Castaic High School has announced the new head coach of Coyote football, bringing in Sirr Guy Shakir to develop the young program.
Shakir has been retired for several years but returns to the field with decades of knowledge.
The new Coyote head coach started coaching at Van Nuys in the late 1990s before coaching locally at Canyon under CIF Hall of Famer Harry Welch.
Shakir then went into junior college football and has spent time at Pierce College and College of the Canyons. He then stepped down to coach his sons through youth football before his gridiron hiatus. In his time off the field, Shakir made a checklist of everything he’d want in a program should he return to coaching. The Castaic program fit the bill perfectly.
“I made a little checklist back in the day if I was to get back into coaching, on what a program would have to have,” Shakir said. “I’ve always wanted to be a head coach, I feel qualified to do so. I got to know [Principal] Vince Ferry and [Athletic Director] Jibri Hodge. We had the same vision for the program and what it takes to build a program in a new school.”
Shakir aims to advance his Coyote team on the field as well as in the classroom.
“We really have a vision, but obviously baby steps,” Shakir said. “What we’re trying to do is build a competitive program in the classroom and on the field. That’s going to take some time but we have the kids and coaching staff to do it. There’s no timeline but we just want to get better every day. I’m asking the kids, ‘Are you better than you were yesterday? OK, let’s get better than that.’ We don’t wanna be good, we wanna be great. We’ve challenged them every day to be better and they’ve accepted that challenge.”
The 2022 coaching staff was one of the busiest. The five-man staff coached both junior varsity and varsity through practices and both games on Fridays. Shakir doesn’t have an exact number in mind yet but believes he’ll have plenty of help in the coaching staff.
“We’re gonna be fully staffed,” Shakir said. “I’ve been really fortunate to coach with some great guys over the years. Met a lot of great guys at the youth level and at that level you have to really be able to teach. I know them, I trust them, I work with guys I really trust and know I can do what they do and have a positive influence on the kids. We’ll be fully staffed.”
One coach already signed on with Shakir is defensive line coach Rocco Cordola.
“Coach Shakir is first and foremost a family man,” Cordola said. “He’s a man of principle and he’s a man that’s always been open-minded in any situation that I’ve brought to him. If I had sons going into a football program today, there’s no one better I think in this community that I would want to mentor my sons than Sirr Guy Shakir.”
Cordola joins the Coyote staff after five years as the Saugus High School defensive line coach. The two coached together at COC and stepped down around the same time to coach their sons’ youth football teams. Cordola and Shakir won five championships together at the youth level.
“We maintained our friendship even though we weren’t coaching together,” Cordola said. “I resigned after the season this year and was looking at the next step for myself coaching. Once he got the job, he called me and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I said yes and, ‘We’re going to build something special. It’s not gonna be easy but if it was easy, everyone would do it.’”
Shakir knows the competition and adversity ahead of the team in 2023. The players, teams and coaching in the Foothill League are typically thought of as among the toughest in the Southern Section.
“I pretty much know all of the coaches because I’ve been a teacher in the district for decades,” Shakir said. “There’s a lot of quality coaches in this league and they know each other well. I’m really honored to coach in this league. It’s competitive, but that’s what you want as a competitor if you wanna get better. Iron sharpens iron, right?”
Shakir and a bulk of the coaching staff met with the team the Monday after he was hired. They went over their vision of the program and immediately began offseason workouts. Cordola saw a team hungry for more organization but also compassion.
“My first impressions were after I got to watch them and go through the lift was, I saw the kids that were hungry for structure, organization and people just to care and support them,” Cordola said. “I think in this environment they’ll not only have that, but they’ll have that throughout the whole staff Shakir has put together.”
The coaching staff and administration share the vision of improving every day and having every student-athlete reach their full potential.
“We’re really trying to get our players to be the absolute best they can be,” Shakir said. “We’re trying to help them find their perceived limitations and push through that. The main thing is we’re just trying to get them to understand how to be great.”
Cordola knows all about the work it takes to strive for greatness as a former National Championship coach with COC in 2004.
“One of the things we believe is that we’re going to build great character kids both on and off the field,” Cordola said. “We’ve reiterated to them that there is no substitute for hard work. We’re gonna respect one another. We’re gonna respect our school and community and represent it accordingly.”
The program has just one year of varsity experience. However, that means there’s no way to go but up. Shakir will aim to keep that mentality throughout the seasons and keep the team only looking forward.
“I don’t know about what happened last year because I was retired,” Shakir said. “I told the kids our program is like our car. We’re not looking behind us, we’re looking forward. We’re gonna push the gas and we’re gonna go, placing an emphasis on being better than we were the day before.”