Bishop MontgomerY & Alumni Coaches Impact Lives beyond the playing fields
A coach can have a great impact in the lives of their players, whether that player is a child starting at the youth level, or a professional who has been competing their entire adult life. Great coaches teach their players about the game, but also about life. They stress that things like teamwork, commitment, integrity and hard work are the ideals that will carry people and teams through the ups and downs of a game, a match, or a season. But more importantly, they are the things that will guide a person through the ebbs and flows of life.
Ask alumni about what helped them achieve athletic success and they will most likely include the impact their coaches had on them. It was true when the school was establishing itself in the 1950’s and 1960’s and it still holds true with today’s student-athletes. When talking with alumni from the early days of the school, they praise coaches like Jim Arnaiz, Sharon King, Ernie Martinez, Carolyn Quijano, George Swade, Marv Wood and others for bringing out their best and for teaching them life lessons they are grateful for to this day.
Bishop’s current head coaches are no different than the coaches from those early days. They bring a wealth of experiences to their programs and teach those in their care about preparation, teamwork, effort and leadership. Our current coaches are former athletes, past college and professional coaches, and Bishop alumni themselves. Some have been coaching at Bishop for decades and some are brand new. Together, they share a passion for teaching the students in their care and strive to help them be great in every aspect of life.
In total, the head coaches of the 21 varsity sports have over 100 years of coaching experience, and that is just at Bishop Montgomery. Many have experience in coaching prior to arriving at Bishop, including four who have coached at the collegiate level: Koral Costa (softball), Eric Fuller ‘94 (baseball), Ed Hodgkiss (football) and Doug Mitchell (boys’ basketball). The eight coaches who have been at Bishop for at least five years all rank at or near the top in their sport in career wins. Bishop’s newest coaches have found success right away as well. Last year, Costa and boys’ volleyball coach Landen Tusiesiena won league titles in their first years at BMHS. No matter their level of experience, their success or the sport they coach, all of Bishop’s head coaches have one thing in common: helping young people become the best versions of themselves is their top priority.
Mitchell, Bishop’s longest tenured coach, has developed the boys’ basketball program into one of the best in the state. The accolades are impressive, but he is most proud of what his players leave with when they graduate: a work ethic that will help them succeed in life. “I am a big believer that when obstacles come at you, in basketball and in life, it is important to put your head down and work harder,” says Mitchell. “I want the players that come through here to have an attitude that you will never be outworked.”
That work ethic is ingrained in those who have played for Mitchell. Omarr Smith ‘95, who also starred in football, went on to a decorated football career as a player and has been a successful college and professional coach. He currently serves as an assistant coach at Morgan State University. He credits Mitchell and his other coaches at Bishop with developing the mental and physical toughness that led him to be successful in all aspects of his life. One of Smith’s pillars of his coaching philosophy can be traced back to Mitchell. “I believe we must outwork our opponents,” says Smith. “Those who are successful not only put in the necessary work, but the extra work when no one is watching.”
For coaches like Fuller, Brian Haynes ‘89, Pat McOsker ‘78 and Rheina Ale ‘08, developing young people of high character is their top priority. And it is no surprise that all four are alumni. They all credit part of who they are as coaches to the impact their BMHS coaches had on them when they were student-athletes.
Fuller enters his 9th season as head baseball coach, but has long ties to the program. He was a standout pitcher for the Knights from 1991-1994 and returned after college to be an assistant for 11 years. In all his years, his goals have remained constant. “If we can get our young men to trust, respect and love their teammates, coaches and themselves we can create an environment that cultivates growth as people and as baseball players,” says Fuller.
Haynes might be the busiest person on campus. He teaches five classes, serves as a Link Crew Coordinator and is the head coach of five programs – boys’ and girls’ cross country, girls’ soccer, and boys’ and girls’ track. He is never short on energy and takes great pride in empowering his athletes to be leaders in all aspects of their lives. “There is a leader inside every Bishop Montgomery student,” says Haynes, “and I try to empower the older students to help the younger ones as much as possible so they have an investment in everything that we do.”
When McOsker retired after 35 years with the Los Angeles Fire Department, he wanted to continue serving others and came over to Bishop to coach golf. He has always had a passion for the game, but what he enjoys most about coaching is aiding in the development of his young men on and off the course. “I stress, maybe even insist on, three things: honesty, sportsmanship and respect for the game,” he says. “I ask the players to act like gentlemen and to root for themselves, their teammates and their opponents out there.”
The 2022-23 season will be Ale’s first as girls’ basketball coach. She takes over a storied program with which she is very familiar. She was a 2-time All-CIF selection and is ranked 9th on the all-time BMHS scoring list. In a short time as coach, she has put her stamp on the program, stressing the importance of integrity and relationship-building as cores of her philosophy. “I enjoy developing relationships and helping the girls see themselves as more than athletes,” she says. “The most important thing I can teach the girls is that who you are as a person is what matters; having integrity and treating your teammates with respect is what I hope they take with them when they graduate.”
