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BAY AREA EDITION APRIL 2019 VOL. 10 ISSUE 163


What A Twist

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he texts from Ike Dodson came to me back-to-back on St. Patrick’s Day in the late afternoon. “Challenging assignment.” “I like it.” It’s an assignment I’d never given before. For a sport that we’d never truly covered in our first nine years of SportStars. I’m very glad I did. With close to 12 years of experience in newsrooms as part of a daily newspaper’s high school sports coverage, I’ve heard the “cheerleader is/isn’t a sport” argument more than once. I’ve never been a staunch advocate for either side. However, once I began calling the shots for my own publication, I found trying to cover a full bevy of the traditional sports hard enough. Even when the California Interscholastic Federation announced during the 2017-18 school year that it would begin recognizing competitive cheer as a CIF sport, my intent to give that proper acknowledgment got lost in the shuffle. Football was probably to blame. After some persistence from a few coaches earlier this school year, I planned to run a feature this month in a buildup for the sport’s second CIF postseason. I dispatched Ike to cover a game between Woodcreek-Roseville, Antelope and Whitney-Rocklin. It wasn’t what he expected exactly. And what he filed to me — in the form of photos, a video and a feature — was not what I expected either. In a good way. What he saw was a competitive cheer/ stunt game. Which plays out over four quarters, involves a number of aerial theatrics and athletic maneuvers, and requires a slew of teamwork and trust. Which sounds an awful lot like various sports I’ve covered before. It looked that way too in his photos and video. There were uniforms with numbers, and a referee. Both things that appear widely in nearly all the sports I’ve ever covered. That’s why I think it’s pretty cool Ike’s story — which not only talks with several members of the stunt community, but also includes the voices of traditional competitive cheer (which is also getting support from CIF now) — is featured this month. The story can be found in both the digital and print versions of our Sac-Joaquin edition. I hope readers will take the time to check it out. I feel there’s a good chance that unless they have a relative actually competing, the sport of competitive cheer/stunt will catch our traditional sports readers off guard. But even with CIF backing, the sport competes in a pretty small bubble. However, that bubble is getting bigger, and the crowds certainly aren’t small. Check out the stands in the background of Dodson’s video when viewing the story online. “Personally, I’d never seen a competitive sport cheer event until our championships last year,” Sac-Joaquin Section Assistant Commissioner Will DeBoard said in Dodson’s feature. “They were a lot of fun and I was impressed by the athleticism. “It’s only going to grow from here.” They cracked the pages of SportStars, at least. That’s a start. ✪

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YOUR TICKET TO CALIFORNIA SPORTS ADMIT ONE; RAIN OR SHINE This Vol. #10, March 15, 2019 Whole No. 162 is published by Caliente! Communications, LLC, PO Box 741, Clayton, CA 94517. SportStars™© 2010-2014 by Caliente! Communications, LLC. All rights reserved. Receive FREE Digital Subscription in your inbox. Subscribe at SportStarsMag. com. To receive sample issues, please send $3 per copy, or $8 total for bulk. Back issues are $4 each. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission of Publisher is strictly prohibited. The staff and management, including Board of Directors, of SportStars™© does not advocate or encourage the use of any product or service advertised herein for illegal purposes. Editorial contributions, photos and letters to the editor are welcome and should be addressed to the Editor. All material should be typed, double-spaced on disk or email and will be handled with reasonable care. For materials return, please enclose a stamped, selfaddressed envelope. SportStars™© and STARS!™© Clinics are registered trademarks of Caliente! Communications, LLC.

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CLOSE TO 150 GIRLS CLUB TEAMS SET TO FLOOD RENO FOR NCVA’S FAR WESTERN NATIONAL QUALIFIER

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or girls club volleyball teams, April is “Go Time.” from there, if all goes accordFor the girls of Northern California, the place to go is Reno. And Volleyball Junior Nationals in USA the to ing to plan, it’ll mean another trip at the end of June —

Indianapolis. annual event, the Girls Far Western The Northern California Volleyball Association will hold its biggest Convention Center. National Qualifier, over two weekends this month at the Reno-Sparks 11 to 15 age groups. There will be the g The first weekend, April 13-15, will feature 15 divisions spannin each in the 14 USA and 14 Open 16 national qualifying bids up for grabs that weekend, including three divisions. from 15s to 18s will be seeking as On April 26-28, the older brigade competes. Twelve divisions ranging earned in the 15, 16 and 17 USA and many as 20 tickets to Indianapolis. There will be three national bids Open Divisions. at 7 a.m. and play starts ats 8 a.m. NCVA doesn’t mess around with this event. Doors open each day including first, second and third team and lasts throughout the day. They also hand out tons of hardware, . Also every member of the division each plaques and individual medals for the gold bracket winners in first place team gets a T-shirt specially designed by No Dinx. tournament. For fans of high-caliber club volleyball, there may not be a better seen as many as 100 coaches have events n Wester Far Certainly collegiate coaches know this. Past all High Performance also holds Volleyb USA from various levels show up during the older ages weekend. tryouts for its teams on both weekends of the event. schedules and additional informaIf you’re interested in attending either weekend, you can check the ✪ tion at ncva.com/girls/tournaments/far-western-national-qualifier. Far Western National Qualifier in Reno, Nevada, over A look at the extensive list of divisions included in the NCVA Girls Championships bids up for grabs. National Junior ll Volleyba USA have two weekends in April. Several 3 16 Open 1 15 American 1 No Dinx 13 APRIL 13-15 3 SA 16 U N/A No Dinx 15 2 Age Division Nat. Bids 13 Open 1 17 American N/A No Dinx APRIL 26-28 11 2 13 USA N/A Dinx No 17 1 11 National 3 15 Open 1 14 American 3 17 Open 1 12 Americanv 3 15 USA 3 N/A No Dinx 17 USA 14 1 12 National 1 N/A rime merican 18 P 16 A 3 14 Open N/A No Dinx 12 N/A 18 Select N/A No Dinx 16 3 14 USA 1 13 American

