Wahluke Eagles

This blog describes the joys of coaching an AAU basketball team from Mattawa, WA. Our team and town is roughly 90% Mexican. The blog celebrates and describes life in a central Washington town through the eyes of the players and their coaches.

Location: Mattawa, Washington, United States

I work as a School Psychologist in the Wahluke School District. When I am not coaching I enjoy fishing, reading, and riding my bike.

27 March, 2006

Second Place and Proud

This Monday (27 March 2006) the boys received their Second place award certificate from the AAU league. When Mr. Martinez and I passed them out, we told the boys to value this award. We told them that this award is more important than the First Place one they received in December. All the boys agreed. They know how hard they worked to come back after three consecutive losses and they have an idea of how hard they need to work.

Then we had practice for a bit before preparing for a scrimmage against the sixth graders in their gym. When our team entered, all the Middle School students booed, some of our boys started to answer back but the coaches and the captains told them, don't respond and keep their game face.

We put in our starters and let the game begin. The Middle School team has some superb athletes and almost all of them had close to a foot advantage over the Eagles. They rebounded almost at will and picked off any errant pass but the Eagles hung in there for a 33-26 win.

Our biggest advantage was a disciplined offense. Playing against bigger kids, forced the Eagles to be patient, pass, and fake, and look for the open lane into the paint. Oscar, Antonio, and Gabino lead the way with exemplary ball handling and great shooting.

Freddy (aka Big Cat or Black Cat, or Black) played aggressive defense with a smile on his face. When we do the box and one, he stands there at the line like a lion scanning for the wounded wildebeest. When his older brother Saul is the one with the ball, Freddy waits there with a smile on his face. As soon as the opposing point guard crosses the half court line, Freddy springs into action. When the opposing team passes the ball, he jumps into the lane, makes the grab and passes it to our point guards.

Alan (Big Daddy Caro), also did well. His skills and leadership are developing and now he stands his ground ready to trade skin and make the rebound or go up with the ball. Christopher played his part as well, standing at the edge of the paint ready to catch and shoot. The other boys (Caedyn, Eduardo, Melchor, and Cristian) also did their work on both sides of the ball. It was a team win.

A few days later, Freddy mentioned that when Saul got home, he told their older brother that the sixth grade had won the game. Freddy corrected him, to which Saul responded, "Freddy shut-up."

19 March, 2006

Brotherly Love

The sixth grade boys are divided into intramural teams. Two of the boys on my team (Freddy and Gabino) have brothers playing on a team with their friends. Mr. Martinez and I decided that a scrimmage against the sixth graders would be a good idea, as our team is a bit on the short side and we need practice going against a bigger team.

So today the five of the sixth graders showed up. We took them through our practice including the drills. Then we got out the score clock and had a game. At first, the Eagles were a bit overconfident. The sixth graders hung in there and didn't give up. Our rebounding skills came to naught against a player that's a foot taller. Also any sloppy pass and a few good ones were intercepted as well.

However, after two seven minute quarters, the boys began to adjust. They sped up the game, made good passes, and tried their best to bring down the boards. They found success and we won the game 35-28. Afterwards a few of the sixth graders were upset loosing to younger kids. So perhaps we'll have a rematch. I think the sixth grader who took the loss the worse was Saul. He's Freddy's older brother and he's been the one most terrorized by him.

I was happy. Not so much because we won but more because the boys adjusted their game to suit their opponent and even when going against a taller team, they showed no quit off the glass.

Our Expectations

Mr. Martinez and I had a discussion about the best way to deal with some of the boy's misbehaver at school. We decided to create a contract that the boys had to sign. By signing this code, the boys know what we expect and what grounds we will use to suspend them from the team, if the need were to arise.

Take a look.

Wahluke Eagles Code of Conduct

Our Goal is to increase your basketball skills and help you work as a team.

