Fair Oaks Folks Talk Transients and Scammers with Sheriff's Deputies

Story and photos by Seraphim Winslow  |  2016-02-05

Deputy Jason Gillock of the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department advises the public on neighborhood safety.

On Jan. 26th, Sacramento County Sheriff officers from all three shifts—morning, swing and graveyard—were on hand at La Vista School in Fair Oaks to discuss neighborhood security at a community sheriff’s meeting with local residents and participants in active neighborhood watch groups. Deputies talked about projects they have been working on in the area, and members of the public expressed concerns and posed questions about suspicious activity in several Fair Oaks neighborhoods.

The main speaker of the evening was Deputy Jason Gillock, who is responsible for the Carmichael, Orangevale, Old Foothill Farms, and Fair Oaks areas. One issue that Gillock highlighted was the prevalence of a variety of ongoing scams, both by telephone and door-to-door solicitation. There is, for example, a so-called “grandma scam” that occurs when an elderly resident receives a phone call from a speaker who starts the conservation with words like, ‘Hi, Grandma (or Grandpa). It’s your grandson/daughter.” The scammer then proceeds to elicit as much personal information as possible before the resident realizes what is going on. Other scams include callers posing as representatives of local electric and gas companies, banks, and even the I.R.S. Sheriff’s deputies urged the public to be extremely cautious when answering the telephone.

Another pressing problem, which is mostly the concern of the County Sheriff’s Transient Enforcement Team, is the acute rise of suspicious activity throughout Sacramento County arising from the homeless population. North Crime Prevention Specialist, Sherrie Carhart, said that, “One of the big complaints we get is people hanging out in front of businesses asking for money.” Carhart also told the story of a local resident who did not realize that a transient had been camping out in her backyard for over two months. Sergeant Michael Haynes remarked that residents should report the presence of vacant houses in local neighborhoods, since unoccupied homes are a magnet for squatters and transients.

Since so much of this activity goes unreported by the public, law enforcement officers face a daunting challenge in their attempt to monitor and control incidents of suspicious transient activity, as well as the confidence tricks and scams, which they mentioned at Tuesday evening’s meeting. In this regard, Sergeant Haynes mentioned one instance of “an older Russian gentleman who goes from house to house telling people that he’s down on his luck and needs help. We hear talk about him, but no one ever reports him.” Unreported cases like these are more common than most people think, and if the sheriff is not informed about them, they continue to be a nuisance to the community.

In light of these difficulties, Officer Gillock encouraged the public to be diligent in reporting any and all suspicious activity. There are a number of ways this can be done. “We have on online reporting system,” remarked Gillock, as well as the numerous telephone numbers through which the public can access the relevant branch of the sheriff’s office. Apart from 911, a few of these numbers include the sheriff’s non-emergency line at (916) 874-5115 and the sheriff's emergency number at (916) 974-5111. Nuisance complaints involving activities such as abandoned shopping carts, illegal dumping, street light problems, and vacant or dangerous buildings can be reported by dialing 311.

Abriter Foster Family

SCSO Singathon at Sunrise Mall Offers Something to Sing About

Source: Sacramento Choral Society and Orchestra  |  2016-02-05

Conductor Donald Kendrick will lead the Chorus and Guest Singers (Surprised Shoppers) in well known and beloved Broadway tunes in the Mall. Proceeds will help the SCSO with their Spring 2016 education and outreach efforts. Photo courtesy SCSO

Strains of great Broadway hits—and perhaps a preview of Carl Orff’s riveting Carmina Burana—will put a smile on the faces of Sunrise Mall shoppers of all ages on Thursday evening, Feb. 18th, during the Sacramento Choral Society and Orchestra’s (SCSO) annual Singathon fundraiser in front of Macy’s Women’s store from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

SCSO members will come to sing…and sing they will! Under the able and entertaining direction of Conductor Donald Kendrick, both singers and shoppers will croon their way through such great Broadway memories as The Sound of Music, Westside Story, and Oklahoma, with an excerpt or two from the SCSO’s March 5th Carmina Burana concert thrown in for good measure. The event may include some “spontaneous guest conductors” and would-be Fred Astaires and Ginger Rogers who will add heartwarming entertainment value to the event.