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THRILL Of The Record Chase

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t seemed like a good idea to get the 2019 baseball season started on a Saturday morning in Tracy, to see if Alameda High pitcher Max Nyrop could break the state record for consecutive innings without allowing a run. When writing a feature on Max for SportStars, it wasn’t clear when he might be pitching his first game. He had ended the 2018 season with a 55-inning scoreless streak and needed 4.2 more innings to start 2019 to break the state record of 59.1 set last year by Dawson Netz from Maranatha-Pasadena. Alameda coach Ken Arnerich decided the team’s first game against Tokay-Lodi at the Tracy tourney would be the spot. I made the trip from my Stockton home base. Nyrop got out of the first two innings without giving up a run, but in the third Tokay took advantage of some poor defense and broke the streak. Nyrop’s record quest ended at 57.1 innings. One of the main reasons I like to see a state record broken in person is because I grew up as a nephew to the man who literally spent 30 years compiling the California high school state records in all sports. That’s my uncle, Nelson Tennis, who died in May 2004 at age 67 and was working on the sixth edition of the Cal-Hi Sports State Record Book & Almanac until one week before his death. Simply put, there wouldn’t be high school state records in California without him. While I didn’t get to see Max set a state record, there have been other attempts to witness history that were much more successful. ›› In 1995, the state record for football’s longest winning streak was 47 games and belonged to the 1977 Cardinal Newman-Santa Rosa team. When De La Salle-Concord reached 47, the next game was at James Logan-Union City. Future NFL DB Roy Williams was leading the Colts so it Max Nyrop wasn’t a guaranteed win for the Spartans, but in front of all of the Bay Area TV news stations they broke the state record with a win. A few years later, I was also there when De La Salle broke the national record of 72 straight wins held by Hudson High of Michigan. That night is perhaps best remembered by the several players from that Hudson team who flew out to the Bay Area to see their national record fall. They were nothing but class and I’d bet De La Salle players who got the streak to 151 would do the same, except it’s highly unlikely any school will ever threaten that record. ›› There was a lot of media attention in Southern California this basketball season over Jarod Lucas from Los Altos-Hacienda Heights breaking the all-time CIF Southern Section career scoring record. But Lucas didn’t get close to the state record of 3,462 points set in 2004 by DeMarcus Nelson, who played at Vallejo and Sheldon-Sacramento. I recall seeing DeMarcus break the previous record of 3,359 set in 1993 by Darnell Robinson of Emery-Emeryville in a CIF Sac-Joaquin Section playoff game at the old ARCO Arena. DeMarcus, his dad, and many Sheldon fans were wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the number 3,360 to mark the occasion. ›› For CIF wrestling,it’s been hard for me to get to the state finals in recent years due to coverage priorities for basketball. When the state finals were in Stockton, though, it was often attended. I was there in 2002 to see Darrell Vasquez of Bakersfield become the first four-time state champion. One year earlier he beat Jacob Palomino of Independence-San Jose to deny Jacob the opportunity to be the first. ›› As the 2005 SJS baseball and softball playoffs were winding down, the possibility that Linden could finish unbeaten in both sports (which had never happened before in state history) began to unfold. First, the baseball Lions won their divisional crown and capped a 26-0 season. When the softball team’s chance came, I just had to go.The girls got it done, too. They finished 29-0-1. Linden remains the only school to accomplish the feat. ›› During the 2004 SJS softball playoffs, Vanden-Fairfield pitcher Anjelica Selden began to pile up no-hitters. I went to the game in which she broke the state record of seven straight no-hitters that had been set twice during the 1985 season by Lisa Bautista of Banning-Wilmington. Selden, who later starred at UCLA, eventually set a national record of 10 in a row (since tied). ✪

Mark Tennis is the co-founder of Cal-Hi Sports and publisher of CalHiSports.com. Contact him at markjtennis@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter at @CalHiSports

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I

t’s no stretch to say Kyle Harrison was businesslike from the day he was born. OK … maybe the day after. “He was born in San Jose and, pretty much, the next day I remember we got into a Dodge Durango and moved to Orange County for work,” said Kyle’s father, Chris Harrison. There’s a Zen-like frostiness about the 17-year-old De La Salle-Concord southpaw that’s difficult to pin down. It’s not even close to cocky. Nor is it necessarily intimidating — unless, of course, you’re standing in the batter’s box when the 6-foot-2-inch junior launches a 90-something inside fastball. “He’s California cool; you would never know if he has two guys on base, or no one,” said Chris. “You just don’t know if he’s doing great, or not. He’s so calm. It’s like he’s wise beyond his years.” Looking at his numbers helps. After striking out seven of ten batters he faced at home on a rainy March 28, against Summit High of Bend, Oregon, (one walk and no hits), the Danville resident entered April 4-0 with a 0.39 ERA. He’s also hitting .414 in 29 at-bats as a first baseman. During De La Salle’s 2018 North Coast Section Division I baseball championship season — the school’s fifth Div. I title since 2012 — Harrison was 7-1 with a 1.17 ERA, earning him EBAL Pitcher of the Year honors. He was also a 2018 MaxPreps

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National All-American and Cal-Hi Sports All-State Underclass. He struck out 71 batters and walked 23 in 54 innings. “Winning the 2018 NCS title, with my teammates, it was a feeling … you can’t really describe it,” said Harrison, who requires prompting to discuss his feats. “At De La Salle, we really trust each other and we want the best for each other.” Harrison frequently diverts to lauding teammates, coaches and the program. It’s something his coach promises is the real deal. “I think he has the natural ability you look for in a left-hander, but he also has a maturity about him,” said David Jeans, De La Salle’s coach since 2011. “He’s great with his teammates … he’s a sports-first kind of guy, but he also serves (other students) lunch in the lunchroom. As much as he could ‘big-time’ people, he’s just a normal guy. You could not tell this kid is going to play at UCLA. If you talk to all of his teachers, they love him. He’s quiet. He gets his work done. He’s like an old soul.” Which might not be true of a regular teen for whom UCLA rolled out the red carpet beFollow us on Twitter & Instagram, like us on Facebook!

