Noe Valley Voice September 2004

This 'n' That

By Laura McHale Holland

As the fog settles in like light rain on the rooftops and trees overhead, Noe Valleyans continue to distinguish themselves in many arenas. Take Hoffman Avenue resident Jessica Copi, for example. Physically, she's a little on the small side: 5839. But her dreams are far from diminutive. At age 17 she's already a part of our local government. Bevan Dufty, supervisor of District 8, just appointed her to the San Francisco Youth Commission.

About a year ago, Copi became involved in the Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center (LYRIC) on Collingwood Street. The organization provides support in a safe environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youths. LYRIC is what led Copi to the Youth Commission.

"A friend of mine from LYRIC and I went to a budget meeting at City Hall that was all about how the budget works. It turns out the Youth Commission gave the presentation, and they were giving out applications. I took one, thought about it for a long time, and then spent forever writing for my application," she recalls.

Youth Commission members are all volunteers, and the time commitment is substantial: a minimum of two full commission meetings per month, plus separate meetings for whatever committees the members work on. Copi is particularly interested in helping her peers.

"I feel like City Hall could be doing more to focus on LGBT youth issues. I'm queer myself and I want to address the general needs of queer youth citywide, including homeless youth issues, and justice for youth. I'd like to make sure that kids aren't being wrongly discriminated against by the police based on what they think their sexual orientation is," she says.

Home-schooled since the middle of eighth grade, Copi successfully passed California's high school proficiency exam last year. A budding photographer as well, she plans to attend City College starting in January.

Some of her friends on campus may not recognize her at first. Her light brown hair used to reach down to her knees, but now the ends swing freely at her shoulder blades, that is if she doesn't have it pulled back to keep it out of her way in the darkroom. Through Isa's, a salon on Castro Street, she donated a foot and a half of her hair to Locks of Love, an organization that makes wigs for children who have lost their own hair due to radiation and chemotherapy treatments.


Fran Davis has her curly brown locks styled to frame her beaming face. And what lightning-limbed racquetball hall of famer wouldn't? That's right. She was inducted into the USA Racquetball Hall of Fame this May.

Davis took up the sport when she was in college 20 years ago because it was an easy transition from the paddleball she played as a youth in New York City. She went on to win the women's national championship half a dozen times. In 1988, she stopped competing and took up coaching. Since then, teams she has coached have won world championships five times. She was also a U.S. Olympic coach. (Racquetball is not a competitive Olympic sport, but only because not enough people play the game. It is, however, recognized and funded by the USOC.)

What these credentials mean is that Davis, who lives on Fair Oaks Street, is often on the road. She is one of a handful of people worldwide who are able to make their living entirely from coaching racquetball. "It's pretty awesome to get this recognition, especially since I broke both of my arms last November in a biking accident. I thought I was finished," she says from a cell phone in Florida while en route to one of the many workshops she leads each year. "And the greatest thing about it is that I've done it while still in the thick of things. A lot of people get into the Hall of Fame five or ten years after they're out of the sport, and people don't even know who they are anymore."

It appears that Davis will be in the thick of things for some time to come. "The game itself is very fast-paced, so there's a lot of physical effort, plus a mental side of the game that keeps you stimulated," she observes. "Then there are the people in the sport. It's like a family, and they continue to keep me involved."

If you think racquetball is only for the nimble-footed, Davis begs to differ.

"The beauty of racquetball, unlike tennis, is that it's in an enclosed area. For people who are not extremely athletic or in great shape, racquetball is an easier sport for them to pick up because they're not running around chasing balls, and even if they're trying to hit the front wall and they hit a side wall instead, the ball is still in play, whereas in tennis, if you hit it outside the line, that's it," she says. One caveat, however: Racquetball is easy to learn, tough to master, she says.

If you want to know more about Davis' workshops and camps, go to www.fran She's also got an instructional video for all levels of players called "Building Your Racquetball Dream House." It gives all the right moves including forehand, backhand, offense versus defense, drilling, shot selection, court position, serves, return of serves, and game strategies.


For Elizabeth Street resident Courtney Wagle, being one of two Bay Area professionals selected by San Francisco Magazine for giving the best haircut under $100 is as thrilling as being inducted into a hall of fame. She got the nod in July.

"If a client asks for something I can pretty much nail it. I don't usually cut somebody's hair and have them freak out and say 'That's not what I asked for,'" Wagle says. "I think it's because I have such a strong background on so many structured haircuts." Structured haircuts? Here's her elaboration on the geometry of clipping hair: "The head is basically mapped out, and for every haircut there are lines and sections, cutting angles, distribution angles. It's very much graphed out. You have to know how to put a quilt together to get a quilt; it's very much the same with a haircut."

Wagle, who works at Hairplay at the corner of 29th and Dolores streets, attributes her skill to ongoing education. "Six of the ten years that I've been cutting hair I've also been taking classes. I worked with Tony and Guy, an education team, and learned quite a bit with them. I taught for Redken as well, and I continue to teach our assistants both hair-cutting and color."

Our neighborhood also got some ink in San Francisco Magazine's July issue. Their readers picked Noe Valley as the Bay Area's best neighborhood. Of course, that's no surprise to those of us who live here.


There's more good news. Mary Little and Peter Wheeler, a husband-and-wife furniture design team, have been tapped for the high-profile juried California Design 2004 show running from Sept. 11 through Oct. 22, at 600 Townsend Street.

The pair have been making furniture together exclusively since 1997. "I tend to be the one who generates new ideas, and Peter's an excellent editor. He can look through the whole sketchbook and choose the ones we need to work on together," Little notes. "He's more rational, and I'm more intuitive. I tend to be much better at working with clients, while he's much better at working with other fabricators," she adds.

Little and Wheeler, natives of the United Kingdom, moved to their 20th Street digs in 2001, when they both secured teaching positions at California College of the Arts. They also have many clients in this country who remark that their work is appealing because "it's functional and practical, but it's also very gentle and friendly in its look." The Little and Wheeler piece on view in California Design 2004 is an upholstered stool on American black walnut feet.

"We do things that are slightly out of the normal, and it makes people smile. The piece in this show is more restrained. But this is a selling show, and I think it's a sellable piece. We can put forward our more experimental work at other exhibitions," she says.


There's nothing experimental about Kathy Zucchi's latest achievement, and that's just the way the clients of this financial guru like it. Zucchi, of the investment firm Edward Jones, recently achieved the professional designation of Accredited Asset Management Specialist. So when it comes to asset strategies and allocation, she's now the last word.

"It's a resource that enables me to better assist my clients with their financial goals," says Zucchi, who is past president of the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association. "They [Edward Jones] don't offer the opportunity to you until you've been in the field approximately five years. Then after that, you have six months to pass the exam and get accredited." Congratulations, Kathy.


You, dear readers, have until the 15th of September to send in news of your personal milestones. (Okay, we might stretch it a day or two for procrastinators.) We're interested in everything from new babies to new ventures, book signings to academic honors.

Contact us by e-mailing Or if it's more convenient, leave a message at 415-821-3324 or write the Noe Valley Voice, 1021 Sanchez Street, San Francisco, CA 94114.