According to Singathon 2016 Coordinator Brent Wallace, “The purpose of this Chorus-generated fundraiser is to work off the pledges that our dedicated volunteer Choral Society members have obtained over the past month. We are absolutely thrilled to say that we are spiraling our way towards our $40,000 goal. With the help of our community we hope to surpass this year’s goal of 40K. In fact, people wishing to support our efforts can make an online donation at www.sacramentochoral.com. We are pleased to continue to uphold our reputation as a fiscally accountable and well managed arts organization in our community.”

Proceeds from the Singathon will help offset professional orchestra expenses for the SCSO’s upcoming March and May 2016 choral orchestral classical concerts at the Sacramento Community Center Theater. The fundraiser will also support the SCSO’s important education and outreach to veterans, students, the underprivileged, and other area nonprofits. Come join in the fun and support the SCSO!

...

With winter storms slowly boosting water supply, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) today increased its water delivery estimate for most recipients from 10 percent of requests for the calendar year, as announced in December, to 15 percent.

“Our modest increase underscores the fact that we still have a critical water shortage after four-plus years of drought that we don’t know when will end,” said DWR Director Mark Cowin. “One look at our low reservoirs tells us that we need a lot more wet weather before summer.”

Although there is no exact formula for ending the drought and conditions vary region by region, a rough guidepost is that approximately 150 percent of average winter precipitation — rain and snow — would significantly ease statewide conditions, with the major exception of groundwater depletion.

The State Water Project (SWP) delivery estimate (allocation) may be increased further if storms continue to build rainfall and snowpack totals. The 29 public agencies that receive SWP water (State Water Project Contractors) requested 4,172,786 acre-feet of water for 2016. With today’s allocation increase, they will receive 631,115 acre-feet.

Collectively, the SWP Contractors serve approximately 25 million Californians and just under a million acres of irrigated farmland.

It is important to note that nearly all areas served by the SWP also have other sources of water, among them streams, groundwater, and local reservoirs.

Key reservoirs are beginning to rise from early winter storms, but remain low.

Lake Oroville in Butte County, the State Water Project’s principal reservoir, was recorded recently as holding 1,366,061 acre-feet, 39 percent of its 3.5 million acre-foot capacity and — 60 percent of its historical average for the date. Shasta Lake north of Redding, California’s and the federal Central Valley Project’s (CVP) largest reservoir, was holding 2,138,566 acre-feet, 47 percent of its 4.5 million acre-foot capacity and 71 percent of its historical average. San Luis Reservoir, a critical south-of-Delta pool for both the SWP and CVP, reflects the same trend of lower reservoir storage this year. San Luis was holding 641,729 acre-feet, 31 percent of its 2 million acre-foot capacity and 41 percent of normal for the date. Folsom Lake, a CVP reservoir near Sacramento, is holding 398,523 acre-feet of its 977,000 acre-foot capacity, 79 percent of average for the date.

Though still critically low, many reservoir levels have dramatically risen from recent storm runoff. Groundwater aquifers recharge more slowly, with many in the Central Valley sinking toward record levels.

Last year’s (2015) 20 percent allocation was the second lowest since 1991, when agricultural customers of the SWP got a zero allocation and municipal customers received 30 percent of requests. In 2014, SWP deliveries were five percent of requested amounts for all customers.

The last 100 percent allocation — difficult to achieve even in wet years largely because of Delta pumping restrictions to protect threatened and endangered fish species — was in 2006. SWP allocations in recent years:

2015 – 20 percent

2014 – 5 percent

2013 – 35 percent

2012 – 65 percent

2011 – 80 percent

2010 – 50 percent

2009 – 40 percent

2008 – 35 percent

2007 – 60 percent

2006 – 100 percent

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. declared a drought state of emergency on Jan. 17th, 2014 and followed up with statewide water conservation mandates. Since then, the state has been swept by drought-fueled forest fires, vast tracts of farmland have been fallowed and some communities have scrambled for drinking water.

