By Ray Hamill — Shame on Western Sierra and the example the school is sending to its student athletes this week by refusing to travel here to play an important game of basketball.
But it’s no surprise.
It has, in fact, become such a regular occurrence here on the North Coast, I can’t keep up.
How many schools have refused to travel to the area to compete within the past four months alone?
It’s almost as if they’re collectively afraid they’ll fall off the face of the state if they go too far up the 101, or won’t be able to find their way home.
As for this week’s excuse, does it really matter any more?
Although it should be pointed out that Western Sierra gets a failing grade on that as well.
They should have said it was the weather. That would have sounded more believable, and it’s usually the excuse other teams give.
Almost like a go-to play.
But failing to secure transport? Apparently, they want us to believe that there are no cars or buses available in Rocklin this week, or that none of the parents know how to drive.
Why not be honest about it? You guys were afraid to play a very good St. Bernard’s team, or just too lazy to make the effort.
Either way, you’re sending the wrong message to your student athletes.
And if you didn’t want to compete in such a prestigious tournament that many players view as their ultimate high school playing experience, then you should have given up your spot to any number of teams that have worked extremely hard to try and get there.
I know any team up here would gladly have made twice that trip for such a game.
And to simply not try is never an acceptable excuse.
But enough about that, because one school’s shortcomings and lack of true competitive spirit is not the core sentiment of this column.
This isn’t about criticizing one program for not trying, but rather about celebrating the many programs on the North Coast that will do almost anything to compete.
And every time a team from outside the area refuses to travel here for a game, it makes me realize more and more the quality of the support system local high school and community sports enjoy here.
As well as the standards they set and adhere to, while instilling valuable life-long lessons in their student athletes.
There are never flimsy excuses for not trying to compete. Teams here simply find a way.
They’re conditioned to find a way.
If they don’t find a way, they don’t play games.
And a five-hour trip (or a lot more) is not an inconvenience or a challenge, but rather an extended part of most games.
They even embrace it.
Almost every student athlete I’ve ever asked about the things they’ll remember most from their time playing high school sports here on the North Coast responds almost unanimously, “The road trips!”
The good times.
The memories they’ll carry with them for a lifetime.
Ten years from now, none of the Western Sierra players will remember a thing about this day, but the Hoopa Valley boys, who had to travel four hours to play at Pierce High, will remember it their entire lives.
That’s reason alone to find a way to play.
Win or lose, they’ll talk about today’s game every time they get together in the future.
It’s also their 26th road game of the season, compared to just four home contests.
Ironically, no one deserved a home game more this week, and I’m pretty sure no one complained about a road game less.
None of the H-DNL teams ever complain about a road game.
They always show up.
And they find a way to enjoy it.
That’s a mentality and experience teams like Western Sierra will never understand.