John Sisterson doubled his pleasure when he took up the reins of the men’s soccer team at Santa Barbara City College this fall. The 54-year-old Englishman was already coaching the Vaquero women. “I love the game,” he said. “I love what I’m doing. Why coach one when I can coach two?”
Both squads are having successful seasons. The men, featuring the state’s leading scorer in freshman, striker Mark Knight, face L.A. Mission College at 7 p.m. today (November 8) at La Playa Stadium. The women, who have lost only once and are ranked No. 6 in the state, have already concluded the regular season and are expected to host a playoff game on Saturday, November 17.
Sisterson played for the Newcastle juniors as a lad in northeast England, but he did not pursue a professional playing career. “My father died when I was 16, and my mother thought education was important,” he said. He has become a proponent of the interscholastic system of sports in the United States, as challenging as it is. “It’s difficult being a student-athlete,” he said. “Midterms will stress them out. It’s easier being a pro.”
Foreign players who want to enter that system have sought out SBCC. “They go on the Web site and see the beach in Santa Barbara,” said Sisterson, who has players from England, Sweden, and Brazil on the men’s roster.
Sisterson previously guided small college teams in Texas and Georgia. He also coached the U.S. Women’s Deaf Team to a gold medal at the Deaf Olympics. That influenced his low-key, one-on-one coaching style. “You have to make eye contact,” he said. Out of habit, he still calls the sport “football” and the cleated shoes are “boots.”
The same assistants-Scotland native Terry Wilson and former Westmont College standout Dana Weymouth-help Sisterson run both teams. They have inculcated a family atmosphere among Vaquero footballers. They support each other.
“We have meshed more with the men’s team this year,” said sophomore Lizzy Rao, a standout women’s midfielder from San Marcos High. “We go through the same intense training.”
HOOP REALITY: The first weekend of the college basketball season finds UCSB’s women hosting two of the better teams in the west, BYU (7 p.m. on Friday, November 9) and USC’s Women of Troy (2 p.m. on Sunday, November 11). Jeff Judkins, a former NBA player, has taken BYU to two straight NCAA tournaments. The Gaucho women, bolstered by new point guard Lauren Pederson and a trio of first-years, are aiming to return to the Big Dance in March. USC welcomes back point guard Camille LeNoir and sharpshooter Brynn Cameron. Both missed last year after hip surgery, and Cameron, a former Ventura County Player of the Year, also gave birth to a son, Cole, fathered by quarterback Matt Leinart. : The Gaucho men open with three games at Stanford’s Basketball Travelers Classic (Northwestern State on Friday, Harvard on Saturday, and Stanford at 3 p.m. on Sunday). : The S.B. City College women play in their own mini tournament against Santa Ana at 7 p.m. on Friday. Look for a college hoops preview in next week’s Independent.
THURSDAY/FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: Santa Barbara High, top seeded in the CIF 1-A girls volleyball playoffs, hosts an opening-round match tonight at 7 p.m. The Dos Pueblos and Laguna Blanca girls also have home matches. : A berth in the CIF football playoffs is on the line Friday night at Peabody Stadium, where Santa Barbara hosts Dos Pueblos in its regular-season finale. Also playing at home Friday are San Marcos (vs. Ventura), Bishop Diego (vs. Fillmore at SBCC), and Carpinteria (vs. Oak Park).
FINISH LINE: At the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, UCSB grads J.T. Service (45th in 2:21:12) and Aaron Sharp (64th in 2:24:15) both finished higher than they were seeded last Saturday in New York City. Service set a new personal record.