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DHS boys father-son combo George and Tyler Sousa

By December 26, 2010

Enterprise staff writer

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“Sure … I guess I\’ve been a little bit harder on Tyler than the other guys,” dad George admits. “There\’ll always be potholes when you\’re coaching your son.”

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But Davis High swingman Tyler Sousa and his father — Blue Devil assistant basketball coach George Sousa — apparently have it figured out.

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Both are having the times of their lives, while the local hardcourt program reaps the benefit of having the father-son combination working on the same page.

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“We don\’t want it to be the coach-player all the time,” the elder Sousa explains. “We rarely talk basketball at home.

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“On the court, our relationship — and Tyler\’s play — (are) personally gratifying to me. There\’s a lot of these guys who have been together as a group for some time, so it\’s been rewarding to be coaching them.

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“But, yes, my antenna is always up.”

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Sousa, 17, and dad George — for five seasons the varsity coach at Archbishop Mitty in San Jose — have been a player-coach combo since little Tyler got a Michael Jordan outfit when he was 3.

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Dad loves talking about the uniform. Tyler looks for a place to hide while George tells the story…

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“What, Tyler? You wore it for like 250 straight days?”

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Apparently the junior Sousa had a plastic kids\’ basketball hoop and relentlessly practiced his game while wearing the jersey. So dedicated was Tyler, that one day he thought total transformation was necessary.

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“I went into his room and there he was, uniform on, with brown markers, coloring himself,” Dad

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recalls with Tyler looking skyward, hoping the story wouldn\’t be retold. “He wanted to be Michael Jordan.”

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Tyler, whose twin sister Sara plays wing for the Lady Blue Devils, says he was never pushed

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into basketball:

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“I played Little League, soccer, football, even hockey. Mom (Wendy) and Dad wanted us to

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try everything. There was never pressure as far as basketball.”

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But Sousa\’s love for football almost had catastrophic results when he blew out his knee in

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2009. The grid injury cost him his sophomore basketball season and made him narrow his sports focus. This summer, a recovered Tyler Sousa turned to hoops 24/7.

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“It\’s been good having (Dad) coach me. When I\’m out there, I try not to think of him as my dad … but as another coach,” Tyler continues.

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“I\’ve learned a lot from him, like it takes a lot of energy to win and that the desire to win has to be there. It\’s really how (DHS) wins our games — desire and hustle.”

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The older Sousa talked with his son before the serious commitment of playing high school basketball was at hand:

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“I told him, \’If you\’re telling me you want to do this, then you have to put the work in.\’ ”

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Tyler said he did and has, since, “put the work in.”

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Dad\’s been a proud guy, especially in the way his son has come back from the injury.

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But for many, coaching your kid in a sport can be a slippery slope.

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George Sousa backed off when Tyler and Sara were 10 or 11, wanting to see them “coached by others.”

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In the eyes of some outside of programs like Davis\’, if you\’re the coach and start your own kid, it\’s because he\’s, well, your kid. Some coaches are aware of the perception and the problems it can cause, thereby giving their kids less playing time, even though they may deserve much more.

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Because George Sousa is an assistant coach, those playing-time issues are left up to head coach Dan Gonzalez, avoiding at least one pothole.

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In his 11th year running the Devil varsity program, Gonzalez says Tyler “deserves his starting role. He\’s kind of our X-factor.”

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Because of Sousa\’s injury last year, basketball was without the gutsy shooter and Gonzalez didn\’t know what to expect coming into last summer.

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During a summer session that saw the Blue Devils go 16-9,

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including 7-1 in the Dixon League and a successful trip to a national-level tournament in Las Vegas, Gonzalez saw Sousa emerge “as maybe our best shooter … we were all curious to see how he\’d do during the season.”

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Curious no more, Gonzalez is delighted with both Sousas\’ contributions, saying Tyler\’s recent 15-point night was a hint of things to come, while his solid rebounding (averaging five a game) “has come as a bonus.”

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Gonzalez credits George Sousa for his insight and ability “to coach these guys … and always (having) the right suggestion. (George) makes me a better coach every day.”

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And makes Tyler a better player …

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Fortunately, this is one father-son combo that obviously has found the key to working

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together.

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— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or (530) 747-8047. Comment on this story at www.davisenterprise.com

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