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MDUSD trustee donates stipend to sports foundation

Pat Middendorf, Clayton Valley High athletic director and a member of the United Mt. Diablo Athletic Foundation (UMDAF), got a welcome surprise this month from Mt. Diablo district trustee Cheryl Hansen — a $3,700 contribution to the nonprofit organization.

Here’s an email Middendorf sent to other foundation members about the unexpected gift:

“Just wanted to let you all know that UMDAF just received a present of $3,700 from school board member Cheryl Hansen. This is what the card read:

‘Thank you for all the time, effort and hard work that you have given to keep athletics alive in MDUSD. I think my board stipend is better spent helping to support the work you are doing for our student athletes.

Best Wishes, Cheryl Hansen, MDUSD Trustee.’


Pat Middendorf CAA
Resource Specialist
Athletic Director Clayton Valley High”

What do you think of Hansen’s message and donation?

Posted on Saturday, December 31st, 2011
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Sports | 25 Comments »

Mt. Diablo 5k run for sports raised more than $60,000

Marci Finley, who helped organize the recent 5k run to help save sports in the Mt. Diablo school district, recently informed me that the United Mt. Diablo Athletic Foundation (UMDAF) expected to net more than $60,000 from the Oct. 9 event.

This was a bit less than the group’s $70,000 target, but she was still happy with the results, she said, in an e-mail.

About 1,350 people participated in the event, exceeding the group’s goal of 1,200 runners.

“We had approximately 400 sign ups race day and many people mentioned your article,” she wrote. “I believe your article made a difference in our attendance. Thank you!”

The organization welcomes donations, athlete sponsorships and volunteers for future fund-raisers. More information is available at

Do you have any ideas for how organizers could attract more participation and/or contributions for this annual event?

NOV. 1 UPDATE: Here is a video of the 5k run, which shows what a heartwarming, community-building event it has become:

Posted on Sunday, October 30th, 2011
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Sports | 1 Comment »

Mt. Diablo district athletes challenge cities to support 5k run

Mt. Diablo district students challenge Concord City Council to join 5k runBy Theresa Harrington
The Concord City Council got a surprise visit from athletes who attend city high schools on Tuesday, challenging the elected leaders to join council members of neighboring cities in drumming up participation for a 5k run Oct. 10 to support Mt. Diablo district sports.
Council members responded positively, identifying students by their mascots.
“Is this where I get to say, ‘Go, Minutemen?'” said Councilwoman Laura Hoffmeister, referring to Concord High, her alma mater.
“It looks like there’s some Eagles here,” said Mayor Guy Bjerke, regarding Clayton Valley High students. “I don’t see any Warriors.”
Alas, no Ygnacio Valley High students were in the house.
“It’s too hot,” quipped Councilwoman Helen Allen.
“And we’ve got some from Mt. Diablo High,” Hoffmeister noted.
“Red Devils,” said Councilman Bill Shin, knowingly.
Councilman Mark Petersen, whose daughters attend Northgate High in Walnut Creek, didn’t comment.
“As you can tell,” Bjerke said, “certain members of the council attended different high schools.”
After hearing that elected officials from Pleasant Hill, Clayton and Walnut Creek were also challenged to participate, Bjerke and his fellow councilmembers showed their fighting spirit.
“If Mayor (Karen) Mitchoff and Mayor (Sue) Rainey can participate, then I surely can participate,” said Bjerke, referring to the leaders of Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek.
“We accept the challenge and we’ll try to get as many employees out there as possible,” Bjerke said.
Shinn kept his comments short.
“Go Red Devils,” he said quietly. Then louder: “And one more time, Go Red Devils!”
City councils in Clayton and Pleasant Hill have also responded enthusiastically, said Marci Finley, who is coordinating the event for the United Mt. Diablo Athletic Foundation. A representative from Northgate High sent an e-mail to the Walnut Creek City Council, she added.
The foundation is trying to raise $1.2 million to keep sports alive in the district, after trustees cut funding due to state budget cuts. Although sign-ups have been steady, sponsorships this year are far below those from last year, when the shock of losing sports funding first hit the community, Finley said.
Outside the Concord council meeting, students were excited about the reaction they received. They told me why sports are so important to them.
“I think it’s important because it keeps trouble-makers out of trouble and it just shows you how to have discipline in life,” said 16-year-old Diquan Madison, captain of the Mt. Diablo High football team. A running back and safety, he said he hopes to earn an athletic scholarship to San Francisco State University.
Raheem Blackmon, 17, participates in football and track at Mt. Diablo High.
“Coaches are like a parent to us and we’re like a family,” he said. “There’s not a lot of us on the team, but we stick together.
Like Diquan, he’s hoping sports will lead to a college scholarship at UCLA in track and field. Raheem said he is captain of the track team and he was the North Coast Section champion last year in 300-meter hurdles and 110-meter hurdles.
Red Devil football player Arturo Castaneda, 17, has set his sights on playing for San Francisco State University after he graduates.
“My whole life revolves around sports,” he said. “It gives me a reason to get up in the morning, but it also keeps me disciplined in school. One of the reasons to go to school is to improve myself as an athlete and a student and to have a way out to go to college.”
Rookie Quincey “Tech” Smith, 16, said Mt. Diablo High School sports provide him with a way to express his talents, which are running and agility. He participates in football, basketball, baseball and wrestling and is eyeing Tuskegee or San Francisco State universities.
“It’s one of the funnest ways to get into college, especially when you’re doing something you love,” he said. “I don’t get tired.”
Clayton Valley High athletes were proudly carrying the trophy they won for signing up the most 5k race participants last year: 608. This year, they’re trying to match or beat that number so they can hang onto their coveted prize.
“Other schools are trying to get it, but we’re hoping to keep it,” said Alex Tate, 16, who plays soccer and runs cross-country and track at Clayton Valley.
Ben Linzey, 13, runs cross-country and plans to participate in soccer and track and field at Clayton Valley. He said he’s betting his school will be able to attract more runners in the race this year.
Sports are important to freshman Kyle Metz, 14, who runs cross-country at Clayton Valley and plans to play soccer.
“It just gives you something to do besides homework” he said. “It keeps us active.”
Austin Woods, a 17-year-old Clayton Valley cross-country runner and volleyball player, said athlete contributions to sports have increased since trustees cut funding.
“Before, we just had to pay for buses,” he said. “Now, we have to make more contributions. It’s kind of hard to keep doing it the next year and the next year.”
Concord High leadership student Kyle Perra, 18, addressed the Concord City Council on behalf of the group.
“The Pleasant Hill City Council accepted this challenge last week and the Clayton and Walnut Creek councils were also asked to join the challenge,” he told his city leaders.
“Disgusting,” muttered Councilwoman Helen Allen, eager to best her rival city officials.
Kyle smiled and nodded.
“Disgusting,” he said.
Clearly, it’s on.
More information is at I’ll check in with cities next week to see how well they’re doing in the challenge.
You can see the students at the Concord City Council meeting by clicking on “Public Comment” here:
Will you be at the run to support Mt. Diablo district sports and represent your city or school?

