Bingham coaches West to all-star win (Basketball)

March 31, 2010
Coach Dorena Bingham

Renowned hoops coach Dorena Bingham of Anchorage was back on the sidelines tonight for the first time in two years at the girls McDonald’s All-American game in Columbus, Ohio.

Bingham, of East High fame, coached up the West squad during an 84-75 win in a game that featured the top high school seniors in the country. She was co-head coach along with Cathy Self-Morgan of Duncanville, Texas.

Bingham, 46, is the first Alaskan to coach in the prestigious all-star game.

“Oh my God, first of all can I just say it’s been really, really crazy fun,” she told me. “It’s been so fun. The whole week has been fun. The game was the greatest part of it. It’s been unbelievable. McDonald’s just does everything right.”

As part of the festivities players from both sides got the opportunity to meet former NBA guys like Alonzo Mourning and Jay Williams and current WNBA star Jessica Davenport, who headed an advisory council seminar where the conversation touched on agents and the pitfalls of social media.

“It was inspiring and very truthful, and very honest,” she said. “The kids interacted. It was something else.”

As tradition the All-American players and coaches visited a local Ronald McDonald House Charities hospital to greet families with children receiving specialized medical treatment. Each meeting with every child was life changing.

“I met a girl who is never going to walk again,” said Bingham, her voice trailing off. “She got shot through the spine.”

She wasn’t the only one touched by the experience.

“That’s what it’s all about. The kids said the best part (of being an All-American) was going and being able to give back and understanding what service is all about and really understanding it. Everywhere you go it’s media, media, media. These kids could get big-headed but they don’t.”

Besides, Bing wouldn’t let that happen. She didn’t reach the mountain top of high school coaching by accident. At East, she bagged three ASAA state championships and won 280 games in 14 seasons. Then she walked away from the T-bird program she built into a perennial power two years ago.

Since then she has kept active by coaching a summer league team, earning a reputation for producing college-ready seniors which caught the attention of the McDonald’s All-American game organizers who recognized her hard work by selecting her as co-head coach among hundreds and hundreds of candidates.

“It is validation,” Bingham said. “I must be doing something right.”

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