SportStars Magazine is a high school sports media company based in Northern California. And for its first podcast, it's turning the storytelling over to its sources. Each episode we'll take aim at finding the best anecdotes involving a specific athlete, coach, team or classic game. What was really said in the huddle with 15 seconds left? What's a coach's favorite memory about a player? What's the best prank played on a rival? Listen as we find the story BEHIND the story.
Episode 05: Haley Jones Is Everywhere
As the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship unfolded across two hours of Easter Sunday afternoon, one constant became clear: When the Stanford Cardinal needed a momentum shift, Haley Jones was the catalyst. The all-around sophomore came up with several clutch baskets, none more important than the and-1 play she converted in the paint with 2:24 left after Arizona had cut a once nine-point lead down to one. Those three points, the bucket and the free throw, would prove to be the winning points after Stanford barely hung on for a 54-53 win and its first title in 29 years.
Jones, who finished the game with 17 points and 8 rebonds, was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. And the Bay Area girls basketball community beamed with pride. This performance, as well as her 24-point night in the semifinal win over South Carolina, looked all too familiar to those of us who watched her polish her game at Archbishop Mitty High in San Jose.
For this episode, we talked to a pair of her former coaches, a former club teammate who also faced her multiple times during the course of their high school careers, and longtime Bay Area reporter Mitch Stephens. Together they painted a tale of a passionate and smart player — who also enjoys a Capri Sun, a good 90s R&B jam and the occasional ill-conceived dip in a hotel fountain.
Gather around for stories and memories on the Bay Area’s newest national women’s hoops star.
Episode 04: Remembering Mark Halvorson
Anyone who has had a life-changing coach in their lives can relate to the character of Mickey from the "Rocky" films. There was no mistaking Mickey became a father figure to Sylvester Stallone’s struggling-but-driven title character. Mickey taught him to box by explaining technique and strategy — but also through a lot of tough love. Love for boxing, and love for Rocky and who he wanted to become.
When Mickey finally cracks a smile, you see it.
Now imagine if Mickey taught wrestling, and not just to one pupil but several thousands of youth over the course of three decades. Imagine if he was accessible not just to the talented kids who would fill the trophy case, but to kids who just wanted a sport they could push themselves in and a place to find camaraderie.
Mark Halvorson was just that. As the wrestling program director at the Community Youth Center in Concord, California, he opened the door of wrestling to countless youth from all backgrounds, and became a father figure to so many of them. He did it while also building a program that DID fill the trophy case and became internationally known. At the same time, he also built De La Salle High’s wrestling program into a regional power that won 11 of the last 12 North Coast Section titles.
In mid-February, he passed away as a result of a heart attack at age 57. For this episode, we brought in some of his most famous wrestlers — to celebrate a legacy that will undoubtedly endure.
Episode 03: Football Springs To Life
After more than 15 months without a high school football game in California, we celebrate its return with a tribute to traditional offseason anticipation and memorable season openers.
If you’ve been someone paying attention to California high school sports — or lack thereof — over the last several months, then you know this week of March 8th is kind of a big deal. A year-plus high school football drought finally ends on March 12th and 13th when several programs will return to the field to open a brief spring season. Their seasons will range from 5-6 games. There won’t be full grandstands with packed student sections, and that will be just one of several very noticeable differences brought about by the threat of the coronavirus.
But football IS happening. And for the players, coaches, parents, and even us media members, few weeks carry the same type of excitement and anticipation as high school football’s opening week. So after the strangest of offseasons, we sought out stories of memorable season openers. Guests include former Del Oro-Loomis and Capital Christian-Sacramento coach Casey Taylor (now at Inderkum-Sacramento), former Concord High coach Brian Hamilton (now at Texas State Univ.), and current Sacramento Bee prep sports writer, Cameron Salerno.
Episode 02: Finishing The Business Trip
Scott Lunger was the "good cop" on the Freedom High School varsity softball coaching staff. Players loved the good-natured humor that the infield coach often used to teach and motivate them. But Lunger was also a cop in real life, a 15-year sergeant for the Hayward Police Department. And on July 22, 2016, he was shot and killed during a traffic stop at 3:15 in the morning. A little more than one week later, the Freedom school year began. Six months later, as many as a dozen girls showed up to softball tryouts still very much in mourning. Three months after that, they'd be placing a game ball from their North Coast Section Division I championship victory next to Lunger's headstone.
To mark the fifth anniversary of that inspiring season, we gathered two players and two coaches from that team to share memories. Head coach Brook Russo, assistant coach Scott Adams, pitcher Vanessa Strong and catcher Faith Derby each detailed what went into a season that was dedicated to a fallen friend and hero — and became known as the "Business Trip."
Episode 1: The Passion of Patrick Walsh
For the debut episode, we solicited stories about Serra High football coach Patrick Walsh — a leader in the efforts to restart all youth and high school sports throughout California. Through 18 seasons in San Mateo, Patrick Walsh has been a highly decorated and successful coach for the Padres program (eight league titles, five section titles and a CIF Bowl title in 2017). And while there are many individuals involved in the statewide effort to get all high school sports back in action, few have been more present in spreading the message than Walsh.
Since this is SportStories — where the stories are the star — we set out to look for anecdotes about Patrick Walsh. We wanted to find tales that highlighted the origins of the fire that's driven him to his success, and the desire to spearhead his current quest for student-athletes across the state. So we dug into his past as a star two-sport athlete at De La Salle-Concord. We think these guys nailed it.
• BOB LADOUCEUR, De La Salle head football coach (’79-’12)
• TERRY EIDSON, De La Salle assistant football coach (’81-present)
• NICK JONES, Monte Vista-Danville boys basketball coach (’13-present) who grew up around the Walsh Family as a Little League teammate and boyhood friend of Walsh’s younger brother, Nicholas.
Visit this episode's page at SportStarsMag.com for images of Walsh + video of some of the moments mentioned in the stories.
"So this is how it happened..."
If you're a fan of something. Anything. Music, movies, art, sports or whatever. Few things can pique your interest more than getting a glimpse behind the scenes, or learning the inside story to something you're passionate about. For 10 years, SportStars Magazine has been passionate about high school sports in Northern California. For its first podcast, the high school sports media company is turning the storytelling over to its sources in hopes of giving fans that behind-the-scenes feel. Each episode will focus on a coach, athlete, team or classic game and then find those with the best anecdotes to bring that subject to life. Join us for SportStories.