A time to heal

LANCASTER – Going into her senior year, Lancaster High School graduate Emily Moreno went about just like many other high school students. She attended classes, spent time with her friends, watched football games and played libero on the girls volleyball team.

But just weeks after her final year of high school started, Moreno’s life changed. She said problems at home affected her to the point that she chose to move out.

That decision forced her to grow up faster than she would’ve liked, Moreno said.

“I kinda relied on myself,” Moreno said. “I pretty much took care of myself. … I kind of felt like I was pretty much an adult already my senior year. I feel like I’m grown up, so I am pretty independent on my own.”

But the experience of fending for herself – an experience that lasted the better part of seven months – allowed Moreno to make the biggest decision of her life to date.

Rather than go the conventional route of attending a four-year university after high school, Moreno chose to join the Army as a combat medic. Before she chose to help heal soldiers injured in combat, she had to fight to heal herself.

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MHS relay swimmers take talent to CIF

From left: JC Heckman, Logan Hotchkiss, Thelan McKinna-Worrell and Alec Wilimovsky . The four senior swimmers broke two CIF records in the 200- and 400-meter freestyle relay on Wednesday, May 13.

From left: JC Heckman, Logan Hotchkiss, Thelan McKinna-Worrell and Alec Wilimovsky . The four senior swimmers broke two CIF records in the 200- and 400-meter freestyle relay on Wednesday, May 13.

It was only a matter of time.

As four Malibu High School senior swimmers were gearing up for the CIF-Southern Section prelims, their 200- and 400-meter freestyle relay times were inching ever closer to record-breaking status with each passing meet.

Alec Wilimovsky, Logan Hotchkiss, JC Heckman and Thelen McKinna-Worrell finally broke through in both events on May 13, catapulting the team into the finals the following week where they won second place in Division IV.

McKinna-Worrell anchors the team, which made him the last to touch the pad in both races.

“It felt like I was the one beating the record,” McKinna-Worrell said.

The Sharks recorded a time of 1 minute, 26.30 seconds in the 200-meter race, beating the previous time of 1:28.70, set in 2013 by Temescal Canyon High School. In the 400-meter event, MHS finished with a time of 3:11.67, overtaking the previous record of 3:14.14 set in 2006 by Oaks Christian High School.

The Sharks also won their third straight Frontier League title this year.

Wilimovsky and Hotchkiss have been teammates for their entire high school careers. Heckman and McKinna-Worrell, however, transferred to MHS for their senior year.

The foursome formed a quick bond that extends outside of the pool. Wilimovsky said all of them hang out frequently.

“It just helps with the team dynamic,” Wilimovsky said. “None of us are strangers and we all know if anyone’s having a good day or a bad day. It just helps immensely.”

In addition to swimming, Wilimovsky also ran cross country for MHS and is a triathlete. Coach Mike Mulligan said Wilimovsky’s determination and work ethic are what make him a great athlete.

“He’s like a bulldog,” Mulligan said. “He just gets it in his mind what he wants to accomplish and he goes after it.”

Mulligan considers Hotchkiss the most all-around swimmer on the team and the best to ever come through the high school, and has enjoyed coaching both Wilimovsky and Hotchkiss over the years.

“It’s been a pleasure just to watch them grow and set goals and be able to accomplish them,” Mulligan said. “They have tremendous determination, tremendous self-discipline to get in the water every day for four years.”

Not every boy on the team has roots in swimming. McKinna-Worrell was on track to be a professional surfer but decided to quit. When his mom told him he had to join a sport, he chose swimming because he already felt comfortable in the water and thought he would be good at it.

“It turned out I was a lot better than I thought,” McKinna-Worrell said.

From left: Thelan McKinna-Worrell, Alec Wilimovsky, Logan Hotchkiss and JC Heckman. The four senior swimmers broke two CIF records in the 200- and 400-meter freestyle relay on Wednesday, May 13.

