<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - San Diego Sports News]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/sports http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.png NBC 7 San Diego http://www.nbcsandiego.comen-usWed, 25 May 2016 00:39:15 -0700Wed, 25 May 2016 00:39:15 -0700NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Giants Spoil Cashner’s Return]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 22:46:17 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/CashnerReturns.jpg

If you take out all the games the Padres have played against the Giants and just push those aside for a moment, San Diego’s record is 19-20.

That’s just one victory away from the .500 mark. Not great, but considering all the injuries the Padres have had to their starting rotation and around the infield, that’s not horrible either.

Unfortunately those 8 games the Padres have played with San Francisco do count.

And when you go 0-8 against an opponent, well they clearly have your number.

The first-place Giants just keep finding ways to beat the Padres. Right now they are just – better.

The latest example came Tuesday evening when the Giants turned a tense 1-1 game into an 8-2 laugher.

The Giants put up a five spot in the 8th to put this one out of reach. Brandon Crawford delivered the big blow with a bases-clearing 3-run triple off of Padres reliever Keith Hessler.

San Francisco starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija was also part of the problem. He went 6.2 innings and struck out seven batters. In the process, Samardzija improved to 7-2 with the victory (and three of those wins were against San Diego).

Jon Jay turned his only mistake into a solo shot when he led off the 6th inning. But before Jay’s homer, the Padres had not scored a run against the Giants in the previous 21.1 innings, which is both impressive and sad at the same time.

San Francisco improved to 12-1 in its last 13 ball games and is holding the Padres to just 2.1 runs through their first 8 meetings.

It’s frustrating to see the Padres struggle in this fashion but it’s especially tough to watch against a division opponent that employs one of your former managers.

Bruce Bochy’s squad got out of a bases loaded jam in the 7th inning while clinging to a 3-1 lead. San Diego’s Alexi Amarista worked the count full with two outs but then proceeded to ground out to second base to end the threat.

Hector Sanchez added a RBI single in the 9th to close out the scoring.

The Padres were also on the wrong end of two challenges. In the bottom of the 3rd inning, Derek Norris thought he had Gregor Blanco tagged out at home plate but the play was reversed and Blanco was ultimately called safe.

Then in the 8th inning with the Padres down 3-1, Matt Kemp tried to stretch a double into a triple and was thrown out when he got a little greedy.

Andrew Cashner was taken off the disabled list and made his first start since May 8th. He was solid until the 6th inning, when Buster Posey pounced with a RBI double and Crawford followed with a RBI single moments later.

Cashner’s ERA is now 4.87 after he lasted six innings and allowed three earned runs.

To make room for Cashner, the Padres had to make a roster move Tuesday. They optioned reliever Kevin Quackenbush to Triple-A to work on his fastball command.

Expect Quackenbush back in the bigs soon depending on how he performs in El Paso as well as the Padres’ needs as they juggle multiple injuries. Quackenbush made 24 appearances and compiled a 2-2 record and 4.64 ERA.

Padres first baseman Wil Myers was granted a rare day off Tuesday after tweaking his left forearm. He had played in 45 of the team’s first 46 contests and started 43 of them.

Myers missed a game back on May 15th against the Brewers after feeling tightness on the side of his forearm.

San Diego and San Francisco finish their series in a Wednesday matinee at 12:45 p.m.

San Diego sends James Shields to the hill to oppose former Padres ace Jake Peavy.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[MJ's Minute-UCSD Students Rally for Division 1]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 21:08:17 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/MJsMinuteUCSD_1200x675_692250179958.jpg In this edition of MJ's Minute, UCSD students vote in favor of moving the institution's 23-team intercollegiate athletics program to Division I, and the NFL announces future Super Bowl locations. ]]> <![CDATA[UC San Diego Students Vote to Take All Sports to Division I]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 19:53:29 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/UCSD-Campus-2011-Generic.jpg

University of California San Diego Students voted Tuesday to take all of their sports to NCAA Division I Tuesday.

By approving the move, students agreed to assess themselves additional fees to help pay for the transition.

The school's newspaper, The Guardian, reports that voter turnout was 35 percent of the undergraduate population. The measure needed 20 percent to pass, the paper said.

The decision is significant for the school's men's and women's basketball programs.

NBC 7 Sports Wrap will have more from the school's Athletic Director this afternoon. Check back for more on this developing story.

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<![CDATA[Gwynn Family Files Lawsuit Against Tobacco Industry]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 14:41:56 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/102871071.jpg

The tobacco industry used the late Tony Gwynn's addiction to chewing tobacco to turn him into a "walking billboard," his family alleges. 

"He never knew it but they were using him to promote their dip to the next generation of kids and fans who idolized him," Gwynn's daughter, Anisha Gwynn, said Tuesday in San Diego.

Gwynn’s family has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the tobacco industry, claiming the San Diego Padres legend was targeted to use the smokeless tobacco that led to the cancer that killed him.

The suit was filed Monday in San Diego Superior Court against Altria Group, Inc. (formerly known as Philip Morris USA) and several other defendants. Altria Group, Inc. makes Skoal chewing tobacco, the brand Tony Gwynn preferred and used extensively. 

The Gwynn family alleges the tobacco industry induced Gwynn to begin using smokeless tobacco when he was a star athlete at San Diego State University in the late 1970’s. 

When asked about the lawsuit, an Altria representative told NBC 7 San Diego, "We have no comment."

In the suit, the Gwynn family says the tobacco company "continued to deluge Tony during his college years with countless free samples of 'dip' tobacco products they purposely adulterated to make more addictive. All the while, they did not mention either the highly addictive nature of their products or their toxicity."

The suit alleges Gwynn used up to two cans of smokeless tobacco per day, claiming that is the equivalent of smoking four to five packs of cigarettes daily. In the suit the Gwynn family alleges the tobacco industry chose Gwynn specifically because it was trying to market its product to African-Americans, and that it intentionally misled Tony to use the product.

"Tony Gwynn was the Defendants' marketing dream come true," says the lawsuit. "They knew youngsters looking up to Tony would hope to one day hit like Tony, and be like Tony, so they would also want to 'dip' like Tony."

On Tuesday, Gwynn's daughter Anisha spoke of her dad's legacy, saying the baseball legend “wouldn’t want to see another player or any other person have to get sick and die."

Gwynn used smokeless tobacco for 31 years, despite seeing signs it may be harming his health as early as the 1990’s. Gwynn admitted an addiction to the substance and when he tried to stop using he reportedly needed prescription drugs to fight the anxiety and cravings he felt in its absence.

In recent years, Gwynn had multiple surgeries on his neck to remove both an abscess and a malignant tumor. He died in 2014 from salivary gland cancer at the age of 54.

Tony Gwynn was an elite athlete who “cared about his body,” his son said Tuesday.

“If he had known how addictive and harmful to his health dip was he would not have started using in college,” Tony Gwynn, Jr said of his dad.

The lawsuit does not ask for specified damages, instead requesting a jury trial to rule on grounds of negligence, fraud and product liability by the tobacco industry.

Gwynn’s death has brought about a change in some part of baseball. Multiple young players have either stopped using smokeless tobacco or simply not picked up the habit because of what happened to Mr. Padre.

