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The Solana Beach Little League Juniors team were District 31 champions in 2021. Courtesy photo
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Looking back at a sports year to remember

The holidays are fast approaching and we react to them in a variety of ways. For myself, I struggle with celebrating Christmas after my mother passed away three years ago. But this isn’t about me, this is about the birth of Jesus Christ.

This time of year is a good time to reflect upon our many blessings. These last few years have been quite trying, but as residents of North County, we can continue to show love and be grateful. So, I will share some great stories that have dotted the sports world and have landed close to home.

• Solana Beach Little League took down powerful Encinitas LL on its way to the regionals before being eliminated. Encinitas owned Solana Beach for years … until this summer. The celebration at Chief’s Burgers & Brew that night was as good as anything I saw this year — kids and families celebrating one another with respect.

• Garrett Stubbs, a Torrey Pines graduate who was on the Houston Astros’ regular-season roster as a catcher and was in the dugout during the World Series, showed true grit all season. He was traded last month to the Philadelphia Phillies, joining up with another North County prospect, former La Costa Canyon outfielder Mickey Moniak.

• The Del Mar Racetrack opened to fans this summer after being somewhat dark in 2020. There is nothing like fans and horses together, and both accounted for a record season.

• Our Padres started off hot — the best team in baseball after 40 games — but melted down during the second half of the season to give us only a quarter of a thrill. Looking forward to next season with a veteran winning manager in Bob Melvin. Love the spirit the fans have for their Padres.

• San Diego was voted one of the top 10 coolest cities live and its residents and people are even cooler. Every day we are blessed to live in a magnificent community surrounding America’s Finest City. We the people make up its greatness.

• The Army-Navy Game played last Saturday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, was an Instant Classic in so many ways. First, Navy was playing its last game of the season, coming in with a bowl-ineligible record of 3-8. Army came into the game with an 8-3 record. Both military academies put on a good show, giving huge effort and delivering an exciting, hard-fought football game as the Midshipmen upset the Black Knights, 17-13. Add points for the sportsmanship of both coaches, both teams and the way athletics should be. Maybe the NCAA and the NFL will take notes on how to conduct post-game celebrations.

Our country shined brightly that day and like most, I was proud to be an American. For those cadets and midshipmen playing their final collegiate game, you saved the best for last! Thanks for your service.

Sports: The 38th Breeders' Cup returns to Del Mar Racetrack for world-class thoroughbred racing on Nov. 5 and 6. Courtesy photo
The 38th Breeders’ Cup returned to Del Mar Racetrack for world-class thoroughbred racing on Nov. 5 and 6. Courtesy photo

• The Breeders’ Cup (the World Series of horse racing) returned to Del Mar for the second time in November after debuting in 2017. This event was welcomed royally by the horse-loving community we have become, setting another record for economic impact on the coastal cities. The week was magical, filled with people from around the world. The racing was of international quality too. It will be back. Guaranteed!

• Giving thanks and a major shout-out to the fine people at The Coast News who week in and week out publishing the news that is so important to us along the coast. A long, long time ago, back in the late ’80s, publisher Jim Kydd kicked off this paper in his garage with his assistant Shelly to give coastal residents a read of local news. Now published by his son Chris, edited by Jordan Ingram and represented by Sue Otto in sales, this column has been quite rewarding for me to write. They put their hearts into every edition and do it with top-notch pride and service. I am grateful to them as tremendous friends and leaders, and you should too.

Now we can sit back and enjoy 35 college football bowl games during this holiday season — games taking place all over the country and landing at Petco Park on Dec. 28 with San Diego’s own Holiday Bowl leading up to the College Football Playoff national championship game on Jan. 10.

This has been a fast-moving year with so many side dishes and appetizers. But as we grow and bond together as a community, we remember the song the late Joe Cocker belted out, “I get by with a little help from my friends” and to me friends are everything.

Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday season whatever you celebrate. We are all one and the sooner we start believing our power of togetherness and love, the better we will be.

Truly it’s been a magical year on so many levels.

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