Gocong inducted in SBART Hall of Fame

Gocong inducted in SBART Hall of Fame
Chris Gocong was inducted in the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table Hall of Fame for his rise from Carpinteria High School football to the NFL. (Photo by Bill Swing)

Carpinteria High School alumnus and former NFL player Chris Gocong was inducted into the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table Hall of Fame in a ceremony held April 16 at the La Cumbre Country Club in Santa Barbara. San Marcos tennis star Kelly Schmandt, UCSB volleyball standout Gary Pearce, Dos Pueblos pitching ace Scott Randall, Santa Barbara soccer star Meghan Moore Reardon and long-time Santa Barbara baseball coach Fred Warrecker were a part of the class honored during the organization’s 49th induction.

Gocong was a force as a defensive player at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where he was named All-American and received the Buck Buchanan award as the nation’s best Division I-AA defensive player. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the third round in 2006 to play linebacker, and spent seven years in the league, which included a stint at Cleveland. The high school track and football star retired in 2012 after suffering a torn Achilles tendon.

When called upon to the podium to accept the honor, Gocong opted not to use a prepared speech, but entertained the packed room with a story about his first year playing in the NFL. “It was the most scary thing I’ve ever done in my whole life,” said Gocong describing his first NFL play. “Imagine, I’m at Lambeau Field and its mid day, and Brett Favre is six-feet away from me,” described the former CIF All-State football player. “And I’m looking at him trying to look mean, and he’s looking at me because he knows that I’m a rookie, and he kind of gives me a little wink; and I’m thinking what am I doing here.”

Gocong also credited his coaches, his wife, family and supporters and hard work for getting him to the NFL. “It’s work ethic that builds confidence, and confidence combined with that work ethic can take you places.”
- Alonzo Orozco

Little lake looks at large office

By Peter Dugré
(Editors note: The writer is a resident of Lagunitas)
The “live-work” development of Lagunitas on eastern Via Real saw the “live” portion completed three years ago, but the city approved work portion, an 84,000-square-foot office building, remains a barren field bordering the neighborhood of 73 homes. The Carpinteria Architectural Review Board on May 12 viewed a new pitch for what might be built on the empty office lot, the first time a design has been proposed since construction of the residential side. As such, the ARB encountered considerable resistance from neighbors who characterize the plan as more obtrusive than earlier versions.

To put the proposal into context, project architect Robin Donaldson of Shubin and Donaldson Architects Inc. said, “Tonight we want to put ideas forward and get feedback on the basic premise. We’re not ramming this down anybody’s throat.”

The most recent rendition of the Lagunitas Office Project calls for four buildings at the 8.63-acre site. Previous projects approved at the site had one office building totaling 84,000 square feet, but new developer Brad Vernon hopes to disperse the square-footage over the four-building campus to provide patios and courtyards, amenities more appealing to the current office market, he said.

“This concept seems to be a trend and to be successful for office projects that promote a healthy lifestyle and allow outdoor use,” Vernon said. In 2008 and 2013, single building concepts had been approved, and parking for the project was located on the Via Real side of the plan. In addition to creating a four-building cluster, the new concept includes a greater parking footprint distributed on all sides of the campus totaling 386 spaces, up from 340 in previous blueprints.

Rebutting the developer’s wish to add outdoor space for office occupants, Lagunitas resident Cindy Lyon said, “We live there, so creating a comfort zone for the workers is less important to me than creating a comfort zone for the residents who are there all the time.”

Also of concern to residents was expanded parking and driveways. Lagunitas Creek serves as the dividing line between the residential and office portions of the property, and the new plans place a driveway looping the buildings and bordering the creek.

“A lot of effort was put into restoring that creek and it’s beautiful. The impact of cars driving so close to the creek will affect (wildlife),” commented resident Verna Gindoff.

Longtime community activist and member of Carpinteria Valley Association Vera Bensen resides on Lomita Lane, which also borders the project. She recommended underground parking and lamented that trees drawn into projects to camouflage buildings are often immature when planted and don’t shield structures and parking lots for years after they’re planted. “Plant large enough plants and trees so we wouldn’t have to wait five years for them to grow,” Benson said.

ARB member Scott Ellinwood said, “We’re getting kind of the impression that we’re getting a bait and switch,” concerning residents statements that home purchases had been made with the understanding that a prior concept had been approved for the mixed-use development.

ARB member Jim Reginato said, “I like the campus idea, but when you look at it from a distance it looks like an even bigger project than you had before.”

The conceptual hearing was an information gathering session for the applicant and garnered no official recommendation from the ARB. There’s no timetable for when an updated project could be presented to city planners.

CHS focuses on future

CHS focuses on future
Carpinteria High School teacher Erin Hanson introduces a student panel at a CHS-hosted seminar on Get Focused, Stay Focused, a high school program designed to steer students into college, careers and beyond.

By Peter Dugré
Carpinteria High School has a reputation for its ability to prepare students for the future. The school’s eight-year-old Get Focused, Stay Focused program serves as a model for other programs around the state during regular conferences hosted at CHS, much like one on May 20. Teachers from Bakersfield, San Francisco and Sacramento, among other places, convened at CHS to learn from the successes of the local program that teaches students to think a decade into the future.

Offered as a freshman seminar at CHS, Get Focused, Stay Focused jolts the new high schoolers into planning career paths, preparing for college and budgeting finances, all while devising an evolving 10-year plan to guide them through the giant transition into adulthood. A bonus for students is that Santa Barbara City College treats the seminar as a dual enrollment course, meaning CHS freshman get college credit. After freshman year, the Get Focused, Stay Focused content is updated and refreshed in grade-specific modules.

