Sac State Magazine is a publication produced by the Office of Advancement Communications and Stewardship at Cal State University, Sacramento highlighting alumni, students, faculty and staff.
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2 0 S AC S TAT E M AGA Z I N E | S pr i ng 2 015 Atlee Frechet te '07 Whether it's LeBron James running a fast break or Aaron Rodgers scrambling out of the pocket and throwing a touchdown pass, great athletes are masters at improvisation. And oftentimes, when their playing days are over, the improvising begins anew. Many of Sac State's finest athletes turned to coaching. "My plan was for my playing days to never be done," jokes former Sac State quarterback Aaron Garcia '94 (Physical Education), who is a rookie head coach for the Las Vegas Outlaws of the Arena Football League after a 19-year playing career. "I literally have to stop myself from picking up the football. It's hard." As the physical ability to compete diminishes, the passion often remains as strong as ever. Coaching gives former athletes an intimate experience with the game, the players and the competition. But it's not always love at first whistle. "My first day, I hated it," says Darren Arbet '85 (Criminal Justice), whose San Jose SaberCats have won three Arena Bowl titles under his guidance. "I never had aspirations to be a coach. But I fell in love with it and now every day is consumed with coaching." "My first year coaching was tough, just not being able to play the game," says former Hornet volleyball standout Atlee Frechette '07 (Photography), who has led Menlo College to conference titles in her first two years as head volleyball coach. But an athlete's ability to multi-task, communicate and think like a player softens a sometimes-rocky road. Roots in the game When players walk away from their respective sports, they take with them more than just fond memories. Student athletes must learn to balance academics with athletics, a social life and other commitments. It's perfect preparation for the coaching profession. "People think student-athletes get a lot of privileges and they do, but they work for all of them," says Lori Perez '05 (Communication Studies), MS '11 (Recreation Administration), who was hired as Sac State's softball coach in 2013. "It's a 12-hour day. You're up at 6:30, in class in the morning, practicing for three to four hours and then going to study hall in the evening. It teaches you a lot about time management and hard work." Sac State groomed Perez as a player, and then a coach. She still holds the school record for career assists and was a starter on the team that beat then-No. 1 UCLA in 2000—the highlight of her playing career. The company you keep By today's standards, Greg Knapp '86 (Communication Studies) didn't put up gaudy numbers when he wore the green and gold. But Knapp earned the respect of the late Coach Bob Mattos, who brought him on as a Hornet assistant once his playing days were over. Knapp spent the past two seasons working with Peyton Manning as the Denver Broncos' quarterbacks coach, the latest stop in a 20-year NFL coaching career. "I could see Greg being a coach, even back then," says Arbet. Two of Knapp's teammates—offensive lineman Clancy Barone '92 (Recreation Administration) and defensive end Arbet—are now coaching pro football. Barone, who was Arbet's roommate at Sac State, is now the Broncos' offensive line coach. The player as coach Knapp left a major impression on Garcia. Knapp tutored Garcia, helping him develop physical skills, but also traits that he is taking into his own coaching career. "Coach Knapp really showed me how to be a professional, how Competitive EDGE Their playing days over, many Hornets are adapting their game to the sideline Lori (Meixner) Perez '05 Darren Arbet '85 Aaron Garcia '94 Coach Darren Arbet's San Jose SaberCats have won three Arena Bowl titles under his leadership.