Regina High Schools Athletic Association

13 May 19
BMCEagle Space

Volume 30, Issue 9 Ladies Night and Easter have come and gone, and Brookfielders have basked in temperatures nearing 20, so it appears safe to say spring has arrived at long last! The whir of lawnmowers and rototillers never sounded so good, after a lengthy winter, and recalcitrant first half of spring. The Brookfield Men’s […]

13 May 19
Sonya Christian's Blog

Good morning, Bakersfield. It is Saturday, May 11, 2019… A great day to be a Renegade. Closing Day 2019 The last day of the 2018-19 academic year began with Closing Day, where all of BC’s faculty and staff take the opportunity to recognize each other’s accomplishments. BCSGA President Ashley Harp started with an overview of […]

12 May 19
Regina Leader-Post

The Eng brothers, Nyklaas and Nathanyal, have won two consecutive SHSAA badminton titles in boys doubles.

07 May 19
Regina Leader-Post

The Saskatchewan High Schools Athletic Association badminton championships are to be held Saturday in Swift Current.

06 May 19
Global News

Sean Lessard sat down for tea with 250 Indigenous high school students to better understand each one, and help guide them to post-secondary education.

01 May 19
Roqoo Depot

Latest Databurst From the 501st covering 501st Legion events around the world from May 1 to 7th. Lots of events for Free Comic Book Day and May the Fourth Be With You. As always, be sure to mark your calendars and support your local garrisons. May 1 Garrison Carida will be in Swarthmore, PA for […]

26 Apr 19
Regina Leader-Post

Regina’s Madison Hart has landed an archery scholarship in the United States.

24 Apr 19
Archy Worldys

NEW ORLEANS – The programs can see the home track as the national championships are just around the corner. This means it's the perfect time to preview the teams that will be in the postseason with the latest edition of the team NJCAA Division I Track & Field National rating index for outdoor use that […]

19 Apr 19
Behind the Curtain Cincinnati

Halle Quinn and Dance Pro Alyenendrov Tsorokean Crowned New Dancing for the Stars Champs Michael Betz honored as Fundraising Champion CINCINNATI, OH – Halle Quinn (Community Volunteer) and her dance pro Alyenendrov Tsorokean (Phoenix Rising Ballroom) received a perfect score of 40, taking first place at the Cincinnati Arts Association’s thirteenth-annual Dancing for the Stars on Saturday, April 13 at the Music Hall […]

19 Apr 19
Regina Leader-Post

Athletes from Archbishop M.C. O’Neill High School excelled at Wednesday’s Regina High Schools Athletic Association badminton championships.

