A familiar face around Oakdale High School, takes on an unfamiliar role this winter. Former football and baseball coach Hondo Arpoika will be patrolling the sidelines indoors as the new varsity boys basketball coach. Arpoika will replace Jeremy Fields, who was the coach of the Mustangs since 2007. Fields finished his hardwood tenure with a league record of 29-68.
“When they approached me with the opportunity, my first thought was, ‘do I really want to start something all over again?’ because after you start something and get it going, (then come) the expectations, and the kids come in and they know what they are doing and you have to lay the foundation down for success, I wondered if I really wanted to go through all that again. But the challenge to do it was exciting and I could not pass it up,” Arpoika admitted.
He added that he hopes to bring “an opportunity for these young kids to come out and be successful” on the basketball court this season.
Arpoika brings a winning attitude to the court, as he was the baseball coach at OHS from 2000-2013 where he won six CIF Section championships and seven straight Valley Oak League titles during his tenure. His aim is to bring his baseball dynasty success to the hardwood, but realizes it is an adjustment. He also noted the efforts and contributions it will take from the entire staff. Members of his coaching staff include Joe Peterson, Devin Ginty and Jack Stag, all of who bring something unique to the team.
“Joe Peterson, who has coached with me in baseball for many years, he is a tough hardnosed guy that demands that characteristic from his players as well. Ginty was a walk-on to the University of San Diego and played professional basketball overseas. He is a very sharp-minded basketball player. It’s in his blood; it’s what he is passionate about. He won a Section championship with Colfax, so he brings a lot of the traits and things to the program that really I was lacking. Jack Stag is a guy who is a stand up character who cares about the kids and is really dependable.”
Currently there are six returning players from last year’s team that went 3-11 in league play, while 14 fresh faces will step onto the court for the Mustangs this winter. With essentially a brand new team and staff, Arpoika is set to bring up the physicality of the program.
“Our first order of business is to work on being consistent, hustling up and down the court, being tougher on the court and going after loose balls. Our number one goal is to be reliable, accountable and champions both on and off the floor,” Arpoika pointed out.
In the short time since Arpoika has been working with his team, he has noticed a difference in the overall effort.
“Since we started working out, the team has been reacting to loose balls, instead of just thinking about it. They have been boxing out and going after rebounds when they should be. We cannot give up easy baskets in transition if we want to make a statement so hopefully we can continue to improve on those things before we start our season,” the new head coach noted.
With a busy winter, Arpoika and the Mustangs open up the preseason with a home game against Escalon on Thursday, Dec. 5 with tipoff scheduled at 6 p.m. The season’s VOL opener is set for Tuesday, Jan. 5 when Oakdale travels to Sierra.