During the first two weeks of November, I announced North Coast Section and California Interscholastic Federation Northern California volleyball matches for the Foothill varsity girls team, and it was those matches that highlight what's great about high school athletics.
High school sports across the board have been trivialized by many. Whether it is local daily newspapers deciding high school sports are not worth covering, school districts that have eliminated a lot of financial support or even subversive groups within individual schools that would love to see athletics disappear, high school sports have suffered.
As a result, so have the students.
I will make a statement right here that athletics are every bit as important as any class a student takes, in regard to the maturation and development of that student.
I do not mean to take anything away from excellence in the classroom, but spending four to six hours a day doing homework and studying does not help the social and emotional development of a student. Not only does it not help, it hurts it -- plain and simple.
There must be a balance between academic and social to complete the development of the students. Athletics is one of the best ways for that to happen.
I have worked in the schools, sat on scholarship boards and been a part of high school athletics for over 35 years in Pleasanton. My wife -- who works at Foothill -- and I have sent seven kids through the Pleasanton school district, and I feel I am as qualified as any to make this statement.
Here's what athletics does for students.
One, it promotes teamwork. You learn how to work with others to achieve a common goal. It's not about wins and losses, but rather communicating and learning to have each other's back. Interpersonal communication skills have dissipated at an alarming rate.
Second, athletics teach winning and losing and how to deal with it. Life is not fair a lot of the time and it's brought out in sports. Three straight volleyball games I watched the losing teams see their seasons end.
For the seniors on those teams, it meant the end of their competitive athletic careers for many of them. All those years growing up with their friends, playing together, and now it's over. It's tough and my heart goes out those young ladies crying with their heads in their hands, but it's a learning experience.
Our kids in this generation are too often placed in a bubble, and then they are released into the real world and they are not ready emotionally. Athletics teach that even with hard work, success is not guaranteed.
The lesson I instilled in our kids -- you can only control your own effort in life; that's the only guarantee -- is taught daily in sports. At the end of the day, if you know you gave it your best, walk away with your head held high.
Finally, athletics can bring together the student body. It was refreshing to see the kids at Foothill come out and support the volleyball team. The NorCal games grew each night and it was a loud, rocking gym. The coaches from Rocklin commented to me that it was great to see and their players appreciated it as well.
Foothill signing day
Foothill honored and celebrated 10 Falcon student-athletes who signed a letter of intent to play collegiate athletics on National Letter of Intent Signing Day on Nov. 14.
The athletes were: Hope Alley (softball), University of Pittsburgh; Jonah Cooper (swimming), Ohio State; Calvin David (swimming), UC Berkeley; Ellen Ebbers (softball), Morgan State; Peyton Raun (soccer), University of Pennsylvania; Nick Skinner (swimming), TCU; Cory Steinhauer (baseball), University of Nevada at Reno; Matt Sugden (baseball), San Francisco State; Russell Sullivan (track), American University; and Sam Zevanove (baseball), University of Puget Sound.