17 Apr 19
Santa Cruz Sentinel
Having already capped her stellar college wrestling career with two national titles, Dominique Parrish has received one last honor. The Open Mat, a website that covers amateur wrestling, named the Scotts Valley High graduate its recipient of the Patricia Miranda Medal earlier this week. The award goes annually to the female college wrestler who best embodies the pioneering spirit of Patricia Miranda, a Saratoga High graduate who joined the men’s team at Stanford in the late 1990s, when relatively few women wrestled at the college level. Miranda cracked Stanford’s starting lineup as a 125-pound senior and went on to win a bronze medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics – the first to include women’s wrestling. Dominique Parrish, a Scotts Valley High alum, earlier this week was awarded the Patricia Miranda Medal for the most outstanding female collegiate wrestler. Parrish is a senior at Canada’s Simon Fraser University.Contributed Selected by a panel that includes a quartet of four-time Women’s College Wrestling Association champions, Parrish is the second wrestler ever to receive the Miranda award. She achieved All-America status in each of her four seasons at Canada’s Simon Fraser University, going unbeaten in her last two and never finishing lower than third in her weight class at the WCWA championships. Parrish’s run to this year’s WCWA 123-pound title was especially astonishing given that she suffered a separated shoulder three weeks before the championship tournament. Told to take it easy in her matches leading up to the event, she still managed to dominate her opponents, outscoring them 44-1 en route to going out on top. Baseball Tanner Murray (San Lorenzo Valley), UC Davis, So.: The hot-hitting shortstop went 2 for 5 with an RBI, a stolen base and a run scored Tuesday, leading the Aggies to an 8-6 road win over No. 2 Stanford. He’s hitting .427 going into a three-game series at No. 7 UC Santa Barbara that begins Thursday, having hit safely in 22 of his past 23 games – 16 of which have been multi-hit games. Over the weekend, he had two hits and stole a base in the Aggies’ 5-1 loss to Cal Poly on Friday, then went 3 for 4 with a double, an RBI and two runs scored in Saturday’s 8-5 loss. Murray was 1 for 3 in Sunday’s 8-6 loss. Chase Watkins (St. Francis), Cal Poly-SLO, Fr.: Though he wasn’t credited with the victory, the left-hander pitched 3 1/3 solid innings in his second college start – and first in Big West Conference play – as the Mustangs defeated host UC Davis 5-1 on Friday. Watkins surrendered five hits, two of which came in the fourth inning, when he surrendered his only run before getting pulled. He repeatedly got himself out of jams before then, however, inducing double plays to end the second and third innings. Sahid Valenzuela (St. Francis), Cal State-Fullerton, Jr.: The designated hitter/third baseman struggled over the weekend in a nonconference home series against San Diego State. Valenzuela went 1 for 8 over three games, with his lone hit coming in the Titans’ 13-7 loss on Saturday. Valenzuela also walked twice in that game and laid down two sacrifice bunts on Sunday. Fineas Del Bonta-Smith (Soquel), San Jose State, Sr.: The relief pitcher wasn’t credited with a save, but did pitch a scoreless ninth inning on Friday as SJSU defeated host UNLV 7-3. Dylan McPhillips (Monte Vista Christian), Sacramento State, So.: The catcher went 1 for 5 on Saturday as the Hornets defeated host Seattle University 6-2 in a Western Athletic Conference game. David Reckers (Aptos), Cal State-Bakersfield, Fr.: The right-handed pitcher was roughed up in his first start of the season Wednesday night: Reckers yielded five earned runs in 1 1/3 innings as CSUB lost to host Fresno State. Four of those runs came on back-to-back homers in the first inning. Reckers wound up with a no-decision, though, as the Roadrunners didn’t give up the winning run until later in the contest. Reckers also surrendered two earned runs in two-thirds of an inning in CSUB’s April 9 loss to UC Riverside. Andrew Ciandro (St. Francis), CSU-Bakersfield, So.: The right-handed relief pitcher struggled in a 12-1 home loss to UC Riverside on April 9. Ciandro allowed three runs, all earned, and four hits in 2 2/3 innings. Jack Harris (Aptos), San Francisco State, Jr.: Batting in the leadoff spot, the center fielder had back-to-back multi-hit games in wins at Cal State East Bay last