“Nope, I’ll never coach.”
Those were the words Joe Peron echoed to George Terzian, his former coach at PCC, when Terzian told him that he would make an incredible coach one day.
As to why Peron never entertained the possibility of coaching when he was younger, he said he had seen other coaches embarrass their players, something he would never want to do.
“They humiliate them, they spit on ‘em, and I thought I’d never coach,” Peron said.
After transferring from PCC and graduating from BIOLA University, a private Christian school, with a degree in communications, Peron would regularly visit PCC to catch up with Terzian and the rest of the coaching staff. After much resistance, Peron was eventually persuaded enough to become the assistant coach for the men’s basketball team in 1996 with a stipend of $1000.
Greg Smith, then coach of the women’s basketball team, offered Peron a $5000 stipend to become the new head coach, replacing him.
“I said ok! I’ll be there tomorrow! And that’s how I got into women’s basketball in college,” Peron said with a chuckle.
With three state championship appearances, one state championship in 2009, over 500 career wins (.744 win percentage) and countless other accolades added onto his name, Peron’s legacy at PCC goes unmatched.
Going into his 23rd season as head coach, Peron still has the same drive, fire and motivation to pursue excellence and get the most out of his players. Peron does his best to maintain a positive attitude and looks to never have a bad day.
“We have seven days in a week right? I have a super Sunday, marvelous Monday, terrific Tuesday, wonderful Wednesday, tenacious Thursday, fabulous Friday and then I end the week off with super Saturday.” Peron adds.
However, with any accomplished career, there will always come controversy, one way or another.
“There was an alleged recruiting violation, but I never did it,” stated Peron.
In 2015, an allegation against Peron surfaced, accusing him of recruiting a player who was already playing for LA Valley College. After investigation, Peron was initially found at fault and was put on indefinite leave, originally meant to miss the entire 2015-2016 season.
The ruling states that you can’t recruit a player that already plays for a community college, and while Peron did try and recruit this person at first, it was before she attended college, not during. According to Peron, the student he was allegedly recruiting had a best friend who used to play for him at PCC. The player under Peron would text her friend at LA Valley, asking her to transfer to PCC to play for Peron.
The two friends first met at UC San Diego, but both eventually transferred out with one going to PCC and the other going to LA Valley. The texts exchanged eventually got into the hands of the head coach of the women’s basketball team at LA Valley, who then put the blame on Peron.
Peron went to the Board of Trustees, maintaining his innocence. To prove it, Peron invited the player from LA Valley to recall the situation from her point of view. Peron felt the investigation wasn’t done right, and requested an independent investigation into the matter, in which he was granted after the situation didn’t add up.
A week before school started for the 2016 calendar year, Peron was reinstated as head coach by Superintendent-President Rajen Vurdien, but was suspended for the first six games of the season.
“As far as we’re concerned here, it’s a dead issue. It’s over and done with.” Peron sternly said.
Despite a small hiccup in his 23 years as head coach, Peron is still a respected figure in the coaching scene. He has received coaching offers from other colleges, but has rejected all of them.
“I am content with where I am,” Peron stated. “And to me, the grass is not greener on the other side. We water our own grass and we make it green.”
Shay Jackson, a former player who last played for Peron in the 2012 season, marveled at all the accolades Peron had earned. She knew that he wouldn’t have gotten those achievements without great players and a gifted coach in himself. Jackson wanted to be that next great player and she loved how Peron pushed her and other players to become better.
“Off the court, he challenged us mentally,” Jackson said. “On the court, he pushes you to a whole ‘nother level… it was mostly the drills. It was the reverse psychology of, ‘you can’t shoot!’ And then you have to put in the time and show him that you can shoot. So just pushing you to that extra level.”
Most of the fundamentals Peron teaches to his players come from Terzian and Smith. When asked if he picks things up from other college coaches, it was an unequivocal yes.
“I’m watching you to see what you’re doing,” Peron said. “I’m picking up your plays, seeing your demeanor. When I look at a basketball game, I don’t look at it for entertainment.”
When it comes to practice, Peron embraces feedback from his players and tries to create a constant and immersive learning environment.
“I make it a point not to embarrass my kids on the court, but I will speak to them in a stern manner, without everybody looking at it,” said Peron.
Looking to the future, Peron doesn’t have retirement anywhere near in sight. He enjoys coaching, and likes the challenge of grooming players at the community college level because of the short time period he has with them before they eventually transfer out.
“I’ve told every recruit that has come here the last 23 years, and that is, if you’re looking for a coach to curse at you, to embarrass you, to degrade you, demean you, you’re in the wrong place,” Peron said emphatically. “That’s not what we’re gonna do.”
“You have coaches that can coach a sport, and you have coaches who can teach a sport,” Peron stated. “I was fortunate enough to have coaches who could teach and coach… That’s what I grew up under, and that’s how I am.”