1. Do your homework and always be a good example.

1. Represent your family and school by being a good student athlete.

1. Give your best effort. Its okay to make mistakes.
2. Communicate with your teammates and coaches.
3. Respect yourself, your teammates, coaches, and the equipment.
4. Come prepared and ready to work.
5. Have a positive attitude. Encourage and work with everyone.

I agree to follow these expectations:_________________________

11 March, 2006

Jimmy Chitwood

Watched Hoosiers last night with Mr. Martinez. During the film we laughed seeing some of the same behaviors from our own players. Also watching a film about a little farming school going to the top against the big boys resonated with us.

We gave the boys a week off with no practice. We'll start again on Wednesday 15 March. I think the boys and the coaches need a break away from each other. Some of the boys need the time to consider if they want to keep playing. Their behavior at school and practice continues to disrupt the other players. We asked one boy to think about his future and how his behavior can help or hinder him.

Mr. Martinez and I decided not to cut any players. For some of our players, it's the first time that they're in the lime light and we can't take that away. Thanks to the support of Caedyn's parents, we can continue with all eleven boys and even add my ahijado Oscar R., who moved to the next town.

Who knows, one day the Eagles might be coming to a theatre near you.

10 March, 2006

Second Place

The Wahluke Eagles entered the last week of play second from the bottom. We finished second from the top. I told the boys, it was a tale of two teams. Mattawa and Mabton, both feeling heady from a successful run in the Fall. Both teams suffered a series of heart breaking losses. But instead of giving up, they persevered, worked harder, and came together as a team. The standings show second place, but these boys are number one in my book.

¡Si, se puede, los hijos de la frontera!

A Feel Good Story

Coaching has its rewards. Clink on the title (A Feel Good Story) and select the video from February 23, 2006. Its a true, good, and beautiful.

04 March, 2006

Big Cat

The Wahluke Eagles won their last game of the winter season with a 29-16 win over the Wapato Lil Wolves. When the game started, my boys were overcome with nerves. Wapato was second in our division and I think the boys still hadn't recovered from loosing two close game when the season began.

We shot too quickly and missed while Wapato cruised right through our defense and made shots. After the first quarter it was 9-2 Wapato's lead. The second quarter began, and we climb up and closed the half 10-9 their lead.

During the half, Mr. Martinez instructed Freddy to leave his spot in the zone defense and come up to meet their shooter. Wapato had one player who brought the ball up and made the shots, and now we put our most aggressive player on him. The change was sudden and good to see.

Freddy stood there like a cat, arms swinging looking for a loose ball. Freddy loves to fight. His exploits around the trailer park are legion, every kid in the fourth grade knows Freddy loves to scrap, so here he was ready to pounce with the hint of a Cheshire grin. The player came up, Freddy went for it, the other boy falters, Oscar makes a dash, gets the ball, he passes, and we make a shot. Freddy ended the game with two points but his defense was the spark.

When Wapato pushed the ball in the paint, Freddy's defense forced them to pass the ball to another player, and the other boys couldn't stick the shot. Wapato was a one-gun team, and they couldn't adjust.

Antonio played as well. It's amazing that when we meet at the 76 gas station, he's in perfect health but as the game nears something starts to hurt. Today it was his pinky. But give him a couple passes, and room to move and he becomes the picture of health. He finished the game with four points.

Jesus came in off the bench and made a tremendous effort as well. He has intensity on offense and defense. His rebounding skills are improving every game and his willingness to play physical ball helps compensate for our size. He was the high scorer with 11 points.

Our co-captain Gabino finished with four points as well. And Oscar ended up with 9 points. His last one was a three-pointer at the top of the arc. Caedyn had a good look but his shot bounced off. The team was disappointed as we all enjoy his thousand watt smile when he hits a basket.

After the game, the boys headed to McDonald's to eat, play, and enjoy the last game of a hard fought season. Tomorrow we have practice at noon, we'll enjoy the win a bit more and then get back to work.