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July 16
COS Celebrates “Grand Reopening” of Tennis Courts
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This week marked the official “grand reopening” and ribbon cutting for the refinished tennis courts at the College of the Sequoias Visalia campus. The project is part of a total 21 projects and over $200,000 in funding spearheaded by the COS Foundation, which is an independent nonprofit organization cultivating and allocating public resources to school interests.

Tuesday’s event was attended by student athletes, community members, and COS staff and supporters including COS Superintendent and President Stan Carrizosa and Foundation Board President Sherrie Bell.

Foundation Director Tim Foster opened the ceremonies, introducing the resurfacing of the nine courts as one of the ways in which the school is, “reinvesting in meaningful ways,” with valuable contributions from the surrounding area.

Athletic Director Brent Davis thanked those who have supported the tennis courts project specifically and the athletic program overall, including among others, the community, the COS Foundation, tennis coach Jay Johnson, and school administrators and staff.

Davis then took the opportunity to brag about the student athletes of Giants tennis who accumulated a series of honors this year. He was most proud to announce the women’s tennis team’s naming as All Academic Team by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA)​. The Giants are one of seven teams honored across the nation for their academic achievements.

Also honored for their academic performance, three of the student athletes were named to the Big 8 Conference Academic All Conference women’s team, five were named as ITA Scholar Athletes, and two were selected as Big 8 Conference All Conference team members for their athletic abilities.

Wrapping up the addresses, Carrizosa offered his, “heartfelt thanks,” for, “the investments the community adds,” on top of state funding. He described this exceptional support as the requirement to take a community college from, “good to great.”

After the ribbon cutting by Davis, Johnson, Carrizosa, Bell, and team members (pictured above, left to right), guests enjoyed a lunch spread as the tennis team volleyed a bit to demonstrate the new courts.

July 04
Happy 4th of July from COS Athletics!

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COS Athletics wishes you all a happy and healthy Independence Day!

June 29
Akeem Alexander Invited to USA Track & Field Team

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COS student athlete Akeem Alexander completed a big week last week and there is more to come. He was invited to be a part of the Under 23 USA Track & Field national team. Alexander has accepted the invite, which was offered due to his performance at the USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships in Sacramento, and presumably, his previous achievements.

Alexander competed in the Championships on Thursday, in the Friday preliminaries, and then Saturday in the finals of the 400-meter race. This schedule is different than that of the usual community college meet and that, Alexander thinks, fatigued his legs causing him to falter in the last turn of the finals race. He suffered a leg cramp and was unable to finish.

The 19-year-old’s record speaks for itself though, despite what happened on Saturday. He is the 2013 and 2014 California Community College champion in the 400-meter race. He placed first in the 2014 California State Championship in the same event.

Alexander, a 2012 graduate of Madera High School, will have a chance to compete for team USA during the North American Central America Caribbean Under 23 track and field championships. At least 25 countries will bring their athletes to the competition, which will be held in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada this August 8-10.

We look forward to seeing much more from this Giants track star!

June 24
COS Names New Volleyball Head Coach

COS volleyball enjoyed a 15-season run with head coach Pete Rasmussen. In the 2014 season though, Rasmussen is passing the torch to assistant coach, Kimberly Steele Rix, who will now serve as the team’s head coach. Rix, who coached under Rasmussen for nine seasons and played for him for three, is honored to follow in his footsteps; “he was my mentor.”

“I’m really excited,” says Rix of her new position, admitting she hoped COS would choose her to lead the team. She says it’s an added benefit to the players, to have someone who understands Rasmussen’s style and strategy and can offer continuity during this change. Rix is also happy to have her assistant coaches, “two great guys,” Patrick Buyayo and George Ghattas at her side.

The team has done well in previous seasons, Rix says. She is optimistic for this coming season and plans to use it as an opportunity to re-energize the program. A handful of players will return to the team and the rest is composed of a new group of women, mainly from the area and close surrounding towns with one coming south to us from Washington state.

Rix abides by the philosophy of, “work hard and play hard.” She says what really makes the team great is, “the girls I’ve got are there to play volleyball… they want to play,” and they, “want to win.”

The season officially kicks off in the fall, with practice starting in August, but the volleyball team is not idle. Rix says that they are involved in a conditioning class taught by Joe D’Agostino, Giants football assistant coach. The class is part of a new program at COS Athletics. It involves weight and circuit training and other exercise to keep the student athletes ready for their respective seasons.

Congratulations Coach Rix!

