SANTA BARBARA - The two longest-tenured coaches in SBCC history are calling it a career with 61 combined years as teachers and head coaches.
Men's and women's golf coach Chuck Melendez and men's basketball coach Morris Hodges announced their retirements this week. Melendez got his first head coaching job in 1989-90 with the Vaquero baseball team and Hodges was hired a year later in 1990-91 as men's basketball coach. Melendez was a head coach of four teams in 31 years and Hodges served 30 years as head basketball coach.
"Chuck and Morris have been institutions at SBCC for decades and we wish them the best in their retirement," said Director of Athletics Rocco Constantino. "They have dedicated countless hours to working with students in the classroom and in athletic competition and we appreciate all they have done for our students."
Melendez has been an SBCC coach and athletic teacher for 35 years.
Melendez is a local product who was a star quarterback for Dos Pueblos High and SBCC in the 1970s. He was hired in 1982 and spent five years as an assistant coach in football and baseball. In 1985, he left to be the offensive coordinator at Chadron State (Neb.). He coached the next two years at Humboldt State while working on his Master's degree.
He has Master's degrees from Eastern Oregon State, where he was a star quarterback, and Humboldt State.
He returned to SBCC in 1988 and was offensive coordinator for football coach Rick Cook. Melendez became a head coach in 1990 and coached four teams in three sports for the next 30 years. He was the baseball coach for five years (1990-94), football coach for seven years (1994-2000) and men's and women's golf coach for the last 20 years (2000-20).
Melendez has the most state titles in school history, winning four CCCAA championships in women's golf. He guided SBCC to state titles in 2006, 2008, 2013 and 2015. He also coached four individual state champions in Natalie Todd (2006), Asaka Sim (2008), Fanny Johansson (2013) and the only two-time state champion in SBCC history, Carolin Chang (2015, 2016).
His women's golf teams were state runner-ups in 2007 and 2016. The men's golf team took second in the state in 2006 and 2019.
Melendez has guided the women's team to eight WSC titles and he's been WSC Coach of the Year eight times. His men's golfers won one WSC crown in 2009 and finished second six times. They finished in the top-6 in the state four times.
"I'm old and they offered some nice incentives to retire," said Melendez when asked why he's retiring. "I remember coaching a lot of great kids and was fortunate to watch them develop as people. Of course, I'll always remember the four state titles, especially the first one in 2006 when we won by 60 strokes.
"Being involved with student-athletes helps keep you young. It's a real positive atmosphere and I'm so proud of SBCC. I always felt it was the No. 1 college in the nation, even when I was here as a student."
Melendez has more wins that any coach in SBCC history with 20-year WSC records of 845-532-3 (men's golf) and 619-192-1 (women's golf). In the last seven years, his women's teams have won nearly 90% of their matches (488-61). His best records with women's golf were 99-1 in 2016, 90-3 in 2017 and 80-6 in 2015. The Vaqueros won 130 straight WSC matches from 2015-17.
Melendez' best season with men's golf came last year when the Vaqueros set school records for overall record (146-20) and WSC record (80-8).
His overall win total for both golf teams exceeds 2,000.
"I have so much respect for what Chuck accomplished at SBCC as a coach," said Constantino. "He coached the football team to two Bowl games, won 68 games as a head baseball coach and then built the men's and women's golf teams into state powerhouses. He did all of that while building up tremendous relationships with his players and the SBCC community as well.
"I am lucky to have my office next to Chuck and appreciate the help and support he has given me since I arrived three years ago. He's been a great friend to me, as he is with everyone else."
When Hodges was hired as head coach for men's basketball in 1990-91, George Bush was President and no one had heard of an iPhone or the internet.
His best seasons came in 1996-97 when the Vaqueros went 17-13, finished second in the WSC and made the Southern Cal Regional and 2006-07 when they went 16-13.
Hodges was named WSC Coach of the Year in 1995 and 1999.
Prior to coming to SBCC, he was an assistant at California and helped recruit Kevin Johnson to the Bears' program. Johnson was an All-NBA guard for the Phoenix Suns and went on to become the mayor of Sacramento.
"Morris was the longest tenured head coach in any sport in Vaquero history, so to say his retirement is a big loss is an understatement," said Constantino. "You have to go back to the 1980s for the last time there was an SBCC basketball season without Morris as the head coach. You don't get many coaches who can say they coached in four decades, especially at the same school.
"Just thinking about that and the number of students he coached and taught is staggering. Morris always valued academics first among his players and he never wavered from that during his entire coaching career."
(Dave Loveton, Santa Barbara City College Athletics)