Returning on November 16, the St. Joseph Catholic High School women’s basketball team spoke for their first game of the year.
New head coach Jamaal Jenkins gathered the nine-man squad into a small group and eventually the starting five took their places for the first kick-off.
At the end of the game, a 36-22 victory over Merit Prep where the Jayhawks led 28-6 after three quarters, the team entered the locker room.
Jenkins and assistant coaches Mario Prieto and Adam Jones did not. They sat on the bench as the St. Joseph boys team warmed up.
It wasn’t a one-night-only novelty blunder or anything like that. Here’s what the bench will look like for every St. Joseph’s boys and girls basketball game this season. At least, that’s the plan.
This will be Jenkins ‘third season as the SJC boys’ head coach. Jenkins, a former Weber State basketball player in the early 2000s, says he loves to coach and teach.
“One of the things when I first took on the job with the boys was that I kind of wanted to change the culture and make it clear that there are all kinds of places all over the world. where you can be a top athlete and an academic at the same time, you don’t have to choose one or the other, ”he said.
How did Jenkins become the head coach of both teams?
When Kelsey Stireman left as the head coach of the St. Joseph girls, Jenkins went to the school administrators and said he wanted the girls’ team as well.
St. Joseph has technically not opened the post of head coach of the girls. The school administration asked Jenkins how he would handle the logistics of training two teams, the school was apparently happy with the response, and Jenkins officially became the girls’ head coach in October.
Patrick Carr, Standard Examiner
Jenkins previously ran an AAU basketball program, so he said coaching two basketball teams simultaneously was not difficult.
“Slice of the pie. It’s just about being relative to the kids and being efficient with what you do with your time,” Jenkins said.
It helps that the teams are a bit small. There are nine players in the women’s program, seven of them in first year, and they only have one varsity team.
There are around 17 players in the boys’ program, which consists of a JV team and a varsity team. Teams train together most of the time and, on several occasions, have games in the same location on the same day.
For many weeks, however, Saint-Joseph has a girls ‘game and boys’ training one day, a boys ‘game and girls’ training the next day, and two games the next day.
Is Jenkins tired of coaching two games in a row? It didn’t look like November 16 anyway.
Jenkins sat for five minutes between the girls’ and boys’ season opener, stood up and screamed the entire first half of the boys’ game and still screamed occasionally in the second half.
He apparently couldn’t scream loud enough to get a timeout in the first quarter of either game, despite the whole crowd hearing him.
But it was only the first game of the season. Eventually, the region’s winter schedule will include two games per week for girls and boys. Jenkins doesn’t think it will be difficult to deal with either.
Patrick Carr, Standard Examiner
“The most important thing for me has been to make sure that the people I have on my staff are great basketball minds first and that they can handle the same kind of workload that I do. can manage so that I can lean on and trust them, ”Jenkins said.
After more than a week of the season, things are going well for both teams. The women’s team is 1-1 after beating Merit Prep 36-22 in the season opener and losing to American Heritage 57-38.
The St. Joseph Girls could also be the youngest varsity team in the state with seven freshmen and two juniors.
The boys’ side are 1-2, tying their winning tally in 2020-21, having handled Merit Prep 85-68 in Game 1, losing big at Providence Hall and losing in overtime to Telos Academy (Orem ).
Region 17 appears to be more competitive for the girls and boys teams now that Layton Christian is gone and has moved up to 3A.
“I am privileged to be here,” Jenkins said. “It’s not a powerhouse situation. We could win the state one of those years, we might never win the state, but to me, being able to see them having fun and devoting themselves to something, that means the world to me.
Jenkins is especially happy to be on the pitch given the alternative, which he’s been pretty straightforward about: he almost died last year.
A trip to the emergency room last summer after dealing with fatigue and abnormal weight gain turned into a fairly quick trip to McKay-Dee Hospital.
Jenkins was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and required emergency surgery. Doctors told her that her cardiac ejection fraction, which measures how much blood the heart’s left ventricle pumps with each contraction, was 30 percent.
According to the American Heart Association, a normal cardiac ejection fraction is about 50 to 70%.
“Once I find out what it is, I keep going – you can’t really figure out what it is until it gets bad. They tell me about these surgeries, I have to have IVs in my neck, I was alone in intensive care with COVID for 2 1/2, three weeks, ”Jenkins said.
Over a year after this episode, Jenkins has recovered from a few handfuls of pills a day to just two. Even though coaching two varsity basketball teams is a lot of work and stress, Jenkins is just happy to be here.