Santa Barbara City College has gone in-house to fill the head coaching positions for its men’s basketball, women’s golf, and track and field programs.
Devin Engebretsen, a former Vaquero player and long-time assistant under Morris Hodges, is succeeding him as head basketball coach. He is also taking over the women’s golf position formerly held by Chuck Melendez.
Don Willis, SBCC’s assistant head football coach, was tabbed to also head both the men’s and women’s programs for track and field.
Director of athletics Rocco Constantino said he was fortunate to have such experienced coaches at SBCC to step into those head positions.
“(Devin) has been extremely successful in the roles he has had at SBCC and elsewhere and it’s time we do a better job as a department rewarding people who have been loyal and successful,” he said. “Don is one of the best role models we have in our department and I am very excited that he’ll be able to impact so many of our students through football and track and field.”
Morris, who recently retired after running the Vaquero basketball program for the last 30 years, coached Engebretsen for two seasons (1999-2001).
Engebretsen returned to serve as the top men’s assistant for eight seasons (2003-07 and 2016-2020) and was associate head coach for both the men’s and women’s teams the last two years. He and head coach Sandrine Krul guided the Vaquero women to a 15-9 record last season, which led to their first playoff berth since 2013.
“I was impressed with the work he did recruiting with the men’s basketball team and also the boost he gave to the women’s basketball team when he began working with them in 2018,” Constantino said. “The academic side is a big part of this, as well, and Devin has a track record of being a great lecture instructor and mentor for students here.”
Engebretsen earned two Master’s degrees: in Science and Physical Education from Azusa Pacific and in Arts in History from Cal State Northridge.
He served as the varsity girls basketball coach and athletic director at Notre Dame High in San Jose from 2007-11, turning a struggling program into a two-time league champion and three-time playoff team.
Engebretsen continued from there to Sacramento City College where he coached its women’s basketball team for three years (2011-14), earning a No. 13 ranking in Northern California during his final season.
He then coached for two years (2014-16) at Westmark School in Los Angeles and eventually became its athletic director.
He guided its boys basketball team to a pair of CIF-Southern Section playoff berths and an Omega League championship in 2015. He also served as a health and P.E. instructor at the school, as defensive coordinator for the 2014 league championship football team, and as head coach for the boys and girls golf teams.
Engebretsen said his priority will be to develop his players “as students, athletes and people.”
“As students, our athletes utilize our college’s resources, mentoring program and Achievement Zone to help them reach their goals and accomplish academic success,” Engebretsen said. “As athletes, we utilize an up-tempo and aggressive style meant to showcase the talents of our players and develop them into next-level players.
“As people, we strive to have a community footprint as we work with various groups in serving the greater Santa Barbara community and living daily by our goodness-beyond-self mantra.”
Constantino said he played big roles in improving the grade-point average of the men’s basketball team to over 3.0 while also bringing in its largest recruiting class in many years.
“He’s been a fantastic instructor in his lecture classes, which is important in this position as well,” he said.
Engebretsen, an avid golfer, will also be replacing one of the most successful coaches in SBCC history. Melendez won four state championships and eight WSC titles during his 20 seasons of coaching women’s golf.
“Devin has done some work with our golf teams and players in the past and is extremely knowledgeable and talented in the sport,” Constantino said. “He is a regular presence in the Santa Barbara golf community.
“Chuck Melendez has built our women’s golf program into one of the most respected in the state and we’re fortunate to have a coach of Devin’s caliber already on staff to take over.”
Engebretsen and his wife Katie, a nurse at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, have two young children: Max and Lucy.
Willis, a former NFL linemen, will continue his role as an assistant head football coach and defensive coordinator for the Vaqueros.
His resume in track and field includes three CIF-SS championships in the shot put and discus throw while competing for Cabrillo High School. His efforts also helped the Conquistadors win a pair of CIF team titles.
Willis graduated from Cabrillo in 1991 and continued on to play football at the University of Washington. The Huskies won a national title with a 12-0 record during his freshman year.
He also competed for Washington’s track and field team in both the shot put and discus.
His eight-year career as an NFL lineman included stints with the Seattle Seahawks, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Kansas City Chiefs.
He returned to Cabrillo High to serve as its head track and field coach, guiding the Conquistadors to the Los Padres League championship in 2011. He also coached track at Santa Maria High in 2012.
Willis returned to Cabrillo to serve as its head football coach from 2014-16 before joining the staff at SBCC.
“We have had some outstanding individual track and field athletes over the years, but we have struggled with numbers over the past three years, particularly on the women’s side,” Constantino said. “Coach Willis has great experience recruiting and relates very well to students and parents, which I think will help us rebuild the program.”
Willis and his wife, Rebecca, have a blended family which includes seven grown children.
“We need people like Coach Willis in our department,” Constantino said. “He’s somebody who is dependable and reliable and cares very deeply about our student-athletes.
“I have seen the support he has given our students in good times and bad and he’s always positive and encouraging. He’s another coach that we absolutely have to keep on staff here as we move forward in this new reality after the COVID-19 shutdown.”