MLB scouts expected at La Quinta-Desert Christian Academy

For those interested in local baseball, La Quinta High School is the place to be this evening. Close to 20 MLB scouts will be in attendance in tonight’s La Quinta-Desert Christian Academy baseball game, secondary principal Steve Blankenship has told The Desert Sun.

Most of them will be there to watch Desert Christian Academy’s senior pitcher Morgan Earman, a 6-foot-4 prospect that has allowed just a single multi-base hit and two earned runs in 40 innings this season.

Making the game even more intriguing is the fact that La Quinta (14-5) will be the Conquerors’ (18-2) toughest competition to date, and feature their own standout on the mound — 6-foot-4 junior Trevor Abshire, whom has has allowed just four earned runs in 52 and 1/3 innings.

Both teams appear destined to make deep runs in the CIF-SS next month, and this could prove to be the biggest game in the valley this year. With a multitude of sluggers that have torched opposing pitchers already this season, both aces will have their work cut out for them.

How will they perform under the pressure? Find out at 6:30 p.m. in La Quinta.

Secret menus: La Quinta’s Twenty6 serves up special recipe

Secret menu at Twenty6 in La Quinta

This blackened cider braised brussels sprouts isn't actually on the menu at Twenty6 in La Quinta. (Lynn Lieu/The Desert Sun)

“Secret menus” seem to be all the rage lately.

In-N-Out, Burger King, Jamba Juice, McDonald’s, Panera Bread,  and even Starbucks have special items ready to whip up — if you know to ask for them.

Now Twenty6 at the La Quinta Resort and Club is joining the exclusive club — just for readers of The Desert Sun (www.mydesert.com).

Features reporter Lynn Lieu has the password you need to ask Chef Michael Vaughn to whip you up the blackened cider braised brussels sprouts with pecan-wood smoked bacon. 

Just check out Lynn’s tour of Coachella Valley restaurants that are serving up brussel sprouts to find the key to unlocking Twenty6′s secret menu.

Saturday is ‘Military Appreciation Day’ at Humana Challenge

A special tented area just for service members, called the Military Outpost, sits along the 1st teebox of the Palmer Private Course at PGA West during the PGA Tour's Humana Challenge event. On Saturday, the tournament is hosting a military appreciation day and service members can attend the tournament for free. Crystal Chatham, The Desert Sun

Saturday’s inaugural Humana Military Appreciation Day will feature a ceremony to honor members of the armed forces and their families. It will include presentations by military leaders, a color guard and a flyover of two Navy F-5s from the Naval west coast aggressor squadron VFC-13 from Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada.

All active duty military, reserve, veterans and military retirees, along with their dependents, will receive free admission to the Humana Challenge on Saturday.

Gen. Wesley Clark, U.S. Army (Ret), Linda Hope, daughter of comedian Bob Hope, 13-time PGA Tour winner David Toms and Humana President of Government Business Tim McClain will all speak during the event.

From 1997-2000, Clark served as Supreme Allied Commander Europe. He briefly ran for President ahead of the 2004 election.

“The Humana Challenge, formerly the Bob Hope Classic, has a long history of celebrating our nation’s servicemen and women who give so much every day,” said Tim McClain, President of Humana Government Business. “Given Bob Hope’s legacy and devotion to entertaining military troops, it is fitting to dedicate a day to honoring military personnel and their families. In the end, we hope the Military Appreciation Day will have a lasting impact on all participants and continue to honor our troops.”

“Additionally, during the Humana Challenge event, the Military Warriors Support Foundation will donate a 100 percent mortgage-free home to a local veteran injured during combat. Humana-sponsored PGA TOUR golfer David Toms will be on hand to award the home, which signifies Humana’s continued commitment to the military community.”

“We at Humana are proud to honor our military personnel during an event like the Humana Challenge, which is steeped in tradition,” said Bruce Broussard, President and CEO of Humana. “We also know that our dedication to the military does not end at the Humana Challenge. In fact, our company has a long history of supporting the armed forces and their families.”

PGA TOUR events – similar to the Humana Challenge – have served as past venues for the donation of homes to Wounded Warriors. The cost of the home is funded solely through the Military Warriors Support Foundation and Chase Bank. There is no cost to the Humana Challenge or to Humana.

