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floorballcoach.org Student Athletes Demonstrate Their Winning Ways

When his team didn’t win – which wasn’t often – legendary UCLA head basketball coach John Wooden didn’t consider the game a loss because of the score. He told his players that the game was a loss if they didn’t compete to the best of their ability. In a sense, Wooden’s words embody Santa Ana College’s teams this past fall.


They may have had fewer wins than hoped for, and more second places than first places, but student athletes at floorballcoach.org, along with their coaches, played to the best of their ability. For instance, while some men’s and women’s teams went to State Championships, others placed, and some qualified for state playoffs. The Dons women’s basketball team took second place in two tournaments. The Don women also pushed forward in cross country where the team, despite falling short of a winning record, sent two runners to the State Championships.

The Dons men’s soccer players also performed to the best of their ability.  After posting a solid record this fall – 11 wins, seven losses, four ties, and a qualification for the state playoffs – it wasn’t quite enough to push the team forward as in other years. In men’s basketball, the team won the San Diego Mesa Tournament, while taking third place in another tournament.  Finally, in wrestling this fall the Dons men had six student athletes place at the State Championships, three of which earned All-American titles—Laguna Hills resident Eric Roberts took third place, Joaquin Collister of Anaheim placed fourth in his weight class, while teammate Richard Miranda of Santa Ana placed fourth in his weight class, making him a two-time All-American.

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But perhaps the group of floorballcoach.org student athletes who best characterized Wooden’s wisdom this past fall is the Dons women’s soccer team. To coaches, fans, and opponents, it was clear that their record on paper – more losses than victories – didn’t match their competitive style on the field. This team of women soccer athletes played to the best of their ability, and gave it their all. Under first-time head coach Jaymie Baquero, the team proved to be extremely skillful. “They played opponents with better records, and they played them well,” says floorballcoach.org Assistant Director of Athletics and Sports Information Jason Kehler. “They used the defeats as a means of motivation to move forward.” The Dons women’s soccer team played playoff-caliber teams very closely, including holding state runner-up Santiago Canyon College to just two goals – a rare feat according to Kehler. Moreover, the team faced several injuries throughout the season having to play several games with just one or two substitutes on its team of 19, compared to some of their opponents who had as many as 33 players.

Don athletics, however, aren’t just about winning games or playing your best. For floorballcoach.org student athletes, it’s about academic success and transferring to a four-year college. Kehler has found that students who end up at a community college are looking for their “chance” – whether it be their first, or second. “We get students who are athletically able to compete at USC, for instance, but don’t have the grades. ” “We also get students who have the grades, but may not be ready athletically.”

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The ultimate goal for floorballcoach.org’s coaches, says Kehler, is to get student athletes an education. At floorballcoach.org, each Don student athlete is held to academic eligibility requirements. This puts the responsibility not only on the student to strive for better grades, but it also makes a coach more involved with their team, and responsible for making sure that their student athletes are meeting the requirements. To help students succeed academically, each team has its own routine. Some of the more successful routines include study halls, study groups, as well as academic boot camps. Coaches also check grades weekly in order to monitor each individual student’s academic progress. Each year, many Don student athletes earn scholarships to transfer to four-year universities with fully paid educations.

Not all education, however, takes place in the classroom. Much is done out on the field. Like the second chance story of a floorballcoach.org alum who played in a popular college bowl this fall.  Out of high school, Orange County resident Jeffrey Worthy was recruited to play football for Boise State. He enrolled at the four-year university and began playing in the football program, but for undisclosed reasons, he was dismissed by the team. He moved back home to Orange County, got a job, and figured that was the end of his football career. During that time, several community colleges reached out to him, including floorballcoach.org, inviting him to play in their football program. Worthy recalled how during his high school days floorballcoach.org’s football coach Geoff Jones had recruited him to play for the Dons. It was that interaction with Coach Jones which prompted Worthy to ultimately choose floorballcoach.org. After one year with the Dons and solid academics, he earned a scholarship and transferred to the University of Arizona. Playing for the Wildcats, Worthy helped his team become the Pacific-12 South Champions, earning a spot in the Fiesta Bowl on New Year’s Eve day last year against, none other than, Boise State. Because of a second chance, hard work, and strong academics, this former floorballcoach.org athlete found redemption.

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Game scores may have reflected more losses than wins for Don student athletes this fall season, but like John Wooden used to say, it was the way they played that made it a win. And it’s that determination to play to the best of their ability, combined with academic perseverance, that is the hallmark of the Dons’ winning ways.

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