Mike Boles, Sonoma Valley High’s new athletic director, believes in commitment

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Sonoma Valley High School has set its sights on a new sports complex, with full-size soccer fields and baseball diamonds, a new track, bleachers and lighting towers to illuminate the home games – a project that could take another three years or more to reach completion. But Mike Boles isn’t waiting around.

In his first year as athletic director, he manages a vibrant athletics scene at SVHS, where almost half of the students go out for some sport or another, by staying in close touch with everyone on the coaching staff and setting up regular coaches meetings several times a year.

And he just entered a partnership with East Bay Sports to give all Dragons teams a consistent look, branding if you will, with the famous Nike swoosh.

And the team he coaches, varsity basketball, just finished its first season in the new Vine Valley Athletic League and begins a playoff run Tuesday night with an North Coast Section game against Piner High School, a former Sonoma County League foe whom the Dragons have not played this year.

All this at a school that doesn’t have a football field, or a soccer pitch, or a game-ready baseball diamond on campus or even a swimming pool.

“Obviously we would love a brand-new athletic facility so we can keep all our games on campus,” Boles told the Index-Tribune. “Which would create more excitement, generate more of a crowd base, but also give our student athletes a better opportunity to be successful instead of always having to travel to different locations for their home games.”

The awkward situation this winter with both boys and girls soccer teams having to play their home games in Petaluma instead of in Sonoma was an irritant not just to local players but visiting teams as well, who had to drive an extra half hour beyond Sonoma.

The distant home game contributed to a disappointing crowd size, too, complicated by some instances when both boys and girls basketball teams had games the same night – further dampening attendance. But while a new sports complex can’t create champions, it can give a boost to enthusiasm.

“There’s just something about playing on campus on beautiful fields that makes for excitement and a more competitive environment,” said Boles.

Boles himself, an ageless 57 with a ready smile, has proved a popular “AD” for the school, and gets high marks from the SVHS Boosters as well. When asked what makes for a successful coach, and a successful player, his answer in both cases comes down to one word: commitment.

“It’s kind of a culture of commitment,” he said when asked about making sure players who go out for a sport stick with it and contribute. “If they’re not committed to their skill sets, they aren’t going to be as good as those who are putting in the time. So that kind of works itself out.”

Commitment, too, is one thing that sets apart a championship team from the others. The most recent case is the just-completed league basketball season, which found the Dragons in a playoff game with the eventual Vine Valley Athletic League champion, Napa. Though the Dragons had a .500 win/loss record in the league, and finished the season 16-11, they were no match for the Grizzlies – 12-0 in the league, 23-5 on the year.

Boles rejected the idea that they were a far superior team. “Napa was not at that level. It just takes commitment and players and stability. Napa has been pretty stable over the last couple years. They’ve got good players and they’re committed to their program.”

Boles himself is as committed to basketball – as well as SVHS, of course – as one could be. He has been playing basketball since he went to Archbishop Riordan High in San Francisco, and he has led the Dragons basketball team for four years – after 15 years coaching first girls, then boys at Justin-Siena High School(now a VVAL rival).

All four of the Boles children have played basketball, but Boles has even recruited his two youngest sons as assistant coaches. Trey Boles, 24, is varsity assistant, and Reece, 22, helps out the JV, though they played prep sports at Justin-Siena.

But with the basketball season winding down – unless the Dragons make a surprise run deep into the NCS playoffs, or even the state playoffs – the athletic director turns his attention to spring sports: Baseball and softball, boys tennis and golf, track and field, swimming and diving.

Boles is unperturbed at the busy schedule. “My life is full with the AD position itself,” said Boles. “There’s a lot on my plate, which I embrace and actually enjoy, as crazy as it sounds. I enjoy the heck out of it.”

That enjoyment is obvious to those who interact with Boles, whether fellow coaches or teachers, players he coaches or students at Sonoma Valley, who have grown used to his presence at nearly every sports game played at the school.

“Mike’s number one priority is the kids and the SVHS programs,” said Stacey Schoeningh, vice-president of the Sonoma Valley High Boosters. “We are lucky to have him.”

Boles has lived in Sonoma since 1990, and there’s no signs he’s going anywhere. “I love the position. I love the job. I love sports, I love the community and love interacting with everyone associated with it.

“So, you know, it’s kind of one of those dream jobs.”

So if Sonoma Valley High’s athletes are beginning to have basketball dreams, or football or baseball or track or swimming dreams, it’s a dream they share with Mike Boles.

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