Jason McCloskey expects that success for the 2014 Mountain House High School football team will come not so much on the scoreboard, but in the character of the first class of Mustang athletes.
McCloskey, the head coach for the team, will aim for objectives that will stay consistent in the long term.
“(We will) just lay the foundation of a program that will be successful for years to come,” McCloskey said Monday after the team’s first day of practice at Questa School. “The games I’m looking at as learning opportunities for the guys.”
The high school’s fledgling football and volleyball teams started practice this week at Questa School, where they will continue practices until their home stadium and gymnasium open after a June 28 grand opening.
They include only freshmen and sophomores for the 2014-15 year, with varsity teams to come next year.
It will take a few more practices before McCloskey knows how much football knowledge the team has, but he saw the first ingredient for success in the players’ general athletic ability.
“We did the basic drills early to see how they move around and how they conduct themselves in drills, so they have some experience doing that stuff. It’s a work in progress for sure. I like what I see so far.”
McCloskey, who comes from Central Valley High in Ceres, where he coached for two years, will also teach health education at Mountain House High.
He said 25 players showed up on the first day, out of the 50 freshmen and sophomores who have signed up for the football team. After families get back from summer vacations and start thinking about the new school year, McCloskey expects to have a roster of 35 or more players.
That will be enough to field a junior varsity team for the first year. The first game will be played Sept. 5 against Elk Grove High in the new Mountain House High stadium along Mustang Way.
Nearby, in the Questa School multipurpose room, volleyball coach Heather Lamb ran 16 freshman and sophomore girls through their first workouts in preparation for their inaugural year as Mustang athletes.
Lamb also values teamwork and consistency more than numbers on a scoreboard.
“For the program as a whole, I’m really hoping to develop their technical skills so that we have a solid foundation,” Lamb said. “If I can establish consistent skills with the girls, when we move up to a higher level of play, those skills aren’t going to break down.”
Lamb said 38 girls have signed up for volleyball, some with club ball experience, others who are playing for the first time.
Lamb most recently taught mathematics and coached volleyball at Livermore High before taking the coaching job at Mountain House High. She is the founder and director of Altamont Volleyball Club, an eight-year-old program based in Livermore.
McCloskey and Lamb are among nine coaches hired so far for the new high school.
Also starting up a new team for the fall is cross-country coach Kristina Padilla, a sixth-grade teacher at Wicklund School for the past two years and an assistant cross-country coach at Tracy High for the past three.
“For me, it will be nice to see the kids I have now in middle school when they get to high school,” she said.
Padilla is a 2005 graduate of Tracy High and was a California Interscholastic Federation state qualifier in all four years on the Bulldog team. She went on to run cross-country and track and field at California State University, Sacramento.
She said about 30 athletes have signed up for cross-country, with workouts to begin July 1. Her team doesn’t have any home meets scheduled and will compete in Trans Valley League meets at Tuolumne River Regional Park.
Still to be hired is a boys soccer coach. Lammersville Unified School District hired Chris Faidley in April, but he resigned because he was unable to resolve scheduling issues with his teaching job at California High in San Ramon.
Once the fall sports season begins, the Mustangs will compete in the TVL with Escalon, Hilmar, Hughson, Modesto Christian, Ripon and Riverbank high schools. The league is in the Sac-Joaquin Section’s Division V.
New coaches also include Reno Ursal and Pang Kol, who come from the Mountain House Wolverines AAU basketball program. They will coach girls basketball, and athletic director LeVinia Woods said at least two more basketball coaches would be hired to coach freshman and sophomore boys teams.
Also on board are wrestling coach Garrett Beal, dance coach Kristina Fuller, baseball coach Michael Duarte and track and field coach Veronica Kirkpatrick .
Contact Bob Brownne at firstname.lastname@example.org or 830-4227.