By CHACE BRYSON | Editor
Just two weeks after leading the Berkeley High boys basketball program to its first state final since 1924, Mark DeLuca announced Thursday that he has stepped down as coach of the Yellowjackets.
DeLuca officially notified Berkeley on March 31, closing out a three-year stint that included a 68-25 overall record, a CIF Division I NorCal title and a runner-up finish to Crespi-Encino in the Div. I state championship on March 24.
“After an amazing season, I have decided to move on from being the head basketball coach,” DeLuca said in an email to SportStars. “The classy move was to leave now while the cupboard is full, which gives them time to find a quality coach because the team coming back is loaded.”
The 2015-16 Yellowjackets went 24-10 and will return a handful of key players, including 6-foot-3 athletic forward Sean Spikes and 6-foot-2 guards Ben Baker and Avery Burt. Spikes will be a senior while Baker and Burt will both be juniors.
DeLuca’s decision to leave Berkeley primarily centered upon on the disadvantage of being an off-campus coach. He is the Student Life Director on the Junior & Senior High campus for El Sobrante Christian School. Not being on the Berkeley campus day-in and day-out proved too difficult.
“I’m not ruling out coaching even as soon as next season perhaps,” DeLuca said. “I have my eye on a couple of situations. However, for me to coach at a high school at this stage in my career I have to be on campus and I have to be in a fully supportive environment or I simply won’t do it.”
Berkeley was just the most recent stop in a very successful coaching career for DeLuca. He’s also had a successful runs at St. Elizabeth-Oakland (where he led the girls program to a NorCal finals appearance), Pinole Valley and De Anza-Richmond. His reputation in the coaching community is sterling as well.
“He’s a terrific motivator,” two-time state champion coach Bill Mellis of Salesian-Richmond told SportStars when DeLuca was hired at Berkeley in 2013. “His players really seem to not only like him, but they play hard for him.”
DeLuca was quick to conclude that he’ll certainly cherish his three seasons with Berkeley.
“I’m very proud to become a small part of Berkeley Basketball history,” the coach said. “How many people in any profession can say they accomplished something at their job that hasn’t been done in 90-plus years? We might be gone, but the Nor Cal Championship banner stays forever.”