Cheer, soccer, swimming get new coaches

By Luke Holthouse and Lucy Putnam

Three Wolverine teams got new Head Coaches over Memorial Day weekend.

Former Laker Girl Octavia Ellison will head the cheerleading program, Jonathan Carroll will assume control of the boys’ and girls’ swimming program and Lucas Bongarra will usher in the next step in the relationship between Harvard-Westlake and the Italian soccer club AC Milan as head coach of the boys’ soccer team.

Ellison will replace Kelly Vernon as the varsity cheer team’s head coach and head of the budding middle school cheer program. Miller resigned to pursue other career options.

She said she hopes to use he expeiences with the Lakers to improve the program.

Ellison danced with the Lakers for the last three years, but she retired from professional dancing at the end of the Lakers’ playoff run this season.

“It’s definitely going to be different,” Ellison said. “But there’s a lot that I learned, and a lot I can apply here like a sense of professionalism and the dance technique.”

Carroll will replace Cheyne Bloch as the head coach of both the girls’ and boys’ swimming teams.

Carroll was Aquatics Director at Redondo Union and coached the Redondo club team, Beach Cities Swimming. He was an adjunct professor at Occidental College, teaching courses in their education minor and credentialing program. Carroll will aim to develop a culture around the swimming and diving teams similar to the other programs that are perennially successful.

“I would like to see us have more top eight finalists at the division level,” Carroll said. “I know the talent capable of accomplishing this goal is already on campus. It is my job with my coaching staff to help the athletes realize it.”

Carroll is excited to lead a new chapter of the swimming program in a brand new pool. The Copses Family Aquatic Center is slated to be finished by the start of the 2012-2013 school year.

“When you have a facility like the one being put together here, the opportunity to develop something special in the aquatics program goes up exponentially,” he said.

That said, Carroll understands the challenge to blend the program under Darlene Bible and what he thinks will take it to the next level but says he has worked through similar situations in the past and is confident he will be solved.

Over the years Carroll has worked with numerous Harvard-Westlake swimmers as a club coach, to the point of feeling as though he knew the program. But as the newest member of the staff said “I am officially part of the family, and I look forward to not only carrying out the athletic vision set out by Audrius Barzdukas, but also becoming part of the larger Harvard-Westlake community.”

Previous Head Coach Bible said “We have been interviewing for months and Jon is a bright, enthusiastic, knowledgeable swim coach with a desire to teach and coach swimming at Harvard-Westlake. I am excited to hand off my clipboard to such a terrific young coach.”

Bongarra will replace Felix Arroyo as the Head of the Boys Soccer program. Arroyo will maintain a position in the program with a role yet to be determined, but Bongarra will also become the Head Coach of the varsity program.

Bongarra is currently the head of youth development for AC Milan in Southern California. The hire will help foster the budding relationship between Harvard-Westlake and the Italian soccer club. Harvard-Westlake is attempting to utilize AC Milan’s coaching, training and physical therapy methods to improve the school’s soccer program while AC Milan is trying to develop potential future players through the Wolverines’ soccer program as well as develop the team’s brand.

“I think the idea is to keep bringing the brands together I think the idea that we have is,” Bongarra said. “My personal experience as a coach and my experience in development that with AC Milan is something that the program can benefit from. The program is at a good place. The idea is to add and to take it to the next level.”

Bongarra will use his experience from working with AC Milan, who won the Italian “Serie A” league championship in 2011, to add the “Milan Lab” training system to the soccer teams from 7-12th grade. The Milan Lab program utilizes a unique array of heart rate monitors, body mass indicators and jumping exercises to track the fitness level of players at different times throughout their career.