The Humana Challenge Military Outpost features free refreshments and climate-controlled indoor seating along the 1st hole of the Palmer Private Course at PGA West. Crystal Chatham, The Desert Sun

In addition to Saturday’s day to honor those who served, the tournament’s Military Outpost also returned this year. Active duty, reserve, and military retirees can access a special military-only tent and patio near the 1st tee of the Palmer Private Course at PGA West.

We are proud to host members of our country’s military at the Humana Military Outpost as our guests; they deserve the opportunity to have a fun and relaxing time with us while watching many of the world’s best golfers up close,” Humana Challenge Executive Director and CEO Bob Marra said.

The outpost is a private hospitality pavilion offering climate-controlled indoor seating, outdoor patio seating and complimentary refreshments.

Humana administers health coverage for approximately 3 million active duty and retired military through the TRICARE program, according to Mike McCallister, Humana’s Chairman and CEO.

Three Wounded Warriors in Humana Challenge amateur field

Former President Bill Clinton talks with wounded warrior double amputee golfer Saul Martinez on the driving range at PGA West's Palmer and Nicklaus Private Courses on Thursday, January 17, 2013 during the first day of the Humana Challenge golf tournament. Crystal Chatham, The Desert Sun

Three wounded warriors are playing in the amateur field of this week’s PGA Tour Humana Challenge golf tournament in La Quinta. Saul Martinez, Dave Romanowsky, and Matt Anderson, who are representing the Troops First Foundation, will be on the course for their third and final round in the Humana Challenge’s amateur competition.


Wounded warrior double amputee Saul Martinez works out on the driving range Thursday at PGA West.

Sgt. Saul Martinez, U.S. Army (Ret), joined the Army infantry in 2006 and was deployed to Iraq the next year as part of the surge.  He quickly became a Sergeant assigned to the Brigade Commander’s security detail.  On May 8, 2007, his vehicle was hit by a large IED, instantly killing his best friends and severely injuring Martinez.

He became a bilateral amputee who also had a traumatic brain injury. He medically retired in 2010 after three more years of active duty including regular soldier training and serving as a squad leader in a Warrior Transition Unit. He also returned to Iraq in 2011 as part of Operation Proper Exit.

During his recovery he discovered that golf was both therapeutic and relaxing.  He and his family live in Montana, where he tries to get out on the course as much as possible.

Before the opening round on Thursday, Martinez was greeted by former President Bill Clinton on the driving range at PGA West.

A 15-handicap, Martinez posted 7-under in the opening round at Nicklaus Private Course with professionals Daniel Summerhays and Roberto Castro, who is a tournament co-leader at -14 after the second round. On Friday Martinez played with Michael Bradley and Jason Bohn and shot 4-under. He is at 11-under for the tournament.

Martinez tees off Saturday at 8:50 a.m. on the 1st tee at La Quinta Country Club. He will play with professional golfers Robert Streb and Steve LeBrun.


Technical Sgt. Dave Romanowsky, U.S. Air Force (Ret), served in the Air Force for 17.5 years where he served as an intelligence operative for 12 years before switching to Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD). Before Sept. 11, 2001, Romanowky served a 12-month deployment to Kosovo. Following 9/11 he did two one-year tours in Iraq where he conducted over 1200 ground combat missions.

He worked one year as a demolition specialist for Army Special Operations and as he described “in a capacity to go and catch the bomb makers that were killing or wounding so many of my fellow troops.”

He is a recipient of the Bronze Star for Valor, Purple Heart, Army and Air Force Commendation Medals, and several Combat action medals.

Romanowsky turned to golf as a rehabilitative tool after he was wounded in action with several fractured vertebra. “I am so thankful to just be walking,” he said about his injuries which include other injuries to legs, head, and torso area with severe damage to the lung area and hearing loss in left ear. He spent roughly 4 months in the hospital and roughly 18 months doing rehabilitation in Colorado. He and his family recently moved to Dallas.

“I found that golf is not only extremely fun but acts as a great way to spend time with wife and my two children. I did play prior to being injured but now being retired from the service I’ve thrown myself into it here in Texas,” Romanowsky said.

“I look forward to the great opportunity to play in the Humana and cannot even put into words how thankful I am for the opportunity. Having been nearly killed in combat, I truly embrace everyday of life and this event is almost unbelievable to a be a part of.”

Romanowsky has been Tweeting about his trip to the Humana Challenge via his handle, @Romo9999.

