Julia Pata joined the coaching ranks at her alma mater this past fall.
She was an assistant on Ceres High’s varsity girls water polo team.
She was also head coach of the Bulldogs’ junior-varsity squad.
Pata has been tapped to coach Ceres High’s varsity girls wrestling this winter.
She takes over for Cecil Cervantez, who got a promotion at work and had to step down.
A multi-sport standout at Ceres High, Pata wrestled for Cervantes her senior year during the 2016-17 season.
“I hope more female coaches pop up in the next few years.”Julia Pata
“Bringing more women into the sport of wrestling is a great idea,” Pata said. “I hope more female coaches pop up in the next few years.”
“We’re one of the few programs to have a woman on our staff in a head-coaching position,” Ceres High wrestling leader Steve Festa said. “She’s breaking new ground. It’s awesome. We’re lucky to have her.”
The Bulldogs’ roster features 10 grapplers.
Azucena Rodriguez (So.), Briahanna Canales (So.) and Marissa Acebedo (Jr.) returned to the team
Kyara Rodriguez (Sr.), Vanessa Sanchez (Sr.), Alexandra Lugo (Jr.), Dalia Martinez (Jr.), Angelique Huerta (So.), Alyssa Medina (So.) and Jazzmin Suarez (So.) are newcomers.
“Our numbers have doubled this year,” Festa said. “Julia’s a big reason why.”
Lugo and Medina were voted captains by their teammates.
Azucena (160s, 2-1) and Briahanna (116s, 2-2) placed third and fourth, respectively, at the Western Athletic Conference Championships a year ago.
“It’s a great opportunity being able to work with these girls,” Pata said. “I’d love to see them have the same opportunities and experiences I got. Having a female leader in the room helps the girls get out of their shell. They don’t shy away from asking questions.”
Ceres High will battle Los Banos, Pacheco, Beyer, Grace Davis, Johansen, Lathrop and Mountain House during the WAC season.
The Bulldogs placed sixth at the 2017-18 WAC finals.
“I’m really excited to see what the girls are going to do,” she said. “I want them to have a fighting spirit when they’re on the mat. I’m trying to pass my competitive nature on to them. I believe they can achieve a lot this season. Our goal is to win the WAC. That’s what we’re striving for.”
Pata earned 11 varsity letters during her athletic career at Ceres High, including four in water polo and swimming, two in track and field, and one in wrestling.
She compiled an impressive 23-8 overall record while competing in the 160-pound weight class during her lone season as a grappler. Pata qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters meet and finished sixth at South Regionals. She took first at the WAC Championships.
“Just because I wrestled, it doesn’t mean I know everything about the sport,” she said. “I’m still learning. I have amazing coaches helping me out. I really try to mimic coaches Cecil, Festa and Casey (Paulino). I still throw my own twists on things.”