Long-range weather forecasts are uncertain, and there is no way to know if this winter will deeply dent the state’s historic drought.

DWR’s California Data Exchange Center (CDEC) Web sites show current water conditions at the state’s reservoirs and weather stations.

Reservoirs: http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cdecapp/resapp/getResGraphsMain.action

Precipitation: http://cdec.water.ca.gov/snow_rain.html

Snow: http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cdecapp/snowapp/sweq.action

While the early winter rain and snowpack are promising, this may yet prove to be a fifth consecutive year of drought in California. To learn about all the actions the state has taken to manage our water system and cope with the impacts of the drought, visit Drought.CA.gov. Every Californian should take steps to conserve water; find out how at SaveOurWater.com.

...

From Senator Jim Nielsen: “The State’s first priority must be saving money for the Rainy Day fund to ease the pain of budget cuts in an economic downturn. Programs that provide care to the most vulnerable Californians like Developmental Disability Services have not been adequately funded.

“To better serve people with developmental disabilities, I introduced Senate Bill 818, a bill similar to the one I introduced in Special Session last year. My commitment to make this funding permanent in the State's General Fund is unwavering.

“And I am so glad to hear that the Governor reaffirmed his commitment to build water storage. We must increase the state's above-ground water storage.

“Conservation alone won't get us out of this historic drought nor will it help get us through the next drought.

“Sites Reservoir is shoveled-ready to store up to 1.8 million acre feet of water.

“Planning for access to clean water is essential to the prosperity of future generations.”

Source: Office of Senator Jim Nielsen


From Senator Gaines: “In a state with the highest poverty rate in the nation, hundreds of billions in unfunded liabilities, and some of the highest gas taxes and worst roads, I hoped to hear more about the Governor's vision for solving those massive problems without crushing taxpayers.

“I’m happy that the state revenues are surging, but that should be viewed as an opportunity to pay down debt and fund one-time, high-priority projects. This month's stock market meltdown shows that our budget picture could change dramatically in just one year proving again that California needs to be a model of prudent, careful spending.

“I want the Governor to put some money back into working families' pockets. No tax increase extensions, and no new taxes on gas and health plans. Let’s—for once—grow the quality of life instead of growing bureaucracy.”

Source: Office of Senator Gaines


From Board of Equalization Vice Chair George Runner: “I share the governor’s optimism when it comes to California's future. Our state has a diverse economy, a strong commitment to education and more than enough revenue to fully fund roads, schools, and water storage without raising taxes.

“As the governor himself warns, we must continue to exercise fiscal prudence. The true test of his leadership will be whether he can hold the line on spending against the tax-and-spend liberal legislators of his own party.

“Instead of raising taxes, our focus should be on providing greater value for Californians by improving quality of life and by seeking solutions that make this state a more affordable place to live and work.”

Source: Office of George Runner


From Assemblymember Rocky Chávez: “Today, the Governor continued his theme of fiscal caution and hopeful planning for the future in his comments. While I applaud his recognition of this important principle, Governor Brown needs to focus on practical government solutions that cut back on waste and gets our State back to common sense governance,” said Chávez.

“We have a major hole in our Healthcare system, we have a backlog of billions of dollars in infrastructure repairs and we continue to face one of the worst droughts in California with no adequate water storage. The rubber band can only stretch so far until it snaps. We need to put practical solutions into place to take care of these issues while continuing to budget for our rainy day fund.”

“In his closing, the Governor discussed being courageous yet cautious. With the changing world markets, the uncertainty of how foreign affairs will affect our state and our volatile income tax dependency, Brown made one thing certain today, 2016 will not be 2015,” said Chávez.

Source: Office of Rocky Chávez

...

