Sports

Tuesday, Aug 12 2014 02:58 PM

Tehachapi man among new CSUB assistant coaches

I've spoken about turnover in this business recently, I mean when you're a small-major NCAA Division I program, your coaching ranks are often pillaged once one becomes successful and another opportunity arises.

So while we have several new head coaches on the roster this year for the Roadrunners, we also have several new assistants on their coaching staffs as well.

Recently I had the chance to speak with three of them on an episode of our "Roadrunner Rundown" television show.

While head coaches often receive most of the media attention at any program across the country, we oftentimes overlook the identity and impact of those surrounding the head coach; we oftentime don't get a chance to hear about the people we just happen to notice on the sidelines.

In the most recently cases, all three have great backstories and add excitement to the programs that they've joined on with. We'll start with former U.S. Olympian Lindsey Anderson. A standout at Weber State in Ogden, Utah, she was a member of the 2008 Beijing Olympic team running in the steeplechase, that odd event that includes long distance running with obstacles and water as well. She happened to move to Bakersfield with her family and was desperate to continue working with the sport she loves. So she signed on as a volunteer with the Roadrunners, she'll bring Olympic experience to our distance runners in the cross country program and of course in the spring track season.

She competed in Beijing, walked in the opening ceremonies, represented her country and now she's working with our student-athletes. How fortunate we are indeed, especially since she's doing it for free while raising a young family.

Another new coach happens to be a familiar name for those of us from Tehachapi. Clifton Bush, who attended Tehachapi High School with yours truly, and played on the THS soccer team, has made his return to Kern County after 15 years of playing and coaching soccer in different parts of the country. Bush also spent time as a police officer in Idaho before returning to the soccer sidelines.

What a blast from the past it was when he walked into my office earlier this summer! It took me a few minutes to recall our acquaintance, but it's always nice to have another Tehachapi face within our department. That makes three of us for those of you scoring at home; watch out we're taking over.

Clifton is excited to be back at home, back in Kern County where he grew up and back coaching the game, this time in front of family and friends. He's a true fan in the women's soccer game and I believe will complement the coaching staff of new head coach Gary Curneen brilliantly.

One of the biggest and most talk-about hires among our assistant coaches was former West High, UCLA and WNBA standout Nikki Blue who joined our women's basketball staff last week. Blue is considered one of the best female players ever to come out of Bakersfield. She was an All-American at UCLA, played five seasons in the WNBA for the Washington Mystics and the New York Liberty and has coached the last six seasons at UNLV.

Here's the brilliant part about Nikki, she really wants to give back to this community. The support level for her during her pro career from Bakersfield and Kern County was astounding. The media and fans regularly followed her every move, and she noticed that. Now, she wants to return the favor. She talked about a buzz around town about CSUB women's basketball who last season shocked so many when they finished in second place in the Western Athletic Conference and made the WNIT for the first time ever.

She wants to be a part of that buzz and as she firmly stated, help this team make the NCAA Tournament in 2015. She's played at the highest levels of her sport and is coming back home to help others eventually do the same, a great story indeed.

They're all great stories, they're all going to be solid additions to our program; they're all here for the right reasons. Reasons that we may have never learned had we not stopped and taken a look at the other coaches that make our programs what they are, and what they aspire to be.

COREY COSTELLOE, a Tehachapi High graduate, is Assistant Athletics Director for Communications for California State University, Bakersfield.

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