DOUGLASS—I was able to attend an event I've never been to or heard of before Wednesday afternoon.
Douglass High School hosted a media day—a preseason press conference, really—for its two basketball teams.
A high school. Very impressive.
Why would a high school do this?
"What we want to do is showcase some of our players, generate some excitement for the season by doing this, and work on some social skills that they're going to need in future jobs, or for some them who want to play college basketball," boys coach Ty Unrau said.
Really, why shouldn't they? Unrau said that they wouldn't do this for any team necessarily, but Douglass really expects great things this season from its players and team as a whole. Both teams are aiming to accomplish something neither program ever has achieved: get to a state tournament.
Unrau, girls basketball coach Jason Wilson and new athletic director Jason Menard believe an event like this not only will raise expectations within the team, but outside the program, as well. That, among other things, will help players get looks from colleges.
"We're trying to get our kids some exposure, getting our kids some hype as we prepare for this season," Wilson said.
Wilson comes from Topeka, where kids talked to writers from newspapers all the time. I personally feel I'm pretty good about talking with the Augusta kids (one of my favorite parts of the job), but this is taking things to another level.
"It forces them to come up here," Wilson said about the girls coming to the podium, "and do something they're not normally comfortable doing, talking in front of a group of people and stepping outside of their box. With it, they're going to become better young women that will go out and have successful lives."
Unrau added that there was a right way to run a press conference and a wrong way. Getting the kids to learn from the experience the way the Bulldogs did was the right way. When kids get too caught up in the spectacle (like when athletes "choose" one of three hats, like they're doing everyone a favor) is the wrong way. If more high schools pick up on this idea (and they should), hopefully it's done right, too.
The most important aspect Unrau stressed was success. The media cares more about a success program than an individual who stands out on a mediocre or bad team. That kind of success will benefit individual athletes hoping to play in college.
"Individuals are going to be recognized through team success," Unrau said. "…Wins are greater than stats. You will get that recognition, we'll get more media people here, if we are successful as a team."