San Juan Hills’ Sean Rhyan is the Register’s Male Athlete of the Year

Sean Rhyan, like most big guys who play football, is a nice guy off of the field.

Sometimes during his sophomore and junior years he was too nice on the field to opposing players. That had to change.

  • Sean Rhyan of San Juan Hills has been named The Orange Country Register’s Boys Athlete of the Year. (Photo by Bill Alkofer, Contributing Photographer)

  • Sean Rhyan of San Juan Hills has been named The Orange Country Register’s Boys Athlete of the Year. (Photo by Bill Alkofer, Contributing Photographer)

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  • Sean Rhyan of San Juan Hills has been named The Orange Country Register’s Boys Athlete of the Year. (Photo by Bill Alkofer, Contributing Photographer)

  • Sean Rhyan of San Juan Hills has been named The Orange Country Register’s Boys Athlete of the Year. (Photo by Bill Alkofer, Contributing Photographer)

  • Sean Rhyan of San Juan Hills High School competes in the Boys Varsity Shot Put during the CIF State Track and Field meet at Buchanan High School on Friday, May 24, 2019 in Clovis, California. (Photo by Libby Cline Birmingham, Contributing Photographer)

  • Sean Rhyan of San Juan Hills High School competes in the Boys Varsity Shot Put during the CIF State Track and Field meet at Buchanan High School on Friday, May 24, 2019 in Clovis, California. (Photo by Libby Cline Birmingham, Contributing Photographer)

  • San Juan Hills’ Sean Rhyan is on The Register’s 2018 All-County football team. Photographed in Anaheim on Saturday, December 15, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • San Juan Hills offensive lineman Sean Rhyan is the top recruit in UCLA’s class and the No. 5 recruit in California, according to 247Sports. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • San Juan Hills’ Shane Roberson, Carson Lewis and Sean Rhyan listen to the national anthem before a CIF-SS Division 2 Round 1 game against Edison at San Juan Hills High School on Friday, November 2, 2018 in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. (Photo by Josh Barber, Contributing Photographer)

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“After my junior year,” Rhyan said, “I didn’t care about being nice to people. You’re there to play football. ‘You’re on the field and I’m on the field, and what happens is going to happen.’ ”

What happened was he became an outstanding offensive tackle his senior year at San Juan Hills High. Rhyan, 6-foot-4 and 311 pounds, was All-Orange County first team and All-CIF this past fall. He was ranked as one of the top offensive lineman prospects in the nation and signed with UCLA.

Rhyan also was among the top throwers in California track and field. He was CIF-Southern Section Division 1 champion in the shot put and finished third in the event at the CIF State Championships.

For his excellence in both sports, Rhyan is the Register’s Orange County male athlete of the year.

Not bad for a nice guy who had not tried either sport until he got to high school.

“I wasn’t interested in football,” he said. “I played rugby. In rugby you run with the ball and you tackle. Two basic forms of football, I guess.

“Rugby kind of got me tough, in a way. It was fun, too.”

Rhyan spent his freshman year at Capistrano Valley Christian High School, one of Orange County’s small private schools. Figuring that a higher level of football competition would take him to a higher level of performance, Rhyan and his parents decided he would transfer to the larger San Juan Hills.

Rhyan had designs on being a tight end at San Juan Hills. The San Juan Hills coaches correctly identified Rhyan as an offensive lineman.

He was All-South Coast League first team as a junior in 2017 and, after San Juan Hills moved to the Sea View League for the 2018 football season, he was All-Sea View League first team this past fall.

He also was a Sea View League offensive player of the year, an award that infrequently goes to a lineman.

Rhyan’s athleticism is unusual for a lineman. He has a vertical jump of 34 inches and was timed in the 40 at 5.4 seconds.


San Juan Hills’ Sean Rhyan is on The Register’s 2018 All-County football team. Photographed in Anaheim on Saturday, December 15, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

When track and field people talked about Orange County’s better throwers coming into this season Rhyan’s name was not included in the first few sentences of the conversation. He started throwing the shot and discus as a sophomore.

