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St. Mary’s High hires Sacred Heart assistant

By Jared Green, Daily Planet Staff
Wednesday July 03, 2002

Nodar will try to continue Panthers’
recent boys’ basketball success


St. Mary’s High completed a whirlwind search for a new boys’ head basketball coach on Monday, announcing the hiring of Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco) assistant Manuel Nodar. 

Nodar, 32, was a coach at Sacred Heart for nine years, including the last two as an assistant on the boys’ varsity squad. He will also teach Spanish at St. Mary’s, the same job held by former coach Jose Caraballo. 

“I’m very excited,” Nodar said. “(St. Mary’s) is an excellent program, and I’m looking forward to coaching the program.” 

Athletic Director Jay Lawson said Nodar’s interview was the key factor in choosing him from the final four candidates. 

“I like the kind of person he is. I was impressed with his interview,” Lawson said. “He’s young and enthusiastic, and we hope that will rub off on the kids.” 

The search for a new coach began just two weeks ago, following the surprising resignation of Caraballo, the coach who helped make the Panthers into a state power the past two seasons. 

St. Mary’s qualified for North Coast Section play in each of Caraballo’s seven seasons, compiling a 147-67 record. The Panthers won the last two Bay Shore Athletic League titles, going undefeated in league play both years with a 59-8 overall record, and won the Division IV state title in 2001. 

“(Caraballo) did something no other coach has done here. He will be missed,” Lawson said. 

But Caraballo apparently felt he wasn’t given adequate support as a coach or teacher, and his resignation came at an inopportune time. Assistant Mark Olivier had already decided to accept the head coach job at Hercules High, and most high schools already had their staffs in place. Olivier threw his hat back in the ring for a time and was among the final choices, but the St. Mary’s administration ultimately decided on Nodar, whose experience at Sacred Heart should give him a head start. Both St. Mary’s and Sacred Heart are Lasallian schools, run by the Christian Brothers and the Daughters of Charity. 

“He fits everything we’re trying to do,” Lawson said of Nodar. “He’s a gem of a coach who we hope will stay with us for a very long time.” 

Sacred Heart Cathedral won 49 games over the last two seasons, were co-champions of the West Catholic Athletic League last season and won the Central Coast Section crown before falling to league rival and eventual state champion Archbishop Riordan in the Northern California finals. 

Lawson said Nodar will continue to use the Panthers’ all-out style of play, although they could struggle after the graduation of star guards John Sharper and DeShawn Freeman, both of whom will play at Division I colleges next season. 

“We feel he’s a real good man,” St. Mary’s athletic director Jay Lawson said. “He believes in everything we’re trying to teach our student-athletes and he’ll fit in real well. He runs an up-tempo, pressing style we like. He’s real positive in his teaching, very organized and has a lot of energy.” 

Lawson also said the administration met with most of the returning players and all of the students intend to stay at St. Mary’s despite the departure of Caraballo.