“It hurt a little,” remembers Zach, a sophomore in The Bishop’s School basketball program. “He said it shouldn’t hurt, so I kept playing.
“I played in a recreation league all-star game the next day without having the finger checked,” said the younger Tempel.
Finally, their father, “Big Perry,” nicknamed for his imposing 6-foot-5-inch height and post play during his basketball days, noticed the swelling and said, “Maybe we ought to have it checked,” which resulted in the X-rays showing a break.
It wasn’t about a false machismo on the part of the brothers. They’re both just into sports, thrive on competition, and they live by the “keep playing” attitude. Says Conrad, a junior on the Knights’ varsity team under coach Nick Levine, “I thought he was being a wuss (in saying it hurt a little). We just kept playing.”
So, the moral of the story is go get your hurting finger checked out, which the Tempels did. Another is that as a coach, in Levine’s position, you want as many grinders with hard-working attitudes like the Tempel brothers in your program as you can. You can depend on them for hard-nosed contributions.
“The few and the proud” comes to mind when Conrad, 17, and Zach, 15, the latter who is a “swingman” like several of his teammates between the junior varsity and varsity to fill in as needed on a small varsity squad with only two seniors, describe their roles in the basketball program.
Conrad, who likes science but who is a “math guy” over social sciences by his own admission, plays alongside seniors Justin Woodley, a tried-and-true athlete on both the basketball and football squads and Isaiah Anderson. In baseball as well as basketball, the older Tempel brother fills whatever role is needed, a kind of utility man, which in baseball he literally is.
He plays point guard, bringing the ball up court sometimes, shooting guard, and small forward on the varsity squad, which has played hard this season in his junior year, but which has also entailed its growing experiences.
Zach is a guard primarily on Bishop’s junior varsity team, who says he can create his own shot, but who also focuses on finding teammates when they’re in position to shoot and who welcomes their feedback if he fails to spot them. “I don’t want to be average,” the dusty-haired sophomore says. One way he can improve is when teammates tell him “I was open,” yet he didn’t find them, so that he can widen his vision and court awareness.
Both seem to be modest, team-oriented young men and Levine wants to have all the tools he can in the program’s arsenal for it to succeed. “When they go at each other in practice, it’s pretty intense,” says Bishop’s head coach. “They push each other. But then they’ll be the first to pick each other up, too.”
A moment in the season when practice for the varsity became more than Levine drilling the players came in preparation for the Knights’ opening game in the Coastal League against Francis Parker. The tight-knit unit pushed one another for a matchup that, Conrad says, “we definitely wanted to win.”
“When we were preparing for Parker, it was tough physically and mentally,” the redhead recounts. “Then we played well and won. We pushed one another.” Bishop’s won the rivalry game by a big margin, 51-31, at home. It was a satisfying victory.
Outside the basketball season, Conrad plays for Ron Witmeyer’s baseball team. As a sophomore, appearing in 14 of the Knights’ 31 games last spring, Tempel played every infield position except shortstop, caught and pitched, garnering a 2-0 record on the mound with a good 2.33 ERA in five appearances.
Says Witmeyer, “I have a son (Clay) who’s also a junior, so I know Conrad pretty well. It’s a pleasure to coach him. He will do whatever the team needs. He practiced being a backup catcher, even though he knew there wasn’t going to be a lot of opportunity.
“This season we’re planning on Conrad pitching a lot of innings for us. He doesn’t really have a position on the field. He’s a utility player. He probably could even fill in in the outfield.”
The younger brother—the Tempels also have a younger sister, Margo, who is a fifth-grader at La Jolla Elementary—follows in their mother Kim’s competitive footsteps in playing tennis. Kim played Division III tennis for Pomona College. Also as a result, both brothers are interested in the Claremont-Scripps schools for college.
“She (Kim) is always really positive,” says Zach. “She is probably the other person (besides me) who doesn’t want me to be average.”
Dad, who Coach Levine calls “Big Perry,” encourages his sons, too. “He’s an old-fashioned person,” says his middle child. “He definitely motivates me. He doesn’t want me to say anything negative (in molding him as a person).”
“I’m pretty interested in the science field,” says Conrad of his academic interests. “I’m taking a computer science class this year. It’s challenging but interesting. I could see going into (something related to) that.”
The 17-year-old, besides his two main sports of basketball and baseball, also played football as a freshman on the junior varsity. He has a “big” voice, which an observer mentioned he might use to pursue radio work or something else in broadcasting. With two school grades on his brother, he’s the bigger specimen physically at this point, with a self-assured presence.
Off-campus, Conrad uses his voice to sing in the choir at First United Methodist Church. “I go to church every Sunday to rehearse songs, and then one time every month we sing in the congregation,” he says.
How did he get into that activity? “I wasn’t really involved much in the church until ninth grade. My mom thought it would be a good idea if I joined because I hadn’t done many church activities before then.”
Zach (“I don’t go by Zachary at all”) seems to be carving out his own role as the middle “sandwich” child of three. “Definitely, I like history and economics. (His father is a financial planner). I just like business in general. I kind of want to get into law, also.”
Says the younger brother of his non-sports activities, “I have done speech and debate, and I am in the Young Republicans Club at school.”
The Tempels definitely favor chocolate ice cream: Conrad with Kit Kats or pieces of Oreo cookie, Zach with peanut butter cups.
The elder opts for carne asada burritos, or a California burrito made up of beef, French fries, and guacamole. The younger brother is into wings, a little bit spicy being suitable to his palate.