Beach magazine Dec 2017

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<strong>Dec</strong>ember 7, <strong>2017</strong><br />

Volume 48, Issue 18<br />

Kinder wonder<br />

Dina Moll<br />

Truffle hunter Billy’s Bells Swimming with jellies<br />

QB Alexander Surf Fry All 50<br />

<strong>2017</strong> <strong>Beach</strong> Gift Guide

2 Easy Reader / <strong>Beach</strong> <strong>magazine</strong> • <strong>Dec</strong>ember 7, <strong>2017</strong>

26th Annual<br />

Saturday<br />

<strong>Dec</strong>ember 9th<br />

Vera Jimenez<br />

Grand Marshal<br />

KTLA5 Meteorologist<br />

“California Christmas”<br />

<strong>2017</strong><br />

2:00 pm Pier Holiday Concert<br />

4:30 pm SUP/Paddle Craft<br />

5:30 pm Boats<br />

Main Channel of King Harbor<br />

Redondo <strong>Beach</strong><br />

Best Parade Viewing Locations<br />

- Free Bleacher Seating in King Harbor Marina<br />

- Sea wall by the Sportfishing Pier<br />

- Portofino Hotel and Marina sea wall<br />

- Seaside Lagoon sea wall<br />

- Come early for best viewing<br />

Enjoy dinner at one of the many harbor and marina view restaurants including<br />

BaleenKitchen, Joe’s Crab Shack, The Portofino Hotel Lobby Bar, R10 Social House,<br />

Ruby’s, Samba or Sea Level at Shade Hotel. Stroll the harbor, boardwalk, and pier<br />

shops and view the Holiday Harbor Lights along harbor residence balconies. Family<br />

fun arcade, boat rides, cocktails, live music, seafood & more!<br />

Gift cards make great holiday stocking stuffers or business gifts!<br />

Book your holiday parties or order catering now!<br />

/visitkingharbor.com<br />

For more information and details about the event, visit khyc.org<br />

Ad generously donated by King Harbor Association<br />


Considering A Major Remodeling Project?<br />


Enjoy The Remodeling Process From Concept to Completion<br />

Get inspired at our state-of-the-art Design Center in El Segundo.<br />

It’s the perfect place to see an array of ideas for your home.<br />

Visit Our<br />

For information on upcoming seminars and events:

<strong>Dec</strong>ember 7, <strong>2017</strong><br />

Volume 48, Issue 18<br />


12 Sounds from the sea by Kevin Cody<br />

Billy Meistrell converts outdated scuba tanks into memorial bells.<br />

16 Grounded in Kindergarten by Mark McDermott<br />

Grand View Teacher of the Year DIna Moll views kindergarten<br />

as education’s foundation.<br />

24 Bay bomber by Scott Tapley<br />

Former Junior Lifeguard and Rolling Hills High swimmer Amy Gubser<br />

fights cold and jellies while swimming across Monterey Bay. Next up –<br />

the Santa Monica Bay.<br />

28 Handoff from dad by Randy Angel<br />

Quarterback Jack Alexander’s stellar season at Redondo might not have<br />

happened if his dad hadn’t stepped up to save local youth football when<br />

his son was seven years old.<br />

32 50 states without a plan by Tony Cordi<br />

The first lesson of traveling is to be open to a change of plans, a Hermosa<br />

<strong>Beach</strong> family learns after visiting all 50 states.<br />

34 Truffle hunter by Richard Foss<br />

Chef Michael Mazzotta and his dog Capo train to hunt for one of the<br />

culinary art’s most valued ingredients.<br />

36 Fry the surfer by Ryan McDonald<br />

Alex Fry leads perennial surf powerhouse Mira Costa into the new era.<br />

And it’s not all in the water.<br />

8 Calendar<br />

10 Manhattan <strong>Beach</strong> Tree Lighting<br />



Grand View Teach of the Year<br />

Dina Moll.<br />

Photo by<br />

Brad Jacobson<br />

(CivicCouch.com)<br />

14 Mama Liz Thanksgiving Dinner<br />

20 Holiday Gift Guide<br />

STAFF<br />

PUBLISHER Kevin Cody, ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Richard Budman, EDITORS Mark McDermott, Randy Angel, David<br />

Mendez, and Ryan McDonald, ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT Bondo Wyszpolski, DINING EDITOR Richard Foss,<br />

STAFF PHOTOGRAPHERS Ray Vidal and Brad Jacobson, CALENDAR Judy Rae, DISPLAY SALES Tamar Gillotti and<br />

Amy Berg, CLASSIFIEDS Teri Marin, DIRECTOR OF DIGITAL MEDIA Hermosawave.net, GRAPHIC DESIGNER Tim Teebken,<br />

DESIGN CONSULTANT Bob Staake, BobStaake.com, FRONT DESK Judy Rae<br />

EASY READER (ISSN 0194-6412) is published weekly by EASY READER, 2200 Pacific Cst. Hwy., #101, P.O. Box 427, Hermosa<br />

<strong>Beach</strong>, CA 90254-0427. Yearly domestic mail subscription $150.00; foreign, $200.00 payable in advance. POSTMASTER: Send<br />

address changes to EASY READER, P.O. Box 427, Hermosa <strong>Beach</strong>, CA 90254. The entire contents of the EASY READER newspaper<br />

is Copyright <strong>2017</strong> by EASY READER, Inc. www.easyreadernews.com. The Easy Reader/Redondo <strong>Beach</strong> Hometown News<br />

is a legally adjudicated newspaper and the official newspaper for the cities of Hermosa <strong>Beach</strong> and Redondo <strong>Beach</strong>. Easy Reader<br />

/ Redondo <strong>Beach</strong> Hometown News is also distributed to homes and on newsstands in Manhattan <strong>Beach</strong>, El Segundo, Torrance,<br />

and Palos Verdes.<br />


n Mailing Address P.O. Box 427, Hermosa <strong>Beach</strong>, CA 90254 Phone (310) 372-4611 Fax (424) 212-6780<br />

n Website www.easyreadernews.com Email news@easyreadernews.com<br />

n Classified Advertising see the Classified Ad Section. Phone 310.372.4611 x102. Email displayads@easyreadernews.com<br />

n Fictitious Name Statements (DBA's) can be filed at the office during regular business hours. Phone 310.372.4611 x101.<br />

6 Easy Reader / <strong>Beach</strong> <strong>magazine</strong> • <strong>Dec</strong>ember 7, <strong>2017</strong>

<strong>Dec</strong>ember 7, <strong>2017</strong> • Easy Reader / <strong>Beach</strong> <strong>magazine</strong> 7

S O U T H B AY<br />


Saturday, <strong>Dec</strong>ember 9<br />

Build me a sandman<br />

The South Bay may not have<br />

snow but there’s sand…How<br />

about building a sand snowman?<br />

Arrive early to claim a<br />

prime site. Registration starts<br />

at 8:45 a.m. north of the Hermosa<br />

Pier at shoreline and<br />

building commences at 9 a.m.<br />

Prizes awarded. Judging begins<br />

at 11:15 a.m. For more information,<br />

contact Community<br />

Resources Department at (310)<br />

318-0280 or hermosabch.org.<br />

Christmas car show<br />

The Christmas edition of<br />

Cruise at the <strong>Beach</strong>. Stroll<br />

among some of the finest examples<br />

of Southern California<br />

car culture. Judging begins at 9<br />

a.m. with the trophy presentation<br />

at 2 p.m. In keeping with<br />

the spirit of the season, please<br />

bring an unwrapped toy to<br />

benefit Cheer for Children<br />

Christmas Toy Drive. Ruby’s<br />

Diner, 245 North Harbor<br />

Drive, Redondo <strong>Beach</strong>. If you<br />

wish to display a car or require<br />

more information, contact<br />

Larry Neville at (310) 962-<br />

7438. Registration is $20.<br />

Dickens’ holiday<br />

Enter Fezziwig’s warehouse<br />

replete with Victorian decorations<br />

and several Dickens’<br />

characters. Fagin and the Artful<br />

Dodger from Oliver Twist<br />

will teach how to pick pockets.<br />

Come dressed in Victorian<br />

style! 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. The International<br />

