TSRI Summer Sports Leagues: Tradition for Some, Whole New
Ball Game for Others
By Jennifer O'Sullivan
Not to worryat no point will this story lament the
impending final days of summer. After all, the sun is shining,
the ocean's a sweet 71 degrees, and The Scripps Research Institute's
(TSRI) summer sports leagues are in full swing.
"This is an exciting part of the season," says softball
team captain Tessa Pritchard, a former TSRI employee who is
a four-year sports league veteran. Her team is undefeated,
a record she considers amazing given the fact that two seasons
ago they had only one win. "At this point it's a close race,"
she says. "So any of the teams going to the playoffs could
The softball league started back in late May and runs through
the end of August, with playoffs scheduled for the first two
weeks in September. During the regular season, 13 teams play
six games each. Even with four games per week at the Clairemont
Rec Center field, not all teams will face each other. However,
because some squads have been in existence for several seasons,
rivalries do exist that occasionally turn up the heat.
"The rivalries are harmless for the most part," says Barry
Rutledge, senior safety consultant in Environmental Health
and Safety, "but they can get a little intense." Barry has
been playing in the league for five years and each year the
team he's captained has made it to the playoffs.
"This really is a fun league," Barry emphasizes. "Two of
its purposes [are] to give a stress release to our grad students
and to expose foreign nationals working at Scripps to American
To that end, many teams are comprised of individuals representing
various countries, departments, and skill levels. For example,
Team B, is a real international mix with players from France,
Switzerland, China, the U.K., the Netherlands (and even Baltimore!).
One player, Christoph Schmid, a Swiss postdoc in the Department
of Molecular Biology, had never swung a baseball bat before
joining the league. Now, he's getting regular hits and has
learned not to overrun second and third base. Still, not everything
When the Team B captain sent out an email referring to the
team's final game as a "swan song" Christoph quipped, "What?
Tonight we sing instead of softball?"
A second organized team sport, the bowling league, offers
TSRI employees and their friends a crack at another American
pastime. And, like the softball league, the bowling group
encourages familiar faces and newcomers eager to learn the
art of knocking down pins. Because it is a handicap league,
meaning that each bowler is given a handicap based on his
or her average, the chance of an upset is ever-present.
"Bowlers that couldn't score 100 even if their lives depended
on it might thoroughly thump our Receiving Department premiere
bowlers, Dave Kastner and Shane Blade," says bowling league
president Bette Cessna (who is also softball league "Commish").
"And there's nothing more entertaining than watching an adorable
little foreign student make Dave and Shane cry!"
The ten-year-old league plays on Thursday nights at the
Sunset Bowl in Clairemont, one of San Diego's largest venues
at 52 lanes. Four- to five-person teams, with creative names
such as "Spare Me," "Rolling Blackout," and "E-bowla" compete
from May through August. Both team and individual trophies
are awarded at the season's end.
One team bound to get an award for improvement is "Eye Candy,"
the only all-female team in the league, which has rocketed
from thirteenth to fourth place. Perhaps the matching shirts
worn by teammates Alice Fraga, Joyce Nasella, Lorena Anderson,
and Darlene Giglioreading "WARNING: Does Not Play Well
With Others"have intimidated the competition.
"Laughter and general goofiness is the theme for our 'athletes,'"
says Bette, who has been organizing sports leagues at TSRI
for over ten years.
In addition to softball and bowling leagues, TSRI hosts
a summer golf tournament and dinner. This year's event, the
sixth annual, was held on August 8 at the Encinitas Ranch
Golf Course and was open to all TSRI employees, families,
"We had 144 people," says Dan Talliac, grants administrator
in the Office of Sponsored Programs and one of the event's
coordinators in charge of recruiting sponsors. "About 80 percent
were employees, most of whom have played in the past." According
to Dan, the tournament was small in the early years, but has
since grown into a great event. To keep costs down, the tournament
is held on a weekday afternoon, but Dan says it's well worth
taking the half-day off and paying the entrance fee.
Each participant pays $65 dollars towards the cost of greens
fees and dinner, while sponsors supply prizes to the top three
teams in the form of trophies and hats. A fourth trophy- a
24-inch golfer with a club wrapped around his head-is the
"doormat" awarded to the last place team. In addition, participants
are entered into a raffle. This year, the top prize was a
brand-new Taylor Made driver, taken home by Todd Maxwell,
safety consultant in Environmental Health and Safety, whose
team came in second-to-last place in the tournament. "I guess
I'm just lucky," he chuckles.
For more information on sports at TSRI, see the LINKS
web page or send email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, look for the Sports@Scripps webpage to premiere in early
autumn, featuring information on the bowling and softball
leagues, including team rosters, and a discussion of future
leagues in volleyball, soccer, rugby, and other sports.
Ralph Pantophlet, a postdoc in the Burton
Lab, connects during the August 21 twilight game at the Clairemont
Rec Center. (Photo by Jason Bardi.)
After the final showdown, "Team B" congratulates
"The G-Stringers" on their win. (Photo by Jason Bardi.)
"Eye Candy," the only all-female team
in the TSRI bowling league, has a greatly improved record
this year. (Photo by Jennifer O'Sullivan.)
TSRI bowler goes for the strike. (Photo
by Jennifer O'Sullivan.)
Joyce Tan, Datsun Hsia, Willis Kieper,
and Jason Whitmeier (not pictured) were awarded the golf tournament's
"doormat" prize. (Photo by Jason Bardi.)