“It’s comprehensive college and career guidance. Students learn about who they are and who they want to be,” commented CHS teacher Erin Hansen, who along with teacher Amy Bryant, runs the seminars and local Get Focused, Stay Focused program. CHS piloted the program that is now taught in a 152 schools nation wide.

Bryant said that the freshmen get a wake-up call when having a serious conversation about what the future holds. “They all want to be professional athletes, You Tubers, celebrities. I crush their dreams,” Bryant said. Adding that if one of the students makes it in one of the pipe dream careers, “I tell them, ‘You are welcome to wear a T-shirt on TV that says ‘I told you so.’’”

A student panel presented at the seminar and couldn’t have been more enthusiastic about Get Focused, Stay Focused. They commented on the eye-opening nature of the curriculum. “You get to see how life will be in years to come. How much money you’ll need and the reality,” said a student. Unanimously, the students were self-aware, confident and realistic about the future.

Students were asked to give hypothetical advice to the teachers visiting for the seminar. One said, “(Get Focused, Stay Focused) is not just a requirement to graduate. It’s (students’) lives. Scare them!”

At the stroke of one: A collection of stroke stories by Gail Stribling

Editor’s note: Gail Stribling, a longtime Carpinterian and local volunteer, passed away April 25, 2016. She suffered her first stroke over 22 years ago when she was in her early 40s, but through her strong will and positive attitude, she regained her ability to live life fully. In her words, “I tried depressed, but it wasn’t much fun.” Gail didn’t focus on what she couldn’t do, choosing instead to “make lemonade.” Her view of life after a stroke is at the heart of the following article.

“The new garage door moves slower than the old one,” I complained to my husband.

“No, it’s not slower,” he said. “It just moves differently so it takes longer.” Sounds just like me.

I had my stroke in July and spent two weeks in the hospital followed by a four-week stay at rehab. I returned to work at our orchid nursery, part time, in September and attended a trade show in San Diego with my husband in October, to show my colleagues I was back to normal. By January I worked full time. Somehow I managed to live through the first year, but by fall I knew it was time to slow down and retire.

I tried being depressed, but it wasn’t much fun. Instead, I focused on what I could do and found new activities. Reading was first, followed by volunteer library duty, writing class, another volunteer job as dispatcher for Help, Newsletter Editor for California Women for Agriculture, and last, but not least, my duties as Cookie Princess.

In the past, I white-water rafted on the Snake River twice, hiked and climbed mountain trails. I now struggle to stay upright as I scuffle along sidewalks, and stairs are a challenge I try to avoid. Preconceptions of my limitations were altered while on vacation in Costa Rica.

My first challenge was La Mariposa in Quepos, a beautiful hotel with panoramic views built on the side of a hill with a series of stairs, many without handrails. It was a workout every time I wanted to eat, drink or swim. One day I chose the two-hour tour in the butterfly preserve while the others opted for the canopy trip, which involved soaring down cables in the rainforest. The soaring part I can handle, but the climb, up trees, between platforms, seemed beyond me.

In Manuel Antonio National Park, I managed to complete a hike through the rainforest, walked along the beach and crossed a river. I especially enjoyed the part where the monkeys threw green gourd-like things at other hikers. Fresh from my conquest of the rainforest, I decided to try a full-day tour to the mountains. At breakfast, one of the guides asked if I were up to a 45-minute walk to the waterfalls. I assured him all my parts and pieces worked, just slowly, and off we went. What he neglected to mention was the walk was all up and down steep stairways. By the time we reached a waterfall I’d look briefly, mumble, “Beautiful,” and attack the next section of stairs.

My next adventure was a two-hour, class 3, river raft trip. Our raft guide questioned my capability and warned she couldn’t guarantee I’d stay in the raft. I assured her I had no intention of leaving the raft, but also informed her I could swim and wasn’t afraid of water. Only after we donned helmets and life jackets, climbed over a big pile of rocks, positioned ourselves in the raft and listened to the safety instructions, did I start to question my decision. It was decided I would not paddle; my sole job was to stay in the raft.

The water level was low and although the rapids were scary, the biggest danger came from getting stuck on the rocks. I had no problem with the “get down” command, I really liked the bottom of the raft, but the “up” was more difficult. At the end of the trip, I thanked everyone for the nice ride. Taking my job seriously, I never left the raft, even to swim. The only damages were multiple bruises and two broken nails.

I think maybe next time I’ll try the canopy trip, but in the meantime I’ll study Spanish. I want to learn the word for stroke so I can better explain why I walk too far to the right, why I forget things, why I don’t drive, why stairs sometimes are just “too much.” Some people might look at these as disabilities; I just think of them as differences.


Playing the field

Photos by Bill and Rosana Swing
The Carpinteria High School track and field team qualified four individuals from the CIF Division IV Prelims, held at Carpinteria Valley Memorial Stadium last week, to the CIF Finals to be held at Cerritos College this Saturday, May 21. Chance Wright was the fifth place qualifier in the 110-meter high hurdles with a time of 15.60. Brian Buchmiller and Jimmy Graves were among the nine qualifiers in the pole vault with 12-foot clearances. Annalisa DeAlba was the fifth qualifier in the discus with a toss of 111 feet, eight inches. Gaby Fantone will be the first alternate in the 300-meter hurdles after finishing 10th with a time of 48.77.

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