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USF Assistant Coach Rich Yakota Reviews the USF Triumph at Palma Valley

March 15, 2007

The Dons hosted a strong fifteen team field at the inaugural Triumph at Pauma Valley Tournament. Our highlights of the week included Jesse Gavlon and Taylor Hobin, who both scored consistently. The team also gained valuable experience from two of our freshmen, Conor McElyea and Thomas Buran, who both dug deep and kept the high numbers off the card. We also enjoyed the rare opportunity to send our entire squad of eleven to compete together.

Our season started with great momentum in the fall, yet we are searching for the ingredients to solidify our consistency and our ability to close tournaments. As the year has progressed, the demanding academic and travel schedules has certainly been a factor.

This week Head Coach Nelson organized and managed a top notch event. I was amazed at his ability to administer, coach, and connect with the other programs. There were rave reviews from the other schools regarding the quality of competition as well as the course and hospitality. We also received tremendous support from S.I.D. Pete Simon, and our Head Trainer, Rebecca Liddle. The Pauma Valley Staff, members, and volunteers were gracious and took us in like family.

While Dr. Nelson ran the event, I had to fill in the gaps for our groups on the course. Unfortunately, our eleven players were often on their own, and probably received less support and information than they deserved.

I was proud of our team for hanging in despite some shaky play. I've seen countless poor performances in my own career, and our squad swallowed their pride and displayed real class and character. Adversity will reveal character, and I know our team will grow from the tough weeks in the long run. We have one of the youngest teams around, and I am impressed by the bond they share. Whether we are leading an event or way back in the pack, all the guys have been a pleasure to be around, and that speaks to the true quality of our players.

I'm also confident that we will respond to our struggles and turn the corner soon. All of the guys have embraced changes they need to make for their long term success. There are ongoing adjustments in technique and mindset that will bring performances to the next level. I will be coaching the team in our upcoming event at Cal Poly. Our spring break should provide a great opportunity to reflect, recharge, and gain momentum as we approach the homestretch.

As a group, I've encouraged the guys to stay in the process, and the results will follow. A great veteran coach named Eddie Merrins said that winning is not the goal; it is the reward for executing the game plan. I think he heard that from basketball legend John Wooden. There is no doubt our players have the talent to challenge any program in the country. As soon as we find our rhythm, things will get pretty interesting.

Assistant Coach,

Rich Yokota