter and on the ropes. But Oly Town kept fighting and Eli Boatright found Collin Tate on a breakaway and Tate scored to tie the game, 3-3 with 2:49 left.Snohomish retook the lead, 4-3, with 1:31 left, but again, the Artesians didn’t quit and eventually forced the Skyhawks into a turnover. This time, Tate found Boatright with a pass and the 16 year-old Olympia High School student fought off an experienced defender more than twice his age and buried a shot past a goalkeeper more than twice his age to tie the game 4-4 with just 17 seconds left. Despite allowing the goal, Snohomish goalkeeper Trevor Davoren was voted the WISL’s Defensive POTW.Boatright, the little brother of longtime Oly Town captain Nate Boatright, has provided a spark for the struggling Artesians indoor program in his first season of indoor soccer, scoring three goals and assisting on three more while playing stronger than his 16 years and standing up to experienced defenders across the league. The draw was the first WISL point for the Artesians in over a year and their first point ever at the Snohomish Soccer Dome against the Skyhawks.Eli and the rejuvenated Artesians will look for more on Saturday night when they travel to the Tacoma Soccer Center to face fifth place Tacoma Narrows FC at 7:00 PM.They will finally return home for their final two games of the season when they play host to the Oly-Pen Force on Saturday, January 26th. First kick on 2000’s Night and Wembley Soccer Shop Youth Night is set for 6:30 PM at The Pavilion at The Evergreen State College. Kids in their youth uniforms get in for just $2 thanks to Wembley Soccer Shop. Stay up to date with the Artesians by visiting the Oly Town Artesians website, following them on Twitter, and liking them on Facebook.