After Mountlake Terrace secured the Northwest 3A District title, the Hawks cut down the net on one end of the floor. One-by-one players climbed a ladder and clipped a souvenir.
Once the net was down and passed around, coach Nalin Sood told his players he wanted to make sure it ended up in the school’s trophy case.
The Hawks had other plans.
“Nope, coach. This is for your dad.”
A few weeks ago, just before the regular season ended, Sood was at a Sunday team meeting when he received a call from his father, Vic.
Vic didn’t feel well, so Sood rushed over to his house. He was having a stroke. He spent the next two weeks in the hospital.
“It’s been a reminder of what’s important,” Sood said.
The day after Vic arrived at the hospital, Sood wanted to stay with his father. The 80-year-old told his son to coach his team.
“You go coach those boys,” Vic said. “I’ll be fine. You go coach those boys. Nothing changes for you.”
Sood listened. He returned to his team.
“You can’t control these things,” Sood said. “These kids deal with challenges 20 times during the year and I had to deal with a challenge off the court. These guys have come through and I had to step up and come through also.”
Vic, who is Mountlake Terrace’s No. 1 fan and the coach’s No. 1 critic, missed five games while recovering. But he was sitting a few rows back at mid-court last week when the Hawks secured the district title.
“(The kids) have been great for me, that I can come to the gym and sort of feel like I have some control over things, because I wasn’t having a lot of control over what was going on with my dad’s health,” Sood said.
Mountlake Terrace (22-1), ranked No. 5 in 3A, faces its most important game of season at 8 p.m. Friday, a win-and-your-in scenario against Decatur (18-6) at Jackson High School with a trip to Tacoma on the line.
“That hour and a half is going to be the most important thing in the world to me,” Sood said. “But when you’re done with it, you can let some things go, good or bad, a little quicker, because there have been a lot of days after tough games I’ve been happy just to see him walk up and down three stairs.”
As happy as Sood is to see his father healthy and back around the program, the kids are enjoying the benefits. Vic recently brought the Hawks two-dozen doughnuts — a sweet treat for the playoff push.
“It’s just been a blessing that he’s doing great,” Sood said. “The timing was just a reminder.”
— Seattle Times photo by Ron Wurzer