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fore he even threw a varsity pitch. Harrison toured California colleges after his freshman year, which he spent dominating junior varsity competition. He committed to UCLA not long after he turned 16. “Some people say it’s pretty early,” Harrison said. “I saw it as a place I could improve my skills. The early commitment takes some pressure off, but there’s an expectation. You’ve got to bust it, because someone’s always going after you. “By the end of the season, Coach Jeans wants us to be able to coach ourselves. He’s hard on us, but he also wants the best for us. He just wants to see us working.” His coach said it’s a mistake to judge Harrison at first glance. “One thing people don’t know is how complete of a player he is,” Jeans said. “His competitiveness is off the charts. People

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don’t understand because he’s so calm. But he wants to win. He’s got special tools. He knows what his goals are. But he does want to contribute (at the plate) the next couple years, on and off. He just loves to win.” Harrison seemingly has all the physical necessities for success, with an even better attitude. His dad said he’s always been that way. “He’s very humble; He’s very cool,” said Chris Harrison. “He’s wise beyond his years. I was very careful not to overthrow him when he was younger. He’s a lefty, so there’s that (temptation to overuse him in a right-handed world). I have to give a lot of credit to Coach Jeans. He knows them, from the time they come on as freshmen. He develops them, so by the time they get to varsity, they’re ready. That’s why I sent him

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to De La Salle. I wanted the best for him. You’re competing against the best. Even the umpires are hard on us. When they get to college, they’re ready for life. They grind.” Chris Harrison remembers his son’s poise as a 7-year-old Little Leaguer. “We played the Yankees. He was pitching and he got the bases loaded and he somehow got out of it. The opposing coach came over after the game and (talked about it). Kids that age, they sometimes cry when they’re in a jam. But he was just ‘boom, boom, boom,’ like it was nothing. You were like ‘Dang, this kid is something special.’ Then he got tall and got the arm strength.” Taking inspiration from Boston Red Sox ace Chris Sale (“I like his attitude; you’ve got to go right at guys”), the younger

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“He’s California cool. you would never know if he has two guys on base, or no one. You just don’t know if he’s doing great, or not He’s so calm It’s like he’s wise beyond his years.” — Chris Harrison, Kyle’s father

Harrison credits his arm slot for at least part of his success. Throwing at the same angle and having a four-pitch repertoire (fastball, slider, curve, changeup) keeps hitters off balance. And he’s still developing physically. Harrison lost 15-20 pounds in December from a bout with flu. He’s since worked hard to get his strength back up. His fastball, which is topping out around 93 mph, could easily jump up to 95 by senior year. “He’s been taught to find the edges of the plate,” said Jeans. “He’s really taking his game to another level. He’s really a crafty pitcher, as much as he’s a power guy. He’s a true, old-school baseball player.” Harrison comes by the label honestly. His maternal grandfather is Skip Guinn, who pitched parts of three seasons with the Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros between 1968-71. Guinn, who had 40 strikeouts in 36 big league innings, was a teammate of Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Joe Torre, Phil Niekro, Joe Morgan and former San Francisco Giants managers Dusty Baker and Felipe Alou. “He’s a darn good athlete,” said Guinn, who lives in Oklahoma and, like his grandson, throws left-handed and bats right-handed. “Last time I saw him throw, he was keeping it down and away from hitters. He’s the type of kid that you tell him something — not even showing him, but telling him — once, and he gets it. His control down is something else. He’s got a good head on his shoulders. He’s got a love for the game, and that’s important.” “(Kyle) has his arm,” said Chris Harrison. “It’s totally genetic.” He has one season left in high school. Then it’s a busy summer for Harrison, who’s been invited to a number of national developmental showcases. The big question, of course, is what happens when the 2019 Major League Baseball draft rolls around. Chris has already heard from a number of “advisors,” curious about Harrison’s intentions, should he decide to forego college. “I’m still a junior, but there’s been talk,” said Kyle. “We’ll deal with it when we get there.” Spoken like a true master of California cool. ✪ Follow us on Twitter & Instagram, like us on Facebook!

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2019 SPORTSTARS ALL-NORCAL BOYS BASKETBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR

MARCUS bagley M

Sheldon-Sacramento • Junior

arcus Bagley lived up to his preseason hype. Coming into the 2018-19 boys basketball season, Bagley’s addition to an already strong Sheldon High-Sacramento team made it one of the most explosive and most dangerous teams in Northern California. The newcomer averaged 19.9 points and 7.9 rebounds as he helped the Huskies win back-to-back Northern California Regional titles and play in the Open Division title game for the second straight year. The junior’s versatility and athleticism were on full display throughout their run. “It means a lot to me to win this award. I am very honored,” Bagley said. “But it’s not really my award, it’s my teammates award, too. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without them.” Like a mentor who brings out the best in you, Bagley brought out the best in his teammates and they brought out the best in him. He showcased versatility and athleticism en route to a 24-win season. At 6-foot-8, Bagley looks like your typical low post player, but he’s all over the floor. In the CIF State Open Division Championship game against Sierra Canyon-Chatsworth, he was asked to guard Kenyon Martin Jr. in the post at times, but switch back to his natural shooting guard and wing position on offense. He possesses the versatility to guard bigs and then pop out to the wing and hang with the guards, not sacrificing a thing. “He can play one through five,” Sheldon coach Joey Rollings acknowledged earlier in the season. “That’s how good he is. He can play point guard, he can play the two-guard, he can play small forward, power forward or center — he’s that flexible.” That’s in part due to his roots. He grew up watching his older brother and Sacramento Kings rookie Marvin Bagley III, who was the tallest player on the floor getting to the NBA and was consistently put in the post to play. But their dad, Marvin Jr. knew his boys could do more than just play in the post. So Marcus, who didn’t enjoy the same height advantage over his classmates as his brother, grew up playing guard, honing his skills as a ball-handler. He followed Marvin to Sierra Canyon for his freshman year, then moved to North Carolina while his brother went to Duke. Marcus eventually shot up and surpassed many of his teammates on the court, but he still has the skills of a guard. “He was our most consistent player,” Rollings said. “And when he got hurt, other guys had to step up, which was a good thing for our team. He’s so strong with the ball and shoots it so well, plus he’s such a good kid. He listens and does what he’s supposed to. He never wants to come off the floor, even if we’ve got a big lead and we need him fresh for another game. That’s what you want in your best player.” A national recruit, Bagley has interest from Cal, Pittsburgh, Arizona State, USC and UCLA and he’d like to make a decision as soon as possible following a few official visits. “This summer is going to be big for him,” Rollings stated. “He’s going to play point guard for his AAU team (MB3 Elite).” Marcus hopes it is a permanent change to point guard. “I’m trying to complete the transition to the point guard position, and become more of a leader for my team,” Bagley admitted. “I think leadership is one of the biggest traits point guards possess — it really goes hand-in-hand with the position. So I want to work on my game, tighten up my handle and become a better overall player.” Bagley is a four-star recruit, but his coach says that may be because he sat out last season when his brother was playing at Duke and the whole family lived in North Carolina. “He’s going to get a lot more offers and attention as the summer comes and next year rolls around,” Rollings added. With Bagley returning next year, Rollings and Co. have high expectations, and reasonably so. They’ll look to record a thirdstraight Open Division championship appearance, tying only Mater Dei-Santa Ana as the only programs to do that. ✪ — Steven Wilson

