Oscar Calix’s sports background mostly centered around baseball as a youth, and his hope was to continue playing beyond high school.
He has instead developed a love for coaching basketball.
A member of Lathrop High’s inaugural graduating class in 2011, Calix, now 28, has been hired as head coach of the Manteca girls basketball team. Although he was known more for his prowess on the diamond, Calix also played hoops for three years at Lathrop. After two years at Modesto Junior College, he got a job with UPS and began his coaching career with Joseph Widmer Elementary in Lathrop.
He has since been working “under the radar,” as he put it, to build his résumé. Among his proudest achievements is overseeing the Team Creation Amateur Athletic Union basketball club, which he launched in 2016. He said 13 players from his program have moved onto play in college.
“When I was at Joseph Widmer, the team made the playoffs for the first time in four years, and to see the kids continue to grow after the left made me go, ‘I really like doing this,’” he said. “It grew into, ‘What can I do to help kids in the area play at the next level?’ There were no teams in this area to give these girls exposure and there is a lot of talent in this area. I’ve always wanted to be a varsity head coach. Running an AAU program, setting schedules and working on a budget gave me the experience to be in the position I am in now.”
Calix replaces Greg Azevedo, who was let go after one season. The Buffaloes went 5-1 against VOL opponents last spring. Manteca went 74-39 and won two Valley Oak League titles in the four previous seasons under Ryan Bono.
The Calix hire is Neil MacDannald’s first official act as MHS athletic director, and he said it was an easy decision. Calix was already familiar with the administration in part because he was set to be Azevedo’s junior varsity coach, but the program lacked the numbers to have lower-level teams last year.
“The first thing that comes to mind is he is really ambitious and energetic — a lot of positivity,” MacDannald said. “He has interviewed a couple times with us and I was glad we were able to give him the position this time. He’s definitely deserving. He is what we are about, being disciplined and playing good, hard basketball. At the same time, championships are what he is after and doing it the right way. For a younger guy he is very organized. The entire panel was really impressed with what he brought to the table.”
MacDannald said Calix had the support of former Manteca athletic director Bill Slikker, who is now superintendent of Valley Home Joint School District. Calix was hired about a week after Slikker left MHS. Previously athletic director at Lathrop High, Slikker was Calix’s go-to source for advice early in his coaching career. Following his time at Joseph Widmer School, Calix served as JV boys coach for Excel Academy, varsity girls coach for Lathrop and JV head/varsity assistant for Venture Academy.
“I actually learned lot about coaching basketball from Slikker,” Calix said. “He taught me the X’s and O’s.”
Calix and the Buffaloes have some catching up to do starting Sept. 6 when winter sports teams can begin conditioning. Official practices begin Nov. 1. The team did not have a summer program since it was without a coach, but Calix is glad to fill that role.
“I’m excited to be at Manteca, to build the program back up to where it was,” he said. “I’m looking to bring the winning tradition back to the Manteca High girls basketball program with a new attitude and a new mentality. We’re hungry to compete for that VOL championship.”