With the recent announcement of Jeff Pribble as the new Tracy High varsity football coach, I took a few minutes to interview him and delve into his background and seek what drives him as a coach.
1) What is your coaching background and how did you come to Tracy some 18 years ago?
I grew up in Pleasanton and was a linebacker playing at Amador Valley High and then I went on to play at Chabot. I got injured at Chabot and wanted to then pursue teaching and coaching. I headed to Chico State to study Kinesiology and in my second year there, I was able to get on as an assistant coaching position with the Running Backs and LB positions at Pleasant Valley High School in Chico. I was 19 years old at the time and our senior quarterback was Green Bay Packers - Aaron Rodgers. The drive of young football players like Aaron and multiple other Players and staff especially, rally made an impact on how I wanted to pursuit a future in education and coaching.
I have been fortunate to grow up in programs with tradition, Tracy High School was a perfect fit for me in my early 20’s and still is in my early 40’s. I have been fortunate to work with great leaders and mentors within this program and school district and appreciate a small piece of all of them. That is what we really hope for as coaches with our players, we may coach hard, but in the big picture, we are teaching young people how to succeed through teamwork and togetherness.
At 22 years of age, I got a job teaching at Claremont Middle School in Oakland. In the 2003-04 school season, I followed family who had already moved to Tracy and received a teaching job at Clover Middle School. I eventually connected with Coach Stroup at Tracy High and within a couple years became Coach Jay Fishburns Defensive Coordinator for the Freshman team in 2006ish. I eventually moved up to the varsity level in Stroup’s final year as varsity head coach in 2009 and then when Coach Shrout took the reigns in 2010 I became his Defensive Coordinator.
2) Why did you want this job?
I’ve been involved in education and coaching for almost 20 years, I still have that burning passion for the sport of football and educating young people. I feel a desire to educate and provide an extra platform outside of the classroom for young people to separate themselves both athletically and academically. Our goal will be to recognize and adapt to the best attributes of the team and highlight the student athletes that excel so they can be successful at the things they are pursuing.
I work hard on the fundamental elements of football and will be a stickler at practice. I want practice to be hard and thorough so that when the player experiences game conditions, it’s much easier than practice. Details are important in life and in football. Each play call is made for an 11-man assembly line, it only takes one person out of eleven to make a blunder and the play is usually lost. We will teach responsibility and accountability for others with the hope that we play for each other and those who came before us.
3) What are your takeaways coaching with Matt Shrout for the past 11+ years?
Matt has been an excellent mentor at running an organized and innovative program. He is very creative with fundraising and connecting with and being a part of the community. He has always been a head coach who had your back and you could rely on him to handle the difficult administrative and social matters that come with running a football organization.
The community probably is not aware how much effort Matt put into ensuring that academics was a large part of our program. I believe communicating with the teaching staff and creating awareness of who the players are is important in the representation of our program. Coach Shrout always made it clear that we represent this school and city and this will stay consistent. A significant part of every banquet was recognizing the GPA accomplishments of our players. The amount of division 1,2, and 3 athletes that have moved on from the Tracy High School program since 2010 is very commendable and Coach Shrout created great relations with coaches, to help make that more accessible for our athletes.
Matt also built a coaching staff that had trust in one another and wanted to be together and work together. We had great chemistry when we would go to seminars and conferences. You also see us working as a team every time we have a game or practice as there is an all-hands on deck mentality in preparing the field and getting things put away. This coaching staff personifies my favorite saying, “Big Team little me.” They put the team first and will do whatever it takes to make the continue making this program successful at attaining our goals.
4) What does leading the Bulldog Football program at Tracy High mean to you?
Some people hunt, some fish, some hike… I’m a coach, it is my passion and hobby, and this school and its tradition have become such a big part of my life over the past 18 years, I really just feel humbled to be able to accept and represent this program and school. I just want to represent all the good we try to do and focus on the advancement of the student athletes through providing the most modern training avenues and relevant strategies to help prepare them for the next step in their life processes.
It is another stage in my development with this program. I want to continue instilling what Coach Shrout had which is a disciplined and strategic approach that ensures success on the field as well as providing these student athletes a platform to succeed academically at the college level.
Tracy High and their football program are rich in tradition and culture, and I feel a responsibility to represent those who came before me, just as we teach the players to do. I wish to continue and ensure that these elements remain at the forefront of everything we do. As this city has grown, so do we as a program, I want to continue to expand the relationships and connections with the alumni and the vast Tracy Community. I hope to have 120 young men that will be willing to gang up and help the community for a good cause, we will be exploring how to give back to a community that has supported us for years.
5) What are you most excited about as you start your new job?
I’m excited to launch the new season and take on the added responsibility of building the program as we transition out of the pandemic year. I am looking forward to providing a diverse coaching staff that can communicate and create relationships with the diverse student body. I want to bring excitement about playing football and invite multi-sport athletes to join us in our adventure. I want to create relations with other sports teams and within our school, support and work together to build our programs and schools culture. I am a believer in the “Big Team little me” philosophy and my players will be hearing that over and over from me. If we play for each other and put the needs of others first, the individual successes will show up naturally.
6) Are you prepared to announce any changes in the coaching staff?
Justin Evans is going to come up to varsity to be the Offensive Coordinator. Nate Shelton played on varsity just a few years ago and is a new math teacher and will join Nelson and Marcus on the Freshman staff. Josh Clarke will also join coaching at the freshman level. There are some changes coming to the JV level I will announce shortly. I’m very excited about the immediate future.
7) If you had all the players assembled before you at this moment, what would be your message to the program?
This last season we had the lower levels pushed into game situations much quicker and more chaotic than what is normal due to our short notice and compressed schedule. They had to learn way too fast, the hard way. Starting on May 17thwith our summer practices, we are going to grow together at all levels as one unit. I don’t plan on separating the Freshman, JV, and Varsity for a while during practices. We will rely on the more veteran players to work with and develop our lower levels through providing a model of effort and proper demonstration.
I want to get our practices back to their orderly fashion where there is plenty of time to learn and develop through individual skill training, rather than crashing to just get ready for the next game on Friday.
I want this organization to carry on the traditions of excellence, dignity, and class. Through togetherness and hard work towards common goals, the winning will come.
Coach Pribble has been a teacher in the Tracy Unified School District since 2004 and is married to his wife Lisa, they have been married since 2001. They have a son Mason who is a 6th grader at Williams Middle School, and have a daughter named Madison who is a freshman at Tracy High.
Questions about the football program can be emailed to Coach Pribble.