In 1971 Allan Erskine of Santa Monica High was the Bay League Player of the Year in basketball.
In 1972 he was a member of Santa Monica College’s state championship team.
Today he is still involved in basketball but in a different way. Erskine attends Culver City High games to watch his daughter, Savannah, who is a starting point guard as a freshman.
“She has God-given talent,” said Allan. “And she has played organized basketball with the Santa Monica Surf, a traveling team since it was formed in 2001 by Chris Harding, one of my Samohi teammates. Chris’s daughter, Jennie, is on the Samohi varsity now. Latiera Avery, who plays for Culver High, also plays for the Surf after the high school season.
“The girls gain a lot of experience in game situations. Savannah has played in probably 200 organized games.”
Savannah Erskine is one of the most promising newcomers in the Ocean League. She scored 20 points in one game, 16 in another, 13 in another. Yet she prefers passing and ranked third this season in the league in assists.
“She has excellent court vision,” said Allan.
“I heard about her last year in middle school and she came in and fit right away” said Culver City Coach Jack Nakanishi. “She’s very advanced.”
While Allan closely follows her progress, he keeps up with friends from his playing days.
Allan has been a mail carrier in Santa Monica for 21 years, but lives in Culver City with his wife, Susan, and Savannah.
An older sister, Jessica, is a theatre arts major at USC. She graduated from Culver City High a year ago.
“Bill Cashel, one of my former teammates, is a customer on my mail route,” said Allan. “Another ex-teammate, Bud Pell, is my closest friend.”
Erskine played on the Samohi varsity for three years when Jim O’Keefe was coach. The 1970 team finished second in the league and lost a first round CIF playoff game to Santa Barbara High, which featured Keith Wilkes. Later he changed his first name to Jamaal, starred at UCLA and then in the NBA.
The next year Samohi won the league championship and Erskine was named third team all-CIF.
Then, at SMC Erskine was a reserve guard on SMC’s state title team. Some teammates were Phil Meadows, who made a key steal to beat Long Beach City College for the conference championship, James Mason from Samohi, Chuck Young from Venice High, Jay Hanseth from Palisades, Jim Tough from Beverly Hills, Pell and Rob Piccolo from Westchester. Rob went on to a major league baseball career and most recently has been a coach with the San Diego Padres.
The coach was Bobby Dye, who went on to have successful college programs at Boise State and Cal State Fullerton.
Erskine went on to Occidental College but suffered a knee injury that ended his playing career.
He became athletic director of the Santa Monica Boys Club. That’s where he met Susan Hostler, a librarian at the club. They’ve been married for 28 years and Susan is now a teacher in Marina del Rey.
“I tried teaching for awhile but it wasn’t for me,” said Allan. “I applied to the postal service because I liked being outdoors and could get plenty of exercise. There isn’t a lot of stress in the job and I’ve stayed with it.”