New to coaching this year is Tracy High varsity boys coach Doug Silva, a 1996 Tracy High graduate. Silva played under former coach Paul Demsher.
Demsher, who still teaches and coaches girls tennis at Tracy High, stepped down from the basketball job after the 2009-10 season after 18 years leading the varsity team.
This is the first head coaching job for Silva, 32, who went on to play basketball at San Joaquin Delta College and then at Idaho State University on a basketball scholarship. He left school to play professional basketball in Italy and Austria for a few years before he returned to Idaho State to finish his bachelor’s degree in 2004.
“It was pretty interesting living in another country and playing sports,” he said. “The basketball is different. It’s very fast. When I played in Italy, it was second division, and it was really good basketball. You’re looking at top-quality athletes.”
Silva returned to Tracy in 2006 and coached with Demsher, but he stepped away from the job two years ago as his wife, Sara, had twin girls, in addition to the son and daughter they already had. When Demsher retired, Silva figured he could add coaching back to his schedule, which includes a full-time job as a teacher with the San Joaquin County Office of Education’s One Program.
He sees coaching and teaching as ways to have a good influence on teens.
“Ever since I went to college, you learn certain things that you want to be able to share with people, in regards to hard work, in regards to work ethic and in regards of what it takes to win,” he said. “That’s something that I’m going to be able to bring to the table.
“Hopefully, they buy into what I’m selling, and if they do, we have an opportunity to be successful.”
Sophomore coach Paul Pedersen also retired, and freshman coach Kevin Ornellas has taken over that job. As of this week, the school district had yet to announce who the new freshman coach would be.
Tracy High’s new girls varsity coach is a longtime Bulldog coach in a new role.
Derek Solano has coached a variety of sports since he started at Tracy High in 1992.
“I thought it was a good fit at this time,” Solano said.
He teaches physical education at Tracy High and is the head of the P.E. department. He coached football when he first arrived at Tracy High, first as an assistant coach with the sophomore team and then as head coach of the freshman team for three years. He also coached the freshman boys basketball team for five years.
He has also coached the boys varsity team at Newman High in his hometown. He held that job from the 1998-99 season through the 2004-05 season. For the past 10 years, he has been the boys golf coach, and he took over as the girls golf coach six years ago.
When former girls coach Mike Granillo Jr. went over to lead the Kimball High girls, Solano immediately stepped forward.
“I’ve wanted to get back into basketball,” he said. “It’s a passion of mine, and I’m definitely having fun.”
While it’s a new role for him, he feels comfortable because the freshman and sophomore coaches, Frank Juarez and Keith Britt, are still in their roles and know the girls who are now on the varsity.
“They’re my eyes and ears on the girls and what they’ve done for the past two or three years,” he said.
The Jaguars will have coaches with experience at local schools heading up their new varsity teams.
Granillo will be the first coach for the girls varsity at Kimball High. For the past 10 years, he has led the Tracy High varsity girls, and he has coached high school basketball in town for 15 years. That includes seven seasons on Bulldogs playoff squads.
Granillo was already involved with Jaguar sports as defensive coach for the sophomore football team. He also has family members — his wife, Leana, and daughter Breanna Galicia — who started as Kimball High’s cheerleading coaches last yea. His son Mike Granillo III will be his assistant coach.
“I thought it would be a great opportunity to start a new program in its first year in existence,” Granillo said.
He goes into the season knowing that Kimball is at a disadvantage compared with other Valley Oak League teams, in that it’s the first time any of his players will play on the varsity level.
“There are no seniors at all this year, but we’ve got a bunch of young ladies who are going to work hard, and they’ve got a positive attitude,” he said. “They’re looking forward to learning. This year, it’s going to be a learning experience. It’s a new and exciting venture.”
The sophomore coach is Ron Lovell, and the freshman coach is Dorvez Barnett, who has coached basketball for 12 years at various levels, from recreational leagues to AAU teams and high school varsity teams. Barnett’s most recent varsity coaching jobs were as the boys coach at Castlemont High in Oakland and as the girls coach at San Leandro High.
Kimball’s varsity boys will be led by Joe Lawrence, who has been involved with Jaguar athletics from the start. Last year, as athletic director, he oversaw the development of all of the school’s sports programs and the opening of most of the campus’ athletic venues.
He stepped back from that job at the beginning of the year, after he was chosen as the varsity boys coach. Before his involvement with Kimball, Lawrence spent nine years as the varsity girls coach at West High and was West’s physical education department head.
He, too, will lead a team of juniors and sophomores, including players from last year’s sophomore team that went 13-14.
Returning for their second years are sophomore boys coach Justin Gregory and freshman boys coach James Baker.
The Wolf Pack basketball teams include an experienced coach in a new job.
Joe Hernandez coached the freshman girls basketball team at Kimball last year and had been West’s sophomore girls coach since the 2000-01 season before that.
The program has seen changes the past couple of years after Lawrence left the job at the end of the 2007-08 season. Tina Afan was head coach for a year before going to Kimball High, and Steve Anastasio coached the team last year before he, too, moved to Kimball.
Hernandez, who teaches third grade at Kelly School, said he is familiar enough with the program and players that he can build West girls basketball again.
“I had a good group of girls on the JV team a couple years ago, and they’re seniors now. I thought it would be a really talented bunch,” he said. “They work hard, and I wanted to get the most out of them. A lot of them have really grown and developed as players.”
He added that the varsity team includes eight or nine returning players, plus a group of talented juniors and sophomores moving up from the lower levels.
Back again this year are the sophomore and freshman coaches, Martin Miller and Arsenio Costa, respectively.
West’s boys program is the only one among the local Division I schools whose coaching staff remains unchanged from last year. Derek Sprecksel is in his second year heading up the program after taking over from the original boys varsity coach, Steve Thornton, last year. Steve McMasters and Tom McGoldrick lead the sophomore and freshman teams.
Sprecksel said he started with a talented team last year, which went to the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. This year, some of those starters are back, but he sees it as a young group.
“A lot of our key guys this year are underclassmen,” he said, noting that Damon Sloan and Robert Mason were varsity starters as sophomores. “This year, we’re going to look to them to be leaders.”
He added that talent is evenly spread among his players, and with a few more sophomores on the team, he expects to have consistent talent in years to come.
“We’re going to be a lot more balanced. The points are going to come from different places,” he said. “They have really good attitudes and are really coachable. Even in these two weeks of practice, we’ve seen pretty big improvements here already.”
The Falcons bring back Mike Woods for his third year as coach of the varsity boys team. The Falcons have been to the playoffs the past two years, last year after taking second place in the Harvest Christian League with a 12-2 league record and 16-9 overall mark.
They also took a step up in the postseason, going to the Division IV bracket after playing in the Division V bracket the year before.
They’re in the six-team Central California Athletic Alliance this year, which includes the same teams that were in the HCL. The league season includes three rounds of play among the CCAA rivals.
The Falcons also bring back a junior varsity team that will have a schedule that follows the varsity schedule for most games. Ken Blackwell returns as Woods’ assistant coach and will also head the junior varsity team.
David Adams is back for his second year as the varsity girls coach. The Millennium girls went 12-6 in the HCL last year, 15-11 overall, and this year will play three rounds in the five-team CCAA. The assistant coach for the girls team is Kristen Vargas-Vigil.