Photo Credit: Getty Images for Pepsi MLB Refre]]>
<![CDATA[Nation's Top 12-Year-Old Boxer]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 18:03:00 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/box+GIF_19483400.gif

The highlight of 12-year-old David "Dynamite" Lopez’s life was becoming the country’s No. 1 boxer for his age and weight last year.

But a close second was sparring at his dad’s gym with undefeated super middleweight world champion Andre Ward one day this May. Ward threw a few fast punches. One or two landed on David’s headgear, throwing the boy back.

"It was uncomfortable," said the young boxer from Oakland, California. "But I didn’t cry."

Still, his nose smarted a bit and he got to play hooky from Westlake Middle School, where he is a sixth grader.

"It was awesome," he added, his green eyes twinkling.

Chance to be No. 1 Again
The scrappy pre-teen now has a chance to win No. 1 again. He qualified to attend the Junior Olympics National Championships in Dallas, Texas, next month. This round, he’s 85 pounds — a weight he begrudgingly achieves by following a "no hot chips" and no-soda diet. His father is now trying to raise enough funds to get there, as traveling the world to win boxing championships, especially for a working-class family, will be a feat.

David hasn’t read Malcom Gladwell’s "Outliers," which touts the idea that 10,000 hours of practice are required to excel at something.

But David intrinsically understands the book’s theory. He’s already put in about 7,000 of those hours, having started to box when he was just 5. That work led USA Boxing to dub him the top 70-pound boxer in the country in 2015. He also won the national title in Puerto Rico the same year.

"Practice," David said simply when asked why he’s so good. "Boxing is just what I do."

"Dedicated," chimed in Jasper McCargo, 29, who made the U.S. Olympic boxing team in 2014 and trains alongside David at his father’s gym in Oakland, Lightning’s Boxing Club. "And he has a great father." 

Father and Son Box Together
David’s father, Kris "Lightning" Lopez, 39, was a two-time Golden Glove champion and now runs a respected youth boxing program. Father and son train together for two hours every day after school. They also have an unusually close bond, which is obvious to anyone, even when meeting them for the first time.

The elder Lopez echoed that "repetition" is why his son is so skilled. But Lopez also added: "It’s in our blood." Lopez’s great-grandfather was a bigtime fighter in the Philippines in the 1920s. 

Half the week, David goes home with his mother, Wells Fargo corporate finance administrative assistant Denielle Allen, who can’t bear to watch her son fight in the ring.

"My mom will ask how a fight went, but she doesn’t want to come," David said. He added proudly he’s never suffered a concussion, and only broken his hand once.

He's close with his mom, too. She's the one who cooks him the rare feast of fried chicken and ice cream, no matter if he wins or not.

"I went to one fight," Allen said, "and I got sick for three days to my stomach." While David's boxing, she sits at home and prays with her Acts Full Gospel community for his safe return from the ring.

The other half of the week, he goes home with his father and his wife, who moved to Pittsburg, California, when they were priced out of Oakland.

Of Lopez’s four children, two are boxers, including his 20-year-old son, Daniel, who has also won national championships and now attends Laney College in Oakland.

Michael Jordan-Type Talent
Ever since he was in kindergarten, people could see David had something special. His jabs are blazing quick. His feet are light. When he jumps, the rope whizzes by too fast to see. He makes karate-like exhales when he jabs. He never backs down. He's confident but not a showoff.

"He’s got a talent that you see every 100 years," Lopez said. "Michael Jordan-type talent. He’s better than Andre Ward was at 11. At 5, you could see he was stronger and faster."

Ward met David two years ago at the 30th anniversary of King’s Boxing Gym in Oakland. Ward, who is Oakland born and now lives in Danville, noticed David’s quick feet and expert jabs.

"He said, 'You got skills,'" David recalled of the conversation, adding that the champion boxer then asked, "What’s your Instagram?"

The two have been sparring ever since. And last week, Ward stopped by the club unannounced to work out with David. That’s when Ward threw some fast ones at David’s headgear.

"He had never done that before," David said. It hurt. And tears sprang to his eyes. But David said, "I wasn’t going to back down."

Andre Ward Raves About 'Dynamite'
Colorado-based USA Boxing spokeswoman Julie Goldsticker knew David’s name with no prompting, mostly because she works with Ward, who "just raves about David." She said David walked Ward out for his last two fights.

As for finding sponsors to offset boxing costs for young people and families, Goldsticker acknowledged it’s a challenge. Mostly, she said, that’s because boxing is an individual sport and harder to find companies and wealthy entities to support one athlete, as opposed to a team. David’s father estimates it might cost $4,000 for the two of them to fly to the Junior Olympics June 26 to July 2 in Dallas, and stay at hotels for the week.

When David’s not boxing, he’s getting good grades in the hopes of attending Yale University one day. He still wants to box when he grows up, but said wisely: "I might study business as a fallback."

Hard to Remember He's a Kid
Family friend and mentor Jose Grace said he thinks David will accomplish anything he sets his mind to.

"He’s serious, he’s a scholar, he’s the full package," Grace said. "Sometimes I have to remember that he’s just a kid."

Follow David's achievements on Facebook or help send him to the Junior Olympics by donating to his GoFundMe page.

Photo Credit: Kris Lopez
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<![CDATA[Lost In Translation: Padres Lose Again To Giants]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 00:25:50 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/KempBloop.jpg

The Padres just cannot seem to solve the riddle that is the San Francisco Giants. 

Or Johnny Cueto for that matter.

San Diego fell to 0-7 against the Giants this year after a shocking 1-0 loss at AT&T Park Monday night.

A seemingly harmless pop-up by Hunter Pence with two outs in the 9th inning should have sent a scoreless contest into extra innings.

Instead there was a miscommunication between Matt Kemp and second baseman Alexei Amarista and the ball dropped in safely after Kemp attempted a late dive but could not make the catch. 

Brandon Belt provided the winning – and only – run of the ball game by hustling around from first base on the bizarre play.

Drew Pomeranz was stellar for the Friars. The lefty pitched 7 shutout innings and only allowed 2 hits but received a no-decision.

Cueto also only gave up 2 hits but did so over 9 innings of work and punched out 6 batters during his latest complete game masterpiece. 

With the exception of a Matt Kemp single and a base hit by Alexei Amarista, the San Diego offense was non-existent. 

It’s the unfortunate theme of this season: The Padres keep getting shutout. This latest setback means San Diego has been blanked a ridiculous 10 times in its first 37 games.

Wrap your head around this one: Cueto has already beaten the Padres three times this season – and in each victory he has gone the distance. He has silenced the Padres to one single run over an eye-popping 27 innings.

But this time the pitcher’s duel by the bay wound up being decided by a miscommunication in right field.

The Padres will try to snap their 7-game skid against the Giants Tuesday when they send Andrew Cashner to the mound against Jeff Samardzija. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers Begin Phase 3 of Off Season Workouts]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 22:43:55 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/238*120/Chargers+OTA.JPG

Phase three of Chargers voluntary workouts kicked off Monday morning at Chargers Park. Even though we’re months away from the start of the season, it was still exciting to see the players actually play a little football. This was the first time the offense and defense shared the field since off season workouts started last month.

