Coaching changes require adjustments, patience

Gian Carlo Baldonado, Staff Writer

Whether it’s a change of diet or a tryout for a new sport, change can be a hurdle to student athletes –– especially if it’s a transition between two different coaching styles.

The 2016-2017 athletic year saw new sport instructors coach Bear Creek girls basketball, swim, and track and field teams.

Herb Vochatzer replaced former head coach Michael Heberle for the girls varsity swim team; Anthony Matthews replaced Jessie Holmes as head coach of girls basketball; and Lauren Fromm and Eric Vallecillo, who are also STEM teachers at the Creek, replaced former head coach Jason Johnson as new track and field coaches.

Student athletes have mixed responses regarding their adjustments to their new coaches’ coaching style.

“Coach Matthews is very vocal about his determination for the team to win,” senior varsity basketball player Breanna Hilliard said. “It gets the team motivated [and] as one of the team captains, [it makes me want] to carry his drive.”

Bear Creek girls basketball had one of their best seasons, ending 8-2 in the SJAA. The girls accredit the successful season to Matthews and his effective coaching style.

“Coach Matthews gives us structure [by telling us] what our goal is, and [then] he gives us the tools and drills to achieve this goal as a team,” varsity basketball player Maya Price, a junior, said, acknowledging Matthews’ positive impact on the team.

Some track and field athletes appreciate the changes Fromm and Vallecillo have brought.

“With Coach Fromm and Mr. V, they only allow runners who truly feel dedicated to the sport,” senior varsity hurdler Mary Alzammar said. “This helps create a more positive atmosphere for those who really take [the sport] seriously.”

“I like how this year the coaches put an effort in making sure that all the athletes are involved with fundraising because it makes it fair,” fellow senior varsity hurdler Kalani Gaines said, favoring Fromm and Vallecillo’s new fundraising policies over Johnson’s.

Three hundred meter varsity hurdler Jonathan Peyton said that Fromm and Valecillo’s new coaching styles are more rigorous but beneficial.

“I feel like [the new coaching style] is pushing me more to train harder so I don’t get left behind,” Peyton, a junior, said. “They give us athletes a more competitive [energy].”

For other athletes, the changes have required adjustments.

Varsity swimmers Gabby Gregory and Marissa Rodriguez both agreed that Vochatzer, compared to Heberle (Heb), is less personal and less connected when it comes to style and team atmosphere.

“I feel like [my athletic performance] stayed the same [under Vochatzer] because… the sets are hard, but they’re not as personal to my needs,” Gregory, a junior, said. “Heb tells you to swim and how you do it, but Herb just tells you to swim.”

Both Gregory and Rodriguez say that the team has shifted to an excellence-oriented atmosphere rather than family-oriented that emphasizes the importance of athlete-coach relationship.

“We need to be a team before we can win,” Rodriguez, a sophomore, said. “This year we didn’t have team bonding, and the season is almost over.”

“I would like a coach that does push me to do my best but understands that I have family life, I have homework, I get tired and I need to breathe,” Gregory said. “Swimming is a tiring sport and your head is constantly under water, and with Herb, you don’t really get to breathe.”

Either way, these changes within their sport have solicited adjustments from athletes who strive for better relationships with their new coaches.