Girls Basketball scandal: Everyone speaking about the coach who suited up and played in a junior varsity game for San Gabriel

“I did not try to cover it up. Their decision to do what they did was and is still a shock to me. I was shocked to see my coach playing in a game. It was disheartening because she was a responsible individual. Maybe I handled it the wrong way by waiting a day, but I was trying to find out why they did what they did, but I got no response. I do not have any hard feelings towards San Gabriel for their decision to let me go because of that. But to say I tried to cover it up, no way. I do not stand for things like that.” Fired San Gabriel coach Manny Flores

By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer
Just days after a story published in this newspaper confirming the firings of the entire San Gabriel High School girls basketball program’s coaching staff, Manny Flores, the former head varsity girls basketball coach, responded to allegations in a series of e-mail exchanges that there was an attempt to cover up a freshman coach’s decision to play in a junior varsity girls basketball game last month. Flores did not dispute allegations that Jannie Han, 21, played during a nonleague junior varsity road game Dec. 9 against El Monte, but he did take issue that there was an attempt to cover it up, which led to the firing of Flores, Han and JV girls basketball coach Mark Ho.

“I did not try to cover it up,” Flores wrote. “Their decision to do what they did was and is still a shock to me. I was shocked to see my coach playing in a game. It was disheartening because she was a responsible individual.

“Maybe I handled it the wrong way by waiting a day, but I was trying to find out why they did what they did, but I got no response. I do not have any hard feelings towards San Gabriel for their decision to let me go because of that. But to say I tried to cover it up, no way. I do not stand for things like that.”

San Gabriel principal Jim Schofield confirmed the firings on Monday but would not discuss the details, citing privacy issues. Jennifer White recently was hired to coach the varsity girls basketball team and San Gabriel football coach Keith Jones and assistant football coach Jude Oliva will help coach the junior varsity girls. The school is waiting on fingerprint clearance for its new freshman girls coach.

El Monte junior varsity girls basketball coach Steve Shimada said he couldn’t tell when Han went into the game, which the Lions won, 37-15.

“I was only interested in what we were doing, even though we had the game in hand,” Shimada said. “We tried to figure out who it might have been, but it wasn’t something that ever crossed my mind, that a coach would be playing in a game. I’ve never heard of something like this.”

Flores said he brought the incident to the attention of San Gabriel athletic director Patty Hill and waited a day largely in part to get more information from Han and Ho and because he was unsure how to handle the situation.

“I want to make it clear that I had no say or had any part in their decision to allow what happened,” Flores wrote. “However, I accept responsibility and only because it occurred within my time as head coach.”

Flores, a 1999 Alhambra High graduate who coached the Moors’ JV boys basketball team for two seasons, gave his account about the incident.

“My team had a game right after the JV game,” he wrote. “So as we were entering the gym I was shocked, to say the last, to catch a glimpse of my coach in a uniform and playing in a game. She knew she had made a mistake when she saw me come in, and went straight to the bench to put on a sweatshirt, pretending like nothing happened.

“I wanted to talk to them after their game, but the other coaches had to leave with the team on the bus. Coach Han should have stayed for our game to do our scorebook, but she left with the JV team. I did not hear from her or see her until the meeting with the administration.”

Han did not respond to repeated e-mail requests seeking explanation, nor was she available for questions at her Alhambra home.

Flores said he did not see or hear from Han until a Dec. 14 meeting with Schofield, Hill and assistant principal Scott Mangrum. Mark Ho also was present.

“I knew as soon as I walked in \ their decision was going to be,” Flores wrote. “It was very short and quick. I was simply told that I had been let go along with the other coaches.”

Flores said he has not spoken directly to Han and Ho since their firings.

“Just through texts,” Flores added. “They have apologized, but the damage is done and it cannot be repaired.”

AREA COACHES REACT
By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer

San Gabriel Valley coaches and athletic directors were in shock and disbelief when they learned San Gabriel High School’s freshman girls basketball coach played in a junior varsity game early last month.

San Gabriel Principal Jim Schofield confirmed Monday that varsity girls basketball coach Manny Flores, junior varsity girls basketball coach Mark Ho and freshman girls basketball coach Jannie Han were fired Dec. 15 after Han played Dec. 9 in a JV nonleague game at El Monte.

“I was shocked to hear what happened and feel for the girls in the program,” Keppel coach Ib Belou said. “I hope that the girls come together and push through this incident and find a way to move forward.

