Navajo-Hopi Nations,Flagstaff & Winslow News
Fri, June 05

As Sam Sees It

Congratulations to the Winslow School Board and administration for their decision to name the "new" gymnasium after Coach Don Petranovich.

Petranovich has enjoyed a brilliant career and garnered more wins than any girls' basketball coach in the history of the state. He was Winslow High School's first girls' coach and has remained in that position all but a brief two years in the 80s when school policy would not allow him to be the head coach and athletic director.

It will be good to see Petranovich be able to coach a team in the gymnasium that bears his name. Too often, schools are reluctant to name facilities after people who are still active in their profession no matter how successful the individual.

There are those of us, however, who believe that it is better to reward people while they are still around to enjoy and appreciate the honor.

My brother had the privilege of seeing the gym at Shadow Mountain High School named the Jerry Conner Gym. He has since retired from teaching and just coached last year. This year he came out of retirement so to speak and accepted the position as the school's athletic director while continuing to coach basketball.

The ceremony in which the gym was named was a very special event. Dozens of former players were in attendance and had many nice things to say about the influence of their coach. His former high school and college coaches were both present and part of the program.

One of his former high school coaches, Al Van Hazel, had a facility at Casa Grande Union High School named after him. He was very deserving of the honor. Unfortunately, Van Hazel passed away this past summer.

There are a number of coaches who have gymnasiums, football fields or other facilities named after them. Winslow's own Emil Nasser is one who has been so honored. Coach Nasser is very deserving of having Emil Nasser Stadium named after him.

This decision is one which has been advocated in this column for the past couple of years. That doesn't mean it is overdue. Chances are the school board has picked just the right time.

Petranovich himself was largely responsible, with the agreement of the board and administration, for the naming of the court in the gym that will bear his name the Isaac Bonds Court.

Isaac Bonds was, arguably, the greatest basketball player to ever wear the colors of Winslow High School. It was fitting and much appreciated to honor him in this fashion.

Sometimes it can be difficult to think of proper ways to honor our great coaches and athletes.

Perhaps that is one reason doing so takes time. There are a couple of athletes this writer would like to see honored in some fashion. What form those honor should take is difficult to decide.

Mike Madeo was, in my opinion, a very special athlete, especially in football.

Claude Renfro was an exceptional basketball player who performed equally well at the collegiate level.

Perhaps Petranovich's next task as athletic director will be to come up with a meaningful way to honor those athletes and possibly others who are deserving of such honors.

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