Word of mouth helped Dos Palos land its new football coach.
Shawn Garrick was the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at Lincoln High School in Portland, Ore. After earning his master's degree and teaching credential, he began searching for a position that fit. The parent of one of his youth players was a Dos Palos graduate.
"I let the people around me know I was looking for teaching jobs, preferably with a head coaching job," Garrick said. "He told me about the town and tradition here, and it intrigued me."
Garrick replaces Frank Lemos, who stepped down to take an administration position after two years.
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Garrick has been in Dos Palos less than a week, and as he spent Wednesday finishing paperwork and fingerprint checks to cross the t's and dot the i's of his hiring, the 12-year position-coaching veteran said he's been welcomed with open arms.
"Everywhere I've been in Dos Palos so far, the people I've met have been amazing and welcoming," Garrick said. "The players have all been great kids. The administration and community have been very welcoming. They've done a great job of making me feel at home.
"I've been here three days, and I can't count the number of people asking me to dinner."
Garrick said there's not much of a culture shock going from Portland (population 585,000, according to city-data.com) to Dos Palos (pop. 4,968). Garrick has been in plenty of small towns.
After graduating from Portland's Woodrow Wilson High in 1996, Garrick spent a redshirt year at Portland State before transferring to Yuba Community College in Marysville. before finishing his career at New Mexico Highlands in Las Vegas, N.M. (pop. 15,000). His first coaching position was at New Mexico Highlands, first at the assistant defensive line coach and then as assistant secondary coach. From there, he moved to Hinds Community College in Raymond, Miss. (pop. 1,600), where he was defensive backs coach for three years.
"That Mississippi town where Hinds is was maybe the college and a corner store. I'm not really shocked by anything anymore," Garrick said. "I've been to rural parts of just about every state you can imagine in college and high school, so it's not a shock."
Garrick left Hinds to become assistant head coach/defensive coordinator at a high school in Arizona, then returned to his hometown, taking the same position at Reynolds High School in Portland. When a friend became head coach at Lincoln, Garrick joined him there.
Dos Palos is his first time as the man in charge, but he feels he's learned from some very good head coaches -- including John Fassel, now the special teams coordinator for the St. Louis Rams, who was his boss at New Mexico Highlands.
"I've been fortunate enough to be around very good coaches and to be mentored as a young coach, and see what not to do," Garrick said. "I feel like I'm very well prepared for the situation I'm in now, and I've been fortunate to pick their brains and have the blueprint for success."
When it comes to Dos Palos High, Garrick has certain things in mind -- very few of them having to do with wins and losses.
"As a coach, my philosophy is we want to do everything we can to make the experience our players have the best one possible," he said. "As a player comes through the program, it's our job to do everything possible to make them better people.
"We make them better athletes -- stronger and faster, but its' also our responsibility to teach them how to make themselves successful in life."
When it comes to X's and O's, don't expect too much of a change -- Garrick is putting together a staff of former Dos Palos coaches and players.
"If it's not broken, don't fix it. Traditionally, they've been a power offense, and we'll keep things rolling as far as the traditional offense," Garrick said. "We may add a few twists to it. Defensively -- and I know they did some of this in the last few years -- we'll move to more of a 40 front defensively, with a gap control, read-based defense."
Enterprise reporter David Witte can be reached by phone at 388-6565 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org