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2019 SPORTSTARS ALL-NORCAL BOYS FIRST TEAM MARCUS BAGLEY | Forward | SheldonSacramento | 6-4 | Jr. Bagley was every bit the game-changer he was billed to be after arriving from North Carolina as the family followed his older brother’s NBA path to the Sacramento Kings. Back issues limited Bagley later in the season but he still averaged 19.9 points and 7.3 rebounds as the Huskies were NorCal Open Division Champs for the second straight season.

2019 SPORTSTARS ALL-NORCAL BOYS SECOND TEAM DAVID AHAZIE (Campolindo-Moraga) | Wing | 6-1 | Sr.: The elder statesman of a relatively young nucleus, Ahazie earned league MVP honors and helped lead the Cougars to the CIF Div. II state title by averaging 16.5 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. LELAND ESTACIO (Franklin-Elk Grove) | Guard | 6-2 | Sr.: The shifty guard averaged 16.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.4 assists for the Wildcats. Franklin was the only SJS school to beat Sheldon-Sacramento this season — Estacio had 28 points, nine rebounds and six assists in the win. JOVON MCCLANAHAN (Salesian-Richmond) | Guard | 5-11 | Sr.: Just like his twin, McClanahan was an elite defender for the Pride. But he was also the top facilitator. He averaged 3.7 assists to go with his 10.8 points per game. AARON MURPHY (Modesto Christian) | Forward | 6-7 | Sr.: The Crusaders had five players average double figures in scoring, but Murphy was the senior leader. He averaged 10.8 points and collected 7.1 rebounds. He also averaged at least one block and one steal a night. BRYCE JOHNSON (St. Mary’s-Stockton) | Forward | 6-7 | Sr.: The Rams’ double-double machine finished his final season at St. Mary’s averaging 18.1 points, 12.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.2 blocks per game.

2019 SPORTSTARS ALL-NORCAL BOYS THIRD TEAM ROBBY BEASLEY (Dublin) | Wing | 6-1 | Jr.: Beasley averaged 17.3 points and 4.7 rebounds as he and his teammates finished Top 10 in NorCal for a second straight year. THOMAS GREGARIOS (De La Salle-Concord) | Guard | 6-1 | Sr.: The gritty senior leader was always the right man in the right spot for the Spartans. He averaged 10 points, five assists on the year. JELANI CLARK (Archbishop Riordan-S.F.) | Wing | 6-3 | Jr.: Clark proved to be every bit the all-purpose talent he hinted at as a sophomore, averaging 15.5 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. JACK JONES (Jesuit-Carmichael) | Guard | 6-2 | Sr.: The sharp-shooting guard averaged 17 points and 6.4 rebounds. In back-to-back games, he set single-game school records for points (49) and 3-pointers (8). DEVIN SAPP (Archbishop Mitty-San Jose) | Forward | 6-4 | Jr.: The West Catholic Athletic League MVP averaged 17 points a game for the WCAL regular-season champs.

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JADEN MCCLANAHAN | Guard | Salesian-Richmond | 5-11 | Sr. Along with his twin brother, a second-teamer by the narrowest margin, McClanahan made everything go for a Pride team that won its first 31 games and finished nationally ranked. Jaden averaged 12 points a game; his on-ball defense (2.7 steals a game) was second to none. VIKTOR RAJKOVIC | Forward | Branson-Ross | 6-5 | Sr. Behind the two-time Marin Independent Journal Player of the Year, Branson won 31 games and reached the CIF Div. I NorCal Regional Championship before falling five points shy of a state finals berth. Rajkovic averaged 20 points, 11 rebounds and 2.7 assists for the Bulls. The San Francisco Chronicle named him Metro Player of the Year.

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BRETT THOMPSON | Guard | James Logan-Union City | 5-10 | Sr. Thompson was the spark plug for the Colts team which defeated Rajkovic’s Bulls in the NorCal final. The Mission Valley Athletic League MVP averaged just over 15 points a game and was a tenacious defender for James Logan. The Colts don’t finish No. 5 in our final NorCal rankings without him.

GAVIN WILBURN | Forward | Weston Ranch-Stockton | 6-3 | Jr. Weston Ranch was NorCal’s surprise team of the year, going 31-2 and getting an invite to the NorCal Open Division. Wilburn was Mr. Everything for the Cougars. He averaged 11.6 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists and a little more than one block a game. He and the rest of the team’s core return next season and will assuredly be in the top five of our NorCal Preseason ranks.

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HALEY jones 2019 SPORTSTARS ALL-NORCAL GIRLS BASKETBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Archbishop Mitty-San Jose • Senior

