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Panther Athletics

Coach Profile: Daniela Espinoza

By Tristan Huerta

January 18th, 2022

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This week I talked with Girl’s Varsity Soccer Head Coach Daniela (Dani) Espinoza.  Dani is a 2017 graduate of Saint Mary’s who is in her first year as the Panthers Head Coach.  After graduating from Saint Mary’s, she attended Whitman College in Wala Wala, Washington where she was a 4 year letterman for the Blues women’s soccer team.  I was able to catch up with Coach Espinoza and talk with her about this year’s team, her first year coaching and her thoughts about coming back to Saint Mary’s.

 

Q: Where did you grow up and what HS did you go to?

A: I grew up in Berkeley and attended Saint Mary's.  I graduated in 2017.

 

Q: What got you interested in becoming a High School Coach

A: I've always known I wanted to coach in some capacity. My dad is also a high school soccer coach and growing up I loved to go to his games and talk tactics with him afterwards. I love watching the game at all levels, and ever since I can remember I would wake up early on weekends to watch Premier League games. I love identifying problems or potential problems and then strategizing about potential tactical or personnel solutions.

 

Q: What are the greatest challenges that you have faced as a coach?de

A: Watching games on TV and identifying key issues and their respective solutions is much different than actually managing a game and managing your players.  I’m still working on my in-game coaching.

 

Q: How did you wind up coaching at Saint Mary’s?

A: I just graduated college in May of this year (2021) and, after returning home, I bumped into Mr. Filson who was the athletic director at the time.  He told me of the vacant position and asked me if I was up to the challenge.  I said yes!

 

Q: What’s been your favorite thing about Saint Mary’s so far?

A: My favorite thing about Saint Mary's ever since I was a student here has been the sense of community. Everyone truly cares about one another and lends support when it is needed. As a young, first-time high school head coach, I have felt supported by the other coaches at Saint Mary's and various teachers as well. It still feels like home!

 

Q: Who do you see as leaders on the team?

A: The girls decided early on they wanted three captains and elected Allie Wydick, Taylor Marshall, and Emilia Radtkey. When they were voting, a total of nine players were nominated which shows that there are a lot more than three leaders on the team. I encourage everyone, regardless of year or playing time, to speak their mind and support their teammates as best they can. I know there are many leaders on the team and I am very proud of the ways in which they've stepped up to lead so far this season. I am also very happy with our three captains and how they have led their team.

 

Q: What are some things you wish to improve, as the season continues?

A: I am very happy with where our team is right now. We haven't lost a league game and have played very well in all of our non-league games, some against much bigger schools. There is a positive team culture which I really want to continue as we go along. On the field, I would like to improve our possession in opponent's halves as well as our pressure and press when the other team has the ball. Mostly I just want the girls to stay healthy, happy, and, of course, Covid free!

Coach Profile: Dell Curry

January 4th, 2022

By Milan Kral

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This week, I interviewed our head boy’s basketball coach, Dell Curry.  Coach Curry is beginning his first season at Saint Mary’s as the boy’s head coach.  I was able to talk with him about his background, coaching, Saint Mary’s, and his outlook on the season.

 

Q: Where did you grow up and what HS did you go to?

A: My dad was in the military so I grew up all over the world. We lived in Germany for several years - among other places.  I returned to the US for Middle and High School and graduated from Phillip Burton Academy in San Francisco.

 

Q: What got you interested in becoming a high school coach?

A: Growing up, I had a lot of great teachers, mentors, and coaches - especially basketball coaches - but that isn't what led me to be a high school coach.  I got into Coaching because my son's coach needed help.  I was content simply watching him play but what was only supposed to be one game has turned into MANY games.

 

Q: What are the greatest challenges that you have faced as a coach?

A: For me the most challenging aspect of coaching is dealing with the emotions the team feels when seniors play their last game.  We spend so much time together - almost daily - preparing to compete and we experience so many different highs and lows throughout the season.  We don't realize how much bonding  we do and cchow much camaraderie we develop.  Then, before we know it, the season finishes and the reality that next year's team will be missing the seniors is front and center.

 

Q: How did you come into coaching at Saint Mary’s?

A: The opportunity to become the Head Coach at Saint Mary's was one that I was not expecting. However, after a number of conversations with Mr. Sanchez along with meeting several members of the Administration it became clear that Saint Mary's is where I wanted to coach.

