CHICO – In most high school basketball tournaments, players are given selections for all tournaments, but at Chico High’s Panther Showdown, teams are given a Heart and Hustle award after each game.
Panthers head coach Abraham Simmons presents each team’s coach with a t-shirt to give to a player who embodies the best teammate.
A quote on the back of each shirt states, “Life is 10% of what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you … we are responsible for our attitudes.
On day two of the tournament, Chico State men’s basketball coach Greg Clink is invited to speak to the teams after breakfast, and the teams then take a tour of Chico State. Fourteen of the 18 players on the Clink team attended the event and sat among players from different teams, along with all but one of the Clink coaches.
Over the past three years, Clink has given the team a similar message about being a great teammate and the role each player plays on their squad.
In Clink’s message to players, he talked about giving “high ups” rather than losses, putting the team before you, and finding a positive way to enjoy the high school basketball experience. He said that if you put the program ahead of yourself, the experience will be more appreciated.
“I think these guys hear a lot about what it takes to be a great player, but I don’t know if people talk enough about what it takes to be a great teammate,” Clink said by the following. “In any team you’re going to have different roles and in order to be a great team and have a great program, everyone has to have a role, accept the role and try to play that role to the best of their ability.”
Clink spoke about one of his senior captains, Malik Duffy, and Duffy’s role over the past six years as the Wildcat. Duffy is now a starter and has the “green light” from Clink to shoot whenever he has an open shot. He then asked playmaker Isaiah Brooks to stand up and talk about two players on his team who play more modest roles for the team on the pitch but are crucial off the pitch.
Following advice from Duffy and Brooks, Clink asked the captains of each high school team in attendance to talk about two teammates from their own teams.
Chico High captain Alex Padilla, one of three senior Panthers, has asked teammates Dylan Drew and Landon Kobz to stand up. Padilla said the two don’t play as much as the others but still have a great attitude and push their teammates to do their best.
“I think it’s always cool to have these team captains who stand up and recognize some of the youngsters on their team who have done a good job accepting their role and being great teammates,” said Clink. . “Because I’m not sure these kids are recognized enough so it’s an opportunity for a few guys on each team who don’t play a lot maybe to stand up in front of a crowd and be recognized. ”
After Clink’s speech, Simmons’ dad, Sam Simmons, also speaks to the teams often. Sam Simmons began coaching junior varsity basketball at Pleasant Valley High School in the 1970s and was the head varsity coach at Chico High from 1991-2009.
Sam Simmons told the kids that he often sits with Clink as he watches tournaments in Chico, Gridley and the surrounding areas. Simmons asked the crowd on Friday morning if they knew what Clink focused on most often. Pleasant Grove head coach Christ MacPhail raised his hand and said “what the players are up to on the bench and what kind of teammates they are.”
“Bingo! Simmons said.
Simmons suggested that coaches film their bench to show their teams what they are really showing to other coaches and peers who might be watching.
Simmons ended his speech to the players with a simple tip.
“Good luck everyone and go play your guts.”