If all goes according to plan, the Foothill girls’ basketball team played its first East Bay Athletic League on Monday, Jan. 17 when the Falcons hosted Livermore.
It will be the first of four games for Foothill this week as they are scheduled to host Amador on Wednesday, play at Granada on Friday night, then host San Ramon Valley on Saturday.
Regular season basketball needs to be completed by Saturday, Feb. 12 as the North Coast Section playoffs are set to begin the week of Feb. 14.
It has been taxing on the players and coaches alike. With her first four EBAL games postponed from COVID safety protocols, Foothill coach Cheryl Namoca has been working what seems like non-stop to get the games rescheduled.
“I am managing basketball rather than coaching basketball,” said Namoca. “I am exhausted right now. But I have gotten all our games rescheduled.”
For now. Given what the last three weeks have been like with the COVID wave and protocols, teams won’t know for sure until both teams get on the court if they are going to actually play.
“We keep getting told to just get through January,” explained Namoca. “But there are still teams in the league that have more than two to three players that are out.”
Which is exactly where Namoca and the Falcons find themselves.
Foothill’s practice on Friday, Jan. 14 saw six players at practice. That sounds like a low number, but the reality was it was three times what they've had the last three weeks.
“We went from 12 players on Dec. 29 (the last game the team played) to two,” explained Namoca. “We haven’t had more than two players until Jan. 14. I am supposed to get two more back on Monday.”
And that added to the burden of being more of a manager than a coach.
The Falcons did practice with their pair of players, but it was a skill-development session rather than any semblance of a normal practice.
That left Namoca with a team of girls sitting around their homes wondering what was next.
“It’s been a struggle,” said Namoca. “It’s been way tougher mentally than physically. It was another letdown for the girls. It was getting to the point where they were just staying at home doing nothing. They just didn’t feel like doing anything but worry that their season was going to get canceled. I had girls ask me, 'coach, what I am supposed to do?'”
Now the team faces a glut of games in a short time to get caught up. The California Interscholastic Federation waived a “no play on Sunday’s,” ban to give teams an extra day to play each week, but Namoca was not biting.
“I said no way,” said Namoca of playing on a Sunday. “I would have some parents and players saying no to that. Getting the kids to play is the most important thing, but it has to be the right way to do things.”
The biggest problem this week as their league season gets underway is that only two of the players have been getting regular physical workouts.
“You really have to be worried about injuries,” said Namoca. “With the lack of practice and conditioning it is going to be tough. I told the kids at practice that they are going to struggle in their first game. They haven’t been doing much and now they have four games in six days.”
But, most importantly as Namoca pointed out, they will be playing games.
Amador girls’ soccer
The Amador Valley Girls Varsity soccer team continued its season-long clean sheet by shutting out Granada on Jan. 11.
Elizabeth Fineberg and Sydney Head are splitting the time in goal and neither have been scored on. Fineberg had one save, and Head had two.
Angel Akanyirige scored the first goal after receiving a deflection inside the box. She was in the right place at the right time and finished very calmly and definitively.
Natalie O'Sullivan scored the second goal on a free kick from the left side, just outside the box. She curved the ball into the top corner beyond the keeper's reach.
Maylen Montoya had four shots, and Emma Fuller had two.