By Paul Meadors
One of the trademarks of the Tri-River Athletic Conference is coaching consistency, those head varsity coaches who have established their system and injected a dose of their personality throughout their program and school. With a conference boasting six schools participating in at least 23 sports there’s bound to be a few coaching changes here and there.
At one end of the spectrum you have football legend Tim Simons at Clovis North and Tom Orlich of Clovis West both entering their 39th year of coaching and baseball legend James Patrick marching on the baseball field for his 29th year at Clovis High. Athletic directors have wasted no time in anticipation for the 2015-16 season by naming new Directors of Sport and here are some new members of the TRAC coaching fraternity. (FYI: Directors of Sport is the new term for head varsity coach.)
Get to know some of your new TRAC coaches.
Wil Hooker and Greg Clark take over Clovis basketball programs
Wil Hooker, of Fresno State basketball fame and well known in Valley basketball circles, is taking over the boys’ program at Clovis High. Hooker will bring a new brand of basketball and energy to the Cougars program starting will a strong defensive mentality and an offense that allows his players to excel. He takes over for long-time coach John Jones.
Hooker is pumped to take over a storied Clovis program and has big plans to compete in the ever-tough TRAC.
“I’m very excited about taking over at Clovis High,” said Hooker who was an assistant at Buchanan last season. “I’m looking forward to the challenges we’re about to face, as we strive to regain our winning ways with boys basketball.”
And the enthusiasm is running just as high on the girls’ side as Greg Clark from River City High School in West Sacramento takes over where his boys’ teams won two straight league titles. Building relationships and spending time together during the summer is a priority for Clark and he looks forward to the challenge ahead.
“What I am looking forward to the most is building relationships with my players over the summer and getting better as a team at practices,” said Clark. “With any transition, there are challenges ahead so spending the summer with the girls at practice will be an important part to transitioning our team to my style. I don’t want to come in and completely change what has made them successful in the past but we will instill different offensive and defensive concepts.”
“I am looking forward to seeing the girls grow as basketball players, students and community members.”
Should be an exciting time ahead for the Cougars.
Clovis North makes two impact hires in wrestling and football
One of the biggest developments the past month is Clovis North snatching up Clovis wrestling Coach Ben Holscher, teaming with Director of Sport Josh Adams. Holscher will focus on the high school program. And Holscher knows wrestling – he’s been a big part of the past five state championships and six overall for the Cougars and now is taking his expertise to the Broncos.
Athletic director Coby Lindsay is pleased as punch to land someone of Holscher’s caliber: “Ben brings a level of energy and passion for the sport of wrestling to kids that are unmatched. The Clovis North community is doing backflips to add such a quality individual.”
And sticking with the forward movement at Clovis North is Dave Steele, who has a football name well known throughout the Central Valley; especially down south at Kingsburg High School where he was relieved of his football duties after a 78-17 record and three Valley championships. The Broncos scooped him up quickly and made him their defensive coordinator – a position he excels at.
Quite the life reversal for Steele who had plans on being a Viking lifer but is now focused on the future and the challenges that await him in the TRAC. Oh, and coaching alongside football legend Tim Simons.
“I am really excited to have the opportunity to coach at Clovis North,” said Steele, a 1993 college graduate of Sacramento State. “It is a blessing and honor to work with Coach Simons and all the great coaches here. I am looking forward to coaching these great young men and being a part of an amazing football program. It’s truly a blessing for me and my family.”
Buchanan names new girls’ soccer coach
After the sudden departure of successful girls’ soccer coach Orlando Ramirez, Buchanan has hired Kevin Botterill, who is no stranger to local, state, national and even international levels.
Filling the shoes of a program that has won the past nine of 10 Division 1 Valley titles might prove a huge challenge for anyone, but Botterill’s resume reads like an international road map of soccer experience: four years playing college soccer in England with stints at Fresno State, Murray State, Oakland City and Wesley where he earned a master’s degree. And he’s up for the challenge – and welcomes the pressure.
“I always put a lot of pressure on myself. I challenge myself to teach and drive the team to reach its potential,” said Botterill. “The previous success of the team adds an interesting wrinkle, but does not compare to the pressure I put on myself to perform. I am confident in my ability to improve players and teams. I hope that I can do so to the extent that we are living up to the history of Buchanan soccer.”
Clovis fills wrestling position with successful coach
Just like their wrestling program, Clovis High simply reloads instead of rebuilds. And that’s true with the coaching staff as the five-time state champion Cougars hired Gabe Schaefer to replace the departed Steve Holscher.
In just 10 years, Coach Schaefer took a nonexistent wrestling team and transformed Bloomington High School into a Southern Section wrestling powerhouse. Coach Schaefer’s teams won five consecutive Southern Section CIF Dual Titles from 2010-2014 and a CIF Individual Title in 2015.
Originally from Washington, Schaefer earn two state medals along with Freestyle and Greco-Roman state titles. He wrestled in college at South Dakota State University before embarking on an 8-year wrestling stint with the Air Force National Team.
Now he’ll help the Cougars go for their sixth state title in a row.
Clovis East makes splash with new boys’ water polo coach
Clovis East athletic director Anthony Morales announced he has hired a new Director of Sport for their boys’ water polo program. His name is Colin Gasper and he comes with quite the pedigree.
Gasper and his wife are coming to Clovis from Southern California, where Gasper coached at Oceanview High School in Huntington Beach. Previously, h spent time coaching in Dubai and the U.K.
Gasper played water polo for four years at Los Alamitos High School and was a member of the CIF Championship swim team. After high school he played water polo at Chapman University where he lead the country in saves in his junior season as a goalie.