Super Ball Saturday — Footballs, Basketballs, Meatballs, Crab Balls, and Cheese Balls help make the UCLA Spirit Squad’s lavish fundraising ball a huge success, just like Bruin Football Recruiting, which I learned tonight also does it right: Achieving success while operating with total INTEGRITY unheard of in this day and age

Despite the depressing results of the last three Rivalry games, I am still proud to be a Bruin.  Why am I such a die-hard, for so long, through thick and thin?  Two answers became glaringly apparent on Saturday night, at the UCLA Spirit Squad Fundraising Reception.  Let’s start with the class, beauty, grace, and SWEETNESS of the UCLA Spirit Squad.  I love these people SO much, including the Coaches, and former squad members.  They are so nice, friendly, down-to-earth, humble, personable, and warm.

And yes, I know it is a fundraiser, so they “HAVE” to be nice.  Sure, they are trying to get people to donate money.  I get it.  But I also know the difference between phony and sincere.  And these people also are aware that I am not a Donald Trump 1-percenter.  I am not going to be endowing any scholarships any time soon.  But it doesn’t matter.  These people are being nice because they ARE nice, deep down.  I feel more like FAMILY in this environment than I do at my own family reunions.  Special heart-warmed emotional appreciation goes out to Kyle & Kayley (and their family), Irazmi, Nicole, Ann, Kate, Jane, Juliet, Julia, Kelly, McKenna, Christina, Lauren, SOPHIE (who I didn’t know knew who I was, and who looked the best I have ever seen her last night), and of course, Mollie (and the Selection Committee) for assembling this wonderful group.  If I didn’t list a name, it was NOT because they weren’t nice or anything like that, it’s just that I didn’t get a chance to socialize with them.  Also three girls were not in attendance.  Finally, best wishes to our recuperating Dance Teamer.  🙂

The event was a fundraising success of course, with a silent auction and an opportunity drawing (raffle).  There were so many incredible and interesting prizes to be had, including vacation trips and hotel stays, tickets to magic and comedy shows, tickets to Angels Baseball, a Star Wars gift pack, a Hello Kitty collection, an autographed Basketball signed by the team (which I won last year), an autographed Bruin Football Helmet signed by the team, a chance to be a Judge at the Cheerleader Auditions (which I’ve won three times), a chance to lead an 8-clap at an event, a chance to have Cheerleaders babysit for you, a workout session with the squad’s personal trainer, bedazzled UCLA License Plate Frames, and so, so, so, much more!  I didn’t win anything this year, but I’ve won stuff each of the last three years, and I was starting to feel guilty about it, so I’m okay with going home empty-handed this year…

…but I wasn’t really leaving empty-handed.  I got a party favor which was a cool drinking glass emblazoned with the UCLA Spirit Squad logo on it.  And let’s not forget all the great food.  There were delicious pastry puffs filled with pesto & chicken (iirc), cheese balls, crabcake balls, meatballs, a mashed potato bar, macaroni and cheese, a drink bar with lots of wine, and Pink Lemonade spiked with Vodka, and then dessert:  Several varieties of bite-sized Cheesecake squares, like chocolate and lemon, and then little brownie squares, and a few different types of melon squares.  Too bad these were all squares — If they were round, I could have added cheesecake balls, brownie balls, and best of all melon balls, to my “balls” headline.  🙂  Anyway, everything was scrumptious.

The event also had tasty little presentations and speakers.  Kayley got to talk about her “Battling Bruins” altruistic endeavor that helps out members of the Bruin Family in severe need;  James Washington encouraged donations to the Spirit Squad; Tyus Edney brought the entire Basketball Team; John Savage promoted Bruin Baseball; And the 2-time National Champion Men’s Water Polo Team — who beat sc in the final — was represented, trophy and all.  Maybe they can teach our other teams how to beat the trojans.  Speaking of which, the Bruin Football Team was represented by Assistant Coach Angus McClure and 4 players.  Tak McKinley was the most eloquent in his appreciation of what the Spirit Squad does for the players when they are down.  Nice.

While it is true that I want to beat sc more than just about anything else in the world, I want us to do it THE RIGHT WAY.  I don’t want to sink to their level, with steroids, signing criminals and looking the other way when they commit more crimes, or ignoring our academic requirements.  I want to win with integrity, which is why I found this next piece of information I am sharing so refreshing and comforting…

I was privy to a conversation with someone who shall remain nameless (because he wasn’t speaking on the record and had no idea who I was), but who is heavily involved in UCLA recruiting.  When I asked him about the rules, the idea of bending them was repugnant to him.  There are apparently a TON of players with immense skill, who want to come to UCLA, but who just are not academically qualified.  Does UCLA try to “get around” this fact?  Hell no.  If a player doesn’t have the scholastic ability to meet UCLA standards, he is simply brushed off the radar.  Good.

We also discussed “extra benefits.”  Many players speak of the illegal offers and incentives that they get from many other schools. UCLA does not play that game.  No matching offers from Westwood.  Not only that, but when I asked if we could tell the NCAA about these other schools and their illegal offers, I was told that UCLA would not go there either.  Okay.  Nobody likes a snitch — especially a snitch acting on second-hand intel.

And finally, with Pat Haden retiring at u$c yesterday, their Coach is now facing instability, and a possible short tenure.  When I asked if we could “use” this to divert people from going there, I was straightened out once again:  UCLA does not believe in negative recruiting, not even against our arch rival.  Instead of pointing out that Helton may not be around long, the emphasis would instead be on the stability of Coach Mora.

I cannot begin to tell you how impressed I was by this entire conversation.  I like integrity, but even I would give in to some of the temptation presented in these situations.  But I could tell that NONE of it was even on the table.  Again, I realize that a recruiter is not going to admit to any underhanded tactics at a function like this, but I swear that this guy was on the level.  It was obvious that Mora’s adherence to the rulebook has been drilled into the entire staff.  Maybe the MINOR violations that occurred last year have further strengthened their resolve, but I was completely convinced that the Bruins will build their dynasty the right way.

So to summarize — even while I’m dying for our next win over the trojans because it has been way too long, I am still proud to be a Bruin for Life.  Below are 31 more photos from the event that illustrate why.  There was no Cheer or Dance Performance, and I don’t ever demand that anyone pose for photos, so I didn’t get a lot of girls — mostly just when a few were on stage presenting.  So I apologize for omitting so many people.  I did the best I could without being obnoxious or paparazzi-like.  :-/