weekend. After going 3 for 4 with a double and scoring twice in SFSU’s 10-3 win over CSUEB on Friday, Harris had doubled twice, drove in a run and scored another in the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday. Harris went 0 for 2 in the nightcap, thus ending a four-game hitting streak in which he went 11-for-16. He bounced back Sunday, belting an RBI double and also scoring a run to lead SFSU to a 3-2 victory. Harris currently leads the Gators in hits (33), home runs (five) and doubles (eight). He ranks second on the team in batting average (.355) and third in runs scored (19). Jonah Gonzales (Aptos), SFSU, Redshirt Jr.: The left fielder was 1 for 2 in SFSU’s 7-1 loss to CSUEB in the second game of a doubleheader on Saturday. He also scored a run in the Gators’ win Friday. Jordan Peabody (SLV), Cal State Los Angeles, Sr.: The second baseman went 1 for 4 with a run scored Saturday and scored twice Sunday, but CSULA lost both games to host Cal State San Marcos. He also scored a run Friday in another loss to CSUSM. Peabody had his best game of the season on April 7: He went 3 for 4 with a double, an RBI and two runs scored as CSULA defeated Sonoma State in the opening game of a doubleheader. Jackson Collins (MVC), Biola, So.: The first baseman went 1 for 2, walked three times and stole a base in the opening game of a doubleheader against visiting Academy of Art on Friday, then he walked twice and scored twice in the nightcap. He also doubled in Biola’s 6-5 win over Academy of Art on Thursday. On Saturday, Collins scored twice in the first game of a doubleheader and walked twice in the second as Biola swept both contests from Academy of Art. Garret Laine (MVC), Fresno Pacific, Fr.: The left fielder tripled and scored a run in the Sunbirds’ 6-5 win over host Holy Names in the opening game of a doubleheader Friday. He was 0 for 4 in the nightcap. On Saturday, Laine went 1 for 4 in the opening game of a twin bill against Holy Names and doubled in the second game. Ian Blair (SLV), Pacific University (Ore.), So.: The right fielder performed well at the plate during a three-game series against Pacific Lutheran. After singling and scoring a run in the opening game of a doubleheader on Monday, he doubled twice, drove in a run and scored another in the second game. Blair was also 2 for 5 on Sunday in the Boxers’ 3-1 loss. On April 9, Blair went 1 for 5 with two walks as Pacific won the opening game of a doubleheader against George Fox. Blair was 1 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored in the nightcap, which Pacific lost. Josh Rodriguez (St. Francis), Mayville State (N.D.), Jr.: The 6-foot-8 relief pitcher had his best outing of the season Sunday, holding host Waldorf University of Iowa scoreless through the final three innings of Mayville State’s 3-2 loss. Rodriguez struck out four batters, walked none and surrendered three hits. Softball Sarah Reyes (Scotts Valley), Menlo College, Sr.: The right-handed pitcher earned a victory in the first game and homered in the second Saturday as the Oaks swept a home doubleheader from Hope International, the Golden State Athletic Conference’s first-place team. Pitching in relief of teammate Victoria Cervantes in the first game, Reyes held Hope International scoreless for the final 3 1/3 inningss as the Oaks won 5-4 in eight innings. In the nightcap, Reyes allowed one earned run in five innings as Menlo won 2-1, also in eight innings. Reyes hit her team-leading 12th home run of the season in the fourth inning of the second game. Bailey Lotz (SLV), Saint Mary’s, Sr.: The first baseman has hit safely in four straight games. After singling in the second game of a doubleheader Saturday, she doubled in St. Mary’s loss to Santa Clara on Sunday. Lotz then singled in the first game of a doubleheader against Sacramento State on Tuesday and went 2 for 4 with an RBI in the nightcap. Women’s track and field Stasia Kubicki (Santa Cruz), UC Davis, Sr.: The pole vaulter won her event at an invitational for the second time this season last Saturday at UC Davis’ Woody Wilson College Open. Kubicki cleared the bar at 12 feet, 6¾ inches, nearly a foot higher than her nearest competitor and 3½ inches shy of her personal best. Melissa Braun (Soquel), Occidental, Sr.: The pole vaulter finished second in her event at Saturday’s Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference’s multi-dual at Occidental, getting over at 12-3½. Katherine Whiting (Santa Cruz), New Mexico, Sr.: The pole vaulter placed second in her event at the University of New Mexico’s Don Kirby Tailwind Collegiate Open on Saturday, getting over at 11 feet, 11¾ inches. Corey Friedenbach (Pacific Collegiate), Air Force Academy, Fr.: The pole vaulter finished eighth in her event on Friday at the Texas A&M Invitational, clearing the bar at 11-9. Erika Malaspina (PCS), Stanford, Redshirt So.: The pole vaulter received Mountain Pacific Sports Federation All-Academic honors on April 10. Men’s track and field Sam Schubert (SLV), Cal State Fullerton, Jr.: The sprinter placed second in the 110-meter high hurdles Saturday at UCLA’s Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational, posting a time of 14.91 seconds. Matthew Founds (Soquel), Fresno State, Jr.: The distance runner came in sixth in the 3,000 at UCLA’s Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational, crossing the line in 9:23.46. Alec Moysov (Archbishop Riordan; Santa Cruz native), UC Davis, Jr.: The sprinter placed 10th in the 400 meters at UC Davis’ Woody Wilson Collegiate Open on Saturday, crossing the line at 51.27. He also finished 14th in the 200 with a time of 23.64. Grant Jackson (Santa Cruz), Linfield (Ore.), So.: The hammer thrower placed 10th in his event at Pacific University’s Luau Invitational on Saturday, earning a mark of 77 feet, 11 inches. Jake Gill (Santa Cruz), Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Fr.: The distance runner came in 14th in the 800 at Saturday’s SCIAC multi-dual at Occidental, clocking in at 2:01.62. Gill also ran the first leg of the 4×400 relay for CMS’ “C” team, which placed sixth with a time of 3:30.93. Hugh Chomentowski (Santa Cruz), Humboldt State, Fr.: The distance runner came in 16th in the 800 at Southern Oregon University’s Raider Invite on Saturday in 2:06.39. Quinn Lydon (SLV), UC San Diego, So.: The sprinter finished last out of 32 runners who completed the 110 high hurdles Saturday at UC San Diego’s Triton Invitational in 28.53. Nick Heath (Scotts Valley), Pepperdine, Sr.: The distance runner finished 45th in the 1,500 on Saturday at UC San Diego’s Triton Invitational in 4:07.97. Women’s beach volleyball Madison Dueck (Aptos), Cal, Jr.: She and her partner in 12th-ranked Cal’s No. 5 spot, Alexa Inman, were the only Golden Bears duo to win both of its matches Saturday at the Pepperdine Invitational. After defeating their opponents from No. 7 Cal Poly in two sets, Dueck and Inman defeated their opponents from No. 5 Pepperdine in three, 22-20, 15-21, 15-13. Lauren Matias (Harbor), UC Davis, Jr.: Paired with Heather Reed in UC Davis’ No. 2 spot, she defeated her opponents 21-11, 21-13 to help the Aggies edge the visiting University of the Pacific 3-2. On Friday, playing as part of UC Davis’ No. 1 tandem alongside freshman Jane Seslar, Matias lost the opener of a doubleheader against Oregon, 21-15, 21-11. Dropped down to the No. 2 spot for their second match, Matias and Seslar lost the first set 21-16 but were winning the second 16-13 before the set was suspended due to a player’s injury. No point was awarded to either team due to the suspension. Men’s volleyball Wyatt Harrison (PCS), UC San Diego, So.: The 6-foot-4 outside hitter recorded 11 kills in UCSD’s 3-1 home loss to Cal State Northridge on Saturday. Harrison had just three kills in the Tritons’ three-set loss Friday. Women’s water polo Hannah Henry (Soquel), San Jose State, Fr.: The goalkeeper recorded five saves as 21st-ranked SJSU defeated Indiana 8-6 on Saturday in the Spartans’ final home match of the season. Women’s tennis Caroline Casper (St. Francis), Pomona-Pitzer, Sr.: She defeated her opponent at No. 1 singles, winning the first set 6-1 before her opponent retired, as the Sagehens defeated visiting Cal Lutheran 8-1 on Saturday. Men’s tennis Daniel Rinkert (Chartwell School), Endicott College (Mass.), So.: He won two matches on April 10 as the Gulls routed Salve Regina. In addition to winning 6-0, 6-1 at No. 1 singles, he also teamed with Keaton McCleary to win the No. 1 doubles match, 8-2. On Saturday, Rinkert and McLeary dropped the No. 1 doubles match as Endicott fell to Western New England. County Connections County Connections appears Thursdays in the Sentinel. Contact if you know of a former Santa Cruz County prep athlete now playing at the collegiate level.
06 Apr 19
The Undefeated
