Category Archives: Sports

March Madness Elevates, Delivers

Indianapolis — After a yearlong hiatus from intercollegiate athletics, one of the most hyped tournaments, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, also known as March Madness, returned to form in a thrilling exposition. The teams accumulated throughout the process of Selection Sunday, a tradition by which the most impressive 68 contenders were selected to participate in the tournament, posted a flurry of electrifying matchups that went down to wire.

On March 21, 2020, the NCAA announced it would postpone the convention, leaving many athletes that were college seniors having to decide how to continue their careers.

Of the 68 teams competing, 32 teams received an automatic bid from winning their conference tournaments. The remaining 36 teams received a bid from the NCAA selection committee.

Historically, the college with the most championships is UCLA, with 11 total championships.

UCLA made a historic run in the 2021 ‘Big Dance.’ They were selected as a member of the First Four but annihilated their way through the tournament. 

They advanced all the way to face no. 1 seed Gonzaga, who was undefeated during the matchup with UCLA. In an astounding thriller that went down to the wire, Gonzaga’s guard Jalen Suggs hit a desperation three from just past half-court to win the game.

Unfortunately for the powerhouse Gonzaga Bulldogs team, the championship game after that featured a battle-tested and weathered Baylor Bears team that so decisively pounded Gonzaga from the beginning of the match up until the final buzzer. In the end, Baylor emerged victorious and ended Gonzaga’s winning streak.

The final night of the NCAA tournament was a stunning ride. “We’re really good defensively. I thought we made things tough tonight,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “Gonzaga missed some shots that they probably normally make. But credit our guys for making everything difficult.”

“They were just so much more aggressive than us,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “They just literally busted us out of anything we could possibly do on offense.”

“They punched us in the mouth right at the get-go,” Gonzaga star Corey Kispert said. “And it took a long, long time for us to recover and start playing them even again. But then it was too late.”

According to CNN reporter Steve Almasy, Few said he never saw his team play as if they were weighted down by the pressure to go undefeated.

Baylor star Jared Butler explained his insights from the game, “I was struggling the whole tournament probably until the Final Four,” Butler said. “And as a shooter, it’s hard. Like, it just makes the days longer, and you think about it all day long. But I knew … I couldn’t go the whole tournament and not shoot well.” Butler had 22 points to lead the Bears.

Few explained his team ” … loves one another. Just such a positive spirit yet such a competitive spirit.”

Nonetheless, Drew acknowledged the historic run for the Bears and how it felt for Texas. “Look at how much great basketball we have (in Texas) from high school, AAU, junior college, college,” Drew said. “And we haven’t won a national championship since ’66. It’s long overdue for the state, and I’m so pleased for all of them.”

The Baylor Bears’ season was justified after giving up their perfect record to Kansas and Oklahoma State. They retaliated against this star-studded Gonzaga offense and prolific Gonzaga defense to capture the 2021 NCAA title. This was Baylor’s first Intercollegiate title for Men’s Basketball. The Baylor Women’s Intercollegiate Basketball team has won the tournament three times, including one in 2019.

Black Lives Matter is painted in giant letters on the street

Social Justice in the Sport’s World

The Milwaukee Bucks held a walk-out on Aug. 26 refusing to play against the Orlando Magic, the first in NBA history after the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man. The NBA concluded that the rest of the scheduled games that Wednesday night was to be canceled as well.

This boycott inspired many other sports teams to follow in their footsteps. Numerous athletes refused to participate in any scheduled games that Wednesday night, calling off games from the MLB, WNBA, and Major League Soccer.

Blake, an unarmed Black man, was shot eight times in the back by police officers as he tried to get into his car. Police officers were responding to a domestic call when they arrived on the scene. Blake has been left paralyzed following the incident, Blake’s father, Jacob Blake Sr., told the Chicago Sun-Times. Blake is currently out of the hospital, but is “in a spinal injury rehabilitation center in Chicago,” according to attorney Patrick Cafferty.

The stand taken by the Bucks echoed the frustration that many people, including players and coaches, across the country, feel with the lack of change. Previously, players took to kneeling during the National Anthem and wearing shirts promoting social justice messages. However, with little effect, the Bucks decided a more drastic approach was needed.