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June 24
Giants Volleyball Meets Miss California Pageant

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This week, just minutes away in Fresno, two COS ladies are competing for the 2014 Miss California crown: Miss Central Valley Blaire Bostwick (left) and Miss Tulare County Tara Broderick (right). The Miss California winner will move on to the Miss America competition—and lest we novices find ourselves confused, this is separate from the Miss California USA pageant, which feeds the Miss USA competition.

Giants volleyball fans may recognize Broderick from the 2013 COS team; the freshman held the defensive specialist position under head coach Pete Rasmussen. Alas, Broderick will not be showing off her net skills as her talent, instead she will perform ballet. Her platform is one of anti-bullying, for which she authored a children’s book.

Bostwick is promoting A Heart for Service, an organization she founded to network Central Valley volunteers with non-profits needing their help. She will sing as her talent.

Both ladies say they have grown in confidence through participation in the Miss California organization.

Starting tonight, Broderick and Bostwick join five other San Joaquin Valley women in the competition, which is being held at the Saroyan Theatre. A total of 52 contestants must demonstrate skills in education, leadership, service, and talent through Saturday night’s conclusion.

Good luck lady Giants!

Photos courtesy of Miss California organization Pinterest.

June 18
“Flying Through the Air” with Michael Benedetta

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When last I spoke with COS diver Michael Benedetta, he was off to compete in the State Championships​. Benedetta came away from the meet with All America honors, medaling 6th on the 3 meter and 8th on the 1 meter. That wound up a great season that had a rough start, his first at COS, stuck on land after the first two weeks with a concussion requiring him to sit out a week and relearn what he’d missed.

The El Diamante High School grad started his journey toward the competitive diving board on the hunt for something that would keep him busy, challenge him with variety, and have the added benefit of relaxing a sometimes angry younger self. Living in Orange County prior to transplanting to Visalia with his aunt and uncle at 10 years old, Benedetta was in the Foster Care system. He says sports always seemed like a good outlet for stress, and he competed in football and wrestling as well. Having clearly exorcised any frustrations, he says his favorite part of diving, “is flying through the air,” and the drop time between sky and water; “that’s the best part.”

“Coming from my background,” Benedetta says he wants to help people in his career. He is studying business administration at COS and plans to take a few criminology classes and with his degree, enroll in the COS Police Academy.

Off-campus, Giants fans might run into 18-year-old Benedetta at one of his three jobs: Henry Salazar’s, Black Bear Diner, and coaching at Redwood High School, offered by diving coach Diedra Alves. He commends his uncle for providing him an example of hard work. Benedetta says he hardly saw his uncle when they first moved to Visalia, but that was because his uncle was either hard at work providing for the family or holed up in the office working to get his degree online so he could provide even more. “That’s a good role model for me,” says Benedetta. “Do the hard work that’s necessary no matter how long it takes or how hard it is on you.”

Hard work may not be the way to improve Benedetta’s swimming abilities, however, and he jokes about his sparse stroke skills. “I’ve actually had swimmers try to teach me to swim and they’re like, ‘I give up; you’re hopeless.’ I can swim from wherever I land to the edge of the pool and that’s good enough.”

Benedetta promises to be back on campus and in the pool next year, “assuming no injuries,” he laughs.

June 13
COS Unveils New Weightroom

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COS Athletics recently unveiled the renovated weightroom for use by the teams and by the general student body. “It’s a nice place to work out,” says Director of Athletics, Brent Davis, inviting everyone to check out the new facilities. Go on in and inhale that new machine smell!

The equipment, from Hammer Strength®, is strategically laid out for an optimum workout. Gleaming Giant blue, the entire setup is clean and open, meeting Americans With Disabilities Act compliance. To complete the project, coming attractions include a stereo and computer (for instructor use). On our tour, we caught Jason Tejada, the football team’s Offensive Coordinator, testing the room out and preparing it for use that day by the team.

The weightroom is an integral part of a new overall Strength Program promoted by Giant Athletics. In the Spring, the department hopes to inaugurate a strength training class (currently pending approval). The class involves four hours each week and is designed to keep student athletes in shape, especially during the off-season.​

May 01
Aqua Giants Compete at State Swimming and Diving Championships Starting Today!

CCCAA State Swimming and Diving Championships started today, May 1, and we’re rooting for our three ‘Aqua Giants’ making their appearance—Josh Avila (Swimming), Michael Benedetta (Diving), and Trevor Dutch (Diving). The Championships are being held at East Los Angeles College and with some luck and mostly skill, our guys will compete through the finals on Saturday!

