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High School sports

Tuesday, January 16, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Sideline Smitty

Even Stockton might spill the beans over coffee

Seattle Times staff reporter

Q: Name five athletes who graduated from Washington high schools that you would like to have coffee with.

A: Here you go:

Derrick Cope, Bethel, Class of 1976 — Cope was a baseball player who suffered a major knee injury playing for brainy Whitman College before turning to auto racing. (His father was an engine-builder). In 1990, Cope pulled one of the biggest upsets in American sports when a tire punctured on Dale Earnhardt's car and Cope passed him to win the Daytona 500.

John Stockton, Gonzaga Prep '80 — Stockton isn't chummy around reporters, but of all the possible things to talk about, including his NBA records for assists and steals, I want to hear about a night in Monte Carlo in 1992 when the Olympic "Dream Team" had an intense scrimmage. Michael Jordan was on the floor and so was Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, David Robinson, Karl Malone, Scottie Pippen and Charles Barkley. Some have said it might have been the best basketball game ever played.

Darrell Robinson, Wilson '82 — In the summer of 1982, Robinson ran 400 meters in 44.69 seconds. That record still stands as the national high-school mark in the system that counts performances the summer after graduation. Life was difficult for Robinson, who attended three colleges and never attained the international fame he appeared destined to achieve. In 1996, internal demons got the best of him and he tried to commit suicide by drinking antifreeze. People have tried to track him down without success and no one seems to know if he is dead or alive. If we had coffee, I'd obviously know the answer was the happier one.

Michelle Akers, Shorecrest '84 — Akers was named women's soccer player of the 20th Century by FIFA, the governing body of international soccer. She made three World Cup appearances (including the 1999 championship) and won an Olympic gold medal. Akers suffered from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome late in her career and made it through games on guts.

Mel Stottlemyre Sr., Mabton '59 — Stottlemyre pitched for the Yankees from 1964-74 with a 164-139 won-lost record, a 2.97 earned-run average and three 20-win seasons. He later was pitching coach for the Mets, Astros and Yankees. Both his sons, Mel Jr., and Todd, pitched in the majors.

I read once that he used to read Carl Yastrzemski's lips when he saw Yaz talking to himself between pitches.

"If I saw his lips saying, 'Be quick, be quick,' I'd throw him a changeup," Stottlemyre said. "If he was saying 'Stay back, stay back,' I'd throw him a fastball."

Q: Somebody told me that Kentwood High School has 56 cheerleaders. True?

A: Yes. Twenty are on the "competition squad" that will compete next month in the national championships. Thirty-six are on the "sideline squad." At a football game, there are 25 to 30 cheerleaders, with the rest in the stands as "sideline squad" members.

During winter sports, four combined "squads" of competition and sideline girls are assigned to a variety of events — boys basketball, girls basketball, boys swimming and gymnastics. The advantage of having so many cheerleaders is that a lot of events can be covered without the girls giving up too many of their evenings.

Kentwood cheerleading coach Kim Kawachi is described as enthusiastic and demanding. Cheerleaders practice about two hours three to four days a week, 10 months a year.

"Kim works them incredibly hard," said Kentwood athletic director Jo Anne Daughtry. "The expectations are very high."

Kentwood has won the past four state titles for "super large" cheerleading squads. The sideline squad won the novice division last year.

Have a question about high-school sports? Craig Smith will find the answer every Tuesday in The Times. Ask your question in one of the following ways: Voice mail (206-464-8279), snail mail (Craig Smith, Seattle Times Sports, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111) or e-mail

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company



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