St. Monica Catholic High School’s athletics programs look much different than they did at the beginning of last school year.
Not only is there a new athletic director in charge at the Santa Monica private school, but there are also several new coaches at the helm of the fall sports teams.
Katie Charles has taken the reins of the Mariners girls volleyball team, which is vying for a return trip to the CIF Southern Section playoffs after reaching the second round last year.
Charles, who replaces Cori Ueda, led St. Monica to its first win of the season with a 3-0 sweep of Los Angeles-Sacred Heart on Sept. 8 after the squad fell to Crossroads in its opener five days earlier.
Charles’ roster is led by a senior class that includes outside hitters Amanda Maqueria and Savannah Cragin, opposite hitter Destiny Ramirez and defensive specialist Audrey Kim.
“We’re excited about her and what she’s done with the girls,” St. Monica athletic director Frank Cruz said of Charles, who has coached in the Sunshine Volleyball Club. “The volleyball program is in good shape.”
Charles got a late start to her new gig due to a scheduling conflict, Cruz said, so assistant coaches Don and Carol Hackett ran the program in the interim.
Meanwhile, Troy Mass was selected to coach the St. Monica girls tennis team. Mass, who attended the University of Nebraska, is a seasoned player and the director of the Santa Monica-based Beach City Tennis Academy.
The Mariners’ roster consists of eight players, all seniors.
“We think we got really lucky in hiring him,” Cruz said of Mass. “The team made the playoffs last year, so we’re hoping to do even a little bit better. We’re excited about getting a guy of Troy’s caliber and experience. He was at the right place at the right time for us.”
St. Monica also landed Daniel Schuman as its new boys and girls cross-country coach.
Cruz said interest in the sport has spiked dramatically since the arrival of Schuman, a former member of the Duke University track and field program who previously served as track coach at Los Angeles-Yeshiva High Tech.
Andrea Bobadilla is serving as assistant coach for the Mariners, whose roster this year features 32 boys and 17 girls.
“He’s generated some excitement on the athletic front,” Cruz said of Schuman, who is teaching math and science at St. Monica. “That’s pretty cool.”
Leading the girls golf team is Cruz, who fills the void left by Megan Shea. Cruz was hired before the start of the school year to replace Rick Bruce as the St. Monica athletic director.
The girls golf season is slated to begin Sept. 14.
All of the personnel changes make football coach Drew Shaw the de facto veteran of the Mariners’ fall sports staff.
Shaw, a second-year coach, led the Mariners to a 5-5 record last season after they went 3-8 in 2013.
And more progress could be on the horizon for St. Monica, which picked up a 12-10 win over Palm Desert-Xavier Prep on Sept. 4 after being shut out by Pasadena-Maranatha in its opener Aug. 28.
“He’s excited about the football team,” Cruz said of Shaw, who previously served as an assistant under former Mariners football coach Adam Guerra. “They should have a winning record, and I know they’re working hard at it. The campus is excited about that.”