Reyna Van Damme

Cal State San Bernardino defender Reyna Van Damme (number 16) throwing the ball out during practice last year.

Keep an eye on this soccer matchup ⎯ whenever it takes place. 

Cal State San Bernardino defender Reyna Van Damme taking on Cal State University-Monterey Bay attacking Nayeli Sandoval-Gallo ⎯ next season. 

Both were teammates on last year’s San Bernardino Valley College side that hit a roll in a playoff run that nearly landed the Lady Wolverines a state women’s college soccer championship; it would’ve been their first since 2010. 

SBVC’s women, which does a great job of publicizing its players moving to higher collegiate levels, is back at it again ⎯ despite a worldwide pandemic. 

So the Cal State matchups won’t be taking place until, hopefully, 2021. 

Van Damme, incidentally, is a Redlands High product. 

Sandoval-Gallo, a Bloomington High product, was an important cog in SBVC’s rise to another deep playoff run last season.

So was Van Damme. Each played a high number of minutes on a 15-4-3 squad that lost to San Diego Mesa College, 1-0, in a So Cal Regional showdown. 

There’s more to SBVC’s soccer-playing students landing at new opportunities. 

Striking forward Aaliyah Rubio, another Redlands High product, is after an Elementary Education degree while moving on from SBVC to Carolina University. In 2019, the Lady Bruins were 9-9-1. 

Anyone ever hear of Louisiana Tech? That’s where Marcella Gallo will wind up. She’s another off that SBVC roster of four-year designees. 

These kids want to play ⎯ and study. 

Then there’s Life Pacific University, an NAIA affiliate. It’s down in San Dimas ⎯ just off the northbound side of the 57 between La Verne and Azusa ⎯ that’s starting to build an athletic program. 

Anahi Diaz (Fontana Jurupa Hills), whose five goals and three assists added to the Lady Wolverines’ attack, has wound up at Life Pacific. 

This will be the Warriors’ inaugural season, in fact, for a team that has 10 incoming transfers and 10 freshmen athletes set for play. Shaun Harris, who has professional experience (L.A. Galaxy) with plenty of international background, is coaching both men’s and women’s sides. 

* * * 

Bloomington High’s Jason Hernandez, who spent two seasons on SBVC’s men’s soccer program, has committed to Sonoma State ⎯ a CCAA rival of Cal State San Bernardino. 

Yep, he should run into a couple of old mates from the Wolverines’ roster, now playing for the Coyotes. 

Could be Hugo Herrera, a frontline scorer. Could be Jose Politon, an attacking midfielder. 

Hernandez, of course, being a defender, probably has plenty of data in his mind about his ex-mates. Of course, the reverse could be true ⎯ Politon and Herrera could attack Hernandez’s weak spots, if any. 

Speaking of Life Pacific. Cesar Becerra, another SBVC product, will wind up in the Warriors’ system. He’s been a co-captain, scoring 12 times and assisting on eight others over his two-year Wolverines’ appearances. 

* * * 

As expected: 

Jason Kounas was named head baseball coach at San Bernardino Valley College. As longtime pitching coach for the Wolverines, coached for 28 years by retired Bill Mierzwik. 

More to come on Mierzwik, but we’ll throw this hilarious commentary at you. 

Most baseballers are aware that Mierzwik played at Yucaipa High School, his first season coinciding with the first coaching season of Jeff Stout, who lasted 41 years. 

By the time Mierzwik got hit by the coaching bug, he was a Stout assistant coach. 

“I thought I’d be the next [head] coach at Yucaipa,” Mierzwik said. 

To which Stout replied, “I wouldn’t count on that. I plan on coaching for a while.” 

By his 41st year, which was 2017, Stout was set to retire. 

If Mierzwik had waited that long to take Yucaipa, he’d have missed coaching SBVC for 26 seasons. 

* * * 

Redlands High catching product Jacob Nottingham, who’s been waiting for his chance at a regular big league job through stops with Houston, Oakland and, now, Milwaukee, stepped in for an injured Manny Pina last week. He homered off Pirates’ southpaw Derek Holland last Friday in a 9-1 win. 

(Got a comment on local sports? Got a sports tip? Contact me at baseballolb@hotmail.com.)

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