MBHS GIRLS’ BASKETBALL: Former superstar settles in on Mission Bay’s sidelines
by Amberly Dressler
Published - 12/09/10 - 11:27 AM | 15997 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
First-year Mission Bay High School girls’ basketball coach Sa’de Wiley-Gatewood takes instruction from legendary Tennessee head coach Pat Summit during a game in 2004. In high school, Wiley-Gatewood was a McDonald’s All-American and Parade magazine’s National Player of the Year in 2004 while starring at Lynwood High. 	Courtesy photo
First-year Mission Bay High School girls’ basketball coach Sa’de Wiley-Gatewood takes instruction from legendary Tennessee head coach Pat Summit during a game in 2004. In high school, Wiley-Gatewood was a McDonald’s All-American and Parade magazine’s National Player of the Year in 2004 while starring at Lynwood High. Courtesy photo
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It’s no wonder Mission Bay High School’s first-year girls’ basketball coach Sa’de Wiley-Gatewood giggles when asked about her playing background. Where does she start?

“I was Player of the Year in high school, committed to the University of Tennessee, transferred sophomore year to University of Maryland, where I got my bachelor’s in science,” Wiley-Gatewood said.

The former McDonald’s All-American’s self-bio is exceptionally modest, as her resume matches — if not trumps — that of most professionals. From 2000 to 2004, Wiley-Gatewood nabbed California and CIF Division I Player of the Year honors, and plenty of press and additional notoriety along the way. Her play at Los Angeles-area Lynwood High earned her a full scholarship to the college of her choice.

Chronic knee pain and surgeries, which she’s referred to as “old people knees,” kept Wiley-Gatewood from reaching potential late in her collegiate career and past it. Rather than signing autographs at this stage of the career, she is living out another dream: coaching.

She’s taking the same positive and passionate attitude that helped her succeed in high school and college to Mission Bay’s program, a team that came with a warning label.

“I was very excited because I knew I had a lot of talent [here] and I could develop them to become better players,” Wiley-Gatewood said. “I also knew they needed some kind of discipline because that was what they were known for.”

The disciplinary issues were two-fold.

“To be honest, there was a lot of showing up late,” Wiley-Gatewood said. “There was a lot of arguing on the court and if people come see them now, they’ll see a big difference in them.”

Since mid-November, Wiley-Gatewood has rolled up her sleeves and gone to work.

“We started right away,” Wiley-Gatewood said. “We also played in a tournament. We beat San Diego High, and they are ranked really high in San Diego. We also beat OLP [Our Lady of Peace].

“Last year, Mission Bay had an 11-14 record, which was kind of terrible for a program. So to see us beat San Diego High and OLP, which wins our league, was big for us.”

Wiley-Gatewood attributes team bonding, chemistry and hard work to her team’s early success.

“They are more of a family now, just not individuals,” Wiley-Gatewood said. “They’ve grown as players and as people.”

While the girls are focusing on one game at a time, their season goals are never forgotten. Winning league, for the first time, is a milestone they want to reach.

“I think that we have a great chance to win league this year and to win CIF if we stick together and play together, we’ll be unstoppable. I have great confidence in my team,” she said.

The coach doesn’t mind she has no seniors to her name.

“I think that’s a wonderful thing. I have two years to develop this team,” Wiley-Gatewood said. “I am glad I don’t have any seniors, so I can develop them for two years.”

With youth on their side, Wiley-Gatewood is looking for two specific players to step up to the leadership role.

“Birteesha Solomon [sophomore] is one and Keyhandra Cannon [junior] is another,” Wiley-Gatewood said. “These are my top players on this team. What I am looking for out of them is to lead their teammates and be a good example. They have the leadership, they do. But when they are down on themselves, the team gets down. I need to teach them to stay positive, always.”

The former high school basketball prodigy is also teaching the girls a new style of play.

“We are an uptempo team. We love to rebound and push the ball,” she said. “We are definitely not a setup team. Whoever gets the ball goes, which makes our team so special because everyone can play different positions. I am trying to prepare them for the next level.”

Wiley-Gatewood knows all about a high level of play, but she’s looking forward, not back.

“And, I am just grateful to be a part of their lives, because they are a great group of girls,” Wiley-Gatewood said. “I am just glad to be here.”
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