Printing Museum,<br />

315 W. Torrance Blvd., Carson.<br />

$25 per guest, $80 groups of 4.<br />

(310) 515-7166 or visit printmuseum.org.<br />

Yoga on the Pier<br />

Free yoga on the Redondo<br />

<strong>Beach</strong> Pier. Everyone is welcome<br />

to take part in this all<br />

level yoga class. Meet at the<br />

Octagon, where the Pier meets<br />

the International Boardwalk.<br />

10 - 11 a.m. 100 Fisherman’s<br />

Wharf, Redondo <strong>Beach</strong>. redondopier.com.<br />

Holiday concert<br />

Free holiday concert and<br />

Santa on the Redondo Pier presented<br />

by Redondo Pier Association.<br />

Take a selfie with<br />

surfing Santa. Free holiday<br />

parking. Free holiday activity<br />

book for the first 150 kids.<br />

Bring a new unwrapped toy<br />

valued at $5 or more for a<br />

chance to win pier prizes. 2 - 4<br />

p.m. 100 Fishermans Wharf,<br />

Redondo <strong>Beach</strong> (west end of<br />

The Pier behind Tony’s). Redondopier.com.<br />

Christmas Faire<br />

Annual Christmas Faire at<br />

Alpine Village. Santa photos,<br />

strolling Christmas carolers,<br />

festive music, wine tasting,<br />

live entertainment, food samples,<br />

holiday gift vendors, and<br />

Alpine Express Train rides. 3 -<br />

8 p.m. Alpine Village, 833 W.<br />

Torrance Blvd., Torrance. For<br />

questions call (310) 327-4384.<br />

Boat Parade<br />

Brightly decorated boats and<br />

paddle-craft parade through<br />

the marina trying to capture<br />

one of the event trophies. 4:30<br />

- 10 p.m. King Harbor Yacht<br />

Club, 280 Yacht Club Way, Redondo<br />

<strong>Beach</strong>. For more information<br />

contact Denise (Dede)<br />

Harkins (310) 892-7475 or<br />

Tracey McMartin (310) 962-<br />

0227. kingharbor.com/holidayboat-parade.<br />

Concert for Sandy<br />

The Manhattan <strong>Beach</strong> Rotary<br />

Club and Mira Costa High<br />

School Interact Club present<br />

classical guitarist Felix Kellaway<br />

with the MBMS Madrigal<br />

Singers and Joel Ruben.<br />

Sandy Casey, a special education<br />

teacher at Manhattan<br />

<strong>Beach</strong> Middle School, was<br />

among the victims of the<br />

Route 91 Harvest Festival<br />

tragedy. Proceeds provide a<br />

scholarship to a student with a<br />

demonstrated interest in teaching<br />

children with special<br />

needs. 7 p.m. Mira Costa High<br />

School Theater, 1401 Artesia<br />

Blvd., Manhattan <strong>Beach</strong>. Tickets<br />

$20 at benefit.mbrotary.org.<br />

Candy Cane Lane<br />

The 1200 block of East Acacia<br />

Avenue in El Segundo has<br />

magically transformed into<br />

Candy Cane Lane every holiday<br />

season since 1919. The<br />

homes are festooned with<br />

lights and decorations and<br />

Santa’s sleigh stops for a visit<br />

on certain nights through <strong>Dec</strong>ember<br />

23. The street will be<br />

closed to thru-traffic through<br />

Christmas night, and most<br />

houses still have lights up<br />

through New Year’s. From<br />

sunset until about 10 p.m.<br />

Sunday, <strong>Dec</strong>ember 10<br />

Polar Express<br />

The community is invited<br />

for a special reading of The<br />

Polar Express and photos with<br />

Santa. Face painters, balloon<br />

animals, crafts, hot chocolate,<br />

cookies and tours of the museum.<br />

Noon - 4 p.m. $15 per<br />

family and includes everything.<br />

Tickets are available online<br />

at lomita-rr.org or at the<br />

door the day of the event. The<br />

Lomita Railroad Museum,<br />

2137 W. 250th Street, Lomita.<br />

For additional information and<br />

ticket purchase, visit lomitarr.org/calendar.<br />

Let it snow<br />

Green Hills Let it Snow Holiday<br />

Festival & Memorial Tree<br />

Lighting. Free. Santa photos,<br />

snow sledding, sleigh rides,<br />

arts & crafts, and holiday<br />

music. 2:30 - 5:30 p.m. Green<br />

Hills, 27501 S. Western Ave.,<br />

Rancho Palos Verdes. For questions<br />

call (310) 521-4460.<br />

Holiday parade<br />

The El Segundo Chamber of<br />

Commerce and Chevron presents<br />

the annual Holiday Parade<br />

beginning at 1 p.m. and is<br />

expected to end about 3 p.m.<br />

The route begins on Main<br />

Street at Imperial Avenue and<br />

proceeds south to El Segundo<br />

Boulevard. Grandstands will<br />

be located at Main Street and<br />

Holly Avenue. Floats will be<br />

theme decorated and Saint<br />

Nick will make his appearance<br />

at the end of the procession.<br />

e l s e g u n d o c h a m b e r. c o m /<br />

events-and-news.<br />

Holiday fireworks<br />

Manhattan <strong>Beach</strong>’s signature<br />

holiday event gets underway<br />

at 4 p.m. with a concert<br />

by the Hyperion Outfall Serenaders<br />

followed by award-winning<br />

Mira Costa Jazz Ensemble<br />

at 5 p.m. and local favorite,<br />

Joe’s Band, at 6 p.m. Lou Giovannetti<br />

will be Master of Ceremonies.<br />

Skechers’ Snow Park<br />

will be open from 4 - 6:30 p.m.<br />

with five 50 sled runs, two<br />

snow play areas and snowmen<br />

available for family photos. A<br />

donation of canned goods,<br />

cash or a new, unwrapped toy<br />

is requested for admission to<br />

the Snow Park. The Bounce<br />

Park will have two huge slides<br />

and the Fire Dog bounce for<br />

smaller children. Fireworks<br />

start at 7 p.m. and will be synchronized<br />

to holiday music<br />

with an extended grand finale<br />

sponsored by Belkin. This is a<br />

hugely popular event so be<br />

sure to arrive early to nab<br />

prime seating. Bring your own<br />

beach chairs and blankets. For<br />

additional information, visit<br />

mbfireworks.com.<br />

Christmas Pageant<br />

Since 1953 Neighborhood<br />

On <strong>Dec</strong>. 9, bring family and friends, shovels, scarves and<br />

mittens because in Hermosa <strong>Beach</strong> where you can’t make<br />

snowmen, you have to make SANDMEN. Registration<br />

starts at 8:45 a.m. north of the Hermosa Pier at shoreline<br />

and building commences at 9 a.m. Lara, Tyler and Tristan<br />

Shea won Most Traditional award at the 2016 Hermosa<br />

<strong>Beach</strong> Sand Snowman Contest. Photo by Beverly Baird<br />

Church presents its Christmas<br />

Pageant as a free gift to the<br />

community. Two shows: 5:30<br />

& 7:30 p.m. Arrive early (5:15<br />

or 7:15 p.m.) to enjoy the prepageant<br />

music by the church<br />

bell choir in the Sanctuary. Appropriate<br />

for all ages. 415<br />

Paseo Del Mar, Palos Verdes<br />

Estates. (310) 378-9353 or<br />

neighborhoodchurchpve.org.<br />

Tuesday, <strong>Dec</strong>ember 12<br />

Parent+child = fun<br />

A morning of fun and learning<br />

with your babies and toddlers.<br />

Talk to experts on early<br />

childhood literacy, development,<br />

and health while kids<br />

learn through play and art. For<br />

ages 0-3 years and their caregivers.<br />

10:30 - 11:45 a.m. Hermosa<br />

<strong>Beach</strong> Library, 550 Pier<br />

Ave. Registration required:<br />

(310) 379-8475 or kwantuch<br />

@library.lacounty.gov.<br />

Support Group<br />

Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support<br />

Group is an open gathering<br />

of people who come<br />

together to share their feelings,<br />

thoughts and experiences in a<br />

safe environment. Attendees<br />

learn ways to better cope with<br />

and manage the challenges of<br />

dementia. (323) 930-6256 to<br />

RSVP. 3 - 5 p.m. Miller Children’s<br />

& Women’s Hospital<br />

Long <strong>Beach</strong> Conference Room<br />

A1/A2, 2801 Atlantic Ave.,<br />

Long <strong>Beach</strong>. For more Senior<br />

Plus events, visit Memorial-<br />

Care.org/SeniorPlusEvents.<br />

Thursday, <strong>Dec</strong>.14<br />

The votes are in<br />

Pages’ Publisher Reps from<br />

Penguin, Random House, and<br />

Simon & Schuster will talk<br />

about their favorite books for<br />

the holidays. Reception begins<br />

at 6:30 p.m., presentations at 7<br />

p.m. Books and prizes will be<br />

raffled off. Refreshments.<br />

rsvp@pagesabookstore.com or<br />

(310) 318-0900. 904 Manhattan<br />

Ave., Manhattan <strong>Beach</strong>.<br />

Friday, <strong>Dec</strong>ember 15<br />

Cozy stories, crafts<br />

Snuggle up for a family storytime<br />

celebrating warm feelings<br />

and winter. Then create a<br />

seasonal card to share good<br />

wishes. Parents: food will be<br />

served. 3:30 - 4:30 p.m. Hermosa<br />

<strong>Beach</strong> Library, 550 Pier<br />

Ave. Contact Kay Wantuch for<br />

questions at (310) 374-0746 or<br />

email: kwantuch@library.lacounty.gov.<br />

Saturday, <strong>Dec</strong>.16<br />

The Nutcracker<br />

The magic returns! 37th Anniversary<br />

Nutcracker directed<br />

by Uta Graf-Apostol. One<br />

weekend only Sat. <strong>Dec</strong>. 16 at 7<br />

p.m. and Sun. <strong>Dec</strong>. 17 at 1<br />

p.m. & 5 p.m. $35 for adults,<br />

$25 for children. Norris Theatre,<br />

27570 Norris Center Dr.,<br />

Rolling Hills Estates. (310) 544-<br />

0403 x221 or palosverdesperformingarts.com.<br />

B<br />

8 Easy Reader / <strong>Beach</strong> <strong>magazine</strong> • <strong>Dec</strong>ember 7, <strong>2017</strong>

<strong>Dec</strong>ember 7, <strong>2017</strong> • Easy Reader / <strong>Beach</strong> <strong>magazine</strong> 9

each holidays<br />



1. Santa Claus shares a<br />

moment with a friend in his<br />

sleigh, which was parked at<br />

Metlox Plaza.<br />

2. Cindy Grutzik and Lenora<br />

Marouani hang out outside the<br />

latter’s shop, The Souk, with her<br />

kids Sura and Pash.<br />

3. Sonia Davis brought her 2-<br />

year-old elf Mackenzie to see the<br />

pier lighting.<br />

4. Monika Crook and her kids<br />

Nathan and Aviele.<br />

5. The Manhattan <strong>Beach</strong> Middle<br />

School Madrigal Singers.<br />

6. The Yoga Loft crew and its<br />

merry elves.<br />

7. The Hyperion Outfall<br />

Serenaders performed along<br />

Manhattan <strong>Beach</strong> Boulevard.<br />

8. Aspiring bakers apply the<br />

finishing touches to cookies at<br />

Becker’s Bakery.<br />

9. Anna Iantuono sings lead<br />

with the Dietz Brothers Band.<br />

10. The Harmony Carolers<br />

sang up and down Manhattan<br />

<strong>Beach</strong> Boulevard.<br />

1<br />

2<br />

3 4<br />

5<br />

6<br />

7<br />

8<br />

9 10<br />

10 Easy Reader / <strong>Beach</strong> <strong>magazine</strong> • <strong>Dec</strong>ember 7, <strong>2017</strong>

each people<br />

Billy’s<br />

bells<br />

Billy Meistrell with a retired scuba tank he made into a bell. Photo by Kevin Cody<br />

A member of a pioneering diving family recycles retired scuba tanks<br />

by Kevin Cody<br />

As the early ‘50s era Dive N’ Surf shop remodel<br />

was being completed in 2014, Billy<br />

Meistrell hit upon the idea of converting<br />

one of his dad Bill’s and uncle Bob’s discarded<br />

scuba tanks into a memorial bell. The twins’ dive<br />

shop was among the first in the nation and remains<br />

the nation’s oldest.<br />

Billy sawed off the bottom of the old gray tank<br />

and inside, for a clapper, suspended a chrome<br />

ball from a trailer hitch. Then he replaced the<br />

regulator valve at the top of the tank with a sailboat<br />

shackle and hung the bell in front of the one<br />

remaining cinder block wall from the original<br />

store.<br />

The sound from the nearly quarter-inch thick,<br />

steel tank has the low, long traveling ring of an<br />

offshore weather buoy.<br />

“During tours of the store, I tell people to ring<br />

the bell twice to say hi to Bill and Bob ‘up top’,”<br />

Meistrell said.<br />

12 Easy Reader / <strong>Beach</strong> <strong>magazine</strong> • <strong>Dec</strong>ember 7, <strong>2017</strong><br />