 

Q: What’s been your favorite thing about Saint Mary’s so far?

A: Community. Everyone has been very welcoming, approachable, and most importantly made the entire staff feel as though we are part of the Saint Mary’s community.

 

Q: Who do you see as leaders on the team?

A: Instead of focusing on leaders, we need to prioritize defining our team culture, goals, and standards. Once we have these things in place we can establish roles and at that point EVERYBODY will be aware of what we need them to do so that we can have a good opportunity to be successful.

 

Coach Profile: Peter Sekona

December 16th, 2021

by James LeMmon

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This week, I interviewed assistant football coach Peter Sekona.  Coach Sekona is a 2015 graduate of Saint Mary’s who is in his second year working as an Alumni Associate & Admissions Assistant.  After graduating from Saint Mary’s, Coach Sekona attended U.C. Berkeley, where he played on the Bears’ nationally recognized powerhouse rugby team.  I was able to talk with him about his coaching, Saint Mary’s, and his goals and aspirations.

 

Q: What inspired you to come back to Saint Mary’s to coach?

A: I’m not sure if there was a certain something that inspired me to return to coach and play a role here at Saint Mary’s, but I do know that I always wanted to work in youth development - particularly with young men - and even more particulary, young brown and black men. I figured this commitment to youth development would manifest later in my life, maybe my 30’s or 40’s. What a blessing to have had this dream come about in my early 20’s through coaching and working back at Saint Mary’s. 

Q: Can you describe the feelings being a coach gives you?

A: The overall feelings coaching gives me is genuine bliss, gratitude, and validation. The athletes I work with allow me into their lives and allow me to physically, emotionally, and even spiritually make incredible demands of them.  I appreciate their trust and willingness to let me in.  I feel immensely blessed and fortunate to call this “work”. So, I’ve promised myself to never sell them or the team short; to never cut corners and to always give it my all. They push themselves as players, I need to push myself as a coach.  ps


Q: What is your ultimate goal as a coach?  What do you want to accomplish? 

A: I always tell myself, the moment coaching becomes solely about winning, I will stop coaching. I, like all coaches, enjoy winning.  But there is so much more to learn from sport.  Responsibility, accountability, teamwork, appreciation, hard work.  In the end, learning to walk with your chest high and being able to smile at your reflection in a mirror, comfortable in your own skin.  I want my athletes to be able to look back at these times and see how much they’ve grown and developed the type of confidence and self-value that leads to success and happiness.


Q: How has Saint Mary’s changed compared to the Saint Mary’s you attended?

A: Saint Mary’s is very different from when I attended. As of right now, Saint Mary’s is really going through a transitional phase.  For example, today there’s an influx of fresh and young faculty and staff. Myself, Ms. Nunley, Mr. Voltaire, Mr. Flemer, and Ms. Corwin are all Saint Mary’s alum who are back and working in classrooms, admission offices, athletic fields, and administrative positions.  We know the culture of Saint Mary’s and are hopefully improving it with new energy. 

Also, technology has really changed the way students experience school. My senior year, iPads were introduced as part of the “new” educational experience. It was a real social experiment with my class. Fast forward 7 years, and technology is now front and center and no longer an “experiment”.  MacBooks, Zoom, YouTube, and Social Media have all become key sources of the education world at Saint Mary’s. And, because of the increased access to information, students are, without a doubt, much smarter than they were in my class.

 

Q: If you could impart one piece of wisdom to the players or students that you teach or coach what would it be?

A: My piece of advice would be this: “Don’t be a weak hero to avoid being a strong monster.” One of my biggest concerns of the current generation is that they (we) are far too agreeable. It’s as if everyone is walking on eggshells when it comes to voicing opposing opinions. I’ve seen this while coaching, in the classroom, at lunchtime - everyone just stands and chooses to go along and be overly agreeable. Just chooses to agree. A person looking to please everyone can be seen as a weak hero, and a weak hero saves no one. Instead, I’d advise young people to be aware, be empathetic, be knowledgeable, be smart… but also be opiniated and be strong and stand for something.  Be an individual. Have high expectations.  Demand from yourself. Demand more from your friends and teammates. And in turn, you will get much more out of life than if you simply went along passively.