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Inland Empire local sports finds a voice

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Do you ever wish you could flip on the radio and catch a local high school sports score? Or get an update on your favorite local amateur hockey team? Or maybe catch an interview with a young prospect from a local minor league club?

Now, sports fans in the Inland Empire can do just that. Starting on September 1, 2013 Sports Empire hits the airwaves on KCAA radio, 1050 AM every Sunday morning at 8 a.m. Each show will be dedicated to sports action throughout San Bernardino and Riverside Counties.

This grassroots endeavor is the brainchild of host Brian "Coach B" Arrington, Inland Empire youth football coach and founder of the Fontana Lancers Youth Football & Cheer program.

We recently had the good fortune of sitting down with Coach B to chat about his new local radio show and what it means for youth and amateur sports throughout Southern California and here’s what he had to say:

Question: Before we talk about your radio show, tell the readers a little bit about yourself. Where did you grow up and what school did you go to?

Brian “Coach B” Arrington: Before I moved to the Inland Empire I grew up in Downey and went to Downey High School.

Q: Did you play sports?

Coach B: I did. I played football and basketball.

Q: And how did you get involved coaching youth sports?

Coach B: I started coaching my oldest son in flag football when he was just 4-years old and that’s when I really got into coaching.

When I was a kid I wasn’t allowed to play youth football and so I didn’t really start playing organized football until I was in high school. And because I didn’t know what I was doing, I got hurt. So when my kids wanted to play, I wanted to make sure I was there to teach them the correct way to play, so they wouldn’t get hurt. I wanted to do that for my kids and for all kids. I didn’t want to see any kid get hurt like I did.

Q: So how did you parlay your coaching experience into a sports radio show?

Coach B: Well I thought my career was going to be that of a journalist. I was the sports editor for my high school paper and I've always been involved with journalism and writing. I got involved with writing for Examiner.com and I hosted a hip-hop radio show at KCAA. One day I just decided I didn’t want to do music anymore. So I pitched them the idea to do a sports show covering the local sports scene out here in the Inland Empire.

You know, there are over 4 million people living in this area and there’s no devoted sports coverage. If you were to pick up the Inland Empire and move it to another state, we'd be like a Chicago, New York or L.A. But here we just get bunched into the L.A. market. So I wanted to do a locally produced broadcast show in this area covering all local sports.

Q: That's a lot of sports to cover! How are you going to do all that?

Coach B: Right now we're trying to get as many people involved as we can. We're working hard to build it, getting the word out and networking. I see it like this: I dug a hole, put seeds in it, and now we're trying to get it to grow.

Q: There are a lot of nice sports venues out there as well.

Coach B: Yes. AEG has a fairly new venue out here called Citizens Bank Arena that holds about 10,000 people. It’s the home of the pro hockey team, Ontario Reign of the ECHL

Q: So what can listeners expect to hear when they tune in to Sports Empire?

Coach B: We'll report on everything from youth football to high school football. I even have a roller derby team coming in. Anything that's I.E. based we're going to cover it. For news on bigger sports teams, people can go to ESPN or Fox Sports. But we want to be the source for local I.E. coverage. Local grassroots coverage.

It’s a live show, so in the beginning we’ll have all our guests in the studio live. Eventually I want to get recording equipment so we can catch an interview after a game and broadcast it later. For example, we have three minor league teams affiliated with Major League Baseball out here. I know players are not coming into the studio at 8 a.m. on Sunday morning, so we'll have to go out to them.

Q: Here in the OC we like to keep tabs on our enemies… I mean opponents. Will we be able to tune in to your show out here?

Coach B: Yes. And if you can’t get a signal, you can listen online. Just go to KCAARadio.com. We’re also on TunIn and iHeart Radio. Or you can listen to us via podcast. Even if you don’t live in the I.E. everyone knows someone who lives in the Inland Empire so it’s worth tuning in.

Q: A lot of great athletes have come out of the Inland Empire. In your opinion, who is the one pro athlete you think of when you think Inland Empire sports?

Coach B: I think the greatest athlete to ever come out of here is probably a guy named Ronnie Lott, who went to Eisenhower High School in Rialto. So everyone knows Ronnie Lott. He's probably the greatest athlete I can think of to come out of the Inland Empire.

Q: Youth sports has a huge following. Look at the coverage being given to Little League World Series. Why do you think youth sports resonates with people?

Coach B: And speaking of Little League and great venues, West Coast Regional Little League Field is out here in San Bernardino.

But I think youth sports resonates because it’s just a wholesome time. When you think about it, those kids are playing for the love and passion of sports. They're not pro athletes. They're not (Heisman Trophy winner) Johnny Manziel. They’re just kids. It's innocent, an innocent time and its fun.

Q: It’s important to keep it in perspective, isn’t it?

Coach B: When I ran my youth program I had to remind my coaches that the NFL was not going to call them to coach next week (laughs). This is a youth football program, so calm down.

Q: As a coach you've worked with a lot of student athletes. What do you think is the biggest challenge student athletes face today?

Coach B: I think time management. Because it takes a lot to be a great athlete but when you're a student athlete, school needs to come first. With our players we always tell them to hit those books. And if the kids are cutting up in school, we tell the parents let us know. We'll make sure we run it out of them. So our biggest thing is to make sure they're academically sound.

Q: It seems like a lot of kids these days are interested in getting into broadcasting or sports journalism. Do you have any advice for them?

Coach B: I didn’t have a lot of experience when I started out. But I just put myself out there. So I would say just get yourself out there. The industry has changed so much and there are so many opportunities and options for young kids today.

When I was younger if you wanted a career in sports journalism, you’d go to school to become a sports reporter for a newspaper or magazine. Now you can just create a blog or podcast.

So if you’re serious, create a sports blog. Get your name out there and start reporting. It’s so much easier to get exposure these days. Social media is huge and everyone’s on it. Whenever I do something or write something for Examiner.com, I tweet about it or I put it on my Facebook.

Q: What’s the ultimate goal for Sports Empire?

Coach B: We want to be the Inland Empire sports authority. So whenever someone wants to get news about Inland Empire sports, we want to be their main source. We want to be the ESPN of the Inland Empire.

Another goal for us is to expand the show so it’s not just hosted by me. I’d like to have different hosts from time to time. And speaking of kids who want to break into the business, we can help do that too, because we need involvement from the community.

If this is going to grow and get bigger, it just can't be me. We want to be broadcasting all day Saturday and all day Sunday. Like I said, it’s a grassroots project and we realize that in the beginning we’ll start small but we’ll grow. Eventually we want to broadcast games on TV, but for now we know radio is a good start for us.

Q: One more question, Coach and we’ll let you go. Give us your expert opinion–which football team out of the I.E. should we be watching to win CIF-SS this year?

Coach B: The powerhouse out here is always Corona Centennial. They're always going to have a shot at a title. They made it to the CIF State Championship Bowl last year, but lost to De La Salle. Vista Murrieta High School is another great program.

Q: Well good luck Coach. Bringing local sports to a community in this way is bound to be a hit. I know a lot of people are looking forward to it. We're rooting for you out in Orange County!

Coach B: Well, I appreciate the support. Thank you so much.

Connect with Empire Sports:
Facebook: facebook.com/IESportsNet
Twitter: twitter.com/IESportsNet
Instagram: instagram.com/IESportsNet

Connect with Coach B:
Facebook: facebook.com/IECoachB
Twitter: twitter.com/IECoachB
Instagram: instagram.com/IECoachB
And don’t forget to check out Coach B’s column on Examiner.com!

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