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.

22 January, 2007

A Rough Start

The Wahluke Eagles opened the Winter season with a loss to the Cle Elum Kodiak Boyz by a margin of two points. The Eagles had the lead but Cle Elum came back to take the lead with a 1:45 left making it 27-25 their advantage.

The lost was tough but despite the final score, silver lines were evident. Jesus played well. Despite his short stature, he held onto the ball. While watching a video tape of the game, Juan Bethany, and I saw him get covered by three opponents who towered above him with outstretched arms. Undaunted, Jesus pivoted, looked, waited, and passed the ball to an open teammate. Jose E. too did well. He held onto the ball and ran up and down the court. Christopher executed his position correctly and was in position ready to receive the ball. And most importantly, we played the whole game and kept it close.

The final totals were Oscar (10 points), Alan (8 points), Tony (5 points), and Eduardo with 2. Important to Tony was that he made a field goal and that gives him one three pointer in all our games.

After watching the video tape Juan, Bethany, and I talked about what we needed to work on in practice. We developed basic strategies that will maximize our players' strengths and we'll do a better job preparing them for the rigors of basketball. The boys may balk about the changes but they'll do the work because it feels good they win.

21 January, 2007

Chicken Little

Jesus (Buttercup) has been the only fourth grader on the team all year. All his teammates attend the Middle School while he is in the Intermediate. His teammates can talk about the games and practices while Jesus had nobody with whom to talk basketball. He didn't complain however but I suspected that he wanted a peer on the team.

Branden (Chicken Little) entered our district this fall and quickly came to the attention of the school authorities. He was a nice enough kid but he had a bad habit of getting in trouble at recess, specifically he was choking kids, and he didn't know his math facts.

I took time in December to pop in Jesus' class. I started helping Branden with his math and told him to stop choking kids at recess. Since I took away one activity, I had to provide a replacement. I called over Jesus and told Branden instead of getting in trouble follow him and play basketball instead. Then I invited him to practice.

Branden eagerly accepted and showed that he had a lot of energy to give the team. The difficulty was learning how to harness it for basketball. Branden ran without complaint, he shot lay-ins, and did his best in the drills. However when not given a specific task he was also observed running around in circles, climbing the wall, and doing cartwheels (sometimes during the scrimmage). His predilection for running around in circles in a sometimes aimless manner made choosing his nick name easy.

Currently Branden remains on the practice team as he develops his skills. If he keeps coming to practice, he'll probably join the game team this spring. For now he works on shooting, dribbling, and all the basics, and at odd times like when the coaches are giving directions an occasional cartwheel.

15 January, 2007

A New Year

This writer's computer crashed around the same time that the team did. Now it is a new year and everyone is ready to put the past behind them. Before proceeding, let's cover the bitter past.

The Eagles finished the Fall 2006 season with their first losing record of 2-4. Our second to last game was against the Wapapto Lil Cubs at home and we sustained a severe lost. The final score was 45-17 and we were outplayed beginning to end. Our last game ended too in defeat against the G Town Running Dawgs with an ending score of 33-31.

The last game too was bitter as we had the lead with nine second left. A bad play, missed free throws, and a good shot by Granger resulted with our loss. After this game, the coaches and players felt relieved in a way that the season came to an end.

Now we are facing a new season. We are ranked seventh place, the top team in the second division. Juan predicted these coming troubles. We added several new players and lost three strong players for different reasons.

The Fifth Grade season of the Eagles may be one of diminished returns in the short term but we are laying a foundation for the future. Plus there are other returns to coaching besides the final score. Before Christmas break, one of the players shared that before he joined the team he never really had friends but now that he's on the team he does.

So when the final buzzer sounds and the Eagles aren't on top, its things like that still make it worth my while.