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May 28
1888 - Olympian Jim Thorpe, "America's greatest athlete," born in Indian Territory (probably near Prague, Okla.); later in life, appeared in many B-Westerns shot in Placerita Canyon [story]
Jim Thorpe


The College of the Canyons Athletic Department has announced its intention to hire longtime Ventura College top assistant Robin Hester, as the next head coach of the Cougars’ women’s basketball program. Hester is expected to begin his new role in summer 2024.

“I am thankful and humbled to be asked to lead the women’s basketball program at College of the Canyons,” said Hester. “I would like to thank Chad Peters and the hiring committee for this opportunity. My family and I are looking forward to joining the Canyons Athletics community.”

Hester assumes the reigns at Canyons after a two-year stint by former head coach John Wissmath, who continues to lead the college’s softball program. Prior to Wissmath’s tenure longtime head coach Greg Herrick was at the helm of the program for 30 years until retiring in June 2022.

“We’re very excited to welcome Robin Hester to the Cougar Family,” said Chad Peters, dean of kinesiology, health and wellness, fitness, and athletics at the college. “Robin brings a unique perspective to the bench after having worked in community college athletics for nearly 30 years.

“He understands and embraces the tradition of College of the Canyons Women’s Basketball,” added Peters. “Robin’s knowledge of the game, professionalism, and ability to help move student-athletes on to the next level will be paramount to the continued success of our program. The future is bright!”

Hester’s coaching career has spanned 33 years with experience at the high school, community college and NCAA levels, having led both men’s and women’s programs. In all, he has totaled 1,012 games on the bench, with 741 of those contests ending in wins.

Recognized as one of the top assistants in the state, Hester’s run with the Pirates spanned 23 seasons and included an overall record of 580-132 (.814 winning percentage) and 18 Western State Conference (WSC), North Division titles while working alongside Ventura women’s basketball head coach Ned Mircetic. Those numbers also include a 39-18 postseason record with 10 trips to the Elite Eight and 3C2A state championships in 2002, 2010 and 2014.

“This hiring marks an exciting new chapter for the Canyons women’s basketball program. With a proven track record of excellence in coaching and a dedication to student-athlete development, Robin brings a wealth of experience and expertise to his new role,” said Gina Johnson, president of the California Community College Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (CCCWBCA) and women’s basketball head coach at San Joaquin Delta College.

“His strengths in recruiting, game preparation, and program management are evident in the success he has experienced as a community college coach,” continued Johnson. “Robin’s leadership will not only elevate the program but also strengthen his ties within the community.”

Hester helped coach 11 WBCA All-Americans, four state players of the year, 27 All-State players, 11 WSC Most Valuable Players and 106 All-WSC honorees while at Ventura. During his 23 seasons with the program, 116 student-athletes transferred to four-year schools with 69 continuing to play at that level (16 Division I, 31 Division II, 16 NAIA and eight Division III).

“Robin is well known for his recruiting, but best known for fostering relationships with student-athletes,” said Casandra Renno, women’s basketball head coach at CSU, San Bernardino, who has known Hester since her own playing days. “He has a tremendous background and knowledge of the game and will do a superb job leading his own program while laying the foundation of great academic and athletic success.”

Additionally, Hester helped Ventura produce 58 Academic All-State Award winners since 2009-10, with the Pirates awarded 3C2A State Scholar Team Awards on three occasions (2002, 2009 and 2015).

“Coach Hester is not only passionate about basketball but about helping his players grow on and off the court,” said Kylie Gallick, who earned 3C2A All-State Team and Scholar Athlete honors after being recruited to Ventura by Hester. “He worked with us every day to ensure we left the gym better than when we came in and genuinely cares about making sure all his players are okay. Being a student-athlete comes with its own challenges, and Hester did a lot to make sure we got the support we needed to succeed.”

While at Ventura, Hester was an adjunct faculty member in kinesiology and health education and a part of the college’s curriculum committee. He also served as interim athletic director in 2015-16 and has been the athletic department’s Sports Information Officer since 2010. Hester is the social media coordinator for the CCCWBCA state executive committee.

“Robin has done just about everything at our level except serve as head coach. He’s ready for this challenge,” said Paul DeBolt, Napa Valley College women’s basketball head coach. “He’s a winner who wants his student-athletes to succeed in the classroom and in life as much as he wants them to win on the court. Canyons got another great one.”

A native of Independence, Kan., Hester played two seasons at Coe College, an NCAA Division III school in Cedar Rapids, IA. He moved into the high school coaching ranks at Washington High School in Cedar Rapids, serving as an assistant boy’s coach in 1992 and 1993. He then spent the 1994 season as a graduate assistant for the men’s team at Ithaca College in New York, helping that program to a conference title.

“Robin comes from a great family. Basketball and teaching are in his blood and he has a great know knowledge of the game,” said Keitha Adams, women’s basketball head coach at University of Texas at El Paso. “His work ethic is off the charts. Most importantly he is a great person. He will build a winning culture in which the student-athletes will truly enjoy their experiences.”

After relocating to California in 1995, Hester spent four seasons assisting the men’s and women’s programs at Victor Valley College. In 1999, he moved to the University of Minnesota where he was the Coordinator of Basketball Operations before returning to VVC in 2000 as the co-head coach for the women’s program. He also served as the interim head coach for VVC’s men’s team in 2001 before arriving at Ventura College the following season.

“I am excited at the prospect of moving the Canyons women’s basketball program forward and putting together a program of which the entIre Santa Clarita Valley can be proud,” said Hester.

Canyons women’s basketball completed the 2023-24 season with a 14-15 overall record and 7-7 mark vs. conference opponents to finish tied for fourth in the WSC, South Division. COC advanced to the playoffs for the second year under Wissmath but was eliminated from postseason play in an opening round loss at East L.A. College.

Historically, the program has won 16 WSC, South Division championships and made 27 appearances in the 3C2A Southern California Regional Postseason.

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