Ventura Shock: 1997-1998
Front row: Chelsea Manzer, “Louie” Nesbitt, Lindsey Brown, Samantha Bowen
Team members back row, left to right: Assistant coach Bowen, Nikki McVey,
Jodi Rother, Laura DiChiacchio, Krista Bekcstead, Hannah Pits, Coach Bobby
Not shown is Corey Edwards who joined the team in time| for the Seattle trip.
~~~ More photos are shown at the end of this report and in the Photo Gallery ~~~
Ventura Shock (1997-1998)
Ventura Shock began in 1997 as the fifth team to form in Ventura in the sixth grade division. For reasons stated below, Shock ’99 was the most heart-tugging team in 20 years of producing club/travel teams, yet one that produced great and wonderful memories. No team has experienced so much tempest with such lingering emotions as Shock ’98.
The story of Shock ’98 is one unmatched by any I have experienced.
It began when a 10 year old girl signed up for a recreational basketball program to see if she would enjoy the sport. She had been highly successful as a soccer player and she thought perhaps basketball might be fun as well.
However, her first experience in basketball was heartbreaking because her coach told her, “You are a soccer player, not a basketball player. I will only play you as much time as I have to. You need to go back to soccer and stay out of basketball.”
It was a sad way for an adult to treat a child in a recreational program that is intended for all levels.
I had noticed that player in the City signups and, without knowing what she had been told, I drew exactly the opposite opinion. I thought she had a great amount of potential and it was because of her that I have used the following observance with many players: She has hope; she just needs help.
She responded to persona| training and became a superior player with one of the most beautiful shooting strokes ever. She played for Buena High School before a series of infirmities sidelined her.
With that player’s potential and others like her, it was decided that a club team would be helpful. Shock ’98 officially began the day “Louie” Nesbitt, one of Ventura’s most wonderful players decided to become a member of the team as our starting point guard. Louie was immediately accepted and loved by everyone and it was her play at the point that gave the team a great increase in competitiveness. (None of the other Shock players had ever played competitive basketball.)
However, to this day, Louie Nesbitt is the one player who brings back memories that are so difficult. For reasons not in her control, it was necessary to sideline her until a certain matter was resolved. It was agonizing to see our trip to Seattle approaching and not being able to get Louie back on the team and, in the end, the trip to Seattle took place without her– a very, very sad thing for all of us. To make matters worse, we learned that Louie was the only player who had never before been on an airplane.
Everyone loved her but we never again enjoyed her as a teammate and it is painful, even after so many years.
The special fire that was in the Shock group was seen in the actions of Lindsey Brown’s father who came up with an ingenious plan to raise about half of the team’s cost for traveling to Seattle. Mr. Brown somehow convinced a sizable local basketball program that he could administrate their ailing annual fundraiser (despite having no prior experience) in exchange for them giving half of the profits to him. Mr. Brown brought those profits to the Shock girls so that they could all fly to Seattle.
During Spring break, the team flew to Seattle and played seven games against older AAU teams (sixth graders playing in 7th-8th grade divisions) and Shock returned with a 4-3 record.
The team stayed at a new hotel on the harbor within eye-shot of the Space Needle. We did rock climbing and met “Jason of the fishmarket”, star of the Real World television show which was very popular with middle schoolers then. He and his cohorts threw fish across the market brushing several girls with icy scales. We traveled in three extended Econolines which were paid off on my Visa years later (we just had no idea they would cost so much). Chelsea kept everyone singing her original composition about “Jason at the fish market … mmuuuuuaaaaHHHH!”
The team’s itinerary included games in Olympia, Evergreen, Tacoma, Lynnwood, and Seattle. In our first engagement, a referee told our coaches he had never seen a sixth grade girls team as good as Shock to which we replied: “We’re not even the fourth best in our own city. Ventura is that insane when it comes to girls basketball.”
