Looking back at one of the highlights of the high school sports season for 2015-16 is Montebello High School boys varsity baseball team who had a "storybook season" as the team played in the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Southern Section Championship semi-finals for the first time in 54 years.
The excitement grew so much during the season that Montebello Head Coach Manny Arana said at the CIFsemi-final playoff game that Montebello hosted and lost, that Montebello fans were tailgating on the street by the baseball field. He said students, staff, and many alumni came out to support the team. "Our players and coaches really appreciate the support on campus and in the community," said Arana, who is in his 16th year as coach and third year as head coach at Montebello High School.
"Every coach dreams about this type of season," continued Arana. "The ride was awesome for everyone. Our team is young, there are a lot of sophomores. Montebello only has three seniors who recently graduated. Their name and college they will be a student athlete in a few weeks are Christian Beltran, Cerritos Community College, Adam Richie, University of La Verne, and Edjar Velasquez, Compton Community College."
Montebello played rival El Rancho in the CIF playoffs quarterfinals, winning 4-2 before what Arana said was a big crowd that sparked a lot of interest in baseball. Velasquez was the winning pitcher, right fielder Noel Fuerte scored two runs and had two runs batted in, and left fielder Marta Esparza was 3-3 at the plate to lead Montebello. Arana said he is glad this shouldn't just be a one-season wonder as there are many freshmen and sophomores on the team to help it keep the success continuing.
Arana said Montebello developed an overall great team chemistry and had a goal to win Almont League and two games in the playoffs. Montebello posted a 14-1 record in Almont League play to win its second straight championship and then won all the way in the CIF Championship Playoffs until losing in the semi-finals. He emphasized the team's overall record was 21-12, the first season winning 20 or more games in many years. "Our pre-season was pretty tough to get ready for league and playoffs," stated Arana. "We learned from tough opponents to help us get better."
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There appeared to be more high school coach jobs than usual available after this past school year. For example, Alhambra (also looking to hire junior varsity and frosh coaches), San Gabriel, Cantwell Sacred Heart. Rosemead, Gabrielino and El Monte started searches for a new girls basketball head coach. Rosemead and San Gabriel also had available new head coach jobs in soccer and volleyball, and Rosemead also had open a boys and also girls head coach positions in wrestling.
Coaching has become basically a year around job in high school except for a three weeks rest time required by California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Southern Section, and coaches are only paid during their season of sport, for example, basketball coaches are NOT paid usually from March or whenever they are finished with their season until October.
Coaches give of their time for practice, planning season schedules and working with athletic directors to schedule games, get snacks for fundraisers and organize that and other fundraisers, and more. And at public schools the students that come to the school are the ones that make up a team. Private schools have the luxury of recruiting students for academics and sports.
So the next time you see a coach say hi and think about simply saying a sincere thank you for giving these young people an opportunity to be part of something that means a lot to the students, and especially the "lower level" coaches that coach freshmen or frosh soph or junior varsity who are so important in helping the younger students to learn skills for that sport while enhancing the student's respect, sportsmanship, integrity, accountability, loyalty, determination, teamwork, improving their health and more.
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Los Angeles Lakers welcomed their new Head Coach Luke Walton, June 21, 2016 back to the organization. Walton was a player who was used to playing for a championship with the Lakers and now hopes to bring back championships to the purple and gold team at Staples Center. Walton said he has support from the organization, some young talented athletes, draft choices and money to get a more talented team roster and is looking forward to the challenge of restoring "show time" to the LA Lakers.
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Keep enjoying sports, being fit and supporting your local youth, college and professional teams!