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A Decade in Santa Barbara High School Sports

With the end of the year approaching, a goodbye to the 2010s and hello to 2020 is upon us. The last ten years have been incredibly eventful for Santa Barbara High School, especially in regards to sports. There were numerous CIF championships won by the Dons in the past decade, and many losing streaks were broken and morphed into winning streaks. Overall, this decade has been very eventful for all of Santa Barbara High School. Since Santa Barbara does not track league wins, this article will mostly be focusing on CIF championships and breakout seasons. 

To cap the decade, Santa Barbara High School had an amazing 2019 season, as the Dons football team made it agonizingly close to a CIF championship, losing in the finals.  The Dons football program had always put on a show and were always highly ranked in the 2010s, but they could never make it to or even break out of the first round of the playoffs and make a run to the CIF championships. The Dons always seemed to have a great quarterback such as Deacon Hill and Frankie Gamberdella, fast and strong wide receivers such as Jackson Gonzales and Jake Knecht, and an unstoppable defense, this year led by Noah Wood. Despite this, they could never make it far into CIF. Finally, this past year, the Dons put all the missing pieces together and made it farther than just the final round, they made it to the CIF championships but ended up losing by a heartbreaking turnover to Sunny Hills. The Dons kept their heads up, though, and are now focused on coming back to the same place next season, but this time, they are planning on winning it all. 

Another sport, basketball, both boys and girls, have had ups and downs during the past decade but always ended on a good note and are confidently heading into their season this year. The basketball program is always one to keep an eye on, as they have a plethora of talented athletes try out every year. The Dons girls team had one of their best seasons ever in 2014 led by Amber Melgoza, as they won the CIF championship and made it to Division 3 State Finals, losing to another great team. The most memorable part of the decade for them was definitely their win over the nationally ranked Matre Dei. Nonetheless the Lady Dons are hoping they can do the same thing five years later this season, as they have a very talented group of athletes. As for the boys team, they also had their glory day a few years ago in 2016 where they had one of their best seasons in ages. The boys were able to win CIF and were unstoppable. The team was led by Ben Clay and Bolden Brace, who is currently playing basketball at Northeastern University, a division 1 College. This success culminated in one of their best seasons in a long time as they finished with an unbelievable record of 31-1. The Dons are hoping, with a new coaching staff led by Cory Adams and group of prospects, that they can return to the CIF finals this season. Coach Adams said, “I am excited about the group we have right now, we are very competitive and have some very talented athletes this year.”

Water Polo, on the other hand, has worked very hard throughout the decade to get a CIF championship, which they were finally achieved this past season, finishing the season with a record of 24-9. The game went down to the wire but the seniors stepped up and with a few clutch goals at the end of the game, the Dons were able to overcome the powerful Schurr High School. Coach Mark Walsh said, “It’s actually been so long I forgot how good it felt, and man it felt so good when it was over. I was like ‘oh my god we really won this,’” after the big win. It was a tremendous season that will go down in history, as the boy’s teams won their first CIF championship since 2006. It was a huge milestone for the team and they are aiming at getting to the same spot next year. As for the girls, they did not win a CIF championship this decade but are still keeping their heads up, as they are looking stronger as each year comes. As of now, they are mainly focusing on putting the pieces together and going far into the playoffs with their strong varsity core. 

The soccer program at Santa Barbara High School never ceases to amaze, and the boys won two CIF championships in the past decade, one in 2010 and another one in 2018. The more recent one was definitely one of the most entertaining soccer games in Santa Barbara High School history. The Dons narrowly beat L.A. Cathedral in penalty kicks to get the finals to win, but they stepped up in the crunch time and ended up victorious. The girls, on the other hand, were not able to taste CIF victory and have not won any CIF championships despite their evidently talented teams. The girls are not going to give up, though, and are looking forward to next season and believe if they all can work together and play their best, they will be unstoppable. 

 Another popular sport, volleyball, has not won a CIF championship this decade, either, even though they have has multiple D-1 athlete such as Will Rottman, who moved on to play at Stanford. For the boys, they have made it past league numerous times this decade but were never able to break out and win in the CIF finals. The girls are in the same scenario as they have talented athletes, a good coaching staff, but have never won a ring. Both teams can’t and won’t lose any hope of will, as both teams have a talented and supportive coaching staff to lead them to victory.

The Dons baseball team has also not won a CIF championship in a long time, and have struggled with a few issues in and around the team. Nevertheless, the team has grown in athletes, up-coming stars and returning D-1 athletes hungry for a CIF win including Bryce Warrecker and Nick Oakley. They will not stop trying until they get it. 

Two sports that do not get much hype but should are tennis and golf. The boy’s golf team won two CIF championships at the beginning of the decade, and the lady Dons have multiple golfers who are listed high of golfers in California and is led by an amazing coach, Ryan Throo[. Both teams have improved immensely throughout the decade, and are hoping on maintaining that energy into 2020. As for the tennis team, the girls won a championship in 2012, as they went a clean 10-0 in league that year. The boys, on the other hand, are “ring-less” in the 2010s but are staying positive and are keeping their heads up going into 2020.

Other sports that should get some recognition are lacrosse, wrestling, and cross country/track and field. Both girls and boys for lacrosse have not had the greatest of seasons in the past, but have found a lot of raw talent and are looking forward to going into 2020 and on. Furthermore, wrestling has gotten a lot of recruits in the past two years and is hoping on returning to its once glory days with great coaching staff and wrestlers. 

Finally, cross-country/track and field. The Dons cross country/track and field program has been strong throughout the decade, as many runners have made it to CIF in the past ten years. The runners and coaching staff are especially looking forward to being able to run on the new and improved track next season. One track and field coach said, “It feels good to know that we will be able to finally host meets at our own track… It’s going to be fun for everyone involved with track and field.”

The Dons athletic program as a unit is one of the best in the entire city, and sports have been quite an influential part of Santa Barbara High’s history and everyone is looking forward to a new decade of league wins and CIF championships given to us by our talented athletes and exceptional coaching staff. 

The Dons have won CIF championships this past decade in:

  • 2010, Boys Soccer
  • 2010, Boys Golf
  • 2011, Girls Tennis
  • 2012, Boys Golf
  • 2014, Girls Basketball
  • 2016, Boys basketball
  • 2018, Boys Soccer
  • 2019, Boys Water Polo


  • Andre Battle

    My name is Andre battle and I am the sports editor for the Forge! I love basketball, the beach, and hanging out with my friends. I am a Senior and have been doing the forge ever since freshman year. 

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