Paul DeBolt said he always knew that he would return to coaching basketball, a game that he pointed out “is in my blood.”
He stepped down as the head coach at Contra Costa College-San Pablo in April of 2016 after leading the program for 30 years and ranking sixth all-time for wins in the history of California community college women’s basketball.
DeBolt stepped aside so that he could focus more on his teaching duties as a journalism professor and as the faculty advisor for the school’s student newspaper, The Advocate.
“It was too much. It was a lot of work being a full-time professor on campus and coaching basketball,” DeBolt, 64, said Tuesday. “And I felt like I was, in a way, neglecting the journalism side of things. Doing both those jobs was becoming difficult in many different ways. So what I decided to do was take some years off and kind of catch up, do a lot of what I felt like I needed to do on the journalism side before I retired from that.”
DeBolt joined Napa Valley College as the Storm’s assistant coach in December of 2018. When then-head coach and Elk Grove resident Glenn Mayol resigned earlier this year to take the job at Sacramento City College, DeBolt was named as NVC’s coach.
Napa Valley College canceled its 2018-19 season because there weren’t enough players and also due to Brian Fonseca resigning as coach in the summer of 2018. There were only six players on NVC’s 2017-18 team, as the Storm went 3-21 overall, 3-13 in the Bay Valley Conference.
School officials cancelled the 2016-17 season, for the second year in a row, because there weren’t enough players.
“Obviously, we’re very lucky to have somebody of Coach DeBolt’s caliber take over our program,” said Jerry Dunlap, NVC’s Associate Dean of Physical Education and Athletics. “He has an extensive coaching career. He has been a winner his whole career and is somebody that already knows our program, as he was going to be our assistant coach coming into the year.
“We’re comfortable with Coach DeBolt getting the program going and back on track so that we have a team here in the near future.”
DeBolt led Contra Costa to 11 BVC titles and 19 postseason playoff appearances, attaining four seasons with 30-plus wins, nine seasons with 25-plus wins, and 15 seasons with 20-plus wins. He was named California Community College Women’s Basketball Coaches Association State Coach of the Year for the 2000-2001 season.
Contra Costa finished as state runner-up at the California Community College Athletic Association state tournament in 2001 and 2003.
Contra Costa had three state final four berths, four state elite eight berths, and seven state Sweet 16 berths under DeBolt, whose record with the Comets was 562-380 (1986-2016). He is an eight-time BVC Coach of the Year and a three-time CCCWBCA Junior College Region 8 Coach of the Year.
“Coach DeBolt is committed to building a program and getting it going,” said Dunlap, the Storm’s athletic director. “This is a perfect opportunity to be part of a college program. We just need to get the student-athletes here and participating.
“We have a great school, academically and athletically. It’s a win-win for anybody that wants to get involved in it. The college has a lot to offer. We’re one of the top academic schools in the state.”
Napa Valley College has a preseason conditioning class that began June 18 and goes for eight weeks. The class meets Monday through Thursday, from 2-3:30 p.m., in the school’s gym.
“We’re working more on just basic fundamental stuff, individual skill work, trying to get into a routine, trying to get good habits – being here on time, doing what you’re supposed to do, and getting them in their classes, and recruiting along the way,” said DeBolt.
Napa Valley College will have a basketball class that starts with the fall semester, in August. The season starts in November.
DeBolt has been working with as many as five players so far. He’s trying to add more players and is in contact with local high school coaches, seeking their support and assistance on prospective players.
He would like to have at least 11 players for this coming season. The schedule is still being finalized.
“We’re committed to having a basketball team,” DeBolt said. “After not having a basketball team last year, I think it’s really important that we field a team this year, go forward and just do the best we can. I’m already recruiting for the following year. I’ve got a list of juniors already. We’re going to recruit the entire county, the whole Valley.
“This is a new challenge for me. It’s something that’s exciting. I think the players who are here can feel that excitement. I’m determined to build something that’s real quality here.
“I’m really organized as a coach. I love the game. I love teaching the game. I love coaching the game. Just how competitive we are, that remains to be seen. Eventually, we’ll be competitive. We have a nucleus that’s going to grow.”
During his career at Contra Costa, DeBolt coached six first-team WBCA Kodak or State Farm All-Americans, 12 BVC Most Valuable Players, 69 All-BVC players, two state MVPs, 15 first-team CCCWBCA All-State players, and 28 CCCWBCA All-State players.
“I love Contra Costa,” he said. “I love all my teams and my players and the coaches there.”
DeBolt, a resident of Vacaville, will be starting his 40th year teaching at Contra Costa. He was the head coach for three seasons (1983-1986) at Pinole Valley High.
DeBolt said he wants to implement a “fun brand of basketball,” an approach that calls for the Storm to take 20 to 30 three-pointers per game.
“We’re up-tempo. We’re going to press. We’re going to be in condition,” he said. “We attack the basket. We do emphasize a half-court style, because to win big games, you’ve got to be able to get stops and you’ve got to be able to score in the half court.
“We’re going to get a lot of possessions a game.”
DeBolt played basketball as a guard at De Anza High in El Sobrante, Contra Costa College and San Diego State. He graduated from San Diego State in 1977 with a degree in journalism and got his master’s there in mass communications in 1980.
“I love the game,” said DeBolt. “I want to keep coaching. I’m ready to keep going. There’s a lot of potential in the program here. There’s a lot of support. I just felt it was a good fit for me.
“The fun part is being able to contribute to their lives and to help them find their way. Attaching yourself to a healthy situation like a women’s basketball team can really be a benefit to a young woman these days.”
DeBolt and his wife, Joan, have four children.
Those interested in playing for NVC can contact DeBolt at Paul.DeBolt@napavalley.edu or at 707-301-8030.