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Pleasanton Preps: Basketball season showing good and bad in prep sports

Let's teach the right lessons by spotlighting all results, regardless of outcome

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!

Editor's note: Dennis Miller is a contributing sports writer for the Pleasanton Weekly. To contact Miller or submit local high school sports scores, game highlights and photographs for his weekly Pleasanton Preps column, email him at acesmag@aol.com.

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Comments

4 people like this
Posted by Cathy Gabor
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jan 16, 2019 at 10:45 am

Thank you for pointing out good coaching and for commending the Foothill Girls basketball team. Even though I am a die hard AVHS fan, I appreciate reading about good players and coaches. And, I truly appreciate articles that focus on the positive!


6 people like this
Posted by Sports official
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 16, 2019 at 11:02 am

Hi Dennis,

As a local sports official who referees high school basketball (and umpires baseball, too) throughout our area, and has officiated at games involving all of the schools and teams you've mentioned, I enjoyed reading your article. Good commentary overall.

However, re: this passage: "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 a 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."

That last part stating "...the refs came over to the bench and asked the coach to pull off the press." That's what I felt compelled to comment on.

While certainly unsportsmanlike on the coach's part, it's simply not our role as basketball referees (at the high school level and above) to "ask the coach to pull off the press."

We're there to enforce the rules of the game and be impartial, regardless of the score, and/or how the coaches are coaching their teams. That's their role/duty, not ours.

Was what the coach doing sportsmanlike? No, not in your (or my) opinion, but as a sports official, I see my share of the good and the bad in people--in this case, coaches and how they coach their players and teams.

Quoting C.S. Lewis, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.”

When someone, in this case, a high school basketball coach, is doing the wrong thing--being unsportsmanlike, when EVERYONE is looking/watching, well, that's basically what I would categorize as 'tunnel vision,' that being someone who's so possessed by a singular focus on a particular goal or goals, to the point that they leave other important considerations such as compassion and ethics out of their thinking.

Bottom line: Officials officiate, coaches coach. Some officials are very good, or even great, others aren't. Some coaches are very good, even great, others are not.

That said, I am a firm believer in the principle, "the cream always rises to the top."

So do good leaders.

In coffee, officiating, coaching, and most importantly, in life.


2 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 16, 2019 at 12:48 pm

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

I agree with you Sports Official - at the high school level and above. Below that, I think its right to "write a rule" which officials due officiant against to help build sportsmanship into the officiating.

Related to the article, the complaint should really be against the coach and Athletic Director / Principal that should be making sure the coaches' decisions are in alignment with the school's integrity philosophies/etc.


Like this comment
Posted by Tina
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Jan 16, 2019 at 12:55 pm

Good read on Foothill Girls Basketball. Also, the girls JV team is doing a fantastic job this year. They had a great preseason and and off to a great season with 4 wins and 1 loss so far. This is a great group of girls who are dedicated and growing in their basketball skills. They are doing an outstanding job representing our Falcons


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