This time around, professional players took their most decisive stance against police brutality in wake of the shooting of Blake in Kenosha, WI. The Buck’s historic commitment of refusing to play Wednesday’s game sent shock waves throughout the sports world. This left many professional leagues scrambling to quickly postpone and reschedule games, according to USA Today.

The Bucks stayed in the locker room hours after the tip-off was supposed to start. The same night, the Bucks players offered a statement, “Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball.”

“When we take the court and represent Milwaukee and Wisconsin, we are expected to play at a high level, give maximum effort, and hold each other accountable. We hold ourselves to that standard, and in this moment, we are demanding the same from our lawmakers and law enforcement,” the statement continued.

The WNBA quickly followed suit, postponing their scheduled games as well. Both the NBA and WNBA have been very outspoken and at the frontline of protests against racism and police brutality. Especially within recent months, with the re-energized BLM movement after the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

WNBA players dedicated their season to Breonna Taylor, and the Say Her Name Campaign- an effort to raise awareness for the persecution of Black female victims of police brutality. The players also wore Breonna Taylor’s name on their jerseys during opening weekend.

Before the boycott, both the NBA and WNBA league had taken an extended break because of the COVID pandemic. Many players questioned if continuing the season was necessary- amid our current racial climate.

Kyrie Irving, a point guard for the Brooklyn Nets, has been very vocal about systemic racism and police brutality throughout the season. He held a conference call with other NBA players, to figure out how to progress with the rest of the season, saying that “I’m willing to give up everything I have” for social reform, according to Complex.

Irving has been one of the most vocal players following George Floyd’s death. Months before the NBA was scheduled to resume, Irving worried that playing in Orlando would take away from the need to work on social justice reform. “I don’t support going into Orlando,” Irving reportedly said during the conference call. “I’m not with the systematic racism and the bulls–t. Something smells a little fishy.”

While other players backed Irving, LeBron James supported the NBA’s decision to continue the rest of the season. However, that all changed in the wake of Blake’s shooting. James led the Lakers, and their rival, the Los Angeles Clippers, in voting to cancel the rest of the season. Leaving soon after the vote, with the Lakers and Clippers following him out, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

James, a small forward for the Los Angeles Lakers, has often used his platform to openly speak out against systemic racism and social justice, especially within the past couple of months amid ongoing nationwide protests. James showed his support of Buck’s decision to boycott, tweeting “Change doesn’t happen with just talk!! It happens with action and needs to happen NOW!”.

Following the Bucks’ decision to boycott, the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association released a joint statement on Aug. 28, announcing that the playoffs would resume the following day. The statement also announced that both the league and its players will work together on several pledges to encourage voting access, fight against social injustice and racial inequality, and advocate for police reform, per ESPN.

“These commitments follow months of close collaboration around designing a safe and healthy environment to restart the NBA season, providing a platform to promote social justice, as well as creating an NBA Foundation focused on economic empowerment in the Black community,” Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner, said in the statement.

The committee also announced that team owners will work with local officials to turn the league’s franchise owned arena properties into voting locations for the 2020 general election. Allowing citizens to vote in person during the COVID pandemic. There is also an effort to use those locations in other ways, as well as sites to register voters and receive ballots, reported by ESPN.

Michiko. End of an Era

They say history is written by the winners, and this young lady has indeed written her legacy with her athletic achievements. Michiko Yoshimitsu, a 17-year old senior, became a two time State wrestler this year for Mt. Eden High School.

Last year Yoshimitsu was the first girl ever to qualify for the state competition in the school’s history and was determined to make it back this year.

Although a return to the CIF (California Interscholastic Federation) tournament looked to be nothing but a mere fantasy, as Yoshimitsu battled a shoulder injury for the majority of the season.

On December 15, 2018, at the Women’s West Coast Tournament of Champions in Rocklin California, Yoshimitsu was injured fighting off a wing pinning combination. After that match, Yoshimitsu was pulled from the tournament, and taken to the hospital by Assistant Coach Justin Sturholm.

When asked about her injury and how it almost derailed her state aspersions this is what Yoshimitsu had to say. “Since I was out for about two months and couldn’t wrestle, even in practice, I was worried that I wasn’t going to qualify for state at the NCS championships or even make it back to the league tournament.”

Coach Sturholm gave this response when questioned about Michiko’s injury. “I was unsure if she would be healthy enough to get cleared to complete. If the opportunity presented itself and she was available I had absolutely no doubts that she would once again qualify.”

