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Turlock High’s Peterson named District Coach of the Year
Peterson Coach of the Year
Assemblymember Juan Alanis (R-Modesto) visited Turlock High School on Thursday to present varsity football head coach James Peterson with a framed Assembly Resolution to commemorate his recognition as 2023 Coach of the Year for the 22nd Assembly District (CHRISTOPHER CORREA/The Journal).

It wasn’t the typical fifth period for Turlock High School football players, staff and administration Thursday afternoon, as a special ceremony was arranged for Assemblymember Juan Alanis (R-Modesto) to recognize head varsity football coach James Peterson as 2023 Coach of the Year for the 22nd Assembly District. 

“James Peterson sets a remarkable example to our community,” Alanis said. “As both a father and former law enforcement officer, I know how important it is for students to have a strong mentor and be able to pursue their passions at a young age. Coach Peterson is a model coach and a great example of teaching young people the values we care about in our communities… I am proud to recognize Coach James Peterson as the 2023 Assembly District Coach of the Year.”

Peterson said he felt honored to be named as the top athletics coach in the district by Alanis, who presented him with a framed Assembly Resolution to commemorate the recognition.

“I really appreciate Assemblymember Juan Alanis for coming out to be here with us to present this, and we appreciate all he does for our community,” Peterson said.

In his 15th year as Turlock’s head coach, Peterson led the Bulldogs to a 5-0 record in the Central California Athletic League to clinch their first league title since 2019. The undefeated league record came after they went 0-5 in non-conference play. In the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs, the Bulldogs defeated Sheldon (Sacramento) in the first round before being eliminated on Nov. 10 by eventual runner-up Oak Ridge (El Dorado Hills) in the quarterfinals.

“This is a man that has meant so much in all of our lives,” assistant principal Aaron Mello said to the audience of players inside Bulldog Arena. “He has built a program (where) you guys are reaping the hard work of a lot of years of dedication. The first year this man, James Peterson, took over the program, they went 0-10. Now, we are one of the premier programs in the Sac-Joaquin Section…”

As Mello referred to, the Bulldogs went winless in Peterson’s first season at the helm in 2009. But since then, they have strung together nine winning seasons and six league championships. His career coaching record is 94-67, good for third all-time in program history. 

Nominations for Coach of the Year were accepted last year with the requirement that those nominated must be a resident of the 22nd Assembly District and have shown extraordinary character and ethics in their respective bodies of work in 2023. The district includes the communities of Turlock, Modesto, Denair, Hilmar, Keyes, Ceres, Crows Landing, Patterson, Gustine, Newman, Ballico, Snelling, Stevinson, Grayson, Diablo Grande and Empire.