When the Southern Athletic League’s football season begins this month there will be some new faces on the sidelines. The majority of those faces will belong to players who have stepped up to fill the roles of last season’s seniors but in the case of Turlock Christian and Denair High new faces will also belong to their head coaches.
To say Rich Goodwin and Shane Smith are completely new to their respective teams would be a lie. Goodwin has coached for Denair two other times in the past and Smith took over for the Eagles halfway through last year’s season. But this is the first year each coach has spent with their teams from day one, the first chance they’ve had to mold the teams to their visions.
Goodwin is a proverbial coaching legend in the Valley. He began his coaching career at Denair in 1972, and has since coached for Modesto, Modesto Christian, Patterson, Corcoran, Ceres, Enochs, and Downey High to name a few as well as Modesto Junior College. This season will mark the 40th of his career and he couldn’t be happier to spend it back at Denair.
“There’s no better place than Denair,” Goodwin said. “There’s good people here and a good community that supports the program.”
Familiar with the difficulty involved with small school athletics, Goodwin’s primary task has been to form bonds between his players. Recently, Goodwin and an assistant coach drove 10 players up to Oregon to participate in a collegiate football camp all in the name of camaraderie.
“We want the kids to have as much fun as possible and get that experience of being a part of a team,” Goodwin said. “We want to make it fun and exciting. It’s a matter of providing a good experience, both academically and athletically.”
For Smith, on the other hand, the small school system of TC is something completely new. With a background in Texas football, where he coached seven seasons for state contenders Southwest Christian and All Saints High, Smith is looking to bring some of that Texas grit to the Eagles squad and erase last season’s 0-10 record from the school’s collective memory.
“We’ve done everything we could to get rid of the old mentality,” Smith said. “We have a new look, new helmets, new uniforms, a new logo, and a new motto.”
That new motto is ‘Protect the Family.’ It’s the mentality that helped Smith win a State Championship in Texas and what he hopes will help change the culture at TC. Along with his focus on discipline and team unity, Smith has also brought his offensive driven mind and a desire to attack with the ball in his team’s hands.
“I’m extremely into discipline and teaching the tiny things, but above all, I try to instill the brotherhood mentality and make these kids care about each other,” Smith said. “We also want to score a lot of points and to produce an offense that people want to come and watch, even if they’re not affiliated with the school.”
Both coaches expect big things from their respective programs in the years to come, but they also understand that this year is only the beginning.
“Our number one goal, though, is to make sure this program extends beyond this year,” Smith said.
“I want to have these guys come out of the season enjoying the game,” Goodwin said. “Wins and losses won’t matter; they’ll come when the players start having fun.”