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By Corey Costelloe
contributing writer 

Effort equals opportunity

Xs and Arrows

 

March 16, 2024



While it was a bummer that the Tehachapi Lady Warriors fell 41-37 to Monache in the CIF Division II girls' basketball finals in Fresno last month, the second time in as many years the Warriors have finished as the runner-up, one has to be proud of the effort that this team showcased, despite tough odds.

Corey Costelloe.

I won't continue to lament the awful seeding process utilized by the CIF Central Section, because until athletic directors and school administrators speak up against the board of directors, nothing will change. That is because there are more large schools than small schools, and the metro Bakersfield and Fresno teams run the show. So, when large metro schools win "championships" against smaller teams, they celebrate, when in reality, they should be mentioned with an asterisk thanks to the "equity" model of seeding for their success.

Despite that, Tehachapi got a decent seed in the tournament and played at home all the way until the neutral site final at Selland Arena. Neither team played great in the unfamiliar arena environment (another issue), but Monache made one more play, and that was the difference. Both teams received terrible CIF State tournament seeds, being sent long distances to lose despite their regular season success. It is what it is.

The beauty of all this is not only the continued success, but the player and community buy-in for this program. The gym was packed for the playoff run. Fans came out to see them off for the finals appearance and several traveled up Highway 99 for the championship. Hopefully next time the Tehachapi High School ASB will send students and cheerleaders so our dedicated "student section" isn't embarrassingly empty. It's time to start planning for success well in advance of each season. We have turned a page.

The participation by student-athletes and the community has spread to other sports over the last several years. Football is the lone member of the South Yosemite Mountain League that fields a Frosh/Soph football team (along with JV and varsity), volleyball is also three-teams deep, basketball just missed on the numbers for three teams while other sports are seeing sizeable participation increases, so much so that uniform needs are exceeding supply. The school and Warrior Booster Club are chipping in to get those needs met. Uniform improvements alone over the last several seasons, along with the recognition our athletes are receiving, is prompting a renewed interest in interscholastic competition. The efforts of all involved have created a wonderful opportunity for the community as a whole.

Maybe it's just me, I hope it isn't, but it seems like the student-athletes are proud once again to compete for their town, the fans in turn are rewarding them with attendance, donations and support that has not been witnessed in decades. It's a simple model that I have personal success with in other collegiate institutions and one that can just as well be applied to the prep level. When kids feel good about what they are wearing, when the fans show up to support them and when their accomplishments are celebrated in the regional media, social media and through other avenues, the willingness to participate increases. To quote one of my childhood television heroes John "Hannibal" Smith of the A-Team, "I love it when a plan comes together."

Success is not the end of the road; it is in fact just the beginning. Now we must start planning for success, for achieving more championships, for continuing to invest in our kids and in turn, our community in general. Our Tehachapi High School teams are one of the few who represent an entire town when they leave this mountain to compete, and we must continue to build from that so our programs, our teams and our kids are a true representation of Tehachapi as a whole.

Spring sports are in full swing and early success is indicative of this formula. It's working and we all play a part, now we must think larger than ever, prepare for success and execute more plans to continue the participation of our student-athletes and provide them with the tools to be successful now, and throughout their educational and professional futures.

Corey Costelloe has covered NCAA, professional and local sports for more than 20 years as a reporter, broadcaster and athletics administrator. He advocates for the value of athletic competition and serves as the President of the Tehachapi Warriors Booster Club. He can be reached at corey.costelloe@gmail.com.

 
 

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