After the recent success Paly athletics has enjoyed, expectations are high for all sports teams. With that being said, meeting these expectations can be difficult for new Paly coaches, particularly if they have never coached before.
However, first time coach Marcus Stone is off to a good start in his new role as the varsity boys cross country coach according to the runners on the team.
“You can tell he’s new here, but he’s definitely excited to be here and committed to his job,” junior Jack Hansen said.
After growing up in Nevada where he competed in the Nevada State Championships for cross country, Stone moved to Connecticut for college before returning to the west coast. Stone hopes to use his past experience to help the Paly team.
“He’s brought a lot of new workouts to the team this year,” senior captain Benjamin May said.
Stone admits that his first foray into coaching will not be without its challenges.
“It was a little frightening the first few days when there were 80 kids on the team,” Stone said.
However, Athletic Director Earl Hansen remains confident that Stone is the right man for the job.
“He’s young, but he knows the sport really well,” Earl Hansen said.
Stone was hired following a controversial off-season in which many cross country runners were displeased by the slowness of finding a replacement coach after longtime coach Joe Ginnani resigned at the end of the 2011 season.
“I’m just trying to get these guys into the best shape they can be in for the season,” Stone said.
He is also working to replace last year’s graduating class.
“We lost some of our best runners last year but we’re still looking to improve this year. A lot of us are aiming for [a Central Coast Section] title,” Jack Hansen said.
However, Stone is not concerned with who the team lost and prefers instead to focus on working with the current members of his team who are excited to learn and improve under Stone’s guidance.
“With [Stone] around, this team can be a lot better than it has been in the past,” junior Harrison Greenwood said.
While Stone has never coached before, Paly’s new water polo coaches have had plenty of experience. Twins Matt and Brandon Johnson have taken over the Paly water polo team after the entire varsity and junior varsity coaching staff was dismissed following the 2011 season.
Brandon was previously an assistant coach at the University of California at Irvine, and Matt has coached at a high school in southern California. Previously, they coached together at the Stanford Water Polo Club before coming to Paly. The duo hopes to use their combined experience to their advantage this year.
“We’ve been playing and coaching together for so long so that know each other really well which I think will give us an advantage over the other teams,” Matt said.
Although officially Brandon is the varsity coach and Matt is the junior varsity coach, they work together to coach both of the teams.
“Both of them sit on the bench for both teams, so we get to know both of them really well,” junior Ethan Look said.
Despite being new to Paly, the Johnsons do not feel pressured to succeed immediately.
“There’s not a lot of pressure, but we’re anxious to get our program up to the level of football and volleyball,” Matt said.
The success of other Paly teams serves as a source of motivation for the Johnsons.
“Our goal is to win our league and then see what happens in CCS,” Brandon said.
After the controversy surrounding the firing of the previous coaching staff, most people seem to be happy with the hiring of Matt and Brandon.
“Everyday when I come to the pool I know I’m going to improve and learn something new,” Look said.