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t’s no surprise that Haley Jones is once again the SportStars’ Girls Basketball Player of the Year — coming into the season, she was widely considered the top senior in the country, and had her pick of colleges. It was also no surprise that she chose Stanford (over UConn and pretty much everyone else), and that Archbishop Mitty-San Jose had a tremendous season, spending most of the year ranked No. 1 in Northern California, and even enjoying a couple weeks in the MaxPreps’ national Xcellent 25. And really, no one was surprised by her impressive collection of statistics — 26.1 points, 12.1 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 3.7 steals and 2.8 blocks per game — as they reflected perhaps the most outstanding of Jones’ many outstanding traits: Versatility. “Her versatility is off the charts,” says her coach, Sue Phillips. How so? 1) Her size: At 6-1, she is tall enough to both score and defend in the paint, especially at the high school level. 2) Her athleticism: She is quick enough to guard top-shelf perimeter players; fast enough to lead or finish a break; and strong enough to hold her own around the basket. 3) Her skills: She can handle like a point guard, shoot like a two guard, penetrate like a strong forward and work inside like a post. 4) Her basketball IQ: “Haley makes the correct basketball play,” says Phillips, “whether that’s attacking the rim, pulling up from the 3 or assisting to another player who has a mismatch. She can do it all.” On top of that, Jones became a team leader for the perennial powerhouse, stepping into that role after three starters graduated in 2018. “Haley is an outstanding teammate,” says Phillips, “thanks to her ability to be so incredibly inclusive of all her teammates both on and off the court.” Given her dominance on the court since her arrival at Archbishop Mitty (she averaged 10.0 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists as a freshman on a 23-4 team), putting her career into a NorCal perspective is a natural next step. Though comparing players of different sizes, skill sets and eras is always problematic, with a player like Jones, there’s more to the story than having one great season. One name that certainly jumps to mind is St. Mary’s-Stockton’s Jacki Gemelos, who like Jones was 6-1 and incredibly skilled. (Her career was derailed by five knee operations at USC, but despite losing much of her explosiveness, she still managed to play in the WNBA.) Gemelos was less likely to post up than Jones, but the two were both dominant players that were matchup nightmares. Other tall wings who made a major impact were Gabby Green (St. Mary’s-Berkeley), Mariya Moore (Salesian-Richmond), Tierra Rogers (Sacred Heart Cathedral-S.F., another whose college career was cut short), Niveen Rasheed (Monte Vista-Danville), McKenzie Forbes (Folsom) and Sara James (Oak Ridge-El Dorado Hills). That leaves out players like Afure Jemerigbe and Chelsea Gray of St. Mary’s-Stockton, who were more purely guards, and Mikayla Cowling (St. Mary’s-Berkeley), Tracy Morris (Campolindo-Moraga) and Brandy Reed (Balboa-S.F.), who were more forwards. Still, to torture an Abraham Lincoln adage, though they could all do some of the things all of the time, and all of the things some of the time, Jones could do all of the things all of the time — and that’s why she’s not only the 2019 Player of the Year, but one of the best ever to play in Northern California. ✪ — Clay Kallam

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2019 SPORTSTARS ALL-NORCAL GIRLS FIRST TEAM KLARA ASTROM | Wing | PinewoodLos Altos Hills | 5-9 | Sr. Not only did Astrom score (16.0 ppg), rebound (6.9 rpg) and shoot 3s nearly as well and as often as teammate Hannah Jump (220 attempts, 38 percent), Astrom routinely guarded the opposing post player — including two members of this first team, Ali Bamberger and Angel Jackson. And despite giving up six inches or more to each of those future Pac-12 players, her defense helped Pinewood beat Carondelet and Salesian on its run to the NorCal Open title.

2019 SPORTSTARS ALL-NORCAL GIRLS SECOND TEAM MYA BLAKE (Bear Creek-Stockton) | Guard | 5-4 | So.: Blake led Bear Creek to the Div. I NorCal finals by averaging 20.4 points, 3.9 assists and 4.2 steals per game. ANYA CHOICE (Cardinal Newman-Santa Rosa) | Guard | 5-8 | Jr.: With Choice running the show, she and Avery Cargill were a backcourt matchup nightmare for opponents. She can shoot it, get to the rim and defend — and she’ll be back next year. JORDAN SWEENEY (Heritage-Brentwood) | Guard | 5-7 | Sr.: Everything Heritage did during its most successful season ran through Sweeney. The Idaho State-bound talent averaged 14.5 points, 6 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 3 steals. JZANIYA HARRIEL (Antelope) | Guard | 5-9 | So.: Perhaps the next great player out of NorCal, Harriel averaged 23.4 points for 31-4 Antelope, which reached the NorCal Division I semifinals. She also averaged 12.8 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.9 steals per game. Remember this name … KENNEDY JOHNSON (Bishop O’Dowd-Oakland) | Post | 5-10 | So.: If Johnson hadn’t been sidelined by an Achilles’ injury for much of the season, her averages (14.7 points and 8.4 rebounds) could have been higher — and conceivably so would her placement on this list.

2019 SPORTSTARS ALL-NORCAL GIRLS THIRD TEAM HUNTER HERNANDEZ (Archbishop Mitty-San Jose) | Wing | 5-9 | So.: It’s clear the Monarchs will be in good hands post-Haley Jones. Hernandez was second on the team in scoring, rebounding and assists and had a 2:1 assist/turnover ratio. AVERY LEE (Menlo School-Atherton) | Guard | 5-8 | So.: Menlo School rolled to the CIF Div. II state title thanks in great part to Lee, a team captain as a sophomore. She led the team in scoring (16.9), assists (3.8) and steals (3.2). MALIA MASTORA (St. Joseph Notre Dame-Alameda) | Wing | 5-10 | Jr.: Mastora led surprising St. Joseph Notre Dame into the Open Division, topping the Knights in scoring by averaging 14.8 per game. She also led in blocks at 1.8 per game.. MIA MASTROV (Miramonte-Orinda) | Wing | 5-11 | So. : Mastrov broke out this season, leading 28-4 Miramonte with 15.5 points — on both 3-pointers and slithery moves to the hoop — and 6 rebounds per game. She’s also an outstanding defender. JADYN MATTHEWS (Enterprise-Redding) | Forward | 5-11 | Sr.: Despite her 21.9 points and 10.2 rebounds per game, Matthews isn’t as well known as others on this list. But, in largely thanks to her, Enterprise went 28-6 and deep in the NorCal Div. II playoffs.

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ANGEL JACKSON | Post | SalesianRichmond | 6-4 | Sr. Jackson, who will play for USC next year, capped a great career with a trip to the McDonald’s All-American Game, and she also led her team to the NorCal Open finals. Jackson steadily improved throughout her time in high school, and though always an outstanding defender and shotblocker, she added range to her jumper and a deft touch to her passing by the time she graduated.

ALI BAMBERGER | Post | CarondeletConcord | 6-2 | Sr. The Washington-bound post was a beast on the block all year long, but her game was more than just size and physicality. Bamberger’s skills around the basket allowed her to impose her will on almost all of Carondelet’s opponents, and her inside game opened up the game for her perimetershooting teammates.

