When the school district approached Ron Garcia about taking over the Broncos’ head coaching position for the 2017 football season, the Coast Union social studies teacher — who had coached the team once before — needed a bit of time to think it over.
He didn’t want to accept the position until he checked with his friend and former coaching partner Charlie Casale, who coached the 2013 Broncos to the CIF Division 5A championship game with an 11-2 record. Garcia wanted Casale to be his offensive coordinator, a position Casale had held before, as well.
“I went down to Charlie’s real estate office. We sat down for about an hour and a half. We laid it out — what our goals going to be, and what we wanted to accomplish.
“It went real well. Charlie said, ‘If you take the job, I’ll do it.’ ”
Never miss a local story.
Another of Garcia’s stipulations to the district was that he wanted to handle the athletic director chores as well.
“I wanted to be able to control the athletic program I was coaching in,” he said.
The district agreed to that, and also agreed to lighten Garcia’s teaching load by two periods.
Garcia, who played track, football, tennis and basketball at Caruthers High School in the San Joaquin Valley, and has taught for 10 years at Coast, was asked how high school students have changed over the years.
When Garcia was in school, student athletes had fewer distractions, he said.
“We had a small school, but nearly every boy played football. We had 40 to 50 guys on junior varsity and 40 to 50 guys on our varsity — plus, we had a freshman team. There’s more to do today for kids in terms of activities, and more distractions. It’s harder to get kids out, to get them committed to play sports.”
Garcia and Casale met with students in January, in an effort to build interest in football among the boys at Coast Union.
“The meeting went real well,” Garcia recounted. “We had about 30, and we laid out some of our expectations. We both talked. I told them, ‘We can teach you a lot about the game, the fundamentals. I can teach you how to block a man, but the bottom line is, if you don’t have the physical strength to execute what I teach you, it isn’t going to happen.’ ”
The essential goal of that session with the boys was to get them into the weight room.
“We can’t afford having guys getting beat up on the field,” Garcia said. “Some of these kids don’t understand that you have to put in the work during the offseason if you want to be a successful football player.
“You can’t walk out there in August with no preparation. You’re going to miss tackles, you’re going to get hurt, and you’re (going to be) running out of gas by the fourth quarter.”
Garcia has an advantage when it comes to urging football players to show up for workouts in the weight room. As a teacher, he has a relationship with most of the student athletes.
When Garcia says, “No football scheme is going to make us successful if the players aren’t physically able to do it,” the tone of his voice and the look on his face indicate that he and Casale are committed to improving a team that went 5-12 over the past two seasons.