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Rocchi leads Central Valley High athletics
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The meeting took place at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, July 5. Jeff Rocchi sat at his desk, answered a host of questions and unveiled plans for a weight room facility. He spoke enthusiastically about building a successful athletic program at Central Valley High School.

"It's been very challenging and a lot of fun," Rocchi said.

"The biggest challenge is developing a culture at this school where there's a lot of pride and interest."

Rocchi, 48, was named athletic director of Ceres Unified School District's new $50-million high school on Oct. 15. He filled the same position at Mae Hensley Jr. High School for the past two years. He also taught math and P.E.

Rocchi moved into his office at Central Valley High in the middle of March. The previous five months, he split time at Mae Hensley Jr. High and Ceres High School. Central Valley's administrators were stationed in a trailer at the old high school.

Rocchi helped hire coaches, set up schedules for fall, winter and spring sports, and purchased jerseys and equipment.

Ceres Unified allocated $350,000 to Central Valley's athletic department.

"I'm very pleased with the progress we've made in getting everything in place," Rocchi said. "We're going to have everything we need. The wants we're going to work on."

Added Central Valley High principal Fred Van Vleck: "Jeff has worked real hard to make sure he gets real good pricing."

Central Valley purchased $60,000 worth of equipment from Nebula for the 2,192-square foot, rectangular-shaped weight room. The Ohio-based company visited the campus before Christmas and completed the first phase of the project at the end of last month. A sound system and mirrors were also installed.

"It's an outstanding facility," Rocchi said. "We'll be able to address all the needs of our kids.

"We can run 60 people on the equipment at one time."

Nebula will collect an additional $20,000 from Central Valley High in the near future.

"We purchased the remaining portion of it as of Wednesday," Rocchi said. "It's being built for us. We'll receive it in the middle of September."

The majority of coaching positions have been filled except for boys and girls soccer, wrestling, cross country and track and field.

Tim Garcia (football), Denise Runyan (volleyball/softball), Darryl Dickson (boys basketball), Jesse Padilla (girls basketball), Greg Magni (baseball), Mike Holliday (girls golf), Roland Calagos (girls tennis), Saundra Resendiz (swimming), Linda Lima (cheerleading) and Jennifer Gordon (dance) were hired. They were interviewed by Central Valley High's principal, assistant principal, athletic director and learning director.

"We have an excellent coaching staff," Rocchi said.

Central Valley's fall sports lineup includes girls tennis (varsity), girls golf (varsity), football (JV/frosh), volleyball (JV/frosh), cross country (JV) and boys soccer (JV).

Boys basketball (JV/frosh), girls basketball (JV/frosh) and wrestling (JV) will be offered during the winter season.

Boys tennis (varsity), boys golf (varsity), swimming (varsity), baseball (JV/frosh), softball (JV/frosh), girls soccer (JV) and track and field (JV) will be offered in the spring.

Cheerleading and dance are year-round sports.

Schedules are posted on the Central Valley High web site. Game times and directions to events are also included.

"The information on there is very current," Rocchi said.

Rocchi started the process in October.

"For the most part, all of the schedules are settled," Rocchi said. "We still have a few openings."

All sports except for football compete in the Valley Oak League. The football program has an independent schedule. Central Valley will face Liberty (Rocklin), Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove), Ronald McNair (Lodi), Ripon Christian (Ripon) and Cesar Chavez (Stockton) high schools. Home games will be held at Ceres High School.

Rocchi and his wife Sharon reside in Hughson. They have three daughters, Nicole, 23, Emily, 21, and Lisa, 19.

Sharon accepted a job offer from CUSD three weeks ago. She'll be teaching first grade at Virginia Parks School.

Jeff earned a bachelor's degree in physical education from Long Beach State. He worked in Riverbank before accepting a job with Ceres Unified. Rocchi was athletic director at Cardoza Middle School for seven years. - By DALE BUTLER / Staff reporter of the Ceres (Calif.) Courier