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HANNAH JUMP | Wing | PinewoodLos Altos Hills | 5-11 | Sr. Everyone knew Jump was going to shoot 3s — but they still couldn’t stop her. She made 39 percent of her 235 attempts en route to averaging 16.7 ppg. And she wasn’t just a jumpshooter. Jump pulled down 5.8 rebounds per game for the NorCal Open champs as well.

HALEY JONES | Wing | Archbishop MittySan Jose | 6-1 | Sr. Jones was merely the player of the year for some national outlets, and often tabbed as the best prospect in the Class of 2019 — and local fans will get to watch her grow her game at Stanford. Jones’ biggest advantage is versatility at both ends of the floor, and she plays the game with a basketball IQ few her age can match.

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PREVIOUS PAGES: Oakland Tech celebrates in the immediate aftermath of its 55-27 win over Northview-Covina in the CIF Div. V state final at Golden 1 Center. ABOVE: Oakland High is all hugs following its CIF Div. III State Championship victory over McFarland.

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here was a time — a long time, really — when the Oakland Athletic League was one of the best girls basketball leagues in Northern California. If it wasn’t Oakland Tech, it was Skyline; if it wasn’t Skyline, it was Castlemont; if it wasn’t one of those, then Oakland or Fremont or McClymonds would make life miserable for outsiders. And then, sadly, there was a time — too long a time — when the OAL just sort of faded away. No longer did seeing that Oakland team on the schedule cause little shivers of nerves for opposing players and coaches. No longer was there fear that a serious drubbing was about to occur. And then there was 2019. Seemingly out of nowhere (but not really), both Oakland and Oakland Tech not only reasserted themselves on the regional stage, but rose up and won state championships. And ask anyone who’s been down that road, it doesn’t matter if it’s the Open or Division III or Division V: Winning a California title is a long, hard grind with big bumps in the road and some scary moments along the way. For Orlando Gray, that road was a familiar one. The McClymonds grad was an assistant coach on the Oakland Tech state title teams of 2004 and 2005 — both of which featured his daughter, Alexis Gray-Lawson. After taking over at Tech for several years, Gray stepped away from coaching and had no plans to return. Then one of his former players asked him to step in at Oakland High because she had a job offer, and he reluctantly said yes. His reluctance was understandable. The Oakland program was, charitably, a train wreck. The record for the previous five years had been 12 wins and 99 losses. It took Gray three years to get Oakland back above .500. A 23-win season in 2014-15 was followed by two years of struggle, before the group that took this year’s Division III title began to coalesce. “It was lucky,” Gray said of those first steps. “Morgan (Dunbar) was supposed to go to Oakland Tech, but she didn’t get in — and when I got her, I knew I had something special.” And Gray is not one to throw words like “special” around. In fact, he’s as old-school as old-school can be. He says firmly that “Everybody can’t play for me.” He’s demanding and he knows what it takes — and even this season, there was a moment when things could have gone south in a hurry. Oakland’s seniors, says Gray, had gotten overconfident and wanted to do things their way instead of his way. So he started playing his younger, equally talented players more. “I had given them all I could give them,” he said of the seniors, “but they hadn’t given me all they could give me.” It all came to a head after a four-point loss to Berkeley on Jan. 12. Once the players “took ownership of the team,” in Gray’s words, the Wildcats embarked on a 19-game winning streak that culminated with a CIF Division III state championship at Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center. Three of those wins came against league rival Oakland Tech — and oddly enough, Tech coach Leroy Hurt points to those

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PHOTOS BY JAMES K. LEASH & BERRY EVANS III

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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Oakland’s Morgan Dunbar drives to the basket during the state final; Oakland Tech senior captain Tiffany Siu runs the Bulldog offense; Oakland’s Khirah McCoy whips a pass ahead during a Wildcats fast break. three losses as the keys to his team’s run to the CIF Div. V crown. “We didn’t play well in the first game,” said Hurt, an Oakland Tech alum who has rebuilt his alma mater’s program in the past four years. But after looking at the film with his players, they started to see that “If you do what you’re supposed to do, you’ll win.” Even though the next two games were close losses, the Tech players realized they were that close to putting it all together — which they promptly did. Even so, the postseason run included one heart-stopping moment. After grinding out a 4442 lead against Redwood-Larkspur with just seconds to go, a Redwood player launched a desperation three-quarter-court shot. It hit the front of the rim and bounced away. “Another couple inches and we lose that game,” Hurt said. Neither team needed much luck in the championship games. After a close first half, Oakland ran its season record to 30-6 by dominating McFarland in the last 16 minutes en route to a 51-35 win. Oakland Tech, on the other hand, jumped ahead 4-2 in the first quarter against Northview-Covina and steadily pulled away, winning 55-27 to also finish with 30 wins. So does this mean the glory days of the OAL are back? Is the league once more ready to rule the East Bay? Sadly, it doesn’t look that way. Only the two state champs had JV teams last year, and the other four OAL schools managed just 10 wins against outside competition. “The private schools are killing my league,” says Hurt. “The privates are recruiting a lot more than they used to — they’re plucking our best ones. “We just can’t afford to lose Oakland kids,” he says. “We’re not getting the kids we used to get.” “Charter schools happened,” says Gray, and that means that the players who used to congregate in the six OAL schools are now scattered throughout a host of smaller schools affiliated with the school district. Doris Jones, for example, will play for UC Santa Barbara. She attended KIPP King, a charter school, instead of being a star on one of the OAL teams. But even though the other Oakland schools may not be ready to battle with the big girls, both Gray and Hurt look forward to continued success for their teams. Oakland Tech will lose only one senior, Tiffany Siu, to graduation. “I’m going to miss Tiffany so much,” Hurt said. “She did everything for us, but our guard play will be better and we’ll have more depth.” And even though Oakland will lose four starters, sophomore Kya Pearson was the leading scorer and Gray sees a bright future for freshman Aniyah Story. “We’ll hit the ground running,” he says. Both teams were to hit the ground in a different way on April 5, when the City of Oakland scheduled a parade to celebrate the success of its two public schools. And though that may not signal a renaissance for the entire Oakland Athletic League, it’s definitely a sign that times have changed — and the dark days for the city’s girls basketball teams are a thing of the past. ✪