Growing up in football-crazed Texas, it’s no surprise that was Jarrett Culver’s favorite sport as a kid. Culver, the Big 12 Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Year, was a two-position threat as a running back and receiver in his youth, and the main reason that he likely avoided becoming a big-time football standout can probably be attributed to one word. Faith. “Football games were on Sunday, but I had to go to church on Sundays,” Culver said Friday in Minneapolis. “So I didn’t play.” But for Culver, the son of a pastor, basketball never stopped, and it became his favorite sport (he also, briefly, played soccer in high school, once scoring four goals in six games). And now, four years after finishing his junior year of high school with no major college basketball offers, Culver is the star of the defensive-minded Texas Tech team that beat Michigan State 61-51 on Saturday night to make it’s way into the national title game Monday against Virginia. [boxout id=”162985″] While this is a Final Four that might lack star power because Zion Williamson and Duke were eliminated in the Elite Eight, it doesn’t lack stars. Culver may not have been a star before the season started, but in a sophomore season in which he averaged 18.9 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game on his way to becoming the first player in Texas Tech history to win the Big 12 Conference Player of the Year award, the “star” title fits him just fine. At 6 feet, 6 inches and 195 pounds, Culver is lean and chiseled, using his strength to put the defensive clamps on opponents and using an impressive 7-foot-1-inch wingspan while also powering himself to the rim to the tune of 22.4 points per game in his past five NCAA and conference tournament games. He was a tough cover the entire season. “I’ve really been impressed with him,” said Michigan State coach Tom Izzo before his Spartans lost to Texas Tech. “I think he’s got versatility, and he’s a scorer that plays defense. Sometimes those are harder to come by, and that’s what makes him so special.” Culver, who has played himself into the NBA draft lottery if he decides to leave college at the end of the season, comes from a special family. His oldest brother, Trey Culver, was a two-time NCAA indoor high jump champion at Texas Tech in 2016 and ’17 and tied the fourth-best indoor jump in NCAA history last year. He has his sights on the 2020 Olympics. The middle brother, J.J. Culver, was named a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics first-team All-American and the Sooner Athletic Conference Player of the Year while averaging 17.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3 assists this season at Wayland Baptist University. Add Culver’s success at Texas Tech this season and you have three talented brothers who, growing up, were ultracompetitive. “Me being the youngest, I played with older guys all the time, and my brothers always pushed me to make me better,” Culver said. “When we were younger and not mature enough, we’d push it too far and get into fights. But we’re brothers, that’s going to happen, and at the end of the day there’s nothing but love.” The love is strong for the Culvers, who roll deep as a family to support the brothers’ athletic pursuits. Culver’s mother, Regina Dunn-Culver, has been documenting her son’s Final Four run on social media this week while taking a few days off from her position as a director of a day care center. — Regina Culver (@regina_culver) March 27, 2019 The family faith is equally as solid thanks to Culver’s father, Hiawatha Culver, who is the pastor of Rising Star Baptist Church in Lubbock and also the Texas Tech team chaplain. “My dad is a great role model, and just having him around the team and having him give motivational talks and prayers before games helps out,” Culver said. “If we practice on Sunday, my dad would come up and talk to us. If we don’t practice, I’m at my dad’s church. My routine hasn’t changed at all — God is the priority in my life.” Another priority: helping Texas Tech advance to Monday’s title game. When Culver and his teammates took the court for practice on Friday, a good portion of the fans who filled one side of the lower section of U.S. Bank Stadium wore the red and black of Texas Tech. Culver is excited about giving those fans something to cheer about on Saturday. “We’ve accomplished something that’s never been done before at Texas Tech, and everybody is excited,” Culver said. “We just want to try to keep this going.”
04 Apr 19
National Post

