School championships spark community pride

The Vanden High School Lady Vikings of Fairfield and the St. Patrick’s-St. Vincent’s Bruins of Vallejo won state championships in basketball last month. The odds of two high schools in Solano County winning state titles in the same year has to be astronomical considering the huge statewide competition. The young men of St. Pats also won a state title in football a few months earlier, which is remarkable considering the size of this small school. They beat Helix handily at Golden One Arena and Helix is a perennial basketball powerhouse program. I played basketball in school and then coached seventh- and eighth-grade ball for 15 years or so and have never seen a game as exciting as the Vanden Lady Vikings game. Co-head coaches Allison and Jake Johnson’s team was down 17 points to nationally ranked Mater Dei with only seven minutes to go in the fourth quarter and pulled off the greatest comeback I have ever seen, winning the game 64 to 61 and devastating their opponent, who was fighting for their fifth state title out of eight trips to the title game. Vanden was led by Julia Blackshell-Fair, one of the best guards in the country, who scored 20 points and had 21 rebounds. She is headed to the University of Houston on scholarship. She definitely took over the game in the fourth quarter but what struck my wife and I the most as we watched the game on television was her leadership and unselfish play and assists to her incredible teammates. This was truly a team effort with Julia’s teammates scoring 44 points and pulling down a bunch of rebounds and playing tough defense. This championship was won by every person on the team, including the ladies that never got in the big game. The unsung heroes are the teammates that cheer from the bench and show up to every practice and provide team spirit and blood, sweat and tears during a thousand hours of practice. These state titles help our community, our economy and our real estate market here in Solano County because when our high schools win championships, it creates positive school and community spirit. When our local athletes represent Vallejo and Fairfield with the type of sportsmanship I saw on television, it makes our community look good. When our student athletes are interviewed by the media and they respond to questions with thoughtful and intelligent answers, it makes our local schools look strong. A great real estate market requires employment opportunities, a low crime rate and great schools and these two high schools are doing something very special for our market. Thanks and congrats!