A standout out at Chargers Park today was rookie tight end Hunter Henry. The Bolts second round NFL draft pick out of Arkansas made quite an impression during rookie minicamp a few weeks ago. His ability to advance the running game is a huge bonus to the Chargers, but quarterback Philip Rivers says his mindset is equally impressive.

“Some guys have a demeanor, and I know it’s early and it’s OTA’s but, they have a demeanor like I’ve been around here for four or five years and he has that demeanor” Rivers said of Henry. “ Not in a cocky way, it’s just like, yeah I’m a pro football player and here’s how you’re supposed to act, and he kind of carries himself in that way.”

If this outing was any indicator, the Chargers will see changes when it comes to their offensive scheme. The majority of the snaps during Monday’s workout came from under center, which is a very different look from what the Chargers did last season when Rivers was usually waiting for the ball in the shotgun formation.

In that center position today was new veteran Matt Slauson. The former Chicago Bears offensive lineman joined the Chargers in early May. Rivers says he’s still getting to know Slauson but is impressed with what he’s seen on and off the field. “He seems like he’s played a lot more at center than the five games he played last year” says Rivers. “You’d think he’s been playing center his whole career. He’s got way more starts obviously at guard. He reminds me of a couple of the guys who have been here in the past: Clary, Hardwick and Dielman with his personality, just the little I’ve been around him and that part’s exciting.”

There’s still a lot of work to be done but the atmosphere on the field today was that of a team that’s ready to get to work. Chargers Head Coach Mike McCoy knows there’s a long road ahead saying, “This really is a time period for everyone to learn our system and each day try to find something to get better at. There are plenty of mistakes we’re going to learn from on film today, but this is the first step.” And just to add a little motivation the team had the Kansas City Chiefs tomahawk chop blaring from the speakers on the practice field. That’s one way to get in game day mode. The Bolts face the Chiefs in Kansas City in week one of the regular season. Chargers minicamp is set to being on June 14th at Chargers Park.

<![CDATA[MJ's Minute-Chargers Get Motivated During OTA]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 22:20:06 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/187*120/GettyImages-458286314.jpg In this edition of MJ's Minute, Chargers kick off phase three of voluntary off season workouts and the Padres option RHP Colin Rea to Triple-A El Paso.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[SDSU’s Malik Pope Will Return For Junior Year]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 22:00:38 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/SDSUMalikePopeDunk.jpg

San Diego State forward Malik Pope announced on twitter Monday that he plans to withdraw from the NBA Draft and return to school for his junior season.

In a tweet posted around 6:30 p.m on Monday, Pope explained, “I’ve decided after talking with my mom and my coaches that I’m gonna withdraw my name from the NBA draft tomorrow, 5/24.”

Pope averaged 7.3 points and 5.0 rebounds per game as a sophomore last year.

However, he raised his game down the stretch and scored in double figures in nine of SDSU’s last 13 contests. The 6-foot-10 forward averaged 11.7 points and just under seven boards per game during those last 13 games.

This is the first season players could enter their names for the NBA draft and participate in the combine but also withdraw their name by a certain date and not lose their college eligibility. 

As long as prospects do not sign with an agent and remove their name from the draft within 10 days of the completion of the combine, they can return to school.

So after gaining more information on his potential draft status as well as the draft process, Pope returns for his junior campaign and combines with Trey Kell to form a formidable scoring tandem for the Aztecs. As I predicted a few weeks ago, Pope believes this is the best decision for his long-term NBA future.

Dakarai Allen and Matt Shrigley also will be back for their senior seasons, along with redshirt-sophomore-to-be Zylan Cheatham and sophomore point guard Jeremy Hemsley.

The Aztecs have won a Mountain-West high 10 conference titles and are 3-time defending regular-season conference champions.  

After not earning a bid to the NCAA tournament for the first time in seven years, the Aztecs made the NIT last season and advanced all the way to Madison Square Garden. After making it to NYC, the Aztecs lost in the NIT semifinals to the eventual champions from George Washington.

The NBA Draft is June 23 in New York City.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Make Organizational Change]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 15:27:46 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/201*120/Lance+Burkhart.jpg

The Padres have made a change to their player-development staff. Lance Burkhart is the new manager of the Single-A Lake Elsinore Storm.

Burkhart takes over for Francisco Morales, who resigned last week for undisclosed reasons. Morales was suspended by the Padres organization for the start of the 2016 California League season because of an incident that took place at San Diego’s academy in the Dominican Republic. It is unknown if his resignation is related.

The 41-year-old Burkhart gets the promotion to Lake Elsinore after serving as the Low-A Fort Wayne TinCaps hitting coach since 2015. He was part of the staff that helped the TinCaps to a Midwest League Eastern Division championship. Burkhart’s only managerial experience came in 2014 when he skippered the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs to a 68-72 finish in the independent Atlantic League.

A 15th round selection by the Montreal Expos in 1997, Burkhart played eight seasons of affiliated baseball, reaching as high as Triple-A.

<![CDATA[MLB to Investigate Padres Anthem Mishap]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 17:25:50 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/gay+men+chorus+0523.JPG

Major League Baseball will investigate why a recording of a woman singing the national anthem inadvertently played instead of the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus at a Saturday Pride Night Padres game.

“We are pleased that MLB will look into this matter and the Padres will cooperate fully,” Padres CEO Mike Dee tweeted on Monday morning. “Based on our own investigation and the decisive action that we took yesterday, we are eager for all the facts to come to light surrounding this unfortunate incident.”

Meanwhile, the DJ implicated in the technical error has been terminated, as the team continues to investigate what led to the mishap, officials said Monday.

Social media erupted shortly after the game between the Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers, when a technical error silenced the chorus. The group was set to sing along to a pre-recorded track of the national anthem when a recording of a woman singing played instead.

The moment was captured on cellphone video by a fan attending the game and posted to Facebook. It went viral shortly thereafter.

On Sunday, the team announced the firing of an outside vendor — the DJ hired to play music — and disciplined a team employee.

NBC 7 has learned through multiple sources that the DJ, known by the moniker DJ ArtForm, failed to upload the pre-recorded music file sent in by the group. Instead, a pre-recorded version used the previous night was played.

The DJ has expressed remorse offering his "sincerest apologies and deepest regret.”

Saturday marked Pride Night at Petco Park, an event hosted in conjunction with the San Diego Pride organization's annual "Out at the Park" event to support the LGBT community. The chorus performed at Pride Night last year without issue.

The chorus sang along with the woman's vocal track out of respect for the national anthem, according to Bob Lehman, executive director of the chorus, who said the incident was humiliating.

The Padres later issued a statement apologizing to the chorus and asking them to come back to perform at a later game.

Dee reiterated this message on Monday.

“We deeply apologize to the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus and anyone else who was offended by our mistake,” he tweeted.

The chorus addressed the incident on its Facebook page Sunday morning in a post titled "You Sing Like a Girl," which questioned the San Diego Padres’ relationship with the LGBT community and called for a "full and transparent investigation" by the Padres, Major League Baseball, the San Diego City Attorney’s Office and the city of San Diego Human Relations Commission.

Lehman tells NBC 7 he believes the music was an accident, but is concerned with how the team immediately reacted to the mistake.

