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.

24 April, 2006

Oscar Proud

The Wahluke Eagles faced a tough opponent on Saturday and overcame them. The Eagles out scored the Sunnyside Grizzlies #1 25-16 in our first home game this season.

The Grizzlies arrived around two hours early in their new uniforms. They were tall and had skills. From the beginning, our boys looked intimidated. To make matters worse, I was missing. My older brother's Grandfather-in law was celebrating his 90th birthday in Glendora California and I was there on my cell phone badgering Mr. Martinez as he steered the team.

Our problems began from the moment the boys arrived, First of all we had to sell concessions. So while Juan watched the boys selling food, he couldn't supervise the boys who were filling up on junk food before the game. Nor could he find the time to prepare the boys before the game.

Now the Eagles start slow, we always do. Our boys begin sluggish and warm up once the game begins and that's when Juan and I can take the time to prepare them before the game. Today I was missing in action and Juan had his hands full.

When the game began, the Grizzlies won the tip-off and scored. We got the ball back, they stole it and scored gain. Rinse and repeat and it was 6-0 Eagles loosing. Juan called a time-out and our boys looked down. Even Oscar was heard to whisper 'they're going to smoke us'. But Juan reminded them that if we did our jobs, if we played our game, if we did what we knew then we had a chance. And then like the far-away sounds of the bugle announcing the arrival of the reinforcements things began to change. Oscar and Freddy stood at half-court hunting for a steal.

Now the Grizzlies were tall and that meant they dribbled the ball with a little bounce, in fact just enough bounce for them to pull off a steal and lay-in. They in-bound and Oscar and Freddy pull it off again and now we are down by two.

The Grizzlies' coach calls a time-out and my boys become energized. At this point Juan has the boys on a roll and then he's interrupted as I call from California eager for news. The second quarter boys the boys keep it close and then it's half-time.

Juan has the boys quiet and listening as he starts encouraging the boys to keep it-up and do their best. However he is interrupted when I call again from California eager for news. He tells me that it is half-time and he's busy talking to the team. I hang up and spend my time anxiously waiting.

While I sweated the boys played a great game. Lead by Oscar, the whole team played a self-less game. They passed, created space, and took their time looking for the best shot and quietly the blew the game open taking the lead.

Oscar played with the heart of a champion. Oscar is a great player. In practice and in games, he often gives up a shot he can make to pass the ball to another player who is closer to the hoop. He has the shot but doesn't take it because he wants to help the team. Oscar is the kind of player that you coach, watch, and respect. He is a great team leader. Oscar, Antonio, and Gabino are three gifted players with a heart of a gold. If you get the chance watch them play and you'll agree, they are a special young men.

As the game progressed, the other coach became upset at the our full court press. Juan and I didn't feel bad. We take enough abuse from the boys when we make them run a mile once a week, (and yes we run with them). We work on conditioning and making sure our boys are fresh all four quarters.

At the game's end, we won 25-16. The totals were Freddy 11 points, Oscar 4 ( a field goal and one foul shot),and Antonio and Alan each finished with 5. Beyond the points, Juan reported that Big Daddy (Alan) finished with close to 10 rebounds as well. Caedyn too had a great game. He dove on the floor to grab a loose ball, he then executed a pass to Oscar. Plays like that reinforce the idea that everyone contributes to win. It is not just about scoring but doing you're job on the floor.

When the game was over, Oscar called announcing that we lost. My first response was that it was okay because I knew he played hard and did his best. He laughed and said actually that we won. All the boys exclaimed that Freddy had the best game of his life and made most of the points.

Certainly Freddy did a great job and had a great game. However we work as a team and all the boys play a part. All the boys know they play a part. However today its time to recognize that Oscar sets the tone and that today we are all Oscar proud.

Also Juan deserves recognition for coaching the boys and dealing with my phone calls. I asked if the team still need me and he assured me that I am still a part of it all. But on the court, Juan and I cease to matter much. All we can hope for is that the boys will remember two things. The first is that Juan and I are confident in their skills. The second is that win or loose, we care about and respect each one of them.


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April 26, 2006  

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