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Longtime coach Breitenbucher stepping down at Sierra
Sierra swimming
Dave Breitenbucher after being tossed in the pool by his team. - photo by Dave Campbell

 A 40-year coaching career shifted into low gear Friday as Sierra’s Dave Breitenbucher is stepping down as head swimming coach and will still be in the program as the junior varsity coach. Friday’s meet at Manteca High against Central Catholic was the last Valley Oak League dual met for him as head coach.

“I’m looking to transition out,” Breitenbucher said. “I am not quite ready to step totally away. I want

Sierra swimming
Dave Breitenbucher leads his wife Rochelle through the team tunnel.
to make sure that everything’s good.

“Lauren Koury and Corey Winter will be taking over as head coaches and they’re going to have to deal with a lot more of the administrative side than they have been.”

Koury was appreciative for all the work Breitenbucher did behind the scenes.

“It’s kind of a sad day,” Koury said. “But at the same time a new generation is coming in. He’s like our dad or even our grandpa. Today is super fun to celebrate him but we are super sad to see him step back.

“Whenever we needed anything – water polo, clocks or anything, really – Dave was there to help us.”

Winter has been coaching with Breitenbucher for the last eight years.

“I first starting coaching under Dave eight years back,” Winter said. “He has been a great mentor. He was even around when I was swimming.

“It has been great to be able to work alongside of him and see him move on to the next chapter of his life. But he’s still going to be on the deck. He won’t be able to leave just yet.”

Breitenbucher has coached at Sierra for the last 26 years after assisting at Manteca for eight years. He was with the Manteca Dolphins for six years after coaching year-round with Ervin Zader and at Ellis Aquatics year round and masters.

“I am honored to have been able to coach as long as I did,” Breitenbucher said. “I had some great athletic directors, starting with Manteca’s Walker Vick, who hired me when I was bugging him on the sidelines at Manteca High when I was working ambulance for the football games. Vern Gebhardt brought me in at Sierra followed by Greg Leland, Anthony Chapman and Ezequiel Ruiz.

Sierra swimming
From left to right former assistant coach Clayton Basepayne, former athletic directors Anthony Chapman and Greg Leland, Dave Breitenbucher, former athletic directors Vern Gebhardt and Andrew Lee and former assistant coach Patrick Windschitl.

“I was fortunate to have support from up above in administration, both ADs and principles, as well as the parents. We would not have gotten the things done we did over the years without the support of the parents. We had some amazing parents at both Manteca and Sierra.”

Of his fondest memories, winning his first Valley Oak League championship at Manteca in 1989 ranks near the top, especially since he graduated from Manteca in 1980. He started the Sierra water polo program from scratch and got the boys to playoffs in the fourth year – he finished a year ahead of schedule as he had a five-year plan – and the girls almost made it as in that time span. Both teams made the playoffs this season under the tutelage of Koury and Winter.

Breitenbucher enjoyed having his family with him over the years.

“Having my boys Christopher and Kenji out there on the deck with me when they were younger was always a great moment,” Breitenbucher said. “And the last couple of years, I have had my granddaughter Charlotte with me on the deck as well.

“Having all three of them during that time has been amazing.”

Sierra swimming
Members of the Sierra High swim team with outgoing coach Dave Breitenbucher.