Joe Davidson

Why two top basketball coaches in the Sacramento area are stepping down

Paul Hayes with the Woodcreek boys in Roseville won 322 games over 16 seasons and two Sac-Joaquin Section and two Northern California championships.
Paul Hayes with the Woodcreek boys in Roseville won 322 games over 16 seasons and two Sac-Joaquin Section and two Northern California championships. Sacramento Bee file

They put in their time, the exhaustive seasons adding up to a frantic 24/7 rate.

Their teams were annual contenders that won championships and fostered player relationships to last a lifetime. Now two of the area's most highly regarded high school basketball coaches have called it quits.

Paul Hayes with the Woodcreek boys in Roseville won 322 games over 16 seasons with two Sac-Joaquin Section and two Northern California championships, including last season's prestigious Open Division banner.

Vic Pitton with the St. Francis girls in Sacramento amassed 334 victories over 16 seasons with two section titles and the 2016 Division I NorCal banner.

The coaches combined to win 15 league championships, leading their teams with equal parts discipline, love and laughter. They're bowing out to catch their breath and enjoy family time.

"I've done this 25 years total and it's been a lot of fun, but it's time," said Hayes, who will remain as a business and technology teacher at Woodcreek. "There's no doubt that there's a lot of rewards in coaching, but it's a lot of time, too. It's especially true when you're running a program with so many things to do, including managing the lower levels, the concussion testing, the finger printing, the sportsmanship classes, the first-aid and CPR training, the travel, the fundraising, managing all the coaches, scheduling gym time, a litany of things.

"I've been so fortunate here with all the support, but it's time to do other activities and to be with family."

Hayes inherited a Timberwolves program in 1998 that had suffered through a 48-game losing streak. The streak ended with a win in his debut. He stepped down for four seasons to recharge and produced one of his more memorable seasons this winter, including handing Folsom it's lone Sierra Foothill League loss and upsetting a defending CIF State basketball champion in St. Joseph Notre Dame of Alameda in a NorCal Division II playoff game after losing 6-foot-11 national recruit Jordan Brown to Prolific Prep in the fall.

"Great memories," he said.

MC_GIRLS_BASKETBALL_15.JPG
Vic Pitton with the St. Francis girls in Sacramento amassed 334 victories over 16 seasons with two section titles and the 2016 Division I NorCal banner. Manny Crisostomo Sacramento Bee file

Like Hayes, Pitton said he was delighted with his program's success. He took over a Troubadours program used to success and kept on winning.

"I am pleased, very, very much so," Pitton said. "If you don't have a passion to coach, it does not work. You have to be able to gain satisfaction and energy from what you do, and it requires a lot of energy. The girls' effort sustained me. They put their heart and soul into this.

"It's just time to be with family."

Pitton and his wife Susan of 30 years will move to Mississippi in the summer, where they are having a home built some 15 minutes away from where their daughter, Alison, is raising their two young grandsons. Alison, 33, is a St. Francis graduate.

"I didn't want to see my grandsons grow up through Facebook – we wanted to be there to see it," Pitton said. "It's motivated my wife and me."

Pitton reflected for a moment on his first wife, Cathy, who died when Alison was 4.

"It was so sad, and I've seen hell, and I've been through it, and I did my best to stay on track and create as normal of a life as possible for Alison," Pitton said. "When Alison was 4, she'd say that she had a mother in heaven and a mother on Earth.

"I've had a great time at St. Francis, but it's family time now."

Woodcreek is seeking a new coach. St. Francis has named Heather Brownholtz, who has won lower-level championships at St. Francis, as Pitton's successor.

This clip from a video from One Shot Vision Hoop shows the last two minutes of an epic showdown between the top two powerhouses in Northern California, No. 1 Sheldon vs. No. 2 Woodcreek in the Sac-Joaquin Section Championship game at the Universi

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