In Thursday’s first round, Romanowsky played with pros Brad Fritsch and Aaron Watkins at La Quinta Country Club where he shot 3-under. Friday the airman, who is listed as an 8-handicap, posted 9-under at the Nicklaus Private Course at PGA West with Jason Kokrak and Greg Owen. He is 12-under so far in the tournament.

He tees off Saturday at 8:40 a.m. on the 10th tee of the Palmer Private Course at PGA West. He will play with professional golfers D.A. Points and Tommy Gainey. Comedian Ron White is also in his foursome.


Wounded warrior Matt Anderson shakes hands with PGA Tour player William McGirt after their foursome finished up on the18th hole at Palmer Private Course on Thursday, January 17, 2013 at the Humana Challenge. Crystal Chatham, The Desert Sun

After the September 11th attacks, Capt. Matt Anderson, U.S. Army, left college and join the military.  He enlisted as an 11B Infantryman and became a Scout/Sniper with the 25th Infantry Division shortly before deploying for a 15 month deployment to Iraq. He promoted from a Private First Class to Staff Sergeant in four years. He was selected to go to Officer Candidacy School. After finishing at #4 in his class, he voluntarily served as an assistant S-3 in planning and operations for 1-66 Armor, part of 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division. Later he was given command of 1st Platoon, Bravo Company. 1-66 Armor was the first Heavy Brigade Combat Team to occupy Afghanistan.  Their area of operation in the Arghandab River Valley was heavily contested and land mines were a constant threat. The Arghandab River Valley was regarded as the worst area in Afghanistan in 2010. Within the first two-and-a-half weeks, his platoon suffered 14 casualties, diminishing their manpower by half.

His platoon helped with the identification and reduction of multiple IEDs and the improvement of the infrastructure and Afghan/American sentiment within three local towns.  One night, they were tasked to secure the Arghandab River from an abandoned town that was rumored to be extensively mined by the Taliban. At 4:16 a.m. then-First Lt. Anderson stepped on the first land mine inside the compound.  The explosion shattered his heel into 13 pieces and his ankle into three pieces. He also suffered a fractured tibia, fibula, cubiod and navicular bones with extensive vascular and neurologic damage.

A few months after his injury, he learned that there was 45-pounds of ammonium nitrate explosive attached to the land mine that did not detonate, had it gone off he would not have survived the blast. Two other soldiers were injured by land mines within the same compound.

Anderson has had 24 procedures and operations on his right leg.  His leg was salvaged and with the help of a brace, he remains an active duty Army officer and was promoted to Captain.

He said he loves to compete as an athlete and perform the job that he loves. He says that his men are his inspiration to always strive to become a better leader, to work harder, and not let pain or physical limitations stop him from anything.

Anderson is a recipient of the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.

He opened the tournament 6-under on Thursday at the Palmer Private Course of PGA West with tour pros Brian Harman and William McGirt. On Friday he played at La Quinta Country Club and played 2-under for the round with pros Ryo Ishikawa and Lucas Glover. He is listed as an 8-handicap and is currently 8-under for the tournament.

Anderson tees off Saturday at 10:30 a.m. on the 1st tee of the Nicklaus Private Course at PGA West. He will play with professional golfers Ben Kohles and Alistair Presnell. Singer Dave Brock is also in his foursome.

*Tournament officials provided biographical data for each wounded warrior.

Bill Clinton blends in, belongs in the desert

Former President Bill Clinton poses with volunteers on the first tee of the Humana Challenge on Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013. Gary Player is at the far left. (Denise Goolsby, The Desert Sun)

Former President Bill Clinton poses with volunteers on the first tee Thursday. Gary Player is at the far left. (Denise Goolsby, The Desert Sun)

Last year, as a spectator, I got to shake Bill Clinton’s hand – the first presidential handshake of my life – on a blustery day at the Humana Challenge. He was coming off the driving range and I jockeyed into what I thought would be a good position to see the 42nd president up close.

He smiled as he walked by and accepted my outstretched hand as I thanked him for his service to the country. He said thank you, and moved down the line to greet the next well-wisher. I remember his piercing blue eyes and warm, soft hand.

I was awestruck for awhile.

Everyone else in the crowd seemed equally starstruck by the very presence of Clinton.

Fast forward to 2013.

I tagged along — as a working journalist this time — as Clinton made his appearance at the first tee ceremony on the Palmer Private course at PGA West, then headed to the driving range to shake hands and pose for pictures with pro golfers, caddies, and volunteers.

