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Football helped McCreath score on field and in life
Manteca High Principal Doug McCreath shares a laugh with students. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Doug McCreath owes a lot to his passion for the game of football.

And interestingly enough, the Manteca High School principal actually credits the game – which he played while in college at San Jose State – at showing him that education was the field that he wanted to pursue as a career.

After graduating college and coming back to the Spartan program as a graduate assistant, McCreath was tasked with tutoring football players who needed help to make sure they remained academically eligible. Little did he know at the time that the experience would flip a switch that would eventually carry him into the principal’s chair at his alma mater.

“I realized at the time that I enjoyed helping kids learn, and at that point I knew that I didn’t want to be a college football coach,” said McCreath, who got his degree in business administration. “Looking back on it now, that decision has brought me a lot of happiness.”

After spending a year at Brock Elliott as a seventh- and eighth-grade math and physical education teacher, McCreath made the transition to East Union where he would spend the next 12 years of his career.

Originally hired as a math and business teacher, he would eventually take over the football program and also spend his springtime as a throwing coach on the track team, allowing him to return to the life that he left when he decided to go into education.

“I like the interaction with the other coaches, and I enjoy that student-athlete rapport,” McCreath said. “Being a coach allows you to learn, adjust, and do things differently the next time. It also gives you a chance to really get to know your players, and that’s something that I really liked.

Eventually he would go on to earn his administrative credential after deciding to further his education -  choosing administration for his master’s degree studies over counseling and general education. McCreath would then take over as the dean of students at East Union before coming over to Manteca High – the school he graduated from in 1983 – as the assistant principal.

It was under Steve Winter that he would learn the ropes of how to run his old stomping ground effectively.

“One of the things that he showed me was that tradition of excellence here at Manteca High,” McCreath said. “What I learned from Steve was that he loved people, family, and tradition, and that he really truly loved the time that he spent here. There’s a sense of pride in people who graduate from Manteca High and come back to work here, and he helped nurture that with the amazing staff that we have right now.”

Now in his second year at the helm, McCreath is working with his staff to help institute pathways that allow students who might not go on to college to specialize their high school experience in the field that they believe they might go into – expanding upon the typical college preparatory footwork that schools typically have available to students who wish to earn their degree after graduating.

With a $50,000 recurring grant from the State of California, the school is planning on instituting a number of new pathways for students, and will start going out to feeder schools to plant the seed with students early to help them figure out what types of classes they’ll be taking once they step foot on the campus. The individual pathway chosen will outline certain classes and electives that will tailor the educational plan to the individual student.

When he isn’t busy reshaping the educational platforms at the school and supervising the myriad of after-school sports programs that are now under way, McCreath can usually be found in the gym at Ripon High School watching his two sons play basketball for the Indians.

If time permits, both he and wife Susie plan out a weekend trip once a month to provide relaxation and relief from the daily grind.

“I’m not one of those guys who wants to die having just gone to work and then to home my entire life,” McCreath said. “I’m trying to live my retirement before I actually retire. It’s a chance to do different things.”