“I was not very good,” Rhyan acknowledged.

But, as he did in football, Rhyan’s ascension in the throwing events was fast and consistent.

He threw the shot put this season a personal-best 63 feet, 3.5 inches at the Orange County Championships in April. Rhyan won the CIF-SS Division 1 shot put title with a heave of 59-5.

Next was a 61-7.5 in the shot put at the CIF-SS Masters Meet. At the CIF State meet in Clovis his 61-6.5 got him third place, which in March seemed unlikely.

Rhyan’s mark of 155-8 in the discus was the eighth-best in Orange County this season.

His track and field days are over. Now it’s time for college football, and time to get mean again.

“We told him,” said San Juan Hills football coach Robert Frith, “’you’ve been big your whole life and you’ve been told to take it easy on the little guys. But now your job is to not take it easy on the little guys. Bring the nasty.’ ”

Rhyan is ready to take the nasty to UCLA.

“The coaches are good at UCLA,” Rhyan explained of his decision to play for the Bruins, “and the school is even better. I think in the future UCLA is going to be on the rise. Coach (Chip) Kelly has something cooking and I’m excited to be part of it.”

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Chapman baseball opens NCAA Division III World Series on Friday vs. Washington & Jefferson

The Chapman University baseball team opens the NCAA Division III baseball championships in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Friday at 8 a.m. PT against Washington & Jefferson College of Washington, Pa.

The Panthers (38-11) are making their 15th postseason appearance since joining Division III in 1995, but it’s their first CWS trip in eight years. They advanced to the eight-team, double-elimination World Series by sweeping Concordia University (of Texas) in a best-of-three super regional last weekend, taking the decisive game in walk-off fashion at Hart Park in Orange.

“It’s great for us to have a chance to play in the series,” said Chapman coach Scott Laverty, who took over the program three years ago. “It’s been a while since we have, and this will be a phenomenal experience for the players, for the seniors who have worked hard to get here and the younger players to be a part of this as a learning experience.”

Chapman won its only other Division III national title in 2003, but the program has enjoyed plenty of success beyond that. Chapman’s 1968 team won the Division II crown, the school’s first-ever national title in any sport. Once the Panthers transitioned to Division III in 1995, more success followed with CWS appearances in 1997, 2000 (finishing third) and 2001. The Panthers made six more CWS appearances after the 2003 title, including a third-place finish in 2006 and a runner-up finish in 2011.

These sixth-ranked Panthers are led by stingy pitching. Senior right-hander Tyler Peck (7-3, 1.72 ERA) leads Division III with 150 strikeouts in 104-1/3 innings, and sophomore closer Nick Garcia, also a right-hander, has nine saves and a 0.56 ERA in 48 innings. Peck and Garcia were named first-team All-Americans by D3baseball.com and added the same honor from the American Baseball Coaches Association on Thursday.

In the postseason, Laverty has leaned on the duo in the clinching game in each round. Peck went six innings in Game 5 against Whitman (Wash.) College then handed the ball to Garcia for the final nine outs. They used a similar formula in Game 2 of the Super Regional against Concordia last weekend. The Panthers walked off in the bottom of the ninth in both games as the duo combined for a 0.50 ERA and 24 strikeouts.

Tristan Kevitch and Jarod Penniman have paced the Chapman offense during its postseason run. After hitting .266 in the regular season, Kevitch is batting .556 (15 for 27) with five doubles and a home run in the playoffs. Penniman, a smooth-fielding shortstop, is hitting .444 (12 for 27) in the postseason and scored on a wild pitch to end the super regional.

“We knew we had a good team, and this was in our sites,” Laverty said of the CWS.

Washington & Jefferson is one of just two teams in the field (Webster, Mo. is the other) that did not play a home game during regional or super regional competition.

The Presidents swept their way through a regional at 12th-ranked Salisbury (Md.) University and swept super regional host Misericordia (Pa.) University to earn their second World Series berth in three seasons. The Presidents (37-11) are 16-2 in their last 18 road games, have won eight straight games overall and 34 of their last 38 overall.