From left: Thelan McKinna-Worrell, Alec Wilimovsky, Logan Hotchkiss and JC Heckman. The four senior swimmers broke two CIF records in the 200- and 400-meter freestyle relay on Wednesday, May 13.

Heckman was another newcomer to the team this year, although he was on the swim team at his previous high school. While he admits to not getting much practice time with Wilimovsky and Hotchkiss during the year, Heckman said that when it came time for competition, the four were always on the same page.

“Whenever we were at the meets, it felt like we were swimming together for our whole lives,” Heckman said.
Heckman credits the entire team and coaching staff for making him feel comfortable as soon as he arrived at MHS.

“I felt part of the family within the first week or two that I came here,” Heckman said.

Mulligan was disappointed the team came in second at the CIF-SS Finals because he wanted to see the seniors go out on top.
“It would’ve been great for Alec and Logan and all the kids who competed in CIF for them to win a team title,” Mulligan said. “That would’ve been very, very cool.”

The future of the swim team at MHS after this year is a question mark. With seven seniors on the team graduating, Mulligan said some underclassmen are going to have to step up in order to keep the winning tradition of the high school alive.

Mulligan said sophomores Everest Brady and Ben Tran could be the future of Malibu swimming.

“Those two guys, they looked up to the seniors and they really learned a lot of what it takes to be a fast, strong swimmer,” Mulligan said. “They’re just emulating those seniors’ work ethic. Hopefully that will carry through to next year and the underclassmen will look up to those two kids.”

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Former Malibu resident creates successful hitting tool

When David Kanner was 11, he was a shy kid from New York moving to Malibu because his parents thought it best for the family.

Kanner started playing baseball in the Malibu Little League to make friends, but because he started the sport late, he had some trouble fitting in right away.

“I got teased by all my friends because here they had been playing for years and I didn’t know how to play,” Kanner said. “I was like 10, 11 years old. It was quite an emotional thing for me, I

Kanner’s father, Hal, who played AAA baseball in the 1940s for the then-New York Giants, felt responsible for his son being teased, Kanner said. He was injured in Kanner’s youth and could not introduce baseball to him at an earlier age.

So Hal vowed to make Kanner into an exceptional hitter, and came across a product called Johnny Bench Batter Up. The product was a base with a ball attached to a stem that, when hit, would whip around and return to the batter so it could be hit again.

When Kanner started using the batting aid, his hitting improved dramatically, and he was considered one of the best players in the minor league at the time.

Kanner stopped playing baseball at 20, but returned to the sport in a different way by inventing the Vortex Swing Trainer, which was inspired by the product purchased by his dad in his youth.

“This is my way of keeping these memories alive with my father,” Kanner said. “Everything I learned, I learned from him. I really do owe all of this, this company and everything, and my motivation to do this, I owe it all to my father.”

Kanner’s company, Repetitive Batting Instructor, or R.B.I., sells the Vortex and other products centered around teaching budding baseball players how to hone their crafts. Their highest-selling product is called Pro Tee, which is best suited for players up to the age of 16, Kanner said.

Kanner was approached with the idea by his sister, who’s son, Adam, started playing baseball but was on the verge of quitting due to his difficulty batting. She wanted Kanner to make something similar to what his dad bought him when he was

After he made it, his nephew’s batting also dramatically improved — just like his did when he was young — and Kanner felt he was on to something.

“A light went off in my head going, ‘Wow this thing really works. It wasn’t just a freak thing with me,’” Kanner

Kanner’s fondest memories of playing baseball were when he played little league in Malibu, and his involvement in the sport helped him grow as a person.

“It’s funny how that works because I was really shy, and I have to give all the credit to baseball for bringing me out of my shell,” Kanner said.

Even though Kanner didn’t pursue professional baseball like this father hoped he would, it is now a big part of his life through the development of his products and company. He feels his father, who died of cancer in 1993, would approve of the work he’s doing.