He said the chorus' 100 members were left on the field, with no announcement, apology or explanation of what happened at the time. And to make matters worse, Lehman said, the group was jeered by some people when they walked off the field. He’s concerned over any perceived problems between the LGBT community and the Padres.

“I want to see something good come out of this so that the relationship can be examined, and find out why the community feels that way and how we can fix it,’ Lehman said.

Lehman said he plans to meet with Dee later in the week. But he’s also concerned that the Padres didn’t completely respond or take action until the story took off on social media and publications around the nation, and the world.

“I’m sure they (the Padres) felt like we did on Saturday night. When that happened, we were shocked and didn’t know what to do. That’s what happened to them yesterday. The entire world came after them and said, hey something’s wrong here,” Lehman said.

Lehman said he wants to meet with the team before accepting the offer to return to return to perform at a later date.

Here is DJ ArtForm's full statement on the error:

“My deepest apologies and sincere regret toward the entire San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus & the LGBT community for the incident that occurred during the National Anthem. It was a very unfortunate mistake but it was just that, an error. I in no way, shape or form directed any type of hate, bad intent or discrimination towards the chorus or anyone involved. The incident was not a representation of myself, San Diego, & it’s amazing Baseball fans. I have felt the consequences of my mistake as a dream job has dissolved before my eyes which does not take away that I am extremely sorry for the horrible mistake that occurred. I have family members & friends that are a part of the LGBT community and I have always been a supporter of Equal Human Rights, so it pains me greatly to see that I am being accused of acting intentionally. As a former high school and college baseball player, I understand the importance of ensuring equality for all in sports and am appalled by some of the negative, homophobic comments made by fans related to the National Anthem incident. I have reached out to LGBT leaders in San Diego and am currently in discussion regarding a meeting with the Chorus and LGBT leaders personally in order to be as constructive as possible about the error. I’ve let down my city, my family and everyone who had faith in me. Once again, I’m truly sorry for this entire ordeal.”

Photo Credit: Taylor Forsyth
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<![CDATA[Major Pro Soccer League Looking to Expand in San Diego]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 15:20:10 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/NBC+SPorts+Rhinos+Photo.jpg

San Diego soccer fans have been pining for a Major League Soccer franchise for years. While that dream may still be a long way off, another version of professional outdoor soccer may be returning soon, and it could lay the foundation for MLS in San Diego.

According to multiple sources close to the situation, the United Soccer League (USL), one of the top professional leagues in America, is negotiating to put an expansion franchise in San Diego. It’s possible the new team could start play as early as April of 2017.

The USL is not ready to formally announce a new team in San Diego but does want to have a presence in America’s Finest City.

“San Diego is a thriving market with a millennial population and considerable interest in soccer,” said John Griffin, Vice President of Communications for the USL. “The USL’s recent success is built on three core tenets: strong local ownership, an attractive market and plans for a soccer-specific stadium. Those three tenets will position our teams and the league for long-term success.”

The first two components would seem to be easy to fulfill. San Diego has consistently ranked among the top markets for World Cup soccer ratings and has a passionate fan base. The Club Tijuana Xolos of Liga MX also have a strong following north of the border.

Just this year San Diego saw a pair of National Premiere Soccer League (NPSL) teams start play, the Albion Pros SC and North County Battalion. Both are enjoying successful inaugural seasons on the field and in the stands. It’s the third part of the equation that may be the sticking point.

The USL has had discussions with the University of San Diego to potentially play home games for at least the inaugural season at Torero Stadium, a facility that has hosted the College Cup and the USA Women’s National Team. Of course, the league has eyes on what happens in the November, 2016 election and the potential vote on a new Downtown stadium for the San Diego Chargers.

The USL would like to have a soccer-specific stadium to eventually move in to, which could be possible when the Chargers move out of Mission Valley (either Downtown or to Inglewood). Former Padres owner John Moores and his JMI Realty have already offered a plan for redeveloping the Qualcomm Stadium site, including the construction of a new, smaller stadium that could host a professional soccer team and the Aztecs football team.

If the USL ultimately decides not to come to San Diego, it will likely be because of this final stadium hurdle. If they do eventually come, the MLS is very likely not far behind. Several USL teams are affiliated with Major League Soccer franchises. Current Major League Soccer club Orlando City SC was able to successfully transition from the USL to MLS and is in the process of constructing a new, soccer-specific stadium. Orlando City is the model the potential San Diego franchise would follow closely.

<![CDATA[San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus Silenced at Ballpark]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 07:58:41 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/CLIP-SDGMC_Padres_1200x675_690991171985.jpg

Controversy brewed at Saturday's San Diego Padres game when a recording of a woman singing the national anthem played instead of the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus, which had just taken the field to sing on Pride Night at Petco Park.

A technical error silenced the chorus, which was scheduled to perform the Star Spangled Banner at the game between the Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers. The chorus was set to sing along to a pre-recorded track of the national anthem.

Saturday marked Pride Night at Petco Park, an event hosted in conjunction with the San Diego Pride organization's annual "Out at the Park" event to support the LGBT community. The chorus performed at Pride Night last year without issue.

In a statement posted on Facebook, the chorus said 100 volunteer singers took to the field for the ballpark performance, but an audio recording of a woman singing the anthem played over the loudspeaker — not the track the chorus had expected.

The chorus stood quietly on the field as the song played. The mix-up meant the chorus did not get to perform along with its own track, as scheduled.

"There was a really long pause — it took longer than normal. Then, all of a sudden, the music started but it was a young woman singing instead of the chorus and it just didn’t stop," Bob Lehman, executive director of the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus, told NBC 7 on Sunday.

Lehman said the chorus thought the audio mistake would be fixed on the spot, but the wrong track continued to play.

"They just played the entire song and we just stood there," he recounted.

He said the group didn't know what to do next. Out of respect for the national anthem, the chorus sang along with the woman's voice track.

"Nobody could hear us," Lehman lamented.

He said the chorus was humiliated. Many of them had invited loved ones to the game to watch the Pride Night performance.

The moment was captured on cellphone video by a fan attending the game and posted to Facebook.

The SDGMC addressed the incident on its Facebook page Sunday morning in a post titled "You Sing Like a Girl," which questioned the San Diego Padres’ relationship with the LGBT community and called for a "full and transparent investigation" by the Padres, Major League Baseball, the San Diego City Attorney’s Office and the city of San Diego Human Relations Commission.

According to a statement released by the San Diego Padres on Saturday night, the incident was the result of a technical glitch in the control room.

"This evening, during the pregame ceremony, a mistake was made in the Petco Park control room that prevented the San Diego Gay Men's Chorus from performing the National Anthem as scheduled. We apologize to anyone in the ballpark who this may have offended, and have reached out to the Chorus to express our deep regret for the error," the statement said.

A Padres spokesperson at Petco Park told NBC 7 the error was an "unfortunate and regrettable mistake." Once the wrong track started, the control room made a "heat of the moment" decision to let the song continue playing so as not to cut off the national anthem for the crowd, the spokesperson said.

The Padres followed up with a statement Sunday night saying an internal investigation "found no evidence of malicious intent" but that "we have terminated our relationship with the third-party contractor who was responsible for the error, and taken disciplinary action against our employee who was responsible for the game production on Saturday."