STORY BY CLAY KALLAM

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See hundreds of more camps like these at SportStarsMag.com/Camps BASEBALL Bentley School Summer Baseball Camp Bentley School Summer Sports Camps are an opportunity for rising 5th-12th graders to develop skills and interest in a variety of sports. All camps are coed and offer instruction and coaching Monday-Friday for each session. Info: rrafeh@bentleyschool.net Branham Bruins Baseball Camps Varsity baseball coach Tony Pianto runs this camp for boys and girls ages 5-14. Camp is excellent for all skill levels. Opportunity to participate in age and skill appropriate drills and scrimmages. Two June sessions. 9am-1pm. Info: baseball.branhamsportscamps.com/ summer-camps.cfm; aepianto@yahoo.com City of Walnut Creek Baseball Camp Camp Age: 8-13 offers a fully staffed and supervised camp. Summer Camps: Registration opened Feb. 28. For more information: walnutcreekrec.org or call (925) 943-5858 De La Salle Youth Baseball Camp Offers four sessions for incoming 4th-9th graders. Emphasize proper techniques for running, stealing, throwing, receiving, hitting, bunting, pitching, catching, outfield and infield. Staff will analyze the camper in real game situations and scenarios. Info: dlshs.org/ athletics/camps-clinics; summercamps@dlshs. org or call 925.288.8100 ext. 7090 Golden Era Spring Baseball Academies Choose between our Hitting, Pitching or Infield Academies. Golden Era is also home to the Oakland Immortals Club team. Info: (925) 339-1078; goldenerabaseballclub.com/springacademy-2018 Headfirst Baseball Academy & Camps Headfirst camps are known throughout NorCal for player development. Players will learn the correct mechanics of each position. Info: Coach Michael, MJi0209@aol.com; Coach Mario, Mario74iglesias@aol.com Moreau Catholic Baseball Camps Provides customized program tailored to individual needs. Begins in weight room or on the football field working on strength training or agility. The latter half of our day will consist of defensive and offensive work on the baseball field. Open to grades 2-9. Info: 510.881.4300; OSailors@moreaucatholic.org Nike Baseball Camps Offer athletes a variety of youth baseball camp options. Depending on the camp and its unique schedule, our campers can spend the entire week at one of our many locations nationwide. Info: 1-800-NIKE-CAMP Performance Pitching With Matt Jarvis Performance Pitching in Northern California offers structured methods of training designed specifically to the develop core skills players needed to be successful. We have more than 25 years of experience in private instruction.

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We teach you the fundamentals of the game, how to improve your play, and a passion for baseball. Info: info@performancepitching.net; (877) 797-6174 Salesian Red & Gold Baseball Camp One week camp for 4th-8th graders includes offensive, defensive and mental drills. Includes position-specific and team defensive skill competitions, offensive skill competitions and team competitions. Also includes ways to improve the mental approach with former college baseball guest speakers. July 8-12. Cost: $175. Info: salesian.com/athletics/ sportscamps St. Patrick-St. Vincent HS Camps A camp that provides the opportunity to learn new techniques, improve individual abilities, make new friends and have fun! Develop skills and reach a new level of play and self-confidence. All areas of the game are covered. Campers grouped by age and skill level. Info: 707-644-4425; m.delgado@spsv.org TPC Baseball & Softball Camps Spring-winter camps feature skills, drills and competitions in all major areas (hitting, pitching, throwing, fielding). Players will have blast while improving their skills with our TPC staff and often guest appearances from former and current professional baseball players. Info: 925-416-1600 info@thepitchingcenter.com,” BASKETBALL De La Salle Basketball Camp Five sessions aimed at teaching fundamentals. Shooting, ball handling, passing, rebounding, defense, footwork, 1-on-1 moves and big man moves will all be covered. Our camps stress having proper attitude, teamwork and listening skills. . Coed camp is open to K-incoming 9th graders. Info: dlshs.org/athletics/campsclinics; summercamps@dlshs.org or call 925.288.8100 x7090 Nike Basketball Camps Offering day and overnight camps all over the country. Enjoy the ultimate basketball camp experience at some of our nation’s most beautiful college campuses. Or get better each day with one of our high-level coaches at a location closer to you. Info: 1-800-NIKE-CAMP Moreau Catholic Frank Knight Camp Improve your skills with Coach Frank Knight III, who coached the Mariner Team to the 2017 and 2019 NCS Championships. Campers may attend 1 or 2 sessions. Open to boys and girls, entering grades 2-9. Info: fknight@ moreaucatholic.org; 510.881.4300 Moreau Catholic Girls Basketball Camps Coach Jose Alvarez teaches skills needed both on and off the court, using our progressional curriculum and focusing on the whole player. Open to girls, grades 3- 8. Focus on respect, teamwork and responsibility. Info: JAlvarez@moreaucatholic.org. (510) 881-4300

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See hundreds of more camps like these at SportStarsMag.com/Camps Modesto Magic Basketball Association If you are a girl ages 4-17, we can take your game to the next level. We offer leagues, camps, clinics, tournaments, private lessons and AAU traveling teams. Open to all skill levels. Info: Stan Silva, 209-765-5107; ssilva1920@aol.com Salesian Basketball Camps For 4th-8th graders, led by Salesian boys basketball coach and former California Coach of the Year, Bill Mellis. We provide outstanding instruction, including individual fundamentals and building confidence through drills and team play for boys and girls. Session I: June 24—28; Session II: July 8—12; Session III: July 15—19, 2019. Cost: $175.00 per session. Info: salesian.com/athletics/sportscamps Salesian Girls Half-Day Skills Clinic For 4th-8th grade girls to improve fundamental skills. Staff is expected to include Dustin Hirashima, Bernard Brown, Justin Reid, Greg Ginsburg, Alana Horton, Isabell Ampon, Richard Rincon, Justin Rollolazo, Sam Sims as well as guest coaches and members of the Pride varsity team. Info: salesian.com/athletics/sportscamps St. Patrick-St. Vincent Intro To Basketball Great introduction for boys and girls. The focus is on fun and fundamentals. Campers work with smaller basketballs and lowered rims which help ensure proper form. Campers participate in offensive and defensive drills and station work, followed by team games. Info: 707-644-4425; m.delgado@spsv.org St. Patrick-St. Vincent Girls Camp Campers participate in offensive and defensive drills and station work, followed by games. Additionally, players are provided preparation for summer leagues and tournaments. Info: 707-644-4425; m.delgado@spsv.org St. Patrick-St. Vincent Boys Camp Campers participate in offensive and defensive drills and station work, followed by games. Additionally, players are provided preparation for summer leagues and tournaments. Info: 707-644-4425; m.delgado@spsv.org Bentley School Summer Boys Camp The complete skills camp covers a wide range of skills from ball handling, passing, shooting, and defensive principles. Rising 6th-9th graders will play small games and have competitions. Info: (925) 283-2101 ext. 3241 rrafeh@ bentleyschool.net City of Walnut Creek Basketball Camp Age: 8-13 offers a fully staffed and supervised camp. Our instructors teach you the fundamentals of basketball and let you show off your skills in games. Info: walnutcreekrec.org or call (925) 943-5858 Cal Basketball Camp For GIrls Our camps provide instruction for players of all skill levels, as each camp is designed to emphasize individual improvement, funda-

