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In the limelight: local athletes receive national attention

Posted: July 11, 2009 8:27 p.m.
Updated: July 12, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Christian Lopes, left, and Courtney Proctor, two local athletes, appeared in a Sports Illustrated “Where will they be?” article this week. Christian Lopes, left, and Courtney Proctor, two local athletes, appeared in a Sports Illustrated “Where will they be?” article this week.
Christian Lopes, left, and Courtney Proctor, two local athletes, appeared in a Sports Illustrated “Where will they be?” article this week.

Hart High graduate Joe Kapp was on the cover 29 years ago this month.

In recent years there were mentions of Hart graduate James Shields, Canyon graduate Nate Longshore and Valencia graduate Jessica Spigner.

But nothing ever like this.

Add to it, no other city in the United States can boast the same distinction.

Canyon Country residents Christian Lopes and Courtney Proctor are featured in the July 13-20 issue of Sports Illustrated — pictures and write-ups and all.

Lopes and Proctor are two of just 14 teenagers in the country to be profiled in the “Where will they be?” section, focusing on future stars.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever been in a magazine,” said Proctor, 15. “It’s an honor to represent the country, my club team, the city.”

Lopes, 16, said his father, Jack, ran out Wednesday night and purchased six copies of the magazine.

“I don’t think it has hit me yet,” Lopes said. “My close ones are all excited. Maybe one day it will be like ‘Wow’ for me.”

Jack said he has no idea how his son was selected for the issue.

He had a message on his answering machine saying: “This is Sports Illustrated. Can you call us back?”

Proctor’s mother, Sue, managed to scrounge up 10 magazines on a late-night run Wednesday.

Sue said she didn’t know how SI heard of her daughter but suspected USA Soccer recommended her.

Both athletes represent the United States in their respective sports — Lopes in baseball and Proctor in soccer.

Lopes, who will be a junior at Valencia in August, was on the U16 USA Baseball team in 2008 that won a gold medal in the Pan Am
Championship in Mexico. He was selected to try out for the U18 team this summer.

Proctor, who is home-schooled and will also be a junior, represents the U17 National soccer team.

Both have resumes that justify their spots in the nation’s premiere sports magazine.

As a 10-year-old, Lopes cried when he was taken to play at William S. Hart baseball complex because he was scared to play.

Three years later, he was named the U13 Player of the Year in 2006 by National Youth Baseball.

He set a Santa Clarita Valley record in 2009 for most home runs in a season by a high school baseball player.

He hit 15 homers and it was only his sophomore year.

“I see a 16-year-old with a lot of potential,” he says of himself. “I see a player who potentially could do great things. Usually I’m not a power hitter, but this year has been great.”

Proctor started playing soccer for AYSO as a 6-year-old, then was invited to play for club team Santa Clarita United’s U12 squad as a 9-year-old.

She then played for an Olympic Developmental team.

Last November, she was invited to play for the U17 National Team.

In January, Proctor scored her first goal in international competition in a game against Germany. In two games for the national team, she has scored twice.

She is training for the 2010 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago.

Proctor’s father, Pete, said his daughter’s best attributes are her speed and the force of her kicks. He said there’s a different sound when her foot meets the ball than that of other girls her age.

Likewise, it’s the violence from Lopes’ bat that makes him stand out.

Santa Clarita Valley high school baseball coaches have overwhelmingly sung his praises, some even saying he is a future first-round Major League Baseball draft pick.

With all the attention these two are bound to receive comes a lot of pressure.

Lopes said it’s not a big deal.

“I don’t want to think about pressure,” he said. “The expectations will get bigger as you get older. You can’t look at that. It will set you back.”

Proctor said the pressure drives her.

“I don’t mind. I love to be pushed,” she said. “It makes me work harder.”

Lopes and Proctor had never heard of each other until this week.

They met for the first time Thursday afternoon.

Now the country’s getting to meet them — two of the Santa Clarita Valley’s own — courtesy of Sports Illustrated.



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