United Way Honors Seven

Source: Kristin Thebaud  |  2016-01-29

Local residents receive awards at United Way California Capital Region’s donor appreciation event in December. Source: Kristin Thébaud Communications

Seven of United Way California Capital Region’s donors and volunteers recently were honored by the local nonprofit for their commitment to making a collective impact on the Sacramento region’s education, health, and financial stability. Honorees included Richard Bojé and Stirling Price of Carmichael, Ruth Miller of Woodland, Lorrie Wilson of Granite Bay, Lindsey Smith of Sacramento and Pam Stewart of Natomas. The company Nationwide, based in the Arden area, was United Way’s seventh honoree.

At the recognition event in December, United Way California Capital Region President and CEO Stephanie Bray told the honorees, “Your hard work, dedication, and dollars have changed thousands of lives. Because of you, more children at risk of falling behind are learning to read at grade level. Because of you, more children have access to meals through our Healthy Meals program, which removes the barrier of hunger for those children. And, because of you, foster youth, and families are connected with education and coaching to achieve their financial and life goals and dreams.”

Bojé and Price were the first recipients of the Bojé & Price Award for Outstanding Volunteerism, which will be presented annually to a volunteer who exemplifies the work of United Way as an individual volunteer and champion for volunteerism in the community. Price first became involved with United Way in 1958. In 1985, he became treasurer, and has served on the finance and administration committee and the Capital Region Foundation. He also is a dedicated volunteer with several other local nonprofits. Bojé also began his relationship with United Way in 1958 and has served as campaign chair, board chair, and on the executive committee. He currently sits on the finance and administration committee and on the Capital Region Foundation Board, among other local nonprofits.

Miller and Wilson were named Women in Philanthropy Members of the Year for their work leading United Way’s Women in Philanthropy group, which helps local foster youth prepare for adulthood, and increasing the capacity of the group.

Smith was named Young Leaders Society Member of the Year for her work with United Way’s Young Leaders Society to improve the education and health of children in the Sacramento area and grow the presence of the group. She chairs the Young Leaders Society Leadership Council, which is overseeing installation of hydration stations at schools in the Robla School District so more children will have access to drinking water.

Stewart received the annual Frances Wisebart Jacobs Award for her longtime service, generosity and passion for the community. As past board chair for United Way and leader of the campaign cabinet, she led United Way to one of the most successful campaigns in the nonprofit's history.

Nationwide received United Way’s annual Cornerstone Award for achieving outstanding results in the company’s United Way campaign and making volunteerism and community engagement part of its company culture. Eighty-four percent of Nationwide employees participated in last year’s United Way campaign, raising more than $247,000. The company has sponsored United Way's last three Day of Caring events, lending 125 volunteers to the event each year.

“Think about the power we have to change generations and break the cycle of poverty that too many families in our region face,” Bray said. “By bringing together companies, schools, government and individuals across the region we know that we can bring about that change. We can and will go even bigger to reach thousands more children and families.”

For more than 90 years, United Way California Capital Region has brought people together to meet pressing needs in the Sacramento region and has changed the lives of hundreds of children, families and adults. Now United Way is mobilizing nonprofits, companies, schools, government and individuals across the region, state, and country to make a collective impact in the areas of education, financial stability and health in Amador, El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento, and Yolo counties. To donate or volunteer, visit www.yourlocalunitedway.org.

...

American Pickers to Film in California

Source: American Pickers on History Channel   |  2016-01-29

This hit show follows two of the most skilled pickers in the business, Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, as they embark on an epic road trip across the U.S. in search of America’s most valuable antiques from motorcycles, classic cars, and bicycles to one-of-a-kind vintage memorabilia. Photo courtesy American Pickers on History Channel

California is excited to welcome Mike Wolfe, Frank Fritz and Antique Archeology to the area. The team will film episodes of their hit series American Pickers throughout California. Filming is scheduled for early March.

American Pickers is a documentary series that explores the fascinating world of antique “picking” on History. This hit show follows two of the most skilled pickers in the business, Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, as they embark on an epic road trip across the U.S. in search of America’s most valuable antiques from motorcycles, classic cars, and bicycles to one-of-a-kind vintage memorabilia. Mike and Frank are on a mission to recycle America, restore forgotten relics to their former glory, and learn a thing or two about American history along the way.

