CASTROVILLE—It’s been four years since North Monterey County High School has had a dedicated athletic director. But newly hired Oscar Valdes believes the sports department is right where it needs to be and that his job is to continue helping build the programs.
“My role is just to support the coaches, the athletes and be available to the parents,” he said. “There’s a lot of potential I see, and I really like the community that is involved and willing to volunteer and give up their time for our student-athletes. That’s what I’m excited for.”
Valdes, who’s been an athlete his entire life, said his experience will help keep the programs in great shape and it was just perfect timing on both ends.
The King City native was previously a cross country and track and field coach at his alma mater, King City High. But he recently moved to northern Monterey County, so when the position opened up he immediately applied for it.
Plus, he mentioned there’s a lot of talent in North Monterey County, especially the softball team, which is coming off a Central Coast Section Division IV championship run.
Vice principal Kristi Tripp, who served as the athletic director for the past three years, said the coaches and students need, and deserve, to have someone who’ll be there for them at any moment.
“We’re really pleased to have [Valdes] and we see great things for North County for sports,” she said. “Now we have somebody who can focus full time on athletics, it’s going to just get even better.”
Tripp said it was a fantastic experience taking over the athletic director position in 2018.
“North County has amazing coaches and amazing students,” she said.
Under her tenure, Tripp was able to bring in more fundraising to help purchase additional equipment. She also hired additional coaches that helped build strong programs within the department.
The boys’ basketball program, for instance, now has a freshman team for the first time in recent memory.
“The coaches do a great job of recruiting and because their programs are so strong, more and more kids are joining our sports all the time,” Tripp said. “But we do a lot more recruitment of students now, both from the office and coaching staff.”
Valdes said he salutes the school for doing a great job without having a full-time athletic director on board.
He noted that they’ll continue to use the Covid-19 guidelines implemented by North Monterey County Unified School District and the Centers for Disease Control.
Valdes knows every week is different, yet, he said he doesn’t have any concerns and that he wants to be prepared so they’re able to get back out on the court, on the field, in the swimming pool or wherever it may be.
Valdes looks forward to having the students competing and practicing again, but he’s especially excited to have them back on campus with their teammates.
“I feel that a big part of education is being on campus, socializing,” he said. “Building those social skills amongst one another.”