Shortly after the store reopened, resident Al<br />

Walsh brought in a scuba tank with a mermaid<br />

on it that had belonged to his wife’s dad Dudley<br />

Wheeler. He asked Meistrell to make it into a<br />

bell, like he had with his dad’s and uncle’s. Requests<br />

for dozens of other memorial dive tank<br />

bells followed.<br />

“Instead of scraping the tanks, now they will<br />

last for generations,” Meistrell said.<br />

“Divers’ families and friends want the tanks<br />

left dinged up so everyone knows the person<br />

being remembered was a real diver. But now<br />

non-divers are asking for ornamental bells. One<br />

lady asked for a bell to hang from a tree in her<br />

yard, where she had buried her dog. She gave me<br />

the dog’s leash for a pull rope,” Meistrell said.<br />

“‘This is much nicer than a tombstone,’ she told<br />

me when she picked it up.”<br />

“Bells are rich in symbolism and each one has<br />

a unique ring. I made a pink bell for a breast cancer<br />

fundraiser and a purple bell for a pancreatic<br />

cancer fundraiser. Hawaiian artist Brad ‘Tiki<br />

Shark’ Parker applied his tiki artwork to one of<br />

the dive tanks and sold it through a Hawaiian<br />

gallery for $1,500,” he said.<br />

New scuba tanks costs $200 to $400 and their<br />

diving lifespan is limited by law. To prevent the<br />

costly, solidly made and aesthetically appealing<br />

tanks from going to a landfill, Meistrell is constantly<br />

inventing new uses for them.<br />

Some of the uses include wine chillers, table<br />

legs, planters, serving dishes and phone charger<br />

stations. For the holidays he painted three bells<br />

red, white and green and hung them side by side<br />

in front of the Dive N’ Surf store. When the wind<br />

blows they ring like church bells.<br />

Scuba tank bells are available at Dive N’ Surf,<br />

504 N. Broadway. Meistrell can be reached at bgbstrell@aol.com.<br />


each people<br />


Mama Liz Thanksgiving dinner<br />

O<br />

ver 50 cooked turkeys and even more pies<br />

were delivered to the Hermosa <strong>Beach</strong> Kiwanis<br />

and Rotary halls Thanksgiving morning.<br />

The donated fixings were just enough to serve the<br />

more than 400 guests who attended the 34th Annual<br />

Absolutely Free Mama Liz Thanksgiving Dinner. The<br />

dinner is organized each year by Berkshire Hathaway<br />

Realtor Donna Dawick and the Easy Reader staff.<br />

Readers donate cooked turkeys. Sandpipers donates<br />

the pies. Real Estate West Realtor Jonathan Coleman,<br />

of the band Abrakadabra, organizes local musicians<br />

who perform throughout the day. Dennis “Balloon<br />

Man” Forel and Vince “Bubbles” Ray entertains the<br />

kids. Hermosa Celebrations’ Sandy and Michael decorate<br />

the Kiwanis Hall with brightly colored, helium<br />

balloons. This year’s chefs were Enrique and Ava<br />

Ramirez and rolls were donated by Panera Bread.<br />

Hermosa Kiwanis made their hall available for the<br />

diners and the neighboring Hermosa Rotary Club donated<br />

use of its kitchen for carving the turkeys.<br />

1<br />

2<br />

3 4<br />


1. Donna Dawick and<br />

Ethan Hamilton.<br />

2. Ellen Jenkins of the<br />

Redondo Chamber<br />

delivers a turkey to the<br />

carving crew — Marc<br />

Hamilton, Neil Boyer<br />

and Jessi Aispuro.<br />

3. The morning crew's<br />

Ben Morse with sons<br />

Henry and Jack.<br />

4. Jerry "The Piano<br />

Man" Rothschild has<br />

been performing for<br />

the Mama Liz Dinner<br />

for over 20 years.<br />

5. Chefs Ava and<br />

Enrique Ramirez.<br />

6. Phoebe Benya, Teri<br />

Contreras, Donna<br />

Dawick and Alicia.<br />

7. Jessica and<br />

Jennifer Pusateri.<br />

8. The Harrow family<br />

Michael, Corey, Talia<br />

and Avigal.<br />

9. Humble Harry sings<br />

"A Boy named Sue"<br />

with Johnnie Pal on<br />

slide guitar.<br />

10. Music director<br />

Jonathan Coleman.<br />

11. Server Jessie Kay.<br />

5<br />

6<br />

7<br />

8<br />

9<br />

10 11<br />

14 Easy Reader / <strong>Beach</strong> <strong>magazine</strong> • <strong>Dec</strong>ember 7, <strong>2017</strong>

310.539.6685 310.884.1870<br />

310.326.9528<br />

866.BEYOND.5<br />

310.997.1900<br />

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310.326.4477<br />

New Smiles Dentistry<br />

Stephen P. Tassone, DDS<br />

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<strong>Dec</strong>ember 7, <strong>2017</strong> • Easy Reader / <strong>Beach</strong> <strong>magazine</strong> 15

each people<br />

Where<br />

education<br />

begins<br />

by Mark McDermott<br />

Grand View Elementary Teacher of the Year Dina Moll in her kindergarten classroom. Photos by Brad Jacobson (CivicCouch.com)<br />

Early on a Thursday afternoon in November,<br />

a chorus of “ehs” were echoing in Room 12<br />

at Grand View Elementary School.<br />

Twenty-five kindergartners sat in a semi-circle<br />

around teacher Dina Moll, who was making a<br />

game out of a lesson regarding the pronunciation<br />

and drawing of the letter “e.” This was the 59th<br />

day of the school year; the students were on their<br />

second time through the alphabet.<br />

“E is one of those letters that is tricky,” Ms.<br />

Moll told the class, as she demonstrated how to<br />

draw a small “e” starting with the line in the middle.<br />

“Draw the diving board, then jump up, and<br />

around!”<br />

An overhead projector illuminated a series of<br />

slides featuring a barnyard full of animals, including<br />

a cheerful elephant and some chickens with<br />

eggs. As if it were a game show, Ms. Moll called<br />

up different kids to identify the right letter to use.<br />

The large projector screen was a touch screen, so<br />

the kids could drag each appropriate “e” to a<br />

bucket in the bottom corner to win.<br />

“I have an ‘e’ before a ‘y’ in my name,” said one<br />

girl.<br />

“That is why you are an ‘e’ professional,” said<br />

Ms. Moll.<br />

Every child in the classroom was paying full attention,<br />

which for a group of two dozen five-yearolds<br />

only two months into their educational lives<br />

counted as no minor miracle. When an elf appeared<br />

on the screen, Ms. Moll reminded the<br />

class of the elf who’d appeared in their classroom<br />

not so long ago.<br />

“This is what I was for Halloween,” she said.<br />

“An elf!”<br />

Welcome to the magical kingdom that is Ms.<br />

Moll’s classroom, where learning is joyful and<br />

the ringleader of 25 buzzing little beings is the<br />

most energetic of all. A class never goes by in<br />

which Ms. Moll has not made direct eye contact<br />

and interacted with each and every child in the<br />

room. Ms. Moll compares her role in the classroom<br />

to that of an actor, because she can’t take a<br />

single moment off — she has an audience glued<br />

to her every movement. But it’s hardly a passive<br />

audience. The students are ready to model their<br />

teacher’s every behavior, and she never forgets<br />

it. Her mood is always buoyant.<br />

“Whatever is going on in your personal life<br />

doesn’t matter when you walk through that<br />

door,” Ms. Moll said. “I feel like I am on stage performing...At<br />

this age, they are sponges. They pick<br />

up on everything I say and everything I do. If I’m<br />

excited about a project, they are going to be excited.<br />

If I am not into a project, they are not going<br />

to care about it.”<br />

“You are on every second of every day. There<br />

is no down time. You don’t get to pass out a test<br />

and say, ‘I’ll be here at my desk.’”<br />

Ms. Moll was named Grand View’s Teacher of<br />

the Year last June in part because her colleagues<br />

recognized the depth of her dedication, something<br />

reflected not only in her ebullient, attentive<br />

classroom presence but in the hours of painstaking<br />

preparation that make her lessons fun, riveting,<br />

and effective for kindergartners.<br />

Grand View Principal Nancy Doyle said that<br />

Ms. Moll is usually the first person at the school,<br />

arriving at 7 a.m. each morning. The work she<br />

puts into planning, Doyle said, makes her teaching<br />

appear almost effortless. But a lot of effort<br />

goes into the structure of each day.<br />

“First of all, it’s the smile that is on her face, so<br />

welcoming to each child as they walk in that<br />

door, and you just know in your heart they are<br />

going to have a happy and productive day,” Doyle<br />

said. “Once inside the room, she is carefully organized.<br />

She fastidiously plans her lessons….Each<br />

16 Easy Reader / <strong>Beach</strong> <strong>magazine</strong> • <strong>Dec</strong>ember 7, <strong>2017</strong>

is designed to engage, designed to keep the kids active. Little sound bites<br />

happen throughout the day; five-year-olds’ attention spans wax and wane.”<br />

Kindergarten instruction is foundational. Ms. Moll’s classroom is brightly<br />

adorned, but with specific purpose. “There are so many beautiful reasons<br />

to be happy,” says a sign above her desk. Between her desk and the chalkboard<br />

a polka dotted tarp hangs with the words to “The Silly Squirrel” song<br />

pasted on via green construction paper squares.<br />

The song is part of a poetry series used to emphasize tracking when reading,<br />

sight word practice, grammar, punctuation, and how to change your<br />

voice to match the contours of the lyrics. Ms. Moll uses songs to help teach<br />

many lessons. There’s a clean-up song, a sit down song, and a goodbye<br />

song.<br />

“Most songs are used to help with transitions, or times when children<br />

are moving from one activity to another,” she said. “It keeps them focused<br />

and on task.”<br />

Nearby, a “sharing schedule” was written on a marker board with each<br />

student’s name assigned with others for each day of the week. The students’<br />

desks are shared, two-foot high tables encircling a rainbow-colored<br />

carpet, where the kids sit when Ms. Moll gathers them for group instruction<br />

intermittently throughout each day. Behind her desk, laying peacefully<br />

in a cage, was a kindly-eyed golden labrador named Quinta. Ms. Moll volunteers<br />

for a non-profit that trains service dogs, and though Quinta will<br />

only be in the classroom for a month, the kids are happy to be part of the<br />

dog’s socialization.<br />

“When you are creating a foundation, the first thing is you have to get<br />

kids to want to come to school,” said Doyle. “She fills her classroom with<br />

a sense of community, and the students’ days with a myriad set of activities.<br />

