High School Sports

Prep notes: Mike Gimenez steps down as Whitney football coach to step up as dad

After 21 years as a head coach at Woodland and Whitney, Mike Gimenez resigned to spend more time with his family. “I loved every minute ... but I need a break,” he said.
After 21 years as a head coach at Woodland and Whitney, Mike Gimenez resigned to spend more time with his family. “I loved every minute ... but I need a break,” he said. Sacramento Bee file

Mike Gimenez appreciates the concern, but he’s fine. He’s not going anywhere. He’s just turning in his headset and whistle.

Gimenez announced his resignation Wednesday as head football coach at Whitney High School, pleased with transforming a new school in Placer County into a respectable program in a short time. Having been a head coach for 21 years – including 10 at his alma mater, Woodland – Gimenez said he needs a break. Nothing more.

“I loved every minute of my time at Woodland and Whitney – working with the kids, coaching – but I need a break,” Gimenez said. “My wife (Kimberly) has supported me doing this forever. We have three kids – 14, 12 and 9 – and I need to be with them, too. It’s not like I’m dying. It’s not like I’ll be gone tomorrow. I’ll still be at Whitney, a great school with great kids and staff. I’m still here.”

Gimenez led seven playoff teams in his nine seasons at Whitney with two trips to the Sac-Joaquin Section finals, including a championship in 2008.

“His influence on the football program, athletic department and school culture during his coaching tenure has been truly remarkable,” said Whitney athletic director Jason Feuerbach. “His actions were that of a man who is a role model for all. He spoke about sportsmanship, character, citizenship and much more after every practice.”

Gimenez said Whitney’s 1-9 season in 2014 didn’t affect his decision. The Wildcats were besieged by injuries, down to third-string players, yet still competed, Gimenez said.

“The next coach will have a lot of talent, and Whitney will win a lot of games,” Gimenez said. “Who knows? Maybe I’ll help that new coach on the freshman or JV level or as a varsity assistant. I love coaching. Doesn’t matter what level. I love coaching my kids. Right now, for my family and me, I need to do this. It’s time to step back as a head coach. My family needs more of my time.

“I’m not sure people outside of coaching really understand how much work this is. (Retired area coach) Ed Lombardi once told me that the only other guy in the stadium on game night who understands you is the other head coach. It’s been a great run. I know being around high school kids isn’t for everyone. For me, it keeps me young, and it works for me, even if you do need a break.”

More coaching moves – Other area football coaches who have stepped down to spend more time with family are Justin Reber of Rio Linda, Mike Rosales of Florin, Bert Salinas of Woodland and Rick Wanlin of Rosemont. Reber accepted a job with Tri-City Christian in Vista, which is closer to his young daughter, Harlow Ann. Wanlin led Rosemont to six playoff berths in seven seasons. Each position remains open, according to school administrators.

All-day hoops – Jesuit will host Saturday’s Father Kelly Tribute, featuring teams that expect to compete for section championships or reach the NorCal finals in March at Sleep Train Arena.

No. 1 Folsom, the defending NorCal Division II champion, plays defending CIF State Division I winner Monte Vista of Danville in the 8 p.m. showcase.

The remaining schedule:

▪ Foothill vs. No. 13 Cosumnes Oaks, noon.

▪ No. 4 Kennedy vs. Newark Memorial, 1:30 p.m.

▪ Berkeley vs. No. 9 Pleasant Grove, 3 p.m.

▪ El Cerrito vs. Modesto Christian, 5 p.m.

▪  No. 12 Jesuit vs. Freedom, 6:30 p.m.

What can Brown do for you? – Woodcreek forward Jordan Brown sparkled in his varsity Sierra Foothill League opener Tuesday. While the 6-foot-9 freshman scored on baseline moves and inside plays, he also made a halfcourt, buzzer beater while scoring 33 points as the No. 3 Timberwolves topped Rocklin 89-78.

“He can do it all,” Woodcreek coach Paul Hayes said.

Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD.