Associated Press photographer Rich Pedroncelli is a familiar figure in the Capitol. He has documented California’s major political events, and he has photographed the great and the near-great for more than two decades in pictures that have been transmitted around the world. But he’s also the coach of a girls basketball team at Sacred Heart Parish School, and that piqued Capitol Weekly’s interest. His girls, Caila, Meghan, and Ciara all play basketball. We caught up with him on a busy morning this week.
So you’re a basketball coach. Why?
You get to spend time with the kids. The kids make you feel young again. I like to see their enthusiasm. I like to see their growth. You see kids starting from very unskilled, then you work with them and you see how they grow. Not just in athletics, but grow in their other abilities, in their own confidence. You see what it does for them.
What’s the toughest thing about coaching?
Fitting it into my work schedule can be tough. It takes advance planning at work to fit it in. We usually have games on nights that are not busy, and that helps. Also, I have assistants who can take over if need be.
How are your kids doing?
Our Sacred Heart Parish School team has won the division three years in a row. We’ve won one tournament, and we took third place in another, and we’ve only lost one game overall for the year. We’re 12-1 going into the championship in Sacramento. There are a dozen teams participating — the top 12 teams in the league. The tournament started last night, but we got a “by” because of our record. If you lose a game, you’re out.
You’re a professional photographer. Do you shoot photos of your team?
Not my team. I’m too busy coaching them. But I take photos of all the other Sacred Heart teams for the yearbook.
Why basketball? Was that your favorite sport?
I don’t know if it was my favorite sport. I played all three sports, and I liked baseball and basketball the best.
How long will you be coaching?
Well, I was made the permanent coach and I still have my daughter on the team, and next year, but the following year, she’ll have a different coach. It’s good to have a new set of eyes. Both my other daughters, Caira and Meghan, have moved up and played for Saint Francis; Caira did until she got injured. Meghan is playing for Saint Francis now. But probably after my youngest daughter Caila is done, it will be time to hang it up.