by Coach Corey Wiscomb
While we have a variety of ages on the team, overall we are a young group of players this year in terms of experience. As a coaching staff, we are really looking at rebuilding from the ground up. We converse with the players daily on what a great team looks, feels, and acts like. It’s a process, and to the players’ credit they are really engaged. Practices have shown a great work ethic, spirit and willingness to try a new approach. As a coach I am happy with that aspect. It all begins with hard work. From there we can add layers of skill and knowledge that will hopefully make them a competitive team for the season. It just takes time to cover the range of topics we need to address. Overall we will be a small but athletic team, and we hope to play some fast and exciting basketball that can work to our strengths.
In all honesty, this is a very different team than I have ever coached. We have more trouble with academic eligibility then previous seasons. To be very clear, schoolwork comes first. It is a privilege to represent your school, community, and island on the competitive basketball team. That privilege is only earned with certain marks of academic achievement. So it appears we will be aiming some of our practice time at academics.
We also have several players who are strong athletically but are transfers and due to Washington Interscholastic Activities Association rules, they will only be allowed to play for the junior varsity for one season. While these players will definitely lift the level of our practices, they cannot play varsity, even though they are from the same small town. I believe we have a very loving and honorable program that develops sportsmanship, goodwill and achievement in young men. I would very much like to see our island combine to be the best that we can all be. It’s for the benefit of all of us, not anyone in particular.
Goal setting with players this year has been different as well, but that’s okay. Some players are very strongly aiming their efforts at making it to the state tournament. Others just want to win a few games. If we are to really make a mark with our time this season then we must unify our goals. Learning to do this will help players with their off-court goals as well, all of which are quite beautiful. I have players who want to be the first member of their family to go to college. I have players who want to learn to code a computer. I have players whose life goal is to have a happy family and work a job they love doing. These are the real things I’m coaching them toward: developing the attitude and ethic to achieve and, in the process, learning to play much better basketball.
There are a lot of shining lights on this team who show up and work hard every day. We have some good senior leadership and talented, young up-and-comers. I truly believe that the success of the boys’ soccer team pours its way into our sport as well. Those players have experienced competitive success, and they come expecting to continue that journey. That influences their teammates in a beautiful way. The season is ahead of us, and it is totally unknown, although there are a few things we can be sure of: we know there’s going to be a lot of sweat, hard work, emotional moments and exciting finishes. A basketball season is like a roller coaster ride. I’m really excited to see where this one goes.
The Orcas boys will open their season on Friday, Dec. 6 against Bush Academy. Bush is a larger A-league team (Orcas is a 2B school this year, and moving to 1B next season) coached by former Seattle Supersonic Steve Haas. It is usually a very exciting game.
The Orcas team is comprised of seniors Corey Aragon, Daniel Keyes and Max Clark-Matilla; juniors August Groeninger, David Klein, Leonai VanPutten, Michael Mullan and Tomas Holmes; sophomores Ethan Bell, Jeffery Davis, Odi Salinas, Raul Orantes and Pablo Rodriguez; and freshmen Chris Mullan, Diego Lago, Elijah Giampetro, Paxton White, Pedro Guerra and Sebastian Lackoff.