Gregg Dodderidge

A memorable week with Yosemite sports

Last week was quite a week, as I was able to watch the Mariposa/Yosemite volleyball matches and of course the season opener in football. Both were memorable.

Words don’t do much justice to what I saw with volleyball. The Badgers played Mariposa at home Aug. 24, and what was so great was the amount of teams YHS puts on the court. There isn’t just one or two teams like most sports, there are four with a total of 52 players - freshman, frosh-soph, JV, and varsity, and all played at a high level.

Fans were polite, vocal, and loud. There were a lot of students, which to me, the more the better. And I saw the Cheer Squad too. It was electric in the gym during the varsity game.

Badger head coach Michelle Chenowith has resurrected this program. No sports program is deeper than volleyball. Other than Ellen Peterson’s cross country teams which had huge numbers, I have never seen a program with four teams.

You all know the tradition of this program. Over the past 40 years, the Yosemite varsity volleyball squads have shared or won outright 26 league titles, and have six CIF Central Section Championships to brag about.

I love watching Michelle on the bench. Her demeanor is so calm. She exhibits a deep confidence. She never jumps up and yells or pesters the refs. This in turn gives her team confidence.

When the team gets frustrated they just huddle, clap hands, and get back to work. There is no yelling, no tantrums, just a focus on the match. This team spirit is a direct reflection of the head coach and staff. Sportsmanship is a foundation of Chenowith’s program.

Even if you are a casual sports fan you need to be a part of this. You will see high school volleyball played at an incredibly high level. This is the team that went 34-5 last season, was just one game away from playing for a Central Section D-III title, and is back this season without losing a single player to graduation.

The road to Le Grand

I took Highway 140 for last Friday’s football opener in Le Grand. I wanted to see personally the effects of the devastating Detwiler Fire. It was worse than I could imagine. Driving to Le Grand isn’t easy. A good portion of the once beautiful drive on 140 west of Mariposa is now a moonscape.

It was truly a miracle that any structures survived. The devastation was pronounced near the enclave of Aqua Fria. I stopped at Dial’s Rock Shop and talked to Mike Dial the owner, and his story was incredible and frightening. Mike is lucky to be alive. He like all Mariposa County residents will be forever in debt to the heroism of the firefighters. Mike said so many are still struggling in the aftermath.

The reason I bring this up is I am hoping the Yosemite High administration can set up a Detwiler Fire Relief donation stand at the upcoming YHS/Mariposa Football game on September 15th. It’s needed. Mariposa is our rival again in football but it’s our sister city in the Mountains. They so deserve out continued support.

Finally, it was great to be a part of the re-opening of Bulldog Stadium in Le Grand. The facilities are very nice and the small town of under 2,000 (2010 census) deserve it. I cannot be more impressed with the Bulldog varsity players. Le Grand started out with 16 players but six were injured and by the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs were down to 10, one short of the standard 11-man team.

I sat with former YHS head coach Aaron Eames. Neither of us had ever seen a team play with 10. I didn’t see one Bulldog player with his head down. They played hard all game and never gave in.

These are players who cherish the game and play hard every down. With that kind of pride the once storied Le Grand program will no doubt be dominant again.