By Justin Vigil-Zuniga
Signal Sports Writer
John Wissmath may soon earn the unofficial record for most time spent on campus at College of the Canyons. The full-time faculty member and Cougar softball coach was recently named the head of the women’s basketball program.
Wissmath has been the COC softball coach for the past 15 seasons in which he has led the team to seven conference titles and more than 350 career wins.
Although he hasn’t coached basketball in nearly 30 years, Wissmath couldn’t be more excited to get to work with the Canyons team.
“I grew up playing basketball,” said Wissmath. “It’s always been a dream of mine to be in the realm of college basketball.”
The 59-year-old coach grew up in Bieber, California, and played basketball throughout his earlier years. Wissmath’s last time lacing up competitively came during his collegiate years at Shasta College.
Even with all the time off, the coach is well-equipped with the knowledge of how to run a winning program. Wissmath wants to see his team consistently hustling and working hard on getting into the right mindset for games.
The coach already has offensive schemes in mind to drill into his players’ memories, in order for them to be able to run it like clockwork. A flex offense and intense man defense are expected.
The coach was quick to acknowledge his staff and the value they bring to the team. Alaina Garcia and Chayan Lowery will be the first assistant coaches.
“I have two great assistant coaches,” said Wissmath. “I know they’ll have a lot of knowledge to help the girls get going.”
Wissmath noted he also golfs with longtime COC coach Greg Herrick. The two will inevitably chat about the program while out on the green, giving him a valuable source of basketball knowledge.
The Bieber native was surprised when he got the offer and thought there were a few candidates ahead of him. However, COC Athletic Director Chad Peters already knows Wissmath can manage a winning program.
“Everyone wants to be successful, but you want them to be able to compete at a high level,” said Wissmath. “I’d like to see my sophomores be able to transfer out, get a scholarship and continue playing on at another college.”
Wissmath will remain as a full-time faculty member but will be in the classroom a little less, giving him the necessary time to run the softball and basketball programs. He insists the two won’t overlap and he should have a smooth transition once the basketball season ends in late February. January and February may get hectic but it’s an experience the coach is looking forward to.
The head coach will inherit a team that finished last season ranked 12th in the state. He also will have one year of coaching the Western State Conference South Division Player of the Year, First Team All-State forward Lulu Salloom, as well as WSC first teamer Monique Febles.
The team will host tryouts on Monday for new players, a day Wissmath is looking forward to the most. He’ll aim to build upon the legacy of Herrick while still taking it day by day.
“I am looking forward to the first day, which is Monday, and I’ll stick to that,” said Wissmath. “One day at a time.”