Photo by Jackson Cascio.
By Jackson Cascio, Staff Reporter
Four years ago I was getting ready to graduate from Redondo Union High School, where I played four years on the basketball team and made some great friends and great memories.
But I did not know where my basketball career was going to go from there.
After spending two years playing at Porterville College, I only had a few offers from a couple of Division III schools, but one meeting changed my basketball career and ultimately my life.
I met with the coaches at CSUDH and they offered me a roster spot. I was so excited, I almost broke down into tears. I accepted the offer on the spot.
I remember being nervous about our first team meeting because I didn’t know any of my teammates. I walked into our study hall room and everybody was kind of sitting together, so I took it upon myself to just sit in between a group of guys, and next thing I knew, we started talking like we had known each other for years.
From that moment, I knew I made the right choice.
In my senior year, we had four coaches. Head coach Steve Becker and assistant coaches, Sam Stapleton, Darius Butler, and Nick Plosser. All of them had different personalities but their one goal was to push us (the players) to be successful.
The coaching staff always had our best interest at heart, even if they would yell at us for not talking on defense or not boxing out. They tried to instill in us a sense of toughness from our first day of practice, and it showed with how we played. We never quit and always battled until the final buzzer.
The biggest things our coaches preached to us during my two years were about things off the court.
“We recruit high-character guys for moments like this.”
That sentence was spoken by all of our coaches on multiple occasions and it really showed when you look at our roster. We had some of the nicest young men I could ever know. In the past, there were always cliques within a team, but not this one.
Everybody loved each other and wanted to hang out with each other and be good people to everyone we came in contact with.
Whether that kindness was displayed to professors and our fellow peers or displayed when we would do community service, that culture was created by our coaching staff.
I built special relationships with everyone on the team from my fellow seniors, to my roommates in P7 (shout-out Isaiah, Jacob, and Alex), to the guys who lived in the basketball house, freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
We were all brothers.
As an athlete, you remember some games that are hard to forget (our win against Cal State East Bay at home) but you also remember the heartbreakers (a first-round playoff loss against Cal Poly Pomona).
But no matter what, you always remember the fun times you had together, whether it be a beach day, the last trip to Sonoma State, and playing “baseball” at the San Francisco Airport.
Those are the moments that will stay with you forever.
Even though I played only 14 games in my two years at CSUDH, I was voted team captain by my teammates, along with senior guard Wonder Smith and sophomore guard Alex Garcia. I was given the responsibilities of being vocal and demanding of teammates, as well as being the bridge between the coaching staff and my teammates.
These last two years at CSUDH have been the best time of my life because of the opportunity I was given in April 2018.
I will be forever grateful for the coaching staff taking a chance on me.
To the readers of this, I hope all of you will try to make it out to at least one basketball game next season. The guys returning are some of the hardest working guys at Dominguez Hills, and they will put on a show.
Thank you to Coach Beck, Stapes, DB, and Ploss for believing in me and thank you to my teammates for making my last year of playing basketball the best year of my life so far. Thank you; Colt, Hilstock, Wonder, BJ, Isaiah, Gabe, Nick, Kaden, Alex, Will, Drew, Armstrong, DJ, and Heard. I appreciate you guys more than you’ll ever know.