Dozens of bursaries and scholarships have been created in the names of 16 people who died in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash one year ago. In addition, they have had their names attached to arenas, dressing rooms and even a snowmobile warmup shack. Here are some of the ways they are being recognized: Tyler Bieber, […]

24 Mar 19
Regina Leader-Post

The LeBoldus Golden Suns made it back-to-back provincial titles Saturday by registering a 56-49 victory over the hometown Saskatoon Centennial Chargers in the 5A girls final at Hoopla. “It’s pretty special,” Golden Suns head coach Garrett Kot said at the Saskatchewan High Schools Athletic Association basketball championships. “We never really talked about it pre-game, but […]

22 Mar 19
The Undefeated
Marlon Wayans can still smell the thick aroma of Tupac Shakur’s marathon marijuana sessions. Wayans and Shakur, both performing arts high school products, had become quick friends while Shakur was filming 1992’s Juice alongside Wayans’ friends Omar Epps and Mitch Marchand. By 1993, it was Wayans working with Shakur on the street basketball coming-of-age film Above the Rim, which celebrates its 25th anniversary on Saturday. Shakur was the sinister and charming drug dealer Birdie, who was trying to monopolize a local streetball tournament. Wayans played Bugaloo, a round-the-way kid who was often the target of Birdie’s vicious verbal taunts. “ ‘Above the Rim’ is the most true, ball-playing cinematic movie.” — Leon Shakur and Wayans shared a two-bedroom trailer on set. They made each other laugh. They talked about themselves as young black creatives in a world that often sought their talents but not the soul behind them. And the two got high together — in a way. “’Pac smoked a lot of weed,” said Wayans. “[He] would roll like nine blunts … he’d be listening to beats.” Wayans chuckles at the memory. “I’d catch the biggest contact.” One day, Shakur refused to step out of his Rucker Park trailer. Director Jeff Pollack was confused. Everyone was ready, cameras in place. All they needed was the enigmatic Shakur. “Kick the doors off the Range Rover!” Shakur yelled as he emerged. “Real n—as don’t have doors on Range Rovers!” Shakur wanted the doors off so he could just jump out and directly into his lines. “In my head, I’m thinking, ‘Yeah, ’Pac’s a little high,’ ’’ said Wayans, laughing. “I don’t think ’Pac knew how much that would cost production.” Shakur eventually came down off his high. And the doors stayed on the Range. [ornamentalrule] Above the Rim was part of a 1994 Hollywood basketball renaissance. A month before the film hit theaters, Nick Nolte, Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway starred in Blue Chips. Later that year came Hoop Dreams, the masterful Steve James documentary. Lodged midway was Above the Rim. Each of the three films offers a perspective of basketball as more than a game. Blue Chips focuses on the lucrative and slimy underbelly of big-business college athletics (and art imitates life a quarter-century later). Hoop Dreams is an exposé of the beautiful yet heartbreaking physical and emotional investment of the sport. Above the Rim uses New York City basketball as the entry point into the deeper story of two brothers and their tie to a young hoops phenom attempting to leave the same Harlem streets that divided them. Related Story Is the Death Row music from Above the Rim the last great hip-hop soundtrack?Read now Set and filmed mostly in Harlem, the film was written by Barry Michael Cooper and directed by Pollack and also features Leon (Colors, The Five Heartbeats, Cool Runnings, Waiting to Exhale) as Tommy “Shep” Shepard, Shakur’s older brother and former basketball star. Martin (White Men Can’t Jump, Scream 2, Any Given Sunday) portrays Kyle Lee Watson, a high school basketball star hellbent on attending Georgetown. Tonya Pinkins (Beat Street, All My Children) portrayed Kyle’s mother, Mailika. She hasn’t forgotten what the role meant for her career: “Probably the most I’ve ever been paid for a film,” she said. “The cast was phenomenal. It was really a party, and I was kind of the only … woman with lines in the movie.” And making his film debut was Wood Harris (Remember The Titans, The Wire, Paid In Full, Creed and Creed II) as Motaw — Wee-Bey to Birdie’s Avon Barksdale. Bernie Mac (Def Comedy Jam, Mo’ Money) is Flip, a local junkie responsible for the movie’s most prophetic and eerie line, especially given how many key figures from the film have since died (Shakur, Mac, Pollack and David Bailey). “They can’t erase what we were, man,” Flip says to Shep toward the beginning of the film. Marlon Wayans, who played Bugaloo in the movie, on Tupac: “Pac’s greatest attribute is he was supercourageous, but sometimes that can also become your Achilles’ heel.” Above the Rim, too, entered the culture during that 1986-97 era when films such as House Party, New Jack City, Malcolm X, Boomerang, Juice, Menace II Society and others had already stitched themselves into the fabric of the ’90s black cultural explosion. Those movies did so with black directors calling the shots. Above the Rim was brought to life by Benny Medina and Pollack, who had already struck gold with The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, at the time roughly halfway through its iconic run. Above the Rim was different, though. “It was … without a doubt a story of the inner city,” said Leon, who at the time was fresh off his powerhouse role as J.T. Matthews in The Five Heartbeats. In Above the Rim as Shep, he returns to Harlem after falling on hard times. Leon is biased about the film’s cult status, and proud of it. “[Above