American Pickers is looking for leads and would love to explore what you may have. They are on the hunt for interesting characters with interesting and unique items.  Some of what they look for: vintage bicycles, toys, unusual radios, movie memorabilia, advertising, military items, folk art, vintage musical equipment, vintage automotive items, early firefighting equipment, vintage clothing, pre-50’s western gear.

American Pickers is produced by Cineflix Productions for History. New episodes air Wednesdays at 9pm E.T. on History.

If you have a large collection or want to refer someone to Mike and Frank, email: your name, number, address and description of the collection and photos to: americanpickers@cineflix.com (855) OLD-RUST.

...

Take a Sentimental Journey via Cabaret

Source: River City Chorale  |  2016-01-29

The River City Chorale, 60 voices strong, has been presenting the Cabaret for many years and it is by far its most popular concert. Photo courtesy River City Chorale

The River City Chorale presents its ever-popular Cabaret on Saturday and Sunday, March 5th and 6th, with two shows each day: 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. It’s conveniently located at the Serbian Church Hall, 7777 Sunset Ave (between Sunrise and San Juan), in Fair Oaks, Calif. 95628.

With the theme of Sentimental Journeys you will be transported back to the era of such songs as “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” “Meet Me in St. Louis,” “Route 66,” and “On the Sunny Side of the Street.”

Upon entering the hall you will be greeted by the sounds of a traditional jazz combo and escorted to your reserved place at decorated round tables seating up to eight persons. Hors d’oeuvres will be served at your table by the singers and you can partake of libations at an open bar. You’ll also have the opportunity to purchase raffle tickets for one of four fun prizes, with winners to be announced at the end of the concert.

Then the show begins! In keeping with the tradition of the cabaret you will be entertained by small groups, soloists, a chamber choir as well as the whole ensemble who will be perched—cabaret style—on stools onstage. A combo led by Richard Morrissey, the director of the Chorale, with piano by the very talented Kathy Earl Midgley, will provide the accompaniment.

The River City Chorale, 60 voices strong, has been presenting the Cabaret for many years and it is by far its most popular concert. So get your tickets early by going online at www.RiverCityChorale.org or call (916) 331-3810.

...

Local Girl is Famous Broadway Star

Story and photos by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2016-01-26

Backstage in Broadway’s Lunt-Fontanne Theater, Teal Wicks poses with “Finding Neverland” juvenile stars Casey Butler and Christian Camporin.

The old W. C. Fields adage about not working with animals or children was never more tested than by Sacramento singer/actress Teal Wicks, whose latest Broadway role lumps her with both species of scene-stealers. Fortunately, the star loves them all.

Backstage, Wicks embraces the wooly pooch who plays Porthos in “Finding Neverland”—a musical prequel to J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan”—and coos: “I know I’m supposed to hate you. But I just want to love you.” A big juvenile cast also gets plenty of hugs. “I’ve never worked with this many kids before,” Wicks said. “These boys are incredible. They make me feel lazy because they’re balancing school and performing. They just blow my mind.”

Another new experience for the willowy thespian is onstage voluptuousness. “Mary Barrie is supposed to have a Gibson-girl figure,” she explained. “So I pull on my padded hips and thighs. My Spanx go on over the top. It was hard to move around and keep my balance at first. Now I like my curves. I’m experiencing a ‘me’ I’ll probably never be.”

J.M. Barrie’s upwardly mobile wife is not the female lead. But for the 33-year-old former star of “Wicked” productions in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and on Broadway in New York, playing Mary Barrie comes as a welcome plum. “It’s an easy role,” she said. “Mary only has one solo song. But the part gives me time to do for outside concerts and other jobs. After ‘Wicked,’ anything’s easy.”

A “wicked” perk was Teal’s kinship with an elite bunch of actresses who survived the role and formed the Elphaba Alumni club. “We don’t often see each other but we text,” she explained. “We commiserate. We all have some battle scars from bing Elphaba.”

