“I love my dad so much.”
Those were the words uttered by Bryce Bedgood, a 6-foot-9 junior at Valencia High, standing in a deserted hallway outside the Golden 1 Center media room in Sacramento on Saturday afternoon soon after his father, Bill, announced he was retiring as the Vikings’ coach because he “wants to be a dad again.”
Over two days and two nights observing 12 games at the CIF state basketball championships, the emotional highs and lows kept coming, with coaches brought to tears saying goodbye to players they’d come to love and players professing allegiance to teammates for life.
“Stay in touch forever, bro,” Zane Carter of Ventura Buena blurted to teammate Colin Guether while turning his head from one side of the media podium to the other after defeat in the Division III final. Quarterback and receiver in football and guards in basketball, the best friends gave a lesson in the magic of high school sports.
“Proud” was the word used most by coaches after every game, whether their team won or lost. When you spend so much time together over the last year in the gym, the weight room, on the bus, in the classroom, in the locker room, you become family. And when the journey suddenly ends, whether temporarily or for good, the scene can be poignant, awkward and complex.
The elder Bedgood tried to explain stepping away from a 24-year coaching career that included stints at Mission Hills Bishop Alemany, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame (he coached Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton) and Saugus.
“Being a dad makes you a better coach, but I don’t know if being a coach makes you a better dad,” he said.
Away from the microphones after winning the Division IV state championship, the 17-year-old Bryce, who has a 4.3 grade-point average, offered insight into the balancing act of father coaching son.
“We had our ups and downs, but I feel what he brings to me coaching even it he’s a parent, I want him yelling at me because I feel sometimes I get in my own head and he’s the only person to help me get me going,” he said. “Sometimes I don’t start off great, maybe I miss some shots, he yells at me to wake me up and play better and I appreciate that.”
A teenager admitting he wants his dad to yell at him?
“I remember having not-so-good arguments on the court,” Bryce said. “Sometimes I see him as my dad, not my coach, and I talk to him like my dad and I can’t do that because that’s my coach. I have to respect him all the time, which I do. He’s a great dude, amazing guy. Some people think our relationship is so-so or not good. Our relationship is great.”
Seeing how coaches interacted with their players this weekend was memorable.
David Rebibo, the coach at Studio City Harvard-Westlake, was animated in the final moments of his team’s 76-65 Open Division championship win against Santa Maria St. Joseph because one of his players was celebrating too early as his team tried to protect its lead. Through his loud voice, his pointed words and his harsh stare, he reminded everyone the game wasn’t over, showing his kids sometimes an adult has to be the party pooper until it’s actually time to celebrate.
It was a weekend for coaching excellence, none more remarkable than the leadership and wisdom of Etiwanda girls’ coach Stan Delus. Listening to him in the huddle with his team trailing San Jose Archbishop Mitty by five points with 2:14 left in the Open Division girls’ final was like witnessing a master class in coaching.
“Play the moment,” he told his players.
They’d pull out a 69-67 victory on a follow shot at the buzzer by Jada Sanders.
As individual performances go, seeing 14-year-old freshman Jason Crowe Jr. score 34 points to help Lynwood win the Division V championship for his father and coach, Jason Sr., will be one for the record books. He finished the season with 1,295 points while averaging 36 points a game in the greatest offensive output by a freshman in state history.
There were so many great players, from Trent Perry of Harvard-Westlake to Caleb Foster of Sherman Oaks Notre Dame to Kennedy Smith of Etiwanda to freshman Jackie Polk of Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos.
Celebrating after scoring 30 points and grabbing 13 rebounds at the end of a challenging season, Smith said, “I played through the sweat and tears. I put in the work.”
Yes she did, and many others, too.