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.”



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,


Second time is the charm for CSUN’s new Board of Trustee member

On a typical Wednesday afternoon, Steven Stepanek was in his office at the Computer Science department when he received a not-so-typical phone call.

It was Jerry Brown, governor of California.

The two talked for about 10 minutes about the status of higher education in the state, but Stepanek was hit with a surprise when they finished talking.

“At the end of the conversation (I could tell that) he kind of turns his head (and) tells the person sitting next to him, ‘OK he’s it,’” Stepanek recalled. “I’d just been interviewed, that’s how I got notified of my appointment.”

On Oct. 23, Stepanek was named a faculty member of the CSU Board of Trustees and the first CSUN professor to be given that position.

The faculty trustee position is a two-year term of office, but Stepanek will serve six fewer months due to Brown not making his appointment back in May, when the position is normally filled.

After months of waiting, Stepanek was glad when Brown finally chose a candidate.

“I was as much relieved that he simply had made a decision,” Stepanek said. “The problem for both of the applicants — the two finalists — is that we have been trying to plan our lives while not knowing that, at any point, this sort of phone call could occur.”

Stepanek also applied for the trustee position three years ago. During that time, he was also among the final two candidates, but was not selected.

“I initially debated a little bit with myself, ‘Do I want to put my name up again or not?’ I decided, why not?” Stepanek said.

Stepanek is currently chair of the Computer Science Department and faculty president of CSUN. He has been part of the university in some fashion for about 40 years, starting as an undergraduate mathematics major before eventually becoming a professor and advancing to his current positions.

“I’ve kind of seen many of these different angles of CSUN over this particular period of time,” Stepanek said.

Stepenak will have to step down from his duties as department chair and faculty president in order to devote all of his time to the board.

Talar Alexanian, journalism major, was appointed to the Board of Trustees in September of this year as a student trustee. Alexanian and Stepanek are the first CSUN student-faculty tandem to be appointed to the board.

“In its own way, it says something about Northridge, both in terms of what we’re doing for faculty development and for what we’re doing for the students also,” Stepanek said.

Stepanek recently attended his first BOT meeting, something he had not done in person yet. He said he listened to audio of the meetings while doing other tasks in the past.

“I had a little bit of an idea of what was going on, but it is very different when you’re actually there in person, obviously,” Stepanek said. “There was still very much a lot to learn, but it more or less went as I anticipated the structure was going to (be).”

Harold Hellenbrand, provost and vice president for academic affairs, felt that Brown’s appointment of Stepanek to the board was appropriate.

“I thought it was a very smart move because he’s very knowledgeable of the CSUs since he’s been in it for so long,” said Hellenbrand, who has worked with Stepanek for the last seven years. “He knows it about as well as anybody.”

Hellenbrand feels Stepanek will have his work cut for him with the other board members.

“I think the biggest challenge will be dealing with people’s fixed opinions,” he said. “I think that some of the board members come in with mixed views of higher education. They just assume they know how it works. Getting them to understand that it doesn’t work the way they pre-perceive it will be the biggest challenge.”

Hellenbrand also said Stepanek’s personality will do him good in terms of working with his new colleagues.

“He’s very diplomatic, very polite, but very smart in what he says,” Hellenbrand said. “So I think his style is what will work him to the greatest advantage on the board.”

After 40 years of service to the university, Stepanek said retirement is one of many options going forward, but he is keeping his future open-ended for the time being.

“As long as I am faculty trustee, I am definitely not retiring,” Stepanek said. “So we’ll continue forward from here and see what I’m going to do after that.”

Rejuvenated Matadome has become a recruiting magnet

The Matadome had a facelift over the summer of 2012, and aside from the praise its gotten from CSUN players and coaches since, the stadium recently received a more widespread accolade.

Bleacher Report, a popular sports website, ranked the CSUN Matadome number two in a June post titled “Ranking the 20 Best Court Designs in College Basketball.” CSUN’s facility beat out other notable schools such as UCLA, Notre Dame and Gonzaga.

Long Beach State has the number-one court design, according to the article.

“Actually, I was kind of surprised because there are a lot of great venues with a lot of great floors,” Assistant Athletic Director Robert Vazquez said of the ranking. “In my (35 years of) experience working within athletics administration, I’ve seen a lot of great big-name schools. For a mid-major school like Cal State Northridge to be included on this list, that’s a big deal.”

Vazquez said the ranking could have a positive effect on those wanting to play for a CSUN team.

“The theory is, when you bring a recruit, they want to see a nice place where you can play,” Vazquez said. “So the addition of this floor is sort of like a beacon.”

The new court was made possible by the students passing a referendum which allowed tuition to be increased in order to fund several projects, the Matadome update being one of them, Vazquez said.

“This whole court and the way it looks now and how good it looks now, you have to give thanks to the students who passed this referendum that allowed us to have the money to do this,” Vazquez said.

According to Vazquez, the women’s volleyball team was the first to play on the new floor.

