Fernando paves new direction for Castaic basketball 

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Louis Fernando inherited one of the best boys’ basketball coaching jobs when he accepted the position at Castaic High School. 

Fernando takes on the reins of a program hot off a CIF title in its first-ever playoff run. However, the first year-head coach isn’t reveling in his players’ past accomplishments and is focused on a new culture for the 2024-25 season. 

“Taking over a program that had such a unique year last year, we’re really not considering much from the past,” Fernando said. “I’m considering everything from now moving forward. I think it’s incredible that they had a wonderful year and that they were able to achieve success last year, but I’m going to say this respectfully and transparently, that was them.” 

“We’re a new program. We’re headed into a new direction.” 

Fernando joins the Coyotes as a former Granada Hills Highlander, where he coached and played. Since his varsity days, the coach has spent time at Moorpark College and Concordia before returning home to coach at Granada. 

The new head Coyote has been mentored by some brilliant basketball minds, including one local former NBA sharpshooter. 

“After I finished playing in college, I went straight into coaching,” Fernando said. “I had a handful of mentors that took me under their wing. I was able to work with guys like Mike Penberthy, Byron Scott and Chris Johnson, guys that just have become gurus in the basketball world.” 

Fernando also works as a player development coach, and has trained numerous professional athletes playing all over the world. 

The high school basketball coaching landscape was unique this season. Head coaching positions are obviously difficult to come by, especially with former professionals and former college coaches now in the mix at the high school level.  

“I went into the job opportunity of Castaic just really open minded about an opportunity that I felt like I was very qualified for as a leader,” Fernando said. “I think I just needed someone to see that and believe that. I come from a circle where a lot of people that are ahead of me, like my mentors, are uber successful in what they do. So it was a little disheartening trying to get a high school job because jobs are really hard to come by, especially now that you have guys like Derek Fisher at Crespi and ex-college coaches that are coming back to the high school level. I’m competing against guys that are 10 to 15 years older than me that have 10-15 years of experience on me. For me to get this job, it’s just really humbling and really, I just I’m honored to be put in a position of leadership at Castaic.” 

Fernando has met with his players since being hired in April and had a few practices. So far, the coach has been impressed with his players’ work ethic and their ability to take on a whole new system. 

“I’m just really excited seeing the boys and seeing them buy into new defensive principles, new offensive sets,” Fernando said. “I’m very excited to see these boys take the content that we’re going to give them and make it their own, but also own it. Own it for everything that they are because basketball has an expiration date. You can’t play forever. So now that you have this opportunity, you own it, value it, truly just admire and honor it.”  

The coach has shown his players but wants parents and fans to know the passion he’s bringing to the table. 

“You can expect a fiery coach that is very proud of his boys,” Fernando said. “I’m so proud of the boys even after our first week of practice, the attention to detail and their ability to be flexible and learn new content. I’m learning just as much as they’re learning. One thing you can expect to see this year is that every single game, every single gym that we walk into, we will walk out of that gym respected and that’s at all levels.” 

While goals on the court will form closer to the season, Fernando is keeping his focus on building a new culture and molding the players into one cohesive unit.” 

“One big thing for us this year, we’ll be huge on communication,” the coach said. “My goal is to build a brotherhood and a brotherhood starts with everyone being on the same page. It’s a we program. Everything is about we, everything is about us. The whole goal is to allow these boys to basically understand the responsibility of being a quality individual, because basketball is the easy part. It’s about teaching life through the game of basketball, and I’m excited to do that and win some basketball games along the way.” 

The coach took the job fully knowing the challenges that lie ahead in the Foothill League. Fernando is excited to take a crack at ending the Coyotes’ rut and win the program’s first-ever league game. 

“We haven’t won a league game in over three seasons,” Fernando said. “That being said, there’s some pressure on my back and there’s some pressure on the boys’ backs. I’m going to be honest, I don’t feel any of that pressure. I know that I’m gonna do my best with the boys. I know at the end of the day, we’ll go out, play hard and execute. If we can just buy into the new identity of the culture that we’re trying to create then I have no doubt in my mind that this team will achieve a level of success that they have not been able to achieve in the last three seasons.” 

Fernando will be one of three new head coaches in the Foothill League, as Greg Fontenette takes over at Valencia while Bryan Bartley will head the West Ranch program. While the other two take over programs typically at the top of the Foothill League standings, Fernando will do everything he can to push his Coyotes as high and as far as they can go. 

“It’s such a special place to be and I’m honored to be at the head of the arrow for the boys’ basketball team,” Fernando said. “I just want to take them to new heights and just restructure what the identity of that program looks like … I think excitement is not the right word. I’m honored. I think it’s an honor to be able to lead a fresh program as a fresh face of these new boys. I know a lot of these boys aren’t very experienced. It’s just an honor to lead such a fresh group of boys in a direction of success.” 

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