Sophomores honored at last game

The Laney Eagles women’s basketball team, led by head coach Ron Williams, played their last game of the season at home on Feb. 16 against Solano College, losing 65–44. The Eagles ended their season with a winning record of 10–6 in the Bay Valley Conference. Overall, their record was 12–13.

“It was hard for us to buy into everything we’re supposed to do. And it was hard for us to not lose focus,” Laney guard Jassemine Johnson said, reflecting on the season.

The team’s roster was comprised of six freshmen and only two sophomores. For many on the team, the season was a learning experience. “When we first came in, we were all a group of strong personalities, so it took us a minute to really click,” guard Sydney Hills said. Over the course of the season, the players got to know one another and value the relationships that formed, she said.

The Solano game was also Sophomore Night. Xaria Thompson and Sydney Hills were honored in a ceremony at halftime for their achievements on and off the court.

During the game, Williams was not afraid to be vocal to the referees. He shouted and cajoled, yelled encouragement, or groaned his displeasure whenever he thought the referees missed a call. His self-expression has been costly at times.

On Nov. 12, 2017 Laney was forced to forfeit a game in the first quarter when Williams was assessed two technical fouls and ejected for arguing with the referees. To some players, Williams’ commentary was evidence of the coach’s dedication to them.

“Not a lot of coaches will fight for you like they should. You can seriously get hurt out there,” Hills said. “He’s looking out for our health and our best interests.”

Eva Hannan sports editor of the Laney Tower.

End of an era

Greg Smith, the respected athletic trainer for the Laney Eagles’ athletic teams for over 37 years, will be retiring on July 31. He will be missed by students and faculty alike.

At the 2017 Spring Sports Awards Banquet Athletic Director John Beam called Smith up to be recognized for his work over the years and presented him with an Eagles letterman jacket.

Smith was a baseball player at Pinole Valley high school before going on to play ball for Contra Costa College and later went to Cal, where he majored in chemistry.

As an athlete Smith had been around athletic trainers and had received treatment for an ankle injury. Smith was struggling with his major, so he decided to weigh his options, and he switched his major from chemistry to physical education.

“I knew what I wanted to do. These trainers didn’t have any grease under their nails and they were wearing the latest athletic gear,” he said.

He started his career with Peralta in 1980 at the College of Alameda, but would also cover games at both Merritt and Laney. As funding for sports programs at COA became shakier, he began to work full-time at Laney in 1986.

“Working with young people, you feel like you’re about their age”

Greg Smith, Laney Eagles’ athletic trainer

His job title was athletic trainer and equipment manager. At that time there was no certification required to be an athletic trainer. Smith could see the future was going to be about rehabbing injured athletes. He got certified as an athletic trainer.

Over the years he has helped countless athletes. He works with all of the sports at Laney. When asked what sport he liked to work with the best, he replied, “That’s too tough a question. I like being a ‘team’ player for each sport as it’s in season.”
Laney Head Baseball Coach Francisco Zapata remembered being worked on by Smith when he played baseball here in the mid-80s and broke his arm.

Smith says that he always enjoyed working at Laney because the students kept him feeling young.

“Working with young people, you feel like you’re about their age,” he said.

Smith is retiring as the Athletic Trainer/Equipment Manager, but he will still be around campus teaching Health Ed, First Aid and CPR.

Signed: Courtenay Brown

Laney athlete celebrates SF State admission with signing ceremony in gym

Laney’s star shooting guard Courtenay Brown signed a letter of intent to attend San Francisco State University in the fall. The signing ceremony was held in the Laney College gym on April 26. Her coach, family, and friends were there to congratulate her.

She accepted a full scholarship to the university where she plans to major in kinesiology. She will be a shooting guard for SFSU’s basketball team, the Gators, who play in the NCAA division II.

After she graduates from SFSU Brown wants to become either an athletic trainer or work in rehabilitating athletes after injuries.

Brown lived in Stockton and attended Weston Ranch High School, but during her junior year, she went to Encinal High School in Alameda where she helped their basketball team into the playoffs. For her senior year she returned to Stockton to live with her father Anthony Brown.

Although Brown was recruited by Humbolt State University out of high school, she decided to attend a community college to play basketball. She didn’t want to attend Humboldt State University, but she did want a basketball scholarship to finance her education.

Her sister, Jordan Brown, who lived in Alameda, had played for Laney, so Brown was familiar with the school.

Brown shows her lighter side at the signing ceremony in the Laney College gym.

Brown has been a starter on the team since she came in as a red shirt in 2014. “I had a much larger role [this year],” she said.

This season Brown averaged 18 points per game overall and 21.3 in the conference.

Approximately three games into the Bay Valley Conference basketball season, the number of players on the Laney College Eagles basketball team was greatly reduced. Due to injuries and eligibility issues, the squad went from 12 to five players.

When asked if this created a difficult situation for her, Brown replied that it didn’t because all five of the remaining players had to dedicate themselves “a little more to playing harder.”

She explained that without the ability to switch out players to rest, ”I never had to tell anyone to play harder because we already were.” Although the team was playing hard, Brown admitted that anyone fouling out would have been a big problem.

Fortunately, the team was able to avoid this fate until the last game of its season, the championship game against Solano.

Brown voted BVC MVP, first team all-state

Laney College sophomore guard Courtney Brown was selected as the Bay Valley Conference MVP and to the first team of the California Community College all-state squad. Brown led the Eagles to a 17-11 overall record and a second-place finish in the BVC (11-3). Brown had an 18.0 scoring average for the season and scored 19 points in a 73-53 NorCal playoff loss at City College of San Francisco on Feb. 24.