Being around many people in town through my job, I often hear things in conversations that get passed from person to person. Sometimes those rumors or half truths are about individuals, sometimes they are about businesses, sometimes they are about organizations. Sometimes the substance of the communication has substance, sometimes it doesn't.
As the basketball season progresses, I can tell with the way things are going it is going to be like most years and I am going to begin to hear things about the College of Eastern Utah teams. Most generally it relates to them having a "losing season."
There is often criticism of the administration, of the athletic department, of the coaching and of the players. After all everyone needs someone to blame when things aren't going the way they should, right?
Well I am certainly no expert at basketball, despite my life long love for it. And I surely am not coaching material, and certainly not an athletic recruiter by any means. But I do know this. I think the coaches and staff at the BDAC do a pretty good job with what they have to work with. That's not a slam against the players by any means; there are some darn good players that come through the college. It's just a comment on reality.
What is reality? Here's some for you. Remember last summer when new Utah basketball coach Ray Giacolletti took a trip to Australia to spend a couple of weeks making sure that star center Andrew Bogut would come back to Utah this year? What do you think that little trip cost?
Well I don't know the exact figures, but I can tell you almost positively that one trip to assure a player would come back to his squad cost much more than the entire amount of money CEU has to recruit players with each year.
Recruiting is a brutal business and it's becoming more so every season. Years ago it was just the big time programs in which it was so hard; now it has moved down into the junior colleges and in some cases even into the secondary school level. Just ask high school coaches from the Wasatch Front that have to face keeping student athletes in their schools in the face of huge public high schools that have open enrollment programs or the many private schools that are popping up there almost every year.
And a final thought. Many of us have or have had teenagers in our families. No matter how good of kids they are, teenagers, largely because of their age and maturity level, are kind of flaky at times. Now imagine putting your livelihood on the line, counting on teenagers (or young people very near to that age) to make you and what you do look good.
Sure businesses hire teenagers, but generally there is some type of mix of mature adults and 18 year olds on the floor of a hamburger establishment or a pizza parlor. That's not true of the soccer field or the basketball floor. A coach may be on the sidelines, but he or she can't play the game for them if they come up short or make mistakes.
All I have to say is that I admire coaches of amateur sports in general, and the coaches in this county, in particular, a great deal. As for CEU athletics, they may not have many winning seasons, but they do their job the best they can with the resources they have. Many fine players have come from that school and gone on to four year colleges and been successful.
But more important is the fact that they give many kids who would never have the chance to attend college the chance to be something other than an athlete as well.
They give them a chance for success at life.