Athletic programs prepare for first year at Castaic High School

Cory Rubin/The Signal

Castaic High School, the newest addition to the Hart School District, is set to open its doors for its first-ever student class on Aug. 13.

The Castaic athletics department has 17 sports programs slated to begin in the first year that will participate in the Foothill League, with teams consisting only of freshmen.

According to co-athletic director Mark Overdevest, who will work alongside Jibri Hodge, junior varsity and varsity teams will be introduced over the next few years as the student body size continues to rise.

“The small amount of time I’ve had with Jibri, I think that we’re both kind of on that page where it’s really up to where the talent is and whether the team is ready, and certain sports might be ready to go varsity before other sports,” Overdevest said back in February. 

Of the 17 programs that are being offered, head coaches have been hired for 14 of them, with Castaic still looking for coaches for girls and boys tennis and boys volleyball. 

The Coyotes have been hosting athletic summer camps for 13 of their sports programs at the Castaic Sports Complex, where prospective student-athletes can learn more about the different teams and participate in tryouts.

The baseball team, helmed by Darrell Davis, and the boys basketball team, led by Levi Wenrich, began their summer camps on June 10 and both ended in the first week of July.

Jay Creps, who last coached the softball team at West Ranch in 2017, will manage Castaic’s softball team. Softball summer camp began on June 24 and concludes on Friday.

Girls basketball also began its tryouts on June 24 and finished last week. Charise Hall, a Castaic native and Valencia grad, will lead the Coyotes girls basketball squad.

“I think it’s a coach’s dream to be able to start with freshmen and build the program from the ground up and just see the progression,” Hall said after being hired. “We just want to build that culture from the beginning, we want everybody to be on the same page. I want to create this culture that we’re all in this together, build that camaraderie.”

Cross-country, lacrosse, track and field, girls volleyball and football all began their summer camps on July 1. Lacrosse camp ends on Friday, track and field on Aug. 1 and the other three camps will wrap things up on Aug. 9.

Merari Martinez Hunter, the cross-country coach, held practice every weekday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. during summer camp, with the team using various trails around the Santa Clarita Valley.

While the track wasn’t completed at the start of track and field camp, it was recently painted and is ready to go for head coach Eric Charles Johnson II and his team to use for the season.

Johnson II, who will be assisted by Hall, is also looking forward to starting a brand new program from scratch.

“I’m used to having varsity athletes ready to go, but it’ll be fun getting them fresh and being able to mold them,” he said after his hiring was announced. “The blank canvas, I think it’s pretty cool to start something from the very beginning. When you look back at me and this group of freshmen, we can say we were here from the beginning.”

Tony Uebelhardt will coach the inaugural football and lacrosse team and Taylor Schubert, a former coach at West Ranch, is in charge of the girls volleyball team. 

Schubert, like her fellow coaches, is excited to build the foundation and culture of a new program and represent that Castaic community. She also knows there will be some bumps in the road as the program gets off the ground.

“I think there’s definitely more freedom because there is no one before you, so there’s no set expectation of this is how its always been. It’s kind of like, well this is what I want to build, what we want to build as a whole community over at Castaic, so that’s going to be excited,” Schubert said. “It’s also a little terrifying because you’re going out on your own. There’s no, ‘This is what’s been working in the past so we can build off of that.’ We’re starting from here and lets hope we can get through the first couple years figuring it out.”

Adam Yassaman, the boys soccer coach, held summer camp from July 8-19. Jose Leon, the girls soccer coach, started summer camp on July 22 and it will finish on Aug. 1.

Both boys and girls golf will be coached by Austin Rocha, who began golf summer camp on June 24. Greg Morse will lead the swim program.

Castaic partnered with Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital and will have an athletic trainer on hand during the summer and for athletic events during the school year.

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