A curious story about an area prep track & field team. Won’t say if it’s boys or girls – well, it’s girls – but we won’t divulge the school.

Seems like an up-and-coming hurdler was asked to let teammates slide in ahead of her to take a first, second or third place in a scoring dual meet – especially since that’s the criteria for winning a Varsity letter.

“No way,” says this hurdles “rookie” who was appalled at the thought. “I’ve worked too hard to get where I’m at. I’m not giving it away.”

* * *

It almost seems like we shouldn’t even bother checking the boundaries of any future transferring athletes, except to note – when applicable – when someone like football’s Solomon Bailey helps his new school (Beaumont) beat his old school (Banning).

That’s human interest.

Folks, it’s the era we live in now. Transfers are a way of life.

We’ve got Yucaipa kids attending Beaumont, Beaumont kids going to Yucaipa, Banning kids showing up at Beaumont – and on and on and on. Almost too much to keep track of.

Naturally, Yucaipa’s the athletic powerhouse of that trio.

Beaumont’s hopelessly honest. Rules are followed in all phases of CIF Southern Section Blue Book regulations. It’s what you want to see if you’re a follow-the-rules parent. It’s carefully obedient when it comes to transfers. Plus, there’s apparently no shenanigans played when it comes to academic integrity.

(In other words, grades aren’t “given” away in order to keep a student-athlete eligible.)

Banning, of course, could be the loser in all this. Academically, they’re among the worst in Riverside County. Kids are cheated unmercifully in this whole thing for a variety of reasons.

Too bad. Banning could be a force.

Can’t even keep track any more.

* * *

Beaumont won its first five games this season, but California Hall of Fame baseball coach Robert Sheehan wasn’t about to brag about his team’s hot start.

The Cougars will probably finish last in this year’s Mountain Pass League – a rabidly-contested championship chase atop the chart – but don’t get the idea that it’s bad coaching.

It’s hard to win with a lineup of weak hitters.

Hemet-area youth leagues is considered one of the highest brands of baseball in the area. Banning Little League and Beaumont PONY have a ways to go in order to close that gap.

Start with hitters in Beaumont. Or should we say, lack of hitters in Beaumont.

Beaumont counters with sharp-thinking players, some decent pitching, defense and a brand of heads-up coaching. You wonder how good the Cougars could be if their hitting matched up with the pitching, glove play and coaching (It’s like having a basketball team of players that can’t shoot).

Hint: Ever notice how shallow opposing outfielders play Beaumont hitters. No power.

Beaumont’s lucky to have Sheehan in its dugout. The game plan’s in his corner: How to coach hitting.

* * *

Somehow, the baseball template from Yucaipa needs to be copied in the San Gorgonio Pass.

Yucaipa’s a Little League city. Always has been.

After 43 seasons of high-grade product turned in by Jeff Stout, now retired, new coach Ralph Grajeda had the Thunderbirds on an 22-4 march, first place in the high-end Citrus Belt League at 11-1, ranked in Southern Section Division 1.

You get the feeling that combined forces from Banning and Beaumont wouldn’t be enough to match the T-Birds’ baseball program.

It begs this question: How is a neighboring community like Yucaipa so far more advanced in its baseball achievements that Beaumont, just a few miles away?

* * *

Speaking of under-achieving baseball, why is softball so much loftier in its area achievements – both at Banning and Beaumont?

Sudden Impact, an area travel ball program, churns out some hard-nosed hitters, not to mention overall players.

There’s a growing list of college-level players from both schools. That’s the first sign of a first-rate show of success.

We have to ask: Should baseball be checking in on softball to formulate a game plan for development and, ultimately, high school successes and college futures?

Here’s the promise: We’ve run down Banning athletics and Beaumont baseball, but have given short shrift to the advancement of softball programs from both campuses. Running out of space here, today.

We’re gathering some superior data to present in future weeks.

* * *

Those background checks within the United State Youth Soccer Association is of growing concern. It’s now a requirement for any adult with a desire to coach youth sports.

Here’s a few numbers from the USYSA: Some three million players are participating. Another 300,000 coaches and 600,000 officials, employees and volunteers are part of the mix getting background checks.

Take a look around. Beaumont’s had some issues, not to mention Yucaipa and nearby Redlands. In the previous couple of seasons, Banning High cut loose some baseball coaches at mid-season.

As always, there are no answers. Privacy. Protecting kids. Hopefully avoiding lawsuits.

Used to be a volunteer showed up to coach. They’d be handed the equipment, a list of players, plus phone numbers, give them a practice field and a game schedule.

First up nowadays are the background checks. It’s a new day, a new set of rules.

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