Concha-Foley: a true Warrior
Editor’s note: This is the first in a four-part series honoring the Tahoe Daily Tribune’s 2009-’10 Whittell and South Tahoe high school athletes of the year. Profiled below is Whittell High School’s female of the year.
To realize what basketball means to Isabel Concha-Foley and how much she wants to improve her skills, consider the pickup games she regularly plays in at Kahle Community Center.
Most of the time the Whittell High School graduated senior is the only female on the court.
“I’ve learned to play more like a guy because they are so aggressive, just getting beat around by them,” Concha-Foley said. “And it’s given me a feel for the ball. The people at the gym have helped me get better, and I can tell they care about me improving.”
The 5-foot-10 Concha-Foley’s physical play made her a first-team All-Northern 2A League choice in basketball and volleyball. In the spring, Concha-Foley used her muscle to place runner-up in the state in shot put.
Those achievements made her the Tahoe Daily Tribune’s choice as female athlete of the year at Whittell High School for the second straight year. She is only the fifth Warriors’ female to win the award more than once over the past 20 years.
Opposing basketball teams tried to slow down Concha-Foley by designing double and triple teams especially for her, but her physical strength and mental toughness enabled her to still be effective. Despite playing in four fewer games than her junior season, Concha-Foley broke her school record with 290 total rebounds. She averaged 14 points and 14 rebounds per game.
“Great temperament and a pleasure to coach,” said WHS coach Tom Esposito. “You ask her to do anything and she will get it done. She’s not only brilliant, her work ethic and her love for the game are all things you get from Isabel.”
Concha-Foley demonstrated her high-level ability in the recent All-Star Game for seniors at Bishop Manogue High School. Mainly playing against Class 4A players, Concha-Foley scored 10 points, including 6 of 6 at the foul line, while adapting to a faster pace and a new position – forward.
“She represented Whittell very well,” Esposito said. “She dove out of bounds three times. That’s the only way she knows how to play.”
As Concha-Foley takes the next step in her adult life, she will be able to bring together two of her loves – basketball and brother Roberto. Concha-Foley is planning to attend Cabrillo College in Aptos, Calif., where her older brother is vying for the starting quarterback position.
“Roberto has always been an inspiration to me and been a motivation in my life,” Concha-Foley said. “Having him there at Cabrillo next to me will help me out.”
Concha-Foley was much more than a basketball player for the Warriors in 2009-10. While the Warriors were unable to make the regional basketball tournament, Concha-Foley experienced regional and state successes individually and team-wise in volleyball and track and field.
With the power-hitting Concha-Foley a frontline force, the Warriors advanced to the state championship volleyball match for the seventh straight season. Although the Warriors lost to The Meadows in the finals, ending a six-year state dynasty, Concha-Foley and her teammates were able to overcome the devastating loss of league MVP Lauren Andrew to a knee injury in the regional tournament.
“We all put our hearts into that game. We were all in it together. We were like a family,” Concha-Foley said. “We tried to stay strong and win it for Lauren.”
For her efforts at the state tournament, Concha-Foley was awarded first-team all-state honors.
Even though Concha-Foley already knew that basketball was the focus of her future, that didn’t stop her from contributing to one final regional and state championship in the spring. With runner-up finishes in the shot put and discus, Concha-Foley helped Whittell win its seventh straight girls’ regional track and field title, then a week later she capped her high school athletic career by placing second in shot put as the Whittell girls won their sixth state championship in seven years at Damonte Ranch High in Reno.
The three-sport high school athlete can now focus on one sport at Cabrillo and see what the future holds. “I just want to take it step by step and see how I do at Cabrillo and stay on top of my grades,” she said. “I’ll make sure I’m getting it all done, then I’ll transfer to a university.”
Esposito is looking forward to following her progress. “There’s no telling what she can do in two years,” he said.