In anticipation of its opening this fall, Castaic High School continued to round out its coaching hires, announcing the appointment of Eric Charles Johnson II as the track and field head coach on Friday.
Johnson II brings with him a vast knowledge of the sport, having been involved in track and field for the majority of his life.
“I’ve been running track almost my whole life. I actually ran track to get faster for soccer,” Johnson II said with a laugh. “I ran as a youth, I ran in high school, I ran in college and a little bit afterwards. Then I started coaching at Canyon, coaching the sprints.”
It was at Canyon, having coached there for nearly a decade, where Johnson II was able to soak in a bevy of information and experience working alongside Cowboys track and field head coach Paul Broneer and distance coach Dave DeLong.
He attributes his time with the Canyon coaching staff and the athletes he’s helped train over the years as the main factors for what’s going to help him succeed in his new position.
Also, it was former Canyon football coach Rich Gutierrez who first told him about the job opening at Castaic High School.
“It’s been a tremendous help, the coaches there, namely coach Broneer and coach DeLong, those guys have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to being great coaches as you can see by the success that they’ve sustained,” Johnson II said. “My experience with the kids out there, it just makes it that much better. It’s fun to be around them, fun to coach them, fun to see them grow as people and as athletes. And winning didn’t hurt either.”
While starting an entirely new sports program comes with a set of unique challenges, such as beginning with just a freshmen class and waiting for the athletic facilities to be built, Johnson II doesn’t see it as negatives.
Instead, he’s looking forward to spending all four years with his inaugural group of student-athletes, shaping them to be great kids on and off the track.
“The blank canvas, you’re starting from scratch, you get to put your imprint on it. I think it’s pretty cool to start something from the very beginning,” he said. “It’s exciting to be able to start your own program and grow with these kids. When you look back, me and this group of freshmen, we can say we were here from the beginning.”
And if the track isn’t completed by the time summer camps open in July, he isn’t worried.
“We’ll find somewhere to get it done and be ready,” he said.
While Johnson II cherished his time with the Cowboys, building lifelong friendships and learning what it takes to be a successful coach, he is ready for the next chapter in his life.
Now, he is looking forward to building something new with the rest of the coaches, Castaic High School principal Melanie Hagman and all the incoming students.
“I want to thank Ms. Hagman for this opportunity, and I do want to thank coach Broneer and coach DeLong for everything,” he said. “I’ll miss my time at Canyon, but I’m ready to start something new.”