The crowd gathered near the driving range snapped photos, shot video, and watched as he leisurely made his way down the line of golfers smacking monster tee-shots deep into range.

When Clinton appeared at the Humana Challenge in 2012 – the first year of tournament’s partnership with the Clinton foundation – his presence was a novelty. A former leader of the free world was throwing his name and the weight of his global organization behind the tournament that Bob Hope built.

This year, the mood was more relaxed, as Clinton – who is now becoming a very familiar face at events across the valley – strolled through Hope Square waving and greeting volunteers.

Bill blends in well with desert. He’s laid back, warm, and has a bright, sunny personality. It’s like he’s always been here.

Health Matters 2013: Rep. Raul Ruiz absent, hopes to hear about social responsibility

Dr. Raul Ruiz stood last year to address President Bill Clinton at the first Health Matters conference. Months later, the president flew back to California to endorse the emergency room physician for Congress.

This time around, the newly elected Congressman isn’t among the heavyweights who are talking about the future of the nation’s health at the second-annual “Health Matters: Activating Wellness in Every Generation,” held Tuesday at the La Quinta Resort and Club.

The former president, Chelsea Clinton, Deepak Chopra, Jillian Michaels, Humana Chairman Michael McCallister, and former Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher are featured speakers.

Sen. Christopher Murphy from Connecticut was also on stage.

Ruiz, who was sworn into office earlier this month, was in meetings in Washington D.C., a spokeswoman told us. The House of Representatives is in session this week.

In an emailed response to questions from The Desert Sun, Ruiz said he hopes that conference leaders focus on “social responsibility and the role of the community” in improving health.

Three quick question-and-answers from that email with Rep. Raul Ruiz:

What would you would like to see addressed at the Health Matters conference?
In addition to an emphasis on personal responsibility for healthy living, I would like to see the Health Matters Conference focus on social responsibility and the role of the community in improving health care access and health education for all people.

Any thoughts on what has been accomplished since last year’s Health Matters conference?
I’m very pleased that the Clinton Health Matters Initiative is committed to improving health and wellness and fighting obesity in the Coachella Valley.

What will your “homework,” as President Clinton would say, be for the next year?
My goal is to continue the work I started as a doctor in the Coachella Valley and build coalitions within the community to identify ways we can improve access to affordable, high-quality healthcare and health education for all people.

UPDATE AT 2:20 P.M. TUESDAY:

Ruiz was featured in a brief video interview shown before a panel on “Healthy Communities,” which included the mayors of Coachella and Palm Springs.

Coachella Valley has one of the worst health care crises — both in terms of consequences and access to healthcare — in the nation, Ruiz said in the video.

Ruiz was grateful, he said, that Clinton chose to include the valley in his Health Matters initiative.

“If we can improve the health care access for everybody, not only in healthcare delivery but also in health education, then we can make the Coachella Valley and the surrounding areas one of the healthiest communities in the entire nation,” Ruiz said.

Health Matters 2013: Barbra Streisand announces $2 million pledge to women’s heart research

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Actress Barbra Streisand wants to talk potato chips.

She took the stage in La Quinta on Tuesday at President Bill Clinton’s second-annual Health Matters: Activating Wellness in Every Generation Conference.

Streisand, a member of the Cedars-Sinai board of directors, briefly talked about health and junk food.

“I want to start with potato chips,” she said after the applause faded. “Not to eat. Americans spend $7.9 billion a year on potato chips.”

Streisand then announced a $2 million donation from the Cedars-Sinai’s Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center to go toward women’s heart issues and launching a national campaign to spread awareness and increase education.

“The pledges made during this conference will undoubtedly impact many lives for years to come,” the philanthropist and actress said before leaving the stage.

Moments later, Chelsea Clinton opened a panel on “Access to Healthy Lifestyles” with a nod to the pledge.

It will help mothers and grandmothers stay alive and well to care for their families, panelist Dr. C. Noel Bairey Merz said. She is director of the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center.

Research into women’s heart health is decades behind research into men’s, she said.

“We still are at least 35 years behind the knowledge that we know about men’s heart disease. That’s primarily because research was done with men, for men and by men,” Merz said.

Health Matters 2013: How to partner with wired Coachella Valley Unified students

President Bill Clinton and his team of medical experts heard Tuesday about the thousands of students in the eastern Coachella Valley clamoring for iPads.