So the day is super varied. They experience everything they need to<br />

experience in their little developing minds. The way she does it seems so<br />

seamless, but I know she is working super hard.”<br />

“That service dog, too, really shows she is an example to the kids, of selflessness,<br />

of being responsible, and that really sets a tone,” Doyle said.<br />

“Everything is intentional, but it looks effortless. Whether it’s life lessons<br />

about being respectful, or learning an academic lesson on the meaning of<br />

four plus four, they are doing it effortlessly but extremely intentional under<br />

her direction.”<br />

The “e” lesson wasn’t on the day’s schedule, but the kids had finished<br />

an art project 20 minutes earlier than planned. Ms. Moll, attuned to the<br />

mercurial nature of her students, always has alternative plans built into<br />

the school day. In fact, part of the reason she loves students at this age is<br />

their inherent spontaneity. No two days are alike.<br />

“They are so funny, to me,” she said. “I just can’t predict what they will<br />

say, and what they will do.”<br />

The art projects each student put together were made out of eight different<br />

pieces of colored construction paper cut to form the sun and the sky<br />

above two green trees and the ocean, with the inscription, “I am thankful<br />

for the blue water” at the bottom.<br />

“Ms. Moll, I want to take this home today,” said one curly-haired little<br />

blonde girl.<br />

Dina Moll teaches a group lesson to her students at Grand View.<br />

<strong>Dec</strong>ember 7, <strong>2017</strong> • Easy Reader / <strong>Beach</strong> <strong>magazine</strong> 17

Students from Dina Moll's first class at Grand View Elementary, as a pre-k<br />

teacher in 2004, returned just before graduating high school last spring.<br />

Photo courtesy Grand View Elementary<br />

“You are taking this home today,” Ms. Moll said, leaning down near the<br />

girl, smiling. The little girl did three celebratory leaps with another girl. “I<br />

am so excited!” she exclaimed.<br />

Ms. Moll is in her 14th year teaching at Grand View. She graduated from<br />

Loyola Marymount in 2003. She was a psychology major before focusing<br />

her aspirations on teaching.<br />

“I knew I wanted some type of job that helped others,” she said. “I spent<br />

a lot of time thinking about how impactful certain teachers were in my<br />

life. I knew I needed work that made me feel I was doing some good for<br />

the world. Teaching was that for me, the fit.”<br />

She briefly taught at an inner-city elementary school in L.A. A teacher<br />

friend told her about Grand View, describing it as “the Disneyland of<br />

schools.” She was hired first as a pre-kindergarten teacher and then as a<br />

kindergarten teacher. It was a grade level she had never aspired to teach.<br />

“I didn’t really choose it,” she recalled. “I thought I preferred older kids.<br />

But after that first year at Grand View, I just fell in love with the innocence<br />

of the children of this age group. Looking out into a classroom and seeing<br />

how totally new they are to education, and how their bodies and faces<br />

transform into awe and wonder — it’s probably the greatest feeling as an<br />

adult that you can have. They are so excited by the little things. Sometimes<br />

you are the first person to explain to them why we have rain, how rain<br />

falls from a cloud — you don’t necessarily think about that as something<br />

cool, but then you sit and talk about it with the kids and see them begin<br />

to understand. It’s like a physical shift, how it lights them up. There are<br />

things I am the first person to tell them, about how the world works and<br />

how to be a good person in that world — it’s fun and exciting for me, so<br />

much energy, so much to talk about, so much to learn.”<br />

Ms. Moll’s students practiced their “e” skills on worksheets, trying out<br />

big E’s and small e’s and identifying cartoon animals whose names begin<br />

in “e.” She inspected each student’s work, applying a rubber stamp seal of<br />

approval that shows an apple with a bite out of it and the word “Terrific!”<br />

She gave a high five to one little boy wearing a T-shirt that said, “Class of<br />

2030.” The kids ended their day singing the goodbye song to each other,<br />

and to their teacher, who sang along.<br />

“I love what I do, and I feel that it matters,” Ms. Moll said after her students<br />

gleefully departed at the song’s end. “I am teaching kids how to be<br />

responsible, kind human beings. Obviously parenting plays the biggest part<br />

in that, but I feel that this is the foundation of how they are going to feel<br />

about school for the rest of their schooling.”<br />

The reality of this sentiment was brought specially to life last year. A<br />

group from the first class Ms. Moll taught at Grand View, back in 2004,<br />

returned to celebrate their high school graduation with their very first<br />

teacher. A dozen of her former students came, celebrating their graduation<br />

into the larger world back where their education began.<br />

“It is Disneyland,” Ms. Moll said of Grand View. “I come to work every<br />

day thinking, ‘I can’t believe I get to work here.” B<br />

18 Easy Reader / <strong>Beach</strong> <strong>magazine</strong> • <strong>Dec</strong>ember 7, <strong>2017</strong>

<strong>Dec</strong>ember 7, <strong>2017</strong> • Easy Reader / <strong>Beach</strong> <strong>magazine</strong> 19

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<strong>Dec</strong>ember 7, <strong>2017</strong> • Easy Reader / <strong>Beach</strong> <strong>magazine</strong> 21

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<strong>Dec</strong>ember 7, <strong>2017</strong> • Easy Reader / <strong>Beach</strong> <strong>magazine</strong> 23

With encouragement from a Junior Lifeguard instructor and a fellow Junior Lifeguard she married,<br />

Amy Appelhans Gubser has completed over a dozen marathon swims in just two years<br />

Seeptember 22, <strong>2017</strong> 8:19 PM, Santa Cruz, CA: It’s a quiet night.<br />

The beaches are empty and the ocean is calm. The sky is clear and<br />

the air feels cold on bare skin, reminding us it’s the first day of fall.<br />

Amy Appelhans Gubser, 49, stands beside a rock jetty, near the<br />

Santa Cruz boardwalk, wearing a swimsuit, cap and goggles. She takes a<br />

deep breath and wades into the chilly Monterey Bay and starts swimming.<br />

The Monterey Bay, between Santa Cruz and Pacific Grove, is 25 miles<br />

wide, nearly five miles wider than the English and Catalina channels. The<br />

Bay plunges to a depth of 2,600 feet and the water temperature hovers<br />

around 55 degrees. Afternoons are windy so swims are attempted at night.<br />

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to 15 feet in length and they reproduce quickly into massive armies, over a<br />

mile wide.<br />

There had been just 11 previous attempts and only three recognized, successful<br />

attempts to swim across the Monterey Bay. The first successful attempt<br />

was in 1980, by Los Angeles County Lifeguard Cindy Cleveland, of<br />

Palos Verdes. Cleveland finished the swim in 15 hours, 20 minutes. The second<br />

successful Monterey Bay swim wasn’t until 2014, when Patti Bauernfeind,<br />

of Dublin, completed the swim on her fourth attempt in exactly 13<br />

hours. She was followed that same year by Kim Rutherford of Capitola,<br />

who finished in 22 hours 6 minutes. Only one man has swum across the<br />

Monterey Bay and he did it in a wetsuit.<br />

Monterey Bay Swimming Association rules, like those governing Catalina<br />

and English Channel swims, prohibit wetsuits. Swimmers must depart from<br />

land and finish on land under their own power, wearing only a swimsuit,<br />

a single swim cap and goggles.<br />

A promising Junior Lifeguard<br />

Amy Appelhans moved with her family to Playa Del Rey from Illinois in<br />

1978, when she was 10. Her mother, a swimmer in her youth in Wheaton<br />

Illinois, encouraged her daughter to swim at the Westchester YMCA. But<br />

Amy preferred bicycling to Toes <strong>Beach</strong>, where longtime Toes lifeguard Mike<br />

Maurry introduced her to surfing and convinced her to join Junior Lifeguards.<br />

That year, she tried out as a swimmer for the local JG team that<br />

was going to the Nationals Championships. After the swim, the 10 year-old<br />

asked if she had made the team. You won the race, her JG instructor told<br />

her.<br />

In 1981, her family moved to Palos Verdes, where she swam for Peninsula<br />

Aquatics, the San Pedro/Peninsula YMCA and Rolling Hills High School.<br />

“Our high school team had only five swimmers and one diver. But we all<br />

advanced to the finals and our team placed second in CIF,” Gubser said.<br />

Ten years after qualifying for the Junior Lifeguard Nationals team, she<br />

qualified to become a Los Angeles County Lifeguard. Her first Lifeguard<br />

boss was legendary ocean swimmer Cindy Cleveland. In 1976, Cleveland<br />

swam the Catalina Channel, from the island to the mainland. The following<br />

year, she swam from the mainland to Catalina and back to the mainland.<br />

Two years later, one month prior to her precedent setting Monterey Bay<br />

Swim, Cleveland circumnavigated Catalina Island, swimming non stop for<br />

34 hours, 24 minutes, a distance of 46.4 miles.<br />

“Cindy would workout for hours on her days off. I was in awe of her discipline,<br />

both mental and physical. She was always encouraging me to swim<br />

events like the International Surf Festival Pier to Pier Swim and the La Jolla<br />

10 Mile Swim,” Gubser said.<br />

One day, while lifeguarding at Hermosa <strong>Beach</strong>, Gubser rescued a young<br />