“As for Manny Flores, I did not know him on a personal level, but from the two games I coached against him he was a very kind and respectful person. I have nothing but positive things to say about him since I can only go by how he treated the girls I coach and myself.”

Alhambra girls basketball coach Therese Berner, in her first season with the Moors, said she’s coached basketball 30 years and never has heard of anything like this.

“I guess my question is, `Was winning that important that you would sacrifice the program?’ ” she asked rhetorically. “To me there’s no valid reason, period. I don’t want to pass any judgement but who would benefit from that?”

Schofield learned of the incident the weekend of Dec. 12 through e-mail messages.

“If a situation were to happen here I would act swiftly to remedy the issue,” Maranatha athletic director and baseball coach Brian DeHaan said.

Schofield would not discuss the details, citing privacy issues, but did speak about the severity of such an issue and said if something like that was to happen in a program it would be sending out the exact opposite message.

Tamar Hill, in her 10th year as La Ca ada’s girls basketball coach, echoed Schofield’s statements.

“What we’re trying to teach the kids is ethics,” she said. “The CIF motto is sportsmanship and ethics. What they (the administrator’s swift action) did is exactly what they need to do – uphold the CIF standards and school standards.”

There’s a running joke among coaches that when things go bad they’d like to enter a game and play. That much was evident when speaking with more than several area coaches, but to actually act on the temptation has not crossed anyone’s mind.

“It’s one of those things that as you get older you always kind of joke about in little conversations, telling your kids `I’m sure I can find some eligibility somewhere’ but it’s all meant in a joking way,” Diamond Ranch athletic director Jason Fox said. “I would have never imagined someone actually doing it. I’m still in shock hearing that it actually happened.”

“It’s hard for me to understand why they would have done that and what was the thought process behind it,” El Monte coach Brian Tabatabi said. “It’s unfortunate because the girls work hard and you coach them up and think you’re competing on an even playing field, but to think an opposing coach would treat his own players that way is disappointing.”

The age requirement to be an assistant coach is 18, and 21 to be a head coach in the Pomona Unified School District. Lou Torres, in his 14th year as athletic director at Alhambra, said that’s the general rule, although there’s no specification in job fliers within the Alhambra Unified School District. Torres also said it’s the varsity head coach’s responsibility to look after his assistants.

“When I hire a head coach it’s his responsibility to hire his assistant coaches and it’s also his responsibility to hire someone as competent as possible,” Torres said. “If they do hire someone young they have to be monitored by them and myself.”

It is not known how long Han, 21, played in the junior varsity game, but Manny Flores confirmed catching a glimpse of Han in uniform playing in the game, and when she saw him Han went back to the bench and put on a sweatshirt, “pretending like nothing happened.”

“At that point I would have expected the coach to start coaching the JV team right there and then,” Torres said. “The head coach is responsible for his program and if he had knowledge of that happening then they’re all responsible.”

Flores, in an e-mail, said there were no cover-up attempts.

“Maybe I handled it the wrong way by waiting a day,” he wrote. “But I was trying to find out why they did what they did, but I got no response.”

“The last thing you want to do is make your school look bad,” Fox said. “You have to let your athletic director and administrators know that day. You have to because then it falls back on you.

“You can sit there and say, `I just got wind of this happening today and I wanted to bring it to your attention and I’m looking into it more and I’ll let you know by close of business day tomorrow.’ ”

miguel.melendez@sgvn.com

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  • Depleted Sports

    Just a sign of how depleted sport’s programs are in terms of players and quality coaches across the SGV today. With so many kids playing so many travel ball games before their high school years too many just burn out leaving schools with barely enough players to hold a decent practice. Now when you add time and energy it takes to commit to coaching and the headaches that brings you have too wonder why this didn’t happen sooner.

  • http://twitter.com/ChemicalAT Aram

    Freddie,

    Me and some friends have a pool going as to how many points the coach scored in the game. Can you please get the me the numbers? Thanks!

    And as I told Miguel, I wish this story would’ve happened when I was there. I would have had a field day with it. This is an all-timer!

  • FredJ

    She fulfilled all of our dreams of suiting back up one more time didn’t she…guess she couldn’t wait for the alumni game

  • Where’s the substance, where’s the analysis…nothing but fart jokes here!

    Aram it’s too bad you can’t see the forest for the trees. This is a symptom and not the problem. No wonder journalists and sportswriters are held to different standards.

    Now as never before too many Sportswriters would openly admit having a pool rather than reflect and take some time to give the public true insight on what is otherwise a tragic farce.

