GLENDALE — When basketball season rolls around in the winter, the Hoover High basketball teams will certainly have a different look on the sidelines, as both boys' Coach Henrik Sardarbergian and girls' Coach Martik Ghookasian have vacated their positions.
But at least for the boys' squad, a familiar face will make his return.
Hoover High graduate, longtime athletic director and former Tornadoes girls' coach Jack Van Patten confirmed that he recently took on the vacancy left by Henrik Sardarbegian to become the new boys' basketball coach at the school.
"It's just the right thing at the right time," said Van Patten of his decision to take over the program.
Sardarbergian, who recently earned his law degree, made the decision, an arduous one by his account, to step down from the position he'd held for the last three seasons roughly a month ago.
"I literally cried over it," said Sardarbegian of the decision, which he came to after discussions with his wife, former Hoover Coach Vigen Jilizian and Van Patten among others. "[My wife and I] figured it'd be best for not only my choice ... but for the kids. There's just so many unknowns."
Van Patten will maintain his position as the school's athletic director.
One of his immediate tasks will no doubt be finding Ghookasian's successor.
Ghookasian said he stepped down from his position roughly two months after this past season.
"I just wanted to take a different route in my life," said Ghookasian, who coached the Tornadoes for two seasons, ending his brief tenure with an 8-39 record.
Ghookasian, a 1998 Hoover graduate, had previously been an assistant on the girls' team for nine seasons with Van Patten. He will continue his involvement with the Glendale's Homenetmen Ararat developmental basketball programs.
"I'm still involved with basketball," Ghookasian said. "Basketball's always been a part of my life."
Sardarbegian, also a 1998 Hoover grad, coached the Tornadoes for the past three seasons, accumulating a 35-47 record with two playoff appearances and also developing a reputation with the Tornadoes for doing charity work and giving back to the community.
With a burgeoning and unpredictable career in law, Sardarbegian thought long and hard about staying or going at Hoover and in the end did what he thought was right for his players.
"That's the ultimate thing is it's what's best for the kids," said Sardarbegian, who thought that having to balance a law career with being a basketball coach simply would not have allowed ample time for the latter.
Sardarbegian said he still plans on being a fixture at Hoover basketball games, however.
"I told the kids you're gonna see me at every game possible," he said. "I'm definitely gonna support them."
Ultimately, Sardarbegian's goal is to become successful enough in law to allow him to come back to Hoover.
"No matter what happens, I'm gonna get back to coaching," Sardarbegian said. "My goal is to come back and coach Hoover."
It's something Van Patten, a 1980 graduate at the school, will now do.
A former standout basketball player himself, Van Patten coached the girls' team for nine seasons.