The team apologized and has invited the chorus back to Petco Park to perform again. The chorus, for its part, responded to the Padres' statement saying it was "pleased" and looking forward to "a constructive resolution to this issue."

"Our hope is to positively improve the relationship between the Padres and San Diego's LGBT community," the chorus said.

The San Diego Padres is the first MLB organization to hold a "Pride Night" in support of the LGBT community.

Former San Diego Padres player Billy Bean, who is openly gay and serves as MLB’s first Ambassador for Inclusion, released a statement Sunday addressing the incident, saying he does not think the Padres purposely meant to embarrass the chorus:

"This past Saturday night, it was very unfortunate that there was a technical error during the National Anthem at Petco Park. However, I want to convey that my former team, the San Diego Padres, have supported our inclusion message at MLB without hesitation even before my return to baseball in 2014. They have led by example by inviting me, numerous times, to speak with their players and employees. I have also worked very closely with their owner Ron Fowler and team CEO Mike Dee, and I can assure you that they have made every effort to include the LGBT community, and champion equality in MLB for each and every one of us. I’m so proud of the Padres organization for hosting an LGBT Pride event during the season, and I would hope that the community recognizes that error and intent are not related."

According to the SDGMC website, the group is one of the 10 largest GALA choruses in the U.S. and features more than 130 singers.

The original chorus was first founded in San Diego in 1992 and presented its first concert one year later. In December 2009, the original SDGMC and the Gay Men’s Chorus of San Diego merged to create the new San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus.

The group’s mission statement is "to create a positive musical experience through exciting performances which engage our audiences, build community support and provide a dynamic force for social change."

Photo Credit: Taylor Forsyth
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<![CDATA[Obstacle Course Racing Growing in San Diego]]> Sun, 22 May 2016 21:07:48 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/181*120/Epic+Series.JPG

Imagine waking up on a Saturday morning and starting your day with 40 obstacles to climb, run, and lift yourself through. Last Saturday the Epic Series obstacle course race at Dusty Rhodes Park was all about pushing yourself to the limit.

For the Obstacle Course Racing or OCR community, these events are about much more than just the physical challenge.

Dan Hark, Owner of NXPT Fitness in Kearny Mesa had over 70 members from his gym participating. “This is just an exploding sport so it’s just a good way for us noncompetitive athletes to stay active and fit” says Hark. “I still get the butterfly feeling before an event and go I crush it.”

For others, like Aaron Fields-Cypress, it’s a chance to accomplish something they never thought possible. This is his first obstacle course race and he's using this experience to reach a bigger goal. “I’ve been watching American Ninja Warrior since I was a kid” says Fields-Cypress. “That’s one of my goals and this is one of my steps.”

OCR’s are more than just a trend and the world is taking notice. So what is it about these races that have entire families coming out week after week? For some, it’s a way to stay motivated. Epic Series Volunteer Chris Cornwell says, “It’s a personal challenge. I know people my age that I went to school with that are broken and I’m like you know what I’m still young. I want to keep doing this.”

There’s even a place for younger racers. Tim Brown and his seven year old son Jonas live down the street from the race site and noticed the obstacles on their way out for the day. “I don’t know if he’ll be able to pick up half the stuff” says Brown, “but it’s going to be fun to watch.”

Brown had some reservations, but once Jonas took off running and completed every obstacle, he knew this was something they would do again as a family.

This summer the OCR world will take center stage on Spartan: Ultimate Team Challenge which will air on NBC network after American Ninja Warrior. I'm one of four hosts of the show along with former NFL linebacker Dhani Jones, retired MLS player Kyle Martino and Team Ninja Warrior's Evan Dollard. Spartan: Ultimate Team Challenge premieres on June 13th.

<![CDATA[Chula Vista's Arriola Shines With USMNT]]> Sun, 22 May 2016 20:01:01 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-475595112.jpg

Chula Vista native Paul Arriola got the opportunity he’s been waiting for Sunday when U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann put him not only on the roster but in the starting XI for a friendly in Puerto Rico.

Arriola shined.

In the 34th minute the 21-year old midfielder/forward for the Club Tijuana Xolos fed Bobby Wood on the break. Wood made it 2-0 with his fifth goal in 18 national team games and Arriola earned his first assist on the senior squad.

But the local guy wasn’t done yet.

After Puerto Rico scored to cut the USMNT lead to 2-1, Arriola tapped an Alejandro Bedoya cross in in the 56th to put the U.S. up 3-1 and record his first goal.

USMNT  won 3-1.

This isn’t the first time Arriola wore the U.S. crest on his chest. He made three starts for the U.S. in the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico and in 2013 joined the U18 team for friendlies against France and Uruguay. Arriola was also a member of the U-20 squad at the 2014 Dallas Cup and NTC Invitational along with the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Earlier this year he was a part of the U-23 Olympic Qualifying team.

Arriola isn’t on Klinsmann’s Copa America roster but got the opportunity against Puerto Rico while USMNT regulars were playing for their Major League Soccer clubs. But after getting an assist and goal in his first cap he’s shown he can rise to the occasion.

The USMNT has friendlies Wednesday against Ecuador in Frisco, Texas and Saturday against Bolivia in Kansas City, Kansas before starting Copa play June 3rd.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Fall to Dodgers in 17 Innings]]> Sun, 22 May 2016 20:04:44 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/178*120/GettyImages-533548414.jpg

Getting one walkoff win in a series is exciting. Getting two walkoff wins in a series is really awesome. Getting three walkoff wins in a series is almost unheard of.

The Padres had their chances but couldn’t finish a weekend sweep on Sunday. Instead the Dodgers outlasted the home team to win 9-5 in 17 innings. It’s the 5th time the Padres have had a chance to sweep a series and the 5th time they have fallen short. San Diego also drops to 0-9 on Sunday in 2016.

Los Angeles starter Kenta Maeda was unhittable for four innings. Then things got a little nutty. In the 5th inning Melvin Upton Jr. ended Maeda’s no-hit bid with a line drive single to center. Upton stole second and scored on a single by Christian Bethancourt. Another single and a walk to Jon Jay loaded the bases, bringing us to the Continuing Adventures of Yasiel Puig.

Wil Myers hit a flare to right field that probably should have ended the inning. But Puig got a bad read … then a bad jump … then made a bad decision, opting to dive at the ball. He missed, allowing all three runs to score on the triple and putting the Padres up 4-0.

San Diego starter Colin Rea was great for five innings, allowing just one hit. But as soon as the Padres bats woke up, so did those of the Dodgers. A walk and a hit set up Corey Seager to drive in a run with a single, cutting the lead to 4-1 and chasing Rea. In came Kevin Quackenbush and the lead quickly got smaller.

Quack uncorked a wild pitch to let Chase Utley score then gave up a RBI single to Adrian Gonzalez to trim the lead to 4-3. The San Diego bullpen had more issues in the 7th when Justin Turner hit a solo home run off Ryan Buchter to tie things 4-4. It was just the second run Buchter has allowed all season. In the 8th inning Brandon Maurer’s first pitch was hammered by Howie Kendrick for another solo blast and the Dodgers had their first lead of the day at 5-4.