The Presidents are led by a trio of seniors at the top of their lineup: center fielder Dante Dalesandro (.360 batting average, .459 on-base percentage, .522 slugging percentage, 41 RBIs, 14 stolen bases), second baseman Mullen Socha (eight HRs, 18 doubles, .600 slugging percentage, 49 RBIs, 51 runs scored, 14 stolen bases) and left fielder James Artale (seven HRs, 44 RBIs, .551 slugging percentage).

Junior right-hander Ben Marsico (11-1, 3.29 ERA) anchors a Washington & Jefferson pitching staff that includes senior right-handers Mitchell Taufer (3-0, 0.83 ERA, 32-2/3 innings) and Clay Martin (11 saves, five in the postseason) at the back of the bullpen.

Chapman will play its second game at 8 a.m. or 11:15 a.m. PT on Saturday, depending on the outcome of Friday’s opener.

The winner of the four-team double-elimination Pool A, which also includes 18th-ranked Webster and 23rd-ranked UMass-Boston, will advance to the best-of-three championship series against the Pool B winner. Pool B consists of No. 7 Babson (Mass.) College, No. 22 Johns Hopkins University (Md.), No. 15 Birmingham Southern (Ala.) College and Heidelberg (Ohio) University.

Tyler (of Texas) won the 2018 title in its first trip to the CWS. The Patriots swept Texas Lutheran in the best-of-three series 8-1 and 9-6 in Appleton, Wisc., where the tournament was played from 2000-2018.

DIVISION III COLLEGE WORLD SERIES

All games at Veterans Memorial Stadium, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; all times are PT

Friday

BRACKET 1:

Game 1: Chapman (38-11) vs. Washington & Jefferson (37-11), 8 a.m.

Game 2: Webster (37-11) vs. UMass-Boston (35-12), 11:15 a.m.

BRACKET 2:

Game 3: Babson (38-8) vs. John Hopkins (35-11), 2:30 p.m.

Game 4: Birmingham Southern (39-13) vs. Heidelberg (35-13), 5:45 p.m.

Saturday

BRACKET 1:

Game 5: Loser of Game 1 vs. Loser of Game 2, 8 a.m.

Game 6: Winner of Game 1 vs. Winner of Game 2, 11:15 a.m.

BRACKET 2:

Game 7: Loser of Game 3 vs. Loser of Game 4, 2:30 p.m.

Game 8: Winner of Game 3 vs. Winner of Game 4, 5:45 p.m.

Sunday

Game 9: Loser of Game 6 vs. Winner of Game 5, 8 a.m.

Game 10: Loser of Game 8 vs. Winner of Game 7, 11:15 a.m.

Game 11: Winner of Game 6 vs. Winner of Game 9, 2:30 p.m.

Game 12: Winner of Game 8 vs. Winner of Game 10, 5:45 p.m.

Monday*

Game 13 (if nec.): Winner of Game 11 vs. Loser of Game 11 , 10 a.m.

Game 14 (if nec.)**: Winner of Game 12 vs. Loser of Game 12, 10 a.m. or 1:30 p.m.

* Should neither of these game go to the “if necessary” game, the best-of-3 championship series begins at 10 a.m.

** If Game 13 is not necessary, Game 14 will be played at 10 a.m.

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CIF-SS baseball playoffs: Friday’s scores, updated schedule

Scores from the CIF-SS baseball playoff games on Friday and the updated schedule.

BASEBALL

DIVISION 1

Quarterfinals

Harvard-Westlake 4, Orange Lutheran 3

Huntington Beach 2, Aliso Niguel 1

Cypress 5, Yucaipa 1

Quarterfinal

Saturday, May 11, 3:15 p.m.

Mira Costa at La Mirada

Semifinals

Tuesday, May 14, 3:15 p.m.