    Aram very, “Around The Horn” Max Kellerman of you.

    Think about the score 37-15 and research the two previous games scores and maybe you can figure out what really took place.

    Let’s talk about a this instead of LVL omission from area tournaments, the Tribune’s on and off again duplicity or maybe Ian Johnson’s comments in SI regarding racial taunts in high school.

    Aram you may have had a field day with this story but unfortunately it would have done more harm than good.

  • Dumb & Dumber…..Around The Horn needs two more shills

    Fred is that what you think happened? Tell me you’re not serious.

  • Dumb & Dumber…..Around The Horn needs two more shills

    Fred is that what you think happened? Tell me you’re not serious.

  • Dumb & Dumber…..Around The Horn needs two more shills

    Fred is that what you think happened? Tell me you’re not serious.

  • http://twitter.com/ChemicalAT Aram

    Wait a sec, they play a 21-year-old in a JV game and I’ve got it wrong? I would have done more harm than good? Please.

    Oh, I see. You’d rather see it swept under the rug. I get it now. I know just the website for you.

  • Just a bunch of fools

    Great!

    The comments by Fred and his cronies are just another example of their unprofessional approach to their workand it shows up every day.

    You guys are nothing but clowns – like little 8 year old kids sitting around their romm giggling about how their big brother got in trouble.

    What a waste

  • FredJ

    Relax pal, I was only emphasizing that we all wish we could suit up one more time, but I never said you should do it. Ever heard of tongue and cheek?

  • Control the Media

    Aram would that be Fox News?

  • Joe Amat

    I do agree with one thing that was written below and that it is a symptom and not the problem. Coaches feeling the need to do something like this is the result of what I called on another thread the “SGVsBest OCC Formula” (Only Championships Count).

    Because there are knuckleheads out there that support the thinking that only those who win it all or win big have accomplished anything in sports we have coaches, kids, and parents that buy into that thought process. If that’s the only thing important then anything we do to accomplish that end is fine. The scary thing is that not only did a coach come up with the idea and another coach execute it, but we also had players that went along with it and, I assume, some parents that observed it.

    At no time did any of these people stand up for what was right, and they should all be held accountable. As hard as it is for a player to go against something the coach says, at some point we have got to create a culture where standing up for what is right is so important that we couldn’t imagine not doing it.

    This commercial that aired recently may seem like it took place in an alternate universe – but does it have to?

    http://is.gd/5SIvx

    Shouldn’t it be like this? If it happens on the playground – the kid that hit it out says I touched it, and they play on. But everything is so overorganized and overscheduled for kids that they no longer play that way and rely on scheduled youth sports to play games, with just enough adult intervention to screw everything up.

    We can be part of the problem or part of the solution. It might be your job description to report it – but you also have the privilege to have the forum to address it from an editorial perspective to get the conversation started on how we can fix it.

  • Thoughtful discouse

    I was at a game recently where I told a parent/friend from the opposing school. “You’re getting homered at home!” after what seemed to be one bad call after another against them. He sat there and smiled. Down the stretch they fought and finally at the most important moment of the game a call went in their favor, and yes it was a bad call that sealed the game in my friend’s favor. After the game I was just about to apologize for our team’s wealth of suspect calls and he tells me, “I really think the ref missed the last one, should have been a foul for you guys.” Reminds me of this commercial. He could have said, “Well we finally got one!” but he didn’t. That’s character, that’s integrity. Every person in that gym who knew it was a coach playing is just as culpable and should be ashamed they sat on their hands and did nothing. The question begs an answer, why? The real story might come from the parents, and my guess is the answers would surprise and educate us all.

  • mrman1

    Here is my 2 cents……..The coaches at San Gabriel were wrong and should have been fired! No matter how they try to spin it, what happened was wrong and it showed a lack of professionalism, class, and integerity from all the coaches. No matter how bad you want the team to win, you never ever win like that. When the HC found out it was true all of the lower level coaches who were involved should have been fired immediately and then the AD/Principal should have been told.

    As for Aram, he has and will always be a clown. He is not a journalist or a reporter……..he is just someone who likes to cause drama and report only what he wants to report. Case in point is overly bias opinion about Amat. I have no problem with BA, but nothing has nor will ever be perfect or rosy there. But Mr. Arama aka Mr. Impartial (according to him) never ever said a bad thing about them. It’s like BA could do no wrong. Aram, go back to your current job and leave this blog alone. It has gotten much better since you left.

