‘Those who can’t play, coach’ is how the usual saying goes, but it doesn’t quite apply to Abel Gonzalez.
The 23-year old Humboldt State graduate got some good news on Saturday when Bishop Diego Athletic Director Aaron Skinner announced that Gonzalez was hired as the new track and field coach for the school. He is also going to be the head coach for the junior varsity football team.
Gonzalez graduated from Bishop in 2015 having been a four-sport athlete participating in football, basketball, soccer and track.
“It’s really exciting and I am really looking forward to it,” Gonzalez told the News-Press.
“I am really glad that coach Skinner offered me the opportunity to go back and be part of my alma mater. I am happy to be able to help out the younger kids now that I’m older and just be there for them.”
Gonzalez was an assistant last year for the track team before the season was ultimately canceled due to the novel coronavirus. He said that played a huge role in him wanting to be a head coach, citing the fun he had being around the students and trying to make them better athletes.
“Being out there running again with those guys talking about the mechanics of running and just kind of reminiscing made me want to help out,” he said.
“I’ve always enjoyed being around younger kids and helping the next generation out, so I think I’ve always been inclined to coaching.”
Gonzalez was an All-CIF player and went to the playoff semifinals twice with the Cardinals. He continued his athletic career at Santa Barbara City College in both track and football. He eventually finished his career at Humboldt State, graduating in the summer of 2019 before making his way back to his alma mater.
He said the experience he had as a college athlete will help him coach these young kids along the way.
“You just learn different ways to build up technique, as far as our sprinting stance and other things that we can build to just make it better,” Gonzalez said. “Working with kids, something I’ve really learned is that it’s all about being able to see what the talent that each individual has and not just to change them but to help them improve in any which way possible.”
He added that coaching has brought a new joy to his life, saying that it has brought a new appreciation for the love of the sport.
“Being out there with the kids and seeing the spark, the glow, that I once had playing out there it just makes you happy. There’s just something that you see in those kids and it just brings you this joy and you just kind of want them to have those moments that you had,” Gonzalez said.
He also said having the support of Skinner as well as Tom Crawford, head coach of the Bishop Diego football team, gave him the confidence that he could be a good coach.
“To say that I’m 23 and head coaching a varsity sport and then helping out with the JV squad, it’s not something everyone can say so I appreciate it every day and I’m just hoping that I can do the best for the kids and hopefully they get something out of it along the way,” Gonzalez said.
Looking back at his time at Bishop, Gonzalez said he enjoyed it and it made him “the man he is today.”
“All the lessons I learned through high school, all the teachers I’ve met, the different coaches that I had, that really shaped me as a man and taught me a lot of lessons that I was able to take on to community college, and at Humboldt State,” he said.
“Bishop really does a good job of preparing us as students and being able to go on to the next level and not be overwhelmed by what is waiting for us.”
Overall, Gonzalez said he has one goal and that is to help every kid reach their potential and to get better each and every day.
“I want us as a team to go out every day and be able to say that at the end of practice I got better. Whether it’s on something small, improving our times or improving our mechanics, just being able to come out at the end of the day saying that I improved, that is my goal. Everything else will take care of itself,” Gonzalez said.