Rule 1: There’s More to Coaching Than Football


Mark Noble likes coaching football, but he sometimes likens the administrative duties of being a head coach to living in a kennel.

“Every day, around every corner and through every door, there’s another problem to be taken care of,” he said. “It can be a nightmare at times.”

Noble, 31, is a rookie head coach at El Cajon Valley, his alma mater. Like so many others, he spent years as an assistant coach at various schools trying to prepare himself for a job that changes daily.

“People can tell you all about coaching,” Orange Glen Coach Rob Gilster, 29, said. “But until you live it, you’ll never really know what they’re talking about.”


Said Noble: “It’s worth it, though. Once you get on the field, it’s great. You forget about everything else. I love this job.”

Noble is one of three first-year coaches in the Grossmont Conference and one of seven under the age of 35 in the inland county.

At 24, Mitch Burton of Granite Hills is the youngest, followed by Gilster, Crawford’s Jeff Olivero, 31, Noble, West Hills’ Mike Lewis, 33, Valhalla’s John Odom, 33, and Ramona’s Steve Pinning, 34.

Burton, Olivero, Lewis and Pinning are finding things out for the first time.


Gilster, who took over for Dave Lay when he left to become offensive coordinator at San Diego State, is the dean of the group with two years and a trip to the 1990 3-A finals already under his belt.

Odom is in his second year as a head coach and seventh overall at Valhalla after once working as a bodyguard for rocker David Lee Roth and finishing third behind champion Mr. T in a nationally telecast show, America’s Toughest Bouncers.

“Those were my wilder days,” Odom said. “But now I’m a teacher and a coach, and I love every minute of it.”

Odom still enjoys bodybuilding, but now he has up to 30 youngsters per week visiting his gym/garage.


Pinning is relatively new to the area, having arrived just last year as a Bulldog assistant after working in Palm Desert, Oregon and Washington. If he picked up anything from his playing days, look for him to turn Ramona around. Pinning played for Homer Smith at Army and Pacific Lutheran’s Frosty Westering, the winningest NAIA coach of all time.

Olivero, whose father, Jim, used to be the principal at Poway High, took over for former Charger Chuck Faucette, who lasted only one year.

Being young, there’s always that chance of being successful and getting an offer from a college or pro team. To a man, however, each said that was not his ambition.

Lewis, for one, has witnessed first hand the commitment and time it takes to step up to that level. Lewis’ wife, Mindy, is the daughter of Don Coryell.