The562’s coverage of Long Beach Wilson Athletics is sponsored by Joel Bitonio, Class of 2009.
In a move that was a long time coming, Wilson announced earlier this season that longtime assistant Shannon Fisher has been hired as head coach of the Wilson boys’ track and field program.
“He’s been the man, and it’s time for him to get his recognition,” said Neil Nelson, Wilson’s girls’ track and field coach.
Not much will change about the composition of the Wilson coaching staff or the day to day duties of the team. Nelson has served as an overarching director of the program for years, with Fisher working with the sprinters and hurdlers more directly and longtime coach Ed Hauck running point on the distance runners as well as serving as a co-head coach. With Hauck’s recent retirement, Nelson said he felt it was time to make sure that Fisher got his due.
“Fish is the head coach of the boys’ team and I’m his assistant, and I’m the head coach of the girls’ team and he’s the assistant,” said Nelson. “I’m happy for him to get the recognition. Our distance program will continue to succeed with CJ Brewer running it. We want to be one program with track and cross country, we want everyone on the same page.”
Fisher said he was honored to get the head coaching title recognition after 19 years of coaching the Bruins.
“I was really happy and I was really touched,” he said. “It was cool that they didn’t make me interview for it or sweat it out–it means a lot to me to be a head coach here, I’ve worked for it. I started by being in charge of warmups 19 years ago then started coaching girls hurdlers when Ebony Collins was here. A year after that I asked Ed to let me start working with the sprints–I’ve been working with those groups a long time. I’m invested at Wilson. I’ve been asked by a lot of programs to come over over the years, but everything lines up for me at Wilson.”
Fisher’s groups have had enormous success for the Bruins over the years, with multiple CIF-SS and state champions. The promotion comes at a perfect time as the Bruins are the reigning Division 1 boys’ CIF-SS champions.
“Fish has coached a lot of greats from Ebony Collins to Kemonie Briggs to Mar’yea Harris, he’s had his hands on a lot of success over the years,” said Nelson. “Above that though, he’s a Long Beach guy, I’ve known him since he was a kid for over 40 years–he’s someone that we can trust. He’s gone through the process and paid his dues like I did coming up under Terry Kennedy. We have a lot of consistency in our program with Ed, with Terry, with Jim “Arkie” Arquilla. We haven’t had long turnarounds, just people who care and work well together.”
Expectations for the Bruins are high this year, with Wilson and Poly both atop the rankings for team points in the CIF Southern Section, and expected to make a push at state as well.
“We have a chance at winning, absolutely,” said Fisher. “The record books across the country are Wilson and Poly across the board. We’re always going to have something to stay about it.”