  • http://twitter.com/ChemicalAT Aram

    Control the Media,

    Actually, it is a lot like that!

  • Joe Amat

    mrman1,

    Go back into the archives in 2006-07 and read the archives. Then you’ll see the balance you are looking for as the coverage and comments about amat’s shortcomings more than made up for anything positive you are reading the past couple seasons.

    Bottom line: when the team is playing tough competition, and things are going well – you’ll read good stuff. But when it’s not, well – we got that too… and deservedly so!

  • mrman1

    Joe Amat,

    I have no problem with BA. I was just pointing out how much a “homer” and biased reporter Aram was.

  • A

    and they still lost that game! wow!

  • tax time

    “and they still lost the game” what a superficial observation. might not want to tax your brain so often. ever wonder what goes on into making a stupid decision like that? wait, don’t bother.

  • Joe Amat

    mrman1,

    ..and my point was it’s not being a homer and biased of you also print and allow the negative when the team is doing poorly.

  • http://twitter.com/ChemicalAT Aram

    Joe Amat,

    There’s no point in explaining. mrman1 is lost, but he’s always been one of my biggest fans.

  • malika

    I think it’s unfortunate that the other two coaches were fired for another coach’s decision. I know for a fact that Coach Manny and Coach Ho did not expect this to happened and is just as shocked. San Gabriel high school’s girls basketball program isn’t as great as other school and on each will have little girls. Has anyone ever considered that the girls were tired or injured that couldn’t play, yes the coach did make a bad decision and shouldn’t have posed as a player, maybe the girls were just playing all through the game and were just feeling down. I know that those three coaches practice with the girls during practices and it helps them. Yes, it unfair to the girls basketball program but it’s also unfair to the other two coaches. No, winning isn’t everything to the girls basketball team nor is it to the coaches.

  • enjoys a good game

    Please correct me if I’m wrong-freshman coach playing on JV team, not team she’s coaching herself. Sorry sounds premeditated by freshman coach and JV coach. Sorry, Varsity coach responsible for his staff.

  • alligotstosayaboutthat

    What is really sad some coaches will corrupt the student athlete’s sense of sportmanship, ethics, fairplay & decency for their own selfish ego.

    And after all is said and done, it’s the student/athlete who often have a greater sense of morality than the coaches.

    To paraphrase a Biblical saying, “What matters a “person” gains the world and loses his soul….BUT FOR A WIN? FOR A CHAMPIONSHIP AT ANY LEVEL??

    just pathetic.

  • Sports Trash Bin

    The more I read these comments the more I realize the level of intellectual maturity of so many bloggers. There is no insight, no thoughtful reflection and certainly no big picture thinking.

    Break it down to how many decisions had to be made and how many times no one said a word. Why?

    Think about the players on the team and what they have to say to go along. Or did they?

    Think about the parents in the stands who complain at every game that their child is not getting playing time yet witness a coach playing in a game, and yet say nothing. Or did they know in advance?

    There are so many questions that require some serious and thoughtful honest answers, yet who is asking the tough questions?

    The Tribune fails us all once again because their leadership aspires to very little, and therefore we get comments like Aram’s asking how many she scored or chomping at the bit at the endless juvenile possibilities.

    Something serious took place that day. People lost their jobs and kids lost their innocence. Yet no one is getting to the bottom of this story. The question remains on the floor……..WHY? The answer will shook most of us and the lack of serious dialogue hurts us all.

    Does anyone really think no one in the stands knew she was a coach. What does that say about”us”? Better yet, what issues created that dynamic. Players moving and playing 6 years of high school sports is not as uncommon as most would think. I had a friend who played 4 years of JC Football and no one seemed to care…….but a high school coach?

    Fred, Miguel, Steve and Aram did you guys really become journalist to baby sit blogs and feel “scraps” to a hungry juvenile hoard?

  • Money4Nuthin’

    “Sports Trash Bin”

    journalist
    Pronunciation: \-n-list\
    Function: noun
    Date: 1693

    1 a : a person engaged in journalism; especially : a writer or editor for a news medium b : a writer who aims at a mass audience

    “Fred, Miguel, Steve and Aram” barely qualify to be considered Journalists, and in no way should they be confused with an investigative reporter. Heaven forbid they be expected to actually do a little leg work, and ask some indepth, and uncomfortable questions when dealing with stories like these. NOPE, just gonna throw down another donut, and call the Principle of the “offending” school, for the standard “blah, blah” comment, and leave it at that. Ahhh… Now, where to do lunch???

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