“I think when they came on the court, they couldn’t believe how bright it looked (and) how new it looked,” Vazquez said. “The night we first played on it, I think the athletes were just so happy to see a brand new floor.”

Vazquez called the renovation a “win-win” for the men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball programs.

“I think it really picked up the enthusiasm and the positive attitude for the athletes,” Vazquez said.

Ken Rosenthal, associate vice president of facilities development and operations, spearheaded the project. He said the process took about 70 days and cost roughly $270,000.

“We were very pleased with how the project came out and how it was received,” Rosenthal said. “Everyone was extremely happy with the way it looked.”

Rosenthal said the need for instant replay functionality prompted the replacement of the entire floor. The seats of the stadium and electronic infrastructure underneath the hardwood were also replaced.

The “N” at center court had to tested on a small scale before being approved, Rosenthal said. The floor in room 251 of Redwood Hall was sanded down and a miniature version of the stencil was placed on it before graduating to the 94-by-50 court.

Rosenthal collaborated with the coaching staffs involved in the project.

“One of the goals that the coaches really wanted is they wanted to make sure that the floor was going to kind of represent where they wanted to take the program,” Rosenthal said.

Jason Flowers, head coach of the women’s basketball team, felt CSUN got snubbed on the ranking of their gym, but is happy that the school is being noticed.

“I feel like we should’ve been ranked number one,” Flowers said.  “Obviously, just the fact that we’re mentioned on that list and (the) notoriety and people are talking about CSUN and people are talking about the floor, obviously the floor accomplished its mission.”

Flowers was on the team of people collaborating on design ideas for the new Matadome floor. About six ideas were floating around, and there was even talk of a mostly-black design.

Flowers was pleased with the ultimate choice and called it “cutting edge.”

“I think its representative of the movement and the feel that’s going on on campus,” Flowers said. “I think this university is filled with young people who are striving to be bold, striving to be different, striving to be better, and i think that the floor embodies that.”

The Matadome opened 51 years ago in the 1962-63 season, and Vazquez said the years of wear and tear made the stadium look dull.

Vazquez feels the floor is not only beneficial for recruiting athletes, but for the university as a whole.

“Having that court has really been the cornerstone, so to speak, of making this facility new (and) bright,” Vazquez said. “It’s a great floor. It’s the best floor you could ever purchase or build. And for us, it’s been a great positive for Cal State Northridge and the athletics department.”

Vazquez said this new court should last for the next 30 to 40 years, but he still treats it as if it were brand new.

“Sometimes I find myself tip-toeing because I don’t want to scuff the floor,” Vazquez said.

CTVA professor discusses new documentary ‘Pastriology’

Alexis Krasilovsky, CTVA professor, has a new documentary called “Pastriology.” A sneak preview of the shorter version “Let Them Eat Cake” will be shown Monday. Photo by Alex Vejar / Daily Sundial

Alexis Krasilovsky, CTVA professor, has a new documentary called “Pastriology.” A sneak preview of the shorter version “Let Them Eat Cake” will be shown Monday. Alex Vejar / Daily Sundial

When cinema and television arts professor Alexis Krasilovsky couldn’t afford to eat a meal while in college, she did what she said many students do.

“I’d eat a piece of pastry,” she said.

Several years later, she found herself at a party for the Dhaka International Film Festival in Bangladesh. After being allowed to only interact with embassy people, rather than natives who had been displaced due to a recent fire, she thought of an idea for a new film and a story she felt had to be told.

“I began to think about the disparity; it’s such a poor country,” Krasilovsky said. “That stayed with me.”

That story is “Pastriology,” a documentary exploring pastry traditions in different parts of the world while also shedding light on areas where people not only cannot afford to eat a pastry, but don’t even know what one looks like. It is a fusing of footage shot in eight countries by multiple directors.

“Let Them Eat Cake,” the shorter version of the documentary, is set for a sneak preview in CSUN’s Elaine and Alan Armer Theater on Monday.

Krasilovsky said she never intended to make documentaries, yet her previous film “Women Behind the Camera” won multiple best documentary awards, according to its website. The movie focuses on female filmmakers from around the world and is based on Krasilovsky’s book by the same title.

As one of the first female students allowed to attend Yale University, Krasilovsky wanted to address the “silencing of women” at the time using the universal language of film.

“I found that in order to tell [my] stories the way I wanted to, it wasn’t enough to just write them,” Krasilovsky said. “I had to direct them and produce them.”

Existing in a male-dominated industry, Krasilovsky feels something should be done about the “abysmally low” number of female writers and directors.

“I think it starts with education,” she said of reasons why there are not enough women in filmmaking. “It’s really important to have a diversity of faculty so we have more role models for the students. We have to have a diversity in the curriculum of the examples of works that are shown to the students so that they don’t feel the formula is the only thing out there.”

Krasilovsky has taught at CSUN for over 25 years, a milestone that surprises her.

