Welcome to our very last week of school! We have all thoroughly enjoyed having your student(s) at our school this year! Although this may be the last week, there is still some valuable information in our last edition of the Weekly Happenings. Please take a moment to review it for current and future events.
As a basketball coach, one of the most common aspirations I hear expressed by high school basketball players: is “I want to play college basketball.” If I had five bucks for every time I have heard that, my house would be paid off.
Very few, if any, student athletes have any understanding of how hard it is to be a collegiate athlete. It is this lack of understanding that contributes to this statistic: 33% of all those who participate in a collegiate sport quit before they graduate.
Why is playing a collegiate sport so hard? Why do so many student athletes quit? I thought it might be interesting to answer these questions and help give some perspective, since odds are, more than a few of you who read this will someday have a child who says, “I want to play college (choose your sport).”
First, let’s address why playing college sports is so hard. For the purpose of making this easy, I am going to speak to the challenge of playing basketball.
Let me be very clear: college athletics is a business. I am not going to say there is no pressure to win as a high school coach, but most of that pressure is internal. For the majority of high school coaches, your career is not on the line. A college coach understands if he or she does not win at a high enough level, they will have to put their house up for sale. This alone changes the level of effort, focus, and commitment required from those who play collegiate athletics.
Most high school athletes, in any sport, aren’t challenged or coached in a manner consistent with what they will see in college. While I am often too hard on my players, I want to ensure my players, especially those who aspire to play college basketball, have some inkling of what it would be like to play for a coach who is demanding. More than once, in the recruitment process, a college coach has mentioned their appreciation for the fact that they don’t have to worry about one of my players running home the moment they raise their voice. Unfortunately, this is not the norm and the majority of those who will step on a collegiate court are unprepared for the coaching that awaits them. In fact, over my time as an assistant and college basketball coach, when I was recruiting, I was often looking for ‘Programs’ I could recruit, not just players.
Last year I had three players fully committed to basketball at a level even remotely consistent with that of a college basketball player. These players invested time not only in the gym but in the weight room. At the collegiate level, all basketball players would be required to lift year-round. The Monroe Catholic Boys Basketball Program requires much greater commitment than most other programs, but we cannot force our players to be committed.
Let’s return to college basketball. When players are told their commitment will be year-round, those who love the game, think “Wonderful, I get to play basketball every day.”
Only, now everything is different. How? When I coached college basketball, almost every one of the 12-15 players on our team was best player on his high school team. Once arriving to our program, the majority of our players were faced with the reality that they were just another guy competing for time on the court. Things that were once easy for them, were now hard. That shot they used to be able to get off now ends five rows up into the bleachers, blocked by a guy who looks very different from the players they played against every day in high school.
To summarize the “Why is playing college sports so hard?” aspect of this column, players have an entirely different level of commitment required by a coach who is much, much more demanding, at a level that is much harder than the one the player was used to in high school. This leads to a discussion about, “Why do so many players quit before they graduate?”
There are probably hundreds of reasons why players quit over the course of their collegiate career. However, I can tell you these really boil down to about three primary reasons:
1. The player is simply not good enough to play college basketball. This is probably the most common and may impact the others.
2. The player doesn’t love to play enough. Players who are faced with a new reality that requires them to play and compete on an almost daily basis eventually look around and discover they are not having as much fun. Now, they decide it would be a lot more fun to stay up all night playing Fortnight or put more time into chasing the opposite sex.
3. The player is not tough enough. Kids who used to start and play every minute of a game now sit the bench. Players who were rarely yelled at or challenged by their head coach hear his voice when they close their eyes at night.While there is a physical component to that toughness, the greater struggle will be mental toughness.
Over my tenure at Monroe, we have had three players play college athletics and complete their four years of varsity eligibility: Michael Stepovich (basketball), Scooter Bynum (baseball), and Tyler Wells (basketball). Jalon McCullough will finish his basketball career in a year and I am confident Jeremiah Bailey, who has two years remaining, will become the fifth Monroe Catholic student athlete to complete four years of collegiate athletics. This may seem like a small number. However, you would be hard-pressed to find any high school who has produced this many. When you consider our Monroe High School student body has never exceeded more than 135 students, this number is even more impressive.
Excerpt from the Full Curl by Frank Ostanik, CSF Athletic Director. You can follow on Twitter @thefullcurl.
Welcome to the second to last week of school! Are you looking for entertainment or something for your children to do this summer? If so, please check out the summer camps that are being offered right here at CSF! This information and so much more is available in this Week's Happenings.
