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Basketball Star Coach: Jeannette Bumagat

'Coach J' spends 70-80 hours a week coaching the AAU South Bay Scholars as well as a high school team in Mountain View—but coaching doesn't end for her off the court. 

A petite woman in black heels paces along the sideline of a basketball court, focused on the players, shouting, "Go strong!" "Move the ball!" and "Watch the corners!” 

She crouches down on the sideline as she talks to the players, making sure they're on their game. As she's watching and talking, she gets a little too close to the court, and the referee calls her out on it. The woman grins and jokingly says to the ref, "I was trying to get in." 

A Milpitas resident, Jeannette Bumagat—"Coach" to her players—is the head of the South Bay Scholars of AAU Boys and Girls Basketball, which she started four years ago with 10 players and has grown to 150 today. 

Her family of players is so big that Milpitas parent Kelly Kitzumi said, "She goes to a [high school] game and everyone knows her. She's like a celebrity."

Her prodigy and oldest daughter, Jalaena Bumagat, is a freshman at Milpitas High School and the point guard/shooting guard for the varsity girls basketball team. 

"Sometimes when I'm watching my mom coach and the way she runs things, it makes me want to consider coaching as a profession when I get older,” she said. 

Jalaena said she admires what her mom has been able to do, not only for the family, but for other people as well.

Bumagat and the 11 other coaches for the South Bay Scholars volunteer their time.

"It's exciting to work with these kids," Bumagat said. "I get to see them grow, not just as athletes, but as people too. That's how I get paid. That's how I tell people I get paid."

Aside from her position as freshman girls basketball coach at Saint Francis High School in Mountain View, Bumagat has turned down paid job opportunities, because she felt that if she took those jobs, in the back of her mind, she would worry about what would happen to her kids. 

Bumagat prides herself on stepping up all her players' athletic abilities as well as their academics. 

"I always tell people we could be called the Hardwood Ballers, or the Heat or the Renegades, but I think the name is very important. That's why I chose the Scholars, because a scholar is someone who embraces learning," Bumagat said.

"You could be a scholar and not play basketball, but academics is very important for me, and I've said if I didn't have a strong academic background and they took my scholarship, I wouldn't be where I am today," she said.

When Bumagat was a junior in high school, her knee popped out of place, and her scholarships to college were taken away.

Bumagat started playing basketball as a kid in Oceanside, by going to the park and playing pick-up games.

"I was very busy doing business, so she got involved in sports," said her mother, Van "Mamacita" Jackson, who helps with the administrative side of AAU South Bay Scholars.

In high school, Bumagat's high school basketball coaches embraced teaching her, knowing her eagerness to learn, she said.

"I had four high school coaches, who basically took care of me," she said. "They made sure I ate and made sure I got to practices, if that meant they had to pick me up from my house and drop me off."

Coaching is not only a way to keep herself in the game, but also a way to repay her own coaches, she said.

"At that time, I could have took it as just doing whatever I wanted to do, but I felt like everything happens for a reason," she said. She decided if she couldn't play basketball, she would coach it, she said. 

That's what Bumagat has been doing for that past 15½ years. 

Kelly Kitzumi, a Milpitas parent, said Bumagat is very structured and focuses not only on fundamentals of basketball, but life lessons. 

"She treats the kids like family," said Kitzumi. "(She's) someone who has a really positive influence on my son."

Bumagat said it was difficult for her to embrace the fact that the boys would want to play for a female coach when there are so many male coaches out there who can make them better athletes. 

"When I talk to them, they tell me that no one motivates them the way that I can," she said. "And I think that it's because I am a female that I have natural mother instincts is why they cling to me, and I don't mind that at all.

"My basketball goes beyond the game when it comes to these kids," she said. "My coaching is way different from other coaches, because I care about the kids as people first before I expect them to win a game."

She said her schedule is busy, from the moment she wakes up and takes her kids to school. "I'm working on rosters. I'm working on team schedules. I'm working on tournaments. And some of the kids go through problems at home, so I'll spend hours on the phone talking to them and getting their minds straight."

Some of the original kids she started with have now graduated or are about to, including one who was in trouble with the law, had bad grades, got into fights and had a very bad temper.

"I told him that if he got into any of that stuff while playing under me, he would be removed from the program," she said. "Until this day, he hasn't been in any fights and he's about to graduate, which was something that we didn't think could happen for him, so I know that the program has changed his life."

Ray Jay Peralta, 18, was that boy. He said the program has helped him both as a person and as a basketball player. 

"I had a troubled past, and Coach is more like a mentor and a coach to me," he said. "My grades use to be really bad, and she helped get me on the right track and taught me little stuff in life that I needed to know. On the court, she helped me become a more mature player—not so cocky. I grew up faster being with her."

Peralta, who has been playing basketball since the third grade, said most coaches are just coaches on the court, but Bumagat is like a mom, too.

"She takes care of us like we're her own kids," he said. 

Peralta has received a scholarship to play basketball overseas after he graduates from high school. 

"My goal in coaching you is not to teach you basketball; my goal is to teach you life lessons through basketball," Bumagat always tells her players. "And if you learn something about basketball, it's just a bonus."