Huntington Beach vs. Harvard-Westlake at O’Malley Field, Encino

TBD vs. Cypress

DIVISION 2

Quarterfinals

Santa Margarita 4, El Segundo 0

Redondo 5, Oaks Christian 3

Crescenta Valley 3, Quartz Hill 0

Norco 4, Villa Park 1

Semifinals

Tuesday, May 14, 3:15 p.m.

Santa Margarita at Redondo

Crescenta Valley at Norco

DIVISION 3

Quarterfinals

Yorba Linda 11, Serra 7

Great Oak 4, Northview 3

La Canada 2, Ocean View 1 (11 inn.)

Oak Hills 3, Torrance 2

Semifinals

Tuesday, May 14, 3:15 p.m.

Yorba Linda at Great Oak

La Canada at Oak Hills

DIVISION 4

Quarterfinals

Sonora 9, Irvine 0

Kennedy 5, Loara 0

Summit 4, Mary Star 0

Quarterfinals

Monday, May 13, 3:15 p.m.

Alhambra at Canyon Springs

Semifinals

Tuesday, May 14, 3:15 p.m.

TBD vs. Sonora

Kennedy at Summit

DIVISION 5

Quarterfinals

Pasadena Poly 2, Estancia 0

Rancho Verde 6, Rialto 3

Xavier Prep 5, Century 4

Orange Vista 4, Salesian 2

Semifinals

Tuesday, May 14, 3:15 p.m.

Pasadena Poly at Rancho Verde

Xavier Prep at Orange Vista

DIVISION 6

Quarterfinals

Costa Mesa 5, Vista del Lago 3

Calvary Murrieta 33, El Monte 5

St. Anthony 6, Faith Baptist 0

Rio Hondo Prep 5, Carpinteria 0

Semifinals

Tuesday, May 14, 3:15 p.m.

Calvary Murrieta at Costa Mesa

Rio Hondo Prep at St. Anthony

DIVISION 7

Quarterfinals

Santa Maria Valley Christian 14, United Christian 4

Arroyo 5, Edgewood 0

Rosemead 11, Southwestern Academy 1

Pasadena Marshall 3, Bosco Tech 2

Semifinals

Tuesday, May 14, 3:15 p.m.

Arroyo at Santa Maria Valley Christian

Pasadena Marshall at Rosemead

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Coachella 2019: For possible attendees, Kanye West’s Sunday Service is about location, location, location

Kanye West will take the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival attendees to church Easter morning with an exclusive weekend two Sunday Service at the campgrounds near lot 4B.

The performance will be just a few hours after West joined Kid Cudi on the Sahara Tent stage to close out day two of the festival.

If you want to watch West’s service in person, fans will need to get up bright and early to secure a good seat. While the event starts at 9 a.m., the parking lots open and shuttles start running at 6 a.m.

But for those who don’t have a Weekend 2 wristband, or a desire to wake up early, the performance will be featured on the YouTube stream.

The schedule has received mixed reactions from the festival crowd.

“I feel like it is exciting but it is a little bit inconvenient just because it is in the morning,” said Jana Hagekhalil, who is staying in a nearby hotel for the festival. “I used to be a Kanye fan but not so much these days.”

She planned to skip the service.

Meanwhile, on-site campers such as Lorena Lopez will wait until the morning of before making a commitment to see West, who headlined Coachella in 2011.

“The third day is always rough,” Lopez said. “It just depends on how my body feels.”

Unlike those who have to make the extra effort to get back to the festival from their off-site accommodations, the unconventional location could benefit Coachella car campers.

“They are literally performing right next to my campsite,” Adrian Gulpane said on Friday afternoon. “I heard the sound check and they’re going to play a lot of good stuff.”

Gulpane believes that West could still add preaching to his performance despite what he heard during the soundcheck.

Long before West made the announcement about his regular faith-based concert coming to Coachella on social media a few weeks ago, there had been speculation that he would be one of the headliners for the 2019 festival.

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Dueling use-of-force bills spur heated Capitol debate

Community activists packed the state Capitol on Tuesday as an Assembly committee mulled a controversial measure that would require police officers to conform to a stricter standard before using deadly force.

