For winter high school sports coaches, some athletes’ transition from the fall season is an annual challenge they all have to deal with.
At Sacred Heart Prep, boys’ basketball coach Tony Martinelli had to wait for his point guard, Colin Terndrup, to finish up his role in leading the Gators’ football team to a Central Coast Section championship.
“The [football] team going so deep this year had us missing some players early,” Martinelli said, who also had to wait for Tomas O’Donnell, a wideout for the Gators. “But we’ve been able to work around it.”
With all of December’s schedule filled with nonleague and tournament games, coaches usually have plenty of time to work the late arriving players back into the flow with the rest of the team before league play begins in January.
Martinelli, while missing two key players, has his team off to an impressive 8-2 start despite playing a very difficult nonleague schedule.
But one other San Mateo County coach is dealing with more than his fair share of preseason woes. Crystal Springs Uplands girls’ basketball coach Anthony Jones waited for senior Megan Faulk and sophomore Hannah Kaiser as they led the Gryphons on a deep run into the CCS volleyball playoffs.
Jones was hoping that, with the help of Faulk and Kaiser, his team could duplicate last year’s 6-4 finish in the West Bay-Skyline Athletic League that was good enough to tie for second and earn a berth in the CCS playoffs.
“We really had high hopes coming in,” Jones said.
But with only 10 players in the entire program — there is no junior varsity team at Crystal Springs — Jones was about to find out how little room he had for error.
One by one, his players started falling to the dreaded injury bug. During a Dec. 17 game against Capuchino, Jones saw Faulk — a co-captain — go down with an injury late in the fourth quarter, leaving the Gryphons with just four healthy players in uniform. And the injury could not have come at a worse time.
With Kaiser out for the season and senior Laura Segre not likely to return this year, the Gryphons were down to just one remaining healthy starter and three healthy backups. Four players were all the Gryphons could suit up as they were about to open their holiday tournament on Dec. 28.
“We were going to go ahead and play the tournament with just the five players,” Jones said. “But when Megan went down against Capuchino, we just couldn’t go.”
The Gryphons had to forfeit all three tournament games and now they have to hope to get healthy enough to field a team for their league opener on Jan. 11 against King’s Academy.
“I’ve never been in a situation like this before,” Jones said. “We’ll do the best we can, make some adjustments in practice and still try to go out and play our game.”
Jones’ colleague on the boys’ basketball team can do little else but offer moral support.
“It’s very unfortunate,” said Crystal Springs boys’ coach Ned Diamond, who also had to wait for some of his players to finish up in football but has, so far, avoided injuries. “It’s a tough thing for them to be going through.”