“I wound up in my 20s and all and getting interested in other things, so I think my dad’s dream of me going on and playing was kind of broken in that respect,” Kanner said. “But I think if he was still alive and saw I’m still involved somewhat in baseball, he would be very happy about it.”

Kanner feels his products are making an impact with younger baseball players, and seems proud to be a part of their development.

“I see and I remember what the sport did for me as far as helping me with my shyness and other things, and how it helped my nephew, and I see how it helps other kids,” Kanner said. “That makes me feel good that I can help other kids.”

Kanner said much of his family still lives in the Malibu area, and he visits the city frequently. He moved to San Diego because his company is based there, but said he would move back to Malibu.

The Vortex Swing Trainer has been endorsed by several current and former professional baseball players, Kanner said, including Mark Trumbo, first baseman for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

R.B.I.’s products are available at retailers such as Sports Chalet, Dick’s Sporting Goods and on its website, www.rbivortex.com.

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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 scholarshipstats.com.

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.”

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SoCal lifeguards paddle through Malibu to raise funds

From Santa Barbara to San Diego, a new fundraising endeavor hopes to blow skin cancer out of the water.

Several agencies from the California Surf Lifesaving Association started the The SoCal PaddleDown Lifeguard for Cancer Relay last summer to raise awareness for skin cancer.

“We started in an effort to basically create an event in which we could include all the lifeguards throughout Southern California, an event that would fuel to fundraise for whatever charitable cause that we all felt passionate about while also kind of being able to unite us in some sort of uniting event,” said Jorge Sifontes, a Point Mugu lifeguard who created the fundraiser.

Malibu lifeguards from the city’s agencies recently paddled their way through Point Mugu, Zuma Beach, Sycamore Cove and the Malibu Pier — a total of 22.5 miles, according to Google maps.

Last year, the relay ended at the pier. But with a month left to go in the event, Sifontes is confident the San Diego goal will be reached.

However, Sifontes won’t be discouraged if the goal falls a bit short.

“Whether we make it San Diego or not, we’re always trying to push the envelope for what’s possible with this event,” said Sifontes, who paddled his way from Point Mugu to Sycamore Cove, a distance of almost two miles.

The event began on June 23 in Santa Barbara. Lifeguards from the agency at Gaviota beach paddled along their districts’ water, handed over a buoy to their neighboring agency’s lifeguards, who then paddled to the next agency, and so on. The PaddleDown hopes to reach Imperial Beach in San Diego around Labor Day.

The goal of the 250-mile stretch is to raise $25,000 for the John Wayne Cancer Foundation’s Block the Blaze Skin Cancer Education Program.

Damian Minicucci, a friend of Sifontes who helped get the fundraiser started, said sun exposure is something that affects not only a great number of people, but also all lifeguards, making the skin cancer cause that much more meaningful.

“I felt with something that’s so closely related to our field of work, it was the best thing to raise awareness for and fundraise for,” Minicucci said.

Currently, the initiative has raised only $485, according to the event’s stayclassy.org fundraising webpage. Sifontes said raising money has been a challenge.

“We’re doing a great job with the paddling, but raising money is a little bit harder,” Sifontes said.

Last year, the fundraiser collected less than $1,000 of their $5,000 goal, Sifontes said. The money was donated to City of Hope, a research and treatment center for diseases such as diabetes and cancer.

Money can be donated to the cause via the PaddleDown’s stayclassy.org webpage.

The lifeguards move the relay along when they can, but don’t paddle at night for safety reasons. Other precautions they take are paddling in groups whenever possible and constantly communicating with one another, Sifontes said.

Sifontes said he personally knows other lifeguards who have been affected by melanoma, and others who have died from skin cancer. He believes in the cause the relay represents.

“I feel that this is the event that we should be doing, I feel this is the cause that we should be paddling for,” Sifontes said. “I’m just very proud that the other agencies and my own take up this cause and just do what we do best, which is be excellent watermen and waterwomen for this cause.”

Minicucci, who has paddled both the Point Mugu and Zuma Beach legs of the relay, said he is thrilled to be a part of the cause.

