Monday, February 7, 2011


Persistent determination, the quality of being determined to do or achieve something; firmness of purpose. Sammy showed pertinacity during the entire 2010/2011 basketball season.
(Sammy is going to take the SAT's this Spring and we are trying to help him out with his vocabulary. :)

Sammy has been playing sports basically his whole life. His first word was ball, followed very closely by the word blue. Since four years old, Sammy has played soccer, baseball, golf and tennis. He started football in 3rd grade and started playing basketball a little later, at maybe 10 years old (on a team.) Of course he had a little basketball hoop at age two and then a bigger basketball hoop at four. Our neighbors were kind enough to leave their big basketball hoop up in their driveway for years after their kids were grown and done using it... probably because they felt sorry for us since we have no driveway.

This is Sammy's third season playing basketball for his small private school, Catlin Gabel. Playing basketball at Catlin has been a rough road for Sammy. No school or program is perfect and we understand that. Sammy having the opportunity to play all the sports he wants is, in fact, a big plus in our minds. Catlin has a no-cut, everyone plays policy. Unfortunately, the Catlin basketball coaches seem to have a bit of a hard time following the rules and maintaining their objectivity. Even though this is a small private school that nurtures the individual spirit and touts respect, some of the basketball coaches have a hard time understanding and practicing this... or maybe no one told them? I am not big on the win at ALL costs mentality.

Sammy's Freshman year he sat on the JV bench most of the time (they only had enough kids for Varsity and JV). The coach said Sammy was not fast enough (don't get me started...) Last year Sammy played down at JV2 and had an awesome year playing for an awesome coach (and was surprisingly fast). He got tons of deserved play time. But, the other coaches ran that really good coach away (I'm talking really good coach). This year, they again have three teams. Sammy was chosen for the JV team. We all quickly realized that the JV team was the "Bad News Bears" of Catlin Basketball. The Varsity team got the best players (at least by the coach's standards) and as well they should. JV2 actually got a really great group of Freshman with aspirations of playing Varsity (in this private school setting, not all kids have aspirations of playing Varsity--I just thought I would throw that out there.) The JV team got all the Juniors and Sophomores that did not make Varsity (partly due to the fact that they did not play basketball during the off season, many of the kids, like Sammy, have other things in their life besides basketball.) The JV team also got all the other weak players (many of them Freshmen). Boys who had never played basketball, boys just out for a PE credit, and what the coaches like to call boys in need of "skill building." What transpired after that was complete fiasco. Leaving the Varsity team's success, or lack thereof, out of this, the JV2 team has been slaughtering their opponents by sometimes 30-40 points. Now if anyone out there actually watches high school basketball, even scoring 40 points can be difficult, but to squash your opponent game after game by that many points is actually quite astounding (and also goes to show that the other teams put their better players on their JV team.) On the other hand, the JV team started the season by losing by the same amount of points (or dare I say, more.) So, what would a sensible basketball program do? I am thinking everyone out there is going to react like me... why would you not switch out the better JV2 players for the weaker JV players? I guess because that would make sense? But since the Catlin Gabel Boys Basketball program does not make any sense (in my opinion), they did not do that. UNTIL... they lost more than half the JV team (for various reasons). Sammy and his buddy Ian did quit for a game--out of protest, but of course that fell on deaf ears. Since the boys really love basketball and we really wanted them playing basketball instead of doing other less savory extra-curricular activities, they returned to play out the season. Oh, and another option the coaches had, that all other teams in their league participate in, swinging down Varsity players that don't get much play time in the Varsity games. After about a bazillion emails by me and some heated conversations with staff (that apparently do not like me very much), they finally swung a couple Varsity players. Now that the Varsity team has a half dozen injuries and Sammy's team was down to about 5 consistent players, they finally moved a bunch of the JV2 team up to JV. Why? Because the JV2 season is basically over. Thanks guys. Way to go. Does this really count as better late than never?

Anyway, I have vented enough frustration here.
In the end we are very proud of Sammy for rejoining the team and sticking it out. We love watching basketball and we love watching Sammy play basketball. We have been to almost every game this season, even away games. Sammy has played quite hard and attempted (sometimes not so successfully) to keep a positive attitude even when his team loses by 40 (or dare I say more) points.

Above: Sammy get your mind together, the game is about to start.

Above: Practice before the game. Sammy is a pretty decent ball handler

Above: Tips from the coach (Sammy's coach does his best with what he is given)

Above: Sammy is a great rebounder

Above: Sammy is pretty darn good at drawing the foul when he drives to the basket. We wish he did it more often.

Above: I love their bright blue away uniforms (I know this is a silly Mom thing.)

Above: Ooh, Sammy takes some big elbow hits and a lot of other hits that don't get called, but that is basketball.

Above: Sammy is an awesome free throw shooter.

Above: Sammy always gets the ball into play.

Above: Sammy can be a leader and direct his teammates, when he speaks up.

We are proud of Sam! And seriously, we cannot believe he is approaching 5'11", that is nearly unheard of in our family!

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