We played the biggest and most-heralded Seattle 7th-8th grade travel team whose coaches were arrogant and snirked because our girls were smaller and younger. When I introduced myself before the game, the coach refused to shake my hand. Instead, he looked at our smaller girls and sneered and asked, “What grade are your twirps?” I told him, “Sixth grade” to which he responded, “Why in the ____ are we playing you?” He turned around and scoffed away. The Seattle team got started with a 14 point lead in just the first four minutes. But in the end, we lost by 15 which means we played their older athletes straight up for 36 minutes and the opposing coach was beside himself with rage against his own girls. We didn’t win on the scoreboard, but it was fun to watch him go into cardiac (almost).
The team flew home with great contentment for a successful and fun trip. The pilot announced our accomplishments over the cabin speakers with the accompaniment of applause from all of the passengers.
In March, the team traveled to the Lompoc Tournament and had dinner together at a nearby pizzeria. The next day– and for the one and only time in 20 years of travel ball– the entire team was suspended the next day. While the issue was important, all players responded to reinstatement requirements and, despite tears and hard feelings and the emotions of working through things, the team was reinstated in 48 hours and became more unified than ever.
Shock ’98 disbanded in late Summer when it was learned that a good number of team members were being aggressively recruited by other teams including the Ventura Stars, one of the most renowned organizations in Southern California before it too disbanded. At the time, they admitted to recruiting two players (perhaps other Shock players as well). Those two players had been complete unknowns in the competitive world one year earlier; likewise for their teammates who went from being unskilled, inexperienced, unnoticed, and/or unwanted a year before, to becoming targets for aggressive recruiting.
I’m usually drawn by players who “need” a team, which was why Shock started. When the Shock girls rose to the level of competitive ball and owith other teams recruiting them, the need for Shock was greatly diminished and the team was disbanded.
But none of us who were involved with Shock 98 will forget the fire and the tempest and the feelings of the Shock ’98 team. Those memories and emotions have not subsided in the man years since.
— coach Bobby
—— SHOCK ’98 ——
A Journey of Fire, Tempest, and Feelings
#50 Nikki McVey
Shock was formed as an expansion for player development that began with great
focus on Nikki McVey. Despite discouragements, obstacles, and infirmities, Nikki
was the cornerstone of Shock ’99 and she went on to play for Buena High School
and then graduated from Long Beach State University.
#23 “Louie” Nesbitt
Continued to play and became an important player for Ventura High School. “Louie”
remains the one player whose memory raises the greatest misgivings of any in all 20 years.
42 Cory Edwards
(no picture available)
Cory joined Shock two months before our trip to Seattle. At 5’10 and with the
hands and feet of a guard, Cory was instrumental in playing point-center for
Shock. Cory had a brilliant four-year career with Buena High School before
playing four years with Chico State where she became captain of the CSU
Wildcats. She is currently living in the Ventura area and still playing basketball.
#0 Krista Beckstead and # 25 Chelsea Manzer
Krista was the fastest and most powerful of all Shock players. She played
with a fire and passion that raised her effectiveness far above her skills.
She had a challenging life outside of basketball. She was loved by everyone.
Chelsea became the hub of the team and the spark-plug for crazy fun and a
few suspect antics. She graduated from Cal Poly SLO and was last reported
to be living in Australia and engaged to be married.
#50 Nikki McVey and #21 Samantha Bowen
Samantha was a cat-like defender who led the team in steals.
It was in Olympia, Washington that Samantha took a giant
stride in competitive basketball.
#23 “Louie” Nesbitt and #10 0 Lindsey Brown
Lindsey finished her scholastic basketball career in Indiana with reports
that she had become a star point guard.
#33 Laura Dichiacchio and #52 Hannah Pitts
Laura (left) graduated with honors from Anacapa but never went to high
school. Instead, she went directly from 8th grade into college. Laura was
one of the most popular players among coaches in VYBA, Wildcats, and club.
Hannah was one of the most rugged and aggressive post players in Ventura.
#44 Jodi Rother
Jodie was a fast left-handed forward who got after rebounds
and, when she was “on” could light up the scoreboard. Jodi
retired from competitive basketball after Shock disbanded.