Fast forward to February 8 and 9 of 2019 for the Girls NCS (North Coast Section) Tournament at Albany High School in Albany California, Yoshimitsu overcame adversity and qualified for state.

Head Coach Todd Rose had this to say about Michiko making state again “In a few words, stressful and nerve-racking. Even though it should have been easier than last year due to the additional NCS placer qualifying, it was still tough for a multitude of reasons. First, her weight class at NCS was one of if the not the most competitive weight class this year. Second, her shoulder injury that continues to plague her.”

Yoshimitsu’s Family was in attendance at the CIF State Championships in Bakersfield California, and Michiko tells us how they feel about her continued success.

“My family is very proud of me & my accomplishments throughout wrestling & always tell me that by becoming the first female wrestler at Mt. Eden to qualify for state, that I have opened doors for females to come out to wrestle. But my family explains to me that by being a 2x state qualifier while being injured & not wrestling for half my season, that I have left behind a great legacy for student-athletes” says Yoshimitsu.

On February 21, 2019, Michiko’s first match was a loss and was done for the day, she knew she had to wrestle hard to stay in the tournament. Day two February 22, 2019, Michiko wins her first match then loses her second match of the day and third match of the tournament thus ending her high school career.

After the loss, Yoshimitsu expressed her thoughts on her high school career. “My time at Mt. Eden has been very stressful, being a full-time athlete year round took up most of my time. Wrestling took up most of my time because of practice and making sure you stay in weight. I started from nothing as a wrestler and made it to where all the champions are.”

Coach Sturholm has this to say about Michiko’s career “She can triumph over any adversity she will face in life. Her legacy will never be duplicated. No one else can ever be the first girls’ state qualifier in school history, now first back to back qualifier. She’s brought recognition to a program that was virtually nonexistent when she started to a team that finished the season with 5 girls and should continue to grow due to her accolades.”

Head Coach Todd Rose was asked with the remaining girls on his roster does he think any of them will make it to State like Michiko did, “Yes, definitely! Having 5-6 girls on the team this year practicing with Michiko took them from beginning wrestlers to intermediate by the end of the season. Those 4-5 girls got to see what it took to get to state and made them hungry to follow in her footsteps. I wouldn’t be surprised if we take 2 or 3 girls to state in the next few years.”

Even though Yoshimitsu’s High School wrestling days are over, it appears as if a collegiate wrestling career is in her future. Michiko was accompanied by Coach Sturholm to three different colleges in the country to check out their wrestling programs. Presbyterian College In Clinton South Carolina, York College in York Nebraska, and Waldorf University In Forest City Iowa.

Coach Sturholm discusses the colleges after his trip. “All three colleges look to be exceptional. Whatever her decision is they will be getting one hell of a young woman for their program. I hope she does as much for them as she did for Mt. Eden.”

Coach Rose gave Michiko some words of advice. “Keep your head on straight and in the books. I know from experience the toll traveling on a collegiate sports team can have on your academics. I wish her the best of luck and can’t wait to see her compete again.”

When asked what her legacy is Yoshimitsu had this to say “I want to leave behind the self-confidence that I have with my teammates for them to help out future athletes.”

I would say Yoshimitsu has an aura about herself. Anytime she had a match there was a big match/ big fight feel about her competitions. All in all, it was an absolute pleasure to watch Michiko’s growth as a wrestler and as a human. Michiko Yoshimitsu for everything that you do to help the girls wrestling program at Mt. Eden, and everything you have done for this team, in general, there are no other words but Thank You.

Chabot Sports Preview

Fall Sports is among us at Chabot College, as athletes of Wrestling, Soccer, Football, and Basketball go on their quest to win it all, which is a state championship.

Wrestling coach, Steve Siroy seems thrilled about the upcoming season, saying “I’m excited about the whole team. We have a lot of good talent coming in, a state champ coming back, and about 4 returning sophomores who are one match away from going to state”.

Men’s Soccer Coach, Tony Igwe is passionate to win and believes in the squad he has developed. “I think I have a good team, only if they play to the system I want them to play. We want team players”.

Women’s Soccer Coach, Markus Bathelt feels optimistic to help his team succeed, saying “We are going to face opponents that are stronger than us, but we have to work harder and be more ruthless in front of the goal”.

