After 24 years of helming the cross-country and track and field teams at Canyon High School, Paul Broneer is retiring as head coach.
Broneer will stay on as an assistant coach in track and field helping with the high jump and hurdles, and will also continue as an assistant girls varsity basketball coach, a position he’s held since 2010.
“It’s a big load off my mind. I’m still going to help out, coaching the hurdles and high jump next year, just show up and coach kids, I’m not going to do any of the paperwork,” Broneer said. “Right now I’m helping Jessica Haayer with the basketball team, no more cross-country at all, totally retiring from coaching cross-country.”
Before his time at Canyon, Broneer coached at Burroughs High School for four years, Glendale High School for 17 years, one year at Hart and coached the varsity girls basketball team at Burbank High School during the 1977-78 season.
Combining track and field, cross-country and basketball, the UCLA grad has coached a total of 178 varsity teams over his tenure.
“I’ve been coaching three sports mostly every year since 1974. We do a Christmas letter and I put down how we did,” he said. “My wife and I just added it up, I’ve coached 178 varsity teams in my career: 44 boys track, 40 girls track, 40 boys cross-country, 40 girls cross-country and 14 girls basketball teams.”
The veteran instructor helped lead the Cowboys to 43 total Foothill League championships: Seven titles with the boys cross-country team, 10 with the girls cross-country team, 16 with the boys track and field team and 10 with the girls track and field team.
Broneer’s record with the boys track and field team was 143-18-2, a whopping .888 winning percentage, and his record with the girls track and field team was 126-38-0, a .768 winning percentage.
While there are many memorable moments from Broneer’s coaching career, the winning tradition he helped establish at Canyon stands at the forefront.
“We had a state championship girls team my very first year at Canyon in cross-country when Lauren Fleshman (the U.S. 5,000-meter champion in 2006 and 2010) was a freshman and that’s the first time the girls cross-country team ever won a league title,” Broneer said. “We ended up going on a 10-year run, league title 10 years in a row. Then the boys in 2000, we got second in the state and in 2001 we came back and won the state title.
“In track we won every dual meet in league for like 12 straight years and had a big long streak. Boys track we won our first league title when I was coaching track in ‘98 then we won six years straight from 2002 through 2007. The last nine years we won the league title and this season we took third.”
In addition to piling up winning season after winning season, Broneer is going to miss watching student-athletes progress from the first year of high school until graduation.
Having a hand in their development and helping them grow as athletes and as people is something that Broneer will always cherish.
“The difference between coaching and teaching is when you’re coaching you get these kids when they’re freshmen,” he said. “Tyler Cash for example, he was a little skinny 5-foot-6, 96-pound kid and now he’s over 6-feet, he’s still pretty skinny. Next year he might be 6-foot-1 or 6-foot-2, 140 pounds. You get to really know them over a long period of time and that’s what I enjoy, watching them develop from freshmen to seniors. You can’t do that as a teacher, you get these kids for one year and they’re gone, but as a coach you get to know them.”
“He is an amazing coach that always put his athletes first. He didn’t treat us as students, he always treated us as family,” Cash said via text message. “I don’t think I could’ve asked for a better coach and mentor.”
“Coach Broneer has been a huge supporter in my successes. Most people asked what I placed, but he really never cared, he always asked what number I hit even though he wasn’t my throws coach,” said Canyon thrower Jacob Lopez, who will be competing at San Jose State University next year. “He would always check up on my mental game before meets and push me to do great things and set goals. I look up to him and love the fact that he never sugarcoats anything.”
While Broneer will remain active with the Cowboys as an assistant with the girls varsity basketball team and helping out with track and field, he’s going to enjoy retirement to the fullest.
That includes spending more time with family, enjoying his favorite hobbies and continuing to mentor young athletes.
“I’ve got seven grandchildren and they’re all into sports. I play a lot of golf, that’s what I enjoy doing. I’ll be playing a lot more golf and just enjoying myself,” he said. “I’m just going to coach kids and have fun, that’s what retirement is supposed to be right?”