New Cavs A.D. feeling right at home

  • Sunday, July 13, 2014

Dan Brown/Independent New athletic director and basketball coach Steve Guerry is making himself at home at SJCA.

The boxes are stacked along the floor.

Most coming, some going.

As the transition from retiring St. John’s Christian Academy Athletic Director Bob Winters to newly hired Steve Guerry winds down, Guerry has begun to make himself at home.

“I’m not here to radically change anything,” he said. “I’m here to continue building on the fine foundation Bob Winters started here.”

A few of Winters’ boxes remain stacked on the sofa as Guerry continued getting settled. There is no hurry with the start of the new school year still more than six weeks away. A weeklong basketball goodwill trip to China just concluded,and Guerry has been doing some thinking about where he sees SJCA athletics going over the next several years.

Guerry will put his thumbprint on the Cavaliers sports program and his new influence will be visible early on.

“I’m thinking about where this program should go over the next five to ten years,” Guerry said. “My biggest job is to get the word out about St. John’s Christian Academy Athletics, about how this is a great place and a viable alternative for your child to play.

“Raising awareness in town will get more people to the ball games and in turn get more quality athletes interested in going to school here.”

During his first 30 days on the job, Guerry has spent the bulk of his time working with new football coach John McCall as he gets his arms around his first head coaching assignment.

“We have assembled the strongest coaching staff we’ve had here in a while,” Guerry said. “We’ve brought in Brandon Patterson as our Defensive Coordinator.”

Plus local youth pastor Jeff Moss and former Berkeley High School quarterback Shawn Stevens to join returning assistant Stefan Castellucci.

“We have some decent talent returning in football and we should be competitive,” he said.

Given SJCA’s diminutive student population, the Cavalier core of athletes play multiple sports. Those you see on the football sidelines this fall, such as Dustin Parsons, Robbie O’Dell, Connor Thornton, Byron Rogers Colin Murchison and Harun Scott, will also lace up the Air Jordans for basketball and the baseball spikes for baseball.

“We’ll remain competitive across the board in sports,” he said.

Guerry also complimented departing coach Matt Gilbert who spent one season along the Cavalier sidelines.

“Matt did an outstanding job under the circumstances,” Guerry said. “He had to build a team and assemble a coaching staff in a very short amount of time and that was hard to do.”

Guerry said this year will see a lot of change in SJCA sports, starting with football: “New coach and new coaching staff, we have some young guys that have some experience and are interested in helping out.”

Also taking the reins as head basketball coach, Guerry knows the coming winter and trying to replace what may have been the three best basketball players in the history of Cavalier basketball in Greg Gamble, Jalen Ward and Damian Hurta, will be a challenge.

In spring, while not getting specific, Guerry hinted at some big changes in store for the Lady Cavaliers softball team.

“We have a very talented group of young girls that won their region and went to the state tournament and I feel it’s time to take the softball program to a new level,” he said.

Also on the radar this fall is the school’s rising cross country team that boasts the defending 2013 state champion in Connor Thornton.

“With Connor and Dillon Biering finishing in the top three in the state, this year I think our cross country team has the chance to make more of a teamwide statement this year,” he said.

Exciting times, Guerry said, and don’t look for him to be going anywhere anytime soon.

“My wife teaches here,” he said. “My kids will go to school here. I plan on being around awhile.”

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