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Hometown Hockey Heroes Honored By City Leaders

Rancho Santa Margarita's city council recognizes Santa Margarita Catholic's ice hockey club, which won the state championship this year. Murder victim Elvis Kechechian, the team's trainer, is remembered.

For the second time in 2012, the Rancho Santa Margarita City Council had a state championship winning sports team in its council chambers.

Back in January, it was .

On Wednesday night, the council honored the Santa Margarita Catholic High ice hockey club for winning this year's state championship.

“You’ve made the city very proud,” Mayor Tony Beall said to the gathered students, family and coaches at the beginning of the meeting. “The Eagle players and coaching staff are great representatives of the city of Rancho Santa Margarita.”

After players and coaches gathered in front of the dais, Beall read a proclamation recognizing the team for its efforts.

In addition to being local league champions for the third consecutive year, the Eagles won the California Amateur Hockey Association’s State Championship with a

Mayor Pro Tem Steve Baric congratulated the state champions on their efforts, saying that the victory was “extremely special” for him, because he grew up playing hockey.

“When I heard about your success, and I followed your trials and tribulations through the tournament … I was so excited,” Baric said. “I am so fired up and so looking forward to helping you grow the program over the next several years."

But Baric wasn't done.

“And I’m really excited that all of you have all of your own teeth,” he said to laughter from the crowd.  

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It was in contrast to a rather emotional moment as well that came from assistant coach Mitch O'Brien, who said "I appreciate this opportunity to recognize these kids."

But then O'Brien turned to more serious matters, indicating that the team had also played through tragedy, the death of Elvis Kechechian, who was buried in his coaching gear last summer.

Mission Viejo resident Kechechian and his friend .

“On June 11 last year we lost our strength and conditioning coach to a horrible homicide. Our boys endured," O'Brien said, taking a long pause from the emotion, "a very tough beginning for the season.

“And we miss Elvis tremendously. And he’s on this proclamation because he made these boys stronger.”

City allocates grant money

The City Council approved the draft of a plan to use $428,964 in federal grant money on city improvements and funding for public service groups and fair housing services.

According to city staff, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development notified staff that the city will receive a grant of $198,842 this year, about 10.2 percent less than last year.

In addition to the new sum there is $230,122 left over from previous unused grant money—$428,964 in total. 

Some of the planned city improvements the money would fund include new flooring in parts of the Bell Tower Community Center and pavement renovations on Cozy Glen and Lindsay Streets. 

All together, the council plans to budget $359,418 of the grant money for local improvements and $39,720 for fair housing services and local administration of the Community Development Block Grant program—the official name of the HUD program that provides the grant money.

Officials also plan to budget $29,826 in grants to local public service groups.

Here’s the breakdown for the planned grant amounts for local groups, according to city staff.

  • Age Well Senior Services Inc.:  $4,000
  • Bell Tower Foundation:  $2,500
  • Families Forward: $4,500
  • Laura’s House: $6,126
  • South County Outreach: $8,700
  • Vocational Visions: $4,000

Other business

• As part of RSM’s student recognition program, officials honored two eighth-grade students from St. John’s Episcopal School: Alex Rafatjoo and Rachel Hershorin.

• Beall encouraged residents to take a water pledge to save water for the National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation.  

“This current water pledge conversation challenge is pretty simple,” Beall said. “Residents just fill out a pledge at mywaterpledge.com and commit to conserving water from March 30 to April 30.” 

“You simply check boxes saying what you’re willing to do save water.”

J.P. April 27, 2012 at 12:04 AM
Congratulations to all the players and coaches. This was a well-deserved recognition.
Terry and Joe Martin April 27, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Congratulations Eagles Varsity Ice Hockey! We are very proud of all of you.
Martin Henderson (Editor) April 28, 2012 at 01:19 PM
I've added another video that includes comments by Coach Mitch O'Brien and a musical tribute to the team.

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