Celebrities in line for Cota-Lott tournament

The Chad Cota-Ronnie Lott Celebrity Golf Tournament is gaining a reputation as "the fun one," says the person who works with the name players, and that distinction doesn't figure to change this year.

"A lot of celebrities who came for the first time last year have stayed in touch," says June Lee, the celebrity coordinator and media liaison for the event, which will be held for the fourth year Friday at Centennial Golf Club. "A couple of them called just before we mailed out invitations this year. They didn't want to be left out. Our tournament is quickly becoming known as the fun one, which is not a bad reputation to have."

Among the headliners this year is former World Series most valuable player Dave Stewart, who will be making his first appearance. Others are former defensive back Vencie Glenn, who held the record for the longest interception return in NFL history; former NFL quarterbacks Chris Miller, a Pro Bowler, and Cade McNown; football coaches Mike Bellotti of Oregon and Mouse Davis, who is an assistant at Portland State; and actors Patrick Duffy and Gregory Harrison.

The tournament committee had hoped to lure Tim Brown, a former All-Pro wide receiver and Heisman Trophy winner, but he runs a football camp at the same time and had to decline.

Sponsors make sure there is plenty for the celebrities to do. Scheduled events were a dinner in Ashland Wednesday, a skins golf game today at Rogue Valley Country Club, a dinner and auction at RVCC this evening and the tournament proper Friday — with morning and afternoon starts.

Some of the players and coaches will stay over and conduct a free football clinic for children Saturday at Spiegelberg Stadium.

"It's not gigantic," Lee says of the tournament, "but we try to keep it fun and casual. We want people to come out and have a good time. It's really just about the cause, which is the community and the children. When you're honest about the cause, you can't help but attract good people."

The tournament benefits Fellowship of Christian Athletes, All Stars Helping Kids, Bulldog Boxing and Rogue Valley school athletics. Those entities have received $111,150 from the previous three events, with a high last year of $64,900.

Stewart was scheduled to participate in 2006, but a last-minute conflict prevented him from heading north from his San Diego home.

The hard-throwing pitcher, nicknamed "Smoke," was drafted as a catcher in 1975 by the Los Angeles Dodgers, then moved to the mound, where he made his major league debut in 1978.

Stewart was a spot starter and reliever for Los Angeles, Texas and Philadelphia before latching on with Oakland in 1986.

With his hometown A's, he flourished as a starter, posting three consecutive 20-win seasons — the only pitcher to do so in the 1980s — and becoming the first A's pitcher since Vida Blue to strike out 200 batters in a season.

Stewart was the cornerstone as Oakland won the pennant in 1988 and the World Series in 1989. In 1989, he won two games each in the American League Championship Series and the World Series.

"He has some amazing stories," says Lee.

For information on the celebrities or the children's football camp, visit www.cota-lott-shootout.com.

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 776-4479, or e-mail ttrower@mailtribune.com

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