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.