Clinton is sitting front row at the La Quinta Resort and Club for his second-annual health and wellness conference, Health Matters: Activating Wellness in Every Generation.

During the “Health Transformation” panel, medical experts focused heavily on data sharing and how evolving technology affects healthcare.

Coachella Valley Unified School District Superintendent Darryl Adams stood and eagerly waved his program for attention.

Adams told the panel about the district’s iPad pilot program, under which thousands of students will be wired.

“I want to partner with you. Could you help us?” he asked.

Dr. Nancy Snyderman, chief medical editor NBC News, turned to the panel and asked what they would do to empower kids who are “impoverished, but wired.”

Dr. Donald Berwick, former president and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, spoke.

“Each kid needs to know they’re not alone,” he said. “One of the great opportunities you have now is for kids to be able to say, I have this problem. Who else has it? What have you done?

“By the way, I’m thrilled to hear the school system getting involved here,” Berwick continued. “Health is not going to be solved in health care.”

UPDATE:

During her panel on “Access to Healthy Lifestyles,” Chelsea Clinton mentioned the Coachella Valley Unified School District again.

She praised the iPad campaign and cited it specifically as an example when asking panelists how government can help.

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Health Matters 2013: How Bill Clinton got to the Golden Globes

When President Bill Clinton began his first healthcare panel in La Quinta on Tuesday, his relationship with Academy Award-winning director Steven Spielberg stole the spotlight.

Dr. Nancy Snyderman, a longtime Clinton friend and chief medical editor for NBC News, will moderate the “Health Transformation” panel for the second-annual Health Matters conference.

But first she joked with Clinton about his surprise appearance Sunday at the Golden Globes, alluding to show co-host Amy Poehler’s reaction to Clinton’s appearance on stage.

“So rumor has it that Hilary Clinton’s husband was spotted” at the Golden Globes, Snyderman said from the stage Tuesday at the La Quinta Resort and Club.

“Yeah, it’s not my forum, is it?” Clinton said.

“I thought you did pretty darn well,” Snyderman responded.

“Well, Steven Spielberg let me write my own script, which I couldn’t believe,” Clinton said.

Clinton went on to explain his role in the development of the -nominated “Lincoln” and his long relationship with Steven Spielberg.

“On a couple occasions he’s been nice enough to send me a script with some relevance to something I know and asked me to read it,” Clinton said.

Spielberg sent Clinton at least three copies of the “Lincoln” script, asking him his thoughts on the character of Lincoln. That’s what led to his introduction of the film Sunday at the Golden Globes.

“So he asked me to introduce it and explained what the historical importance was, and I agreed to do it,” Clinton said.

Clinton said he thought some of the language was “a little too earthy, if you wanted 9-year-olds to go to the movie.” But he spoke highly of the movie and its portrayal of the fellow president.

“I thought the movie should be a movie for general audiences, and it was very carefully done based on diaries,” Clinton said.

Football: Winless night for desert’s teams

It wasn’t a good night at all for the desert’s high school football teams. All five squads in action lost: La Quinta, Palm Desert, Palm Springs, Shadow Hills and Desert Christian Academy.

As I covered La Quinta’s 27-14 defeat to Colony, I kept refreshing The Desert Sun sports’ Twitter account to see if any other teams were faring better. But none were. Palm Springs and Shadow Hills couldn’t score, while Palm Desert and Desert Christian Academy couldn’t stop their opponents. La Quinta had its chances, but it couldn’t finish off several drives or stop Colony running Samajie Grant, who has verbally committed to Arizona

It was just one of those years for football in the desert, just like those times when there are no franchise quarterbacks available in the NFL draft. For the first time since 1997, no DVL teams advanced to the second round.

Would it have made a difference if the DVL had played in the Eastern Division this year? I don’t think so. While the Central Division may have more depth, the Eastern Division still features tough teams such as top seed Citrus Hill and second seed Carter (Rialto). At the start of the season, several Eastern Division playoff teams beat DVL teams (Rialto over La Quinta, San Jacinto over Palm Desert).

I’m certain the DVL will bounce back next year considering its recent history. Since 2000, the league has had a team advance to a CIF championship game eight times.

Fortunately, there will be a winning playoff team from the desert Saturday. That’s because Marywood-Palm Valley hosts Desert Chapel.