GORBALL REINSTATED: School board moves quickly to bring back longtime Arroyo girls hoops coach …

District Vice President John Tran (far left) urging board to reinstate Mike Gorball

PHOTO GALLERY of Wednesday’s meeting

By Aram Tolegian
Staff Writer

SOUTH EL MONTE — The community spoke and the El Monte Union High School District listened.

After an outpouring of support from current and former players, and area coaches, at Wednesday’s school board meeting, Arroyo High School girls basketball coach Mike Gorball has been reinstated by the district effective immediately.

Gorball was fired last week by first-year Arroyo principal Oscar Cisneros after 21 seasons. Gorball’s teams have won eight league championships, finished second nine times and made the playoffs in 20 of his 21 seasons.

“I’ll be happy to go to practice tomorrow and I think they (the players) will be, too,” said Gorball, who did not attend Wednesday’s meeting. “I know what the kids on my team have done to contact all my coaching friends and former players and it’s unbelievable that they can drum up that kind of support in such a short amount of time.

“I cannot even express (how moved I am). I told them I will never be able to thank them enough.”

The public comments portion of Wednesday’s meeting was overrun with Gorball supporters, which included Bishop Amat girls basketball coach Richard Wiard and South El Monte girls basketball and softball coach Dean Bunting.

With emotions ranging from tears to anger, speaker after speaker questioned Cisneros’ decision and the impact it will have on the Arroyo athletics program where Gorball is also an assistant football coach and supports several other sports.

After the comments portion of the meeting expired, district Vice President John Tran moved to immediately reinstate Gorball, which was met with loud applause from the packed chamber.

“I think the decision made to let Coach Gorball go was probably not the right move,” Tran said. “Any decision that will be made on Coach Gorball in the future will come back to the board. As of right now, the board couldn’t act on this because it wasn’t on the agenda. But under educational code we were able to give direction to the superintendent (Nick Salerno) and it was a unanimous decision to reinstate Coach Gorball.”

Cisneros declined to comment on why he fired Gorball, but many people attending the meeting believed it was because Cisneros wanted to hire a certified teacher for the position. Gorball works at the high school as a campus security officer.

“I made my decision tonight based on the fact that I don’t think he (Gorball) got a fair shake,” board member Carlos G. Salcedo said. “In certain circumstances it is beneficial to have the coaches be teachers because those teachers are there full time and they do get to know the students on a deeper level.

“However, I think there are some exceptions. For example, our coach in this instance, Gorball, he’s already here as a campus supervisor. In his role, he does have the opportunity to get to know these kids.”

Cisneros attended Thursday’s meeting and showed little emotion as students, parents and community members publicly questioned his decision and urged board members to change it.

“It’s not personal,” Cisneros said during a break in the meeting. “The board decides the direction it wants to take and that’s the direction it wants to take.”

No successor for Gorball had been named prior to Wednesday’s meeting. The Knights begin their summer tournament schedule on Friday. But with Gorball back at the helm, fears by parents about a team playing games with no coach were calmed, although Cisneros said the team would have a had a replacement in time for Friday’s game.

“I don’t think the timing was great given that they have a tournament coming up,” Tran said. “I just wanted to make sure we had immediate action to reinstate to give him time to prepare his team for the upcoming tournaments.”

Arroyo principal Oscar Cisneros (right) looks on during Wednesday’s meeting

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  • Fred Robledo

    I was shocked when Aram said Arroyo let go of Gorball, I’d love to hear the explanation because he’s one of the few people that send updates of Arroyo’s boys and girls basketball tournaments so I can get updated schedules on the blog that night. For years I’ve had problems obtaining Mission Valley League rosters from the secretaries or league coordinators that are supposed to provide it, yet one call to Gorball and I’ve got it that day. Like Aram said, you see him everywhere and he’s an extremely nice, hard-working guy that obviously does this for the love of high school athletics — a real loss for Arroyo.

  • Joe Amat

    Because of his relationship with the Wiards (that goes back to when Richard was head boys coach at Arroyo (OK – who remembers that?) either Charter Oak just found their new Girl’s basketball coach or Amat just got a new assistant

  • Steve Ramirez

    I do, Joe. I guess that makes me old. I am astonished just as much as anyone else. I could be wrong, but I can’t recall the last time Arroyo finished below second. They are always contending for a league title since Gorball has been there. And like Fred and Aram said, he is there supporting all the other events, including the softball tournament games and he would provide the bracket for us. It doesn’t make sense.

  • LA Conq

    If all this stuff you guys are saying is true, that Gorball was a great coach, well liked, a winner, etc. Then I’d imagine whatever prompted Arroyo to send him packing must have been pretty serious! Like possibly CIF violations? Inappropriate contact (although then he probably wouldn’t still be with the football team) or something along those lines. Schools typically don’t fire successful, popular coaches unless they have a damn good reason.

