Brian Goulart checked off another “last time ever” moment Thursday night, as he stepped foot on Dino Cunial Field for the first of two East Union High graduation ceremonies.
He won’t be able to attend tonight’s, as he’ll watch his nephew walk at another school.
After two-plus decades as teacher and coach at EU, Goulart is retiring at age 61 and moving with wife Donna to Texas at the end of summer. He started teaching special education and social studies in 2000 and has since coached baseball, basketball, golf and softball.
“It’s going to be tough,” Goulart said, envisioning his moving day in the near-future. “I’ve had quite a few little moments in the last month just going through my mind and getting choked up.”
Goulart soaked in his last moments as coach on May 14 at Northgate Softball Complex — a second home for he and longtime and loyal assistant Randy Friend. They rallied from a 6-0 deficit to win 11-8 over Ripon, but that wasn’t what made the night special.
Goulart’s daughter, Jillian, reached out to former players and organized for them to witness his final game. Many showed up, and in place of those who could not were their parents. Jillian and older sister Brionna are among those former Lancers stars who attended.
Also present were Ashley Anderson, Sam Wendt and Amanda Vickers, who were part of the 2004 Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championship game that knocked off then-Gatorade National High School Softball Player of the Year Anjelica Selden and reigning champ Vanden in a two-game final, then raced to their graduation to accept their diplomas while still in game uniform.
“It was the East Union softball Hall of Fame,” he said.
Coach Goulart was not privy to his daughter’s plans but has never been so grateful to be blindsided.
“The years spoken into my ears that night, all the thank yous, I am so gracious for that,” he said.
Later that night, at around 8:30, Goulart and Friend locked the gates for the last time. The game started at 4:30 and the two hung around for about two hours after it ended. They shared an embraced and exchanged gratitude for “an awesome run,”
“I will miss him the most,” Goulart said. “We were co-head coaches, whether I get the title or not. We did it together and that’s why we were successful. Every head coach should have another head coach right next to him.”
Goulart’s longest run as coach was with the softball team, which he led the last 19 years. Going into the pandemic-ravaged 2020 season he held a 376-125 record. Among the Lancers’ achievements since his first year in 2003 include two SJS championships, five runner-up finishes and eight Valley Oak League titles. The 2015 team was named Cal-Hi Sports Division III Team of the Year, and Goulart was named medium-schools state Coach of the Year by Cal-Hi Sports and MaxPreps.
In golf, he was co-head coach with Dennis Wells with whom he guided the girls team to 12 VOL championships including seven SJS divisional crowns during an eight-year stretch from 2006-13. Goulart also headed the girls basketball team for two years, winning the 2007 league title.
“I loved coaching golf as much as softball,” Goulart said.
There are too many favorite highlights for Goulart to list. Worth noting is the 2014 jersey retirement for former star pitcher Erin Arevalo (2005-08), his most accomplished player who went on to play for University of Georgia. She helped the Bulldogs reach two NCAA Division I College World Series and earned All-American status. Arevalo is now an assistant coach for Oklahoma University.
Understandably, nothing tops him getting to coach both Brionna (2005-08) and Jillian (2007-11).
“I would have to say these are the greatest years of my life, and I got to experience it with my two daughters,” Goulart said. “We bleed East Union and I am so blessed to have been there for what feels like a lifetime.”
Coaching all these years have allowed him to maintain close-knit relationships with former student-athletes and forge new ones with others from the community. He and Donna have officiated weddings for about 35 of his former student-athletes. Goulart has also run a business, G&G Gamechangers, a baseball/softball academy that will continue to operate under Matt Cooper after he moves.
These are ventures he never thought of pursuing 20 years ago but calls it “an honor” to have gained the trust of his former athletes as well as their parents.
Of course, the big move comes with new opportunities. While he remains open to coaching softball in Texas, and he said there has already been interest from some schools, Goulart has landed a job with National Scouting Report.
As excited as he is to start the next phase of his life along with his family, Goulart isn’t exactly thrilled to reach the next “last time ever.”
“If you’re not incredibly sad that you’re leaving then it wasn’t a special ride,” Goulart said. “It’s sad because I’m leaving a great place and great group of people. I would hate to go out and nobody knows or to not be sad. I’m glad it’s difficult, because it means we did something right.”