Collegiate athletes’ actions dunk their school’s reputation

Willie Rounaghi, Sports Editor

The UCLA basketball team traveled to China for the season opener against Georgia Tech on November 10. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity gifted by the Pacific-12 Conference. When UCLA players were given a short break, Cody Riley, Jalen Hill and Liangelo Ball went to a shopping center near the team hotel. They stole items from three shops, including a pair of Louis Vuitton sunglasses worth $750. The three athletes stayed a day in jail and were detained in China while their teammates journeyed home. Riley, Hill and Ball had a terrible experience, but it served a lesson for student-athletes around the world.

At LBHS, on occasional Friday mornings, the athletic leadership team meets to learn and assess situations about how to be great ambassadors and how to build up, not tear down, the team and the community.

“Our focus is representing yourself, your school, your community, and your family appropriately, and also helping guide others in appropriate directions,” said athletic director, Lance Neal.

There are innumerable ways to lead and many different types of leaders at LBHS.

“As a leader, it is important that I do every workout and do the full mileage on every run to set the expectation for the rest of the team,” said senior Jaden Orr, team captain of the cross country team.

Team leaders also understand the importance of avoiding shortcuts that pertain to character development.

“You have the responsibilities of always giving 100%, showing respect to other players, coaches, and honestly just being a good person,” said senior Taylor Glenn, team captain of the softball team.

LBHS athletes are urged to remember that one person’s actions matter significantly.

“When you are a part of a team, everything you do as an individual is a reflection of the team. If one player is known as a cheater or a dirty player, then the whole team receives that reputation as a result,” said 11th-grade boys water polo co-captain, Will Clark.

Student athletes run the risk of taking for granted the family they join when participating in a high school sport.

“Truthfully, it’s a reward to participate in athletics, not just a given, so your behavior has to model that you value that reward you’ve been given,” said Neal.

During the China trip, none of the UCLA athletes stepped up or showed their best judgment for their team, school and family.  

“Obviously, when UCLA was in China any one of those three could have said, ‘We shouldn’t be doing this. Let’s leave.’ That would be the expectation of a leader, to make sure you’re helping situations like that,” said Neal.