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January 31, 2023

‘Catz on the search for new football head coach

Watsonville dismisses Anthony Valdivia after three-year stint

WATSONVILLE—The Watsonville High football program is on the hunt for a new head coach this offseason after the school announced that Anthony Valdivia was relieved of his duties.

Watsonville High Assistant Principal Joe Gregorio said it ultimately came down to a personnel issue.

“As a district and as a school, we’re going in a different direction and we don’t discuss personnel issues,” he said.

Valdivia met with the school’s vice principals a week after the regular season finale against North Monterey County on Nov. 3. 

He was not fired from his teaching position at Watsonville High, but he was informed that football operations would no longer be his responsibility.

“In that meeting they informed me that they were going in a new direction. They were seeking new leadership,” Valdivia said.

Valdivia decided that a clean divorce from the school was the best choice.

“It definitely hurts my feelings and it was something I was very disappointed about,” he said. “But if you’re not winning, it’s one of those things where results are expected.”

During his three-year tenure, he posted an 8-17 overall record and was 3-9 in league play.

Valdivia said non-football-related things, such as players getting into fights on campus or with other teams, became a distraction. 

“I think [administration] just got to the point where they were tired of hearing about what we were doing wrong,” Valdivia said.

Valdivia—who once donned a Wildcatz jersey from 2001-04—landed his dream job to lead the Watsonville football team in March 2020. 

One thing he says he’ll always remember is being on the sideline Friday nights and watching the fog slowly roll in over Emmett M. Geiser Field.

“It’s always what I’ve wanted to do,” he said. “I wanted to be the Watsonville football coach and I wanted to inspire the next generation the same way that my football coaches inspired me.”

Gregorio said they were extremely happy to have a Watsonville High alumni come back to help coach the program.

“We wish nothing but the best of luck for Anthony in the future,” Gregorio said. 

Watsonville High will post the coaching position soon and will try to fill in the vacant spot as soon as possible.

“We’re going to do the best we can for the students of Watsonville High School,” Gregorio said.

Valdivia said he was proud of how they pressed hard on students from the freshmen up to the seniors for academic eligibility, especially when it wasn’t required during the abbreviated 2021 spring season. 

“We said ‘Nope, you gotta earn it if you’re going to do this with us,’” Valdivia said.

Valdivia said he loved every minute of coaching despite some of the hardships that came along with the job.

He mentioned that in order for them to be successful they were going to have to be the counterculture of the school.

Valdivia wanted to create rules and expectations for the players to hold accountable.

“We had a lot of difficulty keeping the general school culture out of our locker room,” he said.

Valdivia is currently a physical education instructor at Rolling Hills Middle School and will not coach any of the programs. 

However, he doesn’t plan on giving up coaching high school football. Valdivia said he’s talked to some friends in the area and is trying to figure out his next move, which he hopes will be sooner rather than later. 

“I know if I stop then I’m going to get used to not doing it,” he said. “I definitely want to keep coaching.”

Watsonville High announced that Anthony Valdivia, middle, will no longer be the head coach of the football program. (The Pajaronian file photo)
Juan Reyes
A Watsonville native who has a passion for local sports and loves his community. A Watsonville High, Cabrillo College, San Jose State University and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumnus, he primarily covers high school athletics, Cabrillo College athletics, various youth sports in the Pajaro Valley and the Santa Cruz Warriors. Juan is also a video game enthusiast, part-time chef (at home), explorer and a sports junkie. Coaches and athletic directors are encouraged to report scores HERE.

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