Girls soccer co-captain earns scholarship to Biola

Seaira Moore, senior goalkeeper for the Malibu High School girls soccer team, wasn’t at all interested in sports when she was younger.

But, her mother, Dina, insisted she play because of a family rule to do so.

That led to Seaira join the American Youth Soccer Organization, where she was reluctantly placed as a goalkeeper.

“I didn’t like being goalkeeper at all,” Seaira said. “I actually cried a lot when I was younger because it was a lot of pressure.”

But, after a few years, Seaira began to love soccer and trained harder. Her improvement led to an academic and athletic scholarship offer from Biola University, which she gladly accepted.

Soccer scholarships seem rare. Only one in every 40 female student-athletes gets offered a soccer scholarship from an NCAA or NAIA university, according to data from

Seaira’s journey started when she was 9, playing for the AYSO. From there, she played club soccer for the Real SoCal team, and eventually joined the team at Malibu High School.

However, Seaira almost left the team after her sophomore year, citing “tension” and “chaos” with the team. But with the arrival of coach Jack Craig, Seaira decided to keep playing.

“I’m just so blessed that he came to our school,” Seaira said of her coach.

Craig, who was also a goalkeeper, said he and Seaira have grown close during the two years he has coached at the high school.

“We have a great player-coach relationship that is built on mutual respect,” Craig said. “I have great admiration and respect for her as a person [and] a young athlete.”

Craig, along with Dina and Seaira’s father, Mike, assisted in the university-selection process, which included five or six schools, Seaira said. Other than Biola, the Naval Academy also attempted to recruit her.

Seaira, 17, comes from a military family. Her father was a Marine, and her grandfather on her mother’s side was in the Coast Guard.

However, Seaira decided she did not want to go down the military road.

“That’s something my dad always wanted me to do, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go down that path,” Seaira said. “I just felt like it wasn’t something that I was meant to do.”

Craig, also a former Marine, suggested Seaira’s decision not to join the Naval Academy was more about location than legacy. The academy is located in Maryland, whereas Biola is only one-and-a-half hours away from where Seaira currently lives.

“Seaira made the decision that she wanted to be closer to home,” Craig said.

The other schools on Seaira’s radar were ruled out by Internet research, Dina said.

“She would find the soccer players on Facebook and look at the kind of lifestyle they had there at the college and she could tell whether she wanted to do the visit or not,” Dina said.

But she liked Biola. Seaira went on two recruiting visits to the university where she met with the coaches and trained with some of the current players on the roster.

“When I was there, I knew that was the school that I was going to go to,” Seaira said. “So when I got the letter, I was overjoyed.”

Seaira said playing soccer and being a captain of her high school team will help her moving forward.

“It helped me shape my personality,” Seaira said. “I used to be really shy when I was younger — I’m still really quiet. But it’s taught me to be confident with who I am, but also be humble. I think that will help me a lot in the future.”

Dina said soccer has helped Seaira “come out of her shell.”

“What I like to see is that she’s getting more comfortable with who she is, and she’s not looking at other girls to determine what is trendy or what is right or how [she should] be,” Dina said. “It’s just more she’s confident in her own skin.”

When Seaira isn’t playing soccer, she likes to run on the beach. She also took up guitar this past summer, and is learning to play songs by her favorite country artist, Taylor Swift.

Seaira said the most difficult part of going to college will be being away from her two brothers, Logan, 15, and Liam, 11. But she is looking forward to the new experience.

“Living in Malibu, you kind of get used to doing the same routine thing every day,” Seaira said. “So I think it’s going to be a nice way to start out fresh.”


Sharks battle through bout of injuries in early season play

Injuries have plagued the Malibu High School girls soccer team so far this season. Seven players, all varsity level, have missed significant time, said head coach Jack Craig.

As a result, the Sharks have started the year at 1-4-1.

“Losing seven varsity players — five or six of them are starters — that’s what’s impacting this,” Craig said.

But, despite a less-than-desirable start to the year, Craig still has high hopes for his team.

“I think that, for us, for league play, anything less than a Tri-Valley League championship, we would fall short,” Craig said. “I believe, as far as league play is concerned, that if we can stay healthy, we’re the best team.”

Last season, Malibu reached the playoffs with an overall record of 15-9-1, but fell short of the title. Craig said the difference this year, aside from injuries, has been a different roster.

