Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm


29 Mar 2017
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The recently concluded BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells has grown into one of the biggest events here in the valley; people flock from all over the planet to watch the greatest tennis players in the world ply their trade. Along with the players and fans, members of the media also come from various places around the world—and one tournament volunteer has the job of making sure they all get what they need. Judy Strobl of Oceanside is in charge of the press room of the BNP Paribas Open. She has been a volunteer for the tournament for 13 years. It’s no secret that any large event here in the valley is dependent on volunteers—and the BNP Paribas Open is no exception. “We have over 1,500 volunteers who handle everything from the media, to ushering duties,” Strobl said. “It’s impossible to understate the impact these volunteers have. Without them, there…
02 Feb 2017
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As much of the country shivers in the grip of old man winter, residents of the Coachella Valley get to enjoy sunshine and warmer temperatures—and we get to enjoy the grand old summer game of baseball in January, at Palm Springs Stadium. Back for its eighth season, the California Winter League is the brainchild of 37-year-old Andrew Starke. Starke has run the Palm Springs Power summer collegiate baseball team for 13 years in the valley, and eight years ago, he came up with the idea of a winter league in Palm Springs. The California Winter League is basically a big, four-week tryout camp for players who come from all over the world. They play on 12 teams and receive instruction from former professional players as well as current coaches and managers. The league is run in conjunction with the Frontier League, an independent baseball league. (An independent league is not…
15 Jan 2017
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One of the keys to the success of the big sporting events here in the Coachella Valley is the ability to attract top-notch volunteers. It is a not-so-secret fact that without volunteers, these tournaments would grind to a halt. After all, volunteers are the people work in the trenches and help with everything from parking to general information. Meet Ellen Roy. She’s an Indian Wells resident who will begin her 20th year of volunteering this week at the local PGA Tour event, now known as the CareerBuilder Challenge, taking place Jan. 19-22. One of Ellen’s jobs is to keep a walking scoreboard, which allows fans to see the tournament leaderboard. The grandmother of four says she does it to help the community—and to meet new people, too. “I consider many of the volunteers my friends,” she says. “We share the same interest in golf, and I have known some of…
09 Jan 2017
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It is the biggest local sports event of the year, bringing thousands of visitors and millions of dollars to the Coachella Valley—and the BNP Paribas Open will return to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden March 6-19. The event is a Masters 1000 event—meaning it’s one of the nine most prestigious tourneys after the four Grand Slam events and the ATP World Tour Finals—on the men’s ATP Tour, and one of the esteemed premier tournaments on the women’s circuit. Those designations ensure that the top players in the world come—including Serena Williams, who returned in 2015 for the first time since a controversial exit in 2001. Total attendance could hit the 500,000 mark this year; only the four Grand Slam events have more visitors. Last year, the event was again marred by controversy when then-tournament director Raymond Moore made what some considered to be disparaging remarks about female players during a…
16 Dec 2016
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In 2017, there will quite a few changes taking place at the annual local PGA Tour event that many of us still call the Bob Hope Classic. For the second year, the tournament—celebrating its 58th year in January—is officially called the CareerBuilder Challenge. However, the Clinton Foundation, which had played a role in the tournament since 2012, is no longer involved—and there’s a new man in charge, too. The tournament will be run by a self-described “golf nerd”—Dallas native Nick Raffaele, 53. Raffaele has extensive golf-industry experience and was upbeat about the tournament. “I am a glass-half-full kind of guy,” he said. “I salute the work done by (previous sponsor) Humana in helping stabilize the event. We here in the Coachella Valley are lucky to have a PGA Tour event because of our size and population. We are basically in a rural area, and without some great work previously done,…
10 Nov 2016
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It was a balmy 86 degrees when I decided to drop by the Desert Ice Castle in Cathedral City. Built via a public-private partnership in 2011, the rink is at what was once the site of a Coca Cola-bottling plant. On this day, it was a beehive of activity as members of the Desert Blaze hockey program skated on the ice. Overseeing the practice was Jeff Larson. A 54-year-old native of Minnesota, Larson played collegiate hockey at the University of Minnesota and was an acquaintance of Herb Brooks, a hockey legend who coached the U.S. men’s hockey team to the “Miracle on Ice” gold medal in the 1980 Olympics. He works with a cadre of coaches in the program. “The owner of the rink approached me and asked if I could help start a hockey program five years ago. Having played since age 6, the game is in my blood,…
13 Oct 2016
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Being in charge of a college athletic department can be quite a challenge. Not only must your teams be competitive on the field; you must also make sure your athletes are doing well in the classroom. Those tasks are even more arduous when your program has been rocked by scandal—and that’s the task Gary Plunkett faced when he became College of the Desert’s athletic director early last year. In early 2012, one COD football player was shot to death by police in Palm Desert while in the process of committing a burglary. Several others were subsequently arrested for criminal activity. Later in 2012, then-new COD President Joel Kinnamon vowed to clean up not only the football program, but a culture that allowed such miscreant behavior to occur. The 45-year-old Plunkett is the man charged with continuing to change that culture. The South Bay native previously spent nine years as the…