Coach J Bumagat May 25, 2011 at 05:14 PM
If you were truly a part of San Jose Scholars, you would know that I have never gone by the name, “Coach B”. Reggie Burrell (San Jose Scholars) and I met when he use to officiate games at my daughters’ school. I informed him that I coach at Notre Dame San Jose (17-4 was our record) as the head JV girls basketball coach. As him and I became more familiar with each other, he asked if I would be willing to bring that team out to represent the San Jose Scholars AAU basketball club and I said, “Absolutely.” There were NO other teams at the time besides the team I brought from ND San Jose to represent San Jose Scholars. I’m also not really sure what you mean when you say I “led a mutiny and left the program with players”. I brought 11 players into the program and 2 were removed for their own personal choices outside of our team. Before I decided to branch out into my own entity as SOUTH BAY SCHOLARS, I had a dinner meeting with Reggie and Will to discuss why I was going to branch off. I absolutely did not do this behind their back. That meeting lasted about an hour and a half. I have a lot of respect for both gentlemen but they didn’t have answers to the questions that parents and myself wanted answered. I’m not even going to address the St. Francis statement for Editor Adelaide Chen already did. I am honored and proud to be part of St. Francis. more......
Coach J Bumagat May 25, 2011 at 05:15 PM
This is completely an uneducated statement by you. If you have been on the AAU circuit like you say, you would know that in most tournaments when they don’t have enough teams to play in the specified bracket, they will combine brackets and age groups. You would know this! Example: If I have a Varsity team entered into a tournament and there are not enough teams to fill the bracket, they will combine all high school girl teams as well as high school boys teams together (9th-12th) even if it’s a JV team competing against a Varsity team just to fill the bracket. This is not something that I control. This is done by the tournament directors themselves. Out organization has been in plenty of those kinds of tournaments. We even get our butts whooped sometimes, but I always tell my student/athletes that we need those kinds of games to make them better. We basically take it as a challenge. In the 4 years that SOUTH BAY SCHOLARS has been running, NEVER EVER have I received any notice from any tournament director that any of my teams have been black balled from any tournaments. If it’s posted on a blog somewhere or on any website, this is news to me and to be honest, I’m not afraid of it at all. I believe everything happens for a reason and God will continue to guide us in the path that we are suppose to go. If you have the names of these tournament directors, I am more than willing to speak with them. But my guess is, you don’t have those names. more........
Coach J Bumagat May 25, 2011 at 05:16 PM
Your next statement reads: “my niece played on one of her teams so i showed up to a game to find her playing against girls 3 years younger than her”. I refer you to the paragraph above and make note that I have no idea who your niece is. Your final statements consist of the following: “she is also working her program in milpitas now. i think the truth is important she might have some strong connections with kids but the lack of integrity behind the scenes is really bad, good luck Milpitas sounds like its your problem now. i also read that she has a league and a camp in milpitas sounds like whoever is in charge didn't do there homework with who they hired. i think this information is important for parents to understand before they let there kids just go away to a camp or a tournament. this is a nice story but is very slanted and a large part of the story is left out and should be shared”. My response to your statements is this: I get calls on a weekly basis asking me if I could enter my teams to play in AAU tournaments AND Non-AAU tournaments keeping my integrity in tact! Reggie from SAN JOSE SCHOLARS has called me on several occasions asking me to enter my teams into HIS tournaments and even suggested that we host a tournament together! I proudly run an 8-week Youth Basketball Program for the City of Milpitas from January to March and will run basketball camps 4 weeks out of the summer. more........
Coach J Bumagat May 25, 2011 at 05:19 PM
Finally I have a brother who is a Major in the United States Marine Corp on the front lines of these continuous wars. He has been deployed from his family and his two young kids 8 times now. I pray for him every day/night for if it wasn’t for him and the soldiers who serve our country, we would not have the freedom of speech like we do. There is so many other things we should be focusing on in the world than letting people hear false information. To, JJJ, I am willing to sit down with you anytime if you have the courage to discuss these issues and figure out why you felt you had to post these false remarks. However, I welcome all comments… positive & negative. That is what makes me strong everyday. To my brother, I love you for what you have dedicated your life to do. We continue to pray for the men & women daily for your safety & will be waiting to welcome you as you come home. To my family & friends who continuously support me & my cause in what our mission statement for SOUTH BAY SCHOLARS reads: Teaching student-athletes to compete at the highest level, strive to be lifetime learners in the classroom and on the court, develop mentally and spiritually into men and women of character, be outstanding citizens, mature through character development within our team and our community. We will promote and develop the power of amateur basketball in developing the qualities of leadership, sportsmanship, and the drive for academic excellence in our Nation’s young people.
Former player October 13, 2011 at 03:52 AM
Coach J is a phenomenal person. What she taught me on the courts, I still carry with me to this day, until I leave for college soon, and until beyond that. It wasn't just new plays and new skills, it was also the motivation and wise words that shaped my character. She made sure our grades were acceptable. She pushed us to go beyond our limits and challenged us, to make us stronger. She is the mother, knowing each and every one of our names. She knows her player's weaknesses and strengths. With that, she makes her players become not only skilled basketball players but students with a morally good conscience. Even though I don't play for Scholars anymore, Coach J will always be a role model that I look up too. If only my circumstances allow me to play basketball again, I wouldn't stall a second in playing for Scholars. I stand behind Coach J 110% and I wish her the absolute best in the future.

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