Great athletes come in many shapes and sizes, and the best of the best all started as unknown names practicing tirelessly to perfect their craft. Serena Williams, Tiger Woods, Joe Montana, and Amanda Vanesse? That’s right, Coronado High School’s very own star biology teacher also turns out to be a star on the basketball court.
Last week Coronado High School’s ASB held its annual faculty basketball game, and it was a nail-biter. The theme was “Biological Warfare,” a playful take on the fight between two of the school’s biology teachers, Amanda Vanesse and Nicole Belong. Each team was stacked with teachers hungry for the win, as well as student coaches who were prepared for battle. Team Vanesse’s head coach Darren Hopkins, grade 11, was taking this game just as seriously as he takes his fashion. Hopkins donned a black suit and purple tie with matching purple sneakers, and it was clear he meant business. When asked what he did to prepare his team, he said, “First of all we got our outfits right, look good, play good.”
He then went on to discuss specific strategies as well as his team’s intense commitment to getting this win, “I know what my team can do, we can produce.” Hopkins said.
On the other side of the court, I spoke to the three head coaches of Team Belong: Tommy Pate, Tony Miley, and Garrett Sauter, all of grade 12.
Team Belong had a much more casual approach to the game, “We are going to get the ball to Mr. Dean and he’s going to be our superstar.” said Pate about their game plan.
“And don’t forget Ms. White,” chimed in Sauter, “she is the dark horse of this team.”
And just like that, we had two very different coaching styles, two very different teams, and one stadium packed to capacity. Things started slow and very defense-heavy with neither team scoring for the first 4 and a half minutes. Team Belong quickly changed the pace, scoring six points in a row. A few fouls and free throws later and the game was 8-9 with Team Belong barely holding onto the lead.
Throughout the second quarter Team Belong continued to show their skill set with back-to-back three pointers from Nathan Aldworth and team namesake Nicole Belong. Then just a few minutes later another three pointer from Athletic Director Robin Nixon. With Team Belong increasing their lead Tam Hoang, a fan favorite of this game, shot a beautiful layup for Team Vanesse right as the buzzer sounded at the end of the quarter. Hoang also happens to be the man responsible for his coach Darren Hopkins’ love for the game. Hopkins made sure to include a “shoutout to Mr. Hoang, our point guard, he taught me everything I know about basketball.”
After halftime Team Vanesse had come back strong, leaving the score close at 25-29 at the end of the third. Though Team Belong still held onto their lead going into the final quarter, Team Vanesse wasn’t going to go down without a fight. Hoang once again coming in clutch was able to inch Team Vanesse into the lead with an unbelievable layup, his third of the game, and his signature move.
The rest of the fourth quarter was back and forth as each team hit multiple free throws and displayed expert-level defense. After another free throw by Joshua Chao of Team Belong, the score was all tied up with three minutes remaining in the game. The crowd grew wilder with each shot taken, the suspense was palpable. With just one minute remaining in the game Matthew Stoever of Team Vanesse shot a two pointer to give his team the lead, the score now 35-33. Students began to stand in the bleachers as the clock ticked down. A foul called against Team Belong with just seconds left in the game could be the make-or-break moment for either team. Sean Castillo made his way to the free-throw line ready for his chance to solidify the win for Team Vanesse. The stadium went silent as he shot and scored, one point in for Team Vanesse. Castillo went on to make his second free throw and the crowd immediately erupted with excitement. The score was now 37-33 with mere moments left in the game. In a last ditch effort to save his team Aldworth let the ball fly as the buzzer sounded, swoosh, two more points for Team Belong. Leaving the final score at an extremely close 37-35, with Team Vanesse just barely clinching the win over Team Belong.
Vanesse made sure to shout out her opponents after her team’s win, saying, «It was a great competition, very evenly matched and I think everyone played well and it was very fun!” She also added that she thought CHS principal Karin Melina did a great job on the court and that she was impressed with the “Josh duo,” referring to teachers Joshua Chao and Joshua Dean. When asked if she would do it again? “A million times!”
Congratulations to everyone on Team Vanesse for their victory and Team Belong as well for putting up an amazing fight. Could this be the start of a beautiful rivalry? I guess we will just have to wait until next year to find out.
VOL. 112, NO. 17 - April 27, 2022