    Also wonder why he had no comment when reached on Wednesday! Maybe there is something not so kosher that he doesn’t want to get out.

    I’m just spit-balling here. But something tells me this guy was let go for a reason that everyone, He and Arroyo alike, don’t want to get out into the media flow.

  • As a parent of a student at Arroyo High School I cannot believe the school is doing this. Word is that this may be more widespread than Coach Gorball. Arroyo is applying a District policy on requirements to be varsity coaches that would eliminate many of the other varsity coaches currently in place in other sports programs, no matter how good they are. That is unfortunate because my son is in football and will be in varsity next year for more then one sport and this will affect all programs and students. Whats up with these schools, doesnt matter how good of a coach or influence you are on the kids.

  • As an El Monte Union High School Employee (off the Record, of course): Arroyo High school has chosen to implement the policy of utilizing only certified teaches as coaching staff. Any coaches that are not teachers will unfortunately be losing their positions. This is in the best interest of the school and the district.

  • Nico Brown

    If teachers are getting coaching jobs..?!
    It’s cause they want the extra pay $$$.. that comes with coaching an activity or sport in this case
    Not that they are qualified…
    Just an extra check..!!!!!!!!!!
    If Hardball was so great,,,,has he gone out and got a Degree..??
    That would make him an legitimate head coach
    He had to have been told
    Prior to this decision being made
    He knew
    Not knew news

  • Fred Robledo

    So let me get this straight, are you saying that every head coach in the El Monte school district will now have to be a teacher, that there are no walk-on head coaches? I believe Gorball is a school security guard, for them not to make an exception for a coach who has been there for over 20 years is a bad move. I believe Aram is working on the story and that there is a meeting tonight at the school, so we might have more info later.

  • Something stinks

    I betcha a $1 that the teacher’s union is in the mix.

  • Aaron

    The policy is something akin to the Rialto Unified policy that almost saw Colton’s Head Coach being shown the door who is also a security guard on campus…this just after he’d won a title last December. However he was saved when Markham removed his name from consideration and tons of players and parents went to the Board meeting to get his contract reaffirmed.

    Most districts have these policies, and almost all coaching contracts are done year to year.

  • Well, if you’re a Gorball supporter then board member Johnny Tran is your hero. I’ve covered a few school board/city council meetings in my time and I’ve NEVER seen a board/council A. have a member ask for immediate action and B. have immediate action taken.

    The outpouring of support for Coach Gorball was just amazing and his former/current players were VERY moving.

    This is how government is supposed to work and the board got the message that the community wanted Coach Gorball back so they put him back.

    It was a pretty incredible night and now one of the Valley’s fixtures is back where he belongs.

  • Giime a break

    Tran is a self serving blood sucking turd. He would sell his grandmother out if he thought it would benefit him. He was ran out of Garvey SD and the Rosemead City Council because he has no integrity and will do whatever he has to do to get votes. He is a bloodsucker. People of El Monte Union beware, he WILL sell you out for money or votes.

  • Susan Wall

    My daughter Felicia, sent this in support of Mike Gorball:

    “Coach Gorball was hands down the most dedicated coach I have ever had. He wrote us personalized notes at the end of each season that included what are strengths and weaknesses were, how we had improved and what we could do to better ourselves. He had a passion for the job and it showed on and off the court. He was always concerned about each one of us on an individual basis and cared our lives and our success as people as well as athletes. Beyond working diligently to help us improve ourselves, he is a shining example of the self-improvment he expected of us by admitting his faults and constantly trying to improve himself as a coach to us. He is an excellent coach and a great influence on anyone he has the opportunity to teach – an influence that especially young adults in high school need very much. Beyond that, his success in the programs and his organization of tournaments has built a great reputation for the school. Taking him a way is a detriment to the students and the school.”

    This is Mike Gorball’s whole life; he gives everything he has to Arroyo High School and especially the basketball team. I can’t imagine any certificated teacher being as qualified, or being able to come anywhere close to providing the quality program that Mike does. So yeah, the program would definitely suffer without his leadership and strong work ethic, which he ingrains in his players. In fact, of all the coaches that my children had at Arroyo High School, the one that was certificated was the worst, one that I would never want to deal with again. He would never go on the bus with the kids and never did get to the events on time and when he did get there, he hardly paid any attention to how the kids were doing.

  • Trojan Man


    Be it a walk on OR a CERTIFIED TEACHER,THE BEST INDIVIDUAL should be hired.

    I had the HONOR of working as an assistant @ 2 schools in The EMUHSD & I am NOT a certified teacher,To be quite honest walk on’s are looked DOWN UPON by some staffers.



  • Inside Edition

    Was there any video taken of this drama at the hearing?