In all my years covering high school sports, one of the things I enjoyed the most was watching the coaches work with the kids -- not just developing their skills in their sport, but how they developed as people.
I have always been a big believer in sports as a tremendous tool in the development of a high-schooler (and younger). Sports teach teamwork, hard work and dealing with the highs and lows of daily life.
You don't always win in life and how you succeed depends a lot on how you deal with adversity. This can be taught on the athletic fields.
In the last couple of weeks, I've seen shining examples of good and bad in prep sports, all relating to the Foothill girls basketball team.
The Falcons are not a strong team and stood 5-12 entering this week. Last week, they lost to San Ramon Valley 80-49 and then to Dublin 56-20. Before that, they lost to Carondelet 57-37.
But here's the thing -- they play hard from start to finish. If you didn't see a scoreboard, you would think it was a close game with how hard the girls work on the court. There is no quit in this team.
Foothill may be getting beat badly, but that doesn't diminish the effort one bit and that starts at the top with coach Bruce Funk.
Further, the Falcons are the lone team that continually turns in their results to me each week.
Pleasanton is a very front-running town. Teams win and they are apt to turn in their results. Lose and it's like they pretend the game didn't happen. That sends a poor message to the kids.
Everyone needs to stand up and be accountable.
Look, no one loves winning more than I do. First as a player, then a coach, then a parent, and as a fan, I always want to be on the winning side. However, you are going to lose at times, and that's true in life as well.
My thought has always been -- pick yourself up, dust off and get back to work. When my kids were playing sports, the rule of thumb was we would talk about the game in the car on the way home and then we were done with it, moving forward and looking at what's ahead.
Foothill's girls have the work ethic and desire to try hard every game. They may not rack up the "W's" on the court, but with how they are developing as people, I wouldn't bet against any of them in life.
In two of their games, I saw how opposing coaches handle winning easily. It was a contrast of day and night. I will not name the respective schools, as it's all about the lesson gained from the respective situations, not who was involved.
In one game, the team had built a 20-plus point lead over the Falcons by the half, so the coach sat the starters for the second half. The bench players got plenty of playing time and it was good for both teams. One team got time for girls who maybe don't get to play much and the Falcons played a strong second half.
In the other game, the coach kept the starters in almost the entire game and kept the full-court press on until the final minute of the game. In addition, the coach sent his best player back in the game late after she told him she wanted to hit the 20-point mark -- she didn't get it.
Even the team's scorekeeper thought it was wrong and took the time to tell me that earlier in the season, in a similar situation, the refs came over to the bench and asked the coach to pull off the press.
Two games, two vastly different approaches and two lessons being taught. Which do you think was the better approach?
Thanks for reading my column, and now let's get those results in win or lose!