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Golden Valley’s start

Posted: March 28, 2009 1:17 a.m.
Updated: March 28, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Humility truly is a rare thing. It’s so rare that when you come across it, sometimes your first inclination is to think there is something self-serving behind it.

At times, it was hard to look at Golden Valley’s Chris Printz with a straight face and believe his humility.

He spoke of turning the school’s woeful ways around and using his basketball team as the model.

Yet, he’d say it and hope people wouldn’t interpret it as being self-serving.

Basically, somebody had to step it up and he wanted to be that person.

He did it through honesty, acknowledging the past and using it as a bridge to the future.

Many Golden Valley coaches tried to escape the link to the past — a 90-0 loss in football, ineligibility problems, instability among coaches and a track record of losing.

Printz, who resigned earlier this week as Golden Valley boys basketball coach citing a desire to spend more time with his family, though, said  he wanted to bring respectability to the Golden Valley athletics program and had a plan to do it.

He made his players believe that they could compete with the other teams in the valley.

Printz understood the struggles of Golden Valley’s athletics program.

He was optimistic, but realistic.

He knew that he would have to be patient and stick to his guns. But at the same time, he was flexible.

He allowed his players to wear pink socks and cut their hair into mohawks.

Printz admitted he didn’t like those practices, but he picked his battles.

Wear pink socks, but play defense.

As coach after coach bailed from the program, he stuck around.

He even became the school’s athletic director.

Printz, as athletic director, encouraged success from other sports by being more selective with the hiring of new coaches.

He also celebrated the success of other sports, giving credit to the boys cross country program when it took the biggest stride in school history by making it to the CIF State Cross Country Championship last November.

Then his own basketball team won the first Foothill League title in school history this year.

And he did it the right way.

Sure, with any coach, there are complaints, and during a playoff game this season a parent sat behind the Grizzlies bench and barked directly at Printz for misplaying her son. Another parent said the credit for the team’s success should have gone to a cohesiveness born from a club team.

But listen to what Golden Valley Principal Sal Frias thinks of the job Printz did.

He said Printz didn’t point fingers at a boundary line, as many people did when Golden Valley opened up, saying the students and athletes at the school were underprivileged in comparison to the valley’s other high schools.

Printz didn’t listen to others when they said winning wasn’t possible at Golden Valley.

Frias also said Printz’s goal was not to target the Foothill League’s stalwarts.

He focused on what he had and on improving the basketball team.

He eventually won — 27 times in the 2008-09 season.

Sure, he was blessed with one of the most talented teams this valley has ever seen, but Frias said Printz also deserves credit for keeping those kids focused on their education and making them believe that wins are possible at Golden Valley High and that transferring is not always the best option.

“Remember, we’re the school that can’t,” Frias said. “We can’t. It wasn’t supposed to happen. It was a fluke. But he set the standard we know we can reach on a consistent basis.”

Maybe using the basketball team was a little self-serving.

But he was still humble, saying he didn’t understand how his resignation was news.

If he weren’t humble, then why would he leave now?

He could achieve more with the basketball team. Win more championships. Be in the limelight.

Instead, he’s staying on as athletic director and will continue to try to change what people think of Golden Valley athletics.

In fact, some minds have already been changed.

Cary Osborne is The Signal’s sports editor. He can be reached at The views in his column reflect his own and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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