24 Easy Reader / <strong>Beach</strong> <strong>magazine</strong> • <strong>Dec</strong>ember 7, <strong>2017</strong>

Former South Bay beach lifeguard<br />

Amy Gubser swims across Monterrey<br />

Bay. Her husband Greg, also a<br />

former South Bay beach lifeguard,<br />

drives her escort boat. Photo by<br />

John Chapman<br />

boy with assistance from a fellow<br />

lifeguard named Greg Gubser,<br />

whom she remembered from her<br />

first year in Junior Lifeguards.<br />

While lifeguarding a few days later,<br />

she saw a paddler coming ashore<br />

in her swim area. “I ran down to<br />

scold him and was surprised to see<br />

it was Greg. He had been fishing<br />

and caught a huge halibut. He invited<br />

me to dinner. That was our<br />

first date and two years later we<br />

were married.”<br />

In 1993, one year after the couple<br />

married, Greg joined the U.S<br />

Coast Guard and they moved to<br />

the San Francisco area, where he<br />

was stationed. Eventually, they settled<br />

in Pacifica, a small beach town<br />

just south of San Francico. The<br />

area had no Junior Lifeguard program,<br />

so Amy and Greg started<br />

Surf Camp Pacifica. Amy also<br />

worked in a Pediatric Intensive<br />

Care Unit as a neonatal nurse.<br />

Work and raising children Justin<br />

and Holly left little time for swimming.<br />

But in 2014, with her kids<br />

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having finished high school, Gubser<br />

accepted a friend’s challenge to<br />

swim in the San Francisco Bay. It<br />

was in February and it had been<br />

nearly two decades since she had<br />

swum competitively.<br />

“I tried every excuse to get out of<br />

it,” she recalled. “And when I<br />

jumped in I lost my breath. I cried<br />

and had a panic attack. Finally, I<br />

relaxed. Every cell in my body suddenly<br />

felt alive. I loved it.”<br />

She began swimming year-round<br />

in the San Francisco Bay in preparation<br />

for marathon swims.<br />

In April 2015, she swam the 10-<br />

mile-wide Strait of Gibraltar, from<br />

Spain to Morocco. Four months<br />

later, in July, she swam the 21.3<br />

mile length of icy Lake Tahoe. And<br />

a month after that, she and five fellow<br />

members of the Nadadores<br />

Locos completed a 59.4 mile, relay<br />

swim from the Golden Gate Bridge<br />

to the shark infested Farallon Islands<br />

and back.<br />

Then in 2016, Gubser swam the<br />

Catalina Channel. She finished in<br />

just under 15 hours, well off her<br />

regular pace. After reaching shore<br />

she was rushed to the hospital. She<br />

had spent the last six miles struggling<br />

to breath because of an anaphylactic<br />

reaction to an algae<br />

Pacific Sea Nettle jellies blanketed Monterey Bay during Amy Gubser’s swim across the bay on the first day of fall.<br />

26 Easy Reader / <strong>Beach</strong> <strong>magazine</strong> • <strong>Dec</strong>ember 7, <strong>2017</strong>

Monterey Bay swimmers Amy Gubser, Kim Rutherford and Patty Bauernfeind,<br />

signal with their hands the order in which they swam across the bay.<br />

Rutherford is also holding up one finger for Cindy Cleveland of Palos<br />

Verdes, who was the first person to swim across the bay.<br />

bloom in the water.<br />

“I only finished because I didn’t<br />

want to have to do it again. A finish<br />

is a finish,” she said afterwards.<br />

The adverse reaction aside, Gubser<br />

felt she hadn’t trained hard<br />

enough for the channel swim. So in<br />

preparation for the even longer and<br />

colder Monterey Bay swim she embarked<br />

on what she calls “no recovery<br />

training.” Each morning in the<br />

dark, she began a three hour workout<br />

in the San Francisco Bay, where<br />

water temperatures range from 48<br />

to 60 degrees. Then she worked her<br />

12 hour nursing shift.<br />

“If you can’t find the time you<br />

make it,” she said. In the six months<br />

prior to her Monterey Bay swim,<br />

she made time to swim across four<br />

Arizona lakes in four days, and<br />

Gubser cont. on page 39<br />

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each sports<br />

Jack Alexander Sr.<br />

rescued local<br />

youth football,<br />

paving the path for<br />

his son to lead the<br />

Redondo High<br />

Sea Hawks<br />

Redondo quarterback Jack Alexander completed<br />

his two-year varsity career averaging 162.2<br />

passing yards per game while recording 3,731<br />

yards and 38 touchdowns. Photo by Ray Vidal<br />

by Randy Angel<br />

When an email was sent to<br />

families informing them<br />

that the 2008 fall flag<br />

football season had been cancelled,<br />

eight-year-old Jack Alexander was<br />

devastated. He put his uniform on<br />

and, clutching his football, stayed<br />

in bed the rest of the day sobbing.<br />

Alexander loved playing sports,<br />

beginning with T-ball at the age of<br />

four, in the old North Redondo Little<br />

League. It was then that he became<br />

good friends with John<br />

Jackson III whose father, a former<br />

standout wide receiver at USC<br />

known as JJ, was the coach.<br />

In 2007, Jackson suggested to<br />

Jack Sr. that their sons play flag<br />

football in the Redondo Pacific<br />

Coast Conference. Their team<br />

went undefeated and then played<br />

in the newly-formed South Bay<br />

Youth Sports league in the spring,<br />

which they also won.<br />

So, the following year, when<br />

South Bay Sports cancelled its fall<br />

season two days before opening<br />

day, Jack Sr. decided to take matters<br />

into his own hands.<br />

He called dads and coaches vowing<br />

to save the season. The day before<br />

the season was scheduled to<br />

start, he went to Mira Costa High<br />

School at 7 a.m. to ask permission<br />

to use the football field. He was<br />

told he would need permission<br />

from both the the Manhattan<br />

<strong>Beach</strong> Unified School District and<br />

Manhattan <strong>Beach</strong> Athletic Foundation<br />

(MBX).<br />

Alexander wrote a check to the<br />

foundation for approximately<br />

$15,000, bought insurance for all<br />

233 kids and, with the help of<br />

foundation President Gary Wayland,<br />

got the MBUSD to sign off.<br />

28 Easy Reader / <strong>Beach</strong> <strong>magazine</strong> • <strong>Dec</strong>ember 7, <strong>2017</strong>

At 6:10 that evening, he put the word out that the <strong>Beach</strong> Cities Youth Flag<br />

Football League season was on.<br />

“I had to do something not just to help my son, JJ3, and the other kids<br />

in our neighborhood on our team, but for all of the kids in the beach cities,”<br />

said Jack Sr. who became first president of the new league. “It was a wild<br />

ride and helped change the culture of youth sports in our community, so I<br />

am very proud of stepping up to start the BCS.”<br />

BCS players, Jack Alexander among them, also helped change the trajectory<br />

of Redondo Union High football. Alexander recently finished his<br />

senior season at Redondo, after leading the Sea Hawks to the CIF-Southern<br />

Section Division 4 playoffs.<br />

The 6-foot-3, 190-pound signal caller was a dual threat for Redondo, possessing<br />

a strong arm and quick feet.<br />

In 11 games, he averaged 196.2 yards passing per game, throwing for<br />

2,138 yards and 18 touchdowns, with only six interceptions. He also ran<br />

the ball 110 times for 724 yards (6.5 average) and nine touchdowns.<br />

Alexander finished his prep career wearing the same No. 7 he wore since<br />

he began playing football at the age of seven.<br />

Alexander did not play quarterback until his first year of tackle football,<br />

when he joined the Redondo Pop Warner team as an 8th grader.<br />

Though originally slated to play wide receiver, he made an impression<br />

on coach Tom Coate who told Jack’s father after the team’s first practice<br />

he would need his own football because he was the new quarterback.<br />

“It was during that season that I really fell in love with the game,” Alexander<br />

said. “I knew I wanted a career in football and someday become a<br />

coach. The passion and intensity in tackle football is extreme. You only<br />

play 10 games a season. There is no other sport like it.”<br />

Coate, the current head coach at Chadwick in Palos Verdes, saw something<br />

special in Alexander.<br />

“He was tall, athletic, and had a fierce competitive spirit,” Coate recalled.<br />

“Once I saw Jack throw a football, I thought he was the ideal fit for a great<br />

quarterback. He had an incredibly high football I.Q., was very coachable,<br />

and was a leader. I knew then that he was not only going to be our quarterback,<br />

I knew Jack was going to be a great quarterback for all his future<br />

teams.<br />

“What makes Jack special is that he is a humble and hungry warrior.<br />

Jack always gives his best effort, is competitive and makes others around<br />

him better – a leader in every sense. One of my greatest memories is coaching<br />

this wonderful young man.”<br />

In only his second year playing tackle football, Alexander was named<br />

MVP of Redondo’s freshman team after throwing for 2,500 yards and 24<br />

touchdowns with only one interception.<br />

But Alexander wanted more. As a member of a devout Catholic family,<br />

he had attended St. James Elementary School in Torrance and decided to<br />

transfer to St. John Bosco as a sophomore.<br />

“I wanted an opportunity to play with the best,” Alexander said. “Bosco<br />

had recently won a national championship (2013). I carpooled with some<br />

guys in the area. It was a year of learning and game experience against<br />

high-quality opponents.”<br />

But the carpool to the Bellflower campus was falling through and the<br />

long, grueling days of getting up early and arriving home late took its toll.<br />

Alexander decided to return to Redondo.<br />

“I have no regrets about the decision,” Alexander said. “It was nothing<br />

but football and academics. I wanted to fully enjoy the high school experience<br />

and I really missed my friends. The Redondo community is great<br />

and the school’s football program is strong with a lot of history.”<br />

Alexander began his junior season as the Sea Hawks starting quarterback<br />

and led the team to a share of the Bay League title. The team reached the<br />

second round of the CIF-SS Division 4 playoffs, losing a heartbreaker to<br />

top-seeded Sierra Canyon 41-34 in triple overtime.<br />

Yet it was the season opener that Alexander considers the most memorable<br />

moment of his career.<br />

“It was my first varsity start and we beat a very good Rancho Verde team<br />

28-22 in double overtime,” Alexander said. “It was among the top five<br />

games I’ve played. I was anxious and nervous. It was breathtaking to take<br />

the field as the starting quarterback for the first time. It’s those kind of<br />

emotions that make football such a special game.”<br />

Alexander led a late drive to tie the score then connected with Julian<br />

Woodard on a 25-yard screen pass to win the game. It was one of only two<br />

games Rancho Verde lost that season<br />

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<strong>Dec</strong>ember 7, <strong>2017</strong> • Easy Reader / <strong>Beach</strong> <strong>magazine</strong> 29

