Cambrian: Opinion

John Brannon: If it is to be …

Almost on a dare from a friend, Cambria’s Debbie Markham accepted the challenge of appearing on ABC’s “Wipeout” game show — an obstacle-course television program.

“I have a history of physical injuries and was not sure of surviving the smacking, pushing, pummeling and crashing the contestants experience as they try to complete the course,” Debbie explained. “But I was eager to try.”

She and 23 others began the ordeal; some of them were obviously in great shape. “To survive, I knew I had to face physical problems and self-doubt, but I was determined to do my best.”

Her “best” was good enough to win the competition and collect the $50,000 prize.


Thirty-six years ago, when my son Roger was around 13 or 14, we went to an Angels’ home game. In the top of the ninth inning, the game was tied and the Yankees had players on first and second base with two outs. A batter hit a long single to left field; the runner on second base took off like a shot. He rounded third and headed for home; his run would have put the darn Yankees ahead, and the runner from first might have scored as well.

The Angels’ catcher stood poised at home plate, waiting for the ball. Then he stood up, dropped his hands and shrugged his shoulders, as if the fielder dropped the ball in trying to throw it. The streaking runner eased up, presuming he was home free. But the ball was on its way to the catcher, who easily tagged the runner out. The Angels scored a run when they came to bat.

End of game … the Angels won.

As we walked to the car, I asked Rog, “Did you learn anything tonight?”

“Yeah,” he replied, “never quit.”

Last week, the Angels won another game when the runner heading for home eased up and didn’t score before a teammate was tagged out going for second base.

My son and I reminisced on the phone about our Angel game 36 years ago.


In March of this year, Cambrians Emma Duncan and Corbin Went were interviewed independently for acceptance at the British American Drama Academy in London, England. Amazingly, from hundreds of applicants across America, Emma and Corbin were among the 45 selected to attend the prestigious academy.

Corbin was interviewed in Los Angeles three days before Emma had her meeting in New York City. Cambria will be well-represented in London. They will leave for jolly ol’ England in September.


One of my favorite memories from the years I coached the Coast Union girls tennis team happened at the final match of a season. Most of the girls had not played tennis before the season began. At the initial team practice, I made my usual comment, “I’m going to teach you all you need to know about this game in only 15 minutes. Then you can spend the rest of your life improving on these fundamentals: Hit to the open court; hit as often as you can to your opponent’s backhand and throw in some drop shots to break their rhythm.”

Our last match was against Mission Prep. Our team was in their typical T-shirts and gym shorts. Mission wore white tennis outfits and were experienced players. Our backs were up against the wall with this team.

I had to change my usual roster; Kristin Romero, who played doubles all season, had to play singles for the first time. “Coach, I can’t play singles … I don’t know how. My opponent is a very good player. Please assign someone else to take my place.”

“Just remember what I said at our first practice. Trust me, you’ll do fine,” I assured her.

It was a big event for Kristin; her parents had never seen her play, and they were in the stands. She won her match. Her opponent walked off the court muttering, “I can’t believe I lost to her.” As I walked past, I smiled and said, “Well, you did.”

It has been said that the 10 most powerful two-letter words in the English language are, “If it is to be, it is up to me.”

E-mail John Brannon at