As Sam Sees It

The Winslow School Board and administration are to be congratulated for their decision to name the "new" gymnasium for Athletic Director and girls' basketball coach Don Petranovich. It is an action that is very much merited and something that has been advocated in this column for the past several years.

Petranovich has fashioned a record at Winslow High School that is without equal in the state of Arizona and in any other locale that I know of. His win total is well beyond any accumulated by any other coach and his winning percentage is also beyond the reach of others in the coaching profession.

The letter from a pair of former players could probably be echoed by legions of young ladies who have enjoyed the privilege of playing basketball under Petranovich's watchful eye over the decades he has coached at Winslow High School. Most have enjoyed the great experience of playing on a team that won a vast majority of its games and quite a few played for teams that won the ultimate trophy, a state championship.

Karen and Sharon Cox were right on in their analysis of why Petro has managed to churn out a steady stream of winning teams. He has been blessed with talented players, but that is not always enough to create a winning team. Coaches have the job of getting the maximum performance from talented athletes and getting athletes of more modest talent to recognize and play important supporting roles.

My friend Robert Carr was correct when he noted in his letter that a large number of Native-American girls have performed well for Petranovich and contributed mightily to his impressive record. He is wrong, though, when he minimizes the importance of Petro's role in the team's success. There are many former players who have played important roles in the successes of Winslow High School teams. An impressive number of them are Native-American. Some, like the Cox twins, were white. Some, like the Mattox girls and Anna Van, for example, were African-American.

It is my sincere hope that all of the young women who have ever been a part of a girls' basketball team coached by Don Petranovich will be there on Jan. 31 when the school honors him by naming the gym for him. Their presence will speak volumes about how deserving he is of that honor.

It would be even better if as many former opposing coaches as can possibly make it will also be in attendance. This is a unique honor and it should be savored by all in the profession. Sometimes, it is the opponent who can best attest to the greatness of a player or a coach. Hopefully, the administration will notify as many former rival coaches as possible to witness and applaud this event honoring their former rival.

This should be a very memorable event in the life of a great coach. Hopefully, though, it will be followed by one that would probably be as much, if not more, important to Petranovich: yet another Arizona State 3A Conference Championship.

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