NATOMAS – Dwayne Bishop was standing near the basketball courts outside of Sacramento’s Inderkum High School in Natomas when one of the students quietly approached him while he was doing an interview with a local reporter.
The male student’s interruption was respectful and greeting straight to the point. “Hi ya doing coach,” the teenager said. Bishop acknowledged him with a smile and shook his hand before the youngster quickly departed.
That’s just the type of respect Bishop — the new head coach for the Inderkum High School Varsity Boys Basketball team — gets from the students at the campus located in North Natomas in Sacramento. In return, Bishop bestows them honor.
“I treat them as if they are mine because if their parents are not around I’m responsible for them,” Bishop said. “It’s nothing but respect. It’s all respect. I show them that I care and to respect their elders.”
Respect is how Bishop, 59, got the heading coaching duties for the Inderkum Tigers. After claiming the Tri-County Conference title (four out of the last five years) and a 20-8 record, Rodney Haymer resigned last summer with five seasons under his belt.
Inderkum Athletic Director Matt Hinton looked at 12 applications for the job, including Bishop’s. Bishop was already familiar with the program by being the junior varsity coach, serving as an assistant under Haymer, and was named Inderkum High Classified Employee of the Year.
When Hinton finally made his decision, he called Bishop to his office to hand the locker room keys to the new boys’ basketball coach. Hinton said the vetting process was “absolutely tough,” but he’s sure Bishop can keep Inderkum’s student-athletes at a high-level athletically and academically.
“We interviewed him, he was our best candidate and we went from there,” Hinton said of Bishop’s hiring. “He has a good rapport with our players here and intimate knowledge of our underclassmen because he’s coached freshmen and junior varsity basketball. Dwayne is going to be a great addition to our program.”
Like many high school coaches, Bishop is no doubt a basketball junkie. He played basketball at both John F. Kennedy and Richmond high schools in the Bay Area, did a stint playing for Lassen College in Susanville, and took a shot at playing professionally until he realized that a lingering knee injury was going to cut his on-court career short.
For the love of it all and a passion for developing athletes, Bishop turned to coaching youth basketball. He’s been at for about 20 years, but never had the opportunity to be a varsity basketball coach. Bishop has been on the Inderkum’s campus for the last seven years.
“Wow. It’s actually a fairy-tale-type thing,” Bishop said. “But this is my first head coaching job at the high school level. I would say it’s a dream come true. It’s an opportunity to turn the program into what I picture it to be and not have to try to convince someone else what my picture would look like. It’s a moment I will never, ever forget when the AD told me they were going to give me the spot. It’s an endless joy I can’t really express.”
Inderkum High School enrolled 1,989 students at the beginning of the school year. More than 800 students participate in athletics at the Division II level. The campus on the northwestern side of Interstate 80 (slightly east of Interstate 5), which splits the Natomas community into North and South sections, is considered “the school that never sleeps,” Bishop said.
“Every time that you ride by here there is always something going on at the football field or inside the school. On Sunday’s church services are held here,” Bishop said. “They play croquet on the field too. This school is the centerpiece of the community and most active facility in the Natomas area.”
Since the high school’s enrollment has jumped over the years, the increase forces the 17 athletic programs out of Division III status. D-II is now the new sports journey. Inderkum High School, under the administration of the Natomas Unified School District, first opened its doors in 2004.
“The competition is going to the next level,” Bishop said. “So it will be interesting going to Division II and a challenge to take these boys to the next level with the talent base that we have.”
Bishop said due to California Intercollegiate Federation’s rules, the program is in a “dead ball” phase while the high school basketball season is looming. Inderkum plays it first game on Nov. 28 against Monterey Trail of Elk Grove.
The Tigers have three starters returning from last season, including a five or six players from the football team. Inderkum’s football team is one of the top programs in the Sacramento region.
Bishop will also have the service of a sophomore athlete rated No. 11 in NorCal and Isaiah Crocker, who is ranked No. 10. Crocker is also on Tigers’ football team.
Hinton said Bishop was running alongside Jameel Pugh for the head coaching position. But opted to go with Bishop because he had much more coaching experience. Pugh played basketball at nearby Grant Union High School, Sacramento State University, and in the NBA D-League.
Pugh is also an on-campus employee at Inderkum. He asked Bishop could he join him as an assistant despite not getting the position. Bishop took Pugh’s offer.
“We had a talk and both decided that it would be good to have us both there together,” Pugh said of the discussion. “The good thing about being under coach Bishop is that he has this real patience and discipline way of thinking. He’s seen the game for many years and there is some continuity with him knowing the guys here. I want to learn that from him.”
By Antonio Harvey