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Columnist Olivia Garcia

Every now and then, when I visit Danny Edwards, a journalism professor at Bakersfield College, inside The Renegade Rip campus office, I can't help but remember.

More than 20 years ago, I walked into that very same location of The Rip, as a then young, nervous and idealistic first-generation college kid. I also happened to be pretty unsure of myself, other than knowing that I wanted to write for the school paper. Little did I know how much my time at The Rip would change me and influence my life in countless positive ways.

The memories are even greater these days as preparations are underway for the first Bakersfield College Renegade Rip Reunion Celebration to be held at 5 p.m. May 10 at BC. A dinner and program will be provided.

The Renegade Rip is the BC student campus weekly newspaper whose history dates back to 1929. Since then, it has earned numerous student awards from the Journalism Association of Community Colleges, and many of its former Rip staffers have gone on to bigger and greater things in various media fields and even outside the journalism profession.

For this reason and more, event organizers Edwards and Bona Dillon, retired Rip adviser and wife of the well-known Larry Press, former longtime sports columnist of The Bakersfield Californian, are seeking former Rip staffers and inviting the supporters to attend the May 10 event.

Both Dillon and Edwards have been working hard on the effort since last year and are spreading the word in hopes of reaching as many former Rip staffers as possible. Although I am fortunate to know Edwards and Dillon, neither one was my Rip adviser during my student days.

Instead, back in 1990, Kathy Freeman, also formerly of The Californian, became my journalism/Rip adviser and teacher. She had just stepped into new role and on the first day of class, laid out some huge expectations. I seriously didn't think I would survive.

But through her, I not only fell in love with journalism, I learned how to grow and thrive in college, believe in my abilities and understand that dreams can come true if you set your heart on them -- and that meant a lot for a poor kid coming the east side of town who wasn't quite sure what the future would hold.

In what Edwards and Dillon have done for their students, Freeman, who now teaches English at BC, did that for me during my freshman and sophomore years at BC. She became my teacher, mentor, my biggest cheerleader and critic, my personal counselor and eventually my good friend. She was there for me when I lost the main anchor in my life -- my grandmother -- to cancer, all the while challenging me to become a stronger reporter and writer, and a better student. She never gave up on me. For that, I am beyond thankful to the BC Renegade Rip program. Hope to see you on May 10.

If you would like to more information, please call Edwards at 395-4344 or email or email Dillon at

Soccer, anyone?: The Bakersfield Organized Soccer League is currently accepting potential players for its co-ed and women's teams to kick off its upcoming season. Interested players can range from high school level (with parents' approval) to adults, said Linda Gutierrez, a league member. The sign-up deadline is Friday, March 7. The first game will be held Sunday, March 9. "Our goal this year is to add more teams into our league," Gutierrez said. Games will be played on Sundays at the Kern County Soccer Park. Individual player fees are $40 while team fees are $600. The fees include field and referee fees, Gutierrez said. For more information, please visit or email or call 393-0486.

In addition, the league plans to participate in the Kern County Invitational Soccer Tournament, which will be held March 29 and 30.

All-weather athletes: The 55th annual East Bakersfield Track Relays took place on Saturday at Bakersfield College. I have to give much recognition to the high school track and field athletes who didn't let the wet weather damper their spirits. The rain and wind picked up about noon, forcing the athletes in the infield area to bear through it with little (a hoodie or cap) to no coverage in sight. Yet they remained focused on the day's efforts, smiling and cheering for their fellow teammates. And the parents deserve praise, too, as I saw many parents and families huddling under umbrellas if they had one or just plain dealing with the rain, camera exposed and all, in the name of supporting these young athletes. I was there to see my boys, Diego and Mateo, and nephew Brendan Reyes compete. But I saw many young athletes in great form, including Morganne Hill of Liberty High School, Cooper Adamo and Maggie Baker of Bakersfield High School, Savannah Berry of Highland High School and Seth Garza of Garces High School, to name a few.

Olivia Garcia is editor of Bakersfield Life and BWell magazines and a columnist of The Bakersfield Californian. These are her opinions, not necessarily those of The Bakersfield Californian. Send her tips at