Wil Myers led off the 8th with a walk and the Padres tied it up again thanks to the hottest hitter on the roster. With two outs Dodgers manager Dave Roberts went to the bullpen to get Kenley Jansen to face Upton. Remember it was Upton who hit the 2-run, walkoff home run on Friday night off Jansen. This time the ball stayed in the park but it was effective anyway.

Upton ripped a triple to right-centerfield to score Myers, sending the game extra innings. Well, not before we got to enjoy another edition of the Continuing Adventures of Yasiel Puig. In the top of the 9th, Puig singled off Fernando Rodney and went to second on a wild pitch. A.J. Ellis tried to move Puig up and put down a perfect sacrifice bunt to third base but Puig just stood at second watching.

So when Carl Crawford flew out to left Puig was still at second instead of tagging and scoring the go-ahead run, which helped send the game to extra innings. Lots and lots of extra innings.

Rookie Luis Perdomo was tasked with prolonging the game as long as he could, and the youngster did an admirable job. He tossed four scoreless innings but ran out of luck in the top of the 17th when the Dodgers loaded the bases and … guess who?

Yasiel Puig lined a 2-run single up the middle. As brain-dead as the man can go on occasion he is still wildly talented. Puig’s single sparked a four-run outburst that sealed the win.

The Padres have to fly up to San Francisco to face the Giants on Monday night. Drew Pomeranz faces Johnny Cueto, who threw a complete game to beat the Padres on Wednesday.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Mebane: "Chargers Defense Has More Talent Than the Seahawks"]]> Sun, 22 May 2016 19:21:53 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/Brandon+Mebane+Seahawks.jpg

Part of the reason defensive tackle Brandon Mebane came to San Diego is he’s sick and tired of seeing double teams and he wants to get blocked by just one guy for a change.

“I got more doubles last year than I got pretty much any year of my career,” said Mebane, who was drafted by the Seahawks in 2007. “Here, where you have five guys on the line of scrimmage, and you don’t know who’s coming or when it’s coming, I like the opportunity of getting more one-on-ones. It’s going to be awesome.”

So he likes the way Defensive Coordinator John Pagano calls a game, which is high praise from a man who won a Super Bowl ring in Seattle with one of the best defenses the NFL has seen in the last 20 years.

“I think the sky’s the limit for this defense, period,” said Mebane. “There’s a lot of talent on this team.”

Well, there can’t be that much talent, right? I mean, this is a 4-12 club that had all kinds of trouble stopping … well, anybody for most of the 2015 season.

“I tell guys there’s more talent on this defense than there was in Seattle.”

Wait, what? The Seahawks defense has been ranked in the top four of the NFL the last four seasons and led the league in total defense in 2013 and 2014, both years ending up in the Super Bowl. And this San Diego Chargers team has MORE talent that that crew???

“If you look at the draft, you have four first round draft picks and you’ve got five second round draft picks on defense,” said Mebane. “In Seattle we only had two first rounders and one second rounder. Everybody else was pretty much down in the draft or wasn’t drafted.”

Mebane, who was a 3rd round selection, makes a good point. The only main cogs in Seattle’s defense taken in the first or second round are Earl Thomas, Bruce Irvin and Bobby Wagner. The Chargers have Corey Liuget, Melvin Ingram, Jason Verrett, Joey Bosa, Manti Te’o, Jeremiah Attaochu, Denzel Perryman, Casey Hayward and Brandon Flowers who were all taken in the top two rounds.

Of course that begs the question: Why aren’t the Chargers playing up to the level of their defensive talent? In Mebane’s experience the most important thing for a defense is trust.

“The key thing is believing in each other, believing that the guy next to you is going to do his assignment the best that he can.”

So if the Chargers can raise the level of trust and have it match their level of talent, we just might see something special at Qualcomm Stadium in 2016.

“All we’ve got to do is just believe in each other and play together and, man, it’s unreal.”

And if they can make enough of an improvement to get back in to the playoffs … THAT would be unreal.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[San Diego Derby Leg 2: Albion Pros 0 NC Battalion 0]]> Sun, 22 May 2016 00:13:21 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/ALBION_1200x675_690426435927.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[Weekly San Diego Sports Preview]]> Sun, 22 May 2016 00:02:02 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/167*120/GettyImages-533382434.jpg

Here’s a look ahead at what is going on in San Diego sports for the week of May 23rd-29th.

PADRES: The Friars continue NL West play this week but on the road. Monday through Wednesday they’re in San Francisco to face the Giants. After a travel day Thursday they play the Diamondbacks in Arizona Friday through Sunday.

NC BATTALION: The NC Battalion are at SC Corinthians Saturday.

ALBION PROS: Albion is off this week.

CHARGERS: The Bolts are back on the field with organized team activities.

-MENS TENNIS: Wednesday-Sunday at the NCAA Singles/Doubles Championships in Tulsa, OK.
-BASEBALL: Friday and Saturday vs. TBD in Stockton.

-TRACK & FIELD: Thursday-Saturday at the NCAA Championships.

-TRACK & FIELD: Thursday-Saturday at the NCAA Championships.

-BASEBALL: Wednesday and Thursday vs. TBD in Albuquerque, N.M.
-WOMENS TRACK: Thursday-Saturday at the NCAA West Regionals in Lawrence, Kan.
-MENS GOLF: Friday-Sunday at the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Padres Walk Away Winners]]> Sat, 21 May 2016 23:50:01 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/167*120/GettyImages-533382434.jpg

On Friday night the Padres got the biggest of blasts, a walk-off home run by Melvin Upton Jr. to beat the Dodgers at Petco Park. On Saturday night they walked off the Dodgers again. This time, quite literally.

Yangervis Solarte, who was taken off the disabled list before the game, drew a bases loaded walk from Dodgers reliever Chin-Hui Tsao to force in Wil Myers with the game-winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning to give the Padres a 3-2 win and a chance to sweep Los Angeles.

For most of the game the Padres hitters were like human windmills against Dodgers pitching. They were swinging a lot but hitting nothing but air. Dodgers starter Alex Wood struck out 13 in 6.0 innings. San Diego batters whiffed 19 times total.

But the Padres were able to push across a couple of runs on sacrifice flies by Matt Kemp and Alexi Amarista and that was good enough to keep it close because Cesar Vargas was nails.

The Padres rookie gave up just two runs and whiffed seven in 7.0 innings. A trio of Friars relievers combined to throw another 4.0 innings of no-hit ball and in the 11th it was the Dodgers bullpen that blinked.

Tsao allowed a single to Myers and gave up a long fly ball to Upton, whose bid for back-to-back walk-off bombs ended just in front of the left field fence. Tsao then loaded the bases with two more walks before giving Solarte his free pass on four pitches.

San Diego can complete their weekend sweep on Sunday behind Colin Rea, who takes the mound against Kenta Maeda.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[PHOTOS: Preakness Day 2016]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 03:28:48 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/thumb-GettyImages-533294116.jpg Take a look at photos from the 141st annual Preakness Stakes. Known as the second jewel of the Triple Crown, the race takes places two weeks after the Kentucky Derby and three weeks before the Belmont Stakes.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jersey From Harper Fight for Sale]]> Sat, 21 May 2016 09:55:10 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/490330798.jpg

It was a fight that, at the time, was indicative of a season slipping away from the Washington Nationals.

