By Ray Hamill — The Hoopa Warriors will feature several new coaches this year, with three additions to the staff announced on Monday and two more expected in the coming weeks.
New Athletics Director Augie Valdez has been busy at work since returning to the school recently, and was officially unveiled as the boys basketball head coach this week.
Valdez played at Hoopa High and was a member of the Warriors’ first North Coast Section championship team back in 1992, a championship that began an incredible run of success at Hoopa High.
Also on Monday, the school announced that Crissy Robbins will return as the girls basketball coach, while track and field coach Benny Griggs will take over as cross country coach as well.
And it doesn’t end there for the Warriors, with a new football coach expected to be named late next week after a round of interviews — “We’ve got some pretty good applicants for it,” Valdez said — and a new volleyball coach expected to be named the following week.
And Valdez says he is excited about the direction all the Hoopa High teams are taking.
“Crissy and I, we run very similar stuff so we’ll be able to give each other feedback and help out,” he said.
Robbins, a former Hoopa High player, was in charge of the girls’ program for one season last year and won the job again after it was opened up.
“I’m really excited about Crissy because she brings a lot of passion and she has the ability to teach the game,” Valdez said. “We’re excited for her to really get the program established.”
Robbins played and coached at College of the Redwoods.
Valdez is also excited to be back with the program he helped establish as a player.
“I’m really honored and it’s pretty special to be able to take over a program that means so much to me,” he said, adding that the success the Warriors have enjoyed on the basketball court over the years “really brought our community together and gave the kids the belief they could do stuff.
“We’re hoping to continue that legacy with the kids we have.”
With distant learning continuing at Hoopa High for now, the Warriors have been unable to get together for conditioning sessions like much of the rest of the H-DNL schools.
The school, however, has begun limited one-on-one teaching sessions with the students, which has opened up the opportunity for coaches to work one-on-one with some of their players.
And Valdez has been impressed with the players’ attitude, with many of them practicing together outside of school for the past few months.
“What our kids have done is they’ve been getting together to go running and stuff on their own every day of the week,” the coach said. “The hunger is there, and if that’s any indication of how they’re going to be, it’s going to be a fun team to coach.
“I really commend them for stepping up and putting in the work. That shows a lot of character and a lot of drive.
“If we come out and play as hard as we can and compete in every game, that’s all we can ask for.”
With Valdez calling the shots, the Warriors will play the up-tempo style they are traditionally known for.
“We’re going to run the ball and get back to shooting some early transition shots,” he said.
Valdez also expects Griggs to bring a newfound energy to the cross country team, with a sizable increase in numbers on the team already.
“Benny’s been recruiting,” the AD said. “I think he brings a lot of enthusiasm. All the kids I talked to, they really, really like Benny, and he’s done an amazing job with our track program.”