The athletes’ arrived at the Championships under the leadership of Head Coach Tracy Myers—honored at the regional conference as Coach of the Year—Diving Coach Diedra Alves, and Assistant Coach Kyler Marcelino.

Avila qualified in the 200 and 400 Yard Individual Medley (IM) events; the top 16 swimming times in the entire state are able to compete. Avila says he prefers the breaststroke but early in the season, Coach Myers had him swim the IM and he found he did well in that. If IM is a​​n unfamiliar term, that event combines four different strokes: Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Freestyle.

Avila benefits from skill and endurance built up over five years of competitive swimming and his time on the TNT Club Team which he does year-round. Avila won the Bay Valley Conference Championship in the 400 IM and the 200 Yard Breaststroke and took second in the 200 IM.

Divers Benedetta and Dutch are competing on the 1 and 3 meter boards. They’re required to do one dive from six diving categories. Benedetta says the 1 meter is the board he's most familiar with and he started diving from the 3 meter last summer. He calls the 3 meter ‘more intense’ as it's a lot higher. "You 'smack' harder," he says with a grin.

Dutch says his favorite dives are 'Inward' dives, on which he scores the best. He started diving during high school, at his parents' suggestion and after learning to do a Gainer into a friend's pool. 

Myers calls this team is a real family, "they do everything together." This was abundantly apparent as team members came by the pool during our interviews to support their fellow athletes.

All three of the athletes are returning to COS next year, so we can hope for another winning season and we look forward to seeing how our team fares this weekend!

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April 28
Cheer Tryout Workshops Start Today!

College of the Sequoias’ Cheer and Stunt Team tryout workshops start today at 4pm. Workshops will be held daily through Thursday, May 1, all leading up to the final Tryout on Friday, May 2. Those interested should plan on attending at least three different days in order to memorize the materials for Friday.​

“This is an exci​ting time, seeing new talent come to COS,” says Coach Linda Amaral.

In addition to new tryouts, Amaral says that the Team will see the return of some members who took a year off.

Members take circuit training, running, weight training, gymnastics, and dance skills to allow for a fully capable team. Practice starts mid-June and the Cheer season is essentially year-round, covering Women's Volleyball (home games), Football (home and away games), and Men's and Wom​en's Basketball (home games). They also competed at the USA Cheer Nationals in Anaheim!

The workshops are being held in the Dance Studio (Room 101) of the Potwisha Building at the Visalia campus, from 4-6pm. More information and a list of qualifications are available on the team page.

“Go Giants Go!”

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April 16
Yesenia Silva Talks Meets, Role Models, and Sleep

Yesenia Silva—COS long distance runner—is poised to compete in the 5K this Friday at the Mt. SAC Relays and if last weekend was any indicator, she has a good chance to uphold an already remarkable first year as a Giant. During the Mt. SAC Community College Invitational, Silva placed 1st in the Women’s 1500 Meter Run, breaking a 1982 COS record and a 1985 Meet record. This puts her 1st in the state in that event. Silva also placed in the 800 Meter Run, garnering her 3rd place in the state.

As a high school freshman in Exeter, Silva admits that she did not really know what the Cross Country team did. It took an interested Physical Education teacher to notice Silva’s admirable time running the mile for a grade and recommend she try out for Cross Country. She was nervous but tried out aTF-Y-Silva.jpgnd joined Cross Country her sophomore year, and Track & Field long distance events her junior year.

For that novice freshman who might resemble a younger version of Silva, she offers the following advice: don’t give up, “fight for what you’re going after.” She says even if that race is over, even if you lost, you have to stay positive because the work does not end there. “Train well, sleep well,” and, she adds, be prepared. Silva admits that bit about sleeping well comes from experience. She’s run meets after a day of school and work and while she says, “it’s exhausting, but doable,” she also says it’s where the preparation comes in.

Running is influencing Silva’s academic life as well; she is studying Kinesiology at COS. She still has some work to do before deciding what’s next academically, but she knows she wants to continue competing in long distance running.

Silva also knows she wants to carry forward the role modeling she’s been the beneficiary of in the sport. “Everybody for me is a role model,” she says, including in the list her fellow runners at COS. She hopes her role models running the heats before her on April 18 will push her to her best time yet in the event.

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Welcome to the College of the Sequoias Athletics blog. We appreciate all the parents, fans, local and campus community support that make Giant Athletics a major player in community colleges throughout the state.