“We had some very accomplished seniors that were true impact players,” Craig said. “This year’s team is relatively young.”

However, Malibu’s early struggles haven’t stopped team captains Seaira Moore, Britty Walley and Abby Blackwood from performing well and leading their team.

Moore, a senior goalkeeper, has 87 saves so far this season. Malibu’s opponents have launched a total of 116 shots on goal. Walley and Blackwood have 21 and 17 steals this year, respectively.

“Those three players have really impacted the team in a positive way, really making a difference [with] leadership by example,” Craig said.

The Sharks benefit from having three captains because they all bring something different to the table, Craig said.

“It’s the combination of the three that makes it not only successful, but unique,” Craig said.

In a game against the Westlake Warriors on Dec. 15, the Sharks lost 6-1 after starting with 11 available players, but finishing with only eight due to injuries. But it was the second-half resilience of the team from which Craig took away positives.

The Sharks held the Warriors scoreless after halftime, and managed to sink a goal themselves.

“I think when you see a group of players like that, that can connect and stay together regardless of the odds against them, I think that’s pretty amazing,” Craig said.

The schedule to start the year also hasn’t done Malibu any favors. Craig said the Sharks have faced schools that are either Division I or II, making it difficult for the team to win games.

But Craig attempts to keep his players ready, and feels they have competed well so far this season.

“The main thing is focus, commitment to our system of play, and to just compete with heart and character and stay in the game consistently, regardless of the score,” Craig said. “I think [the players] have that. They’ve displayed that even in losing.”

Aside from health, Craig feels the team’s camaraderie will propel them to a league championship.

“I think that when you have any team that’s committed to each other,” Craig said, “that will be the one thing that will push us over the hump against some tough competition.”

Malibu starts league play on Wednesday, Jan. 14, against the Bishop Diego Cardinals.


Santa, reindeer come to Country Mart

Bailey (right), 7, and Dylan, 5, feed a graham cracker to a reindeer at Malibu Country Mart on Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014.

Bailey (right), 7, and Dylan Gilroy, 5, feed a graham cracker to a reindeer Saturday, Dec. 20, at Malibu Country Mart.

Several families with their children got their pictures taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus, as well as fed graham crackers to two reindeer, at Malibu Country Mart on Saturday, Dec. 20.

The reindeer were in a circular cage and many children pet and fed the reindeer. Children also waited in line with their families to sit on Santa’s lap and have their photo taken.

Four carolers sang holiday songs to entertain those standing in line, as well as those positioned elsewhere in the shopping center. The singers stood near the Santa area, the reindeer cage and in front of the decorated Christmas tree.

The event went from noon-4 p.m.

A man and five children interact with a reindeer at Malibu Country Mart on Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014.

Children gather around a pen to pet a reindeer.

Clockwise from left: Emma,1, Stacy, Greg and Graham McNeal, 3, pose for a picture with an actor dressed as Santa Claus at Malibu Country Mart on Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014.

Stacy (left to right), Emma, 1, Graham, 3, and Greg McNeal pose for a picture with Santa Claus at Malibu Country Mart.


Sharks girls basketball wins first home tournament

The Malibu High School girls basketball team became champions of the Battle by the Beach tournament Thursday, Dec. 11, with a resounding 41-18 win over the Foothill Tech Dragons.

Junior center Kendall Jordan was named MVP of the tournament, which was the first hosted by the high school.

“I was kind of surprised,” Jordan said about winning MVP. “I thought it was going to go to [junior guard] Gianna [Chaisson] to be honest, because she played really great in the tournament.”

The Sharks played four games in four nights starting Monday, Dec. 8, and dominated their opponents for the most part. Malibu won by an average of 20 points in three of the four games.

Jordan’s breakout performance came against the Pacific Hills Bruins on Wednesday, Dec. 10. She had 29 points, 15 boards, three steals and three blocks.

The Sharks needed overtime, a press defense and two clutch-free throws by junior center Sara Joshi to pull out the 62-54 win over the Bruins.

That pressing defense helped Malibu against Foothill Tech, which turned the ball over several times. Chaisson said the press is what got them the win over the Dragons.

“That gives a lot of pressure on the other team and I know that they weren’t expecting that, so we went out hard,” Chaisson said.

The Sharks got off to a quick start against the Dragons and found themselves leading 19-0 before Foothill Tech made their first basket off a breakaway layup with five minutes left to play in the first half.