Nats outfielder Bryce Harper and relief pitcher Jonathan Papelbon got into a scuffle on Sept. 27 after Harper flied out and returned to the dugout. The two players had exchanged words before Papelbon grabbed Harper by the throat and manhandled him towards the bench. Teammates scrambled to break them apart.

The fight came one day after the team had officially been eliminated from postseason play. Papelbon was suspended by the team for four days, and Harper was held out one day.

Now, Harper's #34 Jersey worn on the day described as "the snapshot that best defined the dysfunction and disappointment of the Washington Nationals' 2015 season" is up for sale by online auction site Lelands.

The highest bid has reached nearly $5,000, as of 8:30 a.m. Saturday.

According to the auction description, there is dirt on the back of the size 48 shirt and is signed by Harper, who also wrote "Luke 1:37" under his signature, on the number 4.

"Whether or not you classify Harper as a model Christian, the scripture in question reads: 'For with God nothing shall be impossible,'" the posting reads.

The jersey will remain on the auction block until June 17.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Upton Jr. Blasts Padres Past Dodgers]]> Sat, 21 May 2016 02:33:51 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/187*120/Upton+Walk+Off.png

The 2016 Home Run Derby isn’t until July 11th at Petco Park, but Friday nights match up between the Padres and Dodgers sure seemed like one with the two clubs combining for five long balls.

Christian Friedrich made his second start for the Padres and struggled on the mound going just 3.1 innings giving up two earned runs on six hits but only surrendered three walks. His main contribution came in the batters box. Friedrich’s second inning two-run, two-out single gave the Padres the 2-0 lead and the 28-year old his first career RBIs.

Dodgers Scott Kazmir also struggled going 5.2 innings surrendering five earned runs and walking seven. But he got some help from his offense in the fifth.

Yasiel Puig started the home run trend in the top of the fifth sending a two-run shot off Padres reliever Carlos Villanueva to right-center to break a 2-all tie giving the Dodgers a 4-2 lead.

Derek Norris led off the bottom of the inning and didn’t waste any time chipping away at the lead. The Padres catcher sent a solo shot to left-center to cut L.A.’s lead in half. It was his fourth homer of the season and just his second hit in the last seven games, both home runs.

Villanueva pitched a 1,2,3 top of the sixth to keep it a 4-3 Dodgers lead before being lifted for a pinch-hitter, Christian Bethancourt. Bethancourt was originally in the starting lineup in right-field just hours away from his first MLB start at a position other than catcher when Padres manager Andy Green switched him out for Jose Pirela. Bethancourt made a case for the starting nine tomorrow. After birthday boy Adam Rosales walked the 24-year old sent a one-out, two-run shot to left field putting the Padres ahead 5-4.

But the home run derby wasn’t over yet. Top of the eighth-inning Justin Turner stepped up to the plate with Carl Crawford on and sent a Brandon Maurer offering over the right field fence putting the Dodgers back on top 6-5.

Coming off a four-game losing streak, things didn’t look good for the Friars in the bottom of the ninth. They were down by one with Wil Myers leading off against Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen. Myers was hitless in the game and 0-3 against Jansen in his career striking out all three times. But this is baseball.

Myers hit a blooper into shallow center. Next up Melvin Upton Jr. got three straight cutters from Jansen. There’s a saying that in Major League Baseball you never throw a hitter three of the same pitch. Jansen’s third cutter didn’t cut and Upton Jr. sent it to the stands in right field and the Padres to a 7-6 walkoff win.

San Diego improves to 18-25 on the season while the Dodgers fall below .500 at 21-22.  Cesar Vargas gets the ball for the Padres tomorrow, opposite Alex Wood.

Photo Credit: Denis Poroy/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Olympic Racewalker Runs Sweet Business With Daughter]]> Thu, 19 May 2016 11:48:27 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/John-Nunn-Racewalker-Trials-KNSD.jpg

When John Nunn crossed the finish line to win the 50K Racewalk Olympic Trials event in Santee this past February, his 12-year-old daughter greeted him with an American flag and big, long hug.

Racewalking is an individual sport, but the powerful moment captured the culmination of years of teamwork between a single dad and the most important person in his life.

John and his daughter, Ella, are more than just roommates and friends. They’re also business partners who bake and sell hundreds of cookies a year.

“When I was little, I'd come into the kitchen and I would make these crazy concoctions that no one wanted to eat,” Ella told NBC 7 San Diego.

Her dad tried them all.

“[I would tell Ella] ‘Well, let’s do white chocolate chip apple pie or s’mores,’” Nunn recalled. “And so, we’d sit and try to figure out [cookie flavors] and more often than not they were hits.”

The creativity of an elementary school child combined with ingenuity of an ultra-competitive dad proved to be a winning combination.

The dad-daughter duo formed Ella’s Cookie Company. Today, their sweet business offers about 15 different kinds of cookies, from the original Chocolate Chunk Toffee to Peanut Butter Chip.

Nunn estimates last year’s sales were about $4,000. He says with a little more time and experience, the company could really take off.

But for a two-time Olympian training for his third trip to the summer games, time is the toughest ingredient to come by.

“She always laughs because on the way home, usually at night, we’ll start going over what is happening the next day or two days later and she’s like, ‘I know, I know’, and I’m like, ‘We need to understand all this cause life gets complicated,’” said Nunn.

As partners in life Nunn and his daughter have watched communication, support and flexibility extend well beyond their kitchen where their cookies are made. 

“She has been part of all the training and all the sitting in the cars, and getting dropped off at friends’ [houses],” said Nunn. “It’s not just me, it's her that makes the team.”

Most people didn't realize it but at the time of February's 50K Racewalk Olympic Trials event, Nunn – the top American racewalker – barely made it to the starting line.

Just two days before the race he came down with a nasty case of the flu.

He remembers crying in his hotel room the night before - the physical pain almost as bad as the feeling of four years of training slipping away.

Luckily, he had his biggest fan by his side.

“Ella was playing nurse through the night, watching me,” said Nunn.

Just after breaking through the tape at the finish line at the trials and realizing he’d met the time standard to compete at the Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Nunn didn’t have to look far to find his daughter.

She was right there.

His little girl, the reason the cookies and Olympics taste so sweet.

Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego
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<![CDATA["MVPadre of the Week" - The Glue Holding It All Together]]> Thu, 19 May 2016 23:24:49 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/MVPadreGreen_1200x675_689422403514.jpg NBC 7 sports producer Ben Rosehart makes an unorthodox selection in the latest "Most Valuable Padre of the Week." Pictures courtesy Getty Images.]]> <![CDATA[Padres Get Swept as Giants Win 8th Straight ]]> Thu, 19 May 2016 22:51:50 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/162*120/GettyImages-532933526.jpg

The Padres were not able to avoid the sweep and the Giants leave San Diego on an eight game winning streak. James Shields was on the mound for the Friars tonight facing Giants pitcher Jeff Samardzija.

The Giants took an early lead but in the bottom of the second inning Alexi Amarista sent a double down the first-base line off Samardzija and Christian Bethancourt scored. Amarista’s RBI double gets the Friars on the board to tie the game at 1-1.

It would be a short lived celebration for Padres fans. Later in the top of the fourth inning, San Francisco's Hunter Pence singled back up the middle off James Shields to bring in Matt Duffy and the Giants took the lead again 2-1.