Posted on Friday, October 1st, 2010
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Sports, Theresa Harrington | 4 Comments »

Clayton Valley HS athletic director comments on robberies

After the Times wrote about three Clayton Valley High football players arrested on suspicion of robbing teens of ipods and cell phones in Clayton, several readers commented on the story, asking why the school’s athletic director, Pat Middendorf, declined to comment.
Middendorf posted the following response this afternoon. I am reposting it here, so more people will be aware of it.

Pat Middendorf: My Response:

“I am not sure whether it is appropriate for me to use this forum to comment on the robberies by 3 CVHS students or on the numerous blog comments about the Clayton Valley High School Community as a result of this. I would not normally respond to anonymous accusations but it does appear that some people really do want to know what CV is doing about this or if we are to blame for this happening.

Unfortunately it is summer and both the head FB coach and principal are on vacation so I will try to respond from my viewpoint. When the CCtimes reporter called me I had just found out about the robberies and I told him I knew nothing about it, nor  who  the students involved were, or what the schools stance on it was.  He said that he would take that as a no comment.  Later when I found out what was going on I did speak with a Clayton newspaper reporter. No one else has contacted me about this other than the 3 people who sent me an email encouraging CV to make sure that these players did not play on the team in the fall. 

After contacting Coach Garaventa, the person in charge of passing league and summer weight training I gained a true understanding of what happened and how devastating this was to our team. The 3 players involved were on the JV football team last year.  I think that everyone needs to know that Coach Pardi, Coach Garaventa and many of the other FB coaches teach more than just football at CV ; they are committed to teaching these  athletes life skills and have mentored all of our athletes on becoming better students and citizens. Everyone likes to win but these coaches are stakeholders in our community and in our athletic program.  I hold them to the highest standards and they in turn expect the best from the players.  It is heartbreaking for any coach or teacher when even one of your students fails and then you feel, or someone else feels, that you have failed too. The toughest lesson that we as teachers and coaches have to learn is that you can’t save everyone. Even when you learn it – it doesn’t make you feel much better.  It was a truly disturbing crime these students committed against members of their own community.  They will have to suffer the consequences for that crime and hopefully they will learn a lifetime lesson from this while they are still young.  The boys are not participating in any more summer workouts. If they return to CV in the fall the CV adminiatraion will be in charge of deciding on what is done at that point.

