Even though it was a tough end to the season for Notre Dame's football team last weekend, it was enjoyable to watch former Pleasanton Junior Football League player Aaron Banks start for the Fighting Irish as a sophomore.
I had the pleasure of coaching Aaron in 2008 when I was the head coach for the Jaguars -- a team that won the league title.
PJFL always tried to match kids up not just by age, but size as well. That meant at times, some kids were put on teams where they were much younger than their teammates because they were bigger than kids their own age.
Such was the case with Aaron. Now 6-foot-6 and 319 pounds at Notre Dame, Aaron was a fifth-grader who was placed on our team of seventh- and eighth-graders. Like he does at Notre Dame, Aaron started at left guard for us, and like at Notre Dame, he was really good.
So good in fact, that we ran behind him regularly. I always wore Notre Dame hats and shirts to practice, and Aaron always told me, "Coach, I'm going to play at Notre Dame some day."
Well, following an impressive high school career at El Cerrito, Aaron is indeed playing at Notre Dame. When he committed to ND, I tweeted at him and one of the first things he said was, "Coach I told you I was going to play at Notre Dame."
It was a joy to watch Aaron play this year, and he was one of the few players who turned in a good game in the 30-3 loss to Clemson in the national semifinal last Saturday. I look forward to watching him dominate the next two seasons and then watching play on Sunday's -- hopefully for the 49ers!
Piscottys to help at STRETCH camp
Oakland A's outfielder Stephen Piscotty and his father Mike will be instructors at the STRETCH Winter Boot Camp Jan. 25-27 that takes place at Amador Valley as well as the Valley Community Church.
Mike and Stephen were instructors at the first STRETCH Camp 14 years ago and have been avid supporters of the camp ever since, according to Jason Alley of STRETCH Ministries.
During his time at Stanford, Stephen brought out some of the players to help with the camp.
STRETCH stands for "Striving To Reach Excellence Through Christ's Hand." The camp is open to all passionate baseball and softball players grades 3-8. (It's a long weekend, so they have to want to be there.)
Instruction at the event is provided by leaders in the local baseball, softball and church communities. The cost is $150, but there are scholarships available as the group does not want anyone to miss the camp because of money.
The theme of this year's camp is "Amazing Grace" in honor of Gretchen Piscotty, the wife of Mike and mother of Stephen who passed last May from ALS.
"Needless to say, Stephen, Mike and their family have been a very important part of the STRETCH family," Alley said. "I can't thank them enough for their unfailing commitment to, and support of STRETCH Ministries. They, along with over 100 volunteers each year (45-50 are high school leaders), have been used to make a significant impact on the lives and sports leagues in the Tri-Valley over the last 14 years."
You can register for the event at www.gostretch.org. For more information, email the organization at email@example.com.