Dave Loveton: 1958-2021In Memoriam | Thu Oct 07, 2021 | 8:24am
In his 40 years writing sports stories and press releases, Dave Loveton could always be counted on to produce detailed, straightforward reporting. That fact-filled style resonated in this email he sent out to his friends on January 22, 2018:
It’s been Good News & Bad News for me.
The Good: I changed my eating habits from bad food to good food on Aug. 1 (no alcohol, no diet soda, no bad snacks/desserts, no bread, no potatoes, eating a lot less and eating many more fruits/vegetables) and started walking 4-5 miles every other day. I’ve lost 80 pounds in the last 5 1/2 months and now weigh 240. Yeah for me!!
The Bad: In the last 10 days, I was diagnosed with kidney cancer. I have a pretty good-sized tumor in my left kidney. Also lymph nodes in my lungs and a few near my heart. I’m going for biopsy surgery on Friday, Jan. 26, to figure out what type of cancer and how to attack it with treatment. I’ll be at home recovering for 4 days after the outpatient surgery.
In a few weeks, I’ll have to have my kidney and tumor removed and I’ll be out of action for a month. The date hasn’t been set for this surgery.
I remember Lance Armstrong beat testicular, lung and brain cancer, and he’s a 20-year survivor.
Let the Battle begin ….
Cancer ultimately won that battle on April 28, 2021, but Dave scored victories in ways that deeply mattered to him. He earned the respect of his colleagues in journalism, and he felt the appreciation of the people whom he covered with more care than any other reporter.
When he came to work in the so-called “Toy Department” of the Santa Barbara News-Press in 1981, Dave met the foremost requirement: He loved sports. He had basketball in his DNA, having played with distinction at Glendale High School as a good-sized (almost 6′4″) point guard. He continued to play recreationally. One of his nicknames was “Twine,” which he uttered when his shots landed in the net.
Dave developed his talent for writing as sports editor at UCSB’s Daily Nexus. He could cover any sport. He was a meat-and-potatoes writer, telling the story of a game without letting flourishes get in the way. It took some of us several paragraphs to get to the final score; with Dave, it was always front and center.
His beats were Westmont College and Santa Barbara City College. He covered their sports with as much enthusiasm as when he got to cover the Lakers in the NBA Finals, or the U.S. Open golf tournament, or Super Bowl XXII, where Doug Williams’s aerial attack led Washington’s 42-10 comeback win over Denver.
March Madness was one of Dave’s favorite times, when he made many trips with the Westmont Warriors to the NAIA Basketball Championships in Tulsa or Kansas City. Coaches Chet Kammerer and John Moore grew fond of their beat reporter and visited him during his final days at Serenity House.
SBCC football was another sport that got Dave excited. He was so proud when he wrote about the Vaqueros’ miraculous victory over L.A. Valley in 1996, the winning touchdown coming on a Hail Mary pass from J.T. Stone to Ryan Capretta, and he also thought up the big headline: “Hail Yes!”
There was more to the job than covering games. Everybody in the sports department had to answer the phones — primarily to take results from coaches, but we also fielded numerous demanding questions because we were the Internet in those days — and everybody pitched in to help edit wire copy and write headlines and captions. We had a complete sports section to put out every day of the year. It’s hard to describe how frenzied a Friday or Saturday night on the sports desk could be, and Dave was cheerfully in the middle of the action, like a honeybee in a clover field. When the first edition rolled off the press, Dave was expert at spotting things that needed to be fixed, like a misspelled word or a misplaced punctuation mark.
Despite the chores that often lasted past midnight, we had a good time and did good work with a sense of camaraderie for more than two decades. Dave’s internment at the Goleta Cemetery in May brought us all together again — Mark Patton, Dan Shiells, Barry Punzal, Chic Perkins, Mike Traphagen, and me. All but Patton had long since left the News-Press, and Mark was about to be the last to turn out the lights.
Dave left the paper in 1995 but didn’t go far to whet his appetite for sports reporting. SBCC hired him as sports information specialist, a part-time job to which he devoted full-time energy and effort for 16 years. He was able to reside in Santa Barbara because Punzal offered him a room; he stayed even after Barry got married.
Community college athletics can be underappreciated. It doesn’t have the hometown feeling of prep sports and falls short of being big-time. Dave had 19 teams to cover at SBCC, and he did so with such thoroughness — highlighting as many names as he could — that he projected value into their experience. He also served as public address announcer at many home games.
Vaquero coaches, athletes, and administrators showed their appreciation on February 7, 2018, when a ceremony was held at the SBCC Sports Pavilion to present Dave with an “Everyday Hero Award.” Later it was announced that Dave would be the sole member of the Vaqueros Hall of Fame Class of 2021.
Rocco Constantino, the last SBCC athletic director to work with Dave, said the news of his death was “incredibly heartbreaking.” The coaching staff felt his loss deeply, including women’s basketball coach Sandrine Krul, who said, “Dave was an example of what I try to teach my athletes: to be caring, hard-working, and most importantly, inspirational. I will miss him dearly.”
During the last year of Dave’s life, he had no games to report on. SBCC sports were shut down for the entire 2020-21 school year. On March 15, he sent out his last press release, announcing that four Vaquero teams — women’s soccer, water polo, tennis, and men’s cross country — had won statewide academic awards. He threw in a did-you-know tidbit that typified his attention to detail: “SBCC’s previous record for State Scholar teams was three, set in 2017-18.”