After spending the past four years as an assistant in the Spanish Springs boys hoops program, last week the local school named Art Cardenas as the new head coach of the girls varsity, an opportunity Cardenas is eager to seize.
“Every coach that starts coaching wants to someday be a varsity coach,” Cardenas said. “When I saw that position became available, I thought about it and then I applied for it.”
Although Cardenas’ most recent coaching experience came on the sidelines as an assistant at boys varsity games, he said the transition is not something he is worried about.
“I’ve coached girls before in the past, so that’s nothing new to me,” Cardenas said. “It’s a little different, but when it comes down to it, it’s the same. You’re coaching basketball. Obviously the athleticism and the explosion of the athletes is a little different. The girls are playing basketball too though. Basketball is basketball. It comes down to the fundamentals of boxing out, getting the rebound and playing solid defense. It’s just the game of basketball.”
During the search for a new head coach, it was Cardenas’ attitude and enthusiasm about the position that stuck out to SSHS Athletic Director Art Anderson.
“The passion that he brought to the interview and the desire he had to take over a program was the No. 1 thing,” Anderson said. “The passion that he has for the game of basketball, I think it will energize the program as a whole. He had been an assistant coach for a very long time and he let us know during the interviewing process that he had a very strong desire to run a program. One of the other hiring points that worked in his favor was having coached at Spanish Springs. It wasn’t one of the main factors, but it was definitely a plus.
“Another thing was just his knowledge of the game as well. He has coached girls in the past and he was a fan of the girls’ game. He doesn’t look at it as a step down or anything like that. He just looks at it as a big challenge that he wants to take on.”
Cardenas takes over a program that has had seven straight winning seasons, went 22-7 last winter and reached the North Region large school semifinals. With the season seven months away and summer workouts just around the corner, Cardenas is ready to get things started right away.
“To tell you the truth, everything,” Cardenas said of what he is excited about the most. “Absolutely everything. When you’re a varsity coach, you have quite a bit more on your table. You have more responsibilities, but I’m looking forward to it all. Right now I’m working on getting my staff together and setting up the summer programs and workouts. I’m excited about it all. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”