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Veteran basketball coach Fred Sauro has seen a lot at Williamstown

Photo by Jay W. Bennett Williamstown girls basketball coach Fred Sauro speaks to his team during a scrimmage last season.

WILLIAMSTOWN — Winning isn’t everything in sports, but it sure beats losing.

Fred Sauro, the girls basketball coach at Williamstown High School, has had more than his fair share of victories during his career.

The chance which got away though was his opportunity to coach the McDonald’s All-American East girls team on April 1 at the Toyota Center in Houston.

He was set to coach some of the top prep hoopsters in the country and he was bringing along as assistants both Gilmer County’s Amy Chapman and former Yellowjacket all-stater Ann (Seufer) Ferguson, who coaches at Thomasville High School in North Carolina.

“We were in close correspondence for a long time and we had a couple Zoom calls and talked to each other,” Sauro said. “It’s sad we didn’t get to do it.

“Just the idea of being chosen to do it is something I’ll never forget and I was flattered by that and blown away by the whole thing.”

Sauro said instead of his usual offseason evaluations he’s had to change on the go. He usually starts them the first part of April.

“We went longer this time with the situation of COVID-19,” he said. “We might talk to them about things they need to work on. I’ll do virtual evaluations, Skype or something, soon.

“The fact that we could exchange some information and get them to work on a few things on their own, but that’s about it. We’ve been hunkering down pretty good.”

The Yellowjacket boss admitted “he’s a busy guy who likes to get around” and he’s been trying to walk, get exercise and lift some weights.

“I can’t coach them specifically on what to do, but I can encourage them to stay in shape and if they can hoop on their own, that’s all I can do,” added the coach. “One of these things kids need more than anything is encouragement. These guys get up at 6 a.m., have their routine, go to school, classes and to practices and then games at night.

“They are used to being on a treadmill and then all of a sudden it stops. Now, everything is taken away. You can’t see your friends and I think that’s really tough on the kids. It’s tough on all of us, but I think it’s particularly tough on them. Adults, time goes by faster than it does when you’re younger and it probably seems like an eternity for those kids.”

Coach Sauro said he’s tried to keep a positive twist on the situation and stresses there will be light at the end of the tunnel.

“The thing I feel worst about is Scott’s kids,” Sauro said of his son’s WHS squad. “Those boys that were 24-1 and not being able to go to the state tournament. The girls chosen to the All-American game are great and that was the crowning jewel and all that, but still those kids are going to UCONN, Stanford, Oregon and their career is going to be paid for.

“These boys, they lost a lot. They were pushing for a state championship and were the number one team in the state and were the number one seed in the tournament. They never got a chance to prove it. That’s sad and worse than the All-American game. These guys it was a goal they were pursuing and they didn’t have the chance to do it. I feel worse for them.”

The WHS boys were going for just the second school title in history.

“They hadn’t won a championship in 58 years and they had a real shot to do it,” coach Sauro said. “I was tickled to death with our kids when I look back at our schedule.

“We played a rugged schedule and all the teams we lost to were ranked and even Belpre in Ohio were ranked and had one of their best years they’ve had. Our kids went 15-11 and we were small.”

The campaign for the veteran girls boss also was the last time he got to coach granddaughter Kayli.

He just finished his 35th campaign at Williamstown and has coached for 40 years. Overall, including being a boys assistant coach, he’s coached “61 seasons and I’m kind of proud of that. The fact I lived that long. My mother died at 53 and my dad died at 61.

“They were relatively young so I’m kind of happy with that and the fact I’m still kicking and still able to get around. I’d like to lose about 15 pounds. Other than that I feel OK. I’m happy with that. What you got to understand is the first eight years on this job we won 50 games total from 1985 to 1993.”

Sauro was quick to point out “Howard (Rowsey) and I, he’s been with us the whole time and he was doing it before I was doing it. I was at Hundred for eight years and the head coach for five. I left there in 1981 to come here. The ride has been great and I want to keep on it.

“I got some things I’d like to do. I’m going to miss coaching Kayli. She was a good little player and did a good job for us. She knew where everybody was supposed to be and had her best year. I was so happy for her. Knowing I’ll miss coaching her for sure, but I’m looking forward to this team coming up.”

Dedication and hard work is something Sauro has lived by and has attempted to stress to each of his players throughout his career.

Not knowing exactly what’s next on the horizon, the coach is always looking at the glass as being half full.

“I think the biggest thing is that nobody has ever been through this before,” he added. “The world has never been shut down the way it has. No matter what you go through, whether it’s this, World War II, 9-11, the Civil War, whatever, the only thing you have a choice over is choosing your attitude over the situation or you can say what can we do and how can we make the best of what’s going on.

“I think I’m seeing a lot of people doing that. A positive attitude beats a negative attitude every time. I see positives and light at the end of the tunnel. I think good things are going to happen. What good is there to have a bad attitude? Push forward and let’s do the best that we can. That’s the thing, being patient and positive, and that’s the thing I’ve seen more than anything.”

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com

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