This has been a strong year for individual basketball players, both boys and girls, at Minarets and Yosemite High. A number of mountain basketball players maintain significant rankings in the entire Central Section and not just their individual divisions.
According to MaxPreps.com, the ‘twin towers’ of Minarets, center Grant Denney and power forward Hunter Thompson, are ranked No. 16 and 17 respectively in rebounding. Denney is at 10 per game and Thompson 9.8.
The YHS version of the ‘twin towers’ has also had an amazing season on the boards. Power forward Peter McLean is No. 3 in the Central Section, averaging 12 rebounds per game. Last week, McLean broke the all-time YHS rebounding record of 756 set by Kade Cross last season. McLean now has 759 for his career. Anything from here is just gravy.
Center Ben Negley is ranked No. 7 overall at 10.6 rebounds per game. In the category of ‘double-double games,’ McLean (8) and Negley (8) are ranked No. 13 overall. McLean averages 10.5 points per contest and Negley 9.3.
Cannon Eames is the No. 8 ranked scorer averaging 20.4 points per game. Brother Tristan, who recently suffered a season-ending injury last week at Liberty, is No. 15 at 17.9 points per game. Cannon has made 42 3-pointers which is No. 19 overall. Finally, Cannon can be a force defensively, averaging 3.1 steals per game which is 10th best in the section.
For the girls, Badger sophomore guard Grace Fries is ranked No. 4 in 3-pointers made (52). Fries is scoring 14.8 points per game which is good for No. 29 overall. Forward Siena Oswald is ranked No. 14 in rebounding with a 10-per-game average. Point guard Lilly Graffigna is No. 17 in assists with 3.7 per game.
What’s in a name?
Last Friday the Badgers were to play the ‘Tribe’ of Chowchilla, formerly known as the Redskins. The mandate bill AB30, or the California Racial Mascots Act, mandated that all high school teams with the mascot name of Redskins change as of January 2017. This affected four high schools in the state. Chowchilla chose to rename their mascot to ‘Tribe.’ California was the first state to mandate to ban the name of ‘Redskins’ in the country.
I am the last person who supports political correctness, but this is one I don’t have a problem with. To legislators and more importantly to Native Americans, the name of Redskin is a racial ‘slur.’ Part of my thinking comes from my Greek grandmother. My ‘yia-yia’ (grandmother in Greek) was 100% Greek and born near Sparta in 1906. She was a Spartan through and through.
I remember watching Super Bowl VII with the Washington Redskins vs. the Miami Dolphins in 1973. Yia-Yia wasn’t much of a football fan, but she couldn’t believe a team would actually have a mascot named Redskin. It made her angry.
“That’s certainly derogatory,” Yia-Yia said. I said the Redskins are one of the oldest teams in the NFL, founded in 1932. “I don’t care how old it is, it’s still wasn’t right. Why do they allow that name,” Yia-Yia asked. I had no answer. Being just 12 years old, I wanted to see if the Dolphins could complete an undefeated season. They did, winning 14-7 and are still the only unbeaten team in NFL history.
“A lot of people call used to call us olive skins,” Yia-Yia went on to say. “It is crude. Most immigrants had to endure negative insults. It lumps us all together. It doesn’t distinguish Spartan from Athenian or even Roman for that matter.”
I told Yia-Yia about Michigan State and San Jose State. She said that it made her proud to have a mascot named for Sparta. To her, mascots should represent something of ‘valor, bravery, or a historical representation of the area.’
“Any animal name is better than Redskin,” Yia-Yia said. Needless to say, Yia-Yia rooted for the Dolphins that day.
The Spartans were true warriors. Unlike the Athenians who gave us the ideals of democracy, theatre, and magnificent architecture, the Spartan legacy is on the battlefield. From the ‘300’ to the final victory over the Persians at Plataea, the Spartans are mythical. Before a football game or track meet Yia-Yia would utter the famous Spartan phrase mothers and wives would say to their sons and husbands before battle: ‘come home with your shield or on it.’ For Yia-Yia it meant to give it your all. More than 2,000 years later, Spartans still burst with pride.
I don’t know of any school mascot named the Athenians, who by the way also saved Greece at the battle of Salamis, after the loss of the 300 at Thermopylae and the Persian sacking of Athens.
Many mascots are names of Native American peoples who fought for a valiant cause - their survival against all odds. Some American Indian mascot names of universities are representative of this. The Seminoles resisted the Spanish and what was a genocidal conflict led by Andrew Jackson in the early 1800s. The Seminole tribe in Florida and Oklahoma are proud of their mascot at Florida State and the university and the Seminole tribe maintain close ties with FSU.
The same is true for the Chippewa’s of Central Michigan, and the Utes of the University of Utah. The Aztecs (of San Diego State) fought valiantly against Cortez and the Spanish Conquistadors. For reasons of gallantry and bravery against all odds, I don’t see naming a mascot of a tribe wrong, but only if it has the blessing of the individual tribe.
With California being at the ground zero of political correctness, what is next? Will the state mandate changing any name with a Native American reference, such as the Chieftains of Sierra High? In my opinion the state did the right thing to eliminate the Redskin name. Yia-Yia was right. Redskins are derogatory. But does it stop there?
I don’t know if the Washington Redskins will ever change their name. You may remember the Washington Bullets of the NBA. They are now the Wizards. It can be done and should be. A November 4, 2013 article by sportsgrid.com showed a map of 62 high schools across the country still using the mascot Redskins. That number is now 58 thanks to California and no doubt it will continue to dwindle.
It makes me glad that mountain schools are named for fierce creatures no one would want to mess with: The Badger of Yosemite, the Mustangs of Minarets, and the Grizzlies of Mariposa. And those names are politically safe too.