Community Portrait: Hillmen sports star Pineiro pays it forward

By: Michael Kirby
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Isaiah Pineiro is a senior at Placer High School.

Most Hillmen sports followers would identify him as the tall, stand-out wide receiver/free safety on this year’s championship Placer football team, or currently one of the leading scorers on the Hillmen varsity basketball team.

Though preoccupied with the normal stresses of a soon-to-graduate high school student, Pineiro also finds time to give back to his community in a way that utilizes his unique talents as an athlete and a maturing young man.

One would think that with all the time allotted to the three sports he plays and his school commitments, it would be hard for the popular Placer student to have time to help youngsters improve their basketball skills in a fundamental basketball league at his church.

But that is exactly what Pineiro chooses to do with his Monday nights and Saturday mornings from December through February.

Pineiro is involved with the Upward Basketball program organized by the Parkside Church of the Nazarene in North Auburn as a coach and referee. The program is run by an all-volunteer staff at Parkside that provides a positive athletic environment for children from kindergarten through sixth-grade age.

The program focuses on learning the fundamentals of basketball, but mixed in with playing are moral value lessons that go along with being a good teammate and person. The basketball skills are important, but not the most important lessons that the kids take from the practice sessions and games.

In the middle of the two carpeted basketball courts set up in the Parkside sanctuary is Pineiro, all 6-foot-5 of him, standing in the center of a squad of little basketball players, looking like a giant nearly twice as tall as most of his pledges.
Pineiro shares not only his years of basketball knowledge with them but is also guiding these kids through times that can sometimes be tough and troubling.

No one knows better than Pineiro how important it is to be good at a sport like basketball, but Pineiro helps these kids understand that there are also other things in life that are important.

Pineiro is giving back, taking some time to have an interest in a young life when he could probably be doing many other things. But this is important to him and he takes the time to listen and share with his team, paying it forward.

Pineiro moved to the area when he was 6. He attended local schools.

“I was always active in sports, playing youth sports, basketball, baseball,” Pineiro said. He still plays multiple sports but basketball really has his attention. He has attended Parkside for the last year and a half, learning of the program from a neighbor.

“We would go watch the kids play and it looked pretty cool, and this year I had the opportunity to coach,” he said.  “The program is diverse and inspiring.
“At half times we have devotions and at practice we’ll talk about a Bible verse and cite real-life situations where it applies,” Pineiro said. “It’s really God-based. I like that,” he said. Though the program is held at Parkside, it’s open to all area boys and girls. Upward Sports also organizes a program for cheerleaders.

Pineiro’s volunteer work is not something he announces; he’s not the type.

I think that he will probably even be slightly embarrassed to be featured in this way, but I’m proud of Pineiro and other students who already get what it means to be a member of a community, unselfishly giving of themselves to make a difference.