Coaches, athletes earn ‘All-Decade’ recognition

 

By Jack Davis and Ashley Khakshouri

Boys’ basketball coach Greg Hilliard and girls’ and boys’ tennis coach Chris Simpson were named area high school Coaches of the Decade in their respective sports by the Los Angeles Daily News.

When a friend called head boys’ basketball coach Greg Hilliard and congratulated him on being named ‘Coach of the Decade,’ the coach had a surprising reaction.

“I had no idea what he was talking about,” Hilliard admitted.

Hilliard would soon discover the Los Angeles Daily News had named him ‘Coach of the Decade’ for boys’ basketball.

“It’s very nice to be recognized for anything and it is greatly appreciated that someone would care enough to do that,” Hilliard said. “I am very grateful, but in no way do I agree with the decision. Maybe I was the only guy that coached through that whole decade,” Hilliard said.

In the past decade, Hilliard won five Southern Section CIF titles, including four in a row from 2002 to 2005.

Hilliard’s most recent Southern Section title came last year, as his squad also reached state semifinals before falling to Oceanview.

Hilliard has positive memories when looking back at the decade.

“Harvard-Westlake has been a great place to work, and my players have given me more than I could have ever given them. Again, I have so much to be thankful for,” Hilliard said.

Two alumni also received all-decade recognition. Girls’ soccer player Jill Oakes ’02 and boys’ water polo player Juan Delgadillo ’04 were named all-decade winners for their respective sports. Oakes was named Gatorade National Player of the year when she was a senior.

Varsity boys’ and girls’ tennis coach, Chris Simpson, receives the Coach of the Decade award from the Daily News. Coach Simpson who has won Coach of the Year from the California Coaches Association, the LA Times, and the Daily News in 2005, has been the tennis director for 9 years.

He has set the coaching record at Harvard-Westlake for Boys’ Varsity Tennis with a record of 183-19 overall and 104-0 in Mission League matches.

The boys’ tennis team was the first school athletic program to win a CIF division 1 Championship which was 2004 and 2005 posting a 45-0 unbeaten streak.

“It’s a great achievement but it really reflects on all the years of committed coaches, families, and players. If our players weren’t there to perform we wouldn’t win things. I accept this on behalf of the coaching staff without them I couldn’t do it,” Simpson said.

Simpson believes that a lot of the success of his players is due to having a winning mentality.

“If you have a winning mentality meaning you’re a winner you do what’s expected of you and contribute in a positive way, prepare for your matches, show tremendous support of your teammates, you will get a success in some way,” he said.

Former girls’ volleyball coach Jess Quiroz, who led the Wolverines to state titles in 2001 and 2003, was recognized as his sport’s Coach of the Decade as well. Quiroz now coaches at Campbell Hall High School.

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