by Larry Ham
To have a successful Athletic Department, any school–be it a high school, a junior college or a four year college–has to have a dedicated and hard working Athletic Director. Reedley College is blessed to have one of those people heading their athletic department–Javier Renteria. Javier’s “life journey,” and how he ended up as A.D. at Reedley College is really fascinating. He shared that story with me recently.
Larry: Tell us about where you grew up and the sports you played growing up.
Javier: I grew up in Madera and Chowchilla. When I was a child, I lived in the country of Madera. At the age of fourteen, I decided to move with my father to attend high school at Chowchilla. I continued to play four years of High School football, basketball and baseball. I worked hard to maintain my grades, and my goal was to attend a four year college and play Division 1 football. After graduating high school, I attended Modesto Junior College to play football. My freshman year I hurt my shoulder playing quarterback. As a result, I could no longer play football, but I was blessed with the skills to play baseball. I left Modesto Junior College and transferred to the College of Eastern Utah to play baseball for one year.
I then realized that I needed to move back to California if I wanted an opportunity to be recruited by four year colleges to play college baseball. As a result, I transferred back to Merced College to play baseball for one year. I had a successful year at Merced College and fortunately, Fresno State lost a couple of players due to the draft, so Fresno State recruited me to play baseball for the next two years. We were one out away from reaching the 1992 College World Series. I played with great baseball players who did get drafted, played against those who were drafted, but there was a reason I didn’t get drafted and playing professional baseball. I thank God often that I wasn’t drafted because I met my wife when I decided to finish my degrees at Fresno State. It was one of the greatest decisions I made and I have no resentment for not spending a lot of time attending professional baseball tryout camps.
Larry: How did you end up at Reedley College, and where did you work before you came to RC?
Javier:During my last year of my Master’s Degree, I decided to volunteer and intern at a community college with athletic programs. I contacted Reedley College’s counseling office and met with Chuck Cekola (Department Chair at the time) to inquire about completing an additional internship within the athletic department. Jack Hacker, the Athletic Director at the time was also requesting the administration to hire an Academic Athletic counselor for Reedley College student athletes. I believe that timing is everything. I was also completing another internship at Immanuel High School and was an assistant baseball coach to Ryan Wood. Ryan and I played baseball together at Fresno State and have been good friends since then. I went from volunteering one day at Reedley College to being hired as a part-time counselor. I was also working part-time at Merced College. Yes, I was commuting from Merced College to Reedley College for about six months. I was then hired as the Academic Athletic Counselor for Reedley College sixteen years ago.
Larry: The circumstances by which you became AD were different to say the least. What was that like for you, and exactly how did the process take place that saw you become AD?
Javier:At first, I did not even consider forwarding a letter of interest for the Athletic Director position to our administration. I have the deepest respect for Jack Hacker and we have been coworkers and friends since I was hired at Reedley College. When Jack was removed from the Athletic Director position, he told me that I should think about forwarding my letter and thought I would fit in well. I was flattered by his suggestion. I thought about it and it made sense for me to look into becoming an Athletic Director. I get along well with others, enjoy working with student athletes, organized and work hard, enjoy career and life challenges. As a result, I sent a letter of interest for the Athletic Director position to our Administration and have been the Athletic Director now for three years.
Larry: Tell us about the challenge of keeping athletes interested in the academic side of being a student/athlete.
Javier:This is a common challenge among many student athletes in California. Student athletes come to Reedley College with goals to play and transfer to a four year college. It is a challenge to help our student athletes in two years and make them realize that academics are very important and there is no room for poor grades at Reedley College if they want to continue their education or athletics at a four year college. It takes a lot of patience for coaches and instructors to help them with this process. Some student athletes catch on quickly and some “drag their feet” in the process. I have worked with many student athletes who continued with their education, earn their degree, and have been very successful. I have also worked with student athletes who have not been successful in college and decided to enter the workforce early. We can only provide motivation and the opportunities for our student athletes to succeed and they need to have the drive to earn their own success.
Larry: Reedley College has a great tradition of competition in many sports. What’s your vision for the future for the RC athletic department?
Javier:We are not a university so we don’t offer scholarships. We don’t charge $15 to $55 for admission to our events: football, volleyball, basketball and baseball games. Our admission prices are affordable and fans can enjoy watching local college sports within our community. We have a short window to work with our student athletes because they have athletic time-clock constraints working against them due to the NCAA. All we can do is provide them with the opportunities in being successful in their academics and athletics. My vision for our RC athletic department is to continue to improve our programs, offer additional sport programs, such as women’s/men’s soccer, develop more community base fundraising events. It is tough when the Athletic Department and sport programs have been operating on the same budgets for the past sixteen years.
Larry: Finances are always a concern, especially in the year 2013. What are the challenges you face financially?
Javier:As I stated earlier, it is tough when the Athletic Department and sport programs have been operating on the same budgets for the past sixteen years. Our administration continues to find ways to slowly cut our operating budgets and limit our resources. Our coaches are expected by our district and administration to fund-raise more money every year if we are going to sustain our sport programs. I have hope that our current budget allocation process will change due to hiring our new President, Dr. Sandra Caldwell. I am excited to see what changes she will make to our current administration budget allocation processes toward Reedley College athletic programs.
Larry: Tell us about your family.
Javier:I met my wife, Stephanie in college and we have been happily married for seventeen years. We have one son, Jake who is thirteen years old, two daughters–Alyssa, who is eleven years old and Jessica who is four years old. They are my life and I do my best to balance work and my family time. I spend a lot of time coaching my travel baseball team that Jake plays on, watching Alyssa play travel softball, and watching Jessica become her own person. My wife and kids give me balance in my life and remind me to that life is precious so enjoy the moments.
Larry: If you could change one thing about the way college athletics are being conducted in the year 2013, what would it be?
Javier:I would like to upgrade our athletic program facilities and have my office moved into the athletic department.
Larry: Will you be rooting for the Dodgers?
Javier:Tough question! I have been a Giants fan since I was a kid, but I enjoy watching baseball regardless of who is playing. So, I will root against the Dodgers. Ha Ha.
Javier Renteria is a friend. He’s also a neighbor, and someone I have tremendous respect for. When you see him at an RC sporting event, he’s always busy making sure things run smoothly. What you might not know is that he’s been there for a couple hours before the event begins, getting things set up and he’s likely to stay an hour or so after the event ends, to make sure everything gets put away. He’s also a guy who has the ability to have a good laugh, even in the middle of one of those busy times.
Most of all, Javier is a man who cares. He cares about the athletes at Reedley College, he cares about the future of the athletic department and he is an authentic, old-fashioned family man. Reedley College is fortunate to have him.
Check back every Monday evening during football season for the latest game recap!