By Nick Dybel and Jacob Schwarz
After a four-year stint as Mission Viejo High School’s Athletic Director, Troy Roelen has returned to the hardwood as Basketball Coach, a position he is more than familiar with.
They say “tradition never graduates,” but apparently tradition never leaves a position either. Coach Roelen has returned to the helm of MVHS boys basketball, a position that he formerly held from 2002-2014.
On paper, Roelen is involved in almost everything that life could possibly offer. Besides being head basketball coach, Roelen is an AP Literature teacher at MVHS and also teaches masters courses at Concordia, he is married and a father to three kids, is a decorated humorist. Regardless of this large workload, he finds a way to excel and make an impact on all of the people he either coaches or teaches.
Despite a background teaching AP Literature, there is no fairytale story about Roelen’s return to the hardwood. After some technical difficulties prevented him from being both basketball coach and athletic director, he chose coaching over his previous job.
On why Roelen decided to return to his head coaching job, Roelen deliberated, “I enjoy running my own program and providing opportunities for my kids to do things they wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.”
After a mediocre 15-14 season under Coach Zeller last year, Roelen’s biggest goal has been to return MVHS basketball to the glory he led previous squads to. Although he knows that rebuilding is a process, this year’s team is raw and full of potential, allowing him to build his culture from the ground up.
This year’s team is already off to a hot start and Roelen’s game plan is working. The zone Roelen runs on defense, which is complimented by three point shooting and inside ball movement has helped the Diablos to a 6-2 start with several very good wins.
This Diablo team moved up from the Sea View League to the South Coast League this season and Roelen’s experience will be needed for this team to excel. The competition is difficult but this team is up for the challenge. Transfers such as Jake Conerty and Rey Cabiling along with returners including Griff Higgins and Nathan Hewitt will have to step up for this team to accomplish big things.
Roelen is well-versed in both sports and academics, and he applies the Socratic method of teaching to the way that he coaches. The socratic method of teaching emphasizes understanding about why something happens, which he uses to give his players a comprehension of the game.
He also draws from influential sports figures, chiefly Coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs. Roelen was recruited by Popovich while in college and he is a firm believer in the method of basketball, even including a quote from Popovich at the end of all his emails.
Roelen’s own coaching has additionally made a mark on disciples of his own. Jason Neubauer, a multi-millionaire entrepreneur and MVHS alum, popped in at practice a few weeks ago, catching up with his former coach and promising funding to the basketball program because budget cuts have taken away.
Roelen knows his way around the basketball community and his several connections helped him set up the Diablo Inferno Basketball Tournament (which took place from November 26th to December 1st). This tournament hosted several teams, including Box Hill, one of the best high school basketball teams in Australia.
Box Hill had not lost a game in two years (before they played MVHS) and this outstanding team is sending several players to play college basketball in the United States.
The team was hosted by the families of the MVHS players and got to make special connections with the families and players. The MVHS players and Aussies rooted each other on, went to each others’ games, and hung out off the court throughout the week. Although Mission Viejo beat them when they played, the MVHS and Box Hill players still consider each other brothers.
Mission ended up placing second to JSerra in the Inferno tournament and this strong result along with the fun of hosting of the Australian players started the season off with a bang.
This Mission team is looking to keep up their good play and carry their momentum into league. This is one of the best teams they’ve had in years so make sure to come down and cheer this team on (especially during league). Also, if you see Coach Roelen around school or on the basketball court, don’t be scared to congratulate him on returning as the new Diablo Basketball Head Coach.