By Dan Gudino
It’s the offseason for the football team, four months away from the opening kickoff, and new head coach Bobby Godinez is working to get away from last year’s disappointment.
East Los Angeles College released the news of the newly-hired Godinez, 33, March 2. Godinez got right to work. He was seen at basketball games as a fan, shaking hands and spoke with many to introduce himself and made a statement that he cared about ELAC.
Godinez is not only a fan of basketball, but was the head coach of basketball at Victor Valley College, was its defensive coordinator of football and Pasadena City College’s track and field coach, all at the same time.
When the track and field season is over in three weeks, the hardworking Godinez said this is the final season he would coach at PCC and plans to devote all his coaching skills to Huskies’ football.
Coach Godinez is suited for ELAC because this was not first time he applied for the opening head coach position. Prior to the 2015-16 season, Godinez applied and interviewed for the position, but the resigned Eric Marty was appointed as head coach.
“The thing that caught my eye this time was Athletic Director Al Cone aggressively pursued me. They had a high desire to get me here and that want was reciprocated and filled me with excitement,” Godinez said.
Godinez was the top runner for head coach. With an impressive resume that includes a stint in the NFL with the Washington Redskins practice squad, earned All Western Athletic Conference honors as a team captain at San Jose State and his experience as an all-CIF and all-State defensive back at Los Altos High School in the 2000 championship team.
“I feel when I interviewed for the job the first time, I left an impact on the committee and that showed a year later, but the first time, I feel I had too much on my plate. Juggling basketball, football and track can be difficult. It’s all about effective scheduling,” Godinez said.
Godinez is all about ELAC and providing hope. One of his motives is moving the program forward from losing seasons, like last year’s 2-8 record.
He gave hope to offensive lineman coach Tyrone Carter, who is the only remaining coach from the Marty regime.
“Once coach Marty was gone, I was left in limbo. I thought I may or may not have a job. Once Coach Godinez was on board and called me, we met and of course I was filled with excitement because he gave me the opportunity to stay and further my coaching career to practice this craft,” Carter said.
The Marty era ended with a bad taste on and off the field, with Marty resigning amid fire alarm damage to his office. Many players left, many are not sure what their roles will be on the team and some are waiting to see what happens during the offseason to make a decision about whether to stay or transfer.
“I don’t feel bad being the only guy left from the old coaching staff. I know there is always going to be adversity. I do feel lucky that I was asked to come back. I do miss the other guys I coached with, but the opportunity we have here is next to none,” Carter said.
This has been a learning curve for Godinez, taking over a program with offseason controversy has been an adjustment.
“It always puts stress on a program, and by program, I mean the players. At this level, they don’t handle change all that well. What I ask of the player is to trust the process, trust the school, trust our A.D. and the decision that best fit(s) them in making a change. Most importantly give us as a coaching staff a chance,” Godinez said.
Godinez has brought on board a coaching staff he feels is suited for the East Los Angeles area, which is not known for its athletic programs, especially football. Its last state title came in 1974.
Bringing in familiar faces is helping Godinez feel comfortable.
Wide receivers coach Andrew Tree has come full circle, once coached by Godinez at PCC. Godinez was a defensive coach as Tree played wide receiver. The common understanding of football at the junior college level in Southern California makes Tree an essential part of the coaching staff.
“I’m an out-of-state guy from Oregon, but when I came to So Cal, I instantly understood I needed to adjust to the great play here in Cali. Not only play, but what the student goes through here in the Los Angeles area is different. Financial hardships, personal life problems like where the student grew up in, all play a role in recruiting,” Tree said.
Recruiting and attracting players to ELAC is tough. High school players are discouraged of ELAC when it comes to football, Godinez said, but it all can change.
“As far as recruiting players, it’s a blessing. This campus speaks for itself. Just take a look at all the new buildings being put up and it attracts the player. You take a look at this (Weingart) stadium and how big it is and the possibility of playing here with this new coaching staff make for a strong case,” Godinez said.
The standard for Husky football is at a high level.
“We have the highest standards ELAC has ever seen. It’s academics, it’s accountability and the way you play the game. The way you go about your business will set our standard,” Godinez said.
Success follows coach Godinez, an 18-game win streak at VCC which included a 58-21 blowout win over ELAC last year. He’s a successful business owner who founded Optimal Sports Strength and Conditioning, where he has trained NFL and Major League Baseball players.
On the field during practice, the multitasking Godinez can be seen on the phone, recruiting and taking phone calls from potential talent.
“He’s been successful everywhere he has stepped in. There is a great chance this guy will change this program. A family man with great values, it (is) so obvious why I came here and why others follow the man,” running backs coach Vai Taua said.