Folsom United offers brighter future for high school basketball programs

By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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Vista del Lago’s varsity girls’ basketball program has made four trips to the playoffs the last five years, but has only one postseason win to show for it. Folsom High’s program has had less success in recent years, having not made the playoffs since 2007.

Kevin Totushek wants to change all that.

Through his own resources, the 49-year-old Folsom resident has built the Folsom United AAU basketball program from one fifth-grade team in 2009 to a 10-team organization last year. This year he plans to have 12 teams featuring about 90 players, two teams for each grade from third grade up through eighth grade. At each level, Totushek has a competitive team and a developmental team.

“I started Folsom United to give girls with a passion for the game an option to play competitively,” Totushek said. “The main goal is to create an interest and opportunity for girls to play competitive basketball, especially at a younger age.”

Totushek and his wife, Maria, have four daughters; Madison, 17, Makena, 15, Mikayla, 13, and Rosie, 10. All four girls play basketball and that’s what started Totushek on the path to Folsom United. Madison is a junior at Folsom High and plays on the varsity team, while Makena is a sophomore at Vista and has since stopped playing competitive basketball in favor of soccer. Mikayla will be a freshman next year and has yet to decide whether she will attend Folsom or Vista, but is very much into basketball.

Folsom United’s main season runs from March through June when teams have two practices per week, along with league games and tournaments on the weekends. From October through February, the teams practice once a week and most of the players play for their middle school teams in January and February.

The girls learn the fundamentals while playing with the United with ball-handling being a main focus.

“They all learn how the handle the ball, even the post players,” Totushek said. “We want every player to be comfortable handling the ball. I want the defender to be nervous when our kids have the ball. I tell them, ‘if one person can guard you, you’re not where you need to be.’”
Totushek has seen the fruits of his labor. Folsom United teams have won numerous tournaments and many of the players on Folsom Middle School’s eighth grade and Sutter’s seventh grade championship teams play in the organization.

Dan Larocca’s daughter, Sydney, plays with the Folsom United and helped Folsom Middle School’s eighth-grade team to a league championship last month. Larocca said playing with the United has been a great experience for his daughter.

“Kevin has coached Sydney since she was in third or fourth grade,” Larocca said. “I can tell you that his passion and knowledge of the game, his constant emphasis on fundamentals, as well as the rapport he builds with the girls are all unmatched."

The long-term goal of the Folsom United program is to benefit the high school teams at Folsom and Vista del Lago. Lynn Wolking and Marty Benjamin, the varsity coaches at Folsom and Vista del Lago, respectively, are thrilled at what Totushek has built.

“Just being around the younger girls, their knowledge of the game is so much better,” Wolking said. “The difference in the players is huge. Kevin is developing better talent that will give us a chance to win. I’m very thankful of his efforts.”

Benjamin added, “The quality of players and the skill level is so much higher and that’s why Lynn and I are excited about it. There will be an influx of better players at both schools for years to come.”

The incoming freshmen, combined with the returning underclassmen, who are talented in their own right, point to a bright future for both programs.

Totushek hopes to see more success for Folsom’s high school teams.

“I take the girls into the gyms and ask them what’s missing,” Totushek said. “A championship banner. We’re trying to change that. It’s worth the effort and it’s fun.”