On that note I will clarify for those that want to know – Members of the girl’s soccer team did steal sweatshirts from another school last December.  The punishment at CV for stealing is a 2 day suspension from school.  They served their two day suspension and in addition because they were representing their school at this event they were suspended for the next 2 games, they wrote  apology letters to the school, returned the sweatshirts and played full price for them and completed a community service project I assigned. They were also removed from any leadership class or position they held. There were also 2 girls who were caught drinking at a school dance last school year. The punishment for this is a 5 day suspension from school and a 45 day suspension from all school events.  They both received that punishment and were not allowed to play for their school team for the 45 days.   Was that severe enough?  Too severe?   These are rules that all district schools follow but if you are interested in seeing them changed please contact the superintendent or school board.  These are the only incidences that were mentioned on the blogs that I know about.

I regret that this incidence has shed negative light on the city of Clayton, Clayton Valley High School, the CVHS Football program, and the CVHS Administration. We are not perfect and we make mistakes and sometimes we lose kids, but we are very proud of the accomplishments of our school and our sports program.  Last year 50 of our 54 teams made NCS Scholar team and the majority of Altair winners and scholarship awards go to athletes each year.  For those athletes that struggle in the classroom we offer 2 hour tutoring sessions 2 days a week taught by our CVHS teachers and football coaches. Many athletes are required by their coaches or me to go to these sessions in lieu of practice. Our athletes can be seen all year long serving their community at the Art & Wine Festival, the Clayton Golf tournament, October Fest, the UMDAF 5K, campus clean-up, just to name a few. We have 800 athletes at CV.  Over 150 play 2 sports and over 50 play 3. Hundreds go on to play college sports.  I could go on but I think my point is made.  We do have a big responsibility to many athletes and students who in turn make many  positive contributions to their school and community.  

After reading some of the negative comments I am certain we could do better and will try to do better,  if you think you can help or have positive suggestions please email me. This forum does not allow email addresses to be posted but you can find my address on the CVHS website.  I will not be answering anonymous blogs but can always use good positive advice and help.

If you really knew me you would know that I am one of CVHS’ biggest fans.  I try hard to make CVHS a better place for every student.   I have enjoyed getting to know all of the biggest fans of the other high schools through my work on the sports foundation this year.  I am proud of what we have all accomplished in keeping sports in our community.   If you want to help in that endeavor I encourage you to step up.  It will be a daunting task in the next few years to come.  I think this foundation of all six high schools has proved that it is better to pull together to make this a better place for our children than to work against each other. Please visit our website for more information.  Thanks for reading this.
Pat Middendorf”

I just spoke to Pat on the phone and she asked me to post her e-mail address here. She invites comments at

She also encourages those who are interested in supporting sports in the Mt. Diablo school district to visit the United Mt. Diablo Athletic Foundation’s website at The group’s funding plan for 2010-11 is on the website. Middendof said she has already received supportive e-mails and offers from people wishing to volunteer for the nonprofit organization.

 Do you agree with the district’s discipline policies?

Posted on Saturday, July 17th, 2010
Under: Clayton, Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Sports, Theresa Harrington | 2 Comments »

Mt. Diablo Sport Aid event raises $25,000

Sports supporters race to the finish line of the United Mt. Diablo Athletic Foundation's 5k run in October, 2009.

Sports supporters race to the finish line of the United Mt. Diablo Athletic Foundation's 5k run in October, 2009.