Assembly Bill 392 by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, is one of two high-profile police use-of-force bills making its way through the Legislature.

Police and activists don’t agree on much, except that the issue has become highly emotional and is in need of legislative action. Police organizations argue that AB392’s changes could endanger officers as they make split-second decisions. Reformers say that too many Californians — especially African-American and Latino men and mentally disabled people — have been unnecessarily killed by officers in recent years.

It is a life-and-death issue that hasn’t been reviewed for eons. In fact, California’s lethal-force law dates back to 1872. The Assembly Public Safety Committee ultimately voted 5-2 to approve the Weber bill, but it faces a rocky road given the opposition from some of the most powerful political forces in the state. Indeed, a couple of lawmakers supported the bill not because they necessarily agree with its content, but because they want to keep the conversation alive.

Specifically, the Weber bill “Limits the use of deadly force by a peace officer to those situations where it is necessary to defend against a threat of imminent serious bodily injury or death to the officer or to another person,” according to the Assembly analysis. It’s the same bill she introduced last year, but it has garnered more momentum this year after police shot to death a Sacramento man whose cellphone they mistook for a gun.

The alternative law enforcement-backed measure is Senate Bill 230, which would leave the use-of-force standard the same, but would require local agencies to adopt new policies. It also calls on a state agency to establish new standards and guidelines. The bill includes some attorney general-recommended reforms, but is the epitome of a “do little” bill, given that it punts on the toughest issues, mainly calls for more training and gives agencies a pretext to ask for more taxpayer money to do what they already should be doing: training officers to de-escalate situations and deal with difficult encounters.

Under current law, police officers may use deadly force if it is deemed to be “reasonable.” In reality, officers almost always say they feared for their life and that using their weapon was reasonable under the circumstances. That’s often true, but not always. District attorneys are reluctant to press charges given the broad nature of the standard. Even when video footage reveals a troubling decision by the officer, that decision usually is deemed “reasonable.” Changing that standard to “necessary” would be a substantive change.

Police have to make quick decisions, but so do members of the public in some police interactions. “They can be in the right place, they can say the right thing, they can have the right attitude when approached by an officer, and still find themselves in situations that take their lives,” Weber said.

We’re not sure her bill is the ideal approach, but its specific and substantive proposals are far more likely to keep a real and necessary conversation going than a superficial alternative designed mainly to give nervous legislators political cover.

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New bill would allow DACA holders paid jobs in Congress

Immigrant youth without permanent legal status would get a shot at paid work in Congress under a bill scheduled to be introduced Wednesday, April 3.

Sen. Kamala Harris, (D-California,) and two other senators are introducing the “American Dream Employment Act,” which would amend current law to allow DACA recipients paid internships and other employment in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.

Current law allows paid employment in Congress to people who are citizens or lawful permanent residents who are on their way to becoming citizens. That bars people who have a temporary work permit under DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a controversial program created by President Obama and at risk of being dismantled under the Trump administration.

DACA holders are younger immigrants brought to the country illegally as children who have two-year renewable deferments from deportation. The DACA status comes with a social security number and a work permit but no direct path to citizenship.

“The giant sign outside my office says ‘DREAMers Welcome Here’ because we know and value the contributions that these young people have made to their communities. But right now, those same young people are banned from giving back to their country by working for Congress. That has to change,” Harris said in a news release.

“Government works best when it reflects the people it represents. Our nation’s DREAMers are some of our best and brightest, and it’s time they had the opportunity to get a job or paid internship on Capitol Hil,” she said.

(DACA holders and other younger immigrants are called “Dreamers” based on a proposed federal law called the Dream Act that was never passed.)

The proposed bill from Senators Harris, Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nevada,) and Dick Durbin (D-Illinois,) is similar to one introduced by Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Arizona,) in the House, where it has 57 bipartisan co-sponsors. Co-sponsors of Kirkpatrick’s bill include Rep. Luis Correa, D-Santa Ana, and Rep. Gil Cisneros, (D-Yorba Linda).

