Longtime Coast Union High School boys basketball head coach Tim May is leaving his position after a highly successful 13 years. He departs for a new opportunity — on the other side of the country.
May, who also teaches in Coast’s English department, is headed to Virginia Beach, Virginia, where he plans to pursue a doctorate in education from Regent University. He’ll not only leave behind his alma mater, as a 1999 graduate, but also a program he built into a Coast Valley League powerhouse, with a 79-6 record since 2004 — highlighted by his CIF-Southern Section semifinal team from 2016-17 that finished with a 22-4 overall mark.
“That accomplishment will never be duplicated,” May said of that team that fell in the Division 5A semis to Sherman Indian in Riverside. “That was my all-time as a coach — just to be a part of that. You know it when you’re in it. You do what you can to slow time down.”
May’s impending departure leaves behind only one longtime Coast coach — whose success, tenure and multiple championships could be considered as “iconic,” 26-year veteran girls volleyball head coach Pam Kenyon.
May’s plan as he points his hybrid sedan toward the East Coast is to pursue an administration position or become a professor at the university level once he completes the doctorate's program.
The coach said in an interview inside his classroom May 8 that he began thinking about making the break this past season. By mid-March, he came to the conclusion that a dramatic change in his career path “was going to be the best thing — to resign and move on.”
Coaching Career at Coast
May, who achieved his bachelor’s degree at Chico State and was awarded his secondary credential — and his Master’s degree — online, chuckles when he explains the career path he had originally projected while in high school.
“Radio sports broadcasting,” he said, letting out a hearty laugh at the irony; he was being interviewed by a radio sports broadcaster.
After his Chico State experience, he returned to Cambria and landed the job coaching Bronco basketball. Soon after, upon achieving his secondary credential, he secured a teaching position in Coast’s English department. Teaching English Literature was a joy to him, he said.
The 2016-17 season is, clearly, what stands out.
Led by seniors Jez Lawson, Auggie Johnson, Jack MacKinnon, Sam MacKinnon, Nick Roper, Roberto Cueva and Thor Ronemus and junior Riley Kennedy, the Broncos cruised to a 10-0 CVL record. Their three regular-season losses were all to much larger schools: North (Bakersfield) in overtime, Santa Barbara and Westlake (Westlake Village).
Coast’s appearance in the semifinals was its first since the school won a Central Section Division 5 title in 1999. May was on that team.
“Our school, we haven’t been into basketball,” Lawson said at the time. “We haven’t been good for years, and finally we are coming up there on the Central Coast and finally getting known, and it’s nice.”
Insight into Departure
May asserts his decision to pack his bags and leave his hometown of Cambria behind was not related to the trickle of basketball players available and the need to rebuild following the extraordinarily gifted 2016-17 team. Coast was 9-11 overall (7-3 CVL) this past season with an inexperienced roster.
But he does articulate his desire for the high school to initiate “some sweeping change” in the way it approaches education.
“You have to have your finger on the pulse of what’s happening,” he said. “And I don’t feel that the (district’s) finger is on the pulse at our school. I just don’t — and it’s unfortunate.”
Pushed further, May said: “As I’m leaving, I don’t want to seem to be attacking the school; this school afforded me my first teaching job. They gave me 13 years of being here and being able to do what I wanted to do.”
Nevertheless, May was among those who attended the contentious school board meeting April 12 — and made a presentation — when more than 100 teachers and parents packed the room to protest the reduction of 5 1/2 positions and the controversial reassignment of teachers to positions not wholly linked to their area of knowledge and experience.
“I know I’m going to be good,” May said. “My only hope is that it’s good here, but I don’t know if that’s true. I can’t sit here and look at the situation where it currently is and say, ‘We’re moving in a good direction at Coast Unified.’ I can’t say that. And I’ve expressed that to the high school administration and to the district office.”
May said the school administration’s response to his concerns that the school was failing to proceed in a positive direction was, “We think it is.”
For his part, May said he could “sit there and continue to argue over it,” or he could realize that he won’t “change any opinions. I don’t want to beat my head against the wall.”
May had hoped that the district would be more than curious as to why someone like himself who has “invested in the community” would chose to leave. His hope was that the board would “take a look at this” and decide if we are “putting our best foot forward for our students.”
He added: “I don’t think we are putting our best foot forward.”
May said the board has not responded to his concerns, as of May 8, nor has he heard from District Superintendent Vicki Schumacher regarding his departure.
“It’s over for me. It really is,” May said, his voice dropping.