Coaching football has been a successful way of life for Bakersfield College head coach Dallas Grider.
So why are rumors flying that he is stepping down because of one mediocre season? The rumors can be put to rest. Grider plans to stay at least two more years and already has set the recruiting wheels in motion.
Grider said to be successful in the Western State Conference next season, BC needs to recruit enough people to win.
“Last season we lost three to five starters by the end of the second game,” he said.
“You can’t do that and win in one of the toughest conferences in the state. We didn’t have the players to make up the difference.”
Even though the ‘Gades were experiencing a less than perfect season, Grider was an inspiration to his team.
Lawrence Figueroa who played at the center position for the ‘Gades said that Grider told the team to keep their chins up.
“He’s a good coach and he trusted us even though things were going bad,” Figueroa said. “I was walking back to the field house with him after a game one night and he told me “Don’t let everyone get down, keep your heads up. He really showed his leadership and inspired us in his talks.”
Grider began his coaching career in 1968 at the University of California at Los Angeles as a freshmen team coach. While in Los Angeles, he was given his first high school assignment as a teacher and coach at Alemany High. Grider then moved to Bakersfield and started work at West High where he built a winning tradition that dominated the Central Section for many years. While at West High he compiled a 77-7-2 record and won back-to-back valley championships.
In 1984, Grider became an assistant defensive coach at BC. In 1995, he stepped up as head coach of the’Gades and after nine seasons has amassed an overall record of 69-18-0, which ranks fourth on the all-time list. The ‘Gades also have participated in 14 Potato Bowls while Grider has coached at BC.
Smart recruiting may have something to do with coaching success, but ethical philosophy in the game of life has no doubt contributed to his success as a coach.
“So many kids come from situations where there is no father figure or they need a family, it’s important to treat kids as if they were your own,” Grider said. “We teach them to like each other as family and play like a team
Jeff Chudy, defensive coach, said that he has been fortunate to coach with Grider for 10 years.
“He certainly has a passion for the game,” Chudy said. “He is always interested in making it the best situation for the players and wants the players to have a great experience while at BC. It’s a big thing for him.”
Grider said high school and college coaches inspired him to play football in the first place.
“If it hadn’t have been for the coaches that I played for, Duane Damron at Arvin High, Ray Neuman at BC and Tommy Prothro at the University of California at Los Angeles, I may not have even played football at all. They were an inspiration in my life.”
Grider was successful as a player as well. While at Arvin High he played fullback as well as linebacker for the Bears. He continued his football career at BC where he also played offense and defense.
“I’m that old,” he joked. “We were able to play both ways in those days.”
Grider transferred to UCLA where he specialized as an inside linebacker for the Bruins and was chosen as an Honorable Mention All-American.
“It was pretty awesome playing for Tommy Prothro. He (Prothro) came from Oregon State,” Grider said. “He was a great teacher of the fundamentals and team concepts of football. We won the Pacific Ten Conference my junior year and played in the Rose Bowl.”
The most memorable game for Grider was as an assistant coach to Carl Bowser. With a national championship on the line and against a tough Fullerton defense, the ‘Gades decided to pass on a fourth down and 1.
The strategy worked as Stan Greene completed the pass for a score and the ‘Gades went on to win the championship.
“It was tremendous beating Fullerton in the last minute of the game,” he said. “It was the most exciting game I have ever coached and an emotional game for us as well.”
Besides coaching football, Grider enjoys his family time, especially with his grandchildren Remington and Montana. He married his high school sweetheart Mary. “She was a cheerleader and I was a football player,” he said.
They have two children, a son Chad, and a daughter, Amber. Both are teachers at West High. Chad also coaches at BC as an assistant to his dad.
He also enjoys raising horses. “I raise paints and palaminos,” he said. “We just had a baby (palamino) the 27th of February.”
According to Grider, coaching at BC has been a rewarding experience.
“I don’t think there’s a better place to coach junior college football than Bakersfield College. The atmosphere, the stadium, the fans and the tradition makes it one of the most respected programs in the country. I feel lucky to be here everyday,”