The Giants padded the lead in the top of the seventh inning as Brandon Crawford chases a Shields cutter and lined it out in a hurry to right field for a solo homerun that gave the Giants a two run lead with a score of 3-1.

With a short gap to fill, the Padres tried to rally in the ninth inning with a runner second base. Giants closer Santiago Casilla got Brett Wallace to hit a sharp liner right at Joe Panik and sealed the game for San Francisco. The Giants won their eighth straight game with a final score of 3-1. The Padres face the LA Dodgers tomorrow night as they continue their six game homestand at Petco Park.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[MJ's Minute-Jon Jay Back in Padres Lineup]]> Thu, 19 May 2016 22:03:34 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/MJsMinuteJonJay_1200x675_689405507704.jpg In this edition of MJ’s Minute, Jon Jay returns to the Padres lineup and the Pro Bowl gets a new home. ]]> <![CDATA[YouTubers Land 11 Trick Shot Records: Guinness]]> Thu, 19 May 2016 16:42:10 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/471564022-Dude-Perfect.jpg

The basketball-lobbing viral video stars of Dude Perfect have taken 11 new records with their exceedingly high-difficulty trick shots, according to Guinness World Records, even taking one from a Harlem Globetrotter.

Among the records they smashed were "Farthest basketball shot made while sitting on the court" (55 feet, 1 inch), "Farthest trampette basketball shot performing a forward flip" (72 feet) and "Greatest height from which a basketball is shot" (533 feet), Guinness World Records said on its website. Big Easy Lofton of The Harlem Globetrotters used to hold the record for "Farthest blindfolded basketball hook shot," but Garrett Hilbert's 55-foot, no-look basket pipped his mark.

The group from Frisco, Texas, smashed the records March 30 and 31st, with an official adjudicator on hand to verify, the organization announced Tuesday. The Greatest Height record was broken on April 28, from atop the 36-story Cotter Ranch Tower in Oklahoma City.

Naturally, the records were filmed. The "World Record Edition" of Dude Perfect was featured Monday on their YouTube channel, which has nearly 10 million subscribers to its name.

Photo Credit: FilmMagic for YouTube
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<![CDATA[NFL to Reimburse Taxpayers $720K for 'Paid Patriotism']]> Thu, 19 May 2016 14:43:53 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/paid-AP_84226305861.jpg

The NFL is reimbursing U.S. taxpayers more than $720,000 in so-called "paid patriotism" money that the teams took from the military to allow things like color guard displays at football games, NBC News reports.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, in a letter to two U.S. senators, said an audit uncovered that, over four years, $723,734 "may have been mistakenly applied to appreciation activities rather than recruitment efforts."

"This amount will be promptly returned in full to the taxpayers," he wrote Wednesday to Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona, who have led the charge against the practice.

"These recruitment efforts are intended to be separate and apart from the NFL's longstanding support of the service members and families who have dedicated their lives to serving this great country," Goodell wrote.

Flake and McCain, both Republicans, revealed in November that up to $6.8 million had been paid "inappropriately" to professional and college sports teams to allow patriotic displays at games.

Photo Credit: AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[MLB Mascot 'Arrests' Pticher]]> Thu, 19 May 2016 11:03:37 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Phillies+Phanatic+ATV+Theif.jpg

Is the Phillie Phanatic authorized to arrest ATV key thieves?

The beloved Phillies mascot gave an assist to Philadelphia police Wednesday when an officer gave him handcuffs to put on Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez. The star pitcher had grabbed the Phanatic’s keys before the Phillies win.

"For anyone who asks - yes, this was a legal arrest," joked the Philadelphia Police Department on its Facebook feed. "Philadelphia icon and national - nay - WORLD treasure, The Phillie Phanatic, was deputized before the start of today's game. Thanks, Philadelphia Phillies - we greatly appreciate the assist!"

The Phanatic appeared to let Fernandez go with just a warning after leading the Marlin into his dugout. Police commented on Facebook on why the Phanatic may have been distracted from pressing charges.

"We're waiting for him to finish his PARS report. He keeps getting sidetracked by an insatiable desire to rub the heads of our bald officers," the department wrote.

Fernandez got lucky, considering the Phanatic could have also nabbed him for assault after the mascot appeared to be pushed (or flopped) off his beloved four-wheeler while trying to keep hold of his keys.

Stealing the ATV's keys is something of a tradition for visiting teams, and Fernandez has stolen them before. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File
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<![CDATA[MJ's Minute-A Look at Padres Outfielder Travis Jankowski]]> Wed, 18 May 2016 22:33:14 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/MJsMinuteJankowski_1200x675_688539715772.jpg In this edition of MJ’s Minute we take a look at young, up and coming Padres outfielder Travis Jankowski, and the Gulls reflect on their inaugural season. ]]> <![CDATA[Padres Extend Giants Winning Streak to Seven Games]]> Wed, 18 May 2016 22:34:21 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/172*120/GettyImages-532020686.jpg

For the second straight night the San Francisco Giants bullpen got the night off. Just as they struggled against Madison Bumgarner on Tuesday, the Padres could not get more than one run against Johnny Cueto who went the distance and pitched the entire game.

That only run for the Padres came in the bottom of the second inning when Alexei Ramirez got an RBI single, bringing in Brett Wallace to get the Padres on the board 1-0.

On the mound for the Friars tonight was left handed pitcher Drew Pomeranz. He cruised into the fourth innings without allowing any runs, but then came Hunter Pence. His two-run homer in the fourth broke a string of 18 straight scoreless innings for Pomeranz.

The Padres extend the Giants winning streak to seven games with this 2-1 loss. The final game of this series will be Wednesday night at Petco Park.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Wacky Finish Sends SDSU Men’s Golf To NCAA Championships]]> Wed, 18 May 2016 21:21:15 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/sdsumensgolfncaa.jpg

We rarely see an albatross on a golf course. It’s that rare double-eagle, which only happens when a golfer completes a par-5 hole in just two shots or aces a par-4.

At the NCAA Regional in Albuquerque, New Mexico, San Diego State’s Gunn Yang holed out for an unlikely albatross Wednesday with a 7-iron to help the Aztecs at a critical time against Texas A&M. The two teams were tied and on the first playoff hole with a spot to the NCAA championships on the line.

But Yang’s double-eagle was not the only impressive shot of the day. Or even that one playoff hole.

SDSU teammate Ryann Ree of Redondo Beach sunk an eagle on the same exact hole to help cement SDSU’s victory over the Aggies and give the Aztecs a spot in the NCAA national championships next week in Eugene, Oregon.

The 1st hole served as the dramatic playoff setting and Yang and Ree made it look easy on a par-5 that covered 544 yards from the tee to the cup.

Ree (+6) and Yang (+7) individually finished in the top 10 with Jon Rahm of Arizona State shooting the best score over three rounds (212/-4).

SDSU will be among the 30 schools and 156 individuals competing for the NCAA title. 

The field will compete over 72 holes in a four-day period in Oregon to determine the individual national champion.

After 54 holes, the top 15 teams along with the top 9 individuals not on one of those advancing teams will qualify for one additional day of stroke play to determine the top eight teams for match play.

Photo Credit: SDSU twitter/GoAztecs.com ]]>