the Rim is the] most true ball-playing cinematic movie,” he said. Leon is humbled and entertained by the internet’s reaction to Shep, in corduroy pants, dropping 40 second-half points in the movie’s championship climax. “There’s just been so many memes people send me … it’s hilarious,” he said, laughing. And the level of on-set hoops competition, as he remembers, was electric. Many of the film’s ballplayers were just that: ballplayers. “It was strictly about hoops, wasn’t nothing about acting. When you get on the court, it’s like either you could go or you can’t.” — Leon In real life, Martin starred as a guard on New York University’s Division III squad in the late ’80s. He was a first-team All-Association selection in 1988-89 and was the Howard Cann Award recipient that same season as MVP. Leon, who grew up hooping in the Bronx, New York, attended California’s Loyola Marymount University on a basketball scholarship (guard) before focusing on acting. It was while playing professional basketball in Rome and filming 1993’s Cliffhanger with Sylvester Stallone and John Lithgow (in Rome as well) that Leon was approached about starring in Above the Rim. The role was first offered to Leon’s friend (and fellow heartthrob) Denzel Washington, who had just starred as Malcolm X in the iconic Spike Lee biopic. “Don’t know why it was,” Leon says when trying to recall why Washington decided against the role. “Don’t care.” People in Hollywood knew Leon could hoop, but word-of-mouth was only a down payment on respect. “Everyone could really ball. … Everyone had all-everything in their city credentials,” Leon said. “We’d scrimmage at NYU. All the top players from the [Entertainers Basketball Classic] and the Rucker, everybody was down there trying to get down. It was strictly about hoops, wasn’t nothing about acting. When you get on the court, it’s like either you could go or you can’t.” [ornamentalrule] Georgetown University doesn’t have any scenes in Above the Rim. Nor does the school make or break the plot. Yet the Washington, D.C., campus’s role in the movie is important, and seamless. Pollack (who died in 2013 at the age of 54) and Medina, as writers, had already managed to weave Georgetown into the narrative of a 1992 Fresh Prince episode. And it’s Georgetown’s role in the story of black America that gave the film authenticity. Maybe it was because Georgetown had a successful black coach manning its sidelines in John Thompson. Maybe it was because Thompson did so during the decade in which hip-hop started to grow up, and crack cocaine was blowing up during and after the days of President Ronald Reagan. Or maybe it was the type of players Thompson recruited — and the fearlessness they played with. Except for Michigan’s Fab Five, no team held the gritty cultural cool that Georgetown (seen here with Allen Iverson and coach John Thompson in 1994) did in the late ’80s and early ’90s. “We didn’t apologize for who we were. We didn’t ask permission to be who we were,” Thompson said earlier this month. “Then there was the rap explosion, and people started wearing Georgetown-style gear because they were so moved. Once we started seeing the Georgetown gear in TV and movies, there was definitely more of a sense that we had arrived.” Except for Michigan’s Fab Five, no team held the gritty cultural cool that Georgetown did in the late ’80s and early ’90s. “Georgetown represented for us,” said Wayans. “It made college look cool to young black kids. That team … it made us go, ‘Yo, I wanna wear that blue and gray.’ … For kids that grew up … in the ’hood … it became cool to be smart and educated.” Wayans, who attended Howard University from 1990-92, said, “It absolutely [made Georgetown feel like a historically black university].” And it was Allen Iverson’s impending arrival that thrilled all parties involved with the film. Iverson’s role in basketball lore is one-of-one, and by 1994, his image was, in many ways, as controversial as Shakur’s. To one segment of America, Iverson was a goon, a two-sport local superstar who deserved to have his future stripped away after a 1993 bowling alley brawl. Iverson’s 1993 trial and eventual conviction remains a benchmark of racial divisiveness in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Yet, to a whole other segment, Iverson held superhuman characteristics. He was a larger-than-life counterculture rebel who remained true to himself at all costs — in tats, do-rags and baggy jeans. Iverson, a free man in March 1994 after being granted conditional clemency by Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, was an unspoken factor in Above the Rim’s authenticity. Iverson’s story is loosely tied to that of Kyle Lee Watson. “[Iverson] was big,” Leon said. “Having a … prominent black coach who we know would take a chance on a player [like character Kyle Lee Watson] and give him a scholarship, much the way [Thompson] did with Allen Iverson, it just made sense.” Wayans agrees. “Allen Iverson represents the concrete and the hardwood. [Even then], he made you believe that even though you was groomed and raised in the streets, you could still amount to something great, and not let go of your culture.” But if Iverson’s legacy is in unanimous good standing with the Above the Rim community, the reviews of the film were anything but. While Above the Rim has risen to cult status in the quarter-century since its release, many at the time blasted the film for hackneyed dialogue and situations. The Washington Post dubbed it a “stultifying cliché of a movie” that “doesn’t get anywhere near the rim.” Variety said the movie was composed of enough clichés to fill an NBA stat sheet. Roger Ebert