When speaking to Sophomore Linebacker Ethan Owens and Freshman Defensive Back Darriell Wells, they sai:d “It’s going to be a really good season, I think we are going to come out more intense than last year because the team is more together”. When asking about why the team feels more unified than last year, Ethan Owens replied “Leadership is different this year. We have more sophomores this year and since we were a younger team last year, we didn’t have that image. Now we feel like this is our time to shine and our goal is to go to State.”

Men’s Basketball Coach, Keenan McMiller is entering Chabot College as a first-year head coach. Previously as a Chabot alumnus, Coach McMiller believes he has the tools to make the Chabot Gladiators Basketball Team a winning team. “I have the experience, I’ve had seven winning seasons out of 10 where I came from. I’ve been to the State Final Four two times as a Head Coach and I am relentless when it comes to recruitment”.

Women’s Basketball Coach, Mark Anger is excited about the upcoming season, saying “I have great expectations for this year. We have nine returnees and some really impactful transfers in Freshmen”. The main challenge Coach Anger faces this season is “integrating the new players with the old players and bringing them in as a team”. It was surprising to know that when asking about the players that played last season, Coach Anger answered: “We had all freshmen last year so leadership is a lot better than last year and they’re doing a really good job”.

 

From the Jaws of Defeat

The stage was set Friday, 23, 2018, in Quincy, California, for round two of the CCCAA Playoffs as the number seven ranked Chabot Gladiators match up against the number ninth ranked Feather River Golden Eagles. The all-freshmen (18-5) Lady Gladiators arrived at Feather River (17-8) excited about their first postseason playoff game.

Before the start of the game, I was able to talk to Olivia Vezaldenos, one of the guards for the Gladiators and I asked her what has been the hardest part of the season? She replied, “Getting out of my head in key game situations, and I need to stay focus, remember to keep my composure and just try to lead by example.” You could feel the playoff energy in the gym as more and more Golden Eagle fans, hyped and ecstatic with school spirit filed into the gymnasium.

The game went scoreless the first two minutes as both teams, clearly nervous, tried to find their rhythm. Feather River took a twelve point lead that the Lady Gladiators were able to cut down to five by halftime. Right before the start of the second half, I asked center, Mia Finnie, what she could do to make her team better? She replied, “Talk, Talk more, communication is everything, I just have to make sure I keep talking to my team so we can stay on the same page.”

Feather River continued to pour on the pressure going up by as much as thirteen points in the fourth quarter with six minutes left in the game. Gladiators called a timeout to try and stop the bleeding. I asked head coach Mark Anger what he was most proud of this season? He said, “how we have come together as a group to get this far if we stick together hopefully we will get a little further.”

Stick together is exactly what the Lady Gladiators did going a 13-2 run to win the game by seven in amazing fashion. The final score was 85-78 Gladiators advance to round three where they will meet the number one ranked team Sierra College on March 3, 2018, at Sierra College. Lets Go Gladiators!

Lady Gladiators’ Look Says It All

Mimi Sadberry boxing out for the rebound.

Mimi Sadberry boxing out for the rebound.

Center Ferrynn Steen walks back to the locker room after a tuff

Center Ferrynn Steen walks back to the locker room after a tuff

The look says it all Freshman center Ferrynn Steen leaves the court after a disappointing loss to their across the bridge rivals Community College of San Francisco  68-70.

Anticipation was high as the two top team of the north-coast division squared off (Gladiators 6-2/ 18-5 overall with the Rams 7-0/ 20-3 overall)  it was a blow for blow fight from the beginning with CCSF closing the first half 36-34

I asked coach Davis what do the Gladiators need to do to clinch the win she said they just needed to be more confident and play their game that they got off to a slow start but they will pick it up. I asked if the Rams were doing anything that they should be concerned with and she said no they just need to out-hustle their opponent and they’ll be fine.

Chabot kept coming taking a 68-64 lead with two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter but the Rams sophomore Caprice Taylor hit a big three-pointer with 1:20 left to bring the Rams within one point then Zakiya Willis of the Rams drops a low post bucket taking the lead 69-68 with 45 seconds left Chabot unable to score the Rams split two free-throw the Gladiators got off a good last shot but were unable to convert losing the tie for first place 68-70.

Top performers included Olivia Vezaldenos 30 points and Mia Finnie 13 rebounds.

Kim Masulit smothering the opposition

Kim Masulit smothering the opposition