As Sam Sees It

On Friday, the Winslow School District will honor Athletic Director and girls' basketball coach Don Petranovich by dedicating the "new" gymnasium for him. It is an honor well deserved. Petranovich has shown himself to be a winner in every meaning of the word. His teams have won approximately six games for every one they have lost in what is now approaching 30 years of coaching. It is unlikely that there are any coaches anywhere who can come close to matching that record. His six state championships and six more runner-up finishes are also matched by few if any.

Many girls who have played for Petranovich can thank him for the skills he taught them and the efforts he made to secure them a scholarship for their being able to continue their education on an athletic scholarship. Most would not likely have gotten that opportunity without both his assistance and his honing of their prowess on the court.

The Winslow Winter Classic will be a lasting memorial to Petranovich as well. This tournament has attracted and continues to attract some of the finest girls' basketball teams in the state and in the Southwest. This is, indeed, the showcase tournament for girls' basketball in northern Arizona if not the entire state. Fans should not overlook the importance of this tournament and the fact that it owes its very existence to the determination and dedication of this legendary coach.

Petranovich is a fiery coach with a burning desire to win. He is one of the fiercest competitors I have ever known. As one who has both coached with and played against Petranovich, it should not be surprising that we have not always seen eye to eye and have had our disagreements. We have, though, always been friends and, I believe, always respected one another. My guess is that many who have opposed Petranovich or his teams have those same mixed feelings.

One of the best things Petranovich has done in his illustrious career was to name the court in the soon to be Don Petranovich Gymnasium for our mutual friend Isaac Bonds. Bonds was and is deserving of this honor and is appreciative of it. That act may, ironically, have convinced some who needed a little extra convincing that naming the gym itself for "Petro" was a pretty good idea.

For the last several years, I have advocated this action to the school board. Now that it is about to become reality, let me again thank that body and the administration for recognizing the unique man for his accomplishments.

On the court, Petranovich saved the best until the 2005 Arizona State 3A Conference Championship Game. The total demolishing of a good Seton Catholic team that featured the consensus best player in the state was due primarily to a skilled coach who drafted the perfect game plan. The Lady Bulldogs executed it flawlessly and turned what should have been a toss up game into a rout.

Congratulations, Don. You deserve the honor. May you coach Winslow girls in the gym that will bear your name until Claylene tells you an octogenarian or a nonogenarian shouldn't be spending so much time with those young girls.

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