felt similarly but praised the film’s ingenuity in character development. But if there was praise that was near universal, it was for Shakur. “As the strong-arm hustler who darts in and out of Above the Rim, Tupac Shakur proves, once again, that he may be the most dynamic young actor since Sean Penn,” an Entertainment Weekly critic wrote in 1994. “The jury is out on whether he’ll prove as self-destructive.” [ornamentalrule] Shakur entered a particular read-through of Above the Rim’s script in typical Tupac Shakur fashion. Loud. Bodacious. Arrogant. Leon appreciated the spectacle. Every actor and actress has his or her own way of mentally preparing for a role. This was Tupac’s. He walked right up to Leon, his estranged brother in the film, and bowed his head. “You ain’t gonna have a problem with me because you in The Five Heartbeats,” Shakur said. “That’s my movie.” Above the Rim marks a transitional period in Shakur’s life. His rising fame ran concurrent with controversy. Vice President Dan Quayle called for his 1991 debut, 2Pacalypse Now, to be removed from shelves, claiming its lyrics incited the murder of a Texas state trooper. And in 1993 alone, Shakur released Strictly 4 My N—A.Z., a profound sophomore effort headlined by the singles “Holler If Ya Hear Me,” “I Get Around” and “Keep Ya Head Up,” and starred with Janet Jackson, Regina King and Joe Torry in Poetic Justice. Duane Martin and Leon Robinson were two of the stars in this film that was part of a 1994 Hollywood basketball renaissance. But also in 1993, Shakur was charged with felonious assault at a concert at Michigan State University. He fought director Allen Hughes on the set of Spice 1’s “Trigga Gots No Heart” video and was later sentenced on battery charges. By the time Above the Rim’s production was underway, Shakur’s legal dramas only intensified. In November 1993, he was charged with shooting two off-duty suburban Atlanta policemen. Those charges were eventually dropped. But shortly before Thanksgiving, Shakur, along with two associates, was charged with sexual assault of a woman in a New York City Parker Meridien hotel room. The case remains an indelible stain on his career, and Shakur, until the day he died less than three years later, maintained his innocence, even as he served much of 1995 in prison for the crime. Shakur’s legal proceedings were a constant backdrop during the filming of Above the Rim, the stress of which took its toll on the cast. “It affected all of us, you know? We had to change the shooting schedule and delay production,” Leon said. “This stuff was all going on at the same time, and it could be a bit of a distraction.” “He was great,” Martin said of working with Shakur, “when he wasn’t in trouble.” “It must be hard for [Pollack] to have his main character in jail and you have to shoot tomorrow,” Shakur told MTV News. “But they never let me feel that.” In a landmark 1995 VIBE prison interview, Tupac talked about hanging around with hardened street players who showed him the baller life that New York City had to offer. Two in particular were Jacques “Haitian Jack” Agnant and James “Jimmy Henchman” Rosemond — both of whom Shakur would later implicate, respectively, in the sexual assault case levied against him and the attempt on his life in 1994 at New York City’s Quad Studios. “I would often have conversations with him about some elements around him, but I wasn’t abreast of it all because I wasn’t there every time he was getting in trouble,” said Wayans. “I’d just say, ‘Yo, you have the power to make different decisions, watch out for this, watch out for that … You have to dodge traps. You can’t run into them.’ ’Pac’s greatest attribute is he was supercourageous, but sometimes that can also become your Achilles’ heel. Sometimes the thing that is your superpower is also your flaw.” “You ain’t gonna have a problem with me because you in The Five Heartbeats. That’s my movie.” — Tupac Shakur Pinkins only had one day of working with Shakur, but his confidence impressed her. “We sat and talked [for a long while],” said Pinkins. “Everyone was so excited and hype, but he was just mellow … cool, and articulate. He was funny too. Someone who made you think he was already at that level of international phenomenon.” Shakur rarely got much sleep while filming Above the Rim. He’d leave set once the day was over, go to the studio to record and come back to set the next morning primed and ready. “[Shakur] was as dedicated as I was. He was on point,” Leon said. “He had to be because so much of my acting was done silently with my eyes.” Shakur was Above the Rim’s emotionally charged ultralight beam. His smile could light up a room, and his rage could clear one. Shakur, Rolling Stone lamented shortly after the film’s release, “steals the show.” His portrayal of Birdie was a “gleaming portrait of seductive evil.” Shakur’s presence in the film is a beautiful reminder of what was. Wayans can still hear his own mother warning him. “ ‘Baby…’ ” Wayans re-enacts her, “I want you to be safe. [Shakur’s] a wonderful kid. I can see the talent in him. But you be careful of the elements around him.” Above the Rim was filmed on a budget of approximately $3.5 million. In its opening weekend in March 1994, the film recouped that sum, amassing $3.7 million — and $16.1 million overall. It lives on in the conversation of best ’hood movies and one of the definitive sports movies of its era. Above the Rim lives on via streaming services such as YouTube and Amazon Prime.
15 Mar 19
Regina Leader-Post

Growing up in Lockport, N.Y., Jeremy O’Day pored over rosters as a self-described “sports kid.” Such was the impetus for a career in sports.