mental skills, teamwork, sportsmanship and enjoyment. Info: 1-800-GO-BEARS FOOTBALL City of Walnut Creek Flag Football Camp City of Walnut Creek Flag Football Camp Age: 8-13 offers a fully staffed and supervised flag football camp. In this fun and recreational, non-contact version of football the skill development and games will allow kids the opportunity to explore football. Info: walnutcreekrec.org or call (925) 943-5858 Jesse Sapolu Men In The Trenches Academy We are one of the premier camps in the nation dedicated to teaching the fundamentals of playing the offensive and defensive lines. MITT gives young athletes the opportunity to learn all the nuances about the Offensive and Defensive Line while getting to compete against other top linemen in the country. Camps are open for all players grades 5th12th in various cities. Info: mittnorcal.com California Football Academy Camps Contact and non-contact camps available for ages 6-14 during and June. The camps take place in Oakley. CFA offers flag football leagues and tournaments also. Oakley, Concord and San Ramon. Info and registration: see our website or call 925-625-2222; email californiafootballacademy@hotmail.com DLS’s Bob Ladouceur Championship Camp Learn sound, fundamental offensive and defensive football techniques for the pre-high school player. Demonstration and individual drills to teach basic skills to both beginning and experienced players. Proper warm-up, physical conditioning, skills drills and review. Full contact is not a priority. June 17-20. Info: dlshs.org/athletics/camps-clinics; summercamps@dlshs.org or 925.288.8100 x7090 St. Patrick-St. Vincent HS Football Camp California State Champion Coach Lane Hawkins and his experienced staff provide skill development in a fun and competitive environment. Campers grouped by age and experience. Campers will participate in skill drill followed by 7 on 7 flag football games. Info: 707-644-4425; m.delgado@spsv.org Campolindo Cougar Camps Full Gear Camp We develop fundamentals and techniques associated with tackle football. Quantity of contact based on appropriate skill level or readiness. Grades 4 – 8. Camp staffed by full complement of experienced coaches and certified trainer. Info: (925) 280-3950 X 5163; kmacy@acalanes.k12.ca.us Moreau Catholic Football Camps One of the unique Moreau Catholic Football traditions is attending this 6-9th grade Summer Camp. This non-contact camp is a great way to learn basic fundamentals of football. Info: rgatrell@moreaucatholic.org; 510-8814333 ✪

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Behind the Clipboard by Clay Kallam

Different Sports,

Different Sorts I don’t get why people get excited about track and swimming — it’s not like anyone is trying to keep you from finishing a race. Nobody’s tackling anyone when they come over a hurdle, and you don’t have to avoid a blitzer to throw the shot. You just do what you do, the setup is always the same and the only teamwork involved is touching a wall so someone can dive in the water or passing a baton. A lot of times they drop the baton. Real sports mean you have an opponent trying to keep you from succeeding. J.R., Lodi

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will concede you do have somewhat of a point — those sports that involve another person trying to stop you are different than those sports that are just about you maximizing your ability. But it’s a big step to go from “different kind of sports” to “not a sport at all.” Let’s take track and field first, as the constellation of activities are the most basic of all athletic events. Running, jumping and throwing are fundamental human activities and those sports that don’t involve any of them are always looked at as a little inferior. (Golf is the prime example, though swinging a club could be thought of as a kind of “throwing,” I guess.) If you are fast, it helps in almost every team sport. If you can jump, it helps a lot in some sports, and a little in almost every sport. And throwing, too, is pretty universal. The strength aspect is also something to consider, as good sprinters are strong, and of course, the discus, shot and pole vault require plenty of muscle. Your argument is probably stronger against swimming, though if you consider endurance a fundamental part of human physical attributes, pounding out all those yards every day is definitely an achievement. Really what you’re talking about is a dividing line between athleticism and competition against others. Sure, in swimming and track there is competition, but as you point out, your opponents aren’t trying to stop you — they’re just trying to do better. But once you put someone else in the way, running 100 yards becomes a different kind of event. After all, the fastest guy in the school is very unlikely to be the best kick returner — and, in fact, the best kick returner usually even isn’t the fastest guy on the football team. And it’s one thing to see how much spin you can put on a discus. It’s quite another to spin a baseball so that a) it goes where you want it to and b) someone else can’t hit it. Another aspect is that there’s not really a “game” aspect to track or swimming. You’re not trying to run down the shot clock late in the game, or bunt a girl over in the sixth inning or figure out a way to get the fast guy some space to run in. You don’t need to think strategically, say, in the 100-yard dash — you may have to think, but it’s not game-related thinking. Still, I’m not going to go as far as you’ve gone and say that swimming, to name one, isn’t a “sport.” It requires physical abilities, skill, a competitive mind-set and a willingness to work hard to achieve a goal. Now it might be more interesting if the winner of the 50 free had to straight-arm a couple of girls from the other team on the way to the finish, but that doesn’t mean that just going faster than everyone else isn’t an achievement worth celebrating. Oh, and if you think track really isn’t much of a sport, try running a 3,200 at a pace approximating that of a high-level high school distance runner. Swimming? Just dive into a pool and finish a 200 IM without half-drowning and then we’ll talk further. Until then, I think saying the sports are “different” is about as far as we can go. ✪

Clay Kallam has been an assistant athletic director and has coached numerous sports at a handful of high schools throughout the Bay Area. To submit a question for Behind the Clipboard, email him at claykallam@gmail.com.

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Bay Area Issue 163, April 2019  

Bay Area Issue 163, April 2019  

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