In addition to overall State Coach of the Year Jim Bennet of Poway, we have additional state coaching honors for the 2022 season going to Jason Ramirez from California of Whittier (medium schools) and Melissa Snyder of Holtville (small schools).
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STATE COACH OF THE YEAR
Jason Ramirez (California, Whittier)
Much like the time in 1985 when Los Gatos High football coach Charlie Wedemeyer was honored as State Coach of the Year, this selection of Jason is not just because he is now battling ALS, the degenerative neurosystem disease in which there is no cure. Coach Rodriguez would have been a candidate for it if he was healthy.
It also takes team success to be a candidate and Jason’s team clicked that box as well. The Condors, who won a league title last season in the fourth season with Rodriguez at the helm, were 21-9-1 this season and had enough key wins to land with a No. 29 spot in the final overall state rankings. They had to be in front of Marina of Huntington Beach for beating the Vikings in the CIF Southern Section D2 playoffs. California also had a playoff win over Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks (in the final game of Oklahoma-bound nationally known slugger Ella Parker) before a loss to eventual champion Great Oak of Temecula. They also lost in the CIF SoCal regional playoffs to the eventual champion (Santiago of Corona).
Ramirez, who got into softball coaching after he began his career coaching football, was diagnosed with the disease in March and never had a thought of stepping down as the Condors’ softball coach.
“People say I inspire them but I told them they inspire me to keep wanting to fight and come do what I love, which is coaching,” he said about his team in an interview with ABC 7 Los Angeles. “There’s no way I could quit.”
Ramirez doesn’t come out of the dugout during games, but still called all of the pitches. In the famous scenes with Charlie Wedemeyer in football, he still called all of his team’s plays when he couldn’t walk or talk using his wife’s lip-reading skills and then the play being given to an assistant coach.
The State Medium Schools Coach of the Year in softball goes back to 1998. Ramirez is the second ever honoree from the San Gabriel Valley after Jim Maier from St. Paul of Santa Fe Springs in 2014.
There is a GoFundMe campaign that has been set up to help with the costs of Jason’s care. Here is the link: https://gofund.me/6b854e46
Recent State Medium Schools Coaches of the Year: 2022 – Andy Meza (Salinas Alvarez); 2021 – Obie Galindo (Hesperia Sultana); 2020 – No selection (pandemic); 2019 – Ed Medina (Santa Ana Godinez); 2018 – Kristin Grubbs (Benicia); 2017 – J.J. Vaivao (Ventura Buena); 2016 – Bobby Flores (Grand Terrace); 2015 – Brian Goulart (Manteca East Union); 2014 – Jim Maier (Santa Fe Springs St. Paul); 2013 – Linda Merrida (Woodland Pioneer); 2012 – Randy Willis (Novato San Marin); 2011 – Jerry Dumatrait (Bakersfield Ridgeview); 2010 – Michael Roberts (San Diego University City); 2009 – Howard Miller (Torrance North).
STATE COACH OF THE YEAR
Melissa Snyder (Holtville)
For the first time since this honor was started in 1998, we have a winner from the CIF San Diego Section and for the first time at all from the Imperial Valley.
Snyder became a leading candidate when her team defeated Santa Paula, 6-3, two weeks ago for the CIF Southern California Division IV regional championship. The Vikings were the third seed and topped the No. 1 seed Cardinals. It ended a 26-5 season as well.
In the continued success part of the selection criteria, Snyder more than went over the bar even though she’s just in her sixth season. This year’s CIF San Diego Section D2 title win of 7-1 over Santana of Santee was Holtville’s second section title in three years and the third straight year that the Vikings have reached a section final.
Snyder’s teams also have excelled in the playoffs despite moving up in divisions from the first one the Vikings won in 2021 in Division 4. They went to the finals in D3 last season after winning their league title and then this year they won a title despite moving up to D2.
Recent State Small Schools Coaches of the Year: 2022 – Jeff Day (Caruthers); 2021 – Stefanie Danna (Sutter); 2020 – No selection (pandemic); 2019 – Robert Vernon (Ripon); 2018 – Neil Stinson (East Nicolaus); 2017 – Flo Galindo (Sun Valley Village Christian); 2016 – Tony Williams (Mariposa County, Mariposa); 2015 – Margaret Neill (Lancaster Paraclete); 2014 – Russell Emberson (Taft); 2013 – Melissa Bugarin-Espinoza (San Pedro Port of Los Angeles); 2012 – Jim Pingree (Monterey Santa Catalina); 2011 – Mike Pontius (Lodi Elliot Christian); 2010 – Raoul Singh (Sutter); 2009 – Alan Borges (Eureka St. Bernard’s).