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COUGARS IN TRANSITION
Top assistant Menzel takes over as WR interim coach
Bulletin boys basketball 2020-21
Eddie Menzel celebrates with the rest of the team after Weston Ranch's 2014 Valley Oak League win at Lathrop. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO/The Bulletin

Eddie Menzel wants to ensure a smooth transition for the next regime of the Weston Ranch boys basketball team. 

The top assistant for former head coach Chris Teevan has taken over in the interim for the rest of the 2020-21 school year. 

Teevan resigned in November days after a video was shared on social media revealing coaches and players not following COVID-19 protocols in practice. A player from the program tested positive for the coronavirus since the video was filmed. An English teacher with Stockton Unififed, Teevan has recently been named associated head coach at powerhouse Modesto Christian.

Even with the basketball season in doubt, Weston Ranch Athletic Director Brett Lewis is thankful that Menzel has agreed to help maintain continuity for the program until a new head coach is hired.

“With everything these kids have gone through, Eddie stepping up gives them some sense of normalcy while giving us a fair opportunity to find the best possible candidates.”

Both Lewis and Menzel are East Union alumni. Menzel, Class of 2004, is in his fourth year of teaching special education at the Ranch, where he got his start as a coach back in 2005 as an assistant for the freshman team. He remained a lower-level coach at Weston Ranch, Linden and East Union until taking over the new Excel Academy program in 2012-13, incidentally Teevan's first year as Weston Ranch head coach.

Menzel helped Teevan establish an Amateur Athletic Union team the summer before their inaugural seasons as head coaches, forging what would be a close-knit relationship for years to come. Menzel joined Teevan at Weston Ranch a year later after accepting a teaching position at nearby George Komure School. 

In seven seasons together, the fire-and-ice coaching tandem spearheaded the Cougars to their first two Sac-Joaquin Section Division III titles, a California Interscholastic Federation State Open Division Championships invitation in 2019 and the 2020 CIF Division II NorCal Regional crown. Weston Ranch was denied its chance at competing in its first state final as CIF canceled the event two days prior because of coronavirus concerns. 

Teevan oftentimes credited Menzel as the defensive mastermind for the team. 

“I got to learn a lot from him,” Menzel said. “We really balanced each other out; he's more high-strung and kind of all over the place while I was the laid-back and calm guy. We balanced out each other in those areas where we are extreme, but we both had the same goals and we're both super competitive. 

“We ultimately did what's best for our guys and made sure they were successful.”

Menzel said he initially gave no thought to replacing Teevan as head coach, looking forward to spending more time with his four kids — Vailaila, 15, Aviana, 11, Liam, 4 and newborn Beaux. We has previously served as head coach of the school's girls volleyball team for three years. 

“I want to be a dad for my kids and watch them grow up,” Menzel said. “A job this high level requires time. You have to constantly be doing stuff and it's a year-long process — there are no breaks. To get to the level where Coach Teevan got us takes time and effort.”

Menzel, however, wasn't ready to walk away from the program so abruptly and felt he would be putting Principal Troy Fast and Lewis in a bind as they search for a new coach while a possible start to the season looms in the spring. He also wanted to provide a familiar figurehead for the players as they prepare for whatever comes next.

“Having my own program isn't something I've wanted for the last few years,” Menzel said. “But after talking with Mr. Lewis and Mr. Fast and looking at the timing and uncertainty of everything, they need more time to find a good fit for the school and the community.”

Menzel added that he's open to helping out the next head coach.

“If that coach asks me to help out and be on the staff I would be more than happy to,” he said. “I love this school and the community, and the kids are awesome. It's up to the new coach.”