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CHS grads coaching hoops together at Big Valley Christian
Mazza sisters won section title as players
The Mazza sisters, Jessica (far right) and Heather, are coaching Big Valley Christians varsity girls basketball team for the second year in a row. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Dressed in matching blue-collared polo shirts and khaki pants, sisters Jessica and Heather Mazza flashed smiles while posing for a picture just outside Big Valley Christian's gymnasium last week.

The Ceres High grads have been coaching the Lions' varsity girls basketball team together since the 2015-16 season.

Jessica tapped older sibling Heather to be her assistant when she was promoted to head coach.

"We balance each other out," Jessica said. "I'm more aggressive and crazy. I criticize everything. Heather is an encourager. Kind of like good cop, bad cop."

"I love it," said Heather, who elicited a laugh from Jessica and chuckled herself while talking about the dynamics of their work relationship. "The credit goes to her when we win. The blame goes to her when we lose. There's no pressure on me."

Jessica previously coached Big Valley Christian's junior-varsity (2014-15), eighth-grade (2013-14) and seventh-grade (2012-14) girls teams.

She led Big Valley's seventh-grade team to the league championship during the 2012-13 school year.

"I didn't have any coaching experience," Jessica said. "I didn't know what I was doing. I never thought I'd coach because I don't have patience. It's definitely more stressful being a coach. You can't go out there and play."

Heather coached Riverbank's JV girls team for one year (2013-14).

"It's more of a challenge to coach," Heather said. "There's constantly something to work on."

"Sometimes, I can't sleep at night because I'm amped up about a game," Jessica stated.

Added Heather: "We text each other."

Jessica and Heather played two seasons of hoops together at Ceres High. They were coached by Shawna Nunes and Phil de la Porte. Jessica and Heather helped lead Ceres High to its first section title in girls basketball in 2004-05.

Jessica and Heather earned scholarships to Fresno Pacific University and Bethany College, respectively.

"Nunes and de la Porte were the best coaches ever," Jessica said. "They were so knowledgeable about basketball. They were so quick to help. They had your back on everything. You don't always get that everywhere."

"They're both perfectionists," Nunes said while talking about her two former players.

Jessica and Heather coached against their former school when Big Valley Christian played host to Ceres High on Dec. 13 in Modesto.

The Lions fell behind 11-0 and got within four points late in the game before losing 46-41 to the Bulldogs.

"We scheduled more games and a tougher preseason to help us get ready for league," Jessica said.

"We're getting better," Heather added.

The Mazza sisters clapped in unison as the final buzzer sounded and their players walked off the court.

When asked how long they planned to coach together at Big Valley Christian, Jessica and Heather said they had no intention of leaving anytime soon.

"We might not be the best athletically but we're going to be the most fundamental and work the hardest," Jessica said. "You can control your heart, hustle and effort. We got that from Nunes and de la Porte."

"We're trying to build a program like Nunes and de la Porte did," Heather said.

Jessica and Heather are both married and have two children.

Basketball continues to be a big part of their lives.

"Our husbands are very supportive," Jessica said. "When we come to basketball, we get to forget we're parents. We reminisce. We get to tell our players stories."

"It's so much fun," Heather said.

"They're both phenomenal ladies on and off the court," said Nunes, Ceres High's athletic director since 2011-12. "I wish I could have got them back into our program."