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Dishing Out A Different Kind of Assist

HELPING OTHERS: San Marino High School’s varsity basketball team, with the assistance of Byron Takeuchi of B-Man’s, recently made dinner for fifty homeless and transitional community members. PICTURED ABOVE, left to right, are TOP ROW: Ethan Deng, Nevan Husson, Brendan Fagerberg, Eric Fu and Brian Zhang. MIDDLE ROW: Coach Brandon Garner, Michael Baldocchi, Sherry Ma, Jason Wee, Cristian Mata, Ethan Mo, Sean O’Brien, Lemuel Li and Byron Takeuchi. FRONT ROW: Sophia Papadopulos, Katherine Marston and Angelos Papadopulos.

San Marino High School’s varsity basketball team assembled for a special event last weekend, but one would be challenged to find a net, rim or scoreboard anywhere near the venue.

Pots, pans and colanders?

All over the place.

It’s an annual rite for the Titans—and their coaches and managers—that has been undertaken each of the eight years Mihail Papadopulos has been head coach of the program. With the assistance of Byron Takeuchi, namesake of the popular B-Man’s restaurant, the Titans assemble at Union Station in Pasadena and help prepare a meal for approximately 50 homeless and transitioning individuals.

“It’s a great team bonding experience,” Papadopulos said. “Byron donates everything and we try to do all of the work. Byron puts all of the kids in work stations and they literally learn how to run a kitchen for a night.”

TAKES THE CAKE: Coach Brandon Garner, co-captain Eric Fu and Ethan Deng working in the kitchen at Union Station in Pasadena as part of the basketball team’s service project.

While chopping garlic and boiling broccoli might not directly enhance one’s basketball skills, Papadopulos reports that other important lessons are being learned.

“These are the moments I learn more about my team than the actual time on the basketball court,” said the man known as Coach Pop. “When we are in the kitchen talking, I feel like we are really sharing valuable moments. I think it is also important that we see a different side of life. Someone once said to me ‘we are all just one day away from [homelessness].’ We are so blessed here and we should always try to help others.”

Papadopulos said that Takeuchi “never fails.”

“Never,” he added. “Byron is the one who generates everything that goes into these projects and donates everything. He doesn’t really know the boys that well, but he likes to see other people giving.”

Varsity co-captain Eric Fu has participated in two of the events.

“Giving back is very important,” said Fu, a center for the Titans, who are 2-2 in Rio Hondo League play and 12-7 overall. “San Marino is a very affluent community and being able to give to those who don’t have as much is great.”

Fu also saw an element of teamwork in the community service project.

“Working in a kitchen takes a lot of communication and I feel that has helped with our on-court communication,” Fu said. “Also, I was able to spend time doing something I typically don’t get to do.”

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