“Truly, it’s a great experience,” Minicucci said. “It was something that I got really excited about because not only is it a fun event [and] a good time for all of us, it’s an event that literally will bring every lifeguard agency and lifeguard in southern California together.”

Bryce Henderson, a lifeguard friend of Sifontes and Minicucci, feels it is important that people are more aware and educated about skin cancer.

“It’s one of the forms of cancer that I think kind of gets blown off to the side because people don’t expect to ever have to deal with it,” Henderson said.

Henderson, who lost his mentor due to complications arising from skin cancer, said being involved in the cause was rewarding for him.

“It’s a cause that really hits home for just about everyone,” Henderson said. “It’s a cause I feel that can make a little bit of a difference of helping people to think twice before going out in the sun, just lifestyle choices that can help you extend a happy life.”

Permalink: http://www.malibusurfsidenews.com/socal-lifeguards-paddle-through-malibu-raise-funds

Malibu Presbyterian hosts surf camp for teens

Mike Morgan (center) teaches Grant Baer (left) and Carson Baer some surfing tips before getting into the water on Thursday, July 17, 2014 at Malibu Surfrider Beach in Malibu, Calif.

Mike Morgan (center) teaches Grant Baer (left) and Carson Baer some surfing tips before getting into the water on Thursday, July 17, 2014 at Malibu Surfrider Beach in Malibu, Calif.

Teenagers went to Third Point at Malibu Surfrider Beach on Thursday, July 17, for Surf’s Up, an unofficial surf camp for kids involved in the youth group at Malibu Presbyterian Church.

The weekly event is organized by Mike Morgan, youth director for the church. While he is not a certified instructor, Morgan uses his 17 years of surfing experience to teach kids the basics, such as how to properly stand on the surfboard and get over a wave.

“I go out there and I can push kids in the waves and give them tips, but I’m just a guy who cares about them and wants to teach them,” Morgan said.

Surf’s Up was started five years ago. The event is not limited to those who belong to the church, and is open to anyone who wishes to join, Morgan said.

Jake Hughes, 14, thinks the unofficial surf camp can help kids in the community become more involved with the church.

“It’s a lot of fun just to come down here and hang out, and it also gets other kids to come to church [and youth group] on Sundays,” Hughes said.

Grant Baer tries to stand up on his board on Thursdsay, July 17, 2014 at Malibu Surfrider Beach in Malibu, Calif.

Grant Baer tries to stand up on his board on Thursdsay, July 17, 2014 at Malibu Surfrider Beach in Malibu, Calif.

In addition to their weekly surfing gatherings, the youth group holds other events throughout the summer for its participants, such as camping trips, other surfing events, a house-boating trip, and others.

Grant Baer likes the social aspect of being involved in the youth group.

“I feel like it’s another way to bond with [my friends],” Baer said.

In the possible event of an emergency, Morgan said he relies heavily on the lifeguards on duty, but stressed that the kids are in good hands while under his supervision.

“I make sure that every time they come off their board that they turn around and give me a thumbs up,” Morgan said. “I’m always watching them.”

Morgan also said he always has a volunteer with him at all times watching kids who are on the beach.

Morgan said his favorite part of teaching surfing to kids is watching their faces light up when they successfully stand on their board.

“I love seeing kids super stoked on life and I love being able to celebrate them,” Morgan said.

A group of kids play in the water after their swim lesson on Thursdsay, July 17, 2014 at Malibu Surfrider Beach in Malibu, Calif.

A group of kids play in the water after their swim lesson on Thursdsay, July 17, 2014 at Malibu Surfrider Beach in Malibu, Calif.

Julia Rodriguez, who recently started interning under Morgan, said her experience being under his wing has been positive.

“It’s been amazing,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve just gotten to learn so much about what it is to minister to people. It’s just been great serving alongside with him and meeting the kids and being a role model-type person for them.”