The legislation is supported by various pro-immigrant rights organizations, including United We Dream, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, (CHIRLA,) and the Los Angeles-based National Immigration Law Center.

Please check back later for more on this story

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University boys seeded second to Harvard-Westlake for All-American tennis tournament

University and Harvard-Westlake are ranked first-second, respectively, in the latest CIF-SS Division 1 boys tennis poll.

But entering this weekend’s 20th National High School Tennis All-American Tournament, they flipped spots.

Harvard-Westlake is seeded first while University is second for the prestigious 16-team tournament, which runs Friday and Saturday in Orange County.

University edged Harvard-Westlake 9-9 on games about a month ago but the Wolverines are the reigning CIF-SS Division 1 champion

The tournament begins Friday at 8:30 a.m. at University and Corona del Mar and progresses toward Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. final at Palisades Tennis Club in Newport Beach.

University opens by playing host to Brophy Jesuit Prep of Phoenix, Ariz. at 8:30 a.m. Friday.

Corona del Mar, the only other county team in the field, plays host to Gilman of Maryland in another 8:30 a.m. start on Friday.

Torrey Pines and defending champion Menlo are seeded third, fourth respectively. Division 1 contender Peninsula and Palos Verdes also are part of the field.

 

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Video: Anaheim stays positive after falling in SoCal Division V final

Check out the highlights and postgame comments from Anaheim’s game at Ramona in the CIF Southern California Regional Division V championship game Tuesday night in Riverside. Video by Dan Albano, Orange County Register

 

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We must see homeless people as human beings: Letters

Re “Pushing hard to change public perception” (Nov. 11):

Regarding this article about whether or not the hearts and mind of people could be changed in order to support housing homeless people, I strongly believe that they can be changed.

In my hometown of Anaheim, I have seen an increase in homeless people, especially after the closing of the riverbed. The homeless had to find new places to live and most relocated to nearby parks like Boysen Park.

I believe that a homeless person has not chosen to be in that situation, but there are so many other factors that make it difficult to find affordable housing. I believe we can change the mind of society by informing them and educating them on the issue.

I have dealt with the homeless on several occasions and they are human beings just like the rest of us. They are looking for an opportunity and a way to change their lives just like we all do.

There should be information meetings that offer more information about homelessness and what we can do as a society to help and not see the homeless as a problem or burden.

Also, having classes in both English and Spanish will help get the message out clearer and make people informed.

— Ruby Felix, Anaheim

Thank you for defending judicial independence

Re “Chief justice, Trump spar in rare scrap over judges” (Nov. 22):

Thank you, Chief Justice John Roberts. For the longest time I have felt that too many judges seem to go well beyond interpreting the law to creating or amending it for ideological purposes.

To discover that it is not so is a great source of relief to myself and many others.

— Tony Wolcott, Newport Beach

Gavin Newsom’s tweet

People, get ready. Our new entitlement Governor-elect Gavin Newsom is just warming up with this tweet about the southern border invasion:

“These children are barefoot. In diapers. Choking on tear gas. Women and children who left their lives behind — seeking peace and asylum — were met with violence and fear. That’s not my America. We’re a land of refuge. Of hope. Of freedom.”

How many of these lawbreakers is Newsom putting up at his home? It’s going to come from your wallet, not his or his elitist backers’.

— Arnold Gregg, Anaheim Hills

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Cal State Fullerton expert finds the Monkees were a steppin’ stone to cultural change

  • Rosanne Welch, Cal State Fullerton lecturer in cinema and television arts, is the author of a book on the Monkees.

    Rosanne Welch, Cal State Fullerton lecturer in cinema and television arts, is the author of a book on the Monkees.

