By John Stephens
8:24 PM PDT, September 18, 2012
I am disappointed that Costa Mesa United decided to cancel its City Council candidate forum.
I was very much looking forward to discussing issues relating to youth sports, activities and academics. One reason given for the cancellation was that two candidates are on Costa Mesa United's board, giving them an "unfair advantage."
That explanation does not wash with me. In fact, I would stack my credentials in the area of youth sports against any of the candidates. Since 1998, youth sports have been my family's passion and a major outlet for my community service.
My wife, Amy, and I have four children: two boys (Tommy and Nate) and two girls (Carolyn and Olivia). Our children have participated in many youth sports, including baseball, softball, soccer, volleyball, gymnastics, basketball, flag football, wrestling, cross-country, track, lacrosse, swimming, golf and ultimate Frisbee.
I have coached about 18 different teams in baseball (Costa Mesa American Little League, or CMALL), softball (Fountain Valley girls' softball, which serves girls from Costa Mesa and many other cities) and basketball (Newport-Mesa National Junior Basketball).
I coached my first T-ball team (the Royals) in 1998. The children on that team are now juniors and seniors in college. This past spring, I coached a 12U softball team (Twilight Zone) to the championship of a tough 10-team interleague division that included teams from Fountain Valley, south Huntington Beach and Newport-Mesa.
Since the 1990s, I have been on the boards of either CMALL or Fountain Valley softball. I have served as their umpire-in-chief and vice president, among other positions. In 2003 and 2004, Amy was president of CMALL; before that, she was the league's player agent.
Over the years, I've umpired dozens of games, dragged and lined hundreds of fields and scraped plenty of congealed nacho cheese from the bottom of the CMALL snack bar crockpot. In short, Amy and I have worked shoulder to shoulder with hardworking volunteers who are dedicated to developing our community's children through youth sports.
I would have loved to have participated in a forum in which the topic of discussion centered on one of my passions. No one would have had an "unfair advantage" on me in such a discussion.
In any event, Costa Mesa United has made its decision. Still, let's talk about youth sports on the campaign trail.
We have many wonderful youth sports programs in Costa Mesa, but we also have room for improvement. Enhancing the quality of our youth sports fields and programs is a high priority of mine.
I intend to be an advocate for youth sports in our community for years to come, no matter what happens in November.
JOHN STEPHENS, an attorney, is running for Costa Mesa City Council.