Video by Chauncy Miller & JP Raineri
The sports programs at local high schools in Southwest Riverside are filled with talent. Every year each school has plenty of graduates that will go on to play at the collegiate level and beyond, but when you throw in athletes like Olympic cyclist Sarah Hammer (2008, 2012), and professional baseball players Rob Brantley, Miami Marlins catcher (2013); and Allen Craig, St Louis Cardinals first baseman/World Series Champion (2010), it is no secret that Temecula’s Chaparral High School is a just little easier to find on the map these days.
According to Marvin Morton, athletic director at Chaparral, “The key factors that help keep our young student athletes focused comes in the form of a highly dedicated staff and some very driven coaches.”
One coach has not only raised the bar at Chaparral, he has set the bar so high that it could take quite some time for one like him to come back around again.
Ed Coyle, the boys head basketball coach at Chaparral now holds the record as the most winning coach in the school’s history. Coyle’s Pumas have won two league titles and have had two quarterfinal playoff runs since he took the whistle in 1997, with his best coached seasons being in 1999-2000 (26-4), 08-09 (23-5), and 09-10 (24-3 and league champion).
His current team went 11-16 overall and 1-9 in league this year, and though it seemed like they were out of all contention for a playoff spot after suffering a one point loss to Vista Murrieta last week in their final road game and a five point loss to Murrieta Valley in what was Ed’s final home game, they caught a break with an at large birth and will face #1 seed El Toro in the first round of the southern section playoffs this week.
Coyle, who will be leaving the Puma’s program after this year, retired from teaching at the school last year. He began his coaching career as an assistant at Huntington Beach Edison, but his first varsity head coaching job was at Montebello Cantwell Sacred Heart in the early 80s.
From Cantwell, Coyle spent one season as an assistant during a state title run at El Camino College and returned to high school at West Covina Edgewood which is now known as West Covina High School. Coyle’s teams won four league titles in seven seasons there.
Ed moved on to coach in San Clemente and after four seasons there he came inland to start the program at Chaparral, where despite this year being his first losing season in the books, the mere fact that the Pumas are still going to the playoffs only contributes to his success as a coach.
His 533 victories, including 288 at Chaparral, are the third most among active coaches at Inland area schools and on Tuesday, Feb. 11, Coyle was honored during half-time at his final home game.
“The alumni, the team, the staff just wanted to come out and make it a special night for him,” said Assistant Principal Gil Compton. “He is a man that really is about shaping the character of young men through basketball.”
Former athletic director Mike Rowen stated, “He’s the only boys basketball coach this school has known and Ed has always exemplified the six pillars of CIF character, he always coached with integrity and every team he had pursued victory and honor.”
The ceremony at half-time was somewhat of a surprise to Coyle as not only was the court named after him (Coyle Court) but alumni from as far back as his first year of coaching came out to honor him.
“I had the pleasure of playing for coach Coyle from 1976 to 1980. He taught me a lot of the ethics I use in my life today and seriously, he’s got one of the sweetest jump shots I’ve ever seen,” exclaimed former player and Montebello alumni Raul Martinez.
Edgewood alumni David Cuevas, who played under Coyle during his senior year, spearheaded the attendance of about 10 former players through a social media campaign and said, “The practicing is what kept us coming back, we were always trying to get better than our last game and what’s more important than the wins and losses is that he taught us how to be men.”
“I was amazed, I like for it to always be about the kids but I got caught up in it, and it was very emotional. I feel very lucky to get out of the game with this much support,” Coyle, 64, said.
“It was a good night for Chaparral basketball and I hope that we continue the tradition of having a winning program. We’ve had a lot of good teams, many of whom finished second or third,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of good kids play here.”
The list of kids he has coached includes his sons, Eddie, who graduated two years ago, and Cody, a senior guard on the current team.
“It’s hard on your sons to play for their dad sometimes, but there are a lot of positive aspects that I know they will carry with them for the rest of their lives,” added Coyle.
Ed was always his sons’ coach, regardless of the sport. “Of course there were the hard parts along the way, but it’s been great. I’m going to miss it once I graduate,” Cody said of playing for his father.
“I’m not going to close the door on ever coaching again, I’m going to take the year off and see if I can live without basketball. I know I will miss being at practice, preparing for games, the other coaches, the referees, yes the referees, they have to wear the shirt and officiate a quick-paced game and they almost always were great family men, but most of all I will miss the players,” he said. “It was always all about them. My role has been to try to help them, not only with basketball issues but with life issues, and I know I was put here to make them better people through basketball.”