Engebretsen, Willis named head coaches of four Santa Barbara City programs

Devin Engebretsen, top, is the new head coach of men's basketball and women's golf. Don Willis takes over the men's and women's track & field programs.
Devin Engebretsen, top, is the new head coach of men's basketball and women's golf. Don Willis takes over the men's and women's track & field programs.

SANTA BARBARA - Devin Engebretson and Don Willis have been selected as head coaches of four SBCC sports teams, athletic director Rocco Constantino announced on Wednesday. Engebretsen will coach men's basketball and women's golf while Willis, a former NFL lineman, will coach men's and women's track & field.

Engebretson was a longtime assistant under Morris Hodges, who recently retired after 30 years as men's basketball coach. Willis has been an assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for the Vaquero football team and he'll continue in that capacity. He was a three-time CIF champion in the shot put and discus at Cabrillo High and later was the head coach of track & field at Cabrillo and Santa Maria High Schools.

Engebretsen is a former Vaquero basketball player (1999-2001) who spent eight years as the top assistant coach for men's basketball. He's been the associate head coach the past two years for men's and women's basketball. He had two stints as men's basketball assistant coach in 2003-07 and 2016-20. He and head coach Sandrine Krul helped the 2019-20 women's team to a 15-9 record and their first playoff appearance since 2013.

"We're very excited to have Devin as our head coach for men's basketball and women's golf," said Constantino. "I have no doubt he'll be successful in both areas. He's an alum and has been a dedicated Vaquero for so many years. He's been extremely successful in the roles he has had at SBCC and elsewhere and it's time we do a better job as a department rewarding people who have been loyal and successful.

"I was impressed with the work he did recruiting with the men's basketball team and also the boost he gave to the women's basketball team when he began working with them in 2018. The academic side is a big part of this as well and Devin has a track record of being a great lecture instructor and mentor for students here. I believe he'll create a positive and successful atmosphere around both programs."

Engebretsen has lots of experience as a head coach and administrator. He has two Master's degrees -- a Master of Science in Physical Education from Azusa Pacific and Master of Arts in History from Cal State Northridge.

He was the varsity girls basketball coach and athletic director at Notre Dame High in San Jose from 2007-11. He took over a struggling program and guided the Regents to two league championships and three playoff appearances in four years. He moved up to Sacramento City College and was head coach of women's basketball from 2011-14, earning a No. 13 ranking in Northern California in 2014.

Engebretsen was a health and PE instructor for two years (2014-16) at Westmark School in Los Angeles and wore multiple coaching hats. He was the defensive coordinator for the 2014 Omega League champion football team and coached the boys basketball team to two CIF playoff berths and an Omega League championship in 2015. He also was the head coach of the boys and girls golf teams in 2015-16 and served as the athletic department's strength and conditioning coach.

In 2016, Engebretsen was named Athletic Director at Westmark High.

"Santa Barbara City College men's basketball strives to build our young men in three key areas," said Engebretsen. "We work extremely hard in developing them as students, athletes and people. As students, our athletes utilize our college's resources, mentoring program and Achievement Zone to help them reach their goals and accomplish academic success; as athletes, we utilize an up-tempo and aggressive style meant to showcase the talents of our players, and develop them into next-level players; as people we strive to have a community footprint as we work with various groups in serving the greater Santa Barbara community and living daily by our 'goodness beyond self' mantra."

Engebretsen has been married for 10 years to his wife, Katie, who's a nurse at Cottage Hospital. They have two young children, Max and Lucy.

"I have a lot of respect for Devin as a basketball coach and am looking forward to seeing what he can do as a head coach," said Constantino. "He's been a successful head coach on the CCCAA level before and I believe he'll be successful again. In my time here, I have asked Devin to take an active role in improving the academics and recruiting numbers around the men's basketball program and he did a great job in both areas.

"He mentored each student individually and helped get the team GPA over 3.0 and he recruited the largest incoming class we have seen in years this past season for men's basketball. The unique thing about CCCAA coaching jobs is the teaching and academic aspect that comes with it. He's been a fantastic instructor in his lecture classes, which is important in this position as well."

Engebretsen is an avid golfer and he's replacing legendary coach Chuck Melendez, who won four state titles and eight WSC championships in his 20-year women's golf career.

"Devin has done some work with our golf teams and players in the past and is extremely knowledgeable and talented in the sport," stated Constantino. "He is a regular presence in the Santa Barbara golf community. Chuck Melendez has built our women's golf program into one of the most respected in the state and we're fortunate to have a coach of Devin's caliber already on staff to take over.

"Devin has been a champion for women's sports and female athletes, which is another reason he makes an excellent candidate. I was very impressed with the relationships he was able to build with our women's basketball team the last two years and know he will do the same thing with the golf program. With our fall sports in such limbo, we're lucky to have someone on staff who can transition easily into this position."

Willis was the head coach for track & field at Cabrillo High in Lompoc (2010-11) and Santa Maria High (2012). In 2011, the Conquistadores won the Los Padres League championship. Willis coached several athletes to CIF Prelims and Finals participation, including a variety of events from throws to sprints and jumps.

He was the head coach of the Cabrillo football team for three years in 2014-16.

"I am absolutely thrilled that we are able to hire Don Willis to lead our track program," said Constantino. "Don has impressed me so much during my time here, both as a coach and as a mentor to our athletes. Don is one of the best role models we have in our department and I am very excited that he'll be able to impact so many of our students through football and track and field."

Willis was a star lineman at Cabrillo High, graduating in 1991. In addition to his three CIF individual titles in the shot put and discus, he also took fifth- and sixth-place at the California State Track & Field meet in 1991. The Conquistadores captured two CIF team titles during Willis' tenure.

He went on to play football at the University of Washington and helped the Huskies win a national title with a 12-0 record in 1991. He competed in the shot put and discus in the NCAA indoor season at Washington.

Willis enjoyed an eight-year NFL career as an offensive lineman, playing for the Seattle Seahawks, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs.

"We have had some outstanding individual track and field athletes over the years, but we have struggled with numbers over the past three years, particularly on the women's side," stated Constantino. "Coach Willis has great experience recruiting and relates very well to students and parents, which I think will help us rebuild the program. We need people like Coach Willis in our department. He's somebody who is dependable and reliable and cares very deeply about our student-athletes.

"I have seen the support he has given our students in good times and bad and he's always positive and encouraging. He's another coach that we absolutely have to keep on staff here as we move forward in this new reality after the COVID-19 shutdown. My hope is that he's able to build both the men's and women's track programs into what we expect they could be from a perspective of roster size, academics and success. There is no doubt that Coach Willis is capable of that."

Willis is married to Rebecca Willis and they have a blended family including seven children: Justin (33), Christopher (31), Tiffani (28), Ted (28), Cy (28), Gabby (24) and Jae'Lynn (20).

(Dave Loveton, Santa Barbara City College Athletics)