Rodriguez said the most challenging part about working with kids is they like to amongst themselves at times, but appreciates when they start reaching out to her.

“The best part is when they do open up and communicate, they totally love you and want to share who they are and just want to be around you, want to be really open with you,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez feels that youth ministry is an important of a young person’s development.

“There’s people who have ministered to me all my life,” Rodriguez said. “I think it’s important for that cycle to continue.”

Carson Baer (right) and Grant Baer (left) practice standung up on their surfboards on Thursdsay, July 17, 2014 at Malibu Surfrider Beach in Malibu, Calif.

Carson Baer (right) and Grant Baer (left) practice standung up on their surfboards on Thursdsay, July 17, 2014 at Malibu Surfrider Beach in Malibu, Calif.

Permalink: http://www.malibusurfsidenews.com/youth/malibu-presbyterian-hosts-surf-camp-teens

Ex-MLB star remains active in Malibu setting

Gabe Kapler’s career as a professional baseball player has taken him all over the country. He’s played for teams like the Tampa Bay Rays, Detroit Tigers and the Boston Red Sox, where he won a World Series championship in 2004.

But for Kapler, Malibu has always felt like home.

“I grew up loving Malibu,” Kapler said. “I came to Zuma [Beach] as a kid, I took the beach bus and found my way here every summer.”

Kapler now operates a health and well-being blog called “Kap Lifestyle,” where he writes about subjects such as nutrition, fitness and even parenting.

Kapler said the idea for the blog was a culmination of the past 20 years of his athletic and fitness life.

“I had all these ideas flowing out of my head and I had no place to put them,” Kapler said. “While I had an outlet for my baseball interests, I didn’t have one for my fitness interests. So I decided to create one.”

In addition to posting every day for his blog, Kapler also enlists the help of other baseball players to write guest posts such as Evan Longoria and Brandon Guyer of the Rays.

Kapler said he uses his experiences throughout his baseball career to educate readers.

“The most important aspect of the blog is I try to communicate what I have learned over the years of playing baseball and experimenting as a lifestyle, well-being guy,” Kapler said.

Kapler is deeply active with the fitness community in Malibu, and said he trains daily at Malibu Fitness on Pacific Coast Highway. He likes being able to relate to other health and fitness enthusiasts.

“I can go there, I know that there are places to bounce ideas off of,” Kapler said of the local fitness center. “There is a way for me to inspire and be inspired in this community based on what I have learned in baseball.”

Kapler spends his days doing baseball analysis for several shows on the Fox Sports 1 channel. While he could be considered a celebrity due to his baseball success, Kapler said he goes relatively unnoticed in Malibu, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I’m just like everybody else, and I love that,” Kapler said. “If this was Boston, it would feel a little bit different.”

Kapler said the most difficult part of living in Malibu is his daily commute to his job at Fox, which is almost three hours round trip, but also said the drive is what makes Malibu so special.

“The same thing that will make you laugh will make you cry,” Kapler said. “It’ll make you cry because it takes forever to get here, but the reason it’ll make you laugh is because you don’t have to be close to the city.”

Kapler said that, aside from Malibu’s views, he enjoys the variety of “characters” he finds within the community.

“I think you get people here from all walks of life, and there’s actually a wide array of culture and people who are here sort of living out of their cars, and you have people with lots of dough and who are well taken care of,” Kapler said, “and I think they’re all equally adorable.”

When Kapler bought the property in Malibu, he decided to have it built smaller to encourage himself and his two sons — Chase,14, and Dane, 12 — to go outdoors.

“The No. 1 factor for me in Malibu is that we’re pushed outside,” Kapler said. “We are pushed away from our computers, we are pushed away from electronics and we venture out.”

Kapler and his family made the move to the city in April 2010. He said he can see himself retiring in Malibu.

“I love it here,” Kapler said. “I absolutely devour every day in Malibu. I love my home, I love my family here and there is no place I’d rather be. I can’t see myself living anywhere else.”

For more information, visit http://www.kaplifestyle.com

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