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Basketball Cabrillo

Cabrillo Hires Chris Spencer As New Basketball Coach

The562’s coverage of Cabrillo Athletics is sponsored by the Cohn Family.

Cabrillo has announced its next boys’ basketball coach, as the Jaguars have hired Jordan/LBCC alum and recent St. Anthony assistant Chris Spencer to take over the Westside program.

Spencer, 27, is a young coach but already well-regarded and respected in the Long Beach hoops world. In addition to coaching at St. Anthony recently, he’s been a youth travel ball coach the last several years.

“I’m super excited, through the whole process I just wanted someone to give me a shot because of my qualifications and not my age,” said Spencer. “If you’re in our community and you know Cabrillo, you know the kind of mindset it’s going to take to come in and start fixing some problems.”

The Jaguars were in search of a new coach after the departure of coach Kyles Hawkins following four seasons. Cabrillo vice principal Stacie Alexander said the school received several applications from qualified candidates.

“We had a lot of interest, we had more than a dozen qualified applicants and we held a whole bunch of first-round interviews,” she said. “We had three finalists back in for a more in-depth second interview and he really stood out. He’s a Westside guy, he went to Jordan, he gets it. He spoke about that in his interview–he came with a level of passion and determination to get this gig that you don’t see every day at Cabrillo. More than anything everyone here responded to his commitment to turning it around, to sticking it out.”

Spencer graduated Jordan in 2012 and played basketball at LBCC and at HBCU Benedict College, before beginning his coaching career as a grad assistant at Benedict. He also played professional basketball in Mexico in the CIBAPAC. Spencer said he plans to get a teaching credential and to work towards getting on campus at Cabrillo.

“I was completely content at St. Anthony, I loved that school and staff, but a head coaching job in Long Beach, that’s something I’ve been working toward,” said Spencer. “Everyone there was excited for me. It was hard leaving.”

Spencer said he’s proud to be part of a young generation of coaches who are already giving back to high school programs in Long Beach–several of his high school rivals and friends are in the coaching ranks around the city, from Millikan to Poly.

“I think we’re all part of a transitional generation, we were coached by the Ron Masseys at Jordan, the Ron Palmers or Sharrief Metoyers at Poly, those hard-nosed coaches,” said Spencer. “I only took maybe 20 3’s at Jordan as a guard, 20 at LBCC, 20 in college. But we’re young enough to have seen the way the game is opening up and to see the Steph Curry effect. So I think you have young guys who care about the city and understand those different aspects of the evolution of the game.”

Alexander said that what impressed her and the rest of the panel at Cabrillo (which included players) wasn’t just Spencer’s knowledge of the game, but his knowledge of the city and the challenges facing its high school.

“He didn’t come in saying I’m gonna beat this school in a year or win a CIF championship in two years, he came in talking about creating a culture where kids want to come and stay,” she said. “Winning will come with that–but he wants to teach kids to love and play the game, and to mentor our students. That means a lot to me.”

Spencer takes over a Jaguars program that went 6-18 overall last year and 0-12 in the Moore League. Cabrillo has finished in sixth or seventh place in the league for almost the last decade, with a fifth-place finish in 2012-13 their last finish above that spot.

Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.