Most high school coaches absolutely love to talk to reporters. Most high school players either hate it, are completely inept, or both.
Take Friday’s boys varsity soccer match: both coaches couldn’t get the words to come out fast enough, yet the one player to whom I spoke (his team’s best player) was a deer in the headlights. He actually said, “I don’t know,” when I asked him what he thought of the match.
I said, “You don’t know?”
“Uh-uh,” he said.
“Are you sure?”
“I thought we played good,” was his final statement.
Poor English aside (or maybe because of), I started to feel uncomfortable as hell, and thought to myself, ‘What am I doing here?’ I reflexively asked him about the team’s goals for this year to try to get something anything out of him. He regurgitated some words about league and CIF, but they were nothing I was going to use. My aim was simply to end the conversation with substance of some kind, and then get the hell out of there.
It was a canker sore on the mouth of what had been relatively cheerful post-match interviews.
Both coaches were surprised that someone was there to cover such an early-season match, answered all of my questions and then some they posed to themselves, like “Can we get better? I think so.” Needless to say, they were easy to interrogate.
Then I had to talk to the player. I just had to. He had scored a goal in each of his team’s first two matches, he’s a tremendous attacking player, and I wanted to see what he was all about. Maybe I scared him. Maybe his English was indeed poor. Either way, he wasn’t talking, at least not to me.
Maybe next time I’ll bring the interpreter.