In a weight room, on a football field, in a locker room.
That’s where Dave Hoskins is in his element. A blocking sled, a bench press and a notepad full of scribbled X’s and O’s are just some of the tools of his trade.
He’s a football coach, in his 50th year, having come full circle back to Christian Brothers High School.
Hoskins has gone from an active, intense 21-year-old assistant at Christian Brothers in 1967 to a wobbly, graying, sage aide known as much for his ability to develop offensive linemen as his skill at delivering one-liners. (On Sunday, he told a waitress he has ties older than her 20 years, and Monday, Hoskins told Falcons players they must be ready for Halloween since their faces already resemble horror masks.)
Hoskins has coached some of the best teams and players in regional history. A Bakersfield native who played center at Sacramento State, Hoskins left his mark at Christian Brothers, Valley and Elk Grove with stops at Sac State and local community colleges. He has been a head coach and an assistant, a mentor and friend to many, an enduring local football treasure.
“Great coach, great guy who helped mentor me as a player (at Christian Brothers in 1969 and ’70),” Falcons head coach Dan Carmazzi said of Hoskins. Carmazzi emphasized “great” – with a catch.
Hoskins has no sense of direction. For a man who has taught driver’s education since 1971, he tends to get lost. When told Carmazzi’s Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Fame induction ceremony was at the Hyatt Regency last month, Hoskins arrived at the Hilton and wondered where the party was. He made it to the Hyatt in time and blamed Carmazzi: “If he was a Sac State Hornet like me and not a UC Davis Aggie, we’d get better directions.”
“Dave gets lost on his way to the barn here,” Hoskins’ wife, Stella, said Sunday at their Elk Grove home, where the couple has four horses.
Hoskins denies none of this. He wouldn’t know Google Maps from a goat. He’s old-school. He has a flip phone but doesn’t know how to text. His idea of a computer hard drive is taking speed bumps too fast through a school parking lot on his way to the coaches’ office to watch game film.
“It’s true,” Hoskins said with a laugh. “I left a Sac State game once and couldn’t find the car. Had to wait until everyone left before I found it.”
Hoskins said this may be his final season in coaching, but he wonders how he’d navigate life without football.
“I’ve been thinking about this, and it’s sad because it’s all gone by so fast,” Hoskins said. “Where did the time go? I don’t golf. None of my friends will go hunting with me anymore after I nearly shot them by accident. I’m not computerized. I’m a football guy.”
Hoskins doesn’t ride horses, deferring to the expert, Stella, a counselor in her 30th year at Cosumnes River College. Hoskins, however, feeds the horses and some 20 chickens each morning at 5. He plays racquetball six days a week, chuckling at how he lost his balance earlier this year and hit his head on the glass wall with such force that the lights went out.
“I walk like a penguin,” Hoskins said. “Playing football and rugby and playing catcher, it catches up to you. But I can still outwork some of our players. I still love coaching.”
Hoskins said the one constant in the ever-evolving sport of football is the game comes down to fundamentals, conditioning and desire. Christian Brothers (7-2) has all of those elements in assembling a seven-game winning streak. And if experience matters in the playoffs, the Falcons have plenty of that in Hoskins and Carmazzi, who have a combined 90 years of area coaching on their résumés.
Hoskins might join Carmazzi in the section Hall of Fame. He helped introduce the region to strength and conditioning programs when he arrived at Christian Brothers, where Dick Sperbeck mentored him. He coached Valley to a 12-1 season in 1995 and was co-coach with Ed Lombardi in 1997 and 1998 when Elk Grove went 27-1 and won back-to-back section Division I championships.
Hoskins guided Elk Grove to a 14-0 championship season in 2001 with just one college scholarship player and went a combined 23-3 in 2006 and 2007 at Elk Grove. Now, he has helped Christian Brothers become a force, again.
“Winning,” Hoskins said, “never gets old.”