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Some of the fondest memories I have of childhoodinclude my time spent playing basketball through SASF. Like many of my friends and peers, basketball started in church leagues and eventually led to playing in the SASF summer league. I remember the excitement and anxiety over finding out what team you were on, who your teammates were for that summer, and of course what color t-shirt you got to wear for that season. SASF served as a place where everyone in the community could come to hang out during the summer. Even friends who didn’t play basketball would meet up at SASF to socialize and eat at the best snack bar in town.
Towards the end of middle school and into high school I started coaching in basic hoops and the 4th/5th/6th grade summer league division. This was my first experience coaching and learning how to manage the game of basketball without physically being on the court. It gave me a different perspective on what it meant to be a coachable player. I realized all the characteristics I loved in some of the players I coached, should be the things I aspired to do as a player as well. This is something that stuck with me throughout my basketball career in high school at John F. Kennedy, where I played in 4 CIF Section championships and 2 Northern California championship games, and continued as I went on to play for 4 years at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY.
My college recruiting process was filled with ups and downs. The general message I got from several college coaches was that I was "too small" to be a shooting guard and "not quick or physical enough" to be a point guard at the next level. I eventually found a coach at Vassar who believed I could be an impact player despite my size. I spent countless hours in the gym working on my skills and shot at the newly constructed SASF facility in Elk Grove to prove my coach right. My AAU and Baron's coach, Marvin Nakamoto, would put me through footwork, ball handling, and shooting drills every summer break throughout college. At Vassar, I became a 4-year starter and helped to win 3 conference championships along with earning 3 trips to the NCAA tournament, something the program had not done in school history. The narrative of being undersized, and therefore overlooked by many college coaches definitely helped fuel my drive to become the best player I could be. But the biggest factor for my success at Vassar College was because I genuinely loved the game of basketball and couldn’t imagine life without it. I credit much of this love to the great memories I have playing basketball at SASF many years ago.