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2020 Taught Me… | Athletes & Coaches Reflect, Share Outlook For New Year 2020 Taught Me… | Athletes & Coaches Reflect, Share Outlook For New Year
NorCal Athletes And Coaches Sound Off On What They Learned Over A Difficult Year, And Express Hope As We Start Anew • From the... 2020 Taught Me… | Athletes & Coaches Reflect, Share Outlook For New Year

NorCal Athletes And Coaches Sound Off On What They Learned Over A Difficult Year, And Express Hope As We Start Anew •

From the pandemic to social unrest, 2020 was a tidal wave that hit us all. Especially the world of high school athletics. 

Now that the water may be receding, with vaccine rollouts and state youth sports guidelines offering a road map, SportStars wanted to know what was learned — and what came next. 

We reached out to several NorCal coaches and athletes over New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day to ask them to respond to two prompts: 2020 taught me… and 2021 will be…

Responses ranged from short and to the point, to deeply introspective. Some even added a bit of humor.

Enough of our chatter. If you want to get a read on the mindset of NorCal coaches and athletes as we move into 2021, the following responses are a good place to start.   

Monterey Trail-Elk Grove, Sr., Football

Prophet Brown, Monterey Trail, Football

(David Gershon photo)

2020 taught me that you have to be able to adapt and change 

2021 will be a legendary breakout year

De La Salle-Concord, Sr., Baseball

Caleb Chance, De La Salle, Baseball

(Jean-Paul Toshiro photo)

2020 taught me to grow up, to persevere through adversity, and appreciate the little things in life. I had to take responsibility for my actions, and keep working when no one was watching. There were many obstacles that became opportunities if you chose to treat them like it. 

2021 will be a year of hope. Hope to play and be united with teammates. Hope to spend time with classmates, and hope to return to a more normal life.

Concord Softball Coach

2020 Taught Me, Megan Coddington, Concord Softball

(Chace Bryson photo)

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2020 taught me, or rather reminded me, that since we don’t know what tomorrow will bring, it is important to live your best life today, and to try not to take things for granted. Since COVID, I have tried very hard not to dwell in all the negatives and things I can’t control. Instead I have focused on my own attitude and outlook, and have tried to remain positive, especially around my own children. I am choosing to look at the amazing things that happened in 2020. For me personally, I became tech savvy with Google Drive, Classroom and Zoom. Once we get back to school, I still plan on using these tools to enhance student learning. I gained a new sister-in-law and a new niece! I learned how to play the guitar, and I spent time with my children teaching them about cooking. Finally, I am grateful that my entire extended family has remained healthy.

2021 will be a year of growth for all of us. We will all need to continue to communicate better, to try new and creative ways of teaching and coaching our students, to compromise, and to work together to find positive solutions to the problems we may face.

Cosumnes Oaks-Elk Grove, Sr., Football

Anthony Grigsby, Cosumnes Oaks, Football

(David Gershon photo)

2020 taught me to be patient. With everything that has been going on, and west coast kids not being able to play and show off the work we’ve put in, we’ve all had to be patient. 2020 has also taught me to just find a way. Find a way to get things done. Find a way to grind and get better. There were times where I would get up at 4:30 a.m. for  5 a.m. workouts  so we could work around the covid restrictions.

2021 will be exciting. I believe the work that has been put in will finally show for everyone, not just me. 2020 was filled with a lot of emotions that weren’t able to be expressed. So 2021 will be a year where everyone can finally release, and show what they’re made of.

Mt. Diablo-Concord, Sr., Basketball

2020 Taught Me, Shawn Gutierrez, Mt. Diablo Basketball

(Chace Bryson photo)

2020 taught me that no matter the circumstances, continue to work hard and the results are endless 

2021 will be a year full of growth and perseverance

Granite Bay, Jr., Golf

Hannah Harrison, Granite Bay, Golf

(Ike Dodson photo)

2020 taught me to always think positive. We faced a lot of difficulties in 2020, and sometimes the best way to face them was by looking on the bright side. 2020 also taught me how to manage and prioritize my time and focus on my goals. Many things were different, but I learned to adapt to the circumstances and make the best out of it. 

