On his way to top coaching accolades, John Goulding has found that the best motivation comes from being surrounded by excellence.
The chance to be involved with one of the Bay Area’s top high schools for athletics drew him to James Logan High School in Union City 19 years ago, and the school’s reputation drives him every year to produce a winning baseball team.
“The main thing that keeps me motivated and driven is certainly to follow the other coaches who have been successful there, but also for the kids,” he said. “The kids who’ve gone on to play college or professional baseball, or just have gone on to be successful in life, is so motivating.”
This year, ESPN RISE/Cal Hi Sports, a news organization dedicated to high school sports, has named Goulding, a 15-year Tracy resident, the 2011 State Coach of the Year.
Goulding’s selection for the award, which dates back to 1933, follows the Colts’ California Interscholastic Federation North Coast Section championship season, the second for the team with Goulding as coach. His 2001 team was also NCS champion, and his 1998 team was the NCS runner-up.
Goulding said that baseball mentors from the start of his athletic career at Arizona State University, including coaches Jim Brock and Bobby Winkles, inspired him to stay involved in athletics. Later, he would work with Bob Roselli, who had played for the Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee Braves before returning to California to coach American Legion baseball.
“There was never a time that I didn’t want to teach P.E. and coach that I can remember,” Goulding said.
Upon graduation from Arizona State in 1975, he returned to his alma mater, Aragon High School in San Mateo. He eventually became established as a biology teacher at Tennyson High in Hayward and coached American Legion baseball, including a 1991 Union City team that went to the American Legion World Series.
“The people from Union City thought that I had done a good job with their kids and suggested that I write a letter to their school district, saying that I would coach if they had an opening,” he said, though he recalls the prospect being a little intimidating, considering that Logan High already had a reputation for athletic excellence.
“We have a huge list of illustrious athletic alumni that we’re trying to elect into our hall of fame,” he said, adding that the community around the 4,100-student campus has embraced that reputation.
“The community really sees a goal at their high school level. They want to participate on our teams. It’s an honor to make one of our teams, because they know that it’s difficult to make a team, because there’s a lot of kids who want to be a part of it. It’s a great environment to coach in.”
This past season, the Colts baseball team was built around a pitching staff that had a combined earned-run average of 1.2. The Colts’ 24-4 record included a 1-0 win over De La Salle in the section championship and a 10-2 record and first-place finish in the Mission Valley Athletic League. It was the 14th league championship in Goulding’s 19 years with Colts, with three more second-place finishes after the Colts won the league championship in playoffs against the first-place team.
Goulding’s own sons, including three West High graduates, have been active in athletics in Tracy and have stayed involved.
Tyler Goulding is a captain in the U.S. Air Force and was team MVP for the U.S. Air Force Academy golf team three years in a row. He is also a past winner of the World Military Golf Championship.
Logan Goulding recently graduated from the University of Hawaii in Hilo. He works at Shadow Lakes Golf Course in Brentwood and is the coach for Millennium High’s golf team.
Riley Goulding played shortstop and pitched for West, played two years with San Mateo Junior College and recently signed with the NCAA Division I Broncs team at University of Texas, Pan-American.
Shane Goulding will begin his senior year at Kimball High in the fall and just finished as a player on the Jaguars’ first varsity team.
John Goulding and his wife of 31 years, Susan, also have a 14-year-old daughter, Juliana, who will begin her freshman year at Kimball in the fall. They adopted her as an infant seven months after she was born in St. Petersburg, Russia.
At 57, he’s finding new levels of involvement in athletics. The Fellowship of Christian Athletes has helped him find opportunities to coach in Mexico, and Meeting God in Missions has twice sent him to the Dominican Republic.
He added that while others his age see retirement on the horizon, he can’t imagine taking a step back from a career in athletics.
“There’s a great emotion involved in sports, both positive and negative, and we all like to be around things that bring emotion and passion. We don’t want to lose that. It becomes such a part of our life that, without it, you’d probably not feel like you’re living. It really becomes a part of who you are.”