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Beijing Olympics:

Happy Days will be in China

TRACK AND FIELD: Sharon Day’s parents and younger sister leave for Beijing Monday to watch their favorite high jumper.

August 16, 2008|By Steve Virgen

Eugene, who coached Sharon when she starred at Costa Mesa High, never expected to go to Beijing, but he must have had a feeling he was going to be able to see his eldest daughter compete in the Olympics. Earlier in the year, he asked for three weeks off in August at his job, working in administrative computing services at UC Irvine.

He works during the night, 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. He has kept those type of hours for the past 23 years, so he could be able to be around his children during the day and coach them, too.

In addition to Sharon and Jasmin, he also coached his son, Louis, who also excelled in sports at Costa Mesa. Jasmin did as well, and now competes for Arizona. She was also competing in the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials with her older sister.

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Eugene and his wife have attended plenty of sporting events in town throughout the time their children grew up. People saw how hard the family worked and how great Sharon had become, so they wanted to give back to them, their friends said.

“They have a lot of friends, they are loved by a lot of people,” said Diane Bjelland, Costa Mesa’s track and field coach. “They have done a lot for the community. Sharon has put the school on the map. She is just a marvelous person, not just a great athlete.”

When most people in the area talk about Sharon, they do so with a smile and speak with pride. At Costa Mesa High, there have been well wishes seen coming across the electronic marquee at the school for the past month.

Joanne Krikorian, a close friend of the family, could not believe her neighbors would be staying at home while their daughter would be competing in the Olympics. Krikorian called Bjelland and others to help start the rally.

“It’s been phenomenal the way people just stepped up,” Eugene said. “We said we may or may not go. Then we had people saying, ‘we’ve got to get these people over there to give support to Sharon immediately. This is one great area in life, you represent your country.’ The people, they did a phenomenal job. We didn’t expect this.”

The Days don’t even attend Palm Harvest Church. Some of their friends do, like Kirk Bauermeister, the principal of TeWinkle Middle School and a former athletic director at Costa Mesa. Bauermeister also told his friends to donate money.

Yet even people outside of the community were also wanting to give money. A few people in San Luis Obispo, where Sharon went to college and competed at Cal Poly, also donated, Yolanda said.

“The Days have done so much for the community,” Bauermeister said. “This was a chance for everyone to give back.”


STEVE VIRGEN may be reached at (714) 966-4616 or by e-mail at steve.virgen@latimes.com.

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