“I had no clue that I would be going into teaching much earlier in life, [but] the people were so nice [at CSUN] compared to the backstabbers in Hollywood whom I had been interviewing with and/or working with that I thought, ‘Gee, this might be a nice thing to do — for a while,’” she said. “I never dreamed that I would be here 25 years later.”

Krasilovsky feels being an educator makes her think more directly about issues, and her role at CSUN makes her filmmaking more personal.

“Teaching has been a good way to be able to make the films that I want to make,” she said. “I’ve been able to make quite a number of films that I believe in, often with my students.”

One of those students is junior screenwriting major Shannon Hourihan, Krasilovsky’s intern for “Pastriology.” She started working with Krasilovsky by staying after a film class to inquire about the internship opportunity.

“She’s very passionate,” Hourihan said of Krasilovsky. “I’m very impressed with just how much she has on her plate and how hard she works. It’s constantly inspiring.”

Joel Krantz, CTVA professor at CSUN, edited sound for Krasilovsky’s film. Although he doesn’t normally work on documentaries, Krantz learned a lot by working with her.

“It was a good experience to just work on her documentary and see how she did things,” he said. “She’s really a talented director.”

Krasilovsky finds her ability to help her students get past professional obstacles to be the most fulfilling part of her career.

“To be able to overcome some of those issues in my own life and to teach some of my students to overcome those issues — how to break through as an unknown, how to avoid sexual harassment, how to listen to your inner voice and tell real stories instead of just going for the surface gloss — that has been immensely rewarding,” she said.

A look into the new iOS 7 system from Apple

Now that the new iPhones 5S and 5C have been released, it’s time to talk about the operating system which comes installed out of the box.

iOS 7, which debuted two days before the latest Apple devices hit stores, boasts many improvements to the previous operating system, iOS 6.

First, the look of the OS is completely overhauled. Icons are more two-dimensional and flat, colors more vibrant, and many apps have changed face, which could cause early-adopters to search for their Photos, Game Center or Newsstand apps unsuccessfully at first. Other app icons look fairly similar to their iOS 6 counterparts and will be easier to find.

Another major update is Siri, which can now understand and execute more commands such as checking the score of your favorite sports team’s game, searching the web for photos of a particular subject, and more. Apple’s personal assistant also includes a new male voice, which can be toggled through the phone’s settings.

Native apps received new features as well, most notably the camera. Video, photo and panorama modes are accessed by a simple swipe to the left or right. Debuting with this update is a square mode, which makes it easier to take Instagram-ready photos. Nine filters were also added to the app.

While iOS 7 brings major updates to other pre-installed apps such as Messages, Voice Memos, Phone, Calendar, Safari and others, it also is introducing new features.

Apple is debuting Control Center, which can be accessed by swiping upwards from just above the home button. Here, users will find icons for their Bluetooth, Wifi, Camera, Calendar, Calculator, Airplane Mode, and a native flashlight, which is another new addition. Gone are the cumbersome days of having to go through the Settings apps of an iPhone or iPad to locate these heavily-used functions.

Music lovers now have a new option for discovering new artists in iTunes Radio. The feature lets users pick from radio stations based on popular artists or decades, or they can create their own, mimicking what can be done on Pandora.

The Notification Center is also receiving a new view called Today. The feature gives a summary of the weather, what is on a person’s calendar, the day’s stocks, and any reminders that a user has set. Viewing other notifications can be accessed by pressing the All option, which is right next to the Today and Missed options.

Not all iDevices are eligible for this new operating system. The iPhone 5S, 5C and 5 all have full iOS 7 functionality, as well as the third generation, fourth generation and mini iPads. Older devices, like the iPhone 4 or iPad 2, will be shorted certain features, such as the camera’s new features or Airdrop, which allows users to send files over the air to other nearby devices.

iOS can be downloaded by going to the iPhone or iPad’s settings, choosing Software Update, and following the steps. At least three gigabytes of space is needed for the OS to download and install.

The latest iPhones come with iOS version 7.0.1. All other devices that upgrade to the new iOS will receive version 7.0.

Apps you didn’t know you needed: know when to run and pee

RunPeeAPPIn a movie theater, it is expected to ignore a phone call while the film is playing. But when nature dials your body’s number, that’s a call that may not be possible to leave unanswered.

The problem is a trip to the bathroom could mean missing key plot points, resulting in the tricky decision of “hold or go.”

Luckily, there’s an app for that.

RunPee lets the viewer know, down to the minute, when and for how long to get up and use the facilities during a movie. The app gives an overview of what occurred during a trip to the loo.

A timer can be set within the app to let movie-goers keep track of how long they’ve been gone.

There are 636 movies in the app’s database. They can be sorted in order of release date in time intervals of six, 12 or 24 months. Films can also be sorted alphabetically.

The app also provides a synopsis of a movie’s first three minutes in case of a late arrival.

An additional feature is the app shows whether or not there is more movie after the end credits.

RunPee costs 99 cents and is available for iPhone, iPad and Android devices as well as Windows phones.