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Escalon Grad Leads Freshmen Into Battle
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Assisting Escalon High JV basketball coach Greg Largent and coaching Cub basketball gave Nate Bartelink the experience necessary to establish himself as the head coach of the freshmen boys basketball team this season.

Bartelink played basketball all four years of high school as a Cougar himself. He and his friends still play ball at Dent Elementary or wherever they can find a place. He chose an old friend from high school, Josh Huebner, to assist him in his coaching position. Huebner is two years younger than Bartelink and he too played basketball for Escalon High.

The first-year head coach was encouraged to take the position after the former coach Shawn Conde left in pursuit of another career.

"Nate always wanted to coach," his mother, Jennifer Bartelink said. "He liked coaching the junior varsity boys with Mr. Largent, but he thought it would be fun to coach on his own."

Bartelink, 23, graduated from Escalon in 1998 and went on to UC Davis. He graduated from Davis in December of 2002 with a BA in Managerial Economics. He is presently living at home to save money. He just recently left his position as manager of an Abercrombie and Fitch outlet and is now in the pursuit of a new job. Though he is aspiring to one day own his own business, Bartelink said that right now, coaching is taking up quite a bit of his time.

The freshmen boys are 8-4 in league competition, which is second place in the Trans-Valley League, and 14-7 overall.

"They are getting better every week," said coach Bartelink.

This year he said top contenders at the freshmen level in basketball are Ripon Christian, Ripon High and Livingston. In league the boys have suffered defeat to Livingston twice, at home by eight points and away by eighteen points, and lost one game to Ripon Christian by three points. Their most recent loss was a four-point defeat by Ripon.

"It was a little weird at first trying to get them to listen," admitted Bartelink of coaching the freshmen.

However, he said their season has been a success and he plans to continue coaching next year.