What an incredible week of action around Santa Barbara County as school got back into session — some incredible finishes, and some misgivings that need to be remedied.
Here’s a look at this week’s Heroes & Zeroes:
Zero: Peabody Stadium project
Yes, the Santa Barbara Unified School District announced that the project should be complete by late April. And that is worth of applause — as long as its true.
And, in many ways, the District cannot do much, simply because the contracting companies literally hold the keys to the project.
Having said that, it is becoming more and more obvious that student-athletes are not valued as they should be.
School should always come first, there is no doubt about that. And, in many respects, that is apparent in all programs throughout the county.
But the life lessons that come with being an athlete are not valued nearly enough.
These teenagers put in countless hours — in-season and out-of-season — to make themselves better, striving to represent their school in the best way possible.
Yet, five teams at Santa Barbara High this school year will play every one of their games on the road — an added expense for the school, as well as every parent and loved one that participates in these programs.
The Dons girls and boys soccer teams have to play second-fiddle to San Marcos’ soccer teams, playing late at night in order to have their hard work pay off.
The boys soccer team is actually switching an upcoming game to Dos Pueblos in order to not play at 7 p.m.
And, yes, there really isn’t a solution to fix this.
Yet, the message that the management of the Peabody project sent to dozens upon dozens of athletes was this: Thanks for all your efforts, but you just have to deal with it.
Maybe that’s a real-life lesson — but is it one that we really want to send.
It’s time for an apology, from the District and from the contracting company.
You need to own your mistakes — that’s a lesson that I think is worthy of passing on.
Heroes: Bryce Warrecker & Greg Blessing
First of all, Jasper Johnson also gets a nod because of his epic, buzzer-beating shot against rival San Marcos. The atmosphere at SBCC was electric, and Johnson ended it in memorable fashion.
And, it came about because of tremendous selflessness.
In the mass mayhem that ensued on the court, there was a special moment between Bryce Warrecker and Johnson.
Johnson looked at his 6-foot-9 teammate and yelled, “You called that for me! Thank you!”
Warrecker returned, “I knew you’d make it.”
A bro-hug followed.
It was a selfless moment for Warrecker, as assistant coach Greg Blessing had drawn up the play to go to Warrecker.
But the big man knew that the Royals would likely double- or triple-team him, leaving an opportunity for Johnson to cut to the basket and get off a quick shot with just 1.1 seconds left.
That’s what sports are supposed to be about — teamwork.
It was heartwarming to see that in a day and age when athletes try to make it about themselves (for marketing purposes, of course), it was a selfless act that led to victory.
Here’s to hoping this becomes a trend.
Heroes: Santa Barbara & San Marcos administration
The scene after the Dons-Royals game could have been ugly, as emotions ran high.
But, as the game got to its final moments, you saw both school’s administration move into strategic spots to make sure students did not come to blows after the game.
Yes, there were lots of words exchanged, but the administration kept the peace.
If it had come to an altercation, it would have ruined what was otherwise a classic game.
Zero: Santa Barbara High pool
It’s unfortunate that the basketball game wasn’t the only highlight for Santa Barbara this past week — although, the other is definitely a lowlight.
Considering that Peabody Stadium still isn’t ready and Eddie Mathews Field looks a bit rough nowadays, having a non-functional pool is not a great look, especially in a week where you should be a co-host for the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions in girls water polo.
Dons coach Mark Walsh tried to get it remedied over the winter break, but to no avail.
Shocker, the student athlete isn’t a priority.
And now not only do the Dons’ boys and girls soccer teams have to play home games on the road, so does the girls water polo team.
“Once a Don, Always Gone” is starting to be a bit more of a reality than it should be.
Let’s hope all is well with JR Richards Gymnasium . . .