2021 will be a year where I’ll strive for many successes whether that be golf, school or personal goals. It will be the year where I will try to qualify for many major USGA tournaments. 2021 will also be the year that I officially sign to WSU to play golf. I am hopeful for successes and looking forward to everything that comes along with this year.

St. Joseph Notre Dame-Alameda, Sr., Basketball

2020 Taught Me, Makena Mastora, St. Joseph Notre Dame, Basketball

(Berry Evans III photo)

2020 taught me so much about myself. A lot of self reflection took place during our quarantine, and it made me realize there is so much going on in the world and with myself that sometimes it’s good to take a step back and see everything. 2020 taught me to never take anything for granted, to always talk to the ones I love, and that I eat an insane amount of food. 

2021 will be filled with basketball, family, friends and new beginnings. I’m super excited for what’s in store this year and can’t wait to experience my final semester in high school, graduation, and going to college!

Salesian-Richmond Boys Basketball Coach

Bill Mellis, Salesian, Basketball

(David Gershon photo)

2020 taught me to appreciate the things that we have in life. It sounds cliche when it’s said that something can be taken away at any time, but that happened to so many in 2020. 2020 taught me how much I have missed seeing my students, my co-workers, and most importantly, the student-athletes I coach. I have missed them dearly, and missed being able to work with them during the summer as usual. I’m praying that we get to have some sort of basketball season so I can do what I love the most: coach great young men. Finally, 2020 taught me how important it is to take time for ourselves. So many people were couped up at home for months, and there were many documented and undocumented cases of depression. I found time during the pandemic to exercise daily. I started walking 3-5 miles or biking 10-12 miles per day off and on throughout the summer. On our first day of school, August 17, I started walking or biking every day and have not missed a day. I have lost around 25-30 pounds during that time, which was much needed. More importantly, it has kept my stress level low during a time that has been extremely stressful for everyone.

2021 will be a way better year than 2020, but that probably goes without saying. My mother, who is 81 years of age, just had shoulder surgery and is recovering very well so far. I imagine her recovery will be better since it’s 2021 than if her recovery took place in 2020. 2021 will be a lesson on how well we, as a nation, can get back to what we perceive to be normal. There are so many questions to be answered. How many people will be willing to take the vaccine? How many people will be willing to do the things that can help get rid of the virus, such as continuing to wear masks, etc.? 

James Logan-Union City Football Coach

2020 Taught Me, Ricky Rodriguez, James Logan Football

(Chace Bryson photo)

2020 taught me to appreciate the time we spend with the people we love, and also that sometimes it is more important to listen than to react. As tough as 2020 has been on all of us, the positives for me was the time I got to spend being a father and a husband. We as coaches devote so much time to others, that sometimes our families take a backseat. The pandemic really put things into perspective for me, on how important that time is. I have been able to see all the little milestones in the lives of both my 1- and 3-year old. Maybe in a normal year, I would’ve missed them. The social justice issues that have plagued our country for years, have often been swept under the rug. It was a privilege to be able to listen to my African American players, peers and colleagues tell stories of their experiences. This was powerful to me personally, and inspires me to be an advocate for change.

2021 will be a year of growth. I have faith in humanity. I believe we are a resilient group. We will utilize the struggles and adversity we have dealt with, and become a better team of people. Personally, I look forward to putting a bigger emphasis on the three F’s. My family, my faith, and football are the areas I will strive to grow in the upcoming year. Happy New Year everyone!

Archbishop Mitty-San Jose, Sr., Basketball

Olivia Williams, Archbishop Mitty Basketball

(Archbishop Mitty Athletics)

2020 taught me the importance of using our voices. Especially being part of the next generation to make a large impact in the world. Using our voices can bring about change and solutions for current problems that directly affect ourselves and those around us. We saw just how much our voices are capable of by educating ourselves and others as well as highlighting problems that can not, and will not be pushed aside and swept under the rug any longer.

2021 will be the call for action. We have learned what highlighting the problem and figuring out possible solutions has done, but 2021 will be the time to put these plans for change to work. We have talked about it, protested and shared our feelings and desires for remaking a more positive and aware society, but now is the time to make real and permanent change.


Chace Bryson

Chace Bryson is the managing editor of SportStars Magazine. Reach him at

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