In addition to Bishop’s current coaches, there is an impressive number of alumni who have made coaching at the college or professional level their career choice. Cherlyn Woods ‘69 and Sigi Schmid ‘71, who both passed away in the last few years, and Sharkie Boehnert-Zartman ‘68 all had hall of fame careers. Woods was inducted into the California Community College Athletic Association Hall of Fame after an impressive volleyball coaching career at Napa Community College. Schmid led UCLA to three national titles, won two MLS Cup titles and was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame. After an All-American playing career at UCLA and an impressive professional beach career, Boehnert-Zartman coached El Camino College to two state volleyball titles. She is a member of the California Community College Coaches Hall of Fame.
Today, Bishop alumni are having a tremendous impact in the world of college and professional coaching. In fact, the coaching accomplishments of Bishop alumni are not only impressive, they are historic in some cases.
All conversations about alumni coaches must start with Patty Froehlich-Gasso ‘80, a member of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame. In 28 years at the University of Oklahoma, she has built the softball program into a force in the sport. She recently led her team to the 2022 NCAA title, the sixth national title for Froehlich-Gasso and her program; it is the 3rd most in NCAA history.
Froehlich-Gasso is not the only graduate with college titles on her résumé. Marine Cano ‘72 (soccer) and Rudy Garbalosa ‘85 (baseball) have won NCAA Division II titles at their current schools. Cano, the Head Women’s Soccer Coach at Cal State Dominguez Hills, won his title in 1991 and recently completed his 39th year as a college head coach. He started coaching at 19 and it was the start of an impressive career for someone who can legitimately be called a local soccer pioneer. He helped start the first AYSO league for girls; started the boys’ program, along with Schmid, at Bishop Montgomery; and founded the women’s soccer program at CSUDH as well as the men’s and women’s programs at Soka University of America. Cano reflects on his basketball coach at Bishop, Dick Sebeck, as one of his greatest influences. “He was not just a coach; he was a person,” says Cano. “Back when soccer was prehistoric, he was the only one who let me leave basketball practice early on Saturday’s so I could get to soccer practice on time. He cared about me and my other interests.”
Garbalosa started his coaching career at Bishop Montgomery, serving as an assistant coach in the late 1980’s before being named head coach in 1991. He soon realized that it was something he wanted to do. “Being out on the field, helping kids, you realize that you can help make an impact on their lives,” says Garbalosa, who enters his 21st year at Lynn University in Florida, where he led his team to the 2009 title. At all of his coaching stops, including Bishop Montgomery, Loyola Marymount, El Camino College and La Salle HS in Miami, Garbalosa’s philosophy focuses on the development of the person more than the player. “I want the players, in whatever they are doing on a daily basis, to give their best with what they have that day,” he says.
In speaking to the alumni who are coaching at the college or professional level, a common thread became clear in everyone’s philosophy. The development of the people they coach comes before the development of the player they coach.
Noelle Quinn ‘03, head coach of the Seattle Storm, is the only person to win a WNBA title as both a player (Seattle) and a coach (assistant with Seattle). She coaches some of the greatest players in the world and leads one of the WNBA’s most storied franchises, yet accolades never come up in conversation. When asked what she holds most sacred about coaching, her answer is immediate. “Making sure that the people come first,” she says. “Basketball is what we do; it is not who we are. What matters more than winning is how I treat people, how I make them feel. The human side of the job is what matters.”
Olympic Gold Medalist Carmelita Jeter ‘98, an assistant track coach at USC, counts Mitchell as one of her coaching influences, even though she obviously did not play for him at BMHS. “I always admired his passion for the sport and his passion for molding his athletes into more than just great basketball players, but great people beyond BMHS,” she says. “My goal each day with those I coach is to create people who will become better versions of themselves.”
Josh Jones ‘05 started coaching football at Bishop Montgomery and has made coaching a career. Today, he is an assistant coach at Northwestern State in Louisiana, but no matter where he has been, he has made sure never to change who he is as a person. “It is important to remain authentic and genuine,” says Jones. “That is the best way to connect with the players I am coaching. They want to know that you care about them as people and I have always kept that at the forefront of my mind.”
Bishop Montgomery’s coaches and the alumni coaching in college or the pros share a common philosophy. Focusing on the development of people, whether they are a high school freshman or a world-class athlete, is paramount. Perhaps it is summed up best by alumnus Jack Gidney ‘06, who is the Head Women’s Coach at Westcliff University in Irvine and also serves as the Elite Girls Director of FRAM Soccer Club: “I initially got into coaching for the game, but the longer I have coached the people have taken over.” he says. “Soccer is merely the vehicle for how we raise young people – how they feel in low moments, how they react, how they communicate. I became a better coach when I stopped worrying about myself.”