Exhaustion was among them. Three years performing eight shows a week (with no understudy) left the diva little time for trips to Carmichael to see mom. Happily, Gail Allen is a have-daughter-will-travel parent who ventured 25 times across the country for “Wicked” and has so far enjoyed five Neverland performances. “It’s a beautiful show,” she confirmed. “Mary Martin’s ‘Peter Pan’ was Teal’s favorite movie, growing up. For Neverland, I always take my handkerchief. I get very involved in the characters.”

Heavyweight characters are foils for her daughter’s current role. Matthew Morrison (from television’s “Glee”) plays J.M. Barrie. After several months’ absence, “Frasier” star Kelsey Grammer recently returned to his scene-grabbing role of Captain Hook.

“Matthew’s hardworking and genuine,” Wick said of heartthrob Morrison. “He’s kind to everyone. He has such a laid back, easygoing attitude. That’s what you want in the leader of your show. Kelsey Grammer is so much fun and such a joker. He’s hosted dressing room parties for the whole company. My mom crashed one and got to chat with him. My boyfriend Tom and I have hung out with Kelsey and his family on our days off.”

From theater stalls, Teal’s mom sometimes pinches herself. “Every time I see Teal, it’s a new experience,” mused Gail Allen. “I also like to watch the audience, and see how people respond. I’m thrilled for her. Every parent wants to see their child living her dream.”

...

Carmichael Resident Involved in Theatre

Source: Bobby Grainger  |  2016-01-25

The play is fun for the entire family with the action directed at children and dialogue for all. Photo courtesy Bobby Grainger

Carmichael resident actor, director, writer Bobby Grainger has written and directed “Jesus is for the Birds,” a children’s play set to show at the WM J Geery Theater in Sacramento, Calif., starting Saturday, March 5th, at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. This production will run at the same times and location every Saturday through March 26th.

Kidlaff Productions’ theatrical telling of “Jesus is for the Birds” is created for all ages to make children and adults laugh.This budget-priced production comes at a perfect time for children of all ages. Current economic conditions can make it difficult for families to find high-quality entertainment that also teaches a valuable lesson. Families at times, sit their children in front of the TV, but once an hour has passed the experience fades away. A play brings the characters of the show to life in front of the kids’ eyes, giving their imagination a deeper sense of immersion, where they can talk to the characters in the show after it’s over.

Grainger’s play is based extremely loosely on a bible verse, Matthew 6:26: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Simon, an average good dad is struggling with certain aspects his faith. So, he makes a deal with his wife Lilly to miss church on a Sunday in exchange of doing any one chore of her choosing. Lilly reluctantly agrees and asks Simon to clean the big blue window. He does so and well—so well that a group of silly birds who are late in migrating south for the winter crash in to help him turn his faith around.

The play is fun for the entire family with the action directed at children and dialogue for all. If one hasn’t been to children’s theater because of the reputation that it’s “only for kids,” Jesus is for the Birds anticipates to show an alternative.

This original play is written, directed, and stars local thespian Bobby Grainger who resides in Carmichael, Calif. It’s intended to play by the theme that the play promotes, to “Do not worry,” to help those out who need to hear that there is someone out there with a bigger plan for you than just you. Grainger has acted and directed in various plays in the Sacramento area for the last 25 years. He has won and been nominated for several Elly awards (local regional theater awards) including the previous last three scripts he has written (Elves & the Schumachers, 2011; C.S.I. Transylvania, Law & Order Special Pumpkins Unit, 2013, and Sherly Holmes and the Misfit Detectives, 2014).

...

Are You Ready to Rugby?

Ray Schwartz  |  2016-01-20

Today, top high school rugby players have often grown to compete over six or eight seasons, and in some cases, played under the same coach, or program, the entire time. The quality at the top keeps growing finer each and every year. 
--Photo courtesy David Barpal Photography

Sacramento Valley Rugby Foundation Set to Host The 32nd Annual “Kick Off Tournament” at Cordova High, Jan. 30th And 31st

What started from humble beginnings—an opportunity to get pre-season playing time for lots of young high school rugby squads—has blossomed into the largest Youth and High School Rugby Tournament in the United States (and likely the entire Western Hemisphere!).

