The two longest-tenured coaches in the history of SBCC athletics are ending the careers after a combined 61 years of service.
Chuck Melendez, who was head coach for men’s and women’s golf, baseball and football during his 31 years at the community college, and Morris Hodges, the men’s basketball coach for the last 30 years, announced this week they were retiring.
“Chuck and Morris have been institutions at SBCC for decades and we wish them the best in their retirement,” SBCC Director of Athletics Rocco Constantino said. “They have dedicated countless hours to working with students in the classroom and in athletic competition and we appreciate all they have done for our students.”
Melendez, who has been a SBCC coach and professor in physical education for 35 years, got his first head coaching job in 1989-90 with the Vaquero baseball team. Hodges was hired a year later in 1990-91.
Melendez is a local product. He was a star quarterback for Dos Pueblos High and SBCC in the mid-1970s. He was a standout at Eastern Oregon State, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He was hired by SBCC in 1982 and spent five years as an assistant coach in football and baseball. In 1985, he left to become the offensive coordinator at Chadron State (Neb.) and then came back west to run the offense at Humboldt State while working on a second master’s degree.
He returned to SBCC in 1988 and served as offensive coordinator for football coach Rick Cook before becoming the head coach in 1990.
He coached four teams in three sports for the next 30 years. He was the baseball coach for five years (1990-94), football coach for seven (1994-2000) and men’s and women’s golf coach for the last 20 years (2000-20).
“I have so much respect for what Chuck accomplished at SBCC as a coach,” Constantino said. “He coached the football team to two bowl games, won 68 games as a head baseball coach and then built the men’s and women’s golf teams into state powerhouses. He did all of that while building up tremendous relationships with his players and the SBCC community as well.
Melendez has the most state titles in school history, winning four California Community College Athletic Association championships in women’s golf in 2006, 2008, 2013 and 2015. He had runner-up finishes in 2007 and 2016. He also coached four individual state champions in Natalie Todd (2006), Asaka Sim (2008), Fanny Johansson (2013) and the only two-time state champion in SBCC history, Carolin Chang (2015, 2016).
The men’s golf team took second in the state in 2006 and 2019.
Melendez has guided the women’s team to eight Western State Conference titles and he’s been named the WSC Coach of the Year eight times. His men’s golfers won one WSC crown in 2009 and finished second six times. They finished in the top-6 in the state four times.
“I’m old and they offered some nice incentives to retire,” Melendez said about his decision to retire. “I remember coaching a lot of great kids and was fortunate to watch them develop as people. Of course, I’ll always remember the four state titles, especially the first one in 2006 when we won by 60 strokes.
“Being involved with student-athletes helps keep you young. It’s a real positive atmosphere, and I’m so proud of SBCC. I always felt it was the No. 1 college in the nation, even when I was here as a student.”
Melendez has more wins that any coach in SBCC history. His 20-year WSC records are 845-532-3 for men’s golf and 619-192-1 for women’s golf. In the last seven years, his women’s teams have won nearly 90 percent of their matches (488-61). His best records with women’s golf were 99-1 in 2016, 90-3 in 2017 and 80-6 in 2015. The Vaqueros won 130 straight WSC matches from 2015-17.
Melendez’ best season with men’s golf came last year when the Vaqueros set school records for overall record (146-20) and WSC record (80-8).
His overall win total for both teams exceeds 2,000.
“I am lucky to have my office next to Chuck and appreciate the help and support he has given me since I arrived three years ago,” Constantino said. “He’s been a great friend to me, as he is with everyone else.”
Hodges was hired after serving as an assistant at Cal, where he helped recruit Kevin Johnson to the Golden Bears’ program. Johnson went on to become an all-star guard in the NBA for the Phoenix Suns and later became the mayor of Sacramento.
SBCC’s best seasons under Hodges came in 1996-97 and 2006-07. The ’96-97 team went 17-13, finished second in the WSC and made the Southern Cal Regional. In 2006-07, the Vaqueros finished 16-13. He was twice named WSC Coach of the Year in 1995 and 1999.
His teams struggled over the last few years. The Vaqueros have gone winless in the WSC for three straight seasons and they’ve won just 10 total games in the last four years. Hodges’ career record is 260-569.
Hodges also taught physical education courses.
“Morris was the longest-tenured head coach in any sport in Vaquero history, so to say his retirement is a big loss is an understatement,” Constantino said. “You have to go back to the 1980s for the last time there was an SBCC basketball season without Morris as the head coach. You don’t get many coaches who can say they coached in four decades, especially at the same school.
“Just thinking about that and the number of students he coached and taught is staggering. Morris always valued academics first among his players and he never wavered from that during his entire coaching career.”