Welcome to 3rd to last week of school! Yes, you read that right! 3 more weeks of school! We are so excited to wrap up this school year with lots of activities and fun events. Please review this Week's Happenings to keep up to date with what to expect over the next few weeks.
Picture this. In 1979-80 the new two-story ICS building opened and housed 1st through 8th grades. ICS had its own principal's office. Getting to Monroe from ICS meant walking through the old barracks buildings (known as the “middle section”) which connected ICS and Monroe. Monroe had its own principal’s office and entry. This middle section housed the music room, HIPOW office, accounting office, Director of Schools office, a classroom and, in 1980-81, ICS’s first kindergarten class.
In 1993-94, junior high classes were moved to the decrepit middle section. These buildings were old. The floors spongy with interesting mushrooms growing in the dirt crawl spaces and icicles forming along walls and windows in the winter. A favorite memory is the summer day when a toilet, in the then HIPOW office, fell off the wall creating quite a fountain of water.
This Friday's fundraiser, The Texas Hold 'Em tournament, will be the biggest of the season for us. Not only is this a genuinly good time, but this is also a big deal from the standpoint of paying for all things related to athletics. With our soccer, baseball and track and field teams likely headed to the state tournament in a few weeks, we desperately need this year's event to go well.
Parents and Guardians,
Welcome to another week at CSF! The weeks are starting to fly by with only 4 weeks left of school! There are a lot of things happening in such a short time, so please review the Happenings to keep up to date with current and future events.
This week's edition of the Full Curl is now ready for your reading pleasure! A huge shout out to Coach Ostanik for his dedication in providing this for us every week!
My Monroe experience began before school even started as I was to coach volleyball. The program was headed into its second season.
Volleyball season began in August. I walked into the gym on a Monday morning. It smelled like cigarette smoke and there was odd equipment infringing on the gym floor. I was informed Bingo games were played over the summer weekends to raise money for the schools. And, I should realize there would be a garage sale in the gym, too, and then an event called HIPOW the second Saturday of October during which time we’d be out of the gym for at least a week.
I went to meet with Fr. McGuigan, the President of Monroe Foundation, Inc. I likely said something along these lines: “All these events in the gym make it extremely difficult to meet our goals. We need time in the gym to practice. This HIPOW thing is a problem in the middle of the season. It needs to be rescheduled.” Fr. McGuigan, with a combination of directness and gentleness, began educating me on the critical need of fund-raising for the school. And, in short time I would realize that teaching and coaching at Monroe meant moving stuff off the gym floor, giving up the gym, helping with event set-up and take down, being part of the HIPOW wait-staff or runners-spotters, appreciating the intruding events and saying “thank you” to volunteers and donors.
After volleyball season, it was up to coaches, gym teachers, and others to refinish the floor and have it ready for basketball season. Not only did we take care of the floor, but a group of parents and students came in to clean the walls below and behind the wooden bleachers.
With volleyball season behind us, basketball season took off. I had an easier coaching assignment than Steve Frank who had been hired to coach the boys. The girls had been 0-22 in ’78-’79. Winning one game would be a big improvement. The ‘78-‘79 Monroe boys’ team had won state. The expectation for Steve was that they win a second in ’79-’80.
Steve and I were both Lathrop High School graduates, ’72 and ’71 respectively. We were also both UAF alum and UAF basketball players. Both Steve and I had friends assist us including Mike Scanlon, Mike Kelliher, and Mike Fisher amongst others. The girls’ basketball team won four games that year. Mike Scanlon chilled bottles of Apple Cider for us to celebrate. The boys’ team won the state title! It was quite the year.
Since those long-ago days; Mike Kelliher’s son and Mike Fisher’s daughter graduated from Monroe. Mike Scanlon who lives in Anchorage has been to every state basketball tournament Monroe has played in. Steve Frank has served on the Board of Directors for the schools, and he has a grandson at Monroe now.
1979-80 team members Hope Hansen, John Hajdukovich and Mike Grahek have had children attend and graduate from ICS and Monroe.
1979-80 was the first year in what has turned out to be 36 years. The students of the '80s, '90s and 2000s, their parents and grandparents, faculty, and donors are knitted into my very being; blessings in so many ways.
We celebrate Holy Week this week in the Holy Family Chapel. Do you wonder when the chapel was built or how it came to be? I'll write about the groundbreaking next week.
Written by Nancy Cook Hanson for the Spring Matching Fundraiser.