The Kick Off Tournament, affectionately referred to as the KOT, is still run today by some of the pioneers who first took this on in 1984, when seven high school clubs were featured. Jerry Ahlin, Ray Thompson, Pete Deterding, Bob Lutrell, Joe Cavallero, Zack Finney, and a posse of their finest friends, come together in a massive volunteer effort to pull off quite a show, each and every year. They do so for the love of the game, and for the kids who love to play!

Many of the finest players, coaches, and rugby clubs in America have been featured over the years, including Jesuit High, many times over National Champions. Other top local clubs to have begun their season at the KOT, and gone on to compete that Spring at the National Championships include Cougars (Del Campo), Islanders (Burbank), Vacaville, Christian Brothers, and most recently Dixon, Granite Bay, and Sierra Foothills.

By 2005, the event had grown to 30 clubs, playing on three fields at Granite Park. The popularity of youth and high school rugby was beginning to explode at that time, not simply locally, but across the Bay Area and indeed America. In fact, a recent report from the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (according to the Maryland-based organization’s U.S. Trends in Team Sports Report) reveals participation in tackle football fell 21 percent from 2008-2013, while rugby experienced the biggest gain of all youth and high schools sports, growing a whopping 81 percent during that time!

The KOT, a large, established structure on the game’s competitive calendar, was uniquely positioned to help foster this growth. 2006 saw the addition of Girls play, while 2007 saw the event expand to two days and include a free Middle School clinic. For the past three years, now at Cordova High, seven to nine fields have seen play all day, both Saturday and Sunday, featuring an average of 130 sides playing a staggering 205 30-minute matches!

Clubs have visited the KOT in the recent past, seeking some warm California sun, and the chance to compete with locals, the likes of the Jesuit Marauders…, clubs from across the Bay Area (Santa Rosa to Morgan Hill), but also from as far away as Oregon, Utah, Colorado, Washington, SoCal, and even several from Alberta, Canada.

Referees visit from even further, with several coming each year from Canada, but also Pittsburg, New York, Massachusetts, Idaho, Germany, and South Africa! In order for the KOT to grow, and to continue to provide quality matches, the word went out across USA Rugby, “Send us your refs!” Four brave souls answered the call in 2006, and more and more refs have come every year since.

As the KOT grew, however, the need to help produce and develop a local crop of refs came with the territory. So the KOT leveraged our wealth of sunshine and matches needing officials, to create a unique Referee Development Program. The KOT RDP features a free day of referee training Friday at Sac State, and two full days of valuable referee coaching throughout the event. Our own Raley’s College Greens donates all the food for the ref tent!

As richly rewarding as hosting young stars of the game can be (many ruggers who’ve played at past KOTs have gone on to play for, and even Captain, USA National teams), there’s no greater joy than watching U-8s and U-10s blossom into feisty U-12s and eventually become skillful, competitive middle schoolers!

It’s at these junior levels that the popularity of rugby has finally taken off. Today, top high school rugby players have often grown to compete over six or eight seasons, and in some cases, played under the same coach, or program, the entire time. The quality at the top keeps growing finer each and every year.

So why rugby?
To some rugby is a muscular ballet with mud and blood, while to others it just looks like a brawl. A violent contact sport with no padding? In this day and age of heightened concerns over sports concussions? But to those who take the time to peel back the veneer and take a closer look, they see adults mentoring children; coaches who carefully teach players to respect themselves, their opponents and the game itself.

With top notch coaching, confidence and skills grow over time. Fitness reigns supreme. The head and neck must never be a part of the rugby tackle. Speed and power, choreographed teamwork, brilliant ball handling and precision kicking are often on display. But look closer still and you'll notice there are no timeouts. The coach, who runs practice, has little to no input once the match has started. The coach elects a Captain, who is the only conduit to the Ref.  The Ref, in turn, tries to manage a fair contest between two sides through the Captains.