  • Rosanne Welch is a lecturer in cinema and television arts at Cal State Fullerton. (Photo courtesy of Rosanne Welch)

    Rosanne Welch is a lecturer in cinema and television arts at Cal State Fullerton. (Photo courtesy of Rosanne Welch)

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  • “It was the critics who didn’t take their music seriously. But their music had legs,” says  Rosanne Welch, a lecturer at Cal State Fullerton who has written a book on the 1960s band and its television show. (AP file photo)

    “It was the critics who didn’t take their music seriously. But their music had legs,” says Rosanne Welch, a lecturer at Cal State Fullerton who has written a book on the 1960s band and its television show. (AP file photo)

  • In this 1966 file photo, cast members of the television show “The Monkees,” from top left, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, from lower left, Micky Dolenz, and Peter Tork pose next to their Monkeemobile, a customized Pontiac GTO. (AP file photo)

    In this 1966 file photo, cast members of the television show “The Monkees,” from top left, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, from lower left, Micky Dolenz, and Peter Tork pose next to their Monkeemobile, a customized Pontiac GTO. (AP file photo)

  • The Monkees were huge teen idols. When Davy Jones got married, it was kept secret to avoid upsetting his fans.

    The Monkees were huge teen idols. When Davy Jones got married, it was kept secret to avoid upsetting his fans.

  • Rosanne Welch met Micky Dolenz in 1986. (Photo courtesy of Rosanne Welch)

    Rosanne Welch met Micky Dolenz in 1986. (Photo courtesy of Rosanne Welch)

  • Rosanne Welch with Peter Tork and Micky Dolenz during their 50th-anniversary tour in 2016 in St. Louis. (Photo courtesy of Rosanne Welch)

    Rosanne Welch with Peter Tork and Micky Dolenz during their 50th-anniversary tour in 2016 in St. Louis. (Photo courtesy of Rosanne Welch)

  • This June 4, 1967, photo shows the Monkees with their Emmy at the 19th annual Primetime Emmy Awards. The group members are, from left, Mike Nesmith, Davy Jones, Peter Tork, and Micky Dolenz. (AP file photo)

    This June 4, 1967, photo shows the Monkees with their Emmy at the 19th annual Primetime Emmy Awards. The group members are, from left, Mike Nesmith, Davy Jones, Peter Tork, and Micky Dolenz. (AP file photo)

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She’s a believer.

And after Rosanne Welch spoke recently to a gathering of Cal State Fullerton students and faculty, many of them were left also believing that the Monkees, the 1960s boy band, had a greater impact on television, music and pop culture than they had thought.

Illustrated with slides of the Monkees with Paul McCartney and Janis Joplin, on cereal boxes and in pop culture references long after their heyday, Welch’s talk laid out evidence that the group’s TV show made strong feminist statements and advanced such TV practices as characters addressing the audience, used today on such shows as “Modern Family” and “House of Cards.”

“They influenced so many of today’s modern-day performers and yet people keep forgetting about that,” said Welch.

Welch, a lecturer in the Department of Cinema and Television Arts, wrote the book “Why the Monkees Matter.” She spoke as part of Pollak Library’s Faculty Noon-Time Talks, a series that invited faculty members to share their research.

Welch has written for the shows “Picket Fences,” “Beverly Hills 90210” and “Touched by an Angel.” She has edited “Women in American History” and written “America’s Forgotten Founding Father,” a novel based on the life of Filippo Mazzei, who is credited with the line “All men are created equal.”

But such lofty projects have a hard time competing with Welch’s favorite show when she was 7.

“The Monkees,” which ran from 1966 to 1968 on NBC, focused on the misadventures of a Beatles-like rock band, whose songs highlighted each episode. While the four band members were cast for the show, and did not play their own instruments at first, they all had some degree of musical experience and went on to play, and often write, their own music and record until 1971.

The show won two Emmys its first season — for outstanding comedy and comedy directing.

Welch got interested in the Monkees from a research standpoint when she was asked by Cal State Fullerton to present a class for high schoolers in the GEAR UP summer program, looking critically at a TV show. She chose “The Monkees,” only to discover it was far more innovative than she’d given it credit for as a child.

“In the ’60s, people in the know knew that this was something different and worth paying attention to,” she said.

She wrote a story on the show for a screenwriters magazine, tracking down seven of the original 15 writers, many of whom went on to win Emmys, including Treva Silverman, the first woman who wrote for TV without a male partner.

