Two Star-News Coaches of the Year announced their resignation as Blair High School football coach Tip Sanders and girls basketball coach David Jensen have announced they are moving on.
Above: Lavell (Tip Sanders)
Above: Former Blair girls basketball coach David Jensen, right, at the Tribune/Star-News All-Star Basketball Classic. (Staff photo Keith Birmingham)
Passing on the torch
Blair coaches Jensen, Sanders announce resignations
By Scott Galetti, Staff Writer
PASADENA Throughout the fall and winter sports seasons, there was a new-found euphoria surrounding Blair High School athletics following Rio Hondo League championships by the Vikings football and girls basketball teams.
The school now finds itself regrouping, however, following the resignations of a pair of Star-News coaches of the year head football coach Lavell Tip Sanders and girls basketball coach David Jensen.
Sanders, 54, coached the Vikings football team for two seasons and compiled an 11-10 record.
He led Blair to a 9-2 record and a share of the Rio Hondo League championship in 2007 and an appearance in the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division playoffs, where the Vikings lost to Cerritos Valley Christian 34-24.
Im going to support him anyway I can, Blair principal Rich Boccia said. Coach has got to make his own decision and well be there for him.
Hes a great coach and an even greater man.
Jensen, 39, took over a girls program that was 1-29 in league over three seasons and guided the Vikings to a 20-6 overall record, a league title with a 9-1 record and an appearance in the Division II-AA playoffs this past season.
According to Blair athletic director Gamal Smalley, Jensen gave his resignation on Monday and Sanders reportedly expressed his desire to step down Friday before having a meeting with Boccia on Tuesday.
Both of these coaches gave a lot to jump-start our programs, Smalley said. The engine is started now and were looking for coaches to keep that engine roaring.
Both Sanders and Jensen had their respective reasons for making the decisions to temporarily stall Blairs engine.
Sanders is upset that his team cant use the football field for spring football because the Pasadena Unified School District is installing new sprinklers.
We dont have sixth period football here so its hard to put together a program without spring ball, Sanders said. Starting with a whole new team, I really needed those 15 days to bring them together. If I dont meet them in May, I have to wait until August to see who comes out. Its kind of hard to run a program like that.
According to Binti Harvey, director of communications with the PSUD, the decision to repair the field was a joint one between the school district and Blair officials.
The decision was made to re-do that field since it was most in need of repair, Harvey said. The board and the school administration approved the funds for the spending process, and the school administration is involved in it. Were anticipating that everything will be done by summer.
In the end, the sprinkler system was ultimately the last straw for Sanders.
I took the job here at Blair with the desire to return it to the glory days of the 70s, Sanders said. With the budget cuts, Blair is more concerned about the IB (International Baccalaureate) program than a sports program.
Jensen had similar concerns regarding Blairs administration.
With all due respect to the assistance and efforts from Rich Boccia, I accomplished what I agreed to do at Blair, and then some, Jensen said. But the administration and I didnt see eye to eye on the future development of the program.
While Sanders decision was more of a shock, Jensens departure didnt surprise Smalley.
It was somewhat expected, Smalley said. I know hes looking at some other schools as well.
Jensens background will show he was hardly a flight risk.
He was athletic director and an assistant boys basketball coach at Renaissance Academy for five years before spending five seasons at Delphi Academy of Lake View Terrace, where he won four International League titles (three girls, one boys).
I will sorely miss the players and parents, Jensen said. I appreciate the opportunity that I had.
Sanders is putting his name out to get a job in strength and conditioning, possibly even with Blair.
If he wants to provide service to our school as strength and conditioning coach, we would welcome that opportunity, Boccia said.
At the same time, Sanders, who has been offered an assistant coaching job at La Salle, has not ruled out coaching again at another school.
If I find a school that wants a football program and not just a team, I would gladly take it, Sanders said.
Jensen maintains that hes not in conversations with other schools yet.
Smalley and Boccia must now put back the pieces to keep the football and girls basketball programs rolling.
Once you get the ball rolling, its hard to stop it, Smalley said. The kids really have a vision of what we can accomplish and were excited about where we are right now.