Players run through their last set of warm ups. Excitement and adrenaline is high in the air as they pat each other on the back and prepare to give their all for the upcoming competition. The coaches huddle the players together and give them one last pep talk before sending them off, where it is all up to them.
This past season for our basketball, soccer, and cross country/track and field teams, the students and their coaches have pushed their way into playing in Los Angeles California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) city finals. A few of these teams have also progressed into semi-finals and state playoffs.
These past years, players came and went, and the teams have made it far in their battle of the title. There must have been a change in the atmosphere, a change in spirit or in attitude.
Teams at GHC are filled with diverse groups of students, all coming from different backgrounds and ways of living. However, they are all unified with their teammates and coaches, and manage to win games and try for championships. So, what are the common factors that contribute to their growing success?
“Dedication and commitment are important in having a winning team. You can have a good talented team but if they aren’t willing to put in the effort, you aren’t going anywhere,” varsity girls soccer coach David Huish said.
Our student athletes need to juggle sports and education. There is a lot of pressure on them to do well both in the classroom and on the court, field, or track. It is no a surprise that dedication is a crucial factor to victory.
“Commitment, trust in the coach, solid work ethic, a little talent always helps,” boys varsity basketball coach Don Loperena said.
Athletes need to be flexible and willing to take instruction from their coaches. Whether it’s shooting hoops, running laps or kicking balls, there is always room for improvement. Coaches have recognized this and push for it. Constantly looking for an area to improve has brought these teams farther in the CIFs than before.
“What helped us improve was focusing on the things we did well, looking to improve the areas, and mainly focusing on the process and the successes,” Jared Honig, girls varsity basketball coach said.
Another important feature of what makes a winning team is having the players bond and create a tight knit atmosphere within each other. Players trusting each other is important to ensure that no arguments take place during the games or practices, which helps practices and games run smoothly.
“You don’t have to be sisters when you can just be friends. Just accept each other”, junior girls varsity basketball player Lisette Rodriguez said.
Many of the coaches at GHC hold team bonding events for the players where they go to the beach or hold activities where they all get to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses while building their bond for the upcoming season.
Loperena ensures that the boys varsity basketball team meet up in the summer for an optional beach camping trip where parents are also allowed to join, giving the parents and added opportunity to get to know the coach, a San Diego basketball tournament, and hold gatherings at players houses during the season.
“Team bonding events are important for building friendships and accountability for the season. In basketball, it is such a talent based sport and you can compensate for physical attributes. However basic skills and strategy is important. Our boys know the details of the system so everyone is on same page,” Loperena said.
Having excellent coaches can also help with creating a winning team. Many of the student athletes need coaches who will push them to reach their own personal goals in the sport, and who will encourage them to try their hardest.
“It is very important as an athlete to not only have a sense of competitiveness and the drive, but to also have a good mentality and a lot of encouragement from both teammates and coaches,” senior cross country and track distance captain Diego Corona said.
Pre-game rituals are also an important factor for some teams, and many of the coaches ensure that their students go through the necessary warm ups, know the game plans, or any other routines they may have.
“We do our pregame routine and warm ups like jump testing. Then a half-time warm up. We also have consistency in shooting around the day of the game,” Honig said.
However one of the most important factors of maintaining a winning team, is to ensure that the students are having fun.
“You have to create your own fun because it helps with looking forward to after school practices, the workouts, the meets, and everything else that comes with playing a sport,” Corona said.
Many players get lost in the adrenaline and allow their competitive side to take over, and it helps when their coach or teammate reminds them that it is a just game. They are all there to win but most importantly to have fun and do what they enjoy doing, whether it be soccer, basketball, or track and field, all of these teams are a family that laugh and play together.
Each of these teams will have their differences, whether it be what sport it is or the diversity the team itself contains, but a majority do share a few things in common. Most of these winning teams have a strong bond within each other, coaches who know the game and push them to reach their goals, dedication, and the sheer passion for their sport.