Rugby is certainly an interesting contradiction. Though the players seem to be trying to tear each other’s head off, they help each other up off the ground, and cheer each other (and meet to shake hands) after every match. And players will always refer to the referee as “sir.” While the ref is just trying to keep heads from being torn off, a good ref can bring a competitive match up to a boil, while never allowing it spill over. All players contribute, all get to handle the ball, and all shapes and sizes of players are welcome. Passion created from this game is measureable.

Why Sacramento Rugby?
Students of sports history know the oldest sport offered at Cal (UC Berkeley) is rugby, which started playing in the 1880s. Other local rivals, St. Mary’s, Santa Clara and Stanford, all share long, rich rugby traditions as well, with St. Mary’s having just won their first National Championship (in any sport), May 2014, at Stanford (featuring many local ruggers), and repeated in 2015!

As the First World War concluded, the Olympics embraced rugby, offering a Gold Medal (won by the USA) in both 1920 and ’24. Graduates of these Universities combined, with rugby players from San Francisco’s Olympic Club, to train, as they traveled by ship, and win these medals. Captaining the ’24 team was Colby “Babe” Slater from nearby Woodland. But after the Gold Medal match in Paris, where unruly French fans nearly rioted as USA beat France, rugby was dropped from the Olympic program.

The tradition of rugby, however, lingered across Northern California. Though college and then pro football took over, 1953 saw a small rebirth of rugby when the first Monterey Rugby Classic was held. Clubs and tournaments popped up everywhere throughout the 1960s (UC Davis and Sac State have both recently celebrated their 50th year of rugby). In 1982, a sturdy group of Sacramento sportsmen travelled to Europe on a rugby tour.  They went as players, only to return with a newfound desire to teach the game they grew to love. So a new high school rugby competition began in Sacramento, kicking off with our first ever KOT!

Most years, weather permitting, Sacramento offers a long winter/spring playing season, as local clubs draw upon a wealth of coaches, referees, and administrators to help develop young players and squads to enjoy the game, the same game played in Olympics of old. The size and depth of the local competition here remains unrivalled across American rugby’s landscape. It is no coincidence that as soon as Sacramento built a top notch soccer facility, USA Rugby scheduled an International match here.

As USA beat Canada in front of a sold out crowd, 8,000 made it out to Bonney Field, June, 2014, the blazing Sacramento sunshine proved a valuable advantage. When USA played the mighty New Zealand All Blacks at sold out Soldier Field in Chicago, November 1st, three Jesuit grads suited up for USA (Lou Stanfill, Eric Fry & Blaine Sculley) while another three players came from Bay Area high school programs.

A doubleheader then came back to Bonney Field last July (during the State Fair) as we witnessed USA beat Japan, and Fiji tie Samoa. And as PRO Rugby announced its inaugural season (this coming April-June), Sacramento was awarded its first of six teams!

An abbreviated brand of the game of rugby called “Sevens” has traditionally been played locally, though only in the summers. Sevens is now introduced to the Olympics, with the first Gold Medals, Men’s and Women’s, on offer in 2016 in Rio de Janiero. With USA Women presently ranked 5th, and the Men ranked 9th (and rising!) on the World Sevens circuit, we can certainly expect to see Americans, and hopefully some Sacramentans, competing in the Medal rounds in Rio!

So, to get your rugby knowledge and appreciation flowing, plan to attend the 32nd Annual KOT at Cordova High Jan. 30 and 31! Matches kick off early both days!

This year’s KOT features (in addition to the usual local clubs) a first ever Girl’s Middle School seven-a-side competition, and far more Girl’s play than ever. Gridley makes its first appearance, fielding 6 sides! Davis and Dixon has combined to form Solo (Solano-Yolo) Rugby, Los Gatos United is coming strong, Liberty (Washington) returns for their fourth KOT, bringing 3 sides.

...Read More!