Bruins party in Newport Beach

From The Sports Desk

June 09, 2011|By Steve Virgen
(Courtesy of Stephan…)

There were many reasons why UCLA fans gathered in Newport Beach Saturday night. They came together for a party, to drink and dance, and to raise money for the Wooden Athletic Fund at the luxurious home of Barry Saywitz, a UCLA alumnus.

Tom Reineke, also an alumnus, had another reason to show up. He wanted to take pictures with former UCLA athletes and current Bruin coaches Ben Howland and Rick Neuheisel.

Reineke smiled during and after posing for a photo with Matt Barnes, the tattooed hoopster who'd much rather had been playing in the playoffs if the Lakers could've gotten there. But he was OK with pleasing UCLA fans.

"That was for my 9-year-old son," Reineke said with pride. "He's a big NBA fan. His room is filled with those Fatheads, everyone from Steve Nash to [Andre] Iguodala."

Reineke had to tell me another reason why the UCLA fans gathered in Orange County.


"This is for the athletic department," he said. "Title IX took away a lot of scholarships. This type of function helps the department to privately fund those programs."

Thanks for the education, Tom.

The funds raised were definitely noteworthy: approximately $100,000 was raised, $30,000 more than last year. There were about 400 guests in attendance, 100 more than last year when it was at Saywitz's home.

"We had a good time last year and it's going to be even better this year," Saywitz said early in the evening when guests were having their first rounds poured at the open bar. "This is the fifth year [of the UCLA O.C. Dinner Celebration]. Prior to having it here this was at a hotel and it made it hard to raise money. This is more of a festive event here and I think people enjoy it more."

Saywitz said it was important to have a UCLA event in Orange County because more support is needed for the Bruins in this county. I guess it was so important to him that he said it was OK for the Daily Pilot Sports Editor to come, even if he's a Fresno State alum.

I had a feeling I stuck out with my notebook in hand. Some of the guests realized I didn't belong. One of them asked me to leave my seat at a dinner table because I was done eating. The man wanted to sit next to a guy who's a big-time UCLA supporter from Beverly Hills. They didn't want to give me their names.

But that's OK, I got up and moved. There were others who were fine with a reporter on site.

Cade McNown, the former great UCLA quarterback, was cool.

"I'm just here like everyone else," said McNown, 34, now working in financial services.

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