By Theresa Harrington
The plight of Mt. Diablo school district athletes has touched the hearts of many who have helped keep after-school sports alive this year, without district funds.
Many of them came together at a fundraising dinner last week to celebrate the camaraderie that has developed between the district’s six high school communities and to forge ahead with fundraising for next year.
The mood was festive at the Pyramid Alehouse in Walnut Creek on April 22, with guests wearing attire that ranged from fancy party dresses to sports team sweatshirts. But the commitment to students who play sports — and the coaches who lead them — was unwavering.
Auctioneer Steve Hayworth said news reports spurred him to pick up the phone and call the district, even though he doesn’t live within its boundaries.
“When I read the articles, I was flabbergasted that any school would consider eliminating sports,” Hayworth said. “I called the superintendent and I said, ‘I want to help.’”
Oakland Raider Sam Williams moved the audience when he spoke fondly of his days as “Mr. Defense” on the Clayton Valley High School football team and expressed his desire to help his alma mater and other district schools.
“I don’t know where I would be without Clayton Valley High School football,” said Williams, 29, who grew up in Clayton. “I’m so honored to be here with you tonight to save the programs and save our youth. And I can promise you — this will not be the last time you hear of me trying to make a difference.”
Williams said he has started a foundation called “Tackling the Odds” aimed at helping underprivileged kids. You can see a video of him talking about his foundation and community involvement on the Oakland Raiders’ website.
Williams helped auction off merchandise, then posed for photos and cheerfully handed out autographs. Retired Oakland Raider Art Thoms was also at the event, chatting with attendees including Northgate High School Principal John McMorris.
“I talked to him and he was a very nice guy,” McMorris said.
In this economy, McMorris said he’s concerned that parents may start to feel “tapped out” by all the school fundraising they are asked to support.
“I worry about donor fatigue,” he said. “We had a Spring Fling fundraising event and a crab feed and we ask for money at open house. And you always tap the same people.”
The United Mt. Diablo Athletic Foundation, or UMDAF, is trying to come up with new ideas for raising money to keep people motivated to fund sports. The foundation will share some proceeds from the May 29-31 Concord KidFest with the Mt. Diablo Music Education Foundation. Board members are also planning another 5K run October 10 in Concord’s Newhall Park.
In addition, supporters can sponsor an athlete or buy T-shirts or wine to benefit the foundation. For details, visit the foundation website at
Superintendent Steven Lawrence, who swam and played water polo in high school, told me he was impressed by the turnout and the community support at the fundraiser. He said the foundation treasurer sent him an e-mail today reporting that Sport Aid brought in $25,000.
“For a first annual event — to raise $25,000 — that’s fantastic,” Lawrence said. “So, they’re just obviously doing a good job and they’re taking this very seriously to make sure our children experience athletics.”
Do you think the foundation has enough momentum to raise another $1.2 million for next year?

Posted on Thursday, April 29th, 2010
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Sports, Walnut Creek | No Comments »

Tickets still available for Mt. Diablo ‘Sport Aid’ fundraiser

Sports supporters participate in 5k run.

Sports supporters participate in 5k run.

By Theresa Harrington
The Mt. Diablo school district sports community has pulled off a feat it wasn’t sure it could accomplish a year ago — it has raised $1.2 million to fund after-school athletics.
“Now, we’re starting over again for next year, which is kind of depressing,” said Pat Middendorf, Clayton Valley High athletic director, as she took a break from last-minute preparations for a Sport Aid fundraiser to be held tomorrow. “We have to. Next year is going to be a whole new matter, because it was an emotional tug for people last year. There were some one-time donations — like $100,000 here and $20,000 there — that we’re not going to have. So, we have to come up with all new strategies for next year.”
Middendorf and a handful of tireless volunteers are working on behalf of the United Mt. Diablo Athletic Foundation to support the district’s after-school sports program, since the school board has eliminated its sports funding because of state budget cuts. The foundation includes representatives from all six district high schools who came together with an “all for one and one for all” philosophy that inspired many.
They held an enormously successful 5k run last fall and asked parents of athletes to pay donations to help fund coaches, equipment, transportation, league fees and other costs. This was in addition to fundraising that team boosters were already doing to pay costs that were never covered by the district, Middendorf said.
With a continued bleak budget outlook next year, the foundation is launching its 2010-11 fundraising campaign at the Sport Aid 2010 dinner, dance and auction, which begins at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 22 at the Pyramind Ale House in Walnut Creek. Tickets cost $75 per person or $125 per couple. Or, $700 will get you a premier table for 10.
The event will kick-off with a silent auction and cocktails, followed by dinner and a live auction at 7 p.m., then dancing at 8:30 p.m. Attendees can hobnob with special guests including retired Golden State Warriors basketball player Chris Mullin, Oakland Raiders football players Sam Williams and Marcel Reece, retired Raider Art Thoms and Jeff Tedford, Cal Bears head football coach.
Organizers hope to sell 200 tickets. By this afternoon, they reached 170, Middendorf told me.
“We’ll sell tickets right up to the end,” she said. “For some reason, we’ve had this huge jump today. We’ve still got 30, but I think we’ll plan for the whole 200.”
Although she’s pleased by this level of support, Middendorf doesn’t want anyone to think it’s going to be easy to meet the $1.2 million fundraising goal again. In this economy, with state budget cuts eating away at education and social services, district athletes are not the only ones asking for money.
“There’s more people in the same boat — school groups and certain charities,” she said. “But the school groups are the ones that are really desperate right now. I think it’s going to get worse before it gets better. So, it’s going to be tough.”
More information about the foundation is at

Posted on Wednesday, April 21st, 2010
Under: Education, Mt. Diablo school district, Sports, Walnut Creek | No Comments »