Then she wrote a book.

Welch set the stage for her CSUF audience by describing what the nation had been watching before “The Monkees” debuted: blander family shows such as “The Lucy Show” and “The Andy Griffith Show,” often in black and white.

Then she detailed what was innovative about “The Monkees”:

It contained social justice messages — something that got the Smothers Brothers canceled — which were overlooked by network executives who considered “The Monkees” a kids show. There were references to the Vietnam War, communism in Southeast Asia and the war on poverty.

“Timothy Leary watched and said it was far deeper than anyone else had given it credit for,” Welch said. The LSD guru wrote: “And woven into the fast-moving psychedelic stream of action were the prophetic, holy, challenging words.”

The song “Randy Scouse Git,” written by Micky Dolenz, included the lyrics “Why don’t you hate who I hate/ Kill who I kill to be free?”

“If that’s not a Vietnam War protest song, I don’t know what is,” Welch said. “They got away with singing that on broadcast television, in their hippy-dippy clothes.”

It took a progressive feminist approach. Sure, many episodes were about the four boys meeting girls. But every single girl who dated the boys had a job, Welch said. And in each case, we met her through her job first.

“They weren’t bubbleheads,” she said. “They weren’t waiting around to get married. I think that was an interesting message in 1966.” Never did the boys want a girl only because she was pretty; it was about getting a smart girl, she said.

In one episode, a girl turns down Davy Jones to do her job. Later in that episode, the boys get kidnapped and a girl rescues them, flipping the usual trope. In another episode, the actress Julie Newmar (Catwoman on “Batman”) guest-starred as the owner of a laundromat earning her doctorate (in laundry).

“If you were a girl watching in 1966, you learned that to get a Monkee you didn’t want to be a cheerleader; you wanted to be a woman of value because that’s who they would look at,” Welch said.

It furthered metatextuality, in which there’s a second level of commentary that makes observations on what’s going on.

In particular, the show routinely broke the fourth wall with the audience. George Burns and Jack Benny had done that when they talked to the screen, Welch said, but no show was doing it in the 1960s.

The series would joke about the action, such as superimposing writing on the screen to identify one actor as a friend of the producer. In one episode the quartet shows up at NBC’s offices.

“They’re letting you in on the joke,” Welch said. The younger, hipper audience could think “We’re part of this thing.”

She also pointed out the impact of the band and its TV show on popular culture at the time and since.

“There’s this idea that they weren’t very important and then disappeared,” she said. But a little digging shows they were culturally relevant then and still are.

  • They were friends with the Beatles, she noted. John Lennon would go to Dolenz’s house and jam.
  • Peter Tork was at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, where he was asked to go onstage during the Grateful Dead’s set and quiet the crowd. And the crowd listened to him. (Tork had played with Stephen Stills in Greenwich Village before Stills auditioned for “The Monkees,” was rejected and recommended Tork.)
  • Shows including “Breaking Bad” and “Mad Men” have used Monkees songs, introducing them to a new generation, as have covers of Monkees songs, including Smash Mouth’s version of “I’m a Believer” on the “Shrek” soundtrack.
  • Rachel Maddow interviewed Tork in 2012, after the death of Davy Jones, and gushed over how much she loved “The Monkees” and learned about the 1960s from watching its reruns on MTV.
  • The Monkees’ 12th album, “Good Times!”, released for the group’s 50th anniversary in 2016 was ranked by Rolling Stone magazine among its top 50 albums of the year.

“Suddenly it’s cool to like the Monkees now,” Welch said.

Welch met Dolenz in 1986 after a concert in Cleveland. She still has his phone number from an earlier phone interview, though it no longer works. Dolenz was her favorite Monkee, she said.

“My theory was there’s more girls in line for Davy, so I’d have better luck with the guy with the shorter line.”

Editor’s note: In the interest of journalistic transparency, this reporter acknowledges having constructed, in 1967, a Monkees fort in her closet, where she could daydream about Davy Jones.

 

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