Coach of the Year: Iain Patterson, Sanger
Years at Sanger: Four
Chosen because: Left Clovis East four years ago to take on the challenge of elevating Sanger's aquatics program on par with those from Clovis Unified. His efforts were rewarded as the Apaches' boys and girls programs each finished among the top four at the Central Section Division I championships. The boys were fourth with 152 points while the girls tied Clovis for second with 273 points. The girls were only 51.5 points behind 16-time defending champion Clovis West in one of the closest races in recent memory. Sanger's boys were ninth and the girls seventh at the D-I finals a year ago. "It was a great run, better than I could have imagined. Every day for the last month, I've never had a team, both boys and girls, train as hard as they did," Patterson said. "It was a culminating effort. We knew going in the boys could get fourth and we knew the girls could be somewhere toward the top. The kids were awesome."
Getting prepared: Sanger's boys and girls teams went a combined 25-1 in dual meets this season against a scheduled that included Clovis, Clovis East, Clovis North, Stockdale and Liberty in nonleague competition, as well as Bullard and Madera in County/Metro Athletic Conference play. "Our kids were well-seasoned going into championship season," Patterson said. "We knew we could compete against the best teams."
Getting his start: A couple of weeks after graduating from University of the Pacific with a business degree, Patterson was standing in line at the grocery story with former Clovis East aquatics coach Derik Cheeseborough and inquired about coaching water polo, the sport he spent three varsity seasons playing at Edison. Cheeseborough gave Patterson a job as a boys water polo assistant, and Patterson enjoyed coaching so much he went back to school to get his teaching credential. "It's really cool to see kids achieve everything that they possibly could ever achieve," Patterson said. "That's our goal as coaches." Patterson spent four seasons at Clovis East -- including two years as both the head girls water polo and head swimming coach -- before moving to Sanger.
She said it: "He's made the aquatics program so much better. I'm really going to miss him as a coach. His coaching skills are unique. He's really dedicated and you can tell he's passionate about swimming and helping all the kids improve." -- Leah Hatayama, a four-year Sanger standout who will swim for Fresno State next season.