May 29, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

CdM basketball coach remembers Kobe’s donation while others reflect on his legacy

Former CdM player Sean Donavan had his picture taken with Laker legend Kobe Bryant in 2008 or 2009. (Photo courtesy CdM boys basketball, For OC Sports Zone)

Orange County high school basketball coaches are reacting to the death of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant who died in a helicopter crash along with eight others Sunday, according to published reports.

They are also pointing out what an impact that Bryant had on their players.

CdM Coach Ryan Schachter shared a story about Kobe Bryant’s interaction with his players.

“Back in 2008-09, the CdM basketball program was doing a community blitz, seeking donations from businesses in the area and a group of players spotted Kobe at Carl’s Jr. and they approached them about donating to the program; he gave them a $100 bill,” Schachter told OC Sports Zone Sunday.

“On another occasion, Sean Donavan spotted Kobe at a gas station (on Sean’s birthday) and Kobe happily took a picture with Sean.

“Over the years, I’ve heard many stories from players saying they saw him out in the community and he would always ackowledge them.”

Schachter also reflected on a time that Bryant was at one of the clinics he held for the Newport Mesa NJB.

“He was coaching his daughter’s team, and Kobe showed up with all the other dads and coaches,” Schachter said. “He stayed for the whole thing, not that he really needed to but I’m sure because he wanted to be like a regular dad/coach like everyone else there.”

The tragedy hit close to home for CdM players and coaches when Christina Mauser, an assistant coach on Kobe Bryant’s team and a coach and teacher at Harbor Day School was identified as one of the victims. Schachter said he got to know Mauser through family friends.

“Some of our players, who went to Harbor Day, played for her and are grieving now; they played for her and are devastated at this news,” Schachter said. “The tragedy for our community is more than losing a sports icon; we lost members of our family and community.”

Cypress High players were also affected, according to Coach Derek Mitchell. They plan to honor Kobe Bryant in their own way Tuesday night in an Empire League game against Pacifica.

“After hearing the  devastating news, our boys were definitely saddened. They were talking about a way they could honor Kobe,” said Mitchell. “It was suggested that the team wear a Kobe style shoe if they had one. I agreed and thought that would be a great way to celebrate and honor him. 

“I reached out to Pacifica Athletics on Twitter to hopefully encourage them to do the same. They retweeted the post, so hopefully we will see a lot of Kobe shoes on Tuesday. You know, Kobe was such an influential figure to us in Southern California. Sometimes we took him for granted, but we what always stuck out was his desire to be great.

“That work ethic, the ‘Mamba Mentality.’ He inspired a generation of hard workers committed to the game of basketball. He helped the game thrive around the world.”

Local basketball coach Mike Moore, who runs Moore Management, also reacted:

“I met Kobe at the Pro Summer League in Long Beach as a rookie,” Moore said. “A nice young man. What a career and legend he was. Praying for the family now.”

Orange Coach Jordan Castaneda expressed his thought’s about Bryant’s death.

“I’s a sad day indeed,” Castaneda said. “It’s heartbreaking, I’ve had a knot in my stomach since I heard the news. My love for the game started with the Kobe and Shaq Lakers. He was bigger than basketball, he was LA, and his daughter was a helluva ball player from what I’ve seen and heard. It’s just an awful, awful situation.”

Beckman Coach John Goins said he was also impacted by Bryant’s death.

“Indeed a sad day,” Goins said. “The loss of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, is truly terrible news and I hope for the best for his family and loved ones. I have spent the day in tears and pain trying to understand how an athlete could have such an impact upon my emotions. It isn’t because he was a Laker or a great player, but what I mourn is the loss of someone who came into the national spotlight while both of us were in high school.

“He was a part of my coming of age, watching someone not much older than me struggle and come back stronger, and repeat that process until he reached the pinnacle. I was always a Kobe fan for who he was and what he stood for, someone whose disdain for mediocrity drove him. He was and will always be an inspirational figure to me as I work with young men and women to help them achieve their own image of greatness. I hurt today but know that the pain I feel is proof that individuals of great resolve can impact all of us. Thank you Kobe.” 

-Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com