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Sarah Palin on the court: competitive, smart, a bit 'foul-prone'

So what can we learn about Sarah Palin from her days as a high school basketball player in Wasilla, Alaska?Sarah Palin during her days as a high school athlete

The Times' Peter Nicholas was curious about that, so he tracked down her former coach, Don Teeguarden (who now plies his trade at a high school in Washington state).

He recalls a starting guard on the 1982 championship team who was eager to show her skills -- and not always happy about the supporting role she was occasionally assigned.

Nicholas relates that Teeguarden said that year's team had strong "post" players whom he wanted to consistently set up for shots near the basket. His instructions were for Palin and the other guards patrolling the perimeter to make sure those players touched the ball before launching a jump shot.

Great for the girls taking the shot; a bit disappointing for the ball-handlers who wanted to prove they could score too. Said Teeguarden: “From the guards’ point of view, when you throw it in there it’s not coming back. So I understand exactly how they felt about that."

Palin, the coach said, had other ideas about how to run the offense -– and she let him know. But Teeguarden said he very much appreciated the way she handled the strategic conflict.

“There were times when she needed to be convinced that things needed to be done a certain way," he said. “But she wasn’t belligerent. She just wanted to know why we were doing things this way.... She didn’t make scenes in practice, but she was inquisitive about the way things needed to be done. Once she understood, she was on board."

Evaluating the player he coached for four years, Teeguarden said she was “excellent’’ on defense, a strong free-throw shooter and ...

... a bit “foul-prone.’’

“Sarah as a player was very much like Sarah as a person. She was very competitive. Very hard-working, intelligent. She had the kind of qualities you’d like your players to have. A good teammate. She had a strong will; still does.’’

So how did he react when he learned she would be John McCain’s running mate?

The coach: “I, like everybody else, was a little bit blindsided by the announcement.’’

-- Don Frederick

Photo: Heath family

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Comments () | Archives (12)

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Great, fantastic... This has nothing to do with whether she is qualified to serve as VP.

If McCains coach is still alive can we find out how he did also. I know if he was good at sports that I would vote for him.

Are we going to find Obama's coach and mentor from his childhood to find out more about Obama?

What about BIden's coach?

It's amazing that we don't know much about Obama's childhood, his drug dealing days, his cocaine years and/or his time in Occidental Collage. How come LATimes have not send the crew over there to find out more dirt??

Part of me wants to see Obama win, so we will see how he will govern by voting "PRESENT".

You can tell a lot about someone by their conduct on the sports field. Sounds to me like Gov. Palin displayed many excellent qualities in her early days. Nothing here to be ashamed of. Funny, though -- I haven't seen a single item on the sportsmanship of Obama or Biden. Are they not interesting or is it just because they are guys?

Sarah the parrot says...
AAWWK!.. Palin wanna cracker...AAWWK!

The reason we don't hear tons of details of Obama's drug dealing is that they aren't true. The ability to separate reality from fantasy is a key feature of adult cognitive processes. Seems like some folks haven't gotten past age 16 yet.

Cool, I'm going to vote for her just on this article.I had no idea she was a good Basketball playe. Obama said he was going to build a basketball court in the Whilte House. I wonder if McCain will let Sarah build one.

Does anyhone know if Hairplug Biden plays ball? I seen him carrying a football around when he was getting on the plane the other day.

No wonder no one likes McCain.
He's just a Jet pilot, Naval comander, business man, and Senator. How can he compete with Hairplug Joe and Hussien "Jump shot" Obama.

So Sarah has successfully made the transition from "jock" to "joke". This person has no business being in a position to rule the most powerful country in the world. Her rambling answers in her tailor made interviews indicate an inability to focus on even the most trifling of requirements.

Send her back to the showers John. Sarah can't cut it.

This is great. LA Times decides to write about Palin's life. I suppose if we want to know about Obama's life we should read his two memoirs.

When the media decides to report on Obama and Biden it's always about some serious political issues. Palin? What kind of shoes and glasses she wears, what her childhood was like, you know meaningless information to deligitimize the Governor.

The only substance we hear is angry postings full of half-truths like she wants schools to teach both evolution and creationism. And did she do this as governor?

What seemed like a bad joke has now turned into a virtual nightmare. I've fought in war and learned to live "without" during the Great Depression. I've even voted for candidates in different parties, but nothing in my long experince has ever left me with a more uncomfortable feeling than the (God forbid) prospect of Palin in the position of President. McCain's action in selecting her in order to placate the flat- earth contingent removes him from the place of honor in which so many of us once held him. How can any thinking Republicans not shrink in embarrassment at the lengths to which their candidate will stretch his moral fiber in order to win an election ? John...we thought we knew you.

To Tom in Raleigh:

Obama admitted his cocaine use in his first book..he even hinted that he may have sold it a couple of times. He also was smoked marijuana. he is now heavy smoker...

Read his first book before you vote. You will also find his hatred and confusion toward White people. It's no accident that he found Re, Wright to be his mentor and pastor.


Obama is the man in the bubble! No one can touch him, truth nor controversy, if he makes it to the White House he'll be called to answer for 4 years! What a dismal presidency it will be!


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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