Jack Alexander celebrates Senior Night in Sea Hawk Bowl with parents<br />

Jack and Vicki. Photo courtesy of the Alexander family<br />

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Another highlight of his career<br />

came in this year’s regular-season<br />

finale when he played with a severe<br />

ankle sprain.<br />

“I’m all about winning and there<br />

was no better feeling than beating<br />

Mira Costa on their turf this year,”<br />

Alexander exclaimed. “Coming<br />

from behind and connecting with<br />

Pierre Dawson for the winning<br />

score was so exciting and I’m proud<br />

to have beaten Costa in my junior<br />

and senior years.”<br />

The Alexander-Pierre connection<br />

went deeper than on the field. Dawson,<br />

a Canadian who wanted to<br />

play American football, has lived<br />

with the Alexander family since August.<br />

Alexander has worked hard to<br />

reach the level he is at, having<br />

worked with former USC head<br />

coaches Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian,<br />

former NFL quarterback Billy<br />

Joe Hobert and a number of high<br />

school and college coaches, including<br />

Matthew Hatchette (LB Poly),<br />

Ryan Campbell (Westlake), Chad<br />

Johnson (St John Bosco), Seth Oseransky<br />

(College of the Canyons) and<br />

Eric Wilson (RUHS alumni who<br />

played for the University of Washington).<br />

Along with Coate, and of course<br />

his father, Alexander considers John<br />

Aponte (current RUHS offensive coordinator)<br />

and private instructor<br />

Danny Hernandez (Team Dime/Premium<br />

Sports) as the major influences<br />

in his career.<br />

“I appreciate Coach Aponte for<br />

letting me showcase all my skills,”<br />

Alexander said. “I really enjoyed<br />

working with him.”<br />

Aponte resigned as Banning’s<br />

head coach after the 2016 season to<br />

join Matt Ballard’s staff at Redondo.<br />

“Jack is an amazing kid. I've<br />

watched him go through ups and<br />

downs and I've loved the way he<br />

fights through it,” Hernandez said.<br />

“This last year he lost two of his<br />

best offensive weapons (running<br />

back Jermar Jefferson and receiver<br />

Julian Woodard), who decided to<br />

transfer to Narbonne. He didn't cry<br />

about it. He just got to work and understood<br />

he was going to have to<br />

shoulder the load. Jack is a playmaker<br />

but I think I admire his mental<br />

toughness the most. I know he's<br />

undecided but the (college) team<br />

that lands him will be happy because<br />

they are getting a good one.”<br />

Alexander sets very high goals for<br />

himself and considers his ability to<br />

extend plays to be the strength of<br />

his game.<br />

“I’m extremely competitive and<br />

emotional, even when I’m just playing<br />

video games like Madden,”<br />

Alexander said. “I’m very proud of<br />

some of my performances but numbers<br />

never mean much to me – I<br />

just want to win.”<br />

Alexander’s high football IQ has<br />

Alexander cont. on page 39


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each travel<br />

Isabella Cordi embarks on a swim in Bingham Lake in Minnesota on the final day of her tour of all 50 states. Photo by Tony Cordi<br />

by Tony Cordi<br />

A Hermosa <strong>Beach</strong> family sets off on a tour of all 50 states,<br />

leaving behind the careful planning that governs life at home<br />

Ican’t recall how it all started. It may have been just a passing suggestion<br />

from our then eight-year old daughter Isabella. It sounded daunting, but<br />

for whatever reason, we relented and embarked on a journey that would<br />

take us to all 50 states. Had we thought through just what this would entail,<br />

we probably would have backed out. But, we broke from our habit of overplanning,<br />

creating enough of a shift in our behavior to make room to thoroughly<br />

engage in all of the magical moments we would encounter along<br />

the way.<br />

Over an 18 month period, beginning in <strong>Dec</strong>ember 2014, we made it to<br />

all of the states we hadn’t been to before. It took seven separate trips and<br />

by the time we finished, we had logged over 13,000 miles by car and close<br />

to 30,000 in the air. We would see over 30 major colleges and universities,<br />

25 state capitals, and several National Forests, Parks and Monuments. Our<br />

only rule for the visit to count was we needed to spend the night or have a<br />

full meal. We spent a total of two months away from our Hermosa <strong>Beach</strong><br />

home.<br />

It began with leaving Hermosa <strong>Beach</strong> for a road trip to several southwestern<br />

states. We knew where we wanted to be and when we wanted to be<br />

there. We even mapped out our food and researched restaurants in advance.<br />

But as we would soon learn, over planning inhibited us from embracing<br />

the adventures as they unfolded.<br />

Our first epiphany on the benefits of unscripted travel hit us in Saguaro<br />

National Park. The Arizona valley is surrounded by thousands of tall<br />

saguaro cacti standing sentry to the majesty of the desert. We were struck<br />

by the stillness, something we don’t experience often at the beach. It would<br />

