Sometimes the best way to deal with a bad ending is focus on a new beginning.
That will be easier said than done this fall at Clover Park High School. Fifteen of its 22 starters return from a team that was a lock to make the Class 2A West Central District playoffs, only to discover – and self-report – using an ineligible player just days before its final regular-season game.
A Washington Interscholastic Activities Association committee not only ruled that the Warriors must forfeit two SPSL 2A victories, the school was put on two years of probation.
As Clover Park players and coaches took to the field Wednesday for the first day of fall camp on a back fastpitch field – Harry E. Lang Stadium’s turf is currently being replaced – longtime coach Taz Randall went immediately into team-building drills.
With a personality the mixture of a Care Bear, and grizzly bear, Randall – who once coached in college with current New York Jets coach Rex Ryan – called for his players to identify when a teammate is in trouble in an "I Got You Buddy" run-conditioning drill, and then take his place in the 10-yard sprint.
If the Warriors can band together, and utilize their big athletes, they very well could be in another playoff hunt.
Motivation should not be an issue.
"I told the kids, we’ve got a chip on our shoulders," Randall said. "In my eyes, a phone conference took our season away."
The ruling was a big blow to Randall, who was the one that self-reported the eligibility infraction involving a transfer student, and his whole team. But since they’ve stuck together.
"It is family," Randall said. "It is the way it’s always been, and it is what helped get us through that last season."