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.

29 July, 2006

Ridin' Pretty

Last Friday (28 July) I had a free afternoon so I called Juan and suggested we gather the kids and have a shoot around. He suggested that I call some of the boys entering seventh grade and set up a scrimmage. I tried to call some kids but was unsuccessful in getting a hold of them. So following Juan's advice, I rode into the trailer park. I went to see Alien who gave me directions to Heriberto's house. I asked if he wanted to play a game. He was interested so I asked him to round up his friends and meet us the gym.

Then Juan and I went about rounding up as much of our team as possible. We ended up with Oscar (Catfish), Tony (Fruit Cup), Chris (Alien), Alan (Big Daddy), Dario (Big D or Shaq), Jose (Grandpa Joe), Jose (My Bad), Hector (Super Mario), and Christian (Crispito). Of the nine boys, only the first four played all of last year, Dario played two games, and the other boys are raw recruits. We faced off against 5 boys who were two years older than most of team. Granted my boys have more experience but these boys were taller and bigger. Before the game we reminded the boys that this was a practice game and that winning or loosing wasn't a factor. The goal was to play.

To be honest, the bigger kids probably won the game. They won because Oscar and Tony can only so much and because when we went to our bench we were putting Grandpa Joe (a soon to be fourth grader) against a boy four years his senior. At times the boys got discouraged but we had moments of brilliance. Oscar and Tony worked their magic and their ball handling and shot selection is wonderful. Christopher made his shots and played well as a forward and center. Grandpa Joe stole the ball. And Crispito and Jose (the other one) each made a shot.

What caught my eye however was the play of Alan and Dario. Alan (our forward and center) and Dario (our five foot center of the future) meshed. Capitalizing on Dario's height we place him where he can receive the ball and make a lay-in. Usually the point guard get him the ball and he shoots. This day he got the ball but if he was under heavy coverage he immediately passed the ball to the open man instead of throwing up a futile shot. Throughout the game I heard Alan giving him directions, coaching him, and helping him develop and see the whole game.

Alan too had a great game. He has developed into a shooter with good ball control. A few times he got a fast break from Oscar or Tony and took it to the hoop. Other times he was ready for the quick pass and the open shot.

So we lost the scrimmage but some boys got a chance to sharpen their skills, experience stiff competition, and in the case of Oscar and Tony to put some pretty three-pointers against some older kids. Its okay to loose a practice game because this experience will toughen us up when the games count.

At times the older boys taunted our team as we had beat them before and the sting of loosing to their juniors still rubbed them the wrong way. At one of our time-outs Jose (My Bad) asked why we don't respond in kind. Both Juan and I responded that's not the way we play. We play team oriented disciplined basketball. We play to win. We don't show-off. We don't trash talk. We show up and talk with the ball and sometimes in Spanish.

16 July, 2006

Crisipito and Friends

It's summer in Mattawa and that translates into string of days with temperatures that hover in the upper 90's. It translates into long days with not a lot going on except every Wednesday at 230PM the Intermediate gym becomes alive with sounds of Wahluke Eagles basketball. Some of our boys took the summer off and others are working but a core few are showing up ready to learn so Juan and I (ok, mostly Juan) are putting them to work on mastering moves like the three-man weave and pivots.

A few of the boys (Grandpa Joe and Jose "My Bad") are starting to get it. And a few of the boys like Oscar, Fruit Cup, Rudy, and (JL's favorite) Joey Joseph, Gabino (Pickles and Little People) Alien, and Black really get it. Watching them pass, move, and shoot is something good to see.

So last Wednesday, Juan and I were in the gym watching the boys shoot around before practice, listening to the sneakers squeak on the gym floor when Mr. F. walked in with his son Cristian, asking if he could join the practice. Juan and I agreed and he got a ball and went to shoot. Cristian like Grandpa Joe just completed third and is going into fourth grade. Cristian like Grandpa Joe had a reputation of being hard-working and well-behaved. Cristian like Grandpa Joe needed a nick-name. We already had Cristian (Me Duele) and Christopher (Alien, Pretty Ricky), so playing on his diminutive stature, we christened him Crispito.

So for the rest of the practice our newest Little People struggled, traveled, and did their best. For the rest of the practice our experienced players welcomed them, encouraged them, and most of all included them. More than once Oscar, Tony or Joey Joseph executed a perfect give and go move drawing the defense with them only to send the ball into Grandpa or Crispito's hand with the clear command to shoot at the open hoop.

Wahluke Eagles new kids on the block. Wahluke Eagles we never stop.