be a recurring experience in the Southwest in places like White Sands Na-<br />

32 Easy Reader / <strong>Beach</strong> <strong>magazine</strong> • <strong>Dec</strong>ember 7, <strong>2017</strong>

tional Monument and the Arches<br />

and Canyonlands National Parks.<br />

To interrupt Isabella’s increasing<br />

dependency on her iPad during the<br />

trips, we began to make random<br />

stops. These respites paid off. In<br />

White Sands National Monument<br />

she rolled down the glistening hills<br />

while laughing hysterically. The<br />

same thing happened on the slopes<br />

of Vail and sledding down Y<br />

Mountain in Provo.<br />

We committed to eating local<br />

food and witnessing the culture as<br />

much as possible. We couldn’t get<br />

enough of Southwestern cuisine,<br />

especially in New Mexico. Santa Fe<br />

had fantastic food and offered opportunities<br />

to visit enchanting<br />

places like the pueblos of Nambe<br />

and Taos and to shop at the Native<br />

American vendors at the Palace of<br />

the Governors. The uniqueness of<br />

El Paso, Denver and Las Vegas<br />

would add to the mix.<br />

In the spring of 2015, we set out<br />

to visit family and friends in the<br />

Gulf States before venturing off to<br />

several adjacent states. Experiencing<br />

unfamiliar places with people<br />

we enjoy who happen to know the<br />

area greatly enhanced our travel.<br />

Ruby Falls, outside Chattanooga,<br />

is a 145-foot high, underground<br />

waterfall, every bit worth the effort<br />

of getting to it. Likewise, we will<br />

never forget digging for diamonds<br />

at Crater of Diamonds State Park<br />

outside Murfreesboro, Arkansas. It<br />

is the world’s only diamond-producing<br />

site where the public can<br />

do this. We spent hours, mostly in<br />

mud, not even caring if we made a<br />

discovery.<br />

We were also able to enjoy excellent<br />

Southern-style cuisine in Alabama<br />

and Florida in addition to old<br />

school ribs in Memphis. Of course,<br />

we had to try gumbo, jambalaya<br />

and beignets in New Orleans.<br />

We thought it would be fun to go<br />

to the District of Columbia and<br />

Philadelphia over Memorial Day<br />

weekend and it turned out to be a<br />

great decision. We didn’t need an<br />

iPad for Isabella at all on this trip.<br />

Because of timing issues, we had to<br />

consolidate the D.C. trip and opted<br />

to take a bus tour, which worked<br />

out perfectly. We covered many<br />

monuments and had the opportunity<br />

to walk around most of them.<br />

It was fun for our daughter to see<br />

the White House and I had a<br />

chance to meet up with a former<br />

college classmate.<br />

We had great food in Reading<br />

Terminal Market in Philadelphia,<br />

but missed out on seeing Liberty<br />

Bell Center because the line was<br />

300 people deep. We grabbed<br />

Philly cheesesteaks to go instead<br />

before meeting up with friends for<br />

dinner in Cape May, New Jersey.<br />

Our shortest stay in a state was in<br />

Delaware with a stop for cheesecake<br />

and we would only spend a<br />

couple of hours in Harper’s Ferry<br />

in West Virginia. Baltimore offered<br />

fantastic soft-shell crabs, cannoli in<br />

Little Italy, and a chance to burn it<br />

off paddle-boating in the Inner<br />

Harbor.<br />

Later in the summer after Isabella<br />

turned nine, we visited the<br />

Pacific Northwest and brought our<br />

travel to another level. We had an<br />

exceptional trip to Idaho,<br />

Wyoming, Montana, Washington<br />

and Alaska. Everything about these<br />

states made it easier and more enjoyable<br />

to be spontaneous. We had<br />

a blast, swimming in a sinkhole off<br />

the Snake River by Shoshone Falls,<br />

watching the Jackson Hole Rodeo<br />

in Wyoming, and swimming in the<br />

West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake.<br />

It helped that we had warm<br />

weather and got to see bison roaming<br />

up close, eruptions from Old<br />

Faithful Geyser, and the beauty of<br />

Big Sky while hiking.<br />

Stops in Coeur D’Alene, Spokane<br />

and Seattle all added to the adventure.<br />

We got our Idaho potato fix<br />

in, and a fantastic ferry ride at<br />

night to view Seattle.<br />

I could write volumes about our<br />

time in Alaska with friends. We<br />

went dog-sledding with Iditarod<br />

competitors, rafting in a Glacier<br />

river, toured Denali National Park,<br />

ate incredible salmon, and stayed<br />

on military bases. The signature<br />

moment occurred on the way back<br />

from a dinner cruise to Fox Island<br />

in the Kenai Fjords. We stopped in<br />

Emerald Cove and were blown<br />

away by the sight of countless<br />

moon jellyfish, sea lions trying to<br />

scramble up a tiny island to escape<br />

four approaching orcas, eagles on<br />

the side of a bluff not far from<br />

common murres, cormorants,<br />

puffins, and a random mountain<br />

goat. Definitely not something we<br />

see every day.<br />

Over Labor Day, we flew round<br />

trip to Boston to witness the<br />

pageantry of the change of seasons<br />

and see all of New England. An<br />

Tony, Isabella, and Janeth in South Dakota, celebrating the completion of<br />

their 50-state tour. Photo courtesy of the Cordi Family<br />

hour drive can change everything<br />

there. We went to Pemaquid Point<br />

Light to scramble on the cliffs and<br />

tour the lighthouse before eating<br />

lobster rolls in Boothbay Harbor.<br />

Having Italian food was a must in<br />

Boston before spending the night<br />

in Cape Cod. Swimming at the<br />

beaches of Nantucket Island and<br />

just walking around the island left<br />

an indelible impression.<br />

Isabella had a chance to scope<br />

out Harvard and Brown on this trip<br />

and to see my childhood home in<br />

upstate New York. We swam in<br />

Lake George and enjoyed the company<br />

of one set of friends in<br />

Burlington and another set in Montreal.<br />

It wouldn’t be until spring break<br />

2016 before we made our next<br />

trip – to Michigan, three of the<br />

Great Lakes, the Rock and Roll<br />

Museum, and Notre Dame. This<br />

trip marked another turning point.<br />

Isabella became far more proactive<br />

in planning our activities.<br />

She had us visit the incredible<br />

Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn,<br />

an indoor water park in Sandusky,<br />

the musical “Matilda” in Chicago,<br />

the Wizard of Oz Museum in<br />

Wamego, Kansas, and later the Little<br />

House on the Prairie site in Independence.<br />

She even managed to<br />

get a horse ride in when we were<br />

in Lincoln, Nebraska. We were encouraged<br />

to visit Woolaroc, where<br />

the free-roaming wildlife and the<br />

extensive museum captivated all of<br />

us.<br />

Food was a big part of this trip,<br />

as well. We had brats with friends<br />

in Milwaukee, baked goods in the<br />

Czech Village outside Cedar<br />

Rapids, and steaks in Omaha. We<br />

even enjoyed a dinner in Tulsa and<br />

great Thai food in Dallas.<br />

On our last night, we pampered<br />

ourselves at the Westin Galleria,<br />

which gave Isabella an opportunity<br />

to swim in the morning and ice<br />

skate later in the mall.<br />

This left us with three states to<br />

visit. We flew into Minneapolis just<br />

before Isabella’s 10th birthday and<br />

enjoyed the city before checking<br />

out the expansive Mall of America.<br />

Not surprisingly, Isabella loved<br />

Nickelodeon Universe and we<br />

would make it back a couple more<br />

times. We ventured off to Fargo<br />

and then spent the night in Bismarck.<br />

The next day we achieved<br />

our goal of hitting our 50th and<br />

final state when we made it to Ludlow,<br />

South Dakota, without any<br />

signs of civilization in sight.<br />

South Dakota proved to be another<br />

big surprise, with Mt. Rushmore,<br />

Jewel Cave National<br />

Monument, Crazy Horse Monument<br />

and later Badlands and Sioux<br />

Falls. We would punctuate the last<br />

night of our last trip on this journey<br />

with a spontaneous stop at<br />

Bingham Lake in Minnesota for a<br />

swim.<br />

Our quest had come to an end.<br />

When asked what her favorite<br />

places are, Isabella offers New<br />

York City and the big island of<br />

Hawaii. She has vivid memories<br />

from both areas. Our travels have<br />

been an incredible blessing thanks<br />

to making the shift from a heavilyscripted<br />

approach to a mindset of<br />

just embracing the opportunities as<br />

they come. B<br />

<strong>Dec</strong>ember 7, <strong>2017</strong> • Easy Reader / <strong>Beach</strong> <strong>magazine</strong> 33

Chef Michael Mazzotta and his<br />

Lagotto Romagnolo, Capo, on the<br />

hunt for truffles.<br />

Photos by Brad Jacobson<br />

(CivicCouch.com)<br />

34 Easy Reader / <strong>Beach</strong> <strong>magazine</strong> • <strong>Dec</strong>ember 7, <strong>2017</strong>

y Richard Foss<br />

NoSe<br />

A Basq Kitchen chef Michael Mazzotta and his dog Capo train for one of the<br />

culinary arts’ most prestigious competitions<br />

Chef Michael Mazzotta and Capo relax at A Basque Kitchen.<br />

If you hang around Redondo <strong>Beach</strong> you may have seen a mustachioed<br />

man on a bicycle being towed down The Eslpanade by a small dog<br />

with curly brown and white fur. At one end of that leash is Redondo’s<br />

next media sensation, but it is not yet clear which end.<br />

Meet Michael Mazzotta, chef at A Basq Kitchen, and Capo, a bouncy,<br />

friendly dog of an unusual Italian breed called Lagotto Romagnolo. The<br />

two will soon be competing at an Oregon event where they hunt one of<br />

the prizes of the culinary world, a musky, pungent fungus prized by gourmets.<br />

Truffles are related to mushrooms and grow on underground tree roots.<br />

They are one of the few plants that humans have been unable to domesticate.<br />

Top quality specimens sell for over $5,000 a pound.<br />

As Mazzotta explained, “Truffles have the allure of being something humans<br />

can’t create or control. It’s a foraged product that grows in unpredictable<br />

places, so that humans can only find them with the assistance of<br />

partner animals. They used to use pigs, but recently switched to Lagotto<br />

Romagnolo dogs, originally bred as retrievers trained to hunt birds on the<br />

lakes in Italy. At one time the lakes dried up, and the breed almost went<br />

extinct until they found a new use for them. Truffles saved this breed.”<br />

The use of these dogs to hunt fungi instead of avians only goes back a<br />

few decades. The fact that humans bond with dogs better than pigs is a<br />

major advantage, said Mazzotta.<br />

“Pigs have an acute sense of smell and are good hunters, but they’ll<br />

happily eat the truffles, so if you find it and he eats it you’re back at<br />

square one. Dogs are better for the job, and it’s not just that he doesn’t<br />

eat what we’re looking for. Capo wants to please, and we have a strong<br />

bond. The way he reacts to the scents blows my mind. The look in his<br />

eyes – he’s experiencing something no human can ever understand. There<br />

are levels and levels of scents that he has access to. With his mind and<br />

his nose, and his desire to excel at this, it’s incomparable to what a pig<br />

could do.”<br />

Though he had dogs as a child Mazzotta had never trained one before.<br />

But after buying Capo as a three month old puppy he started burying<br />

truffles and challenging the dog to find them.<br />

“Training him was easy. They’re such smart animals that he understood<br />

immediately that this was the game, to use his amazing sense of smell<br />

and instinct to dig to unearth these gems. I just bonded with him, and it’s<br />

just us reading each other. Without words we communicate back and<br />

forth like that.”<br />

on the prize<br />

Experienced dogs learn to ignore immature truffles and only dig up<br />

those that are ripe. This is one of the skills that will be graded at the North<br />

American Truffle Dog Championship, which will be held in Eugene, Oregon<br />

in late January. Oregon forests are home to both a native truffle and<br />

colonies of transplanted European truffles that now grow wild. This year’s<br />

competition is the third annual test of dogs and their partner humans. It<br />

will be the first competition for Mazzotta and Capo, and they’ll be up<br />

against both two and four legged pros. The challenges come in two stages,<br />

only the first of which is open to the public.<br />

“The first round is indoors, and there’s a set circuit where the truffles<br />

have been hidden. After that you’re out in the woods, foraging for the<br />

natural truffles. We’re going up early so we can do some foraging before<br />

the competition, really putting him to the test in a real world situation.<br />

It’s really exciting to be able to do that without flying to Europe.”<br />

There are plans to document the trip with a video, and Mazzotta has<br />

started a GoFundMe page, offering dinners using the truffles Capo finds<br />

as an incentive. Those dinners will be held shortly after their triumphant<br />

return, because the prized fungi deteriorate soon after being unearthed.<br />

“The shelf life of a first-rate truffle is very short. Use it within a week<br />

of it being found if you want to experience what it really has to offer. You<br />

only get them fresh during a short period, which differs depending on<br />

the variety and where you are. There are summer truffles and winter truffles<br />

in Italy, and in Oregon they’re best from <strong>Dec</strong>ember through March.<br />

The rest of the year you have to use truffle oils, which is the only way of<br />

preserving the flavor.”<br />

When asked whether there is any substitute for this temperamental and<br />

elusive plant, Mazzotta was emphatic. “There’s no way to recreate the flavor<br />

using any combination of other ingredients. It is such a unique product…<br />

For some reason when you add a truffle to a dish it elevates the<br />

other ingredients. You can’t pinpoint exactly what that is, it’s magic.”<br />

Man and dog will be put to the test on January 25, and will come back<br />

with stories, a video, and some funky, musky, luggage containing some<br />

of the most prized plants on Earth. Until then, Capo will get his exercise<br />

practicing his scenting skills and riding down the Esplanade towing<br />

Michael’s bicycle.<br />

To find the contribution page go GoFundMe.com/capo-the-puppy B<br />

<strong>Dec</strong>ember 7, <strong>2017</strong> • Easy Reader / <strong>Beach</strong> <strong>magazine</strong> 35

each sports<br />

Wave of passion<br />

Alex Fry putting it on rail during an NSSA contest in October. Photo by Steve Gaffney (SteveGaffney.com)<br />

Mira Costa’s Alex Fry relies on internal drive as a rising South Bay surf star<br />

by Ryan McDonald<br />

or a good portion of last year, Alex Fry ate breakfast in the car.<br />

The Mira Costa High School junior did not have a problem with his snooze button.<br />

In fact, he had already been up for some time. He was in the water, squeezing<br />

in a surf before school. Fry is a top competitor on the school’s championship<br />

surf team, but unlike many of his fellow surfers, he was playing another sport,<br />

tennis, on top of it. Participants on the surf team usually hit the beach in the<br />

morning and start the day late, filling out the remainder of their schedule in<br />

periods two through six. Fry’s place on the tennis team meant that he did not<br />

have an extra period to spare, and so he crammed in time and meals where he<br />

could.<br />

This year he has put tennis aside, making it Fry’s first year in which surfing<br />

will be his sole athletic focus. But he retains the spirit of an athlete willing to<br />

do whatever it takes to succeed.<br />

Along with his contributions to Costa’s perennial powerhouse team, Fry has<br />

racked up impressive performances in National Scholastic Surfing Association<br />

events, including a third-place finish in his division at last year’s West Coast<br />

FChampionships.<br />

36 Easy Reader / <strong>Beach</strong> <strong>magazine</strong> • <strong>Dec</strong>ember 7, <strong>2017</strong>

Though not a fan of aerials, Alex Fry proves he can break loose his fins, if he wants to. Photo by Steve Gaffney (SteveGaffney.com)<br />

His path to success reveals how much surfing has come to resemble other,<br />

more established sports. Fry has little in common with the loose-limbed<br />

slackers that formed part of the sport’s identity. Those who know him say<br />

that he stands out for the intensity of his focus.<br />

Leo Schleyer is Fry’s teammate on the Costa team, and also his neighbor.<br />

He typically catches a ride with Fry when the two are on their way to a<br />

meet.<br />

“He’s a super competitive person, probably the most competitive person<br />

I know. Sometimes before contests, we’ll be driving there, and you can tell<br />

he’s thinking about it. He’s sitting there, just super focused,” Schleyer said.<br />

