The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

ODE: The student-run basketball team supporting teamwork and passion for the sport

Courtesy Nickaan Heidari
Sophomores Eddie Kowalski, Diego Casillas, Lev Zeiger, Arjun Mukherjee, Sebastian Green, Bill Chau, Michael Seyoum, Nickaan Heidari and Saim Mian at one of ODE’s first tournaments.

A group of Los Altos High School sophomores created their own basketball team, Over Defense Elite (ODE), after recognizing major issues in club basketball, regaining the sport’s enjoyment and teamwork.

“We thought that club basketball had become really toxic because everyone wanted to be the star player,” sophomore Nickaan Heidari said. “We felt that people no longer cared about team success.”

Though it initially began as an inside joke among its founders in August 2023, ODE took on a more serious role after having succeeded in its first tournaments, joining the Amateur Athletic Union League. ODE functions just like other larger AAU teams, attending tournaments and maintaining regular practice schedules.

“We asked more friends to help us create this team, such as [sophomore] Saim [Mian], to see if he was willing to coach,” Nickaan said. “Within a week, we signed up for our first tournament playing with pinnies, and within a month, we had jerseys.”

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ODE team after finishing with a record of 2–0 at a tournament on Saturday, May 11. Courtesy Serdinc Engez

Acknowledging the initial purpose of making this team, ODE spotlights the importance of team orientation and decision-making on a team scale.

“All of us contribute similar things, and there isn’t someone with a lot of hierarchy,” sophomore Lev Zeiger said. “We all bounce off each other with ideas.”

According to the players, a big part of ODE is that it is 100 percent student-led. Last week, sophomore David Raskin made his debut as the new head coach. David, as well as most of the ODE athletes, played for the LAHS’s basketball team, making it all the more special that he could step in as coach as an avid basketball player.

However, one of the team’s biggest accomplishments since its start is securing a sponsor, Bay Area Roaddawgs. The sponsor, which hosts basketball tournaments throughout California and Nevada, allows ODE to play in tournaments and perform free of cost.

The main part of team culture is treating each other like family. For Nickaan, the most fun moments are during the team’s rides to events in their shared minivan.

“The long drives in Dan’s car, Bill’s uncle, are some of my favorite memories,” Nickaan said. “We have so much fun in what we call the ‘Dan Van,’ getting hype for games with Uncle Dan.”

ODE is planning its first overnight tournament this summer, hosted by West Coast Elite in Sacramento on June 22. This accomplishment for the team places them on the path to achieving higher goals.

“We have a group of hard-working guys,” David said. “We aren’t where we want to be yet, but with the work we will put in, I’m confident we will win.”

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Adam Alfi
Adam Alfi, Staff Writer

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