06/06/07 — Galarza named new boy's coach at Spring Creek

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Galarza named new boy's coach at Spring Creek

By Rob Craig
Published in Sports on June 6, 2007 1:52 PM

SEVEN SPRINGS -- While Sonny Kilpatrick is heading for very unfamiliar territories in the coming months, Johnny Galarza is heading back to a spot he knows very well.

On Tuesday, Galarza -- a former standout for Mount Olive College -- was named the new boy's basketball coach for Spring Creek. Galarza replaces Kilpatrick, the long-time Spring Creek biology teacher who has served as varsity head coach for the past four seasons.

"I'm very excited," said Galarza. "Now, I'm looking to playoffs and hoping for state. It's bringing back memories from when I played, but now I'm on the other end."

Galarza -- a graduate of Eastern Oklahoma State Junior College and Mount Olive College -- will be taking his second head coaching job. This past season he served as coach of the Southern Wayne ninth grade team.

Galarza, 26, also has extensive experience with running basketball camps and of course playing.

He played for two years at one of the top junior college programs at Eastern Oklahoma State before playing with the Trojans. Following that, Galarza had a once-in-a-lifetime experience with a professional league in Puerto Rico.

The league also served as a try-out for the Puerto Rican National team.

"It wasn't going as well as I expected so I came back and got my degree and stuck with basketball," said Galarza. "If I hadn't tried it, I would've have always wondered if I could have made it. That's something I want to give my kids, to always try and never leave anything behind."

Kilpatrick is saying good bye to basketball and welcoming his own big opportunity.

The now former three-sport coach of basketball, softball and defensive coordinator in football is leaving Wayne County and heading to Alaska where he will be spending four months as a biologist on a commercial fishing boat.

"I've second guessed myself a whole lot with this, but I have the opportunity to do something that is just out of this world," said Kilpatrick who has spent 32 years at Spring Creek High -- 26 of them as a basketball coach at some level. "I feel like I would always second guess myself if I didn't try it.

"I'm not lying when I say I'm the mac daddy here," Kilpatrick said. "I'm the old man on campus. I'm going to miss it all."

Following his Alaskan excursion, Kilpatrick won't close any doors as far as a return to Wayne County, but may also stay on the Pacific Ocean.

"It's still up in the air," said Kilpatrick. "I may go on to Hawaii and work on a fishing boat there or I may decide fishing boats aren't what I need to be on and come back to North Carolina."

Regardless, Kilpatrick is comfortable with the hands his old program is in.

"I think coach Galarza is going to have some talent to work with next year," said Kilpatrick. "I think some young blood in the basketball program would be good. I think I've done an adequate job with the basketball team.

"I've enjoyed myself and we've had a lot of success."

Principal Stephen Clingan said the decision to hire Galarza was an easy one.

"It was an internal Wayne County move," said Clingan. "The timing was something that wasn't planned, it just occurred naturally, almost like it was meant to be. He's the most qualified person we have on staff for the job."

On the court, Galarza says his Gators will be defensively oriented and, if he has the type of players to allow it, will also try to have some fun on the court.

"I like to run," said Galarza. "I like to get the crowd into it and entertain. No showboating, but make it fun to watch."

In addition to being successful on the court and in the classroom, Galarza has another goal for his Gators.

"To break Kilpatrick's record for as far as many wins they've had," he said with a smile.

While Kilpatrick is chipping ice from his beard this winter, Galarza will be sitting is a steamy gym -- yet neither man could be any happier.

"I'm very happy to take over," said Galarza. "I've got big shoes to fill though. I know I have a lot of work to do."