CIF names Tooker as Model Coach

By: Mike Ray, Loomis News Sports Editor
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Jill Tooker says there have been many times over the years as the Del Oro High boys tennis coach where she’s wanted to come off the sidelines and make a back-handed return or place a key serve for one of her players.

“It’s definitely more stressful being on the sidelines coaching than being on the court as a player,” said Tooker, who as Jill Butler in the early 1990s at  Placer High was both a standout in tennis and basketball for the Hillmen.

“I have to step back, though, and do it in practice,” said Tooker, whose Golden Eagles won last season’s Sierra Foothill League tennis championship.

“Yes, it’s definitely tougher to be on the sidelines.”

While Tooker may be regulated to the sidelines as the coach of Del Oro’s tennis squad, she will definitely be front and center on April 16 at an awards breakfast in Lodi when she is honored by the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section as one of the section’s six Model Coach honorees for the 2012-13 school year.

The award, now in its 12th year being given by the section, honors coaches who are positive role models within schools and the community at-large. To be considered for a model coach award, each school is permitted to nominate one male and female coach from its staff.

 Those names then went back to individual leagues, and each league was then directed to select one male and one female coach and send those in for consideration.

That Tooker was selected for this year’s award didn’t surprise Del Oro principal Dan Gayaldo.

"She is respected by peers, trusted by student-athletes and supported by the community," Gayaldo said. "Simply put, Jill doesn't take days off. She consistently projects hope and energy to everyone around her."

Tooker has coached some sports – mainly tennis – for the last 15 years at Del Oro. She coached girls tennis for 13 seasons, girls freshman basketball for two years, girls golf for one season, track and field for three seasons and she has been the boys tennis coach for the last four years.

Her Golden Eagles were the Sierra Foothill League and Sac-Joaquin Section champions in 2012. She also played a major role with fundraising within the community to build a new tennis facility in 2003.

Tooker has also found time to run several camps and clinics at those courts. For the three years, she was integral in getting the USTA to host a professional tournament at Del Oro and she helped start the local Women’s Athletic Club.

The Women’s Athletic Club promotes confidence, strength, unity and encouragement through the athletic experience. They concentrate on women’s health, help fundraise for charity and promote school spirit by showing up at events as a club and cheering them on.

The honor took Tooker by surprise.

“I was surprised, but at the same time honored that I was one of this year’s honorees,” said Tooker. “I’m honored and proud to be able to represent both Del Oro and the community.”

Tooker, and her husband Jeff, who is the Placer Union High School District’s assistant superintendent of educational services, and their daughter, Jacy, reside in Auburn.

Previous Del Oro honorees include Joan Lewis in 2004 and Mike Takayama in 2012.