Woodcreek's Pinkerton stepping down due to health

Paul Hayes will be back on the bench for the T-wolves
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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Having just completed knee replacment surgery on one side, and with another to come on the other, Woodcreek High basketball coach Burnel Pinkerton resigned Monday. "We knew back on November 30 that things were probably worse than we first thought," Pinkerton said. "The pain was getting worse and worse and after the season I had some time to think. I didn't think it was fair to the kids, to the program or to me when I couldn't really coach the way I should." With the team coming off a magical season in which the Timberwolves reached the Northern California final, the coach decided that it was time to take care of his health. "With all of the work he has put in, going out with a league and section title and on top is a great way for him to go out," said Granite Bay coach Jason Sitterud. "People never know all he did for the kids. That is the greatest thing about him. The kids are drawn to him and he gave his time and interest always to the kids both on and off the court." His love of coaching and of the players in his charge has not waned, but the call of his body become too loud to ignore. "This is not a situation with burnout or anything like that," Pinkerton said. "It was 31 years ago that I had my first surgery (the next one with be his 10th procedure) and I am just looking forward to getting my body healthy." The coach is very good friends with Oakmont coach Rick Campbell, who is hoping to be able to tap Pinkerton as a resource down the road. "It's often difficult to keep friends in this business," Campbell said. "You are friendly with other coaches, but he and I kept all the competition stuff on the side and were really close friends. I am happy for him and he will be able to do more hunting and fishing, but he will be around and hopefully be a resource for me." Pinkerton is not ready to say he is hanging up his whistle for good, but for now he felt it was the way to go. "When you can't get out there and demonstrate post moves and jump stops, you can't be as hands-on as you need to be," Pinkerton said. "I asked the doctor how bad the knees were and on a scale of one to 10, he told me it was a nasty 8 1/2." The coach told his players Monday, and he said they pretty much knew it was coming and understood the situation. It was his love for those players who drove Pinkerton to work so hard as a coach. "He was one of the better coaches in the area," Campbell said. "He did things for the right reason. The time with the kids is the reason we do this. It's all of the other side stuff that makes this job a grind." He will be replaced on the bench by Paul Hayes, the former Woodcreek coach who last led the Timberwolves deep into the postseason. Hayes has been running the school's junior varsity program since making his return to the sidelines two years ago. Some changes in his life had necessitated that he step down, but now he will resume the reins of the varsity squad. "Paul is the greatest guy in the world," Pinkerton said. "He has been there before and it will be an easy transition. He has a great nucleus of kids coming back and he will be very familar with all of them, having coached them at the JV level." As the coach steps away, at least for now, it is not wins and losses that he remembers, but the kids he coached. "The winning is not why I do this," Pinkerton said. "We are building young men. My high school coach was a great influence in my life and taught me a lot about character and I wanted to do the same thing."