Rancho Santa Fe stories to watch in 2014


By Karen Billing

The Country Friends celebrate 60 years

Back in 1954, the Country Friends formed in Rancho Santa Fe to fulfill a need of helping San Diegans “one hand at a time.” The Country Friends has a constant presence in the village with its consignment shop, a white building with cheery green awnings on El Tordo.

“It’s hard to pick one favorite thing about The County Friends, there are so many wonderful things,” said President Rhonda Tryon, making note of their volunteers that donate so much time and the fabulous finds in their shop that are sold for charitable funding. “I love seeing and feeling the joy our membership and volunteers have when we work together to make a difference for others in our communities. We really have a lot of fun in our group.”

Proceeds from their shop, as well as from events such as their popular fall fashion show under the big tents on the lawn at The Inn, support a variety of local nonprofits — over the last year, for example, The Country Friends helped fund Canine Companions, supported a children’s nutritional health program at Mama’s Kitchen, the burn survivor support program at The Burn Institute, and helped purchase a new blood mobile for the San Diego Blood Bank.

“The Country Friends is comprised of a group of dynamic women from the San Diego community that volunteer their time and resources to raise funds to assist over 30-plus non-profits,” said Anna Waite, a board member for eight years and chair of the 2013 Art of Fashion show. “Our board of directors spends time throughout the year visiting these charities that we fund to see firsthand how our donations are being utilized.”

Tryon said that The Country Friends members are excited to celebrate their 60th year with their annual luncheon in May, the Sept. 18 fashion show and, as a new event, they will be part of the San Diego International Wine Show at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in April.

The Friends ended 2013 on a sad note, with the passing of Jean Newman on Dec. 8. Newman was a past president, a dedicated volunteer and manager of the consignment store for more than 35 years.

“She was such a mentor to me and responsible for recruiting me into The Country Friends,” said Waite. “I feel the community of Rancho Santa Fe has truly lost a treasured friend.”

The Country Friends plan to have a celebration of life and memorial for Newman at a date to be announced. Donations can be made in her honor at

The RSF Golf Club

One of the biggest topics on the Ranch last year were the trees at the Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club, as residents reacted to the club’s plans to remove a net loss of 102 dead and dying trees to improve the golf course’s playability. After a lively public meeting in April, the RSF Golf Club and RSF Association resolved to work together in developing the club’s master plan.

In December, the master plan was presented to the Green Committee and the RSF Golf Club’s board for input and the club plans to schedule an open session sometime early in 2014.

Last year the RSF Association also used the Club Mark survey to measure the RSF Golf Club’s demographics and how satisfied members are with the club. Through the survey they learned that in 10 years or less 61 percent of members will be over 70, there is a decline in Golf Club membership, and a decline in capture rate for new members. The survey also showed that younger members are looking for lifestyle amenities, such as a fitness center, spa or pool.

The RSF Association is taking the initial steps in the process of considering a pool and fitness center, which involves getting input from the community, as well as exploring the capital expense and operational costs. Any project would require a community-wide vote. At an early 2014 board meeting, the RSF Association board will consider a consulting contract with Club Mark to assist them through the process.

Canyon Crest Academy

2014 will be a big year for the San Dieguito Union High School District high school as it celebrates its 10-year anniversary. Since opening, the school has proven excellence in academics, the arts and athletics. Already on the books is a celebration gala event on May 16 called “Across the Universe,” which will include an “Envision Showcase featuring songs from the Beatles.”

CCA’s most humble beginnings date back to 2004 when 364 students attended school in 19 trailers in the parking lot. Now CCA is a campus of about 1,800 students and the campus keeps on growing and improving. Last year the school opened its new track and athletic field and, in 2014, student athletes will play on new baseball and softball fields, lacrosse and soccer fields. The class of 2015 will be the first to hold graduation in the new stadium,which starts construction next year.

CCA has become well-known for its Envision arts program and next year figures to be big as its talented students will take on “Les Miserables.” Rehearsals are already underway for the spring production.

Torrey Pines Hoops

Heading into January, the Torrey Pines Falcon basketball team is ranked number three in the county and (at presstime) has only lost one game, to the number one team, St. Augustine, by just 5 points.

The Falcons have returned an entire team from last year, a team that was league champions and made a deep playoff run, losing to El Camino in the semi-finals of the CIF Championships.

“We were very good last year and expect to be good again this year,” said Coach John Olive.

The road to a championship this year won’t be easy as for the first year in CIF there will be an open division where the top eight teams will compete.

“We’ll be playing teams that we’ve never seen before and everyone will be very, very good,” Olive said,

The Falcons have two senior starters and the rest are underclassman. You can’t miss the team’s sole freshman player — Jake Gilliam tops out at 6’8”.

Brandon Cyrus, a Canadian import and only a sophomore, is attracting a lot of attention from coaches in college programs across the country.

The Falcons have developed a bit of their own Lob City, often with junior Dominic Hovasse tossing the lofty pass and Brandon slamming it home — Olive said the boys developed this bit of trickery on their own time and have gotten a knack for it.

In addition, 6’5” senior forward Sam Worman is attracting the attention of college recruits — “he does a little bit of everything for us,” Olive said.

In more than 17 years of coaching at Torrey Pines, Olive has had a lot of special players come through and this team is no different.

“I love them,” Olive said of his team. “They’re good kids and they get along well together, follow directions, they’re coachable and I enjoy being around them.”

Students have taken to calling the Torrey Pines gym “The Olive Garden” as a tribute to the longtime coach and Coach Olive just has to laugh at how it’s catching on.

“That’s wonderful,” he said.

The Village

The finishing touches are being placed on the RSF Village’s new commercial building, Plaza de Acacias.

Key tenants for the building on Avenida de Acacias include Union Bank, Bank of America and Wells Fargo.

In 2014, the community will also find out whether or not there will be a farmers market in the village on Saturdays. In December, the RSF Association board gave organizer Janet Lawless Christ one more month to find a location that would work for the market as previous spots cannot be utilized for various reasons.