Schleyer said that Fry’s passion tends to make those around him better.<br />

Tracy Geller, head coach of the Costa surf team, described him as “a born<br />

leader.” The team has begun working out with a fitness trainer, and splits<br />

into groups for smaller sessions. But the groups were uneven: the one immediately<br />

after school was crowded to the point of chaos, while the later<br />

one was sparsely attended. Fry, Geller recalled, took it upon himself to talk<br />

to teammates about their schedules and help balance attendance at the<br />

workouts.<br />

Despite the changes surfing is undergoing, it remains unavoidably different<br />

from other sports. (Whether it even is a sport has been the subject of<br />

dozens of <strong>magazine</strong> stories, from “Surfer” to “The Atlantic.”) Even when a<br />

wave is reduced to a decimal-pointed average, good surfing still requires<br />

liveliness and unpredictability. And at a time when more and more of the<br />

kids Fry faces in contests are approaching competitive surfing with a kind<br />

of parent-assisted monasticism, Fry lives a pretty typical life. He usually<br />

forgoes afternoon surfs to focus on homework. He still gets in the water<br />

every day, but does so in the frequently closed-out waves of the South Bay.<br />

When I asked if he thought growing up here was an asset or a liability as<br />

a surfer, I half-expected him to reply with some bromide about learning to<br />

get to your feet quickly. What he offered instead revealed an understanding<br />

of surfing, as well as the world outside it.<br />

“It’s an asset. Compared to kids that live in the inner city, where I live is<br />

a dream. But compared to the kids I compete against almost every weekend,<br />

the waves I surf are nowhere near what they have. And most of them are<br />

homeschooled,” Fry said.<br />

His voice carried no hint of bitterness or excuse, just recognition of the<br />

facts.<br />

Climbing the ladder<br />

Fry’s dad Kurt introduced him to surfing when he was about six, but<br />

there was no thought of world-tour domination in those early tours through<br />

<strong>Dec</strong>ember 7, <strong>2017</strong> • Easy Reader / <strong>Beach</strong> <strong>magazine</strong> 37

Fry with his mom Nicole and dad Kurt. Photo by Ryan McDonald<br />

the whitewater.<br />

“I never thought I would be doing what I am now. It was just kind of like<br />

a hobby, for whenever I wasn’t playing other sports. It was just fun,” Fry<br />

said.<br />

Fry is a natural athlete with springy legs, erect carriage, and a surprisingly<br />

strong grip. He embodies what Geller has identified as a key transformation<br />

in the sport: the increasing acceptance of surfing as a competitive endeavor,<br />

and the ensuing willingness of sport-inclined parents to commit their children<br />

to it. (Along with tennis, Fry played club soccer, and baseball when<br />

he was younger.) Competitive surfing is now being suffused with a talent<br />

pool that a generation ago might have thought of it as just, well, fun.<br />

Fry entered his first surf contest, with the local South Bay Boardriders,<br />

in fifth grade. The joy his initial successes brought revealed to him how<br />

much he enjoyed competition, and winning. He gradually expanded his<br />

sights, entering contests in the Western Surfing Association, and now describes<br />

himself as committed to the NSSA.<br />

Attending these contests gave Fry his first taste of the challenges a South<br />

Bay surfer faces. The closest contest location is Huntington <strong>Beach</strong>. Others<br />

can require driving more than two hours, and he is thankful that his parents<br />

were willing to help him get there.<br />

“We’ve always been supportive of him and his surfing. It’s fun to go watch<br />

him, even though he has a driver’s license now. You just hope he makes it<br />

out of first heat. It’s a bit of a bummer to go one-and-a-half hours for a 15-<br />

minute heat,” dad Kurt said.<br />

These early experiences also revealed another obstacle: many of his competitors<br />

are reared on pointbreaks or cobblestone reefs, which tend to provide<br />

longer rides and more open wave faces than South Bay beach breaks,<br />

and allow for more opportunities to practice maneuvers.<br />

It can be hard to discern any such disadvantage from watching Fry surf.<br />

He is attuned to the tiniest shifts in the ocean. Once to his feet, he moves<br />

with the taut precision of a running back, goal in sight, but constantly adjusting<br />

to things trying to knock him down. His carves and hacks land with<br />

such force that they seem to come from some place beyond his still-growing<br />

frame.<br />

The only maneuvers Fry does not do are airs, even though many young<br />

surfers increasingly define themselves with their aerial repertoire.<br />

“I’m not sure if it’s a decision I made, or something that just kind of happened.<br />

I definitely think that my rail work sets me apart from a lot of kids<br />

who are doing airs. I don’t even know how to do airs, but I can still get<br />

pretty far in contests sticking to my guns,” Fry said.<br />

Geller has encouraged Fry to explore airs, less as something required to<br />

win heats than as a way to inject excitement into his approach.<br />

“Kids like Alex, they know exactly how to do the turn and the time to hit<br />

the lip to get the score. But it’s just a little bit controlled or safe. I’ve been<br />

encouraging him to just send it. Don’t throw away the wave at the end, just<br />

send it. If you’re going to fall, fall trying something new,” Geller said.<br />

With another season of competition, Fry said improving his wave selection<br />

will be key to going further in contests. But this will hardly be the only<br />

thing on his mind. Along with his team and his family, there is a full schedule<br />

of classes to occupy him. Fittingly for someone who embraces challenge,<br />

Fry’s favorite subject is history, one he has struggled with at times, but<br />

nonetheless finds fascinating.<br />

“We’ve always wanted Alex to be well-rounded. We want him to focus<br />

on school, and get good grades. Surfing is an important part of life, but it’s<br />

not the only part,” said Fry’s mom Nicole. B<br />

38 Easy Reader / <strong>Beach</strong> <strong>magazine</strong> • <strong>Dec</strong>ember 7, <strong>2017</strong>

Gubser cont. from page 27<br />

swim across the Santa Barbara<br />

Channel, from Santa Barbara to<br />

Anacapa Island.<br />

When fall approached, the 49-<br />

year-old said, she felt like she was<br />

in the best shape of her life.<br />

September 22, <strong>2017</strong> 8:24 PM,<br />

Santa Cruz: A sliver of moon slips<br />

behind the mountains, revealing a<br />

thick blanket of stars. Gubser’s<br />

team waits offshore in two small<br />

boats and a kayak. Her husband<br />

Greg, retired from the Coast Guard<br />

and now the Deputy Harbormaster<br />

for San Mateo Harbor, was driving<br />

one of the two escort boats.<br />

The team sees the waterproof<br />

light on the back of her goggles as<br />

she enters the water. To monitor her<br />

pace, they listens to the rhythm of<br />

her hands. Slap, slap, slap. 70<br />

strokes per minute. The bright lights<br />

of the Santa Cruz Boardwalk fade<br />

slowly into the background. Gubser<br />

stops every 30 minutes for liquid<br />

carbohydrates and the occasional<br />

sports gel. At every stop, she shares<br />

a smile and a joke or a silly song. It’s<br />

not long before she reports her first<br />

jellyfish sting. The water temperature<br />

is 54. The night air is two degrees<br />

colder and she is swimming<br />

against the current. The crew is<br />

bundled in heavy coats and hats,<br />

but Gubser appears unaffected by<br />

the elements. When dawn arrives,<br />

the crew sees what Gubser has<br />

been swimming through most of<br />

the night. Pacific Sea Nettles are just<br />

below the surface, in every direction.<br />

As she nears the Monterey<br />

Peninsula the wind picks up, the<br />

current threatens to push her off<br />

course, and every stroke is paid for<br />

with another sting. Finally, she<br />

reaches the protected cove outside<br />

Monterey Harbor and works her<br />

way through clumps of kelp until<br />

her feet can touch the bottom. Seventeen<br />

hours, 49 minutes after leaving<br />

Santa Cruz she becomes only<br />

the fourth person to have swum<br />

solo across the Monterey Bay. Family,<br />

friends and beachgoers all cheer<br />

as she walks ashore, unassisted.<br />

“I felt amazing, physically and<br />

emotionally. It was a big swim,” she<br />

said.<br />

On June 7, her 50th birthday,<br />

Gubser plans to return to the South<br />

Bay to swim across the Santa Monica<br />

Bay. To date, only two people<br />

have completed the 26 mile swim.<br />

On March 16, 2013 marathon<br />

swimmers Jen Shumaker and Forrest<br />

Nelson departed together from<br />

Point Dume in Malibu and finished<br />

together at Lunada Bay in Palos<br />

Verdes in 13 hours, 10 minutes, 35<br />

seconds.<br />

For more information about Amy<br />

Gubser’s Monterey Bay swim, visit<br />

SwimMontereyBay.org. B<br />

Alexander cont. from page 30<br />

transferred to the field from the<br />

classroom where he holds a 4.2<br />

GPA.<br />

“I like math and English and<br />

enjoy writing,” Alexander said.<br />

“But my favorite class is government<br />

taught by (RUHS girls volleyball<br />

coach) Tommy Chaffins. He<br />

makes the class so enjoyable.”<br />

Alexander wants to play football<br />

as long as he can and is looking for<br />

a university that has a strong combination<br />

of athletic and academic<br />

programs.<br />

“I want to play in college and get<br />

a free education with a scholarship,”<br />

Alexander said. “I’ll see<br />

where the game takes me. I am so<br />

passionate about football and I<br />

hope to coach one day, passing my<br />

knowledge on to young players as<br />

others have done for me.”<br />

Alexander is considering the<br />

University of San Diego and Azusa<br />

Pacific and has been contacted by<br />

Benedictine University (Chicago),<br />

Arizona State, and Washington<br />

State, as well as USC offensive coordinator<br />

Tee Martin.<br />

He plans to major in business<br />

with a focus on business management<br />

and would like to follow in<br />

his father’s footsteps by running<br />

his own business.<br />

When not on the gridiron,<br />

Alexander enjoys playing video<br />

games and pickup basketball<br />

games.<br />

“I also enjoy hanging out at the<br />

beach with friends whom I consider<br />

part of my family,” Alexander<br />

said. “I want to spend as much<br />

time with them before we all go<br />

away to college. But I keep things<br />

in check and keep my name on the<br />

positive side.” B<br />

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40 Easy Reader / <strong>Beach</strong> <strong>magazine</strong> • <strong>Dec</strong>ember 7, <strong>2017</strong>

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<strong>Dec</strong>ember 7, <strong>2017</strong> • Easy Reader / <strong>Beach</strong> <strong>magazine</strong> 41

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