Foothill Tech got going offensively in the second half, but by then it was too late. Malibu ended the third quarter with a 35-11 lead, and won the game handily.

Jordan said the Sharks’ win may have been fueled by the hype surrounding the championship game and the tournament itself.

“We really want this,” Jordan said. “We want to get as many wins before season starts. We really want to just prove to our own team and others that we can really go out there and win games.”

Chaisson scored in double figures in two games and pulling down 16 rebounds against Pacific Hills.

“She’s a really great leader and really knows how to hold us together and pick us back up when we’re feeling down,” Jordan said of Chaisson.

Coach Andy Meyer said the team improved in every way throughout the tournament, especially in offensive rebounding.

“In some of these games, we’re getting more offensive rebounds in one game than we’d have in three games total last year,” Meyer said.

Meyer said in November that Malibu’s goal was to make the playoffs. Jordan said after the game Thursday that the goal was within reach.

“I think we need to work more,” Jordan said, “but I think it’s definitely a possibility. I think we show the strength and the compassion to get up there and win.”

Next, the Sharks will go on the road for another tournament that starts on Thursday, Jan. 1.


Spartan Sprint held in Malibu

A group of men run through trees at the start of the Spartan Race Malibu Sprint on Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014 at Calamigos Ranch in Calabasas, Calif.

A group of men run through trees at the start of the Spartan Race Malibu Sprint on Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014 at Calamigos Ranch in Calabasas, Calif.

In the Santa Monica Mountains, hidden from society below, thousands of athletes emerged through the early-morning fog and prepared for a grueling Saturday morning.

Dressed in bandanas that read “Spartan,” they stretched, did jumping jacks and engaged in other methods of pumping themselves up for what they were about to do.

Then, after some rally cries, they were off.

Racers of all ages trudged through mud, scaled walls, climbed ropes and maneuvered under barbed wire and through spiderweb-like rope during the 3-mile Spartan Race Malibu Sprint on Saturday, Dec. 6, at Calamigos Ranch in Malibu.

Professional athlete and Malibu native Cassidy Watton finished first among the elite women.

“It feels amazing to win your hometown course,” Watton said.

The course consisted of 17 total obstacles. At the end of the race, each runner jumped over logs that were on fire, marking the end of their 3-mile journey.

Saturday was Jodie Perry’s second Spartan Race. She said the Malibu version was different from her first race in Temecula, and surprisingly difficult.

“Lots of hills, lots of mud, very narrow paths,” Perry said. “So it’s tricky to not fall off the mountain.”

Perry said she liked racing alongside similar athletes and felt a sense of camaraderie.

“I just love the people that do it. I think they’re a different type of people – everyone’s crazy,” said Perry, laughing.

A man leaps over fire at the finish of the Spartan Race Malibu Sprint on Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014 at Calamigos Ranch in Calabasas, Calif.

A man leaps over fire at the finish of the Spartan Race Malibu Sprint on Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014 at Calamigos Ranch in Calabasas, Calif.

Michael Reinhart traveled three-and-a-half hours from the central valley to run Saturday’s race. He said he also competes in other types of races and triathlons.

Reinhart said he enjoys the races because he has always been a competitive person.

“[It is] kind of a combination between exhilaration and exhaustion,” Reinhart said about what it’s like to run the race. “It’s a lot of fun, good challenge and good people.”

The day’s activities weren’t only enjoyed by adult racers. Later in the morning and throughout the day, kids participated in the Junior Spartan Race, an obstacle course geared toward younger athletes.

Mark Shaffer’s son Cody and daughter Riley both ran in the Junior Spartan Race. Shaffer, who said he has competed in 10 Spartan races, feels having an event for children is important for their development.

“It gets them off the couch, gets them involved, gives them something to do, keeps them active,” said Shaffer, who added he grew up surfing in Malibu. “The parents are definitely involved in the sport and I think it’s definitely important to keep the kids active as well.”

Several booths sold Spartan Race merchandise, food and beverages. Other booths gave out samples of products to attendees.

Watton said having a big event like the Spartan Race in the Malibu area was great because those types of things don’t happen very often in the city.

“We need to get some more Malibu people out here, because Malibu is a little bit of a segregated community,” Watton said. “Not a lot of Malibu people know about it. We could use a little bit more Malibu support.”