Breaking the Gender Barrier


SOME MEN will tell you, there are four seasons — winter, spring, summer and football. And as we approach this great season of football, there’s a new Bay Area team to watch. It’s a team of inspired, hard-working players who run laps and lift weights for hours each day. It’s a team of young men, plus one gutsy young woman.

Freshman Raquel Shocron plays football for Bishop O’Dowd. It’s not her first time on the gridiron. “I played football in middle school and heard that not a lot of girls try out,” she said, referring to her new high school team.

Two weeks ago, she showed up for practice and was assigned to the corner-back position. “It’s a lot harder than I thought,” she admits. “I thought it would be all fun and games, but it’s so serious.” How serious? Shocron’s father was trying to catch her eye during a recent practice, but the freshman player knew that looking at him might mean extra drills.

And speaking of drills, how does Shocron do on the line against her bigger, brawnier opponents? She says it’s all in the way she tackles. “I try to, like, go for the legs. I just block it out that most of them are bigger than me, and just go for it,” she says.

The technique is working. “At the beginning, (the guys) would tease me and talk about how I was going to quit. Now, some people still taunt me but the more mature players stick up for me.”

Being O’Dowd’s only female football player has other advantages, too, like star status.

Shocron says a junior came up to her the other day and told her she was sticking up for all girls. “It’s like girl power,” she says, laughing. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Raquel has another sport to give her strength. In Tai Kwon Do, it’s called a black belt.

Small world

Mention Deadwood, and folks may think of that vulgar new show on HBO.

But when East Bay Realtor Nina Quan thinks of Deadwood, she thinks of her great grandfather Fee Lee Wong. “As a young man, he came to the states and lived in San Francisco for awhile,” she recalls, “then met some investors and followed them to South Dakota for the Black Hills mining.”

Quan says Fee Lee eventually started a family in Deadwood and opened an herbal pharmacy on the dusty main street, before returning to China and dying of an illness he contracted.

Generations later, his memory lives on. In fact, 70 members of Fee Lee’s family traveled to Deadwood last month to march in the Chinese section of the 1876 historical parade.

“We have a huge family,” Quan tells me.

It’s wonderful that they know so much about their ancestry in the wild, wild West.

Great beyond

Congratulations to Mills College doctor and anthropologist Robert Anderson for his new book called “The Ghosts of Iceland.” It deals with the fascinating topic of spirit doctors — deceased practitioners who are called on for their healing powers.

Anderson spent time teaching in Iceland, and his research on ghost doctors looks at how people make contact with the dead in medical and non medical ways. His book is published by Wadsworth Publishing Co.

E-mail bag

A word of warning from one of our Montclair merchants. Sherry Taddei says a briefcase belonging to her boss was taken from Montclair Florist recently, when no-one was looking.

Luckily, a neighbor found it the next day with nothing missing. The thief may have committed a “foul” deed, but the hero who returned the valise was rewarded with a fragrant bouquet.

Cajun spice

That city “‘cross the estuary” knows how to party. Alameda is home to the hottest Cajun dance club outside New Orleans and Texas. Every Friday night the top Zydeco bands in the west pull out their washboards and accordions to dish out the Cajun spice. Alameda Eagles Hall has a great wooden dance floor, too, that makes the two step even more fun. For more information, give Louisiana Sue a ring at 916-962-6415.

Animal corner

Remember the song “I’m a little teapot”? Well, there’s is a little teapot poodle, which at birth is the size of a church mouse, in our midst.

Given its size, you can understand why hills child-care specialist Vaughn K. had her poodle snuggled inside a handbag the other day. The 3-week-old puppy was sleeping between the wallet and the lipstick, under a Kleenex-sized blanket. Thank goodness Vaughn didn’t need to blow her nose.

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