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COMMENTARY

More than just winning

By: Jim Linsdau, Sports Editor
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After a heart-stopping victory over Center in their first meeting, Lincoln boys basketball head coach Robert Ash commented that his “guys found a way to win.”

In their second meeting with the Cougars, the Fighting Zebras won 45-44 – at Center. Now, that’s finding a way to win.

Self-doubt is the killer of dreams and Lincoln seems to be having none of it. From top to bottom they are finding a way to win, whether by one or 21. But that isn’t all Coach Ash is asking of his players – far from it.

The boys in blue are presently sitting at the top of the Pioneer Valley League. The PVL is currently rated 6.9 in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Power Ratings. That’s the second highest of any league in Division III. That means when you’re winning in the PVL you are beating some pretty tough teams.

High school basketball, like any prep sport, really isn’t about college scholarships and potential professional careers. It’s about challenging oneself to achieve on a number of fronts where achievement might otherwise seem out of reach.

So, has Coach Ash retired to his office to try and figure out how his club can hang on for the rest of the season and maybe win a league title? No, he decided to make things a little tougher for his players.

We recently received word that, whereas the California Interscholastic Federation requires student/athletes to maintain a 2.0 grade-point-average, Ash has decided to take that five steps further. Ash has set the academic standard for his student/athletes at a GPA of 2.5.

Yikes! What is the man thinking? We know some students struggle just to keep a 2.0, much less 2.5. Well, more on that later.

What’s the old saying? When the going gets tough the tough get going. If you’re a team chasing the Zebras in the PVL you might want to watch out for a potential stampede.

It appears Ash isn’t just about winning, he’s about developing winners. Even if his charges aren’t able to claim that coveted league banner this year, look out for next year. Basketball can be a fickle game but life isn’t.

Don’t worry about the Zebras. They’re going to the playoffs about as prepared as a team can be. Oh, there are teams out there with perhaps more talent or physical ability but none that will have worked harder to reach that brass ring this season.

Championships are cool and they do help in building confidence and pride. But they are fleeting and soon that banner on the gymnasium wall will begin to fade. But what one carries inside when walking off that floor or field after that last game will last a lifetime.

Ash isn’t that old, so it has to be assumed what he is passing on to his players is precisely what was passed on to him. Sure, it’s great to win but winning is merely the yardstick that measures how hard we worked to achieve it.

When Ash’s seniors walk off that stage this spring they’ll know far more than what that diploma implies; they’ll know no matter what was won or lost they will have become winners.